Chapter 11: Mike Kim, September 11th to September 13th, Year 0

When I woke up I had no idea how long I had slept. Steel shutters covered my bedroom windows completely blocking the outside light. My alarm clock was blinking 12:00. I hadn’t reset the clock from when the power went out earlier.

I went downstairs. Alex, the missionaries, and Cecilia were sitting in the living room listening to the radio. Alex turned to me and said, “How you feeling Mike?”

I lied; my hangover now was twice as bad as it was this morning, “Not bad. What did you find out on the news?”

Alex said, “The zombie outbreak wasn’t just here in Utah. They broke out at the same time across the whole country.”

“Why aren’t you watching the news?”

“Our cable is out. So is our phone and internet service. I opened up one of our shutters just a crack. Some idiot crashed his truck into one of the telephone poles a couple houses down. The pole’s snapped off at the base and it’s lying on top of the wrecked truck. Without a Quest repair crew, we’re out of luck for internet, cable, or phone service. All we got is our cell phones. Steve, Wayne, and I tried making calls in the backyard. The cellular network is still down. I’m hoping that in a few hours to a few days it will be back up. I think that there’re too many people trying to use the network.”

Alan said that most of the radio stations were still broadcasting in the morning. As time went by, DJ’s announced that they and their crews needed to get to their families and signed off. Other stations abruptly went off the air. Alan and the rest were listening to Timmy Janga of 101.9. He was the only DJ still on the air. I sat down and listened with the others.

“It’s Timmy Janga and its 4:02 pm in Salt Lake City. We’re taking a call from Eric from Murray. Eric what’s happening?”

“Thanks Timmy for being the only one with the balls to stay on the air.”

“Thank you Eric. I’ve always been known for my balls. How are you doing?”

“Better than my neighbors. It’s a mess out here in Murray. Thank God that I boarded up my windows a couple weeks ago. It was ridiculous how much Home Depot was charging for plywood but I’m glad I bit the bullet and bought them.”

“So you prepared for the zombies?”

“Damn right I did and I’m glad of it. I’ve got a little peek hole that I can use to look outside. It’s Armageddon out here. Half my neighbors are zombies. They’re going after everything that moves.”

“Are they coming after you? Do the zombies know that you’re home?”

“No. I know better than that. That’s why I’m calling. I want everyone listening to 101.9 hear this. If you keep quiet and don’t draw attention to yourself, the zombies will leave you alone. I have…I used to have a neighbor, Dan Meadows who lived across from me. He tried to be a hero. He opened his second story window and started shooting at the zombies out on the street. I think the noise brought every zombie for miles to our neighborhood.

There must of have thousands of zombies around his house. The zombies couldn’t get through his windows because they were boarded up. His front door had glass panes. He forgot to cover those panes. The zombies got into his house.

I was worried that the infected would swarm my house after they were done with him. I kept my family kept out of sight and we didn’t make any noise. After a few hours most of them left our street, probably going after the next idiot making noise. I wanted to let all of your listeners know. Keep out of view and keep the sound down. You may think your house is zombie proof; this is a bad time to find out that you’re wrong. If you can, lay low.”

“Thanks Eric. That’s good information and advice. Now it’s Cindy from Draper. What’s happening hot stuff?”

Caller after caller went on the air and said the same things. The zombie outbreak occurred simultaneously across the whole country. No one calling had been able to contact any government officials. There was no word from the police, military, or even the LDS Church.

The US was no different from any other country when it came to zombies. Despite the example of every other country in the world I hadn’t expected the US to fall apart. I expected better from my country. I assumed that all I had to do was to survive the initial zombie attack and make sure my house was protected. I thought that our government would be able to keep it together and eventually rescue all the survivors. Other countries might have been overwhelmed but I thought our country was different. We had the most time to prepare. The US was the most powerful country in the world. Our military was the largest and the best equipped. We had the most civilian owned guns. There had to be some sort of organization or group that had been able to keep it together; only there wasn’t. I had expected it to be bad when the zombies made it to the states but not like this. For God’s sake, we should have been able to last longer than the French!

I didn’t have a clue of what to do now. I grabbed the last two bottles of hard liquor in the kitchen and went up into my room. I don’t have much memory of the next few days.

I heard a knock on my bedroom door. “Mike, wake up. Your dad is on the phone.”

