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Everyone has someone on the Wall.

No matter how remote you may think you are from the events that changed the world during the brutal summer of 2014, you have someone on the Wall. Maybe they’re a cousin, maybe they’re an old family friend, or maybe they are just somebody you saw on TV once, but they are yours. They belong to you. They died to make sure that you could sit in your safe little house behind your safe little walls, watching the words of one jaded twenty-two-year-old journalist go scrolling across your computer screen. Think about that for a moment. They died for you.

Now take a good look at the life you’re living and tell me: Did they do the right thing? —FROM IMAGES MAY DISTURB YOU, THE BLOG OF RACHEL BERRY, MAY 16, 2039



You cannot kill the truth.RACHEL BERRY

Nothing is impossible to kill. It’s just that sometimes after you kill something, you have to keep shooting it until it stops moving. And that’s really kind of interesting when you stop to think about it.QUINN FABRAY

Our story opens where countless other stories have ended in the last twenty-six years: with a moron—in this case, my girlfriend Quinn—deciding that it would be a good idea to go out and poke a zombie with a stick to see what happens. As if we had no clue what happens when you decide that poking a zombie with a stick is the greatest idea since sliced bread: The zombie turns around and bites you, and then you fall into the grips of the infection and become the very thing you were just poking a moment ago. This really is not much of a surprise. It has not been a surprise for more than twenty years, and if you want to get technical, it still was not a surprise then.

When the infected first appeared—heralded by screams that the dead were rising and judgment day was at hand—they behaved just like the horror movies had been telling us for decades that they would behave. The only surprise was that this time, there really was an undead creature trying to tear down doors and eat you.

There was no warning before the outbreaks began. One day, things were normal; the next, people who were supposedly dead were getting up and attacking anything that came within biting range. This was upsetting for everyone involved, except for the infected, who were obviously more interested in how fast they could sink their gross, unhygienic teeth into your flesh. The initial shock was followed by running and screaming, which eventually devolved into more infection and attacking, the panic almost bringing about the end of the world. So what do we have now, in this enlightened age twenty-six years after the Rising? We have morons prodding zombies with sticks, which brings us full circle to my girlfriend and why she probably will not live a long and fulfilling life with me in a secluded area far off from all this ‘let us go poke a few zombies’ nonsense.

“Hey, Rach, check this out!” she shouted, giving the zombie another poke in the chest with her hockey stick. The zombie gave a low moan, swinging its arms at her ineffectually. It had obviously been in a state of full viral amplification for some time and did not have the strength or physical dexterity left to knock the stick out of Quinn’s hands. I will give her this much: She knows not to bother the fresh ones at close range. “We’re just playing patty-cake Rach!”

“Stop antagonizing the locals and get back on the bike,” I said, glaring from behind my sunglasses. Her current buddy might be sick enough to be nearing its second, final death, but that did not mean there wasn’t a healthier pack scouting the area for fresh meat to devour. Santa Cruz is zombie territory. You do not go there unless you are suicidal, stupid, or both. There are times when even I can not guess which of those options applies to Quinn.

“I can’t talk right now! I’m busy making friends with the locals!”

“Quinn Elizabeth Fabray, you get back on this bike right now, or I swear to Streisand, I am going to drive away and leave you here and you will become nothing more than a snack cake for the locals you decided would be a great idea to make friends with!”

Quinn looked around, eyes bright with sudden interest as she planted the end of her hockey stick at the center of the zombie’s chest to keep it at a safe distance. “Really? You would do that for me? Because ‘My Girlfriend Abandoned Me in Zombie Country Without a Vehicle’ would make a great article.”

“A posthumous one, maybe, considering how unlikely it would be that you would make it back alive on foot,” I snapped. “Now get back on the goddamn bike or there will be no sexy times for you in the near to distant future since I refuse to have a zombie for a girlfriend!”

“In a minute!” she said, laughing, and turned back toward her moaning, rotting friend.

In retrospect, that was most definitely when everything went more wrong than I could have possibly imagined.

