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Fiction – Ruth’s Story #30 Riding along in convoy taking the scenic route on Lake City Way

April 25, 2012

Looking around, I notice the southern Lake City Way overpass is now clear of military vehicles. There is a lot of trash scattered everywhere, several empty brown cardboard MRE boxes, numerous empty brown plastic MRE wrappers and empty, clear plastic water bottles. I even spot some empty brown C ration cans. Who the hell still has or eats C rations? They must be past shelf life. I think I even spot a few wrappers from the old D ration bars.

Despite my Jewish and Arab heritage, I do not have an aversion, for the most part, to eating pork. Although, I will not go and intentionally eat pork, if it is served or part of a meal I have no problems with porcine-based meals. One of the problems I remember with the older C and K rations was that many of the meals were pork-based.

Some of the earliest reports in the southern US warned that pigs and primates are particularly succeptible to the KCAP virus. Humans, along with all primates, and pigs are the only three species succeptible to the KCAP virus unless it begins to mutate. There were some horrific accounts of KCAP zombie snow monkeys in Japan attacking people. After accounts came out of Africa and a few major zoos in the eastern US detailing KCAP primate zombies, almost all of the zoos began to eliminate their primates. A male silver back gorilla and an adult male orangatun, both KCAP infected zombies, tore through the San Diego Zoo hurting and killing several people until SWAT sharpshooters eliminated the primate zombies. In places where the zoo staff was unwilling to kill their primates, SWAT teams or the military were sent in to shoot all the primates first and then any pigs.

Pork was never particularly my favorite anyway, and the thought of eating meat, of any kind, that is possibly KCAP infected gives me the creeps. I’ll be avoiding all meat unless it is canned for a while. I despise Spam, but right now it sounds pretty good.

When American troops tried to share their meals with troops of either Jewish or Arab heritage many of those troops were offended. A persistent rumor from World War II tells how several Russian soldiers (who were Jewish) fighting beside their American allies during the siege of Berlin were offended when the Americans offered them pork-based rations. I’ve always chalked it up to cultural ignorance if it truly happened, like the American business man who tried to offer his Saudi host a pork skin lined portfolio.

My family did not eat pork. Neither my Lebanese Muslim father nor my Israeli Jewish mother tried to maintain either halāl or kosher, pork is just not that common in Israel or Lebanon. Neither parent was a religious fanatic, and both suffered rejection from the community. I believe their love and acceptance of each other’s religion overcame their differences, that and the fact that they met and fell in love in England where their relationship was not criticized. My parents believed religion was a personal thing between someone and God and had many lively debates about religion. Dinner time was always intriguing, and my family enjoyed many guests for dinner. It did not matter if our guest were a rabbi, a mullah, or a Christian like my uncle, debating religion, as long as it remained civil, was a favorite dinner time activity. As we got older, we children were encouraged to participate in the debate, but we had to be able to defend our position.

My father was a Rhodes Scholar earning his master’s and then his PhD in mechanical engineering at the University of Oxford. My mother also practiced some tenants of the Cistercian Christian faith. Both of my parents were extremely well read and while students had traveled abroad seeing a lot of the world. Until I moved to the US I had not been anywhere other than Israel and Labanon, and I still have some guilt from my actions during the Second Lebanese War, although I will never admit it to anyone.

My mother’s oldest brother converted from Judaism to Anglican Cistercian Christian, becoming an uncloistered single, celibate Anglican Cistercian monk in 2011. The Anglican Cistercian church is not large in Israel, but they had a lovely church with beautiful grounds. I fondly remember my uncle working in his little garden behind his house. He made some of the best large pickled green olives stuffed with habanero chili.

All this thinking about food makes my empty stomach grumble again. I should have grabbed some snacks from an MRE. I could have even grabbed one of the tough as John Wayne Power Bars from my Scottevest jacket, but I did not think of it before we started driving again. My blue Scottevest jacket is laying on the floor of the passenger seat out of my reach buried underneath my frag grenades and my POF AR15 muzzle.