“What?”

“Open up man, I’ve got your dad on the phone!”

I got up and opened the door. Alex was there holding his cell phone. “Here’s the phone man. Get out to the backyard so you can get some reception.”

I stumbled downstairs and went out back. “Dad, is that you?”

“Mike, what have you been doing? We’ve been calling you for the last 24 hours ever since the cell phones started working again. Why haven’t you been answering your home phone or cell phone?”

“Dad, how’s Mom. What’s going on with Jeff and Bill?”

“Mom, Jeff, and Bill are fine. Why weren’t you answering your phones?”

“My land line has been down since the 11th. A truck ran into the telephone line down the street a few minutes after the zombies started swarming. Ever since my exterior walls got armored with metal, I haven’t been able to get any cell coverage in the house. I haven’t been outside for awhile.”

“I’m glad I thought to call your roommate Alex. Your mom has been frantic for the last couple of days. Here’s your mom.”

“Mike honey, how are you?”

I had been able to fake being strong with my dad. I couldn’t with my mom. My chest heaved; my voice changed. “Not good Mom. I haven’t been good. I had to shoot a lot of people I knew a couple days ago.”

“Oh honey, you should have called.”

“I know Mom. I’m sorry.”

“Well I’m glad that you and Alex are ok. Is there anyone else in the house besides you?”

“Yeah, a neighbor and two Mormon missionaries are in the house.”

“Good I’m glad you have other people with you.”

I spoke to my mom until Alex’s cell phone started to run out of power. I told her that I needed to take a shower and get some food and that I would call them back.

I looked at the phone as I turned it off. It was the 1:32 pm on the 14th. I’d been in an alcoholic funk for three days. I went back inside. The others were waiting for me in the kitchen.

“Mike, how’s your family doing?”

“Pretty good Alex, they’re all ok. Thanks for taking my Dad’s call.”

“That’s just luck dude. I was outside trying to reach my family when I got your father’s call. I’m glad something good has come out of me being out there.”

“You haven’t been able to reach your family?”

“No, not yet. The rest of us haven’t been able to reach anyone.”

“Oh I’m sorry Alex.” I looked up at everyone else. “I’m really sorry.”

I was starving. I poured myself a bowl of the perfect food, cereal. I mumbled between spoonfuls, “Did anything happen while I was in my room?”

Alex shrugged, “Timmy Janga didn’t last long.”

“What?”

Alex told me that all of them had gone to bed on the 11th around 9. When they woke up, 101.9 was off the air. The only stations that they could get since then were automated loops listing the locations of Federal Emergency Aid centers. Alex, Steve, and Wayne had been going out into the backyard several times a day to try to reach family and friends. None of them succeeded.

Cecilia spoke, “I left my purse with my cell phone in my house. I’m such an idiot. I don’t have any of my friends and family phone numbers memorized. I can’t call anyone.”

After my third bowel of cereal, I was full. I made my excuses and went up to my room to clean up. The others were still in the kitchen when I came back down. I could tell that they were envious as I walked past them. I called Jeff.

He picked up, “Yo you dumb shit. What the hell’s up with not calling or answering your cell phone for days? Mom was going crazy worrying about you.”

“I’m fine Jeff, thank you for asking. How are you?”

“Not bad now, but I have to tell you bro. It was a little hairy on Saturday.”

Jeff hadn’t been on call on Saturday. It was his day off and he had been sleeping in when he got a call from the hospital. All the patients had begun to vomit. Every nurse, resident, and attending doctor was being called in to help.

When Jeff got to the inpatient rehab floor for the brain and spinal cord injury patients, it was a madhouse. Nurses, aids, medical students, and doctors were running around dealing with one patient crashing and then another. Jeff was in the middle of trying to start an IV in a dangerously dehydrated patient when he got violent. A nurse and a medical student tried to restrain him while Jeff worked. Jeff realized what was going on when the IV needle went in and instead of blood, thick black sludge dripped out.

The patient began to scream and tried to bite the medical student. Jeff had put an IV into a zombie. University of Michigan Medical Center is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ann Arbor is a liberal’s paradise. It is totally and completely illegal for a civilian to carry a handgun in the city. Right around the time my parents moved to Michigan, Jeff started wearing sport coats and blazers to work instead of wearing his white lab coat. Jackets hid his Glock better.

