Zombie apocalypse fiction – Ruth’s Story #49 Paused for a rest north of Seattle in convoy on 522 SHTF, TEOTWAWKI
As we gather around the passenger side of the blue Chevy pickup, I see that Shen and Nikola are both smoking a cigarette, cupping them in their hands so as not to break light discipline.
I join the small group of men with Shack on my heels. I see Carol barking at the sidewalk like a beached sea-lion hanging out of the passenger window. Poor girl, morning sickness is kicking her ass.
Distracted by the violently heaving Carol, I fail immediately to notice that the boys have tipped up their NVGs and turned them off, so I follow suit letting my eyes adjust to the dark. I suppose we need to conserve batteries.
While my eyes are adjusting, I pat my breast pockets locating my pack of cigarettes and Zippo lighter. Kneeling beside the front tire, making sure I do not kneel in puke, I cup the cigarette and lighter to cover the glare of the flame and protect my night vision.
Standing back up, cupping my cigarette while taking a deep drag I notice lots of bats flying overhead. I remember my oldest nephew used to love bats and who is (was?) mildly autistic loved to watch them fly. I have not seen bats in a long time as they are nearly extinct in many parts of the world.
I suddenly remember that when I was a little girl; Brazil released billions of gene-modified (gene-modified organism or GMO) mosquitos. The GMO mosquitos were infected with a virus that was supposed to kill their larvae before the mosquitos are born. This was aimed at reducing Dengue fever.
At first the GMO bugs drastically reduced the population of mosquitos. Regrettably the GMO bugs eventually adapted, mutated, and mosquitos were born with a new drug-resistant mutant strain of the Dengue fever virus.
The mutant GMO mosquitos were deadly to fish and insect-eating animals causing death within hours of eating several GMO mosquitos. This strain of Dengue fever is much quicker-acting than previous strains.
Species of animals that eat billions of mosquitos each day such as bats, birds, and fish began to die. The virus usually kills most animals in about 12 hours after eating GMO mosquitos.
Humans begin to display symptoms of Dengue fever within 12 hours of being bitten by several mosquitos. There was no definitive studies done that I am aware of that established the threshold of exposure for people to GMO mosquitos.
Huge fish die offs in the Amazon River basin in turn caused thousands of animals and people who relied on the fish in the river for sustenance to starve to death. One of the greatest tragedies was the loss of the wild population of Amazon River dolphins who now only exist in aquariums.
Birds died usually within 24 hours of eating GMO mosquitos. Insect eating birds such as swallows, warblers and some songbirds started dying in large numbers.
Within a few years, the mutated mosquito virus caused the emergence in humans of what came to be known as Brazilian Hemorrhagic Fever (BHF). The GMO modified mosquitos bred with mosquitos carrying Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever creating a new super strain of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever.
Rather than eradicating Dengue fever, the GMO mosquitos created a super Dengue fever strain much more virulent than the previous, to emerge.
The new form emergence of an old disease was first reported in São Paulo, Brazil in 2013. By 2014, BHF had spread throughout the Amazon River basin. In 2015, BHF had spread to Panama, Costa Rica, throughout the South American isthmus and as far north as Mexico City by the end of the same year. It appeared in Havana, Cuba and San Juan, Puerto Rico and the entire Caribbean in 2017. By 2018, BHF had spread to Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
BHF is especially dangerous in densely populated areas, emerging and developing countries and anywhere beneficial conditions exist for breeding mosquitos.
Engaged in environmental warfare, North America tried to halt the northern spread of the GMO mosquitos carrying BHF.
Northern Australia and New Zealand were especially hit hard, nearly annihilating the sheep and wool industry.
Global warming and unchecked use of fossil fuels was blamed for the unseemly prevalence of mosquitos. In various political bodies, there were suggestions of cap-and-trade as well as taxes and sanctions levied against the heavily industrialized nations to penalize them for their contributions to the global warming crises.
Suggestions that countries such as China, India, Russia, the UK, and the US pay for the damages, they have done to the environment caused the Chinese and Russian delegates to withdraw formally from the discussions.
With the withdrawal of China and Russia, most of the mosquito control discussions degenerated into shouting matches and even a few brawls that had to be broken up by the use of tear gas and riot police. I heard it said that for once, C-SPAN was actually fun to watch.
There were demands to use previously banned insecticides like DDT to curb the propagation of the GMO mutated mosquitos. Despite the known dangers of pesticides like DDT, the hue and cry, especially from the chemical manufacturers and politicians from the states that housed them, was especially vociferous.
The formerly banned substances were ever never used again; at least, not that I am aware of. General anti-mosquito policies and practices, such as wearing an extraordinarily liberal application of DEET or a bug resistant suit proved effective enough. Most of the world collectively shrugged their shoulders and continued on best as they could.
There were sporadic instances of BHF in the States, mostly in the humid, warm southern Gulf States of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. But last I had heard, outbreaks of BHF in North America were still a rarity although parts of southern Mexico were especially hazardous.
Most of the cases of BHF in the States were caused by someone who had travelled to an infected area and returned home infected. Year before last, a minor outbreak of BHF happened around Dulles International Airport causing a bit of a panic that pales in comparison to the panic caused by KCAP.
While not generally fatal to healthy adults BHF, true to its Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever ancestry, causes the same symptoms and can be deadly to children younger than 12, the elderly and infirm, and persons with a compromised immune system. People whose blood contains Dengue fever antibodies are especially at risk since they have been previously exposed to the virus.
