For those who might be unfamiliar with the concept I'll let Splotchy do the explaining:
If you are one of the carriers of this story virus (i.e. you have been tagged and choose to contribute to it), you will have one responsibility, in addition to contributing your own piece of the story: you will have to tag at least one person that continues your story thread. So, say you tag five people. If four people decide to not participate, it's okay, as long as the fifth one does. And if all five participate, well that's five interesting threads the story spins off into.
Not a requirement, but something your readers would appreciate: to help people trace your own particular thread of the narrative, it will be helpful if you include links to the chapters preceding yours.
So hold onto your socks and sit back and read what has been wrought. Before you start scroll down to the bottom and start the music.
Splotchy's Episode one:
Chef Cthulhu's Episode Two:
Making a sound like a baseball bat clobbering a rotten cantaloupe, the shadowy head disintegrated as the once walking corpse fell to its knees and slumped down into the light. Pongo - or, rather, Pongo's corpse - crawled into the light, his rotting innards exposed behind a the exposed right half of his ribcage. Half the flesh had been avulsed from his face, giving him a gruesome visage as his tongue hung over his mandible. He sniffed the stump of the rotting, headless thing before he dragged his broken, undead doggy body my way, his head lolling from side to side. Instinctively, I released the empty clip, shoved another one home and drew a bead. Pongo stopped and sat at my feet. Bowing his back and lifting his leg, and began licking a place I could never reach on my own body for about 5 seconds before the now cleaned organs fell off and settled a few inches from his hind leg.
Pongo looked up at me and I could read the eyes on his zombified face. They said, "My nuts! Can you believe this shit?" I lowered the weapon. I'd forgotten to chamber a round anyway. I knelt down and hesitatingly reached out to pet what had been Pongo. He offered no resistance. Of all the zombie apocalypses I'd been through since moving here, this one was by far the weirdest.
Something on the creature I'd just shot caught my eye. It had something odd-looking tucked underneath its arm. I looked from the shadowy object over to my truck and slowly back down to Pongo as he dejectedly contemplated his former genitals. I heard the dragging feet of several undead, man-eating motherfuckers approaching the fire...
Now presenting Beach Bum's Episode Three:
Standing in the dark with only the a small circle of light from my fire separating me from the collection of ghouls howling somewhere near it wasn't a good time to wonder about my participating in the United States government Redoubt program. Truth be told though, the little voice in my head that for the most part had always been more cautious and correct about how stupid I could be was screaming for me to get back in my truck and scram. It told me that there had to be plenty of abandoned sailboats on the coast just begging for someone to sail them away from the zombies, chaos, and general collapse of human civilization that had resulted from the recently dead springing back to life with a taste for living fresh.
Such musings were a luxury that I could not afford though with the arrival of new visitors to my little circle of light moaning the eerie guttural cries of the undead. The gentleman was wearing a torn and dirty Hawaiian that while he was alive and reasonably clean probably depicted a nice tropical scene with flowers. Now it was a mash of different colors dominated with black, browns, and reds that it was safe to assume came from the blood of whatever victims he munched on since he was infected with the virus, died, and then reanimated into what he was now. As the ghoul staggered closer I noticed he was naked from the waist down except for black socks and flip flops that during his undead journeys he had somehow kept on his feet. I actually giggled at the sight of his zombifed pecker freely swinging in the proverbial wind.
Physically, the old ghoul man looked remarkably well. Even with just the light from the fire I could tell his skin was the normal zombie gray. His eyes were the curious gold color that stared off into oblivion. Bubbling from his mouth was the black mucus which was what the blood of a person who had been infected with the zombie virus became. It didn't take long for what remained of the living to realize that the mucus was also made up of the virus and any bite by a ghoul on a living person was a certain death sentence.
