Year of the Dead-Chapter 9
Chapter 9: Jim Wright, October 8th, Year 0
My name is Jim Wright. My two roommates, Frank and Ryan, and I had been stuck in our house for a month. Every hour or so, one of us would check our battery-powered radio to see if anything was on; nothing ever was. None of us had taken a shower for two weeks to save on water, and we were getting really tired of dehydrated food. It was clear to us that we hadn’t really prepared for the zombies and if something didn’t change soon, we were screwed.
We had enough dried and canned food to last us for months. Power and water had been out since the 11th. It was a mild autumn, so heating the house wasn’t an issue; therefore, power wasn’t that important. Our weakness was water. We had stored up eight large plastic garbage bins full of water but with most of our food needing to be rehydrated, and with there being three of us, water was going faster than we wanted it to. Until two weeks ago, we were still using water for sponge baths. Then our water supply got so tight that we decided to use water just for drinking and food prep. I was starting to smell so bad that even my own odor was starting to gross me out.
We were all stressed out. Most of the things we were stressed out about were fairly predictable. We were trapped. We had seen neighbors turn into zombies in front of our eyes. Some of them hadn’t been bitten; they still turned into zombies. We were paranoid that one of us in the house would turn into a zombie. I guess what really irritates you is all about expectations. It’s the stuff that you don’t expect that gets your goat. Frank and I had never expected that taking a crap would get so annoying.
Ever since we heard about the zombie outbreaks in Europe about six months ago, everyone we knew had been looking into disaster preparation. All the advice sites seemed to focus on power, food, and water. We had a small gasoline generator that we could use for power. Food wasn’t an issue because before I got divorced three years ago, I had been a good temple-recommended Mormon, and like any good Mormon I had stocked up on a year’s supply of food. I got the house; the ex got everything else. I had dumped the religion along with the ex, but the food had just been sitting there. Most of it was dehydrated and sealed and so it was still good. I just had to replace a few items that had gone bad, like condensed milk. By the time my roommates and I had gotten around to looking for water storage, there wasn’t a water barrel to be found. We bought as many of the large plastic garbage cans as we could. Everyone was getting into disaster preparation, so pretty much any large container that was waterproof was going fast.
Before the 11th, I hadn’t thought much about going to bathroom. What was there to think about? You used the toilet, washed your hands, and then left. For the first couple of days after the 11th it stayed the same except for scooping a small bucketful of water from the bathtub and pouring it into the toilet after you were finished. Then the bathtubs went dry, and our house was still surrounded by zombies, and we had no way to get more water.
My house is a two-story brick house with an unfinished basement. Part of the disaster prep we did before the 11th was to board up every window that a zombie could get to. Our prep worked, because our house was surrounded by zombies and none of them had gotten in. With no more water in the bathtubs and with us not being able to get outside of the house, we had to go to the bathroom out the second floor window that faced our street.
Whenever we got to the window, a whole pile of them would swarm below us with their arms reaching up high and their mouths open, making a high-pitched screaming sound. At first, it was hard to let go and start the stream; I mean, here you are all dangling out and a bunch of zombs are below you wanting to bite it off, but it was funny to piss on the zombies. We got used to peeing on them fairly quickly. Ryan was all bummed out that at about ten feet from us; the pee stream would spread out to more of a shower. He thought it would be hilarious to piss directly into a zomb’s mouth.
For Frank and me, pissing on the zombs was kind of a dominance thing and we were cool with it. Like I said, it was funny, but taking a crap was different. It was nerve-wracking to stick my bare butt out the window. I mean, for me this wasn’t a position of dominance. Just by the nature of how we had to position ourselves to take a crap, you really couldn’t look at the zombies while you did it, but I always ended up visualizing in my head hundreds of zombie eyes on my sphincter as it opened and closed. It was humiliating. I mean, sure, it’s the end of the world and we are all going to die and there are more important things to worry about, but REALLY, before you get killed and eaten, you have to let a couple hundred zombies look at your asshole while it’s opening and closing.
Ryan, on the other hand, thought that dumping a load on a zomb was even better than pissing on one. He’d make a point of leaning his ass out so far out the window that he could kind of see below him, between his legs. Every time he took a shit, he was always screaming out things like “bombs away” and “load number two has hit its target.” Frank and I could always tell when Ryan was taking a dump. The first couple of times it was funny but it got old fast. If we hadn’t been surrounded by zombies, Frank and I probably would have kicked Ryan out of the house. At 28, Ryan was the youngest of us. Frank was 36 and I was 33. Until three months ago, all of us had been living alone and we weren’t used to sharing space with anyone else. We were still not used to it.
Honestly, as annoying as Ryan was, it was still good to have him around. Being surrounded by zombies and not being able get into contact with anyone else was freaky. For the first two days immediately after the outbreak, we had been able to get in touch by phone with a few people. Frank was able to talk to his parents in Oregon on his cell phone, but after the 13th we couldn’t get in touch with anyone. By the second day of the power outage, it made sense that if you didn’t have access to a generator, cell phone and cordless phone batteries would be dead. Strangely enough, the landline phones stopped working before our cell phones. I would have thought that landlines would be more reliable than cell phones.
Having anybody around, even Ryan, was better than not having company. Secretly I hoped that if anyone of us spontaneously turned into a zombie, it would be Ryan. I don’t know if being a lawyer makes you annoying or if annoying people become lawyers, but Ryan was the epitome of an annoying lawyer. I would have been upset about shooting him in the head but not as upset as I would be if I had to shoot Frank. As the days and weeks passed, the thought of shooting Ryan in the head was becoming less and less distressing.
