Chapter 15: Mike Kim, September 15th to October 10th, Year 0

I don’t know if it was because I had been able to talk to my family or if it was because I ran out of booze but I stopped drinking. After my conversation with Jeff, it was clear that there was no point in waiting for the government or another organization to come and save us. My family’s compound in Ann Arbor was in a suburb that had two to five acre lots. My house in Sugar House was on a .18 acre lot; this was about average for the neighborhood. Jeff had cleared out most of streets near him by killing a couple hundred zombies. To do the same, I needed to kill thousands maybe even tens of thousands.

Before I started trying to do anything, I needed a plan. First, I had to find out what kind of people chance had dropped into my lap. Alex was the only person I knew in Salt Lake City that I felt comfortable having my back during the end-of-the-world. I hadn’t asked anyone else to move in with me. It was hard for me to predict how someone would act in a life threatening crisis. I considered the choices of having no one and knowing this versus having some who wasn’t dependable and not knowing that. I had space for more roommates; my house had three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. I used my basement as a workout room. When I moved in, I figured correctly that friends and family would want to visit during ski season. I had two bunk beds in the workout room. Alex stayed in one of bedrooms on the main floor. I had the master bedroom upstairs. Cecilia was using the main floor guest room. Steve and Wayne were bunking downstairs.

I never expected to have two Mormon missionaries and a neighbor hole up in my house during a zombie outbreak but that’s the situation I was given. After talking to my family yesterday, I was too distracted to do anything besides hang out in the living room and play Halo with Alex, Steve, and Wayne.

People talk about living in the moment; Alex actually does. He’s one of the most enthusiastic people you’ll ever meet. When he’s having fun, he’s actually joyous. I haven’t met many who actually love life. Alex’s ability to forget his troubles and to have fun infected Steve and Wayne. Initially Steve looked reluctant to play. Within a few minute he was laughing and whooping it up like the rest of us. We ended up playing for about ten hours straight, taking a break only for dinner.

Wayne told me later that missionaries are only allowed to spend a limited amount of time a week doing ‘fun’ things like writing letters or sending email to their family. It was verboten use game consoles. Unfortunately there wasn’t anything else to do in the house; Steve was a true believer trying his best to do the right thing. There is no greater temptation than a game console when you have too much time on your hands. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Wayne didn’t bother feeling guilt. He just went with the flow. I kind of felt bad that Cecilia got excluded; she didn’t know how to play. She wandered in and out of the living room looking bored out of her mind. Alex has a kind heart. At one point he asked her if she wanted to play. It was agonizing watching her try to figure out Halo; only a girlfriend should be allowed to cause this much pain. After a few minutes she stopped bothering.

You can get to know a lot about someone after playing Xbox with them for hours. Steve was a standup guy. He seemed truly religious. By this I mean he loved God. He was trying to do the right thing to please someone he loved. I could tell that he had no interest in looking down on other people. He was a missionary because he wanted to serve. Wayne was not a natural missionary. He didn’t have much brotherly love in him. Wayne was competitive as hell. He didn’t like to lose but he wasn’t a jerk about it. I found out that in high school Wayne raced motocross. He had broken both collar bones and his left leg in motorcycle accidents; those injuries didn’t stop him from racing. He wasn’t the kind to freak out in dangerous situations.

I saw how they handled themselves on Saturday. Neither one of them panicked; they both did what needed to be done. I could tell that the guys were broken up about not being able to get in touch with their families. They were handling it better than me before yesterday. I lucked out; both Steve and Wayne were assets.

We took a long break from the Xbox to cook and eat dinner together. I know stereotyping is bad. I’m not white so I’m allowed to do it. All Chinese men are good cooks; Alex was no exception. Cecilia was a single white female literature professor at the University; she had to be vegetarian. When it came to preparing vegetarian pasta, she was actually a pretty good cook. Alex pulled out some Costco steaks. He by habit headed out back to our propane grill when Steve wondered if the smell of meat cooking outside would attract zombies. Alex considered this question for a few seconds and then headed to the oven to broil the steaks. Cecilia made buttered noodles. Steve, Wayne, and I took up space in the kitchen and did whatever Alex and Cecilia asked.

