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Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

Darkness and scary! Word count: 17,294

I’d forgotten how much I enjoy/am better at writing dialogue. Conversations just flow. 1200 words in the blink of an eye. Still a bit behind schedule, but only need to do this ridiciulousness once more (i.e. write 1200 more words) today to be back on track.

The following happens in the wake of a series of unfortunate events which cause the CDC HQ in Atlanta, GA to unleash a particularly virulent strain of Westphail which causes the true start of the zombie outbreak….. One bit I kinda like is the thought that even when the “enemy” is a virus, or a zombie, people who question the government will still be seen as “giving comfort” to the enemy….


Seismologists who still ply their trade agree that the earthquake that occurred 25 minutes after the shelling from Somerset’s unit stopped would have happened regardless of whether or not the young colonel had made the decision to call in the explosive artillery. The Bremert Fault which runs parallel to Cattahoochee River was due for a quake, there was no denying it. When it would have occurred is a matter of some debate with the more conservative of the earthquake nerds pinning it at anywhere from 10 to 25 years in the future, while the more renegade of the bunch saying it would have happened five minutes earlier had the bombing not happened to delay it.
“I’m not saying that Somerset is a hero per se,” Dr. Ralph Pitimin, spokesman for the American Seismologic Association, said in a news conference three days later, “but, I would say that he is a man of distinguished courage or ability, who should be admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. If his admittedly ill-advised decision to drop 30 tons of explosive ordnance on a civilian area that was only experiencing a zombie incursion that by any standards could only be described as miniscule had come any later, this earthquake, which would have measured 8.8 on the Richter Scale and occurred 10 minutes earlier, would have been completely devastating.”
When one reporter, who had clearly done his homework, asked Dr. Pitimin how the earthquake which caused the wide dispersal of a virus which had previously been rather well contained could be called anything other than ‘completely devastating’ Pitimin responded:
“You, son,” Pitimin started — the reporter sneered; he was at least 20 years Pitimin’s senior, “are falling into the trap of a logical fallacy known as argumentum ad historium. You can not say with any certainty what would have happened had certain events taken place differently or not at all. Therefore, by assuming that the earthquake would have happened even if Somerset had not shelled the outlying land, you are following fallacious reasoning. All that can be likely said is that again, while I am not calling Somerset a hero, I would have to say that he is a being of godlike prowess who might come to be honored as a divinity.”
The reporter, wily veteran though he was, had never encountered such amazing double speak and question avoidance. Nevertheless, he dove back in.
“That’s not at all what I’m saying. In fact, it seems that you are appealing to argumentum ad historium by saying that if Somerset hadn’t shelled the land that the earthquake would have caused a complete disaster. What I am trying to say here is that the earthquake was in fact, a complete disaster.”
“Look, Mister –” Pitimin started, acting as if he were searching his extensive memory for the reporter’s name. The truth was that he had never bothered to learn any of the reporters’ names even though he had spent the last ten years as the Association’s spokesman and had given any number of press conferences, had allowed numerous reporters to buy him drinks and had slept with at least two of them and even more of their daughters.
“It’s Caesura,” the reporter started, for it was none other than Hitch Caesura, star reporter for the Atlanta Star-Tribune, the very man who had broken the story in the first place with his dogged investigation of Somerset’s incompetence. His research into Somerset’s background had lead to a three day front page report on the mishandling of the viral outbreak by the National Guard, the CDC, and the Atlanta Streets and Sanitation Division. “Hitch –”
Pitimin continued, not bothering to wait for Caesura to finish. “We could argue all day back and forth about who did what, but I don’t see how that could possibly change the fact that while I’m not calling Somerset a hero, I would go so far as to suggest that in the Homeric period, Somerset would be considered a warrior-chieftan of special strength, courage, or ability. And that your reports, while well-written and wonderfully edited by the fine folks at the Star-Tribune, might be actually, in some way, giving comfort and aid to our enemy.”
“Comfort and aid to the enemy?” Caesura asked incredulously. “The enemy is a viral! The virus can’t read!”
Pitimin smiled wryly. “I didn’t know you were an expert on the literacy of the Westphail virus, Mister….”
“It’s Caesura.”
“Yes, well, Mr. Reporter, I realize that you have done extensive research on this so-called viral outbreak” — Pitimin used air-quotes to diminish the legitimacy of the words — “but are you ready to stand here and insist to the world” — a sweeping gesture to the cameras and microphones that filled the room, the bearers of which were now engaged in an intense game of ping-pong in an attempt to capture not only Pitimin’s responses, but Caesura’s as well. Other reporters who, moments before had been eagerly awaiting their turn to ask their own questions now scribbled frantically to record Caesura’s queries. They knew that the conversation they were witness to was better than anything they could come up with. They knew when they were outmatched — “that the Westphail virus can’t, in fact, read?”
“Yes,” Caesura responded. “Yes, I am.”
Pitimin laughed sardonically, “Well then the rest of us can all relax tonight, can we not?” He threw his hands out to his sides, appealing  to the reporters, to his aides, all of whom were taking steps to separate themselves from the obviously deranged man. Nobody wanted his name to appear in a caption under a photo of Pitimin lest their reputation be completely destroyed by association.
“I wouldn’t suggest that any of us can relax anymore, not now that a rare and particularly destructive strain of Westphail has been unleashed upon the southeast United States due to the incompetence and nepotism of the Georgia National Guard and the subsequent earthquake which we came here to ask you about.”
Pitimin was unfazed, the singular quality that made him perfect for the job of spokesman. His superiors had always been worried that his tendency to go off-script, and to speak in circles like a politician had made him something of a loose cannon. However, his complete and utter lack of shame when spouting gibberish and the fact that no reporter had ever, or seemingly could ever cause him to trip up gave them comfort.
“So, Mister….”
This third time, Caesura simply let Pitimin pretend to search for the name, refusing to give the man the opportunity to cut him off again. There was a tense staring match for a matter of minutes before Pitimin continued. “Mister… Mister. You have questions about the earthquake? Go ahead and ask them.”
“I’ve already heard enough,” Caesura said, putting his notebook into his satchel which lay at his side.
“Surely you’d like to stay and hear what the rest of these fine reporters — your friends and colleagues — have to say, wouldn’t you?”
Caesura looked around the room. His journalistic brethren all shook their heads and shrugged. “I think they’re done as well.”
“Well then, if that will be all, I’ll just sum up here and say that Colonel Somerset, while certainly not a hero, could definitely be called a large sandwich, usually consisting of a loaf of bread of longroll cut in half lengthwise and containing a variety of ingredients such as meat, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. Good day to you all, gentlemen.”The subsequent publication and broadcast of this interview, though tangential to the matter at hand, were viewed and read possibly more than any other press conference in the history of press conferences. Government sympathizers used the material as evidence that the media had gone bonkers, publishing anything they could no matter how irrelevant the content. Those who still had half a functioning brain left in their heads pointed to the reports as damning proof that the United States government had completely jumped the shark.

