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Fiction – Ruth’s Story #37 – Sitting in the eye of the storm within the barricade on Lake City Way waiting for the other shoe to fall

May 26, 2012

It takes me a few minutes to decipher the words on the tea soaked piece of paper. Thankfully, the young Asian girl used a pencil rather than a pen. A pen might have smeared or bled out becoming illegible.

Once I read the message again, I ponder how best to disseminate the information. I grab my radio and decide to speak in Russian. I chose Russian because, as far as I know, there are only three of us proficient in that language. I do not know who may be standing around able to overhear my transmission. I do not want to risk an antagonist overhearing my discussion.

“Nikola this is Ruth, please respond.”

A brief silent pause passes and then Nikola’s voice comes over my radio in Russian. “Nikola here, Ruth what is happening and why are we speaking Russian?”

“Because, as far as I know, only the three of us speak Russian. I was unsure who may be around you and might overhear our conversation.”

“Ahh, good idea; what is wrong?”

“I have received information that the families, specifically the women and children, are being held in one of the two houses under duress.”

“I will pass that on, thank you Ruth.”

“Nikola, how is Carol?” I suppose I could have asked that in English, but we were already speaking Russian.

“I am with her now. She is laying in the truck trying to sleep. She is very ill; you know she believes she might be pregnant. Between the illnesses of the pregnancy, even if it is all in her head, the thought of eating dog, and the ipecac syrup she is very ill.”

Jamal sits back down at the table. I look around and see that I made a real damned big mess sliding across the table. Looking down, I see that the front of my clothing is smeared with spilled beer and food. God, I am a mess. I’ve got chilies, chunks of sticky mystery meat, rice and chow mein scattered from my tits to my toes.

“Doc you were saying about the KCAP virus before we were interrupted.” I talk while I try to brush off most of the food detritus stuck to my front on to the floor which is as messy as I am. I notice outside the soldiers are assembling next to the colonel’s VW station wagon.

I note that all the assembling soldiers place themselves in neat rows by height. Definitely the mark of former professional soldiers, the way they quickly line up in formation. I am going to have to work on that because a well tossed grenade would kill the majority of the troops right now.

It looks as if Randy is gathering the force for a sweep. All men are showing up carrying several folded various color pillow cases, their belts and LBVs heavily feathered with white plastic quick zips.

All men have a determined grimace on their faces, as if they expect to accomplish an unpleasant task but one that falls to them because they are the ones that can and will accomplish it no matter how unpleasant.

I note several cases of ammo, lying open beside the assembling men. Looks like the men are going in with full combat load. I note several empty cases of tear gas grenades. All the former soldiers are checking their gas masks which look like the newer Mark 45 gas masks, so they are prepared to use CS gas on uncooperative people if the need should arise.

I am extremely familiar with CS gas. The Israeli police and military forces routinely use CS gas ultra liberally during riots and demonstrations, especially in the Palestinian Territories and the West Bank. You would think as many times as I have been CS gassed that it would not affect me, but that shit still wipes me out for days.

I know Carol is with Nikola; I heard her pitiful retching already, so I know she is out of commission. The wheeled mechanic, of whom I still have not learned her name, is also out for the count as I saw her running hell for leather for the bushes hands over her mouth. I wonder what our current fighting strength is?

Jamal clears his throat and looks at me for a few moments and pulls out his pack of kreteks. Lighting another dark black thick clove cigarette with his lighter, he takes a couple drags letting the smoke out through his nostrils.

“You know, Ruth, I quit smoking before this whole zombie thing blew up in our faces. I know as a doctor just how bad smoking is for your health. But right now I just do not care. I believe that I am more likely to die from a zombie bite and KCAP infection than emphysema or lung cancer.”

Jamal continues. “The virus is really something that defies all scientific logic. If you believe in evolution than you might believe that the KCAP virus has evolved into a higher state. I was called in to attempt to ascertain how the KCAP virus is able to use the dead corpses’ eyes. We know that the zombies can hear within the normal range of human hearing, and they can see as well as any human can. What we were unable to ascertain is exactly how the virus manages to revitalize dead tissue. The heavy threads grown by the virus, we referred to them as nerves or tendrils, completely consumes the ‘lizard brain,’ the base of the spinal column and sends tendrils all through the neo cortex. The KCAP virus forms this fist-sized dense black knot of what used to be base of the brain stem.”

I light a cigarette of my own while Jamal continues his KCAP lecture. Sounds like he has given this some thought and might have given this speech a few times.

