The Zombie Chronicles
Book 1: Outbreak
A Zombie Chronicles book
Copyright © 2010 by Mark Clodi
Published by Mark Clodi at Smashwords
Cover Illustration, "Where Souls Disappear" © and design by Michael Picco, 2009.
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Smashwords, License Notes
This DRM-free ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. Thank you for respecting the hard work of the authors by purchasing this ebook.
“My weekend? Not much new on my side. I did get up to the foothills and get a small hike in. Then I took the family out for…” Max was sitting at his desk writing an email to his buddy in Iowa when heard a terrible scream that brought his typing to an immediate stop. He waited a second, listening intently trying to determine if he truly had heard something or just imagined it. A second scream came echoing down the hallway and into his open cubical. Max was out of his chair and jogging down the hall immediately. As Max rounded a corner he nearly collided head on with Fred from accounting. He glanced off of Fred's right side and continued down the hall calling over his shoulder, "Call the police Fred, I think someone is hurt!"
After sprinting about a hundred feet, Max skidded to a stop in front of the Marketing offices. Inside he saw someone laying on the ground with another person kneeling over them. The woman on the ground appeared to be Nancy, head of the marketing department.
"I think she had a heart attack." said Bob, who worked in the neighboring department, ‘Permits’.
"A heart attack? With all this blood?" Max questioned, still standing in the hallway.
"Hey, are you okay? There's blood on your shirt." Bob said pointing to Max.
As Max looked down at his shirt he noticed Fred lumbering around the corner,
"What blood? Hey Fred turn around and call for some paramedics! Dumb ass." Max uttered the last part quietly to himself.
"I think it is too late for an emergency crew, she's dead Max."
"No, look, her hand is starting to move, I had better start CPR." Max quickly got down beside the woman and gently put his right hand under the back of her neck, he then placed his other hand on her forehead and gently tipped her whole head back causing Nancy's mouth to open. Max pressed his lips to hers and suddenly her eyes sprang wide open.
In order to give Max the necessary room to work around Nancy, Bob had retreated towards the doorway. Looking down on Nancy and Max he said "Nancy you are going to be all right, we have someone calling for an ambulance, just stay still and....Aaah! Fred! What the fuck are you doing! Stop it man! Stop iiiiitttttt!" Bob's gurgling noises slowly rose in pitch until they took on the rhythm and cadence of a whistling train.
Max, trying to comfort Nancy looked up to see Fred nuzzling on Bob's neck like a newborn on his mothers breast, the man slowly pressed his lips and mouth against Bob’s neck and slurped the blood that was coming out of his severed artery. Nancy started to rise, Max automatically held her down.
"Nancy you need to stay still until the ambulance gets here. Nancy! Stop it Nancy!" Max looked at the woman and saw a dull glint in her eyes, just like Fred's.
Mercifully, Bob’s his high pitched gurgling had stopped and when Max looked back he saw that Fred was now holding Bob up and was more actively eating through Bob's neck. Slowly Max sat back into a crouching position, his hands no longer holding her down, Nancy rose up simultaneously focusing her intense gaze on Max. Quicker than he would have thought possible Nancy reached for Max with her colorless arms.
'I always liked that shirt on Nancy.' Max thought, followed immediately by, 'I gotta get out of here!' Nancy's flailing arms caught on Max's shirt and started pulling him towards her now gaping mouth. Max pulled back and ended up on his butt, frantically backpedaling, stomach up, on his feet and hands to stay ahead of Nancy.
Backing into the wall in the hallway Max knew it was time to get up and run, he just could not bring himself to do it. The scene that was unfolding around him was just too much to be real. Nancy was slowly crawling towards him.
Sitting with his back against the wall, Max could feel the coldness of the tile floor on his hands. His brain was frantically sending messages to his legs to get up, get moving, but they did not respond. Slowly, Nancy crawled towards his out stretched legs.
...four feet away.
'This had to be some kind of nightmare.', Max thought, 'This cannot not be happening.'
...three feet away.