Looking at my AR15 I suddenly realize that I neglected to clean my weapons yesterday. Aharon would have kicked my ass for neglecting my weapons. Shit I am getting sloppy! I have a Samson Manufacturing Field Survivor tool inside the standard A2 grip on my AR15. It has a small ampule of oil for one field lube. I might have to use it. I suddenly remember that I forgot to check Rick to see if he were wearing the black leather pistol belt correctly.

Driving at such a slow pace (we are still averaging about 20 mph), I am able to observe the scenery better than if we were traveling at the usual highway speed. My mind wanders while driving. I attempt to keep about three feet or so between me and the non-colonel’s VW, but I am not doing an exceptionally decent job of it as we weave around the roadway seeking the easiest path.

I suddenly weave around the particularly gruesome remains of a smeared zombie run over by the snow plow and then the HEMTTs. I follow the movements of the VW in front of me who also dodged the gruesome remains. While the Rick does not appear to aim particularly for the zombies, occasionally one does get in front of the plow blade.

Most of the zombies slowly walk towards the noisy snow plow, but most are slow enough that they remain out of the way. Occasionally a zombie is in the path of least resistance and Rick has no choice but to drive through the zombie. Most of the zombies killed right now get pinched between vehicles as the snow plow clears the road way. We are not bothering shooting zombies right now as ammo is too precious.

I do not want to think about what the underside of our vehicles looks like, the thought makes me a little queasy. Maybe it is a good idea that I did not eat anything this morning. Behind me, I hope Carol is doing alright.

We pass several pieces of abandoned military and civilian stuff. Helmets, empty pack frames, empty ammo cans, various discarded military uniforms, lots of alkaline batteries of every type (dead I assume) and other unidentifiable detritus lie all over the road. Several O.D. green single and double axel military trailers, most of which have been stripped of tires. Numerous empty food tin cans roll around the highway, some of these rolling cans are chased by the occasional zombie in a ghastly game of undead kick the can.

Something easily spotted is what must be thousands of used Starbuck’s Coffee paper cups littering the highway rolling around in the slightest breeze. Some of these cups look brand new while others have an aged look suggesting they have been discarded for some time. Several coffee cups as we drive over them splash their green, moldy contents on the roadway. Nothing molds in a hurry like sticky, sweet discarded coffee. Some of these moving coffee cups attract the attention of a zombie. Even in death people chase coffee like its manna from heaven.

While watching a bearded and pony-tailed Caucasian male zombie dressed in Seattle casual – gray slacks, tennis shoes, with a blue cotton Mariner hoodie – chase a rolling Starbuck’s Coffee cup I glance at my GPS and notice that we are still heading south. Passing three abandoned tire-less HEMTT cranes on my left, I realize we are nearly perpendicular to our camp from last night.

Just as, I am about to reach for my radio, I suffer a moment of confusion as we make an extremely hard right turn on to the northern Lake City Way overpass. I see now that our camp last night was underneath the southern Lake City Way overpass. We are now heading north in what used to be the south bound lane from westbound Lake City Way to southbound I5.

A look in my side rear view mirror reveals Carol driving the blue Chevy diesel 4×4 pick up behind me Nikola sitting in the passenger seat his VSS rifle laying on the dash. Carol’s M16 rests muzzle down on the seat in between them. Nikola has the passenger window cracked about an inch and is smoking a cigarette. Carol is talking non-stop; I can see her waving her hands as she talks. Whatever she is talking about, she seems pretty animated. Does that woman ever shut up?

Riding the overpass up and over the highway, I notice somebody has pre-cleared the way. Several abandoned M35 deuce and halves, a few HEMTTs and several Humvees are parked scattered in the grass just north and south of the highway.

