Jun 13 2007
About four hours ago the few of us in NOVA who weren't utterly under seige by the zombies managed to make a break for the minivan in the parking lot. I ignited one of the thermite charges we'd constructed with a blowtorch and used it to blow the gas tank of an abandoned Volkswagon Beetle down the block by hurling it with an improvised atlatl. After the blast took out most of the pack that had piled up outside of the building one of the others in the apartment unlocked the doors and started the engine via her remote control keyfob. We slammed the door and re-sealed the wards before taking off like Ann Rand herself was hot on our heels with a book of poetry in the general direction of the 'van.
Through some miracle we didn't lose anyone to the horde of hungry dead. They were too busy trying to pick themselves up after losing considerable portions of their individual anatomies in the detonation. The rainstorm helped to contain the fires that erupted, so the collateral damage is, as they go, minimal. I can't say the same for the suspension of the minivan. We had to plow a couple of them down to make good on our escape. I think we blew the shocks out, and the front brakes aren't in such good shape, ether. I was riding shotgun while the owner's husband, an older Indian guy named Ramesh, drove. I spent a goodly distance of the trip hanging out of the passenger's side window, my legs tied up in the seatbelts, my ceremonial sword (sadly, no longer consecrated) in my good hand, the optical pump weapon's handgrip in the other, and a belt of dry cell batteries scavenged from old uninterruptible power supplies fastened with duct tape around my waist.
You know what? This zombie killing stuff is for the birds. Give me a couple of downed Cisco routers and half a million bitching customers any day. In fact, I'd rather get another of those 0300 calls from the kids down at The Vision and the Voice. You know the kind: Somebody starts playing with a grimoire and doesn't find the booby traps, their parents find them convulsing on the floor, spitting black blood all over the place, and muttering in Attic Greek or Enochian with a fever of one hundred and five. The kind of calls that make you want to join a monastery.
I don't know if it's a curse, a virus, or a true incursion of the undead that's happening here, but I sure as hell know this: You take off the head and they drop like a stone. You take off the head and they don't get back up and try to drag you out of the vehicle by your hair, 懂吗?
By the time we made it to the local Metro station I'd handed the optical pump weapon to Ramani, who is a better shot with an LED laser than I ever will be. Cool as ice and twice as steady, she picked off the shamblers left and right, filling the air with the smell of burned, spoiled pork and a fine mist of carbonized grey matter. I'd taken to using both hands on my sword and trying to cut down anything that had the misfortune to get in my way.
That's how I nearly decapitated Hasufin, who'd gotten on top of the Orange Line train heading toward Vienna, Virginia by jumping from the subway platform down at Metro Center and was making all possible haste for my apartment on a stolen bicycle after reaching Dunn Loring. I hope he'll forgive me one of these days. It took some doing to convince Ramani and Ramesh to stop for the precious few seconds that it took him to pile into the back of the van along with the meager medical supplies we'd managed to bring with us. Once picking him up we headed for the Northrup-Grummon industrial complex on the other side of Fairfax, where Lyssa and a few of her co-workers had barricaded themselves in the cube farm on the fourth floor. The military contingent had received orders, she told us later, to form a strike team and blow the hell out of anything in their way as they headed for the Beltway.
During the extraction of Lyssa and her co-workers, we lost three of them to the zombies that had doubled back and gone down the fire stairs on the western side of the complex. Lyssa's supervisor, who had once been a police officers in Los Angeles, California, drew her firearm and picked off two of the shamblers just as they began tearing into what was left of the tier one help desk. She used her last three hollowpoints to put the help desk down once and for all.
I hope that I never, ever see anything like that again. There's no cure for becoming a zombie, but what's humane for the dog is rarely so humane for the person pulling the trigger.
We tossed the bodies down the stairs and off the loading dock to serve as bait for the rest of the zombies in the parking lot, the ones that Ramani hadn't been able to take out with the LED laser weapon, now down to its final set of power cells. Without enough light entering the optical pump, the beam it generated was scarcely enough to bore a hole through a zombie's head, let alone sever it. We figured that the meat was just fresh enough to still scan as live by the zombies, which would give us enough time to get back to the van and put the hammer down.
Hasufin took rear guard as I helped everyone pile into the van and get under cover, lest someone or something try to punch through the safety glass to get inside. It was at that time that Hasufin bought us the time we needed to escape. Since undergoing surgery last summer, Hasufin habitually carries a hardwood walking stick with him, oak or maple or something, and varnished a flat black color. Just before the final wave of shamblers reached the van after catching our scent on the wind, he raised it over his head and slammed the stick to the ground, shattering it into splinters that flew everywhere.
Somewhere far too close for comfort, something exploded with the brightness of the noonday sun come down to earth with a sound like a thunderclap in Three Rivers Stadium. When the light faded, the only thing left was Hasufin, calmly limping toward the van as wisps of steam were obliterated by the wind.
The DC Beltway is completely shut down. I think the explosions we heard earlier were the US military bombing the whole highway to contain the zombies. We'd heard on the shortwave that people began panicking when the first zombies dropped out of the trees the line the Beltway onto the cars. Vehicles overturned and wrecked, and countless people were mangled in the crashes or torn limb from limb by the advancing undead. No one knows how many were unlucky enough to be bitten, but it really doesn't matter if there's nothing left anyway.
Hasufin has joined us at the apartment. We weren't able to stay for very long at Hasufin's place, but we were able to grab a goodly amount of his notes, somewhere in the neighborhood of a few hundred pages of looseleaf paper in binders, and a couple of old texts, wrapped in archival plastic, that he hasn't had time to translate yet. We also picked up a few of his swords, which were designed for actual combat and not merely decoration (like mine, sadly). At this moment, we're going over the texts as fast as we can to see if there's something that we can do to stop this. The zombies are still shambling around outside, we can hear them squelching through the mud and clawing at the steel fire doors, but so far they haven't gotten through yet. Our supplies should hold out for another three or four days, longer if we decide to use the kids as bait. We grabbed what we could out of Hasufin's pantry before bolting back to the van. Running water's at a premium because water pressure is spotty. Nobody wants to use the bathroom out of fear that a flush at the wrong time will cause the local water supply to collapse utterly.
There's been no word from the Lost Boys or Tenshi. Rialian's holed up in Rockville, and from all accounts seems to be doing pretty well. Helen's still MIA. Nothing from Laurelinde or her family, either. Rhianna and Rab are also unaccounted for. If I know them, they're armed to the teeth and kicking ass out there. Rhianna doesn't lay down and die for anything, doubly so when her son is with her. We think that Mika's still okay. The NASA compound in Maryland went into lockdown at noon today.
Pittsburgh's oddly silent. I've heard from people in Philadelphia and Akron over the ham radio, but only briefly. They're still in trouble out there.
I've killed the lights in the apartment to make it look like there's nothing tasty in here. Wet towels were stuffed around the doors to minimize scents that might make it outside, but this has also compromised air circulation. It's becoming hellishly hot in here. I've shut down two of the Children in an attempt to lower the air temperature. We're working by flashlight and candlelight now.
Every once in a while, one of the zombies claws at the front door. If it tries too hard to get in, the wards gently suggest that it find something better to do, and by 'gently' I mean incinerate the bastard with a blastwave of superheated air.
There's no telling if we'll be successful or not, but we have to try. We can't give up.