Our hero (to whom the narrative has now returned) goes to the doctor to check out his cold:


The cold hit me in the morning. I woke up with the tell-tale tickle in my throat. In years past, I would have drowned myself and the cold in vitamin C, but diseases of 2018 just laughed at vitamin C. They loved that shit. They asked for seconds. Cold medicine wasn’t much better. It used to just mask symptoms so you could get through the day. With these viruses, cold medicine actually made things worse. I saw a guy with H8N3~pt87 (a newer and rarer but less deadly strain of Westphail) on DayQuil who sneezed his own goddamn nose off. I’m not kidding. He covered his mouth and nose with a handkerchief, sneezed, and when he lowered his hand, his goddamned nose was gone from his face, sitting in the goddamned handkerchief in his hand. He freaked out. I freaked out. His mom freaked out. The whole situation was horrible and really put a damper on the mood of that evening. So, I stayed away from the C and the Quil, and headed out the door and right to the damned doctor. The closest doctors to me worked out of a Catholic Church which had been converted to a medical center the summer before. The building swarmed with nuns who’d been pressed into duty as medical assistants and security personnel who eyed everyone that entered the church as a potential threat. The line was long, but there was plenty of reading material on hand to make the wait go by faster. I put on the supplied surgical mask, its inability to block the virus had already been proven in clinical trials, but in terms of having something for show, there was no equal. I settled in to wait while reading a six year old copy of Time Magazine. When they finally called my name, I had read it cover to cover. Twice. “Right this way, Mr. Graves,” said a pleasant young woman. The yellow and black HAZMAT suit she wore did its best to mask her curvy figure but failed; the hooded headpiece was similarly ineffective at hiding her beautiful features. I tried to make out if she wore a habit underneath the suit but couldn’t. “Thank you, Miss –”  I made a show of reading the nameplate printed above her left breast; further excuse to stare. “Alcott. How are you today?” I saw her frown through the plexiglass covering her face. “It’s been a rough day,” she admitted. “We’ve had seven positive cases. Three went right to DEI.” She paused and collected herself. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be telling you that.” “No, it’s alright,” I said, though the news did little to calm my nerves. “I asked.” She sighed and shrugged, a gesture muted by the suit. “Still, I shouldn’t–” “Honestly,” I said, “it’s the new reality. The sooner we accept it, the better.” “I guess you’re right, but it’s easier to accept when you’re not about to face testing.” She shuddered and caught herself again. “Listen to me, going on and on like this.” She lead me into a makeshift examination room near what used to be the church altar and showed me to a gray folding chair next to a tray of medical instruments. A guard stood ominously behind the chair, a rifle slung across his back, his right hand resting on a pistol loosely carried in a holster on his hip. The visor on his helmet was tinted darkly; I couldn’t discern whether there was a man in there or some sort of brand new security robot. He stood so still, it was impossible to tell.  A pair of handcuffs seemed out of place amongst the swabs, scissors and other devices on the tray, but their import was not lost on me. If the test came back positive, I’d be wearing those in short order.