I was glad I invited Frank and Ryan to move in with me. Even with the risk of their turning into zombies, I don’t know how I’d be handling things if I’d been alone in this house.
On the 11th when the alarm sirens went off, we all thought it was a test. I mean, come on: the 11th! So we had filled the two bathtubs in the house full of water and then went up to the second floor and stood around looking at one of the two windows that we had not boarded up. It was a zoo out there. At every house on the street other than ours, families were loading up their cars and taking off. About one-in-four of the people on the street looked sick. Some of them were vomiting and others needed help from their families to get into their vehicles. At the time we were glad we weren’t part of the mess on the street. A few minutes of watching the craziness down there went a long way, and so we went back our rooms.
When the screaming started about an hour later, we all went back to the window. This was the real thing; the zombs were here. Some of these zombies were clearly our neighbors that had been human about an hour ago. All of us ran for our rifles. It ended up that only one of us had room to shoot at a time. Frank was the best shot, so he went first. We all belong to a club of air-gun enthusiasts. We had been talking for months about the best way kill zombies and had decided that we would use a .22-caliber air rifle. This is not the Daisy BB-gun that you had as a kid. Our rifle sends a .22-caliber lead pellet out at 1250 feet-per-second and costs over $500 new, more than a lot of regular rifles. It hits a target with almost as much force as a .22 long rifle bullet. The rifle has an air canister that is precharged by either a hand pump or from a scuba tank. The pellet speed can be dialed up or down, at full power the tank will give you 25 shots. It was lucky for us that we were into air guns because within a month of the first confirmed zombie attack in Africa, earlier this year, there weren’t any bullets to buy.
The US has a huge number of gun owners and a lot of them are paranoid that one day a Democrat-controlled government is going to take away their guns. Clinton’s assault weapon ban confirmed all their fears. When Obama first got elected, there was a run on bullets for awhile because a rumor got spread that he would put a tax on bullets that would make them unaffordable. A bullet will last centuries if stored correctly so there isn’t much to lose by buying more bullets than you need. So pretty much anytime that something makes gun owners paranoid, a certain number of them will go to a gun store and buy up every box of ammo they can afford. It doesn’t take many of these guys for a gun store to run out of bullets. The zombie outbreak in Africa made gun owners paranoid.
Twenty-two-caliber lead pellets are usually thought of as toys so it wasn’t difficult for us to buy as many pellets as we needed. We each probably had close to a hundred thousand pellets; lead pellets are cheap and don’t take up much room. Before the zombie outbreaks, we were into target shooting and for the best results in target shooting you have to make your own pellets, so we also all had lead molds and a bunch of lead stock to make more pellets if we wanted.
If you don’t know much about guns, you might think the best way to kill a zombie would be with a big-caliber high-powered rifle, but you would be wrong. The reason that hunters and soldiers use large-caliber bullets and or high-speed bullets is to cause massive soft-tissue damage. This is the most effective way kill living animals or humans. Massive soft-tissue damage doesn’t do much to a zombie. The only way to kill a zombie is to destroy its brain. The best way to do this is to use a bullet that is just strong enough to penetrate the skull but too weak to exit. When this happens, the bullet is trapped in the skull and bounces inside destroying the brain. A .22-caliber air pellet does this perfectly. You have to hit a skull square on so it doesn’t ricochet off. All three of us were good enough shots to be able to do this consistently.
Like clockwork, every couple seconds Frank got a shot off. I spotted for him. It’s much easier to shoot accurately if you have a spotter helping to pick your targets, and if you miss, to show you which direction you missed in and how far off-target you were. All military snipers have spotters. Frank was on fire. He got 25 shots off and 25 kills. Air guns don’t make much noise so I don’t think anyone on my street, either the zombies or our neighbors, knew Frank was shooting, but I know he saved lives.
After Frank emptied out his air canister, he ran down to the basement to recharge it from his scuba tank. I took my turn. I got 23 kills while I was shooting and Ryan was spotting for me. Ryan got the same count as me. We kept on taking turns shooting, spotting, and refilling our canisters for hours. By the time we stopped, even with all the ones we killed there were thousands of zombs on our street.
As of the last census, there were more than a million people in the greater Salt Lake metropolitan area. I hoped to hell that there weren’t that many zombies. We had each taken out hundreds of zombs. Many of them used to be our neighbors. You would think we would be all shaken up by this. None of us had ever killed anyone before, but the zombies we had taken out were so clearly not human any longer that none of us were badly shaken. I think it would have been different if one of us turned zombie, but this hadn’t happened.
For the past week, Frank, Ryan, and I had been playing games on our laptops, shooting a few zombies, and just hanging out, hoping that the government, army, LDS Church, or whatever would get their acts together. We used our gas generator to recharge our laptop and cell phone batteries. We had enough water to last us another two weeks tops. None of us wanted to talk about what we would do then.
I was in the middle of my once-daily dreaded shit when my cell phone rang. I answered.
“Jim, its Mark. Want to go to out for some beers?”
“Mark, uh Mark, what the fuck?”
“Just kidding, man. I’m in a house a few doors down from you across the street. I can see your ass hanging out the window and I know you’re busy. Great shot; you just dropped a load on top of the bald zombie’s head.”
“Mark, what the fuck!”
“Jim, I can see you’re kind of busy. I don’t know what the proper etiquette is when one person in a conversation has his bare ass pointing to another. I haven’t been in this situation before. Why don’t you finish and call me back.”