I wouldn’t say it was the best dinner ever but the food was good. I was getting to know the people that had randomly come to my house. For the first time since the 11th I felt centered.

I started the next morning by calling my family. I bounced ideas about how to handle the situation in Utah with my Dad and brothers. Afterwards I sat everyone down in the living room and started a discussion.

“Ok guys, we haven’t had any access to the outside world since Saturday night. My brother’s been surfing the internet on his smart phone. It’s a bummer Cecilia that you lost your phone. It would have been nice to have a phone here that could access the web. Jeff says that there are bloggers still online. According to the bloggers, our government is gone. There’s been no word from any government official on the web. All radio and TV stations are down. We don’t have a military anymore. We’re on our own. We have to save ourselves.”

Cecilia spoke up, “There are literally thousands of zombies outside. What can we do?”

“We’ll have to kill one zombie at a time. I’ve prepared for this outbreak. I’ve got two suppressed rifles and thirty thousand rounds. If we’re lucky we’ll run out of zombies before we run out bullets. My brothers found out that the sound of a bullet from a silenced rifle will attract zombies from about a quarter mile away. I’m not sure how far the sound from a regular unsilenced rifle would carry but I’d guess close to nine miles. A quarter mile is a lot better than nine miles. I’m thinking we should start nailing zombies on the street from my bedroom window and keep going until the zombies stop coming. Once that happens we can think about going outside.” No one said anything. “Oh yeah, the bloggers also think that we have to deal with vampires.”

Alex murmured, “Vampires?”

“Yup, until we find out whether or not the bloggers are right, I think it’s a good idea to keep up a curfew. None of us should go out into the backyard past dark. The rumor is that they’re attracted to light and strong electromagnetic signals. This is could be an explanation of why all the power lines and broadcast stations were taken off air so quickly. Luckily weaker signals like those put out by home generators and hand held radios don’t seem to be a problem.”

For the first time since Saturday morning, I opened my second floor bedroom window. I drew a bead on the closest zombie. I fired and missed. “God damn it!” The noise from my rife drew the zombie closer. I fired again; this time the zombie dropped. I pulled the trigger again, another one fell. The 10/22 has a detachable ten shot rotary magazine. The sound of my shots and the sight of fallen zombies started attracting new ones. I was knocking them down from less than thirty feet away. When my clip was empty, Alex took my spot in front of the window. I’ve taken Alex before to a target range a couple times. Alex is a good athlete. His coordination is good and his speed is amazing. The last time I took him on the target range, he was hitting bullseyes from a hundred feet nine out of times.

He didn’t do as well today; he missed more times than he hit. He looked shaken, almost like he was ready to upchuck when he stopped.

“It’s alright man. This is the first time you’ve done this. It’ll get better.”

I handed my rifle to Wayne. He checked it over like he knew what he was doing. He went over to the window and started taking shots. Wayne was a machine. Every three seconds he pulled the trigger and a zombie dropped.

He was close to being finished with his clip when Cecilia screamed, “Oh my God! That’s Tariq!” She pointed a zombie. She grabbed at Wayne’s rifle. I pulled her away. “That’s my friend!” Cecilia struggled in my arms. I looked at the other guys. None of them wanted to touch this.

Cecilia was tiny. I decided that it best to get her out of the room. I lifted her off the ground and carried her down the stairs to the main floor. I held her in my arms as she struggled and wept. I didn’t know what to say. All I could think to do was to say quietly in her ear, “It’s going to be ok” over and over again. I don’t know how long it took but she finally stopped struggling. I was grateful that she had finally calmed down. Cecilia was small and light for an adult woman but she still weighed over a hundred pounds. It hadn’t bee fun carrying her down the stairs. I didn’t know Cecilia that well. I wasn’t comfortable being this close to her.

I tried to back away. She wouldn’t let go. She said, “I know that he’s dead. I know that he needed to be put down. But I can’t take it. I killed them. I’m responsible for them being like this. I killed my closest friends.”

