Table of Contents


The Z Gene


Lives Loved Lost


He Who Was Last


My Favorite Weapon


Of All The Things That I Have Lost…


The Tale of Stuart Giesler


What it cost




The Sheriff


A Man’s Castle: Part 1


A Man’s Castle: Part 2



The Z Gene

It’s like caging crabs, really.  They’re slow and easily tricked; you just have to keep your hands clear of the dangerous parts.  Yeah, it’s like crabs.  Only they’ve consumed your entire family and now want to eat you.    Heck, some of them are your family… or were anyway.   They’re like crabs if crustaceans wandered they countryside searching for food.  Oh, and they’re dead.  Dead crabs wandering the land, tearing the flesh of the living and never being satisfied.  They move continuously.  So I like to wrangle them with poles and nets, drag them back to the van, and take them to the ranch.  Which really isn’t a ranch at all, but hey, nothing is what it was anymore.  The ranch is the surviving house at the top of a hill.  I’ve taken to calling the garage my barn.  I dump my catch in the barn until I’m ready to finish them off.  Those I didn’t kill while collecting, that is.  Yeah, just like crabs.  Only they’re dead.  They were people.  Teachers, Doctors, Fuel attendants, Baggers from the grocery store, Mail carriers, Prostitutes, Scientists, and Police.  Everywhere you go it’s like the zombie edition of career day.  “You can be anything you dream…” the poster would read, “…just so long as it’s dead.”

I live in Cheney, Washington.  Yeah, like the vice president that shot the guy on a quail hunt in Texas, only not so conservative.  It’s a small town just south of Spokane.  When the virus began to spread, I thought our town had a few things going for it.  First, we are really close to Fairchild Air Force Base.  Lots of protection, right?  Secondly, with the exception of Spokane there are no large population centers.  Less people mean fewer zombies.  Lastly, Cheney has Turnbull, the wildlife refuge just south of it.  That’s’ 16,000 acres of uninhabited wilderness that someone could retreat to if worse comes to worse.  Well, that was the plan anyway.

Most believe the outbreak began in the southeast.  It hit fast, and crawled across the States with disgustingly efficient results.  Tourist hubs were hit the hardest, it being early summer and all.  In full swing, millions of zombies were pouring out of cities, but it all started with just a random bite being reported here and there.  We had a bit of warning being in the farthest corner of the nation from the incidents, but most people thought it was just a bunch of random sickos. There were reports of people attacking and biting others, even consuming them in the street.  Disgusting stuff, but at least it was happening in Florida and not in the Northwest, right?  Even without the reports of the dead rising back to life, many were declaring this a zombie outbreak.  They were right of course, but who would believe them?  Would you have?  I mean really?  They were fat white guys with beards and batman t-shirts.  You know, the kind that hang out at comic book conventions and debate whether one superhero universe could defeat the cast of some modern fighting game.  They’ve had a longer relationship with a particular brand of yellow soda than they have ever had with any humans to whom they were attracted.  So when the geeks started blaring about zombies, it actually created the opposite of concern.  Everyone laughed at how ridiculous their suggestion was, and went on with their normal lives.

This was a mistake that cost millions their very lives.

And just like the rest of the nation, Cheney was decimated.  Ten thousand residents reduced to about fifty.  So why did none of the location advantages make any difference?  Well…

Shortly after the reports of the outbreak, the base was emptied.  Like, overnight.  We heard an evening’s worth of engine noise from the airfield.  The next day: Ghost town baby.  They probably didn’t even lock the gate behind them.  Where’d they go?  Who the hell knows?  Most likely they’re all dead by now anyway.

Our isolation from major population centers?  Ha.  The virus ran right up the I-90 and into our freaking lives so fast most were caught on the crapper, if you know what I mean.  Spokane lit up like a zombie inferno, and then nowhere within 100 miles was safe.

What happened at the wildlife refuge?  Well, apparently my ideas aren’t as clever as I thought.  Thousands fled to the refuge in camping rigs stocked with survival gear.  One man can hide in an area that large without a hitch.  When you try to use the land as Noah’s Zombie Ark, all you really do is provide a well-stocked hunting ground for the Earth’s undead.   One zombie shuffled in unseen, and thousands came shuffling out.  Many are still wandering around in the sage and trees, looking for any leftovers.

In the cities, it was block after block, neighborhood after neighborhood, until the entire population was either dead, reanimated, or in hiding.  Waves of staggering dead could be seen flowing through streets like water through canals.

But why?  Why were the zombies so effective?

My best guess as to why people become infected so often is that most thought the zombie population was supposed to look ridiculously comical.  We had all seen the movie zombie with half a arm, blood splattered across a face with a gaping mouth spewing a long moan, dragging one foot while reaching menacingly with its one good hand.  Grey skin, torn clothes, white eyes, bad hair.

Reality lets us down so often.

Actual zombies look just like us. They wear normal clothes.  Their skin is pale, but not noticeably.  They still have a pulse, so they don’t deteriorate the way Hollywood made

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