Year of the Dead-Chapter 16
Chapter 16: Art Bingham, September 13th to 16th, Year 0
Heavenly Father, we had run out of bullets. I stood there stunned. It dawned on all of us that in less than an hour we had shot off all of our bullets and had killed thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of zombies, but it had made no discernable difference in the number outside our fence. As every zombie was killed, it was quickly torn apart and eaten by the others.
Hiram Rockwell had been standing there as stunned as the rest of us when suddenly he screamed, attached a bayonet to the end of his rifle, and ran to the fence. He stabbed a zombie in its eye through the fence. The crush of zombies behind it was so dense that the zombie was flush against the fence and couldn’t move away. Hiram kept screaming, yelling incomprehensible words in his fury, and he continued to stab zombie after zombie in its face in a berserk rage. The rest of us stood and watched. He had probably stabbed a couple dozen by the time he stopped but there was no evidence that he had accomplished anything.
I motioned us all to move into the ward building. The tragedy wasn’t that we had run out of bullets; the tragedy was that it meant so little. When we had closed our gates on the 11th, we’d had 405 people in our enclosure. In five days we had already lost four people, yet there were an endless numbers of zombies outside our walls.
We were never able to establish contact with any of the General Authorities and almost all of the wards around us. My wife Stacy’s first concern wasn’t the General Authorities; it was with our two married daughters and their families. We had lost contact with every ward outside of Utah. Because of Helen Hansen, our ward had been equipped with both landline high-speed internet connections and with satellite internet connections. Almost everyone in the US connects to the internet by landline, DSL, cable, fiber optics, and/or T1 lines. Most wards used landlines and all landlines stopped working on the 11th. Our ham radios should have been able to reach outside our state and we should have been able to reach wards across the country by relaying messages between different wards, but we could only get into radio contact with a few wards in our state. Helen told me that only sabotage could explain how quickly the whole world had lost power and communications. She couldn’t explain why the ham radios didn’t have the reach they should.
Washington, DC, where my daughter lived, was the center of political power in the US. A number of Senators and members of the House of Representatives had belonged to her ward. The terrorists who had caused all these problems had to have concentrated on Washington. Stacy was frantic about our oldest daughter. The only reason I didn’t break down was because I didn’t know what Stacy would do if I did.
The General Authorities had planned for every foreseeable disaster. They had not foreseen that a terrorist attack would take out power and communications throughout the entire world. We had enough supplies to last six months comfortably, and if we rationed our food and stopped using water for bathing or laundry, we had enough for nine months. But then what would we do? The ward members were looking to me to lead them and I didn’t have an answer. I wondered if it would have been better for all of us to have died on the 11th than to slowly starve to death in this enclosure. We couldn’t expect a rescue from anyone from the other wards. As a physician, I’ve always believed a quick painless death was preferable to a long drawn-out one. By getting into this enclosure, had we doomed ourselves to a long drawn-out death?
When night fell, we all slept again in the gymnasium. Some of the children had requested that the lights be kept on and to be honest, none of us adults wanted to sleep in the dark. We lost no one during the night. The lights became our good luck charm and we kept them on every night. We didn’t lose anyone on the 14th, 15th, or 16th.
None of us had anything to do. Our only hope was that we would be rescued before our food ran out. Our problems were obvious to everyone. We were all tense, some more so than others. Hiram became like a bomb ready to explode. Fortunately, none of the other men gave him an excuse to do so. I was worried that in a few more days, Hiram would lose his temper without provocation.
On the 16th, I heard Helen Hansen calling for me. She told me that Mark Jones, the Federal Emergency Director for Utah, was on the phone for me. Everyone who heard her followed me to the phone. I asked Helen to put the phone on speaker.
“This is Art Bingham.”
“Mr. Bingham, this is Mark Jones. I’ve been tasked by the Deputy Undersecretary of the Office of Homeland Security to take charge of emergency services in Utah. How many of you are in the ward?”