I suddenly realize that while I have been reminiscing about GMO mosquitos, bats, Dengue fever and man-made ecological disasters, the boys have been talking shop around me. I suddenly realize that someone had asked me a question.
“Earth to Ruth, come in Ruth.”
I realize that someone is Sam. I look at him and see that he is still holding the two rifles.
“Uh, yeah, what did you want to know?” I mumble as I realize that my cigarette has burnt almost half way through. I flick the long gray column of ash off the cigarette and take a lovely long drag on the cigarette.
Looking at the truck we are standing beside, I see that Carol in the passenger seat for the moment is resting with her eyes closed. I feel warm air against my face pouring out of the open passenger window; it feels good in the chilly early morning. Carol must have the heater on inside the cab of the truck.
“I asked how familiar are you with the Saiga 12 ga shotgun? We got this AK-style shotgun with three 20 round and four 12 round drum magazines from the raider’s Subaru. We were comparing it to Nick’s AK because it has been illegally converted to full auto kinda like your AR15 with M16 parts. It’s got some kind of muzzle break on it and the barrel’s been shortened to about 12 inches.”
“I am passingly familiar with that weapon. My carbine has all AR15 parts. With the exception, of a four position selector switch made many years ago by DPMS. The big red spacer plate and having to flip the switch a full 270 degrees is a bit of a pain in the ass. If it were not, for the AAC suppressor and the gas piston system on my POF (Patriot Ordinance Factory) AR-15 I would have dumped it for an M4. I still might, if I find an M4 with a can on it. In the light of the KCAP epidemic, illegal and legal weapon is an irrelevant consideration. I cannot believe that we are wasting time talking about it.”
I sigh, puff on my cigarette and take a moment to consider. “That Saiga looks like one of the newer rifles that will take either 2 ¾″ or 3″ shells. But I cannot imagine you called this meeting to talk about weapons.”
Sam looks at me a few minutes while Chen, Nikola and I smoke. “No, Ruth I did not. Straight to the point, huh? Alright folks, here is why I called you together. Nick, Carol, Nguen and Ruth, one or more of you translate best you can for Shen. We have a decision to make. There might be survivors in that billboard or there might not be. I’ve got the scouts out now trying to get a good look into the billboard. Depending on what they report when they come back we have to decide whether or not we are going to attempt to help or leave them to their fate. Our path takes us right through the zombie horde at the base of the billboard or we can detour a block or two to the south and go around. Don’t forget it is going to be daylight in about two and a half hours and a whole mess of zombies are going to wake up.”
Nguen talks to Shen for a while trying to convey the general idea of the problem. It seems Nguen speaks enough Mandarin to get the gist of the situation to Shen. Shen smokes a cigarette while Nguen talks and gestures that I hope somewhat clearly convey our situation to the Chinese soldier.
Shen finishes one cigarette and lights another from the butt of the previous cigarette. Before he puts the silver cigarette case back in his breast pocket, I recognize the brand of cigarette Shen is smoking.
During my time in the Mossad, I was part of an observation and kill team watching Chinese arm merchants attempting to sell surface to surface anti-ship cruise missiles to Syria. We were able to stop the sale of the older C-803, C-701 and Silkworm missiles by making the Chinese merchants disappear into the Syrian Desert.
During the 2006 Lebanon War, Hezbollah guerillas fired at least one C-701 missile at an Israeli war ship. I would have rather made the Hezbollah guerilla-linked Syrian buyers disappear, but above me, it was decided to make the Chinese merchants disappear instead.
The Chinese arms merchants smoked the same brand of cigarettes that Shen is smoking. I found the Hongtashan or “Red Pagoda Hill” cigarettes as I searched and cleaned their hotel room with one team member while the rest of our colleagues disposed of the bodies in the Syrian Desert.
Interesting coincidence, but I understand Hongtashan is one of the most popular brands of cigarettes in China. At the rate, Shen is smoking, I wonder how many cigarettes he brought with him from China since he has supposedly been away from home for a while.
I wonder if we should go back to the barricade and grab one of the Chinese kids to translate. Then I wonder where the hell Shen was while we were traveling, and were stuck in the barricade? Where the fuck has he been? Someone got a cloning machine or a Star Trek teleporter?
While I stand smoking and listening to Nguen and Shen talk, one of the kids in full battle rattle comes running up from the front of the convoy M4 firmly grasped in his hands. He nods at Shack and I, then salutes Sam probably out of habit. The kid looks remarkably young, all fuzzy cheeks in the glow of his NVGs. I wonder if his mother knows that he is in the Army.
Sam attempts to return the salute but realized that his hands are still full and sets the two rifles on the hood of the Chevy muzzle pointing away. Neither weapon was cleared in my presence, but the first rule of firearms safety is to assume always that every weapon is loaded.
The kid reaches inside his uniform underneath his Interceptor vest and pulls a small piece of paper out with his left hand. He attempts to hand Sam the small piece of lined light green paper.
Having divested himself of the rifles, Sam returns the salute. Afterwards, he gestures at the kid who gives Sam the piece of paper and stands at parade rest just outside our little group. I notice that the paper is six hole punched as if it goes in one of the several seven by nine-inch field tactical binders used by soldiers in the field. A company called Rite in the Rain® which was here in Washington used to make some of the best field books, range and data cards.
Sam looks at the paper illuminating it with a red lensed mini Mag Light he pulled from his breast pocket.
“Well hell, this is interesting,” Sam says to no one in particular.
 Olshansky, S Jay. “Infectious Diseases–New And Ancient Threats To World Health.” vol. 52, no. 2 (Jul 1997), p. 2-52.(n.d.): Web.