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Fiction Guest Blog Post by Toby Asplin

January 9, 2012

I am fortunate that Toby Asplin has been kind enough to read my blog and zombie fiction. He suggested that we guest post on each others blog. Below is Toby’s addition to my zombie fiction, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.
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It’s quiet now. The noise of screams, explosions, gunshots – the general cacophony of chaos – has abated. I’m holed up in a small out building on the campus of the National Guard armory where I’ve served for the last five years. I’m about as safe as I can be for now.

This reminds me of Afghanistan … of being pinned down inside one of those mud huts the natives called houses. The only thing missing is bullets smashing into the sides of the building. So far, I haven’t taken any fire here. Most of the small arms fire has been directed against the zombies.

That’s right, I said, “zombies”.

You’re probably wondering if this is some George Romero movie. Trust me, it isn’t. I haven’t figured out what happened yet, but I would definitely use the term “zombies” to describe the people, if you want to call them people, shambling down the street just 100 yards away from me.

They move like zombies. They act like zombies. They attack like zombies. I watched two of them wrestle a little boy to the ground and begin feeding on his flesh just a couple hours ago. At the time, I had no way to stop them … no way to defend myself, let alone the boy that they attacked.

Now, I’m in better shape.

Maybe I should fill in a few details.

This is my first chance to write down some of what has happened over the last couple days. I’ve spent the last 50 hours or so running, hiding and trying to make it here to the armory … to relative safety.

I woke up two days ago to the sound of car alarms. It was a little after 6:00 a.m. My apartment is in a pretty nice area outside of Seattle, WA called Lake Marcel-Stillwater. Car alarms at 6:00 in the morning are very rare.

I got up and looked out my bedroom window to see what was going on. Under the glow of the street lamps, I saw a half dozen people walking slowly down the street. Every now and then one of them would bump into a car and the car’s alarm would begin to wail.

Across the street, lights appeared in windows as others got out of bed to check on the noise, perhaps to see if it was their own car alarm that had been activated.

I left my bedroom dark.

After a couple minutes, a woman in a robe came out of the apartment building across the street. She aimed her car key at a gray BMW. The car’s lights were flashing and its alarm produced a high-pitched warble. The woman clicked the buttons on the key but the BMW wouldn’t go silent. I noticed that the half dozen people out in the street had all started moving in the woman’s direction. The owner of the BMW was oblivious, trying to figure out how to turn off the car’s alarm.

I opened my window and shouted, “Hey!”

The woman with the key looked in my direction but my window was dark. She couldn’t see me. The people in the street also looked in my direction for a moment and then turned their attention back to the woman.

“Crap,” I pulled on a pair of sweats and a hooded sweatshirt and slipped into my flip-flops.

The people in the street didn’t look like your typical gang-bangers or car thieves. One of the guys was in a suit. There was a woman in medical scrubs. It was strange. I couldn’t figure out why people would be wandering down the middle of the street, dressed in work clothes at 6:00 in the morning but they seemed to have bad intentions as far as the woman with the BMW was concerned. I’ve never been one to sit idly on the sidelines.

I ran down the stairs from my second floor apartment to the exit as quickly as I could in flip-flops. As I swung open the door and exited onto the steps leading to the street, the people continued their advance on the woman with the key in her hand. She had finally taken notice and was turning around to head back inside her building.

As made it to the street, three of the six people turned their attention to me. The other three continued to advance on the woman in the robe. She was getting ready to run.

I noticed that she was barefoot and that her robe was dragging on the ground. She took three or four steps and then stepped on the hem of her robe. Maybe it was her husband’s robe. It was plaid, probably flannel and obviously too large for her. When BMW-woman stepped on the hem of her robe, it tangled around her feet. She dropped to the ground in the middle of the lawn.

The guy in the suit, the woman in scrubs and a boy, about fifteen or so, continued their steady advance in the woman’s direction.

I was beginning to have problems of my own. A big buy in a cop uniform, an elderly Asian woman and an attractive blonde girl in her late teens or early twenties were headed my way.

Normally, the big cop would have been the only one that would have given me cause for concern. Well, normally I’m not concerned about cops but he was the only one that would have posed any sort of physical danger to me.

I’m kind of a big guy – about 6′ 2” and hovering around 225 pounds most days. I’ve done two door-kicking tours in the ‘Stan and, generally, am not intimidated by much. The cop was probably an inch taller than me and 50 pounds heavier. They weren’t donut pounds, either.

What gave me pause, however, was the condition of these three people’s faces. Bits and pieces were torn away. Blood dripped from their jaws. Something definitely was not right with these folks.

I looked past my three bogies and saw that the other three were within a few feet of the woman in the robe. She had started to scream and a couple more people had come out of her apartment building. One guy was wearing only his boxer shorts. A second guy was shirtless, wearing sweat pants. His belly hung over the pants in what I would call a “Dunlap”. His belly had done lapped over his belt.

It appeared as if the two guys across the street were going to help the woman on the ground. Time for me to deal with my own problems.

“When attacking or defending one’s self against a group, single out the apparent leader and remove them from the fight as quickly and violently as possible,” I could hear the voice of one of my old DI’s in the back of my mind.

