Authors: The Vocabulariast
Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse
Text Copyright © The Vocabulariast 2014
All Rights Reserved
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have been a large part of my life ever since I was a little kid. The idea of a
world turned on its head almost overnight was simply too good for my overactive
imagination to pass up. However, one thing always bothered me. How did these
post-apocalyptic worlds get to be the way they are, with heroes, madmen, and
badasses all fighting to survive against the shambling hordes?
World is my answer. Instead of glossing over the humble beginning of an
apocalypse to get to the dreary post-apocalyptic wasteland, I chose to focus
this narrative on the world as it crumbles. This first volume of This Rotten
World covers approximately half a day in the beginning of the end.
of my favorite works within the genre gloss over this downfall, I attempted to
chronicle an almost impossible vision. There will be no waking up from a damn
coma to find that the entire world has crumbled seemingly overnight. The draw
of zombie films and literature for me is not that everything is dead or
dying... it's that moment where the world is balanced on the precipice of
destruction while there is still something left worth saving. It's the choices
that are made, the heavy breath of survival, and the tough decisions characters
make to preserve the world that floats my boat.
I hope that
This Rotten World, and its subsequent sequels, does the same for you. The
second part is close to finished, and then there will be a third part as well.
Keep an eye out, and enjoy the world while you still can.
Two Months from Now
beat down upon him. Beads of sweat ran down the sides of his face. One ran down
the side of his nose and perched on the edge of his upper lip. He blew the bead
of sweat into the air and grunted as he pulled on the coarse rope. His hands,
now callused and blistered after days on the roof, lumbered with robotic
wandered as his body engaged in actions that had essentially become second
nature. He pulled on the rope some more. In the back of his mind, he registered
the coarseness of the rope on the exposed parts of his hands. He had wrapped
some shreds of an old shirt around his hands a few days ago, when he first
began his work.
shoulders were red from exposure to the sun. In the past, he would have worried
about increasing his risk for melanoma, but not anymore. Now it was perfectly
fine to smoke, drink, and sit in the sun for hours upon hours. Hand over hand,
he hauled on the rope, leaving bits of skin and blood behind on the frayed, hempen
strands. Finally, he hauled his prize up onto the roof, a heavy, blue bowling
ball with a metallic finish, swirls upon swirls playing on its surface. It looked
like a small planet sans continents. The sun lit every metallic piece of
glitter embedded in its plastic. The bowling ball rested in a cradle that he
had fashioned out of rope. Crimson drops of gore dripped from the bowling ball
onto the loose pebbles that covered the roof of the gas station.
off into the distance, wiping the sweat from his brow. His arm dropped to his
side, and the sweat that he had wiped off ran down his fingers and dripped onto
the roof. He flexed his aching fingers and looked at the yellow and red gas
station sign. $4.19 for a gallon of gas. He had a feeling that it was actually
worth a little more these days.
pulled a cigarette from a bag that sat on the ground next to a shiny, silver
air conditioning vent. He lit the cigarette, looking at the naked lady lighter
he had pulled from a house two weeks past. He wondered if he would ever see a
naked lady again, a living one at least.
to the ground and leaned his back against the air conditioning vent. The heat
of the flimsy metal burned his skin, but he no longer cared. He took a deep
drag off of the cigarette, enjoying the burn of the smoke as it curled its way
into his lungs. He looked up at the azure sky, wishing for rain. Hell, a cloud
would do just fine... anything for a brief respite from the relentless sun.
There was only one thin wisp of a cloud floating through the sky, a mocking
wisp with a shape like nothing. He took another drag from his cigarette, and
closed his eyes.
He awoke to
the pain of burning on his fingers. The man tossed the cigarette across the
roof and looked at his ruined digits. Red blisters and pain, exactly what he
needed... more blisters and pain. He stood up, shaking off the soreness that had
seeped in unbidden during his brief respite.
picked up the bowling ball by the rope and dangled it out over the side of the
gas station roof. He peeked over the edge, already prepared for what he was
about to see. Rotten faces peered up at him, scraps of flesh hanging off of
their cheeks, their arms raised up to him as if they were at a concert and he
was the object of their affection. But that's not how it was... he was just a
meal, standing on the roof of a gas station, holding a bowling ball tied up in
a rope. He swung the ball in an arc, releasing it at an angle that sent it
hurtling straight down.
it fall, tracking its movement. The zombie's head exploded like an egg. Instead
of yellow yolk, red chunks of brain erupted from the shattered skull. He almost
laughed as the now headless body fell over to the side slowly like R2-D2 after
one of those little creatures blasted him with electricity in the beginning of
Star Wars. He would have laughed if it weren't for the fact that two more
corpses were shambling down the street, ready to take up watch at the bottom of
the wall. A hundred more clawed at the rough red brick of the gas station.
littered the ground all around the squat building. The moans of the dead
drifted through the air. He couldn't wait for the sun to kill him. But in the
meantime... he pulled on the rope.
beat down upon him. Beads of sweat ran down the sides of his face. One ran down
the side of his nose and perched on the edge of his upper lip. He blew the
sweat into the air and grunted as he pulled on the coarse rope. His hands, now
callused and blistered after days on the roof, lumbered robotic automaticity.
the day that the guns had to be cleaned. No one was making Zeke do it, but
years of habit prevented him from taking it easy. Zeke was a well-adjusted
veteran who had recently seen his service in the Army end. There had been no
promotion in his future, so he saw no more point in wasting any more of his
life. Still, the old habits died hard.
was a squatty, two-bedroom bungalow on the edge of Portland, Oregon's SE
quadrant. He lived there alone... hence, all the guns. They weren't alive. They
didn't keep him warm at night, but they gave him something to do on those
nights when the past seemed to be sitting outside of his window, breathing its
so many guns because... well, he had no wife and no life outside of the
military. This was a problem. For Zeke, life was not supposed to be like this.