Following close behind the old man was a ramshackle collection of torn gray flesh, bits of clothes, and a wig tilted far back on the head of what had to once had been an old woman, maybe the other zombie's wife. Little remained of her clothes and her appearance showed considerable damage since reanimation. Her lower jaw was missing along with her right arm. Her gold zombies eyes were undamaged and considerably more spooky than her male undead companion. As what remained of the old woman slowly drew closer it was easy to see they held some sort of awareness, although that awareness was so far removed from humanity that an alien creature from tens of thousands of light-years away would have had more in common with me than what that old lady had become.
They ignored Pongo still laying on the ground and ambled closer to me. Pulling the charging handled on my rifle I chambered a new round then switched the fire select dial to semi-automatic. Two rounds barked out from my rifles impacting squarely on the foreheads of the zombie senior citizens. I just hope they didn't belong to AARP, I could get in some really deep shit messing with any of their members.
In the last days before all communications died some scientists locked away in what I'm sure was a very well protected research lab had figured out that the zombie virus crystallized an infected person's brain turning it into a super charged capacitor allowing it to power the dead person's nervous system forcing the body to walk the earth. Why that now crystallized brain drove the infected body to seek out the living was not something those protected scientists could explain.
However, it was learned that a massive trauma to an infected brain would result in a short circuit finally disabling the body for good. And as my two shots exited the heads of my visiting zombies it was if some puppet master had cut their strings. They fell to the ground completely inert, the resulting silence was far more eerie than had been their strange sounds.
“Damn, could you please try to make more noise. There is a herd of ghouls two states over that hasn't yet heard your rifle fire,” I heard someone say. The sound of a real living human's voice shocked me to the core far more than my now inert visitors could have ever hoped.
Stepping into my circle of light was what had to surely be a crazed hallucination brought on by days of intense life or death stress. Because what now stood before me was a gorgeous woman with short brunette hair dressed in doomsday movie attire that was the dream of every nerdy teenager ever to walk out of the local theater. Making things even crazier she had been my nephew's second grade teacher, Jessica Tyler.
Staring in disbelief the figure before me was dressed in skin tight woodland camouflage BDU pants and army combat boots with massive Desert Eagle pistols strapped to the outside of each upper thigh. On her right leg, strapped lower down just above the boot, was a mean looking combat knife that was usually in the possession of special operation types. Where as her pants were old military her torso was clothed in what appeared to be a skin tight dark blue exercise leotard with light blue trim that daringly, in a post apocalyptic kind of way, plunged low exposing ample amounts of cleavage. Rounding off the sexy, yet very deadly lady, she carried a German MP-5 sub-machine gun with an extended barrel and with the wire stock extended.
“Tall grasses are the venue of the lions and tigers.” She said with a slightly disbelieving air.
The dead rising, massive chaos, the end of human civilization going on I still somehow found time to groan over what some clever paper pusher in the Pentagon must have received ample awards over thinking of damn silly code phrases so members of the Redoubt program could safely contact each other. The look on the lady's face was becoming annoyed with my lack of any response.
“Yes dammit,” I said. “But the bears and wolves like the woods. Can we get out of here now?” I had spent far too long waiting at the GPS coordinates some computer generated voice had said over my cell phone while I sat in my easy chair watching hundreds of satellite channels chronicling the feasting of the undead.
“Lets get going, I'm your redoubt commander and you have a mission.” Was all she said then running off in the opposite direction from my truck up a wooded hill.
Figuring I better follow, or she would shoot me, I ran after her. “Would you please tell me why we are not taking my truck?” I asked as we crested the hill.
“Because,” she smiled, “we would miss all this fun and I need to test you. She motioned down the other side of the hill alerting me to the herd of about fifty ghouls ambling our way. It was easy to figure that my test was how I handled the oncoming herd but without any further word she ran down before me with her MP-5 already barking out single 9mm rounds to each of the ghouls in her line of fire. Always being a good team player I quickly caught up with her firing off my weapon bringing down my part of the group.
Barely three minutes later we were finished and I was again chasing her again. She moved swiftly and quietly through the trees and brush as any tigress but my Redoubt commander was several times more deadly. I felt a sudden, and given the situation inappropriate, disappointment in that all the times I attended my now deceased nephew's school functions I never even attempted to ask her out.