“The doctor will be with you shortly,” said the woman.

“Oh, I hoped you’d be doing the swabbing,” I said, imbuing my words with as much double meaning as I possibly could. Remarkably, even though I’d spent most of my days over the past several years just holed up in a fleabitten, run-down motel which catered to the lost and transient, I still hadn’t lost my natural rapport with members of the fairer sex. Or at least, I thought I hadn’t. Her face darkened visibly.

“Are you attempting to flirt with me, Mr. Graves?” she asked.

I hadn’t realized I’d been so transparent. “Can you blame a guy for trying?”

Her hand disappeared into a pocket of the suit, coming back out with a string of rosary beads which she fingered nervously. “With a nun in a church that has been turned into a last bastion in the defense against the growing horde of the walking dead which threatens to destroy everything that God and man have created? While on the verge, yourself, of learning whether you are to join that horde? Yes, I can blame a guy for trying.”

The guard behind the chair coughed, obviously trying to stifle a laugh. It must have been the funniest thing he’d heard all day if it caused him to break his stoic silence. At least now I knew there was something living and breathing inside that uniform.

Today's picture taken the next day. It counts. I'm a zombie, dammit. Word count: 15003.

Having trouble generating zombie photo. Or many words, really. But, am back on track. Thanks to Kip for this guy’s name.


I contracted H5N3P53 on April 19th, 2018. I know the day and I know the asshole that gave it to me. I was making a rare trip outside my room to the grocery store and some dickwad sneezed on me. That’s right. Me, the one who had lived in his loner castle, a hermit in a cabin in the middle of the city, eschewing human contact, keeping everyone at arm’s length, refusing to participate in society, in life, in anything, brought down by a single sneeze, from some douchebag named Tim Stimph. How do I know his name? Because six months later, I ate that asshole’s brain and stole his wallet.
I’m not even kidding. But, I’ll get to that later.
I was at the grocery store, buying a six pack of beer to get me through the night. It was going to be a hard night, I knew, because I had finished reading the only book I owned and there were nothing but reruns of Justin Bieber’s sitcom on the only channel my television could pick up. Beer was the only thing that was going to carry me through. As I wandered through the grocery store towards the beer and wine section, I noticed a thin, pale, waste of a human being about my age wearing a White Sox hat, looking through the adult diaper section.  I couldn’t believe someone as young as I could be so incontinent as to need to wear Depends, but from the way he was looking at the packages and reading the sizing information, I was quite certain that he was buying them for himself and not for anyone else. Also, there were the poop stains on his pants. I snickered as I walked past, thinking, amongst other things, “What an asshole.” Also, I was thinking, “This guy is a total waste of space. I wonder if he experiences oral incontinence as well. You know, diarrhea of the mouth and whatnot. I bet he does. I bet he never shuts up even when he knows everyone around him wants him to just shut the fuck up. But he never will.” I don’t know why I had such an immediate and negative reaction to this prick, but there it was, and I never second guess my first impressions because, more often than not, I’m 100% correct.
And, it turns out, my gut feeling was right once again.
Look, I don’t think I can impress upon you nearly enough what a total reject, retard, dickface, snotnose, asswipe, fucknut, halfwit cockmunch this guy is. Was. Remember: I ate his motherfucking brain. And you know what? I think it made me stupider. In fact, I’m certain of it. Prior to that, I knew how to do differential calculus. Afterwards? Not a bit. Before I ate that jerkwad’s brain, I could, with  my eyes closed,  field strip an M16 while I was being attacked by rabid dogs, my hair was on fire and my nuts were being squeezed by a 300 pound gorilla. Afterwards? Not even close. I know. I tried.