Move legs, MOVE. The message was sent but all Max could manage was to spread his feet apart. There, picture framed between his feet, Max could see Nancy's slack face moving ever closer and yet he just sat still letting her get closer.
...two feet away.
He could feel the blood underneath him, who was it from? Nancy? Bob? Fred? Himself? It had spread across the floor and now was soaking into his pant legs. This was it, he was going to die.
Slowly he bent his right knee, pulling his foot backwards. Max's brain fired a signal and his foot snapped out towards Nancy's face. He had intended a direct hit on her nose, but the heel of his shoe glanced off of her left cheek exposing muscle and bone. Nancy still advanced, her cloudy eyes never leaving her prey. He kicked again, this time skipping a blow off of her forehead which caused her whole head to jerk back unnaturally. Nancy managed to wrap her lifeless hand around his left ankle. Her touch caused an uncontrollable panic to course through him. Frantically Max kicked again but the fear of desperation caused him to completely miss the intended target. Max could feel himself sliding towards Nancy, she was pulling him. Max spread his fingers and tried to dig his nails into the floor, something, anything to stop her. But the crimson liquid provided no friction against the tile. This was it.
Nancy lowered her head towards Max's calf and that spurred Max to act again, he swung his left foot around, briefly thinking of the old movie "My Left Foot", it swung around and thudded into Nancy's head. Her head snapped back and she let go of Max's ankle. Unable to regain his position leaning up against the wall, Max rolled his body like a log as far away from Nancy as he could get, then he went face down and climbed to his hands and knees. Nancy scrambled around uselessly on the floor, Bob's blood was working against her as she struggled to get some traction and make headway towards Max. At this point Fred chewed through the last of Bob's neck and the man's body fell on top of Nancy, distracting her from Max. As Max watched Nancy growled in a feral manner and started chewing Bob's legs, as if this horror was not bad enough, her positioning looked like something out of a pornography movie Max remembered seeing when he was in college. Fortunately Max was able to tear his eyes away from the gruesome scene before he could see the parody truly begin. Max climbed to his feet, then edged his way along the wall until he could muster his strength enough to run back to the dubious safety of his cubical.
"Holy shit! Dude, what happened to you?!" this voice was from Max's arch office rival, Steve 'the bastard'. Death has a way of changing all alliances and Max was really glad to see Steve, to see anyone who did not have the 'dead' eyes of Fred and Nancy. Slowly Max turned his head and looked at Steve and raised an eyebrow while bringing his finger to his lips in the universal gesture of 'Shut the F up' or 'shhhh' depending on the age of the target audience. Steve stopped in his tracks and, for once, shut up. Becoming more aware of himself Max realized he was coated in Bob's blood, his shirt, previously a nice button up of one hundred percent cotton, was now a wet bloody covered mess. His khakis had fared no better and both hands were crimson splattered as well. Had some of it come off on his lips?
Thinking quickly Max ran down possible things to say, 'I didn`t do it' sprang to mind, then he thought of explaining that apparently Fred and Nancy were zombies and eating Bob in Nancy's office right now, 'Nope', he decided, that would take too long. Instead he whispered, "Fred went crazy and killed Nancy and Bob, he is in Nancy's office. Go call the police!"
The blood, the 'shhhh' and the whisper must have worked as Steve turned without a word and ran quietly off towards his cube. Max followed just as silently, like a shadow and soon found himself sitting next to Steve while the man called the police. Steve could not get through and kept trying to redial, never saying a word as he looked at Max. Finally with the phone pressed to one ear he said quietly, "It was you, wasn't it? You finally flipped out."
Shaking his head Max replied, "Me? Me? C'mon Steve! It wasn't me! If I wanted to start a killing spree I would at least bring a gun. It was Fred, he was acting all weird, he attacked Nancy when Bob spotted him, Bob came and got me, we went to see what was going on. When we got there I tried to help Nancy, then Fred grabbed Bob and attacked him too, he would have gotten me, he almost did, but he slipped in all the blood and I kicked him in the head and got out."