Going around the bend towards the center of the Lake City Way overpass, I see the M35 deuce and a half are directly behind Rick in the snow plow followed by all four HEMTTs. I had not noticed until now, but the first three HEMTTs are all desert tan like the M35, while the last HEMTT is painted darker woodland green. After the last HEMTT is the non-colonel’s dark gray VW station wagon, me, Carol and Nikola behind me in the blue diesel Chevy 4×4 pickup, followed by “Tail End Charlie” the wheeled mechanic’s desert tan Humvee. Boy what a motley crew we have!

From the top, of the overpass, I spot a Brinks armored car in the I5 north bound lanes, bullet-ridden rear door wide open with large piles of cash spilling out of the back onto the highway. The loose bills fly everywhere in the slightest breeze, must be several thousand worthless dollars just lying in the high way. Looking at the bullet holes in the armored car I can only hypothesize what might have happened.

But what fucking moron steals or attempts to rob an armored car during a zombie apocalypse? Paper money is worthless right now except as fire starter. What moron would risk life and limb for something that you cannot eat, does not provide shelter and has no intrinsic value?

If the armored car were full of say gold or silver coins or other precious metal bullion, than I might understand trying to rob the armored car. But just for worthless paper money, no way, not worth the risk for the potential reward.

There are far more dead zombies scattered around the former camp site, far more than I remember from last night. Our little procession has attracted plenty of zombie attention as more zombies wander down the highway towards the noise. I doubt the zombies can reason rationally as the noise is climbing over and away from them.

From the higher vantage of the overpass I see, discarded on the highway, a surprisingly large amount of luggage. Some of the luggage is quite expensive brands like Samsonite. Some of this luggage has busted open spilling its contents on the highway, other pieces of luggage sit as if they are waiting for the owners to come by and pick them up.

Lying in the roadway I also see musical instruments, small electrical appliances like microwaves, toasters, blenders, food mixers, and such as well as several jewelry boxes, some appearing pilfered others look untouched.

I see quite a few Keurig and other manufacturers’ espresso machines. The Keurigs are decidedly distinct and easy to spot even from up here. People and their damned coffee! Tea people – tea is a far superior hot beverage and God do I need a large cup of tea now!

Also from my higher vantage point with the first vehicles of the convoy now lower than I am, I am able for the first time to see the tops of the HEMTTs. I see the ingenious soldiers strapped several spare tires, spare parts, and almost anything else they could grab on top of the humongous HEMTTs.

Proceeding east and reaching the bottom of the overpass, just south of us in the large grassy median lay the remains of the FEMA camp we spotted and avoided last night. Several large, square white cargo containers with large blue letters on the side which read FEMA lie scattered in the area. The cargo containers lie amidst several trailers transported by a semi. The abandoned trailers and cargo containers lay amidst several large shredded green canvas tents.

I only catch a few furtive glances, but it appeared all the trailer and cargo container’s doors were open, so I am assuming anything of worth has already been scavenged. I assume several of these soldiers were at the FEMA camp, so I also assume that anything of worth they took with them when they left.

One of the large FEMA tents suffered a recent fire and still smolders. A pair of large cargo container-sized trailer mounted generators also lies in the grassy median. I wonder if the soldiers siphoned the diesel from those generators – I’ll bet they did.

Behind three large pine trees in the center of a large grassy area between the two, Lake City Way ramps is a vast open pit mass grave. The size of the mass grave is maybe one and a half times the length of a football field and probably a football field wide. Stacked in piles around this pit is thousands of black body bags. Laying heaped on top of the body bags are piles of what must be thousands of motionless, naked corpses. FEMA must have run out of body bags. From here, I can see that the open pit is almost filled with black body bags.

Sitting abandoned next to the pit is a large red Freightliner dump truck backed in so its dump bed faces the open mass grave. The dump bed of the truck is stacked full of black body bags, on top of which rest a large pile of naked corpses. The mass grave and piles of corpses remind me of the Holocaust, something no Jew ever forgets. Great I am going to have nightmares later.

