Chapter 12: Ari Levin, July 14th, Year 0

The last four months had been interesting. Reading about zombies had been just a way to kill time on my flight to the US. I figured in a few weeks that the news about zombie attacks would turn out to be an interesting hoax. I was wrong. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran were no longer major problems for the US. The Palestinian and Israeli conflict was solved. I no longer had old terrorist enemies to worry about.

On April 1st, the US government left a coded message on an internet forum offering me a job. The message indicated that they wanted me to scout out Afghanistan. They offered me 4 million. At the time of the government’s post, the zombies had already spread throughout the Middle East. By August, they upped their offer to 20 million. I didn’t respond to their attempts to contact me.

Their attempts to hire me told me that the US brass didn’t have a clue. Intel of the sort they wanted, going into the infected areas and coming back out, should have been easy. Zombies were slow and supposedly stupid. The CIA and the US military had plenty of operatives that should have been able to do the job. The fact they were offering this much money for a scouting job meant that their operatives weren’t getting it done. I know how good their men are; I used to be one. In my line of work the price of a mission is a good indicator of the risks involved. It’s my rule to never accept a gig worth more than a million. A little bit of danger makes life interesting; I’m not into suicide.

I hadn’t been all that worried when countries like Iran, Egypt, Greece, and Turkey were overrun in 24 hours. Those countries weren’t known for their military skill. When Israel got overrun just as quickly, I knew the world was in trouble.

All my money had been deposited in a Swiss bank account. I transferred my money to the US in April as soon as Israel fell. Half of what I brought in went to taxes, but it was worth it. When you bring this much money into the US, banks have to report the transfer to the IRS. The last thing I needed was to have my cash frozen by the government.

In July Switzerland got overrun. Every healthy adult male aged 18 to 34 is part of the Swiss militia. By law all of these men have to keep their military rifles close at hand at home. The mountains surrounding the country act like fortress walls. If a country like Switzerland couldn’t keep zombies out, the US didn’t have a chance.

Before the zombie outbreak in Africa, construction in Las Vegas had been depressed. Once the zombies came into the picture, construction projects in that city completely disappeared. I was able to hire a crew out of Vegas to help me build up my ranch for dirt cheap. Someone or something was trying to wipe out humanity. Money was worthless in the middle of a disaster. I was going to spend my cash while it still had value.

Throughout history, fortifications versus weaponry has been an ever evolving game of rock-paper-scissors. Before gunpowder, walls were built straight up and as high as possible; solid stone was the preferred building material. Artillery shatters granite walls like peanut brittle. To withstand cannon shot, walls have to be built on a slant and filled with a core made out of rubble and dirt. Instead of building fortifications high on hills so they are difficult to storm on foot, armed forces now build bunkers in valleys to make them harder to target with artillery.

Before that outbreak, I never would have considered building a castle. A wall couldn’t protect me against my old enemies. The best I could tell from the news, zombies didn’t use weapons. Zombies worked like army ants. Individually they weren’t dangerous. They were dangerous in swarms. There was no reason to reinvent the wheel. Castles were the ultimate time tested defense against swarms of humans on foot. There was no reason to believe that castles wouldn’t work equally well against zombies.

Hunters have to understand their prey. Successful assassins have to be students of human nature. I was certain that if humans survived zombies that soon afterwards they would go back to fighting each other. Chances were pretty good however if/when humans went back to warring amongst themselves that they would most likely be limited to small arms. Artillery requires an industrial infrastructure. After an apocalypse even in the US it would likely take decades before an industrial infrastructure could be rebuilt.

There was a hill on my property. I had the construction crew surround the top two acres of the hill with a twenty foot high, ten feet wide wall. The wall had a center core of rubble and dirt with an outer shell of eighteen inch thick reinforced concrete. The wall was designed so it could handle multiple hits from artillery without collapsing. Like a medieval castle, the wall had crenations or cutouts so men could have protection while shooting from the wall. The only way into the compound was through a steel gate that was wide enough to fit a semi.

In the center of the enclosure there was a circular tower surrounded by a moat. The ground floor of the tower was a windowless garage. The second and third floors had window slits that were just 5 inches wide to let some light in and to be able to shoot out of. The top of the tower was flat and surrounded by crenellations. Underneath my tower, I had twenty-thousand feet of underground living and storage space with multiple levels. While preparing for a zombie outbreak, I read a lot of zombie fiction. Why not? No one seemed to have any real knowledge of what was going on. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see what different authors had imagined. In a couple of the books government bureaucrats tried to wipe out zombies by using nukes. I’ve dealt with bureaucrats; I didn’t think the idea was farfetched. My tower needed to be able to handle the complete collapse of civilization. I told my architect and engineers to harden the tower against radiation and an EMP from a nuclear explosion. I knew we couldn’t build anything that could withstand a direct hit; I wanted something that could survive a close miss. My contractor, engineers, and architect all thought I was crazy, but I was paying the bills and they needed the work.

My ranch was next to property owned by the Bureau of Land Management. This land included the foothills of a mountain and a large stream. I broke the law. I diverted part of that stream into an underground pipe which led to my compound. I spent a considerable amount of money to design and install it so that the water intake couldn’t get clogged. I made it look like the moat was being filled by a stream that I had the legal right to use. It’s always good in the desert to have two sources of water. My construction crew needed jobs. They kept their mouths shut when the inspectors came around.

I had over a hundred men working for me during this period. Since I wanted to keep what I was doing as private as possible, they all lived on my property. I installed a fleet of mobile homes inside my walls. The homes were connected to a leach field septic system, had running water and electricity. The crew was fed on site and on the weekends I had a private chartered bus transport them back and forth from Las Vegas. In three months my compound was finished. I set up a hydroelectric generator that ran off the power of the water that I piped from the BLM stream. I bought and stored food, weapons, ammunition, fuel, and vehicles. I installed a fully equipped metal working and woodworking shop. I got satellite TV and internet access. When the construction was done and my compound fully equipped, I was down to my last million.

On the periphery of my compound both inside and outside my outer walls, I placed land mines that would go off if anything heavier than a goat walked on them. Separate could be activated or deactivated remotely.

Chapter 13