Blurry scary zombie! Rawr! Word count: ~12,000

Was really just grasping at straws today as this super subpar excerpt will verify. Big ups to the people of Paxton for their contribution.

The catastrophic moment — the event that turned this whole thing from a “Oh, wow, this is another crazy pandemic but one which will eventually fade away and become just a chapter in human history books” kind of thing to a “Holy fuck, we’re all going to die!” kind of thing — took place at the CDC Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. I remember hearing about it and thinking, “Wow! Just like in The Walking Dead!” But, I was disappointed to learn, the CDC HQ is nowhere near as cool looking as AMC made it out to be — the building they used was just some performing arts center. The actual CDC campus consists of 13 buildings, many of which look like regular, run-of-the-mill office buildings. The most interesting shit happens, as with everywhere else government-related, deep underground: precisely 2 miles underground.
Besides making for a more secure environment, well-suited to ward off chemical, biological and nuclear threats, terrorists, direct military sieges, and nosy media types, having your labs that deep in the Earth allows you to save serious money on your energy bills. Warmed by the heat from the Earth’s core, and using geothermal generators for electricity, the CDC was really one of the more environmentally friendly government agencies, God bless them. With a state of the art ventilation system, a dozen clean rooms, safeguards out the ass, fail safe devices for their fail safe devices, the CDC was one of the most secure buildings the United States had ever built, even boasting one of six safehouses scattered across the country for use in event of total devastation to house the President, his family, his staff, and other top-ranking government officials. Had the choice been made to actually move the President into this particular protective housing, untold numbers of staff would have been displaced, probably leading to the deaths of most of them. Fortunately for everyone at CDC HQ (and, if you’ll forgive some political editorializing on my part) the rest of the nation, President Romney was mistaken for a zombie and killed by a member of the Paxton, Illinois Volunteer Zombie Protection Squad during an ill-advised surprise visit to the town. The sniper who pulled the trigger was never identified but was memorialized in a statue, lovingly and pain-stakingly handcrafted by town artisans who did so at their own peril. Who carves a marble statue in the midst of a zombie insurrection? That’s some serious dedication right there.

Terrifying! Wordcount: 11539

Ever since I finished up with my Patients One-Two, it’s been harder to get words. But, I know I’ll start to roll with Zachary Graves again. Right? Right.

More serendipity — I sorta aptly chose a random designation for the virus. P53 is a tumor suppressor that when mutated, causes cancer. What if a cure for cancer caused a weirder mutation…or something? Eh, the science is there…. Somewhere.

While Westphail’s body — and I imagine he was still alive, or reanimated, or whatever you want to call it — was being poked, prodded, and subjected to whatever tests the FEMA guys could come up with, cases were beginning to pop up around the world. During the next week, there were 23 documented cases of what had been identified as H5N3P53, a grossly mutated version of the H1N1 (and H1N2, H3N1, H3N2, and H2N3) flu viruses. It was the addition of a mutated P53 protein, normally a tumor suppressor. P53 (and the TP53 gene) had been an essential part of the cancer cure, and when a mutated version of it showed up in scientists’ microscopes, there were a few who smirked and uttered a quiet, “I told you so,” and went back to their work.
I uttered a “I told you so” of my own, but to be honest, I hadn’t told anybody, and I was all by myself in my room. The presence of P53, I was certain, meant that in curing cancer, we (they? I had nothing to do with it, but it had, in the intervening years, become one of those so-called “l’accomplissement de la population”  — an “accomplishment of the people”) had unleashed something so much worse that we would have been better off just leaving well enough alone, quitting while we were ahead, or at the very least, not so very very far behind. I had been working on my theories, mostly in my head, sometimes in the bars when I found a couple coins to rub together. I tended to get drunk — very drunk — and espouse my ideas to whomever would listen. I received a lot of crazy looks, but I noticed that more and more, there were people who would quietly nod their heads, perhaps not ready to voice their agreement, but they were there and that was all I needed.