A gigantic yellow Caterpillar dozer waiting forever to fill in the pit sits next to a small mountain of dirt to the very south of the mass grave. Flying in enormous flocks around the dozer and using it for a roost are thousands of ravens, black birds or crows. Joining their darker brethren are thousands of damn nasty flying rats – sea gulls!

The soldiers were busy this morning (although looking at the clock in the GPS in the dash I see it is just past noon) clearing the roadway and collecting supplies while I slept. Other than a few wandering zombies, and the vast flocks of nasty, scavenging birds (not going to think about it!) nothing moves in the abandoned FEMA camp.

To the north of the Lake City Way eastbound lanes sits another giant yellow Caterpillar dozer, twin to the other dozer, which appears to have been commandeered by the soldiers to clear the roadway. From the rough washboard scratched in the asphalt, I can see where the dozer was repeatedly driven, clearing the roadway on both sides.

Piles of smashed cars, some with crushed zombies leaking out of them, lie to both sides of the road. Looks as if somebody drove the dozer with considerable enthusiasm. The driver of the dozer took out street lights, curbing, side walks, fire hydrants, and appear to have taken great joy in smashing anything that dared to remain vertical. The work may be messy, but it was certainly effective.

I watch the GPS in the dash of my little car as it adjusts to our course change. Watching the GPS display makes me realize that since Rick worked for WSDOT and is familiar with the area (I assume he lived around here), he knew about using Washington highway 522.

This is confirmed as my little Motorola radio crackles to life and Rick’s voice comes over it, “OK folks, we are going to take 522 east to highway 9 north.”

Lake City Way (AKA Washington highway 522) eastbound is surprisingly empty which is terrific since we are going east in what used to be the westbound lanes. Passing a particularly beautiful dark wooden armoire lying in the center of the road near a tear drop-shaped, grassy median with a pair of pine trees, I reflect again on the detritus we pass.

Why would people take something like that huge armoire, or small electrical appliances like another Keurig espresso maker I just passed when the world is ending? Oh fuck, it’s a zombie apocalypse, and I must have my Keurig espresso maker! People please!

Passing the grassy median behind us, we come to the merger between 12th Avenue North East and eastbound Lake City Way. The westbound lanes are packed full with abandoned vehicles, not a few of which I see probable zombies moving inside.

From the left side between two buildings, two Ghillie suit (also known as a Wookie suit) clad blobs run at our convoy. I grab the radio and yell in it, “This is Ruth, I have two on my left dressed in Ghillie suits running at our convoy.”

  1. BobOK permalink

    Love this story. The detail…
    I’m riding along, waiting for TSTHTF.
    I’ve sent this story link to 4 of my friends who like this style fiction (hope it rremains fiction…)

    Again, wonderful storytelling.

  2. Things will start to get interesting pretty soon. Thanks for hanging around and sharing my fiction with your friends.

  3. Rafe permalink

    Wow, I am enjoying this one. Way to leave us in suspense about the Ghille suit runners. I suspect that they are soldiers looking for a ride.

  4. I’m failing to see why the Zombies are much of a threat. Unless I’m wrong, they wander around, relatively slowly, attracted by noise and light. They are easy to kill at night, and can’t open doors, scale fences, etc. So, if you were in a vehicle, behind a fence, or on the other side of a river from them, you wouldn’t have much to worry about, right?

    Also, any chance of reversing the virus, or once you’re dead you’re dead?

  5. Jake, you have summed the essence of the zombie threat quite well. Yes, the zombies are not individually much of a threat, and are easily defeated by barriers or speed (keep that cardio work out). However, they are doggedly determined, do not tire, and in large groups are a great threat. As long as you are able to remain behind a barrier, you are relatively safe – unless someone inside the barrier gets infected. The other problem is food and water. While the zombies can get food on the hoof, for the most part humans are going to need to forage, which exposes them to zombies – the classic scenario of many zombie tales.

    I’ll get more into the epidemiology of the KCAP virus as the tale progresses.

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