Thursday, December 11, 2014

As the Dead Begin to Rise in BLEEDING KANSAS, Part II

THE SETUP: Two men sit at the bar in a luxury hotel in a city on lockdown. Most of the hotel’s guests left while it was still possible to travel, but there are a few still in their rooms, many of them too sick to move. One of them has bitten Angie, the desk manager, and she’s reacted badly to it. 

The narrator is one Mr. Derek Grace, who will, in time, go from middle-aged job seeker to the Dead Silencer. For now, he’s fuming over the recent death of his wife, who died with all the other victims of the Final Flu, while the job that was going to save his family literally perished before he could take that final interview. 

It’s difficult taking in the end of the world as a whole when your personal life has already crashed and burned. Now he’s stuck at a bar 600 miles from home, watching the mass burials on TV. It’s not going smoothly. And he’s only blocks away from the action in Bleeding Kansas when... 



“Crimson spray erupts”


A woman runs screaming to the girl but is blocked by a Guardsman and his M4. He pushes the little girl’s mother so hard she falls backwards. Another Guardsman runs forward as the little girl falls atop one of the volunteers trying to wrap her up. It’s the volunteer’s turn to kick and flail now that the girl has her head nuzzled into her neck. Crimson spray erupts along either side of the girl’s head. The second Guardsman shoots twice, once into the girl’s head and again into the head of the injured volunteer.

“Holy shit! Tanner, what do you know about this?”

“It’s been a busy 12 to 18 hours. No one knows what to make of it. I’ve been reading messages from my sources overseas but I picked up a lot of intel just walking around with Officer Dalton. The cops and the Guard know all about this.”


This?”


Two Guardsmen hold the screaming, kicking woman while two others pull the little girl from the body of the volunteer. Her face is blotted out with red. Bits of pale matter dot the clot of scarlet clenched between her tiny teeth. After some deliberation they toss the volunteer into the trench as well.

I can’t believe what they’re showing next. The bodies of the little girl and the volunteer are lying on top of what looks like giant writhing maggots—the corpses struggling against their shrouds in the trench.

“Yeah,” says Tanner. “They’re gonna have to close that up fast. Weird how so many of them will come back at once like that. It’s like that first one woke them up.”

“What the blue screaming hell is going on here?”


Tanner nods at the screen. A reporter is speaking urgently to the camera: “What we’re seeing here is a post-mortem reaction to the Final Flu. These are not your loved ones all of a sudden getting better. These are—”


We hear the automatic gunfire echoing loudly among the buildings outside before hearing it on the TV. The camera swings away from the reporter to down the street from the park. A figure falls forward, a broad stripe of blood plastered from his mouth to his groin. As that one falls we see another man behind him, comically barefoot in his Sunday best suit. He’s clasping a woman to him. You can see the woman’s screaming face over his shoulder as he chews into her. A bloom of red appears on the back of the man’s head and he falls, pulling the woman with him. The Guardsman runs over, points his rifle down and fires.

“As you can see over here,” we hear the reporter’s voice over the image, “victims of bites from these reanimated bodies need to be put down, too. No matter how slight or severe the wound, the person bitten will sicken, die, and rise to bite someone himself. Reports of this phenomenon in other cities have indicated that the lower brain stem must be destroyed to drop the reanimated ones.”


The air crackles with the pop-pop-pop of gunfire. “It’s not just here in this park!” the reporter yells over the blasts. “This is happening with the burials at other parks! This is why everyone was supposed to stay home!” 

The camera finds the reporter at last. He’s got his back to the trench, where one can see hands waving over the lip of it. There were other bodies wrapped in sheets waiting to be put into the trench. They writhe and twist like oversized grubs. Legs begin kicking free, arms thrust stiffly out. “Many of the dead are getting free,” says the reporter, “either from the sheets or from loved ones who think their deceased have miraculously recovered. The ones in the trench aren’t likely to get out, as it was dug a solid six feet. The dead are utterly mindless on top of very uncoordinated. They don’t—”


A scream close by cuts the reporter off this time. The camera pans right to show a Guardsman taken down from behind by a big woman in a pink muu-muu and a pale, thin teenager dressed in what must have been his prom tuxedo. They each have an arm upon which they batten down. They gnaw and tear furiously at the tough cammie sleeves. The Guardsman is young and fairly robust yet he can’t break the grip these people have on him. The fat paws of the big woman close so tightly you can see the Guardsman’s flesh bulging white between her fingers.


The camera turns back to the reporter in time to show two dirty figures shambling up behind him. There’s this animal hnnnnnnnh! and the camera’s image is jerked backwards. It bounces once, rocks, then settles for a view of the clear blue sky. The screams are so loud and close the mic is distorting. Beyond the screams the background is filling with the sounds of weird moans, a low growling. And more screams. A dog yelps and cries over and over….


The slurping and smacking noises are the worst. And the hungry mmmmmm! you hear as they tear into another bite.




NEXT: Part III: “She wasn’t dead all that long.”


          

That’s right, there are THREE different covers for Bleeding Kansas. The story of the first two is at the end of Part 1 of this excerpt series. The cover on the far right is for the German translation by Luzifer Verlag. The apocalypse has gone international. Put your affairs in order. Better yet, put in an order for one of these books! You’ll want something to read in the down time between catastrophes.

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