Coming out of the woods to a road was our temporary destination and our mode of travel to our next. What I saw before me was a chariot born in Hell. She had taken an old Dodge Ram, raised it up several more inches, enclosed the truck bed with an armored shell, and had attached a cattle catcher to the front of the truck very much like the type that old steam railroad engines use to sport.
“Get in,” she yelled. The engine roared to life and she drove off driving with the speed and daring of a fighter jock. We soon roared out onto a major highway passing eerily dark subdivisions that a week before had been home to countless people living boring normal lives. Jessica said nothing and I soon began reviewing all the events that had gotten me to this position.
Years before I had been a captain in United Stated Army intelligence reviewing all sorts of apparently unconnected events and developments going on in the world. My little group lived very much on the edge of reality and received a good bit of ridicule from the mainline elements living in the confines of the Five Sided Funny Farm just on the Potomac. However, we were able to foresee and alert the ever responsible elected leaders of the Republic several times to unexpected and outright strange events that threaten national security. The fact that a couple of those national security threats were elected leaders that been brainwashed with controlling cybernetic implants installed will forever be highly classified nonevents.
I was a happy man with an interesting job, a great wife, and even better dental until one dark and cold day. That day my department was unexpectedly closed and my men and women farmed out to interpret Iraqi insurgent communications who were holding up the vice president's buddies from building an oil pipeline. My wife came home and to tell me she was running off with the clerk working at the video rental store. Taking the first two blows like a man I still found the will to finish up my day by making my dentist appointment only to be told I needed two root canals. After such events I retired early from the army and made plans to work at the chicken farm my brother owned.
My last day in the service I was ordered to a nondescript building on a small army post deep in rural Virginia. It was there that two honest to God “Men in Black” came into the small waiting room I was seated in and they introduced me to the Redoubt program.
Jessica's mad driving through the blacked out areas of what was just recently a hub of suburban American life had no effect of my stroll through memory lane. Even the occasional collision with a zombie on a night stroll was of no consequence as bits and pieces flew apart spraying on the windshield. The past few weeks had even begun to wear down my carefully constructed facade of devil-may care cynic. However as we rounded a corner of a state highway clearing one of the many mega-malls the extra bright headlights caught the reflection of what had to be a herd of zombies ranging in size from nine-hundred to a thousand sad infected undead souls.
It wasn't the collective herd of ghouls a few yards in front of us that shocked me and even the more hard as steel Jessica into amazement bordering on shock but the strange disc-shaped craft hovering about one-hundred feet above the undead mass.
The craft had to be at least five-hundred feet wide slightly spinning in the quiet, dark night. I could just make out small fins and what I would call antenna forming a circle along the bottom of the craft. Coming out of those projections on the over wise smooth craft were intense beams of light that went from one zombie to another. Various science fiction stories I read during my younger days flashed through my head and I came to the conclusion that the ghouls were being scanned somehow. After a few seconds of shimmering light the “scanned” zombie exploded into tiny pieces that seemed no bigger than sand.
Both Jessica and I, still stunned, were happy with that since the entire herd seemed mesmerized by the lights and happy to stand still and watch themselves be picked off by the tens and twenties. What shocked us back into consciousness was when every beam from the craft suddenly focused on us.
"OH FREAKING SHIT!” Jessica yelled, flooring her truck in reverse and then swinging it around and racing down the thankfully empty road. I looked behind us to see that the craft had begun chasing us with its scanning-destructo beams still firmly locked on us.
It was then my little voice chose that moment to tell me that I should have listened and we could now be on a sailboat heading for the last known bastion of human civilization, communist Cuba.
To be continued?
Will our as yet unnamed hero and his post-apocalyptic beauty Redoubt commander complete their mission?
What exactly is the Redoubt program?
What the hell is up with all the zombies and who or what is flying the UFO?
And more importantly will anyone make up another segment of Splotchy's story virus?
Tune in again same zombie website, same zombie time.
I'm suppose to tag someone else but I honestly don't know any one who would do it. So if you are inclined feel free to consider yourself tagged.