Zombie at work! Word count: 10,015

Moving on from the events in Botswana, I have to say I miss it! Realized last night why everything was sounding so academic: reading REAMDE by Neal Stephenson, which is just getting into this ridiculous description of a whole ton of insane events, but is calm as can be, very academic, etc. It’s coloring my descriptions, but also turned me into a third-person narrator instead of the memoir-style it started as. Nice thing about NaNo is you can just say, “Oh well, fuck it,” and keep going with whatever. There’s no time or place to be going back and changing things…. So I’m somehow going to make it work out for my own sake, and keep on motoring. Passed 10,000 today which means this thing has some amount of weight and I will (most likely) stick with it enough to finish. (Word 10,000: best).

Moving on to the virus victim whose name was given to it: Thomas Wayne Westphail — the name Westphail is, I realized, a subconscious bastardization of the name of someone I saw a few days before NaNo started. Hilarious! Threw Wayne in as his middle name since he is a convicted murderer and as Philip Wayne Martin knows, everyone with Wayne as their middle name ends up in jail for murder at some point. It’s just a matter of time, Phil.

Three days later, scientists finally had their chance to look at a live one. Thomas Wayne Westphail, a 32-year-old Texas man who had been sentenced to death for the murder of a 9-year-old girl and was sitting on death row, went through Stage IV. He’d complained of a severe flu and had been moved to the infirmary of the Allan B. Polunsky Unit Supermax prison in West Livingston, Texas. Westphail was an incorrigible and difficult prisoner, so he had been handcuffed to the bed in the medical unit, a precaution which proved incredibly useful to the scientists, and most likely saved the lives of several of the staff in the building.
Westphail passed through Stage IV in the middle of the night, much like Basadi. The infirmary was empty save for him, and there was just a skeleton crew on duty, none of whom noticed the once-dead-to-the-world Westphail suddenly straining against the locked bracelet on his wrist.
At 6:30 that morning, the prison staff was surprised by the arrival of a FEMA team, some SpecOps types, and a half dozen Men in Black types along with a National Guard unit who’d been roused and dispatched from their garrison in Galveston. This last group formed a cordon around the prison, blocking it off from the rest of the world. Tower guards were now faced with the perplexing image of being guarded themselves — men in camoflage with automatic weapons patrolled uneasily outside the walls. The FEMA team set up in a large RV-type vehicle directly outside the main entrance to the prison building. They were deadly efficient, getting their portable generator running, their quarantine space ready to receive, their MOPP suits on. The SpecOps made ready to storm the building, while the CIA spooks (for they were obviously CIA spooks) stood around and spoke into their cell phones and generally looked as if they were running the show but had nothing to do.

Ooooh. Scary Zombie (wearing NU hat)! Word count: 9023. Also: Northwestern 28 - Nebraska 25!