"Yeah? So if we go back to Nancy's office he should still be there unconscious? Uh, yeah, yeah I am here!" This last was into the phone, the emergency operator had finally answered, "Send someone right away, a guy here went crazy and attacked some of my co workers, there’s blood everywhere. No, I think the guy who did it is knocked out. No, no guns, it must have been a knife there is blood everywhere. What? No I didn't see it, I got the guy who did right here, yeah he is okay, I think. You okay Max?" Max nodded yes, "Yeah, yeah he is fine. Sure I will stay on the line with you until the police get here."
Finally able to catch his breath Max recapped his morning. It had started like any other with his quiet radio alarm going off at four twenty, he shut it off and fell back asleep almost immediately. Then he hit it again at four twenty nine, this time turning it off for good. Why did snooze buttons only add nine minutes to your sleep? Why not some normal amount of time like ten minutes or even better fifteen minutes, why nine? That seemed random to Max. He quietly left the bed so as to not wake Sarah, his wife of fourteen years.
Like a blind man he navigated his way through the darkness around the queen sized bed and out the door into the hallway towards the bathroom. He had showered, shaved, gotten dressed and was out the door by five. Max had his routine down perfectly.
As he drove his red nineteen ninety four Toyota truck to work he listened to his radio station WWEB. As usual there was a sports show on recapping yesterdays scores. Max enjoyed listening to morning dj, Blake 'the snake', he was hot headed, opinionated and usually irritated the hell out of Max. Despite this Max tuned in religiously to his show on the drive to work. Living in Colorado Max should have been a Rockies fan but Max was intently listening for the score of the Dodgers/Cubs game. He had always been a Dodgers ‘faithful’ ever since he transferred from Western State College in Colorado to the University of Southern California. A move that had cost him dearly in student loans.
"Cards five, Reds three." the voice on the radio announced.
At this time in the morning traffic was minimal. Max drove his way through the neighborhood streets onto Wadsworth, a main street that ran north and south through the towns of Westminster, Arvada, and Wheatridge. Crap, red light. Max used the delay to adjust the knob on his radio to try and get clearer reception. Glancing up from his radio he noticed what looked to be a homeless man, a drunk homeless man from the way he was slowly staggering towards the truck. Still waiting for the green light he watched the poor soul and wondered how this man had become homeless. Had he been fired? Maybe he had mental problems that didn’t allow him to hold down a normal job?
“Ahhh hell, here he comes looking for a handout.” Max's charity ended at feeling sorry for the homeless, not giving them money. “Change, change, change” Max chanted to the red light. The homeless man slowly put one uneasy foot in front of the other and continued on his path toward Max. Green light. Max, feeling only elation, stepped on the accelerator and sped off towards the on ramp to interstate seventy.
The engine responded and the needle on his speedometer started to move from thirty five to forty. Max leaned into the curve and then straightened out the truck preparing to merge onto the highway. The speedometer now read fifty five mile per hour. Max would soon be hitting eighty as he passed the all too familiar exits, Sheridan, Federal, Pecos, and finally, what Coloradoans called, the 'Mouse Trap'. This was where the two major interstates came together in one snarling mess where a single accident could bring all traffic to a halt. From here he could see the first rays of the sun starting to make their way over the horizon. Max turned the steering wheel of his truck so that he could merge onto the other highway, interstate twenty five, and head south.
"Braves six, Mets zero."
Max had a busy day planned, there was usually a full day of work to be done on a Friday before the long fourth of July weekend. Since Monday was a holiday he figured that most of his colleagues would be gone today extending their vacation. Less people around meant that he might actually get something accomplished.
"Astros four, D-backs one."
Max enjoyed his early morning drive to work. Sure there were other vehicles on the road, mostly trucks. Delivery trucks, Fed EX, UPS, Hostess, guys drinking coffee from large plastic travel mugs driving F150's with their companies name stenciled on the door. Contractors, subcontractors, and consultants he speculated. Who else would be up this early in the morning? Max was none of the above. He was a computer programmer for the MAC Corporation and just liked to get an early start to his day so that he could avoid some of the ever increasing traffic.