“Take out a cop?” I questioned the wisdom.

Not too many options remained. The cop was almost on me, his jaw snapping open and closed.

“Zombies,” was the only word that came to mind.

And here I was without any of my anti-zombie gear. My Beretta was up in my apartment, laying on the night stand next to my bed.

“What kind of idiot goes out to intervene in some sort of assault at 6:00 in the morning and leaves his trusty 9mm sitting on the night stand?” I chastised myself for a split second before I launched a major uppercut into the cop’s jaw.

He didn’t even attempt to defend himself. The punch landed with a sickening crunch. I’m about 100% certain that his jaw fractured in several places. By all rights, that punch should have dropped him where he stood – even as big as he was.

No such luck.

The big guy just kept coming as I danced back, his jaw snapping open and closed and now making some additional cracking noises as it did so.

During my first tour in Afghanistan, my platoon leader used to say, “Today was a good day. Nobody had to die.”

This was shaping up to be a very bad day.

I could hear the woman across the street continuing to scream. One of the two guys had joined her. As I maneuvered for a second attack on the cop, I noticed that the three … zombies were on the ground in the front yard of the apartment building. Noised far more alarming than the screams of the man and woman reached my ears. Flesh was being torn from bone. I felt more than a little queasy.

“Steady, Nancy,” I said to myself.

Without a weapon, I made the decision that discretion might just very well be the better part of valor. I turned and ran like a scared little girl.

Note to self: Running in flip-flops … not the easiest thing in the world.

I made it about halfway back to the apartment when I noticed that people had started pouring out of my building as well. Mixed in with the “normal” people were a couple of guys with greyish skin, red-rimmed eyes and jaws that had just started snapping open and shut.

A very bad day, indeed.

I skirted the crowd as I tried to get back to my apartment. The doorway was jammed full of gawkers and rubber-neckers. These were the same idiots that slowed down to check for blood and gore when they passed a car accident. Numbskulls.

Since the front door was jammed full of … numbskulls, I made my way around toward the back of my building. There was another entrance there.

I started hearing more and more screams as I tripped over my flip-flops, stumbled and regained my balance.

The back door was locked. My keys were on my night stand next to my Beretta.

Things were getting worse by the minute.

I ran past my building to the parking lot in back. My truck was parked there and I always kept a spare key for the truck in a little magnetic box inside of the frame. The area was clear of … zombies – I was still struggling to call them that … so I slid under the truck and retrieved the key.

As I slid back out from under the truck, I could see a small crowd of people following my trail along the side of the apartment building. They were back-lit by street lamps. I couldn’t tell if they were following me to eat me or just trying to escape the carnage out front. Based on their slow, shuffling progress, I deduced that they were a looking for flesh and not an escape route.

I stuck the key in the lock on my truck’s driver-side door. The lock turned easily – than God for small favors – allowing me to open the door and jump in my truck. I fumbled a bit getting the key into the ignition but the truck fired right up. I hit reverse, stomped the gas, spun the tires and got the heck out of Dodge.

Speaking of Dodge … I was really wishing I had my Get Out Of Dodge (GOOD) bag right about then. I always kept it packed, like a good soldier, ready to go at a minute’s notice.

As I bounced out of the parking lot and into the street behind my apartment, I noticed that things were bad all over. Whatever had turned these people into zombies was spreading fast! There were several car fires down the street to the north. I saw people with guns shooting people without guns. Things didn’t look any better in the rear view mirror.

As I ran through the possible scenarios, I decided that my best chance would be to make my way toward the National Guard armory where I now sit. The distance was only a little more than twenty miles. I figured it would be a relatively easy drive.

Things went from bad to worse much more quickly than I anticipated. By the time I got out of the residential area where my apartment building is located, the streets were becoming clogged with bodies and cars. I was able to maneuver around the wrecks and bodies for a few more blocks but my normal access to Highway 203 was literally a parking lot. The surface streets ahead of me that led to the next entrance were nearly as clogged. I was able to push a few of the disabled or wrecked vehicles out of the way with the bumper of my truck but eventually the gridlock became too dense for me to even try.

I stopped and shut off the engine.

About a block and a half down the street I remembered an Army surplus store. It was small – just a single bay in a strip mall building but they usually had quite a bit of stock. I looked at my watch. It was nearly 8:00 a.m. Maybe they would be open.

As quickly as that thought entered my head, I realized that my wallet was on the same night stand as my keys and Beretta. I had no money, no credit cards, no ID. Nothing.

I slapped the top of the steering wheel and reached down to unbuckle my seat belt. As I reached down, my hand brushed against a pair of tin snips on the bench seat next to me. My full-time gig these days is HVAC contracting. I’d tossed the tin snips on the seat yesterday evening rather than take the time to unlock my tool box in the bed of my truck.

There was a crow bar on the floor of my truck on the passenger side of the truck. I thought maybe I could break the lock on my tool box and pull out a few tools to trade the owner of the surplus store for some boots, socks and better clothes. Of course, that would mean that the rest of the tools would be stolen but based on the way things appeared to be going, that might not matter much.