Good writing again today. Nice to get out of my narrator’s head, more or less, as he relates some of the story of the initial outbreak. Doesn’t make much sense as this is his personal memoir, so why would he basically be reciting, word for word, from some book that was well researched and well read? Well, don’t ask. Shut up….
Botswana was a (mostly) random choice of country for case number two, but it turns out to be a pretty good one as the traditional religion is Badimo which means, wait for it, “Walking dead.” Three cheers for serendipity!
2000+ words written while watching NU beat Nebraska 28-25. Wakka wakka!
The door to the morgue had been left open, and Basadi stumbled through it, and then proceeded to wander the basement of the hospital, walking the hallways throughout the night, circling the floor again and again. Fortunately for the rest of the patients and staff, the basement was vacant and Westphail doesn’t provide its victims with the wherewithal to contend with doors, nor a working knowledge of elevators. It wasn’t until 7 the next morning when the coroner, a middle-aged man named Baruti Melesi, arrived for work that anybody knew something was amiss.
Melesi later told news reporters that he first had an inkling that something was wrong, not when he saw that Basadi’s body was missing, but when he heard a low moan from the hallway some ten minutes after he sat at his desk adjacent to the morgue. He glanced up from his paperwork, a chill crawling down his spine and saw, through the window which, fortunately for him, was reinforced with a mesh of wire, Basadi, or Basadi’s body, or, as he put it, “a horrifying abomination which resembled Basadi, but whose face was twisted with evil.” Melesi, whose colorful descriptions of the encounter made for good reading in the days that followed, even as terror gripped the world, uttered one phrase as he scrambled from his chair and shrunk against the wall behind it: “Unatombwa na farsi!” which, roughly translated, means “Fuck a horse!”, an exclamation common amongst the Botswanan lower class. Melesi wasn’t often given to cursing, having been “brought up better than that” according to his mother (who was sufficiently scandalized by this revelation that she gave her son a sharp slap across the cheek before taking him into her arms and sobbing once they were reunited.) That he was shaken and disturbed enough  by Basadi’s appearance to issue such an utterance gives testimony to how hideous she must have looked. Her body was relatively intact, as she hadn’t been dead very long, and aside from her pale complexion and her left arm which hung limply at her side, on the surface, Basadi would have seemed more or less normal, save for the fact that when Melesi had left her the previous night, she had been, you know, dead. Plus, figure that Melesi was a coroner, a man who had seen some serious shit. He’d spent time in Angola, in Sudan, in Somalia. He was not unused to the dead. But when Basadi’s head turned, and he saw her face, well, that was enough to make a cultured, well-raised man swear.
There was no long, tense stand off between Basadi and Melesi, though to the coroner, it initially felt as if the two stared at each other for a matter of minutes before anything happened. In reality (he later admitted) less than a second passed between Basadi seeing him and her springing into action. Basadi leapt at the window, bouncing back from it, seemingly unharmed. As Melesi watched, horrified and shocked, he still felt some measure of clinical detachment which caused him to wonder about the woman’s dislocated shoulder which she now put into attempting to break the window. Again and again she smashed at it, and Melesi winced each time, thinking about how incredibly painful that must be, though Basadi did not seem to notice and no trace of pain crossed the woman’s face.
“Yeye anaonekana kama yeye alikuwa na njaa,” Meresi said. “She looked as if she were hungry.” When interviewed by James Thrace and William Kipnis for their book Path of a Virus: Mapping the Great Zombie Outbreak, this was the only description he could give of her countenance, other than that it seemed that the devil himself had taken possession of her soul, a statement that further shocked Melesi’s Badimo-practicing mother.
You can imagine, can’t you, what it might do to a people who had gone their whole lives, as those who practice Badimo do, that your ancestors are actually walking amongst you, to see someone, recently very very dead to be actually walking amongst them, and, that, at least in this instance, this was decidedly not a good thing. It would be a complete and total mindfuck, to say the very least. If it had been Melesi’s great-grandmother, one of his own relatives, out there in the hallway, it might well have been worse. According to Thrace and Kipnis, who had done extensive research on Melesi’s family and the Badimo religion in order to paint a fuller picture of the impact this event might have had, this was a woman who had told him endless stories of the old days. She had impressed upon him the fact that in those times it was not unusual for a young man to toil in the fields alongside the spirits of his ancestors. These stories had terrified the young Melesi, though he would never admit it, had kept him up at night, sweating in his bed, imagining hordes of undead roaming the Earth. Even if they were not malevolent creatures — as the one he currently saw certainly was, banging and thrashing against his office window — the idea was not a comfort to him. The very thought of confronting something so old, so ancient was a source of nightmares to the young boy. Even these sessions with his great-grandmother, who at 53 years old was by far the oldest woman in the small village in which Melesi was raised, made him uneasy. Her wrinkled face, her raspy voice, her weakened and brittle frame; Melesi wasn’t completely certain that the woman wasn’t dead already, leading him to ask his mother, quite often, “Unaweza kuona bibi pia, sahihi?” (“You see Great-grandmother too, right?”) which would often lead to a slap as well.

Grrrr. Word Count: 7018

I had thought that writing about Patient Zero would be pretty fun, but it turns out that Patient One is much more interesting. Patient Zero came and went pretty quickly (bit someone at the Baker County Fair in Oregon, got shot up by some gun-toting fairgoers, and that’s all she wrote.) Patient One, however, well, it’s a bit of a sadder story (which I haven’t even finished yet!)