I didn’t see any other option besides listening to her. I gently patted her on her back as she buried her face into my chest and mumbled her story. About four months back, Cecilia and her friends decided to pool together to prepare for a possible zombie outbreak. One her friends had bought a recently built McMansion, a six thousand foot house on a quarter acre lot in the Harvard/Yale section of Sugar House. Cecilia and her friends formed a co-op. They all chipped in cash to fortify the home. The plan was to all gather at this house if the zombie virus reached the states. Cecilia convinced the other co-op members that they would be fine with nonlethal weaponry like Tasers until the government learned how to solve the zombie problem. She was devastated when her best friend, a woman named Helen tried to convince the others that they needed guns. They argued. This ended up destroying their friendship. Helen left the group. Cecilia hadn’t spoken to her since.

By early August the McMansion was ready, Cecilia and most of the other members starting sleeping there. Around 4 am on Saturday morning three of Cecilia’s friends got violently sick. The co-op had eaten dinner together. At first they thought that the potato salad had been bad. By 7 am her friends weren’t any better. Cecilia was in the kitchen trying to call for an ambulance when she heard screaming. When she went to look she saw her sick friends had become zombies. Her co-op found out the hard way that Tasers had no effect on zombies.

Cecilia panicked. She fled without thinking. It wasn’t until she was at her front door that she realized she had run home and that her friend Neil had come with her. She and Neil tried locking her doors. She hadn’t fortified her house. When zombies came through her front windows, she and Neil ran out the back. Neil helped her over the fence into my yard. Cecilia blamed herself for not listening to Helen.

I didn’t say anything. What could I say? I agreed with her. She and her friends were complete idiots. Darwinism worked. Bringing Tasers to fight zombies? I decided that it would not be helpful to say that she was right. For the most part I kept my mouth shut. I just kept patting her on her back. A couple times I told her, “I’m sorry.” I said those words with complete honesty because I was truly sorry that she and her friends had been idiots. I was sorry that I was the guy listening to her. I’d much preferred to have been upstairs shooting zombies.

She finally stopped crying. She said, “Mike, thank you, I’m glad we talked.” It’s the story of my life. Somehow I always end up having ‘great’ conversations with women where they do all the talking and the only thing I say is “I’m sorry.”

“Cecilia, I need to go back upstairs. I think it would be a good idea for you to stay down here for now.”

She nodded. I walked back upstairs. Alex asked, “What was up with that?”

“You don’t want to know.”

We went back to shooting zombies. The days passed. All of us took turns shooting. Even Cecilia took a turn every once in awhile. I guess you can get used to anything. It didn’t take long, just a few days until taking out a zombie came to be old hat. There’s no recoil with a .22. It was just aim and shoot. The zombies were usually less than fifty feet away and they didn’t try to dodge. They walked in a straight line toward our window or started tearing into downed zombies. Just to make it interesting I pulled out the Mark III pistols. It took a little bit more skill to hit a head size target at fifty feet. There was room for two of us to shoot at the same time. We all got plenty of practice. For now we had plenty of bullets. Still, there was a little voice inside me saying “Please God, don’t let us run out of ammo.”

Zombie bodies didn’t seem to decay. We ended up with multiple hundreds of bodies laying out on the yard. We were lucky that they didn’t smell. There were so many dead bodies that there were huge spots we couldn’t see the ground. Zombies were infected humans. Based on how many people were infected on the 11th, the virus had to have an air or water based method of transmission. I’m a medical student. I knew it couldn’t be healthy to be surrounded by so many dead bodies. It would completely suck of have one or more of us in the house get infected.

I came up with the idea to take breaks from shooting to let the zombies clean up after themselves. When I first suggested this, Alex and Cecilia both said my plan was disgusting. Once I explained to them how dangerous I thought it was for us to be breathing air next to hundreds if not thousands of decaying meat bags filled with zombie viruses, they reconsidered.

I never expected an apocalypse to be so boring. The first time you see a swarm of zombies feeding dead bodies; it’s revolting. After a couple of days it’s as exciting as watching rain drops trickle down a window pane. The next week-and-a-half went like molasses. Thank God, we had my exercise room and the Xbox. It only took a couple hours to knock down four to five hundred zombies. It took full day before the street was clear again. Every morning I talked to my family. The conversations were pretty short. There wasn’t much new happening on their end either.

On the 25th we gathered up in my bedroom to shoot zombies. We had gotten used to seeing thousands of them feeding on the ones we had shot the previous day when we opened the shutters. Usually by the time we opened our windows, the dead ones were mostly gone. I expected to see the same scene as the one we saw yesterday and the day before, a couple hundred live zombies with huge distended abdomens playing tug-of-war with some bones.