“There are 401 of us.”
“Do you have enough food, water, and supplies to last for a few months?”
“We have enough to comfortably last for six months and uncomfortably for 9.”
“Great. I wish I could say that all you had to do was to sit back and wait for us to rescue you, but I have to be honest. I was just appointed to my position on September 9th and didn’t have an opportunity to come up to speed by the 11th. The zombie outbreak, I’m sorry to say, took the Federal government completely by surprise, and because of that, I currently have limited resources. I’m going to need all of you in the ward to take the majority role in rescuing yourselves.”
“What are you suggesting, Mr. Jones?”
“I have been observing your ward for three days now. I realize that, to you, the number of zombies around your ward may seem endless. I estimate that there are over 100,000 zombies around your fence. This is a large number but it is not endless. You haven’t used your guns since the 13th. Are you out of bullets?”
“Mr. Bingham, you might be surprised to hear this, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Zombies are attracted to sound. Every time a gun is fired it attracts zombies from miles around. You already have more than your fair share around your fence. At this point you don’t need to get more. Do your rifles have bayonet mounts?”
“Yes. Hiram, how many bayonets do we have?”
“Great. Over 100,000 zombies may seem to be a very large number but fortunately we all have the time to devote to killing them off. If every willing man and woman in your enclosure, say a hundred men and woman, killed a hundred zombies each in a day by stabbing them in the head through your fence, you will have killed ten thousand zombies a day. All you have to do is to have groups of 15 people take rotations in killing zombies. In a couple weeks you should be able to wipe out almost all of those zombies outside your fence.”
“Mr. Jones, wouldn’t more zombies come to take the place of the ones we killed?”
“Art, may I call you Art?”
“Art, please call me Mark. Believe me. I have been walking around Sugar House since the 13th. The zombie population for about a couple square miles is almost entirely clustered around your fence. The density of zombies around you is unusual. Unless zombies are chasing someone, or are drawn by noise, they tend to stay in a limited area. Once we get rid of the zombies currently around your fence, it will be safe to go outside your fence for at least a couple miles.”
“Mark, this is incredible. We’ll get started right away.”
“Art, I have to warn you. You can only fight zombies in the daylight. You have to be indoors at dawn, night, and dusk, and when you are indoors, you need to be in well-lit rooms with at least two 100-watt bulbs or stronger.”
“In addition to zombies, we now have to deal with vampires.”
“Fortunately, vampires seem to be rare. They are immensely strong, probably strong enough to lift up a car by themselves. They hunt by jumping on their prey and they can easily jump over your fence. If exposed to sunlight or to two 100-watt bulbs for about 15 minutes, their flesh becomes severely damaged. If you want to kill them, you have to cut out their hearts and cut off their heads.”
“My God, I think a vampire got four of our ward members.”
“Well if you stay in strong sunlight and/or next to the light of at least two 100-watt bulbs, you shouldn’t lose any more. I apologize but I won’t be able to spend much more time with you today. I have only limited resources right now and I have other responsibilities. Please feel free to call me on my cell phone. I can’t promise I will answer every call but I should be able to get back to you within 24 hours of a missed call. Please be careful about excessive noise. If you fire a gun, I wouldn’t be surprised if it attracts another 20 to 30 thousand zombies. I’ll check back with you tomorrow. Do you have walkie-talkies with you?”
“I don’t know how long cell phones will keep working. If we have problems with the cell phones, we can stay in contact using walkie-talkies, Channel 2, sub-channel 2. I recommend that you keep a bunch of walkie-talkies in a refrigerator to keep the batteries alive as long as possible.”
“We can do that.”
I hung up the phone. I looked around me. I couldn’t contain myself: I raised my arms in the air and screamed hallelujah. The rest of the ward joined me. We danced. I yelled at Hiram, “I’ll be in the first group of 15. Set up a rotation for everyone who wants to use a bayonet.”
We had a plan. We had hope.