I grab the last two sealed cans of Budweiser from the end of the table. I pop the two cans of beer off the white plastic six-pack rings and place one can in front of Jamal taking the other can of beer for myself.

Sitting down, I pop open my warm beer and take a long swig. Bud is about my least favorite of American beers, but right now it is better than nothing. Jamal grabs the other beer and pops it open, as well.

We sit in comfortable silence for a few moments smoking and drinking warm beer in a blown apart Chinese restaurant with spilled food and shattered glass all over the place. God, what a fucked up world.

Finishing his beer shortly followed by myself, Jamal continues his lecture on the KCAP virus.

“Thankfully, any damage causing the destruction of the brain instantly kills the zombie, although the KCAP virus is still very much alive. Destroying the brain of the zombie you only remove the virus’ means of travel and propagation. We found cremating the zombies is the best way to eradicate the virus. The lack of sufficient quantities of fuel to completely burn all of the corpses was a major problem especially in the major metropolitan areas.”

Jamal pauses and I pour him a cup of the very slightly warm green tea. He takes the small cup with a nod of thanks. He takes a few sips of the tea. I follow suit taking a few sips of my now paperless green tea.

“Burning is the best way as the heat and flame completely kill the KCAP virus. You have to get the corpse heated to over 650 degrees F to ensure complete destruction of the KCAP virus. It is a tough son of a bitch. Burying the corpse very deeply after destroying the brain is a successful way to limit the spread of the disease. Robbed of new hosts the virus eventually dies, with a mean life span of about 60 years – we think. Ideally, had the quarantine measures worked, the virus would have run out of new hosts and eventually died out. Microwaving works too if you have a large enough microwave or can chop the corpse into small enough pieces. About 10 minutes on high was pretty effective.”

“So you mean when all the people are gone, then the virus will die out.” Sutton comments. I did not hear him come back in the restaurant I was so wrapped up in Jamal’s story and thinking about zombies stuffed in microwaves. “Ding” zombie done!

  1. BobOK permalink

    10 minutes on High!
    That is the solution to all my problems. Thank-You.
    And I do enjoy your story.

    Again, Thank-You.

  2. I didn’t expect another story so soon. Thank you for the treat!

    • You are welcome Craig I am attempting to see what my readers prefer – more smaller posts or less frequent larger posts? If anyone has a preference please let me know.

      • More frequency is always welcome, especially with excellent chapters like these.

      • Thanks Jake. With the Memorial Day holiday weekend, I am a little challenged for time with family and friends over for BBQ. I have friends from both services in which I served over although most of my friends are still deployed. I will try to get another chapter up either today or tomorrow if I can.

  3. Roger permalink

    Unless this is some sort of alien virus, a temperate of 212 degrees Fahrenheit is all that’s needed to kill a virus. 650 deg. is too far of a stretch.

    • While not an alien virus, the KCAP virus is a very tough mutated escaped Cold War era bio weapon that was designed to be tough and impervious to most control measures. Perhaps 650 deg F was too much, maybe in a future rewrite I might lower the temp. You are actually the first person to mention the temp, I thought more would surely call me on that temp for destoying a virus – even a mutated Cold War bio weapon.

  4. Helios permalink

    It’s a zombie story without some zombie action. Where are the zombies? Have they been dropping dead outside of the perimeter, or are they just patiently waiting?

    • There is some zombie action but not a lot. I am not trying to rewrite an episode of Resident Evil, or any of Romero’s work. There will be some zombie action but intelligent survivors would not directly attack the zombies much like the folks in the Walking Dead shows and books are doing. The zombies do eventually rot away (no miraculous Romeroesque preservation of corpses) but the KCAP virus inside the brain is still very much alive.

  5. Guido permalink

    Great story telling! I’m sad I’m all caught up and will have to wait like everyone else for more Ruth updates! Nice blend of SHTF, Zombies, and TEOTWAWKI. Overly detailed sometimes, but well worth it the read.

    Thanks for sharing Ruth’s story, as well as some of your own background.

    I often wonder how will I would be prepared if (when) the SHTF, zombies or no zombies…

    I found the link from Union Creek Journal, after I finished Adrian’s Undead Diary.

    • Thanks Guido, I appreciate the comments. I try to walk a fine line between overly detailed and not enough detail. Some readers crave all the minutia, while some want less detail and more action. I will try to appease most people with a mixture of highly detailed entries and a little less entry on some things. I too wonder how I will respond should the SHTF, but I pretty much have to plan for not being with my family as I am medically fragile and most likely will be in the first round of deaths.

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