It was different this morning. Most of the zombies we had shot were still lying intact in front of our street. There were only nine living zombies. The noise we had been making had been bringing every zombie for a few blocks around us. We had finally run out of zombies. Wayne and I took care of the nine infected left. Then we waited. It sometimes took a half hour before all the zombies that were within earshot of our suppressed rounds made it to our house. A half hour came and went without another zombie showing up. Wayne wanted to go outside immediately. We were all going stir crazy; Wayne had it the worst. The rest of us convinced him to wait another half hour.

Exactly thirty minutes later Wayne and I walked out my front door for the first time since the 11th. We had decided that for now the rest should stay in the house. Both us walked slowly among the fallen bodies of the zombies that we had shot in the last two days. I don’t know why but I thought about the zombie that had made it into our yard during the Outbreak. “Hey Wayne, whatever happened to the body of the zombie that made it into the backyard?”

“Me and Steve tossed it back over the fence. In the first couple days we were constantly going out back trying to call our families. It made us nervous seeing the dead body lying on the ground. It was a real pain to get your ladder out of your shed and then having to haul the body up but it was worth it back then. Don’t know if it would bother me so much now.

Mike, it’s great to be walking outside again, but what’s our plan?”

“Well, my brothers in Michigan have been going outside their compound every day since the 13th. They’ve been out gathering food, ammunition and supplies. They’ve also been looking for other survivors. Don’t know if it’s worth reinventing the wheel. I figure we should do the same thing starting tomorrow. Today, I just want us to scope out the situation in the half mile area around our house.”

“Don’t have anything better to suggest. Let’s do it.”

My house was on Blaine Avenue. We went west past 1700 East until Blaine turned into Monte Vista Circle and then into Wilson Avenue. It was on Wilson that we saw our first boarded up house. We scoped out the house. It was a one story home on a tiny lot. The windows were boarded up with chipboard. I walked up to the front door. I rang the doorbell. There was no response. I rang it again. I heard a man’s voice, “What do you want?”

“My name is Mike Kim. My friend with me is Wayne Lockland. We just wanted to see if you were ok.”

“I’m fine. Now get out of here.”

Wayne and I looked at each other and shrugged. We both walked back to the street.

Wayne chuckled, “I don’t know if that’s what I expected to hear from the first survivor we came across since the 11th. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the Outbreak hadn’t happened and I was back on my missionary rounds.”

“Where ever you go Wayne, you take yourself with you. I think the Universe is trying to tell you that you’d better get used to being rejected.”

We both still had smiles on our faces, when I saw a zombie. It was about a block away from the asshole’s house. Wilson parallels Blaine. We had been headed back east. I waved my arm until the zombie saw me. It let out a high pitched scream and headed our way. It was about twenty feet away from me before I pegged in the head with my crossbow. Wayne and I both had Mark III’s. We had left the 10/22’s with Steve and Alex.

I wanted to make the least noise possible when we were outside. We were on the outskirts of the area we had cleared from the house. Our suppressed rounds were loud enough to bring zombies from a couple blocks around us. I had no intention of attracting a swarm of zombies. I brought a crossbow and Wayne had a spear. It was a pain pulling out the crossbow bolt. My bow had a 150 lb pull. The quarrel had completely penetrated the skull. I ended up having to pull out the crowbar from my backpack to smash the skull open to get it out. I was glad I brought rubber gloves.

Wayne and I got serious again. We headed east until Wilson connected back to Blaine then went up north on 1500 East to 1700 South back to the house. Our entire route was probably less than two miles. It took us close to two hours. We weren’t in a hurry. Every time we passed a blind corner, a car, or shrub we couldn’t see past, we made some noise. Zombies aren’t smart enough to ambush you if you take the proper precautions. It was much safer to let them come out to us than to go searching for them. On 17th South, two zombies came at us at the same time. I got mine without a problem. Wayne nailed his like a pro. He handled his spear like he had been using it for years.