The pack had probably been stalking us since before we hit the city limits, gathering reinforcements from all over the county as they approached. Packs of infected get smarter and more dangerous the larger they become. Groups of four or less are barely a threat unless they can corner you, but a pack of twenty or more stands a good chance of breaching any barrier the uninfected try to put up. You get enough of the infected together and they’ll start displaying pack hunting techniques, not unlike the workings of wolves; they will start using actual tactics. It is almost like the virus that has taken them over starts to reason when it gets enough hosts in the same place. It is scary as hell, and it is just about the worst nightmare of anyone who regularly goes into zombie territory—getting cornered by a large group that knows the land better than you do.

These zombies knew the land better than we did, and even the most malnourished and virus-ridden pack knows how to lay an ambush since there is nothing better to drive an pack of flesh-hungry infected than the fact that they have not eaten in weeks. A low moan echoed from all sides, and then they were shambling into the open, some moving with the slow lurch of the long infected, others moving at something close to a run since they had not been infected long and were very much still intact. The runners led the pack, cutting off three of the remaining methods of escape before there was time to do more than stare. I looked at them and shuddered.

Fresh infected—the really fresh ones that were probably just amplified days ago, at most—still look almost like the people that they used to be. Their faces show as much emotion as it can for an undead creature, and they move with a jerkiness that could just mean they had slept wrong and caused a muscle to cramp up, making it difficult to move. It is harder to kill something that still looks like a person, and worst of all, the bastards are incredibly fast. The only thing more dangerous than a fresh zombie is a pack of them, and I counted at least eighteen before I realized that I did not want to end up as an infected and miss out on all my hopes, dreams and aspirations.

I grabbed my helmet and shoved it on without fastening the strap, which under normal circumstance would not have happened that way. Usually I promote safety and I always make sure everything is where it needs to be before starting the bike. However, if the bike went down, dying because my helmet did not stay fastened to my head would be one of the better options. I would reanimate and walk amongst the locals, but at least I would not be aware of my need to chew on my girlfriend’s arm. “Quinn!”

Quinn whipped around, staring at the emerging zombies. “Whoa.”

Unfortunately for Quinn, the addition of that many zombies had turned her buddy from a stupid solo infected into part of a smart thinking and mobilizing mob. The zombie grabbed the hockey stick as soon as Quinn’s attention was focused on the increasingly growing threat of death, yanking it out of her hands. Quinn staggered forward and the zombie latched onto her vest, withered fingers locking down with deceptive strength. It hissed. I screamed, images of my inevitable future as a lonely old lesbian with fifty cats and no friends filling my mind.

Quinn!” One bite and things would get a lot worse. There are not very many things that are worse than being cornered by a pack of zombies in downtown Santa Cruz. Losing Quinn would qualify as something being much worse despite her habits of poking things with sticks, believe me.

The fact that my girlfriend convinced me to take a dirt bike into zombie territory does not make me an idiot by any stretch of the imagination. I was wearing full off-road body armor, including a leather jacket with steel armor joints attached at the elbows and shoulders, a Kevlar vest, motorcycling pants with hip and knee protectors, and calf-high riding boots. It’s bulky as hell, and I did not care, because once you factor in my gloves, my throat is the only target I present in the field. At least it was better than argyle and plaid, according to Quinn.

Quinn, on the other hand, is a moron and had gone zombie baiting in nothing more defensive than a shirt with a nice vest, a Kevlar vest under that, and cargo pants. She won’t even wear goggles—she says they “spoil the effect.” Unprotected mucous membranes can spoil a hell of a lot more than that since all it takes is one spot of blood to hit you just right, but I practically have to blackmail her to get her into the Kevlar. Goggles are something that will never happen and I have come to terms with this fact.

There’s one advantage to wearing a vest in the field, no matter how idiotic I think it is: vest have buttons and those are easily torn off with the right amount of strength. Quinn ripped herself free and turned, running for the motorcycle with great speed, which is really the only effective weapon we have against the infected. Not even the fresh ones can keep up with an uninfected human over a short sprint. We have speed, and we have bullets. Everything else about this fight is in their favor.

“Shit, Rach, we have company!” There was a perverse mixture of horror and delight in her tone. “Look at them all!”

“I have been looking since I told you to get on the bike, Quinn! This is no time for celebration as I do not wish to become food for the undead!”

I kicked us free as soon as she had her leg over the back of the bike and her arms around my waist. The bike leapt forward, tires bouncing and shuddering across the broken ground as I steered us into a wide curve. We needed to get out of there, or all the protective gear in the world would not do us a damn bit of good. I might live if the zombies caught up with us, but my girlfriend would be dragged into the mob and that was not something that I had planned on happening today. I gunned the throttle, praying that God had time to preserve the life of the clinically suicidal since what I was about to do would most certainly end in us becoming mindless infected.