Surprisingly, it didn’t hit Oregon again for a while. You’d think that you’d be able to pull out a map of Baker County, plot all the outbreak locations and you’d see a huge mass of red dots reaching out from the fairgrounds as the virus spread. The next documented case was on the other side of the world, almost exactly: Ghanzi, Botswana. A 32-year-old woman named Mosetsanagape Basadi had been complaining of flu-like symptoms: aches, nausea, fever. The usual shit. Nobody thought anything of it. Turns out, that’s Stage I.
Stage II isn’t much more on the surface, really. It only differentiates itself from Stage I by the addition of a runny nose. Yeah, it’s a severely runny nose, one that doesn’t ever seem to stop, but a little Day-Quil and some tissue, and you’re still not all that concerned. It took a while before people realized this was something to get worried about. The scientists, they likened Stage II to the idea of rats streaming off a sinking ship. When your nose starts running and it just won’t stop? That’s the beginning of all your bodily fluids trying to get the fuck out. Westphail is so fucking scary even your snot doesn’t want to stick around. It was towards the end of her Stage II that Basadi decided it might be more than just a severe head cold that she was experiencing and headed down the A3 road towards the airport and spoke with a nurse at Ghanzi Primary Hospital. She was admitted, and cared for as if it was just a run-of-the-mill, albeit severe, flu. Three days later, when all the mucous had left her body, Basadi progressed to Stage III.
If you think seeing all the mucous go is scary, imagine when the blood starts following. It starts as a trickle: just a bloody nose to follow days of the worst runny nose on record. And then, man oh man, it just starts to flow. The doctors at Ghanzi Primary threw up their hands in defeat, loaded Basadi into the back of an ambulance and drove her 400 miles up the A2 to Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone. The docs there didn’t fare much better than they did down in Ghanzi. To be fair, nobody did very well with it at first, and the eight hours it took for Basadi to make the trip more or less was all it took for Stage III to turn into Stage IV.
At first, before the Gooseman-Keane act was passed, the end of Stage III was considered the end of life. Once all the blood is gone, yeah, people are pretty much dead. But that does discredit to Westphail’s Stage IV, the mack daddy stage of all viruses everywhere. Ebola can’t hold a candle to it. HIV trembles in fear at the mention of its name. During Stage IV, the virus, having evacuated all fluid from what is now little more than the husk of a former human being, having basically terraformed the body to suit its own dark little needs, Westphail invades the brain and, like Hitler did in Europe, Westphail takes the fuck over.
Now, like all good invasions, Westphail takes a minute or two to complete its occupation. When Basadi arrived at Princess Marina, she was pronounced DOA. Her mother, who had made the trip with her, wept and wrung her hands and made preparations to bring her daughter’s body back to Ghanzi for burial. It’s a lot easier to transport a dying person than a dead body in Botswana; the only viable option was to go by train to Lobatse where a cousin who had an old pickup truck would meet her to take her the rest of the way home. The arrangements took some time; the next train to Lobatse wasn’t for another two days. The staff at Princess Marina allowed Leonor Basadi to stay in an unused room in the hospital, the kindness of their hearts bolstered by a general fear of allowing this woman who may have been exposed to what they were calling “Sweggrootgriep” — which pretty much translates to “Big Bad Flu” — to leave the hospital and potentially infect the rest of the town.

Rawwwwr. Day 3. Word count: 5010


So the basic premise is that man cured cancer but the cure lead to an even more destructive and disturbing disease — H5N3P2…or something like that. “Westphail Virus” — named after Patient Zero. Probably this concept has been done before — I think I’ve read something along the lines in some zombie novel somewhere. Maybe it was the cure for the common cold? Anyhow…. Not much to speak of in terms of quality writing today, but an excerpt nonetheless.

Still, I had to know for myself. Not wanting to go outside, and not really believing that I’d find any answers out there anyway, I sat down hard on the bed, and turned on the radio.
“…this momentous occasion, its repercussions on science, medicine, the economy, human existence. Mankind is on the threshold of a golden age and we have slain the dragon that guarded the door.”
I recognized the last line as an allusion to a quote from Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher and logician who was referring to religion, not cancer — sure, it was easily reworked to be relevant, but…. These thoughts — my annoyance at the misappropriation — precluded all others, but it soon sunk in as I listened to report after report. Doctors at Johns Hopkins had performed treatments that had completely and safely eradicated a wide variety of cancer cells in human patients. Not only that, but they were on the brink of being able to prevent cancer from ever forming in the first place. Ever. They cured cancer.
My mouth hung open, I couldn’t think of a thing to do. It felt like the world was a brand new place. I looked out the window, saw the sun in the sky, shining brightly, and even though it was February, it felt like it was actually warm outside, like maybe they had, while they were at it, found a cure for Chicago winter. Maybe they’d cured AIDS and leprosy, and the hunger problem and the obesity problem, and fuck it, the economy too. And I sank back in my bed because I realized that there was hope out there in the universe. And I also knew I wasn’t going to do a damn thing with it.