I checked the area immediately around me, looking for zombies, and then hopped out of my truck with the crowbar. I levered the crowbar under the edge of the tool box’s lid and popped the lock.

“So much for security,” I mumbled to myself.

As I opened the lid to the tool box I heard shuffling behind me. I whirled, with the crowbar up and ready, nearly tripping over my flip-flops.

“Whoever invented these things didn’t have a clue about function footwear,” I thought as I recovered and turned to face a male zombie in a plaid shirt and blue jeans. The guy looked like he must have been a Nirvana fan back before Kurt Cobain suck-started his shotgun. I didn’t realize that the grunge look was still alive and well.

The zombie reached out to grab me. I side-stepped and swung the crowbar at his head. I connected with a solid hit and his skull caved like a rotten pumpkin. Brain matter splattered and covered the hooked end of my crowbar.

Nasty.

I grabbed my tool belt out of the truck’s box and strapped it on.

As I looked down the street toward the surplus store, five more zombies – I’m getting more comfortable with that term – ambled in my direction.

Exhaling, I turned and walked directly at them. Trying to find the silver lining in an otherwise cloudy day, I grumbled, “At least they’re not particularly quick or agile.”

The five zombies were strung out single file. Taking them out was relatively easy. I simply ducked or dodged as I approached each one, brained them with the crowbar and moved on to the next one. My tool belt jingled as I moved.

“Easier than kicking in the door of a house filled with al-Qaeda,” I thought to myself.

The door to the surplus store was locked. None of the other shops were open.

The doors in the back of the strip mall were all locked as well. Not a creature was stirring, not even a … zombie.

Under normal circumstances I’m a fan of a highly assertive defense, generally involving liberal application of lead projectiles, against those who break in with an eye toward theft … or worse. These were not normal circumstances. I went back around to the front of the strip mall, gripped my crowbar tightly, swung for the fences and smashed the large front window. An alarm began sounding immediately. Given the present situation, I wasn’t too worried about the police responding to an alarm in a strip mall.

I stepped inside the window, over a row of .50 caliber ammo cans and into the store. I found myself behind the check out counter. The area was cluttered with junk – everything from ammo cans to gas masks. As I stepped over the clutter, I pulled my flashlight from my tool pouch and lit up the two narrow aisles running the length of the store.

I’d been to the store several times and was fairly familiar with their inventory. It didn’t take me long to round up a pair of tanker’s boots, a pair of desert camo pants, a couple pairs of wool socks and a couple T-shirts. After dressing in my new, more functional clothes, I shuffled around a bit more and found a few more essentials – all of which I stuffed into an ALICE pack. I left behind my tool belt full of tools with a note as payment. I realized that it was unlikely that the store owner would ever see that note but I wanted to make a fair trade nonetheless.

That first day was overcast and rainy.

Thankfully, my brain had started working while I was gathering up supplies in the surplus store and I’d snagged a couple ponchos. Army ponchos won’t keep you entirely dry but they’re better than nothing.

As I set out from the surplus store, I figured I had just under twenty miles of distance to cover. I was on foot. It was raining and the world seemed to be going to hell in a hand basket. Even though there had been times that I’d covered more than 25 miles on foot in a given day, I knew this would not be one of them.

That was the day before yesterday. I made it about ten miles in twenty-four hours. With no real shelter and no reason to stop, I just kept going. The rain had stopped … OK, it hadn’t stopped but it was barely a drizzle. I skirted around zombies from time-to-time trying to avoid engaging them when I could.

I had found one of those little Eton solar/crank radios in the surplus store. With just a few turns of the crank, it would run for a couple hours. The news on the AM stations was not good. Some sort of bio disease was the apparent cause of the zombie-ism. Typically, no one reporting the news knew for sure where it had started so speculation was rampant. I finally got sick of listening to the radio and stuffed it back in my ALICE pack.

Yesterday wasn’t much better. In fact, yesterday was worse. I had to club that little boy to death. The fear and confusion in his eyes is still branded into my memory. I’d say that was pretty much the low point … of my entire life. I wonder if the people that kill seals feel the way that I did the first time they club one of those cute little babies.

Now, I’m emotionally and physically beat. I’ve gone 50-plus hours without rest and I’m exhausted but I can’t sleep so I’m writing this. I hope it helps … helps me deal with my inner demons or helps someone who finds it deal with … whatever they have to deal with.

I’m going to try to sleep now. That sleep, I’m sure, will add horrible dreams of a fair-haired little boy with a crushed skull to the nightmares I’ve had since my first tour ….

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6 Comments
  1. Great job Toby! As usual, I need to read more…..

  2. Julie permalink

    I made this visit because of Toby’s blog but it looks like I will be checking out your other zombie goodies as well. Thanks!

  3. Grunt167 permalink

    ZOMBIES!!!!!

  4. Glad you guys found your way over here. I’ve enjoyed Ruth’s Story and I’m sure you will too. Don’t forget to keep up with The Union Creek Journal, though! 😀

  5. Wow, that was some great writing!

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