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“Don’t forget Flake City” Short Story
While Moria made her way onto the hospital floor to get supplies, and George unpacked his bags, showing Lissa his bounty of supplies he had scavenged, Chloe, Damien, and Charlie, made their way back downstairs. The music, which had been briefly played, only to the near death of the survivor, Chloe had been told, had stopped quickly, and Moria had let them know the survivor, George, was safe back in the hospital morgue, so the three made their way back to the apartment, grateful to have helped, and mocking yet another failed effort of Mark’s.
Chloe was grateful they had fireworks, and made a note to try and find more in other apartments, although it seems unlikely, as most people hadn’t bought their New Years Eve fireworks in November. Chloe returned to her apartment and continued her zombie research, while the guys began clearing the apartment floor, checking for supplies, securing doors, and making a game plan for the next few weeks during the storm.
“We should go get Moria…” Chloe suggested, again, as the three stopped to eat some leftover turkey sandwiches from the first big day of the outbreak. Chloe was trying to go through the perishable food, or preserve it, so she had been strictly arranging meals accordingly.
“Chloe, how on earth would we?” Charlie asked, rubbing his knee. “Chev and I are both damn near crippled up with this storm, and Chev with his injury, Damien can’t go alone.”
“Yeah, I can go with Damien.”
“We don’t even know if you are immune. That means one bite, hell for all we know, one scratch, one drop of blood maybe, could kill you.”
“But it could also be that I am immune. Moria, and the others at the hospital, were all bit. Maybe this whole thing is air born, and if you didn’t turn, you are immune.”
“That’s not a risk we can afford to take, Chloe.” Charlie said firmly. “We have to keep you alive. More so if we are all stuck here and the government is lying to us, Flake City will need Truth.”
“But she is in danger, and we also need a doctor. That is the truth!” Chloe protested.
“Well, I can’t stop you, but I think she may be safe enough. We don’t have people to spare, to have you and Damien, our younger, healthier survivors, going off, risking yourselves, to remove someone from their safe place, and bring her to this one.”
“How do we know she is safe?”
“Do we really know we are?” Chev asked. “I mean, I have been in that hospital, I have been on the upper administration floors…She is as safe as we are, isn’t she? They have access to all the stuff in the morgue, which as I recall, has quite a bit of the controls for the building in it, or the maintenance room down there. The three people there are pretty safe, as a unit, and the three of them can probably survive, at least during this snow storm. The zombies may actually freeze, if they are exposed to the temperatures for a few days.”
Chloe sighed, taking in Chev’s words. He wasn’t wrong, but Chloe was worried. The hospital was infested with zombies, and if they only had one doctor, and two nurses, they would need them healthy and alive, namely, because of Chev and Charlie, both of which would have medical needs sooner rather than later, Chloe suspected. “We can wait for the first few days of storms and discuss this again, but both of you will need medicines from that hospital soon enough.” Chloe sighed.
“We have a few weeks for that, yet.” Charlie said softly. “I have been stocking up on my medicine for a while, and Chev is a healthy guy.”
Damien met Chloe’s gaze, and silently told her to leave it alone for now, so she rolled her eyes and dropped the conversation.
“I hope they stay safe then.” Chloe murmured as she crossed to the window. Outside, there were hundreds of zombies, still milling around after the explosions from the fireworks.
The group worked quietly, in a tense silence. Chloe took to washing and drying various clothing and linens while working on her research and mapping, occasionally passing on ideas on fortification to Damien or Moria.
Chloe had sent a text message to Mark, to follow up about speaking to Martin, but suspiciously, Martin was in meetings with the government agency he worked for, so Chloe was unable to attempt her plan to get information on the redacted parts of the reports that had come from the Flake City Research and Development Center. This bothered Chloe, and forced her to feel even more helpless. More annoying still, the news had not run, implying that other than two survivors, there wasn’t news, which made Chloe more annoyed. The blizzard had paused, but it had put a weird energy in the air, with the entire city throbbing in raw panic from the zombies, but stuck in place from the impending storm.
But, the thing that Chloe wasn’t thinking about, was that Mark wasn’t lying, since no one could, and Martin was in fact, was in meetings. These meetings, and the F Class and government decisions of how to move forward, would be revealed in the days to come.
Moria had searched a few offices, making a few return trips to her office, finding a large amount of useful stuff. Moria considered dragging a sofa or two from the other offices into her own to not only add to the amount of seating/sleeping options she had, should people come, but also to add to the furniture she could barricade her office door with, also in case people should come. Moria opted to look for a nice one, and when she finished investigating every office, she would pick the nicest and heaviest option, and bring it into her office.