Texture Face! Zombie Wall!

The Day Two doldrums. The “This idea will not sustain itself over thirty days” moments. The “If I just sneak out the back door, will anybody notice I’ve stopped writing?” blahs.

Meant to write a short intro and then set up a series of flashbacks and whatnot but here I am just writing writing writing in the present, Zach rambling on about how much being a zombie sucks/is awesome.

Anyhow. Zach and a crew of 1500 zombies have stacked up outside Woodfield Mall….

You could tell there were people inside — hastily made signs, red paint smeared across sheets of plywood leaning up against the entrance announced a group of refugees hoping for government rescue. They’d taken to doing that, marking their hideouts on the off chance a National Guard regiment happened to be passing through and happened to feel like taking on a dozen or more hungry, whining mouths who were more likely to get the whole group killed than they were to be of any use to anybody down the road. The refugees — some even called themselves survivors; I always thought that was a bit like counting their chickens before they were hatched — didn’t know what I knew: Uncle Sam had stopped giving a shit about rescue missions a long time before. But, what the hell, right? Z can’t read, so what could it hurt? Except, you know, I can read. God, it was nasty, somehow worse than Milwaukee, which was just about the worst thing I’ve ever seen. And, I don’t know, I mean, the virus did a number on me too, nearly killed everything in me that was human, made me numb to that kind of stuff — like, I wouldn’t think twice about stepping on a kitten’s throat, you know? The word “cute” doesn’t have a place in my vocabulary anymore — but there was still that little thing, that little twinge, something sticking in the back of my throat, hiding behind that Explorer, waiting for my bros to do their thing. Something like, “Don’t you feel sorry for all those poor folks who are getting ripped to shreds right now? Don’t you remember when you used to be like them, afraid of the dark? Afraid of the unknown? Using every last resource at your disposal just to fight to live and breathe for one more day?” And I thought, Yeah, I remember. I remember how much it sucked. And you know how kick ass it is to be the dominant life force on the planet? And the voice, the sticking in my throat, the whatever, it was quiet, it was gone, because it knew I was right. We Zs might be a cancer on the face of the Earth, but, fuck, cancer was God’s equalizer, and when man finally figured out how to cure it, God was all, “Here’s something new, assholes.” Blam. Westphail. And every poor bastard who went Stage IV with it was now on the next step of the evolutionary ladder, kicking ass and not even bothering to take names, because why would a name matter to Z? That’s how badass Z is: he’s beyond the need for names.
It took all of three hours for my undead army to clear the mall. First the shooting stopped — a group of suburbanites is only going to have so much ammo, especially in the gun shy Chicago metropolitan area — and then the screaming stopped. A lone Z emerged from the shattered glass and wood of a formerly-boarded up Macy’s display window. He stumbled on a broken mannequin and took a tumble, tangled in broken plaster and lathe. I made my way across the parking lot and picked the poor guy up, put him back on his feet. He showed no gratitude — the bastard! — and kept shuffling off in the direction I’d pointed him.
“Hey, buddy!” I called after him, pointing over my shoulder at the mall. “Is it all good in there?”
He didn’t respond. Not even a moan. You’ve heard of feeling lonely in a crowd, right? Try being with 1500 of your brethren and they don’t even pay one bit of attention to you. That’s how you know you’re one of them, by the way — they don’t try to eat you. But anything they’re not trying to eat? They just ignore it. So here I am, hanging out with all these …things… and I still, I don’t know, I still feel that urge to have basic interactions, there’s still that thing inside me.
Look, in life, I wasn’t a very social person. I’d rather have stayed home on a Friday night, maybe watch a little TV, some football, whatever. I was cool with not seeing a single person all weekend long. If I ordered food? I’d do it online, as little interaction as possible. But here, now, without the option for any real human contact? It’s kind of a downer, really, rolling down the street with 1500 people, whatever, and nobody’s talking? Everybody’s focused on one thing, they’ve got their eyes on the prize, and that prize is more or less the total destruction of the human race. Yeah, it’s kinda a bummer. But, hell, at least they let me hang out with them. Smoothies don’t want me around anymore, and who can blame ‘em? I’m a constant reminder of everything bad in the world, and, to be honest, a constant threat. They don’t know when I might eat them.
So yeah, I’m the loneliest boy in the world, boo hoo.