He pulled out his Glock 21 and fired a .45 ACP round into the zombie’s brain. The nurse and medical student looked stunned for a second and then stumbled away from him. Jeff expected to attract attention with the gun shot. No one even peeked into the room. He realized that screams were coming from the hallway. It dawned on him that every single sick patient in the hospital had been infected with the zombie virus.

He told the other two, “Follow me if you want to live” and booked out of the room. The entire hospital was overrun with zombies. Jeff said that he shot everything that got in his way as he ran to the stairway and out of the hospital. He was on his 3rd and last clip of 13 .45 ACP rounds when he got off the Hospital grounds and into the Arboretum.

The nurse and medical student didn’t make it. Jeff thought that he might have nailed some uninfected people on his way out. He couldn’t be sure. It had been a madhouse and he had been moving and shooting purely on instinct. If he saw a head that didn’t look right, he blew a hole in it. When I asked him how he felt about it, he said that he didn’t have regrets. Jeff was sure he was one of a very small number of people that got out of the hospital alive. Everyone he had shot had been bitten, moving too slow, or going the wrong way; in his mind if they weren’t zombies they would have died anyway.

Nichol’s Arboretum is a collection of native and exotic trees and shrubs planted over a couple square miles. It’s landscaped to look like natural woodland. It takes up a couple square miles and is right next to the Medical Center. My family’s house was on the other side of the Arboretum a little over a mile away through the woods. It took about ten minutes for Jeff to get home. He didn’t see a single zombie in the woods.

Jeff finished his story with a little laugh. “Man, it was intense.”

I asked “Have you been able to get in touch with anyone from the government or the military?”

“No, which is weird. You would think that high level government officials like the president would survive. His security had to have been ridiculous. He hasn’t been on the radio. There hasn’t been anything from him or any other government official on the internet. It looks like all our elected leaders are dead.

Our internet service is down at home. I’ve been using my droid to surf the web. Bloggers are like cockroaches, impossible to completely eliminate. The ones that are still online are civilians and besides describing what’s going on right in their area, they don’t have much useful information.

No. I take that back. The bloggers have an idea that may be useful. Most of the bloggers are convinced that vampires exist.”

“Vampires?”

“Yeah, that’s how they’re explaining the lack of government and military officials. They think that we are in a war. Only we don’t know with who or what. The zombies are the grunts and the vampires are the Special Forces. None of them have any proof of this but it does make sense. There has to be something besides zombies taking out all our leaders.”

“Shit, so we got vampires to deal with too?”

“Maybe.”

“So how do we deal with vampires?”

“I’ll tell you what we’ve been doing. We don’t go outside at night. We’ve been making sure to keep the windows blacked out. There’s no point in making it easy for anything including vampires to notice us at night.”

“I guess you’ve been going crazy with boredom, holed up in the compound with the family with nothing to do. I can’t see you spending a lot of time surfing the web on your phone.”

“What are talking about? I’ve been working like a maniac.”

“Huh?”

“The solar panels died a few days before the Outbreak. So I’ve been working on a replacement power source.”

“You got two windmills and the natural gas generator.”

“Yeah but there’s barely any wind here and sooner or later the natural gas lines are going to run dry.”

“So what’s your replacement source?”

“We’ve gone completely eco-friendly. I took apart one of our windmills and set it up on the ground so it looks kind of like one of those kid merry-go-rounds you see in playgrounds.”

“What the hell man? You’re making power by pushing the generator by hand?”

“No.” Jeff started to giggle. He was so happy with himself. “Me and Bill have been capturing zombies and chaining them to the merry-go-round. We’re hanging pieces of dead zombie about three feet in front of them. Zombies don’t get tired. They don’t even breathe, completely renewable and zero carbon emissions.”

“What the fuck! You’re messing with zombies to get electricity!”

“Why not, they’re messing with us to get food, might as well get something useful out of them.”

“How are you capturing zombies? Mom must be going crazy!”

“Mom’s not happy but she isn’t stupid. She knows we need a reliable source of power. Zombies seem to stay in their own territories. Sure they will give a chase if they see or hear something edible, but on their own they tend to stay in one location. Luckily most of the homes in our neighborhood are on two to five acre lots; less people means less zombies. Zombies are stupid and are really slow. It’s not that hard to capture one as long as there aren’t too many of them.