Moria had committed herself to looking in Dr. West’s office, if not for his rumored gun, which with the sound sensitivity the zombies had, may not be the best option, but knowing he also tended to have good stashes of food, and quality furniture in his office. Moria entered his office and opened one of his desk drawers, finding a few power bars and various snacks mixed in with pens, a tape dispenser and a myriad of paper clips. Moria found one of the larger drawers was locked, but the key to the drawer was in the drawer with all the paper clips, and opened quickly enough. Inside, Moria found a stash of scotch, some glasses, and what looked like a high end gift basket exploded. Crackers, dried meats, fancy sharp cheeses, a jar of unopened olives, some small jars of preserves, and some high end chocolates. Moria smiled and quickly took the contents of the entire drawer, finding underneath the large bottle of nice scotch, were a few mini bar bottles and small bottles of booze. “So Dr. West may have had a drinking problem.” Moria said to herself quietly.
Moria moved to the next drawer, which was full of files, and she nearly closed the drawer without further investigation, until she spotted something dark green on the bottom of the drawer instead of the dark brown color of the wood. Moria pushed the files out of the way and found a dark green metal container, and pulled it out. The metal container was locked, but when Moria shook the container, she didn’t hear anything other than papers. Curious about its contents, but knowing the sky was already darkening for the impending storm, Moria pushed the metal container aside and checked another drawer, finding more files. Moria found a multi tool and a pocket knife in the last drawer of the desk, and took these, before investigating the couch that Dr. West had.
Shockingly, the black couch was not as soft or comfortable as it looked, nor was it as heavy as one would want for holding a door closed, so Moria resolved to leave Dr. West’s office, and check what else that she could before the light ended.
Moria had gone through several desks and cabinets looking for useful bits of food, bedding, medical supplies, but also any books that would help with the infection. In several doctors and nurses offices, Moria found useful books, several on infectious diseases, one on pandemics, and a general book of drugs, which would help when the database on the computers eventually went down. Moria wanted to work on learning whatever she could about it, hoping if she could get them stocked with information, maybe the few survivors could manage to not only live, but convince the government to rescue them.
Moria returned to her office when she discovered the sun had been blocked by too many clouds for her to be able to search properly, and began to sort and put away her very decent bounty. Moria had found an extra coffee maker from another office, and another microwave, and moved the extras into her bathroom, along with an assortment of foods. Moria had dragged a few jugs of water from behind the reception desk, to her own office, and she stashed two in the bathroom as well.
Moria folded some more blankets for her last ditch effort, her panic room, which was the bathroom, and stood back to survey her work. Moria had stocked up on toiletries, including toilet paper, and stacked them near the sink and toilet. Tucked into another corner was her stockpile of food, with the microwave and coffee maker, covered by a couple of blankets. Moria had stashed extra scrubs and bedding next to this pile, and had moved a pieces of piping and phone wire into the bathroom as well, to help secure the door, on the off chance that she had to fall back into her bathroom, if zombies or raiders broke into the office. Moria had stashed her laptop and a phone charger in the bathroom, and with this, she was pleased to announce to herself that she had a panic room if her office safety was compromised, and while it may not be perfect, it was pretty decent for what most people in the city probably had.
Moria turned her attention back to her office, wanting to organize and fortify her main area, not wanting to have to live in only her bathroom, and finding it hard to do research in the clutter made from survival. Moria had brought extra phone cables and some rock-climbing rope she had found in someone’s office, to help secure her door even more, so Moria worked on adding this extra layer of protection to her door. When finished, Moria worked on organizing her food supplies, stashing some in her various drawers in her desk, to ensure against anyone finding all of her supplies, on the off chance someone got in.
Moria was getting ready to turn on some lights and start going through her zombie research, when a headache struck her. It came largely out of nowhere, and Moria felt her vision blur slightly when it came on. Moria felt her head pound, and for a moment wondered if this was a symptom of the bites. Moria wasn’t one to get headaches, but she was also certain nothing she had read mentioned something like this. Her thoughts were muddy, however, from the sudden onset of blinding pain.
Shaking her head, hardly able to see, Moria quickly double checked all of her security measures, and turned off all lights in her office. Grateful for the darkness in the light of the sudden pounding headache, Moria sent a quick text to both George and Chloe to prevent them worrying, informing them of her unexplainable migraine, and laid down for a rest. Moria’s headache did not deter her sleep, and mere moments from her head hitting the pillow, Moria was fast asleep.
Across town, Chloe received her message from Moria, and wondered if this was part of the pressure changes that must be occurring, as she was also getting a fairly bad headache. Chloe let the guys know about Moria, mentioning her own headache, and went to go lay down, her own vision starting to blur, making her wonder if it was a mere pressure change causing it.
