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Hourglass face/Harry Caray glasses zombie. Word count: 22454

As long as I get to 25,000 tomorrow, I’ll be on track. Haven’t been this close to the minimum-count line during a Nano….ever? Life is too distracting anymore to do these things. Of course, I create most of the distractions myself, but this is beside the point.

So we finally get to the good stuff: Zach Graves is turning into a zombie. Stage III of Westphail described in detail. Take heed: graphic grossness and lots of swearing follow.

The mucous ran like a river out of my nose, down my face, and onto the floor. And I could see, by the light coming through the window, that the snot was tinged with red. Tinged with red. Blood. All the fluid in my body was trying to evacuate. Flee the sinking ship. Get the fuck out. Dimly, my mind realized what was going on. I’d seen and heard and read enough about the stages of Westphail to know that I had somehow jumped to Stage III. The virus was carving out space in my body to make room for whatever nefarious purposes it had in mind. I’d done so much reading and research that I’d become something of an expert on the subject and so I experienced a sort of clinical detachment of my own, a kind of out of body experience, hovering over my pathetic body: feet together, pointed back towards the bed; knees together; sitting back on my feet; body somehow upright, my hands outstretched towards the sky, towards my out-of-body floating mind’s eye, appealing towards something I didn’t even believe in, knowing there was no heaven, no help, no hope.

Even with all the reports I’d read — the Wikipedia articles; the autopsies; the newspapers — there were still surprises in store for me. Not one to make things boring, Westphail was a real champ at keeping everything interesting even as it was busy running its course. The runny/bloody nose was well documented, as was the bowel evacuation (details of which I am repressing for my readers’ benefit; you’re welcome) and the vomiting (like a fountain, I watched as my last two meals were violently ejected from my stomach) but nobody had ever mentioned the high-pitched ringing in the ears which was nearly drowning out the noises that all these other activities were making.

I felt strangely calm, thankful for the rational thoughts going through my heads, without which, I’d surely have been panicking up a storm, freaking out, knowing exactly what fate was about to befall me, screaming — if I’d been able to, what with all the vomiting — my head off. As it was, I felt surprise. Nobody mentioned a high pitched ringing! I’ll have to edit the Wikipedia page. Would this count as first hand research though? Would that make it an ineligible edit? Not to get too deep into my thoughts, but I was so far gone and so deep in my head that I was, in another layer higher, examining the layer of my brain which was observing the war taking place in my body. Look at me, being so calm. I’d make a great scientist. I missed my calling. Is there anybody else in the world who could be so rational and detached as they were going through this shit as I am? Above all that, I will admit, there was another train of thought going: FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK HOW THE FUCK ARE YOU NOT FREAKING THE FUCK OUT? BE MORE CONCERNED.

Conversation between the layers was limited, but there was some discourse, namely the other, calmer layers, telling the layer that was, to use its own words, “freaking the fuck out” to calm the fuck down. The scientific, rational layer was pissed that the freaking-out layer was making so much noise as to make its observations difficult to carry out. The self-conscious layer which was observing my rational observations adopted a somewhat more rational tone tapping into a heretofore unknown hippie-ish, peace-loving, flower-picking side of me. Come on guys, it said, can’t we all just get along?

Explaining this all now; finally writing it all down in one clear narrative, I have discovered that I am unsure as to how much time elapsed between my coming to realize that Stage III was in full effect and when I went down into Stage IV. As I recall these events, and remember all the various tracks of thoughts that went through my head, all the inner dialogue that went on, it seems like it went on for hours, and yet the strongest memories I have tell me that it all happened in an instant. Had a movie been made of my life to that point, the long boring years leading up to this moment would have filled reel after reel of film while the sudden violent transformation from normal, unproductive human being to freak of nature would have taken place in a series of tableaus, flashes of me at various stages; short, frantic images, hinting at the various disgusting moments which I was at that point experiencing, accompanied by some appropriate music like a moderately heavy Nine Inch Nails song or maybe that cover of “Mad World” that was so popular around ‘05.