Fiction – Ruth’s Story #39 Things are starting to get interesting inside the barricade on Lake City Way
“Most of the world was unaware of the KCAP pandemic because it started so slow and in a very remote and isolated area of China or Central Asia until it reached critical mass and then exploded. By the time the world was aware of the pandemic, it was already too late. The pandemic possibly started in the very north-eastern area of China near where Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Russia touch.”
Jamal pauses to look into his tea-cup which is now empty. I pour the last of the cold green tea from the tea-pot into his tea-cup. Jamal nods his thanks at me and takes a few swigs.
“Despite condemnations from the UN, NATO, the Warsaw Pact and most of the rest of the world, China continued saturation bombing the area around Lake Balkhash, and what is now left of the Aral Sea. China eventually resorted to using nukes and those areas are now inhospitable with radiation and fallout.”
“China next attempted to use the area around the Yarkant River as a last line defensive barrier to prevent the zombies from entering China. China even used some of its 155mm nuclear shells, some of which were fired from self-propelled howitzers, to cauterize the area. Even using nukes the Chinese army could not kill the zombies fast enough.”
Jamal pauses again to sip his cold green tea.
“Pakistan was next to use nuclear weapons along with China on the Karakoram Range. China by then had resorted to using intermediate range medium yield nuclear missiles. Pakistan and China incinerated most of the Uygur region as well as thousands of Chinese troops and citizens.”
“Iran, Pakistan, India, Turkey and Israel were the last countries to use nuclear weapons on land in an effort to stop the zombies. Turkey, Pakistan and Israel used several 8 inch (203mm for our European friends) nuclear shells fired from old ex-US Army M110 8 inch self-propelled howitzers. By then though, several months had passed and it was already too late but nobody realized it.”
Jamal goes to take another sip of his tea but realizes he drank it all.
Sutton leans over and hands Jamal a sealed clear plastic one liter bottle of water marked as coming from some grocery chain called Hagen’s. “All this talking is thirsty work, sir.”
Jamal nods his thanks and opening the bottle of water, chugs nearly half of it.
“Within a month of the world learning of the zombie plague outbreak several refugee ships started arriving at various ports around the world. At first the United States, Mexico, France, South Africa and the United Kingdom welcomed refugees. Then the first plague ships started arriving.”
Nikola speaks for the first time. “I heard about ships of plague. Russian captain of subs ordered to sink any non-Russian ship heading for Russian port. I lost many friends searching floating death traps filled with zombie. After a while the Russian Navy was sinking any ship that came close to waters of Russia.” I look over and see Nikola standing in the doorway. His Russian accent is particularly thick. He must be nervous or something. Nikola gives Sutton the thumbs up, and I wonder what it is about.
Jamal continues his tale of woe. “USS Nimitz returned to San Diego, after attempting to evacuate Pearl Harbor, infested with over 6,000 zombies. The Nimitz ran aground at the Hotel Del doing well over 30 knots. The Nimitz failed to answer to any communication. She actually ran right over and through the Hotel Del wiping it from the face of the earth. The Nimitz came to rest when it buried its nose in the San Diego harbor behind the hotel in what used to be the hotel marina. While the Nimitz was obliterating the Hotel Del, zombies were already dropping off of her.”
Jamal takes a break to drink some more of the Hagen’s bottled water.
I consider something that has been bothering me for a while even though it is way, way off topic. “Doc, you said that your specialty was bionic eyeballs, why did you not hook Sam up with a bionic eye?”
“Sam and I have been close friends for many years ever since our plebian year at The Point where we were roommates. As you might guess from my accent I am not originally from America. I am from Morocco, my family fled to America during the Moroccan war for independence when I was in my teens. I was fortunate to secure an appointment to The Point. Sam is my closest friend. After Sam and I graduated in 1960, we parted ways chasing our careers. I did not see Sam again until he was lying wounded on my surgery table at the 8th Field Hospital at Nha Trang in 1969.”
Jamal pauses for another sip of the Hagen’s bottled water. I notice that he has drunk nearly three-quarters of the liter of water.
“In order for the newest generation of bionic eyeballs to work there needs to be an intact ocular nerve and eyeball. The bionic only replaces the lens and only works for certain kinds of blindness that affect the lens of the eye. Regrettably Sam lost his whole eye and a piece of the ocular nerve. We are still unable to hook electronics directly to the human nerve system. The bionic eye works by replacing the lens of an otherwise healthy eyeball. The bionic camera casts its image on the rods and cones of a healthy human replacing the lens of a human eye.”
“Oh, I am sorry to hear that,” I mumble. Silence falls for a moment while Jamal and I smoke in comfortable silence. My Marlboro Red is much smaller than the kretek that Jamal is smoking so I light a second cigarette.
“I would have loved to replace Sam’s right eyeball lost during his second tour in Vietnam in 1969, but there was no way I could with currently available technology.”
“Where was Sam assigned during the war?” Nguen seems interested; I wonder exactly what his family’s history is during the war. I also wonder what he hopes to gain by asking Sam about the war.
“You will need to ask Sam that question young man, if he will talk to you about it. Sam rarely discusses his service in the war. A lot of Sam’s service is probably still classified not that it means anything now.”
Silence falls again for a few moments while Jamal and I finish our cigarettes, my second cigarette of the day. It has been a few days since I have smoked two cigarettes in rapid succession and the sudden high amount of nicotine intake has me spinning a bit and feeling light headed. If anyone notices the two empty Budweiser cans between Jamal and I, no one is foolish enough to point it out.
After Jamal and I dump our cigarette butts into the empty beer cans, Sutton steps forward. “The men are assembled and ready, sir.”