We hit the last open route out of the square at twenty miles an hour, still gathering speed. Whooping, Quinn decided she only needed one arm around my waist and twisted to face the zombies, waving and blowing kisses in their direction. If it were possible to enrage a mob of the infected, she would have managed it easily. She could never turn down the chance at taunting the undead with her delicious, meaty body. As it was, they just moaned and kept following, arms extended toward the promise of fresh and tasty meat, since I know that Quinn and I are mouth-watering specimens of the human race. If undead could drool, I am positive that they would be at this very moment.

The road was pitted from years of weather damage without maintenance since no one has lived in this area since the break out happened. I fought to keep control as we bounced from pothole to pothole. “Keep holding on, you moron!

“I am holding on!” Quinn called back, seeming happy as a clam and oblivious to the fact that people who did not follow proper safety procedures around zombies—like not winding up around zombies in the first place—tend to wind up in the obituaries and shambling around in abandoned cities.

“Hold on with both arms!” The moaning was only coming from three sides now, but that did not mean anything; a pack this size was almost certainly smart enough to establish an ambush. I could be driving straight into the biggest mob in the area. They would moan in the end, once we were right on top of them. No zombie can resist a good moan when dinner was being served to them on the back of a bike. The fact that I could hear them over the engine meant that there were too many, too close. If we were lucky, it was not already too late to get away.

Of course, if we were lucky, we would not have been getting chased by an army of zombies through the quarantine area that used to be downtown Santa Cruz either. We would be somewhere safer, like Bikini Atoll just before the bomb testing kicked off. Once you decide to ignore the hazard rating and the signs saying Danger: Infection, you were on your own.

Quinn grudgingly slid her other arm around my waist and linked her hands at the pit of my stomach, shouting, “Spoilsport,” as she settled.

I huffed and hit the gas again, aiming for a nearby hill. When you are being chased by zombies, hills are either your best friends or your burial ground. The slope slows them down, which is great, unless you hit the peak and find out that you are surrounded, with nowhere left to run to.

Moron or not, Quinn knows the rules about zombies and hills. She is not as dumb as he pretends to be, and she knows more about surviving zombie encounters than I do. Her grip on my waist tightened, and for the first time, there was actual concern in her voice as she shouted, “Rach? What do you think you’re doing?”

“Hold on,” I said. Then we were rolling up the hill, bringing more zombies stumbling out of their hiding places behind trash cans and in the spaces between the once-elegant beachfront houses that were now settling into a state of neglected decay.

Most of California was reclaimed after the Rising, but no one has ever managed to take back Santa Cruz. The geographical isolation that once made the town so very desirable as a vacation spot pretty much damned it when the virus hit. Kellis-Amberlee may be unique in the way it interacts with the human body, but it behaves just like every other communicable disease known to man in at least one way: Put it on a school campus and it spreads like wildfire, consuming everything in its path until it is either put out or has nothing left to burn. U.C. Santa Cruz was a perfect breeding ground, and once all those perky co-eds became the shuffling infected, it was all over but the evacuation notices.

“Rachel, this is a hill!” she said with increasing urgency as the locals lunged toward the speeding bike. She was using my proper name; that was how I could tell she was worried. I’m only “Rachel” when she is unhappy with a decision I have made or my choice of attire is less than ideal.

“I got that.” I hunched over to decrease wind resistance a few more precious degrees. Quinn mimicked the motion automatically, hunching down behind me.

“Why are we going up a hill?” she demanded. There was no way she would be able to hear my answer over the combined roaring of the engine, the moaning infected around us and the wind, but that was my girlfriend for you. Always willing to question that which can not talk back her.

“Ever wonder how the Wright brothers felt?” I asked. The crest of the hill was in view. From the way the street vanished on the other side, it was probably a pretty steep drop. The moaning was coming from all sides now, so distorted by the wind that I had no real idea what we were driving into. Maybe it was a trap; maybe it wasn’t. Either way, it was too late to find another path and I sure as hell was not turning this bike around on a hill when we were already so close to the top. I may have been acting crazy at the moment but I am not suicidal. That job belonged to Quinn. We were committed, and for once, Quinn was the one becoming more and more afraid as we came closer and closer to what may be our last moments on this earth.

