Feed / Page 4

Page 4

the blog of Georgia Mason, September 3, 2039

Zombies are pretty harmless as long as you treat them with respect. Some people say you should pity the zombie, empathize with the zombie, but I think they? Are likely to become the zombie, if you get my meaning. Don’t feel sorry for the zombie. The zombie’s not going to feel sorry for you when he starts gnawing on your head. Sorry, dude, but not even my sister gets to know me that well.

If you want to deal with zombies, stay away from the teeth, don’t let them scratch you, keep your hair short, and don’t wear loose clothes. It’s that simple. Making it more complicated would be boring, and who wants that? We have what basically amounts to walking corpses, dude.

Don’t suck all the fun out of it.

—From Hail to the King,

the blog of Shaun Mason, January 2, 2039


Neither of us spoke as we drove through the remains of Santa Cruz. There were no signs of movement, and the buildings were getting widely spaced enough that visual tracking was at least partially reliable. I started to relax as I took the first exit onto Highway 1, heading south. From there, we could cut over to Highway 152, which would take us into Watsonville, where we’d left the van.

Watsonville is another of Northern California’s “lost towns.” It was surrendered to the infected after the summer of 2014, but it’s safer than Santa Cruz, largely due to its geographical proximity to Gilroy, which is still a protected farming community. This means that while no one’s willing to live in Watsonville for fear that the zombies will shamble down from Santa Cruz in the middle of the night, the good people of Gilroy aren’t willing to let the infected have it either. They go in three times a year with flamethrowers and machine guns and clean the place out. That keeps Watsonville deserted, and lets the California farmers continue to feed the population.

I pulled off to the side of the road outside the ruins of a small town called Aptos, near the Highway 1 onramp. There was flat ground in all directions, giving us an adequate line of sight on anything that might be looking for a snack. My bike was running rough enough that I wanted to get a good look at it, and adding more gas probably wouldn’t hurt. Dirt bikes have small tanks, and we’d covered a lot of miles already.

Shaun turned toward me as he dismounted, grinning from ear to ear. The wind had raked his hair into a series of irregular spikes and snarls, making him look like he’d been possessed. “That,” he said, with almost religious fervor, “was the coolest thing you have ever done. In fact, that may have been the coolest thing you ever will do. Your entire existence has been moving toward one shining moment, George, and that was the moment when you thought, ‘Hey, why don’t I just go over the zombies?’ ” He paused for effect. “You are possibly cooler than God.”

“Yet another chance to be free of you, down the drain.” I hopped off the bike and pulled off my helmet, starting to assess the most obvious problems. They looked minor, but I still intended to get them looked at as soon as possible. Some damage was beyond my admittedly limited mechanical capabilities, and I was sure I’d managed to cause most of it.

“You’ll get another one.”

“That’s the hope that keeps me going.” I balanced my helmet against the windscreen before unzipping the right saddlebag and removing the gas can. Setting the can on the ground, I pulled out the first-aid kit. “Blood test time.”


“You know the rules. We’ve been in the field, and we don’t go back to base until we’ve checked our virus levels.” I extracted two small handheld testing units, holding one out to him. “No levels, no van. No van, no coffee. No coffee, no joy. Do you want the joy, Shaun, or would you rather stand out here and argue with me about whether you’re going to let me test your blood?”

“You’re burning cool by the minute here,” he grumbled, and took the unit.

“I’m okay with that,” I said. “Now let’s see if I’ll live.”

Moving with synchronicity born of long practice, we broke the biohazard seals and popped the plastic lids off our testing units, exposing the sterile metal pressure pads. Basic field test units only work once, but they’re cheap and necessary. You need to know if someone’s gone into viral amplification—preferably before they start chewing on your tasty flesh.

I unsnapped my right glove and peeled it off, shoving it into my pocket. “On three?”

“On three,” Shaun agreed.



We both reached out and slid our index fingers into the unit in the other’s hand. Call it a quirk. Also call it an early-warning system. If either of us ever waits for “three,” something’s very wrong.

The metal was cool against my finger as I depressed the pressure pad, a soothing sensation followed by the sting of the test’s embedded needle breaking my skin. Diabetes tests don’t hurt; they want you to keep using them, and comfort makes a difference. Kellis-Amberlee blood testing units hurt on purpose. Lack of sensitivity to pain is an early sign of viral amplification.

The LEDs on top of the box turned on, one red, one green, beginning to flash in an alternating pattern. The flashing slowed and finally stopped as the red light went out, leaving the green. Still clean. I glanced at the test I was holding and let out a slow breath as I saw that Shaun’s unit had also stabilized on green.

“Guess I don’t get to clean your room out just yet,” I said.

“Maybe next time,” he said. I passed him back his test, letting him handle the storage while I refilled the gas tank. He did so with admirable efficiency, snapping the plastic covers back onto the testing units and triggering the internal bleach dispensers before pulling a biohazard bag out of the first-aid kit and dropping the units in. The top of the bag turned red when he sealed it, the plastic melting itself closed. That bag was triple-reinforced, and it would take a Herculean effort to open it now that it was shut. Even so, he checked the seal and the seams of the bag before securing it in the saddlebag’s biohazardous materials compartment.

Prev Next