When we got back to the house, all I wanted to do was hang out for awhile. Our scouting trip had gone well but my heart rate the whole time had to have been over two hundred. I was mentally exhausted. Cecilia demanded that we go out immediately to her house so she could get some clothes and supplies. She was tired of wearing mine and Alex’s clothing. Cecilia was about 5’2” tall, a little over a hundred pounds. She appeared to be in her late twenties but I got the sense she was older. She looked a lot like Tom Cruise’s wife. I know he’s had a couple, the youngest one, the one with dark hair; I’m blocking on the name. Honestly Cecilia was hot. The problem was she knew it. She was used to men catering to her and frankly, I was tired of it. She had been getting on my nerves since she climbed into my backyard and I finally lost it.

“Where the hell did you get the idea, I give a damn about what you want!”

Aw shit, she looked like a kicked puppy. She looked down and quietly said, “You don’t have any feminine products in your house. Any second now I’m going to need some.”

Now I felt bad. I’m a guy. I don’t really want to know about this kind of stuff. The other guys, especially Wayne, looked like they were getting TMI. “Oh…sorry, I guess we better get what you need.

Steve, what do you think? You want to use a spear or a pistol? I’m thinking we should probably avoid using rifles when we go into Cecilia’s house.”

Steve said he’d take a spear. Wayne said he was good with one too. Alan and I took the pistols. We headed out back and lowered the section of the fence that led into Cecilia’s yard. It looked good. I did my usual call. “Here zombie, come here zombies. Come to papa.” Nothing came. We climbed up over the fence. Cecilia rushed toward the house. I grabbed her, “Whoa there. Let’s do this carefully. There still might be some zombies in the house.”

We moved cautiously, making sure to make noise before every door in the house. It was clear. Cecilia looked everywhere for her iPhone but couldn’t find it. She decided that she must have left it at her co-op. Cecilia started packing like a maniac. She filled every piece of luggage and box she could find. In the meantime, the other guys and I went into her kitchen. She had some bottles of wine, whiskey and some vodka. I took all the alcohol. We pulled all the dried pasta noodles, cereal, and can goods off the shelves. I called up to Cecilia and asked if she had any walkie talkies in the house. She yelled back “Yes” and directed me to where they were. It took us hours to get everything Cecilia wanted. She had us bring over an entire bookshelf packed with books.

Afterwards she was in a great mood and to thank us cooked a three course meal. It was vegetarian. I’m not a big fan of food that food eats but we didn’t have any meat left in the fridge. The power had been out for over a week. The meat in the freezers in the houses around us had to be rotten. Canned meat isn’t that good. It was the best meal that we had available. Cecilia was a good cook.

We opened up a bottle of wine for three of us. Steve and Wayne of course didn’t drink alcohol. They were happy with drinking soda. Cecilia had some diet, decaffeinated crap at her house; they drank it like it was nectar. I was good with just two glasses of wine; I had enough of getting drunk. For the first time since the Outbreak the guys didn’t head for the Xbox after dinner. We hung out and talked. I decided to tell a Mormon joke.

“You know how competitive Mormon guys are. It’s always bugged them that even though early in the history of the LDS Church they were persecuted, but because of the Holocaust the Jews always had them beat. It really bugged them. Finally one of them had a bright idea. ‘Sure the Jews have the Holocaust but we have eternal marriage!’”

Steve and Wayne had never heard this joke before. They were laughing so hard they couldn’t breathe. Alex heard it before. Cecilia wasn’t laughing. Hmm, maybe it was time to tell another joke.

“So a Mormon guy and an Irish guy are flying first class from London to New York City. The flight attendant comes up to the Irish guy and asks him if he wants a drink because it’s free in first class. The Irish guy says, ‘I will have a double of your best Irish Whiskey neat.’ The flight attendant turns to the Mormon, ‘Sir would you like the same?’ The Mormon guy says, ‘I would rather be anally raped by three prostitutes wearing strap-ons before I let alcohol touch my lips.’

The Irish guy says, ‘Miss, Miss, can you take back my order? I didn’t know that was an option.’”

This time everyone laughed. It was a good evening. I called it quits early around 9. It had been a long day and I was exhausted. I was almost asleep when I heard a knock at my door.

“Mike it’s me Cecilia. Can I come in?”