Hunting for zombies also gave me and Bill and excuse to go outside our compound. We ended up saving four lives. Remember the jailbait high school girls we saw waiting a bus near a couple blocks from the house?”

“I guess so. Pretty girls are everywhere. Who remembers them?”

“Whatever, like you don’t remember good looking girls. Well our next door neighbor used to be the Chairman of the English department. He had three daughters, one a freshman at the University and two in high school. Classic highly educated liberal who thought he was a genius who wasn’t. He had a mansion on five acres and money to burn but didn’t fortify his home. When zombies attacked all he had was an antique double barreled shotgun. He got two shots off. The dweeb aimed for the zombies’ chests. Luckily for his wife and daughters, he was able to distract the zombies long enough that they were able to climb up on their roof.

When we came up to their home almost all the zombies in our neighborhood were circled around their yard and in their house. They spent two days up on the roof without food, water, or shelter.”

“How did you get rid of the zombies?”

“There were probably less than sixty zombies in and around their house. We each had a brick of five hundred .22 rounds. By the way dude, you did a good thing when you convinced Mom and Dad to buy 10/22 rifles and suppressors for all us. We just climbed up a big tree and started pegging the zombies in the head. After a few minutes, they were all right below us. It was as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. For little while there I was wondering if me and Bill had screwed ourselves because the sound of our suppressed shots attracted another hundred plus zombies. In the end though it all worked out, we cleared out almost all the zombies for at least a quarter mile around us.”

“Were the women ok?”

“They’re fine physically, mentally not so hot. You know how Mom is, her house her rules. She told me that she remembers this kind of shit from when she was a kid during the Korean War. She’s got those girls and their mother running ragged. Mom thinks keeping them busy is the best therapy for them; she’s probably right.

Hey Bill wants to talk to you. Oh yeah, before I forget, according to the bloggers, vampires are drawn to strong electromagnetic signals like radio broadcasts and electrical transmission lines. Weak signals like those in home generators and windmills or walkie talkies don’t seem to be a problem but commercial radio stations and/or major power lines are supposed to draw vampires like candy. The vampires will destroy live power lines. For some reason, they don’t destroy radio transmission towers; they just eat everyone they find around them. Don’t go to a radio station, according to the bloggers it’s the kiss of death.”

It was great talking to my family. When I found out that they were all right, it felt like a five hundred pound weight was off my chest. I was relieved and stressed at the same time. It was a familiar stress. I’ve been living with it my whole life. Most people don’t know what it’s like to come from a family of overachievers. My mother took up painting when I was in high school. A few years later her paintings started selling for 10 to 20 grand. Last year one of her paintings was exhibited in the Chicago Art Museum. My father was an extremely successful ob/gyn. When I was a kid it seemed like everyone I knew had been delivered by my Dad. I know I’m a smart guy. I got straight A’s in high school and graduated with an A minus average from Cal Tech. If you know how many geniuses go to Cal Tech, you know how difficult it is to get an A minus average. The problem is that I have to study to get these kinds of grades and no one else in my family does. Bill only got one question wrong when he took the SAT’s; he has a genius level IQ. Jeff is a speed reader and has close to photographic memory. It was a fricking pain in the ass growing up trying to keep up.

Of us three brothers, I had the most gifts athletically. I’m the most coordinated. The problem is that my brothers are both freaks of nature. Bill doesn’t seem to feel pain. As a kid, he would often jump off our roof onto the grass because he said it didn’t hurt when he hit the ground. Do you know how hard it is to wrestle someone who doesn’t feel pain? Jeff’s one of those weird ducks that perform better under stress. I’m like most people. If it’s match point or if money is on the line, I tend to do worse. Jeff’s the opposite. Under pressure, he almost always outperforms. I had a fence between me and the zombies and three other guys helping me last Saturday. It still could have gone either way. If I had been in the same situation as Jeff, on the fifth floor of a hospital filled with zombies I probably would have died.

Three days ago, I killed twenty-seven zombies. In any other family this would have been impressive. Compared to what my brothers had done while saving four people, it was chump change. Until I talked to my family I thought having symptoms of PTSD was justified. I felt like a wuss. I needed to man-up.

Chapter 12