Charlie felt his own head hurt, as did Damian’s, so the remaining three locked up the apartment, turned down the lights, and sat in silence. Chev sat by the fire, softly singing songs from his youth. This headache everyone felt, was all a part of what was to come, something Chev knew well, but still, it helped everyone if he stayed quiet.
Chev watched his friend Charlie lounge on a recliner, while Damien napped on the couch. In the bedroom, Chloe rested peacefully, having fallen asleep quickly after laying down. Outside, Chev heard a guttural cry, one of the zombies screamed, and a few other zombies roared in response. Chev shivered despite the warmth of the fire, and hoped everyone had gotten some safety before the headaches began.
George’s head was pounding, not a simple dull headache, from editing too much footage or playing too many video games, but a pounding migraine. Lissa gave him pain medicine and insisted he lay down.
“I know headaches. Trust me, George, you need to rest.” Lissa had placed some pillows on the couch in the morgue office and pushed him towards it.
George’s blonde hair was matted to his forehead with sweat, so Lissa got a bit of paper towel wet from the bathroom and dampened George’s head.
Calmly, Lissa played with George’s hair until it was off his forehead and he was sleeping peacefully.
Lissa focused all of her energy on being a calming presence in the small office, and hoped it would be enough to help George sleep. Across town, Chev, worked similarly, as he stared into the fire and mused the cause of these headaches.
Chev stared into the flames and picked apart the prophecy he had been told as a child, that he had told his own children, and would hopefully live to tell his soon to be born grandchild. The prophecy of an evil creature, made of both man made evils and the darkest of magics, that would rise and bring terror and destruction.
The tale was old, the tale of Komahtsu. An evil being, magic, powerful, evil. Able to control legions of evil followers, Komahtsu would be scary enough alone, but the legend of Komahtsu always lent itself to having an army of evil behind the terrifying creature.
The lore of Komahtsu, who would awaken when the dead roamed the earth when evil outnumbered good. The government’s constant tampering, the evil of man, the corruption of science and medicine, mixing with the magic of the land.
The magic would come down from the mountains in waves, as it always would. Chev wondered how much energy this storm had with it. Storms in Flake City were more than the things of stories, no, the winter storms of Flake City were, to anyone who knew magic, truly a source, a display of the powerful awe that was raw unbridled magic, hidden in plain sight with snow and wind.
The mountains, dark, foreboding, were practically alive with the energy, and the very air seemed to taste magical. The energy would bother people differently, surely, and some, like Chev, or Lissa, would be fine, others, like Chloe, or George, would experience crippling headaches, whereas other people around town would become horribly ill, running high fevers and being completely helpless to the unknown ailments. Some of these people wouldn’t recover quickly, while others would be better in twenty four hours time.
Chev wondered, if this was it, and as the zombies outside growled more, he felt certain Komahtsu was about to rise.
Lissa, as she played with George’s hair, felt these headaches, and any other symptoms they would hear of others experiencing, would be caused by not the magical energy as Chev thought, but from some sort of governmental interference.
Lissa knew, or at least thought, very strongly, same as Chev and the lore of Komahtsu, that the government was trying to scan the city, using brain waves to determine the people in the city, and maybe even zombie concentrations, Moria had mentioned tech the government and research lab had been developing, so it made sense that they would use Flake City to test it.
Flake City was always a place for experimentation for the government, for the research facility, everyone loved to use Flake City as their own personal testing grounds, to hell with the unique magic of the land that kept Flake City so special in the first place.
Lissa, who didn’t like to acknowledge the magic even when she knew it was real, knew well enough that the magic would be interfering with the stuff the government would be doing, she knew this much from speaking to the few other science minded people who had family from the mountains.
A whole group of people in Flake City who worked either in the labs, the hospitals, or for the government and were merely stationed in Flake City, but all the same, this core group of people knew, begrudgingly, the magic, the real magic Flake City held secret within it’s isolated walls, to say nothing of the even more powerful magic contained in the mountains.
The scans made the air feel electric, and filled the air with shrieks and growls from the zombies.
Lissa tried her best to stay calm, as the growls inside the drawers and deep freeze storage, began to grow too.
The government’s inferring would kill them all, was a belief that both city dwellers and people in the mountains could all agree on, certainly now. All the science in the world wouldn’t let Lissa feel better about the sounds she was hearing in the morgue.
And that was the key. Because Chev and Lissa, much as they may believe very different reasons for the headaches, for the increased activity, much as their beliefs may be wildly different, they were both, in this horrifying case, correct.
Their experiences, and knowledge, were simply limited to their own scope. Neither was wrong. If someone were to know both, they would know that the problems everyone faced, and the problems they would soon face, were likely coming from two different sources, and they were merely caught in the middle.