“Sure, give me a sec.” I pulled on a t-shirt and shorts. I really hoped that we weren’t going to have another ‘great’ conversation. Even when Cecilia was wearing my clothes and not wearing makeup, she was an attractive woman. When I opened the door I saw that she had put on some makeup; she was gorgeous. I have a sensitive nose. Usually perfume makes me sneeze. The scent she was wearing must have been expensive; it smelled great. The difference in her appearance was subtle; if I hadn’t been living with her for a couple weeks, I wouldn’t have noticed. She had a robe over a little bit of nothing that looked a hell of a lot better than one of my old t-shirts. She walked over and kissed me. As she was dragging me toward the bed I asked, “Umm, aren’t you…”

“It hasn’t come yet.”

When I woke up, Cecilia was still sleeping. I wasn’t feeling like I needed to chew my arm off to escape, a good sign. There may be a better stress reliever than good sex but I don’t know of one. I walked down stairs with a big smile on my face. The other guys were up already. They all gave me a knowing grin.

Alex chuckled, “Been wondering how long it would take before you guys hooked up?”

“What are you talking about?”

“You’re so clueless Mike. Cecilia’s been interested in you since she arrived. Oh Mike Kim, super tough hero during the crisis, but so sensitive when the crisis has passed. She’s been waiting for you to make the move for ages.”

Just then Cecilia walked in. I guess she didn’t mind everyone knowing because she sat on my lap.

Wayne got serious, “So guys what’s the deal today?”

I spoke, “Supplies aren’t too much of concern just yet but we’ll eventually need more food, ammo, and other supplies like toilet paper. What I’d like to do first is to gather up all the dead zombies out front and dump them all a couple blocks away from us. They got to be a health hazard. Also they’ll keep attracting more zombies toward us.”

Alex chimed in, “Yeah, I agree with Mike. I don’t want to play up the Medical School card too much but medically it makes a lot of sense to try to keep as far away from the zombie virus as possible. We will have to do a little bit of scavenging from our neighbors homes first. We need more rubber gloves and water resistant jackets and pants that we can afford throw away.”

Wayne nodded. Everyone was good with the plan. We started off by firing a shot in the air and waiting for half an hour. Three zombies showed up. It wasn’t a problem to take them down. It took two houses before we found enough rubber gloves. We also found an Xbox Connect and bunch of new games. Steve found some clothes that fit. At 6’2” he was so much taller than me and Alex that he looked ridiculous when he tried to borrow our clothes. Wayne claimed a cool black leather motorcycle jacket. It looked more natural on him than a suit.

We had to clear the street so we could use a neighbor’s SUV and trailer to haul the bodies away. It wasn’t until late afternoon that we finished hauling all the dead bodies out on to the middle of 15th East and Blaine. Wayne suggested dumping them all in front lawn of the asshole’s house on Wilson Street. I knew he didn’t mean it…much.

That evening all of us were exhausted but morale was great. We could see the difference out on the street. I haven’t had that much experience with women. I’ve had two serious girlfriends. I dated both of them for years. Both my ex’s got the opposite of frisky at that time of the month. Cecilia was different. We had to make some modifications because of the situation. I have to admit that being with her was more fun than playing the Xbox. The Xbox was a lifeline for the other guys. Steve was trying to make up for playing on the game console by reading the scriptures. I noticed that he tried to spend as much time reading the Book of Mormon and the Bible as he spent playing on the Xbox. Steve was a good example for the rest of us; we weren’t being good examples for him.

The days went by quickly. Even though we had enough supplies for now, the last few months had taught us that life was uncertain. Our goal was to gather a few years worth of essentials. I was surprised that we still had natural gas. I hadn’t tapped into any of our stored liquid propane. This didn’t keep us from gathering up every propane tank that we could find.

On the evening of October 9th, we started playing Dance Connection using the Xbox Connect. It was one of the games we had picked up on our scavenging rounds. It was a lot of fun. It was the first game that Cecilia liked. We had only been playing for half-an-hour when our generator went out. The natural gas had finally stopped flowing. I switched the generator over to propane.

I said, “Guys we don’t have natural gas anymore. We’re ok for awhile on propane but it’s going to run out too. We’re going to have to start rationing electricity, using it just for essentials for a limited amount of time each day.”

Alex said, “Mike I agree but don’t you think it’s worth having just one last hurrah, this evening before we get all miserly with the propane?”