Rachel!
“Hold on!” Ten yards. The zombies kept closing, single-minded in their pursuit of what might be the first fresh meat some had seen in years. From the looks of most of them, the zombie problem in Santa Cruz was decaying faster than it was rebuilding itself. Sure, there were plenty of fresh ones—there are always fresh ones because there are always idiots who wander into quarantined zones, either willingly or by mistake, and the average hitchhiker does not get lucky where zombies are concerned—but we will take the city back in another three generations because by then, even the fresh ones would have long since died their second death and left Santa Cruz to the living once more.

Five yards.

Zombies hunt by moving toward the sound of other zombies hunting. It is recursive, and that meant our friends at the base of the hill started for the peak when they heard the commotion. I was hoping so many of the locals had been cutting us off at ground level that they wouldn’t have many bodies left to mount an offensive on the hill’s far side. We were not supposed to make it that far, after all; the only thing keeping us alive was the fact that we had a motorcycle and the zombies simply did not have the brain capacity to operate a motor vehicle.

I glimpsed the mob waiting for us as we reached the top. They were standing no more than three deep. Fifteen feet would see us clear.

Liftoff.

It is really amazing what you can use for a ramp, given the right motivation. Someone’s collapsed fence was blocking half the road, jutting up at an angle, and I hit it at about fifty miles an hour. The handlebars shuddered in my hands like the horns of a mechanical bull, and the shocks were not doing much better. I did not have to check the road in front of us because the moaning started as soon as we came into view. They had blocked our exit fairly well while Quinn played patty-cake with her little friend, and mindless plague carriers or not, they had a better grasp of the local geography than we did since no living person has been in control of Santa Cruz since this plague hit the world. We still had one advantage: Zombies are not good at predicting suicide charges. And if there is a better term for driving up the side of a hill at fifty miles an hour with the goal of actually achieving flight when you run out of “up,” I do not think I would like to hear the term.

The front wheel rose smoothly and the back followed, sending us into the air with a jerk that looked effortless and was actually scarier than knowing Broadway was not as popular as it used to be. I was screaming. Quinn was whooping with gleeful understanding. And then everything was in the hands of gravity, which has never had much love for the terminally stupid, as well as myself. And I had both things against me at this very moment. We hung in the air for a heart-stopping moment, still shooting forward. At least I was fairly sure the impact would kill us.

The laws of physics and the hours of work I have put into constructing and maintaining my bike combined to let the universe, for once, show mercy on those of us who sought out death. We soared over the zombies, coming down on one of the few remaining stretches of smooth road with a bone-bruising jerk that nearly ripped the handlebars out of my grip. The front wheel went light on impact, trying to rise up, and I screamed, half terrified, half furious with Quinn for getting us into this situation in the first place. The handlebars shuddered harder, almost wrenching my arms out of their sockets before I hit the gas and forced the wheel back down. I would pay for this in the morning, and not just with the repair bills but with aches and pains in areas that I would rather not have aches and pains in.

Not that it mattered. We were on level ground, we were upright, and there was no moaning ahead of us that would deter us from our destination. I hit the gas harder as we sped toward the outskirts of town, with Quinn whooping and cheering behind me like a big suicidal freak.

“Crazy bitch,” I muttered, and drove on.


From the blogs of Rachel and Quinn.

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Haha very amusing. Is Quinn crazy or something lol?

In a way, she is. In another way, she was brought up to get ratings and this gets ratings. You'll get to understand her position in the group in the next few chapters. :D Glad that you found it amusing!

That was ridiculous. Quinn is like Finn-levels of goofy in this.

No doubt but it cannot be helped. It fit with better with Quinn as the one poking zombies. Believe me.

I also prefer it that Quinn is there. She's much cuter.

When they aren't in the field, she will act more like Quinn but in the field, she acts for ratings. Personally, the image of Quinn poking a zombie with a hockey stick and laughing was too cute to pass up.

I like that you were able to use the words "zombie" "hockey stick" and "cute" all in the Sam sentence. I blame Quinn. She could make anything adorable.

That was a delicious sentence, wasn't it? XD

This. Is. Awesome. I can't wait to read more.

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