As the scans did their work, the storm began to descend from the mountains, the first leg of the storm, and waves of it’s magic poured through city, filling the air.
If someone, perhaps like Roxy, our Narrator, who was sadly locked out of Flake City, were able to walk the streets of Flake City, they would find the silence of the entire city, the silence that had fallen in the past two hours of the scan, was giving way to a unsettling low growl, from all around the city. If this person were able to move from building to building, street to street, they would see countless zombies begin to growl, angrily, some would claw at their eyes and temples, others would race outside searching for the cause of the irritation. This same person, if they were able to walk the streets of Flake City, would probably find themselves terrified, and running, despite any magical safety they had, due to the hundreds of thousands of zombies that had been mostly dormant, sticking to their basic human instincts of staying inside when cold, were racing outside, searching for food. The zombies began tearing at the lower levels of the buildings, anyone still on the first floor of their domicile, no longer found themselves safe. People on the second floor who hadn’t barricaded their stairs, also found themselves in danger. Thankfully, most of these people were already dead, having barricaded themselves after a zombie bite. This led to more zombies free to roam around.
None of the people noticed the zombies breaking in, as they were all incapacitated with a headache. Small blessings, some would maybe say, but overall, the zombies were seemingly coming more alive, and the few foolish survivors who had tried to hole up on the first floor of their shelter, quickly became zombies themselves. These zombies, the ones who were turned during the brain scan, are a story for another cold night, but not this cold night.
In the taller buildings around town, like Chloe’s apartment building, zombies below had worked themselves into a frenzy, hundreds were on the first two floors of the apartment building, with more all trying to take down barricades on the stairs to try and get up, not knowing about coded dead locked doors, while other zombies fled the building and broke into other apartment buildings, to see if those apartment dwellers had fortified their space as well as Chloe and the group had. The closer to the mountains you get, however, you see more survivors who took precautions, and therefore, more angry zombies, hungry, eager to tear into the flesh of the smarter and luckier survivors.
But increases in the concentrations of zombies weren’t the biggest concern for survivors in Flake City, the ones we have met, the ones we haven’t.
No, something far worse was stirring, because neither Lissa nor Chev were wrong. On the other side of town, by the radio station…past the college, in a dark bedroom, where someone had lay in bed for two days, unmolested by zombies because she herself was infected, a sleeping woman, who had escaped the hospital when the zombies had taken over, and had ran all the way home, had slept, for much of the two days.
This woman was patient, clever, and wanted to cause destruction. She craved flesh, but she craved chaos more. This infection wasn’t fair, it made her angry, and she was already so angry, so hungry, so hot. She felt awful, this infected woman. She had died, hadn’t she? She had given in to the infection, she had felt herself slip away…
But then she had come back, recovered, never even left her hospital bed, but everything had felt different. She had come back, or woke up, angry, in pain, hungry in a way she couldn’t understand. Around her, other people were infected, angry, lost, in pain, so hungry, and all the doctors would do is medicate them.
Medicate them. More like sedate them, kill them. Because they kept trying to bite them. But didn’t they sound so delicious? And was it wrong to want to eat?
This woman had bit plenty of people on her way home, but she had wanted to sleep, to see if she could sleep this off…so many other infected seemed so much more gone then her, none of them seemed to have patience, or even creative skill to lure humans to them to eat…No, The woman knew that somehow, she was special.
But then, the brain scan hit her brain. And the very special that the woman had been thinking about, the special that made her able to reason, despite her fever, suddenly felt enhanced.
Her thinking had been blurry still, a bit muddy around the edges, the way it is when you have a high fever or a nasty flu.
Whatever this was, it was worse than a flu, but, somehow, magically, it seemed to just…clear.
The woman’s eyes opened, they glowed, but she didn’t know that. She could see, clearly, more so than she could earlier, when her eyes had gone a weird yellowish red, she assumed from busted blood vessels in her eyes from all the puking. She had puked blood so many times, but whatever had caused the yellow red hue to her eyes, cleared. The night darkness meant nothing to the woman now. She sat up, hungry, unbothered by the prospect of what she would be eating, and smiled.
The infection had passed, that much was certain. The woman stretched her arms, her legs, and stood. She walked outside, the magic energy from the storm that seemed to almost be searching for her found her body quickly, filling her with a feeling she couldn’t quite describe. The woman smiled, feeling strong, and spied her fellow infected all around her. She growled at them, demanding they move. They did, and then followed her on her path, an army of evil that had risen from the dead.
Tonight, Chev’s worst fears came to life, no matter how much Lissa didn’t believe. Something, someone, that many would refer to as Komahtsu had woken up in Flake City that night of the first brain scan and first leg of the storm.
That night, “Komahtsu” rose.
Thank you so much for reading! Please be sure to check back for the next chapter.