I looked at all the others, they looked at me. I shrugged, “Why not?”

The evening turned into a party. About an hour after we switched the generator to propane, Steve and Alex decided to dance to Lady Gaga. The contrast between the two was hilarious. Compared to Alex, Steve is so tall and gangly. Alex had the dance moves down and was boogieing like a pro. Steve danced like a white man; he was a great sport about us laughing at him.

Wayne stopped the Xbox, “Do you guys hear that?”

“Hear what?”

“It sounds like there are guns being fired outside.”

My house is soundproof. I heard nothing. “Are you sure you’re hearing something.”

Wayne said “Yes.” Everyone else looked puzzled. I know that teenagers and children have better hearing than adults and that they lose the hearing fairly young. Mall retailers can buy teenage repellers, speakers that send out a high pitched annoying sound that can only be heard by kids less than 18. Wayne was the youngest among us. He wasn’t the kind to imagine things. He might have better ears than the rest of us.

We had been taking extra care to lock up when it got dark. A couple days ago, Jeff told me that they found a home that should have been zombie proof. It had been ripped apart from the outside by something with huge claws. Whether or not vampires existed, it was certain that there were other monsters besides. I motioned everyone to follow me upstairs. I turned off all the lights and closed the door before I opened up the shutters and the window. Wayne was right. It sounded like someone was shooting a machine gun west of us. We had proof of other survivors besides the asshole on Wilson. The shots only lasted a few more seconds. Wayne thought that the gunfire had been going for a minute or two. We listened for a few minutes longer and heard nothing. We closed the window and shutters.

Alex spoke, “Man I wish I knew what that was about. Why would someone let loose with a machine gun? Is it a good sign or bad sign that they stopped shooting after few minutes?”

Wayne said, “Tomorrow we need to head east.”

The party was over. We all turned in. When I got into bed, Cecilia was crying. “What’s wrong hon?”

“I’m just tired of this crap, Mike. I’m sick and tired of being scared. I’m sick of being helpless while everything changes.”

“I know. I feel the same way.”

Cecilia fell asleep in my arms. It took hours for me to get to sleep. Walking into new territory filled with zombies was going to SUCK.

In the morning we started the day off like we usually did. We fired a shot in the air and waited. For the first time since we’d been doing this we didn’t get a single zombie. It took awhile for us to decide which of us should go east. Cecilia volunteered to go out like everyone else. The rest of us nixed the idea. We’d been working out in my basement gym together for weeks. We all took turns on the treadmill. She was our slowest runner and the worst shot. After a lot of discussion, we decided that Cecilia and one other person should wait at the house. If we lost the house we were screwed. There was no way we could leave it undefended. The plan was for three of us to head out east to see if we could find out who had fired all those shots.

Of us all only Wayne didn’t have mixed feelings about heading into new territory; he wanted to go. I didn’t have a problem going out to the areas that I knew were mostly clear of zombies. The thought of going out to areas that weren’t cleared scared the crap out of me. The idea of it being just us five people alone forever frightened me worse. Our situation wasn’t stable. Eventually we’d run out of propane. Sure for a couple years we could survive on the can goods and if forced to I would make a zombie powered generator but I couldn’t imagine wanting to live like this forever. There had to be an organization that survived. We needed to find it.

In the last month we had all become family. Cecilia and I were doing great. I had been incredibly lucky to have Steve and Wayne knock on my door on the 11th and to have Alex as my roommate. Even though it scared me to volunteer to go into new territory, I didn’t have the guts to let my friends down. I got the feeling that Alex and Steve felt the same way. We drew straws. Alex picked the shortest straw. He stayed with Cecilia.

The three of us headed west on Blaine. We’d been going up as far as 15th East for days to dump the bodies of the zombies we’d killed every morning. The shot we fired in the air usually attracted a couple zombies. We still took the precaution of making noise before we passed blind corners. I was alert. My heart wasn’t pounding like I knew it would after we crossed 1500 East. I heard a quiet thud. Steve coughed behind me. When I turned I saw him fall to the ground with a hunting arrow through his chest. Wayne screamed, “Steve!”

I dropped my crossbow. I went up to Steve and grabbed him underneath his armpits and pulled him behind a car. “Wayne did you see who shot him?”