When he was a young boy, dreaming in Toledo, Ohio, he had more than once
imagined that in the future he would live a picture perfect, Rockwellian
existence with a standard-issue wife and several kids running around the yard
to pass on his legacy. He looked at his guns. They were the closest thing to a
family that he had and the only legacy he was likely to ever pass on.
had died years ago, when he was only ten-years-old, after a drunk driver had
run into them head-on, twisting their car and their bodies into an
unrecognizable mess. He could almost remember their faces... almost. But years
of dust, travel, and simplicity of emotion had left him vacant and damaged. He
plucked a shotgun out of the gun locker in the corner of his living room, a
SPAS-12. It was empty. Zeke knew the feeling.
Zeke sat on
his couch and turned on the TV with his remote control. The flat screen sprung
to life. He unscrewed the magazine extension, and slowly removed the magazine
spring, making sure it didn't fly off. His hands moved easily, disassembling
the fore-end and the bolt from the receiver. On the TV, the news was on. Boring
feel-good stories, and little else. The weather report came up. It looked like the
month of June was going to be a scorcher. It didn't bother him. He had grown
used to sweltering heat over the last decade of operating overseas. Hell, he
had actually grown to like the heat.
"local" sports news came up, he couldn't help but laugh. Having grown
up with actual sports teams on the TV, Portland's sports news always seemed
rather hokey and small-town to him. They only had one team, the Trail Blazers,
a perennially underperforming professional basketball team. There was also a
soccer team, but no one that knew anything about sports really considered
soccer an actual sport. When the Blazers weren't playing, everything circled
back to Oregon's colleges, The University of Oregon and Oregon State. Were you
a Duck or a Beaver? Who gives a fuck? He reassembled the SPAS and cocked it,
making sure the action felt right. Everything was copacetic. He filled the
magazine with shotgun shells, and then cycled them through with the pump action
just to make sure.
the shotgun back in the gun locker, and walked to his dumpy old refrigerator,
which had probably been put in right after the house had been built in the
'60s. The hipsters that migrated through his neighborhood to reach Southeast
Portland would have called it retro; he called it a piece of shit. The
refrigerator was the only original piece of the house that still remained. It
hummed along loudly, occasionally rattling as if it were about to give up the
ghost, but it kept things cold, so he really had no problem with it. He pulled
the dirty white door open and looked inside the fridge. Ah, a cold PBR. Nothing
says "Tuesday rocks" like a cold PBR and the smell of gun oil.
over to the front window of his small shitbox and peered out through the bars on
the window to eye the street people. He lived on the corner of a road to
nowhere that intersected with 82nd Ave... a great road if you liked crystal
meth and hookers. He popped the top of his beer, and took a long swig, enjoying
the burn of the beer as it travelled down his throat. There were times when he
thought he ought to track down his realtor and put a bullet through his head,
but then he realized it was his fault for not staking out the place on his own.
One hour spent around here at night, and he would have known better than to buy
a house this close to 82nd.
people moved at a shambling pace. Their lives were over, but they had no idea.
Once you got on the meth, that's all there was to it. You might as well throw
yourself from a bridge downtown. The bars on his windows were for them. A
methhead would do anything to get the cash to buy another fix. They walked
along, picking at their skin, missing teeth, and generally making non-junkies
feel nauseated by their very existence. He had lost a shovel, a bucket, some
empty beer cans, and an old coffee can full of loose screws and nails in the
first week he had lived here. He learned quickly not to leave anything outside,
and the bars had been his first modification to the house. He was surprised
that they hadn't bothered to try and take the bars yet. The scrap metal
industry was doing just fine in Portland.
weren't the only annoyance on the street. The hookers, riddled with disease and
about as sexy as a vagina lined with razor blades, occasionally had their Johns
park in front of his house, never for long though. The cocking of a SPAS-12
tended to soften up even the most randy of Johns. He smiled at the night, took
a sip from his beer, and walked back over to his gun rack. He lifted his chrome
Desert Eagle Mark XIX from the rack. Of course, if you were looking for an
effective anti-Viagra, pulling the slide on your Desert Eagle would do the job
just as well as the pump from a SPAS.
he knew that it was wrong to point guns at junkies, hookers, and Johns. But
that's how he had dealt with his problems for the last twenty years. The lack
of institutional norms was hard to take advantage of when all you ever knew
were foster homes and the Army, which for all intents and purposes was
essentially a foster home for adults. He hadn't learned to talk to women in the
Army. There was no "Pick-Up Lines Boot Camp" unless you counted the
peacocking bullshit of the other soldiers, which was just as likely to get you
slapped or beat up in real world applications. His awkward conversations could
As he was
reassembling his Desert Eagle, he heard a scream outside. "Fucking
hookers," he thought to himself. He pressed against the barrel, holding
the barrel assembly against the frame of the gun. He swung the barrel lock into
closed position, and cocked and released the hammer to make sure it was working
correctly. He slapped a magazine home and cocked the gun, rushing out the door,
the cold, steel tang of adventure dancing on the tip of his tongue.