“No but I know where the bastard had to have been.” Wayne pulled out his pistol and took off running.

I checked Steve’s pulse, nothing. I put my ear next to his mouth to see if I could hear him breathe; he wasn’t. Steve was dead. How could he live through a zombie outbreak and end up being killed by an arrow? In the distance, coming from up north, I heard Wayne shoot twice. I grabbed my crossbow and ran to the shots. I had to climb over two fences before I caught up to him. He was standing over a man on the ground. There was blood on the man’s pants. He had been shot twice in the thigh.

“Why did you shoot my friend?”

“You all deserve to die! You fuckers, you know what you did. You destroyed my generator and all my lights!” I recognized his voice. He was the guy who lived on Wilson. He was crazy.

I expected Wayne to try to reason with the guy, to try to find out why he thought we had sabotaged his home. Wayne didn’t say anything. He fired his pistol. It had been pointed at the nut’s head. He didn’t miss.

“Jesus, Wayne!”

“Mike, how’s Steve?”

“He didn’t make it.”

It wasn’t until then that I noticed that Wayne’s jacket had a slash in it over his left sleeve. “You’ve been shot!”

“It’s a scratch. His arrow mostly hit my jacket”

“Let me look at it.” After he took off his jacket, I could see that he was right. The nut had used a hunting arrow with razor sharp blades. It had cut through Wayne’s jacket. Luckily it barely nicked his skin.

We went back home carrying Steve’s body. There was no way we were going to let the zombies eat him. I replayed the scene of Wayne killing the nutjob in my mind. He did the right thing. The guy had been crazy and dangerous. We didn’t have any police to call or a prison to keep him locked up. Still, I don’t think I could have pulled the trigger in cold blood. It had been hard enough for me to take out zombies; I didn’t have what it took to execute a man. The guy had murdered Steve. He deserved to die. I’ve always believed in the death penalty but I never expected to be in a position where I might have to carry it out. Wayne calmly ended a murderer’s life. I wondered if that made Wayne a better or lesser man than me.

It was hard seeing Alex and Cecilia react to Steve’s death. They didn’t try to be manly. Wayne and I lost it too. We decided against burying him. The thought of zombies possibly digging him up made our stomachs churn. We made a funeral pyre for Steve with newspapers, firewood, and gasoline. We said good-by to our friend as the flames consumed him.

Afterwards I went into the backyard to call my family. I had been so distracted this morning that I hadn’t called. I got no signal strength at all. I went out into the street, again no signal. The nut job had accused us of sabotaging his generator and destroying his light bulbs. Oh shit had we been attacked by an EMP? Is that why the natural gas stopped working yesterday? My house and garage was hardened against an electromagnetic pulse. I’d made sure to store all my important electrical equipment in my house or garage. If there had been an EMP, they’d still keep working. I went to the SUV we had been using to haul zombie bodies away; we kept it parked out on the street. It wouldn’t turn over at all. “What was going on, zombies, vampires, and now an EMP?”

I walked back into the house. After I explained to them that last night we had been hit by an EMP, I told them about an idea that had just come to me. Utah is renowned for its skiing. It’s also one of the best places in the world to paraglide. Point of the Mountain, Utah is famous as one of the best places in the world to paraglide because it has unusually consistent winds. It was just 30 minutes away from my house by highway. Tourists from all around the world used to come to Salt Lake City to paraglide. When I moved to Utah, I took up this sport. It was actually more fun than skiing. I was smart enough not to tell my parents about this.

A Powered Parachute is a paraglider canopy hooked up to a motor and a propeller. It’s actually safer and easier to control than a paraglider because of it has a motor. I had a PPC wing in my garage. A buddy of mine had wrecked his and his wife made him get rid of it. The frame and motor were too damaged to be worth keeping but the canopy was still good. He asked me if I wanted the canopy. I had plenty of storage room so I took it. I could use take the motor from Alex’s Vespa Scooter (Yes, Alex was metrosexual enough to have a scooter), take the blade from my windmill, and make a frame from two mountain bikes. With the PPC, I could take off with just 100 feet of runway and land in my back yard. I wouldn’t have to worry about zombies and I could cover up to sixty miles in just a few hours. If there were other survivors in Salt Lake City, I should be able to find them easily with a PPC.

Chapter 16