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Zombie Apocalypse Fiction – Ruth’s story #72 Travel, miscellaneous notes and arrival at the Snohomish Armory SHTF & TEOTWAWKI

December 29, 2012

Once the convoy staff is assembled, Sam without preamble jumps into the meeting. “These ladies and gentlemen, are a group of survivors originally from Henderson, Nevada.” Sam pauses a moment to sip some coffee and look around the tent at all of the assembled personnel.

“Regrettably, four of this group’s members attacked our convoy protection detail without asking for permission from Don, their leader. Had Don and I known of each other, it is unlikely that Don would have sanctioned an attack on our trucks. Despite the regrettable loss of life on both sides, we have decided to part politely. We will be returning the weapons and material taken off their dead.”

Sam, still standing at the head of the tables, looks around again and crosses his arms over his chest, which pushes his pistol in its leather tanker holster down a little. “We are also going to be giving Don’s group one of our extra PRC-117 radios since these guys are lacking any kind of communication gear. Regrettably, we do not have an extra vehicle to spare. Anyway, they feel that a vehicle and a company the size of ours attracts too much attention anyway.”

There is a little discussion and questions posed about what the group of survivors experienced. I will not quote the whole discussion here in my journal, but the gist is that the survivors were hard-core preppers. They had some kind of compound that was immediately besieged by various groups of the ill-prepared.

The survivors made the all too common mistake of letting their neighbors know that they had stockpiled food, water, medicine and weapons. They probably thought nothing of it at the time but telling their neighbors that they were preppers was one of the stupidest things they could have done. Might as well hang a sign on the front door, inviting looters. When the SHTF, these same neighbors decided to take by force the supplies stockpiled by Don’s group. The survivors were able to withstand several weeks of a veritable siege, but eventually they had to leave their compound.

Despite a good bug out plan, they still lost a few members in the bugging out process, as well as a couple of their vehicles. The loss of personnel and the supplies in the vehicles was minor and they managed to make it to their first way point. After traveling for several days to their alternate site, they found their target site inhabited by well-armed squatters.

Rather than risk a battle with the squatters, the survivors group decided to move on, heading in a general northwards direction. Eventually they ran out of fuel for their vehicles and taking what supplies they could carry, left their vehicles and proceeded on foot. Don’s group of survivors started with 20 people on foot. As Don’s group travelled generally northward, they have gradually lost personnel to zombies and marauders.

Don mentioned that the uncontrolled fires from Boise and the surrounding cities (Nampa, Caldwell, etc.) were spreading like wildfire to the neighboring suburban areas, and into the brush and grass lands. The survivors had to either evade or go through several brush fires on their journey through the Treasure Valley.

The Treasure Valley, much like any other major urban area, is heavily infested with KCAP zombies. Boise, and the surrounding cities, was almost completely engulfed in flames. It appeared, as they passed through the area in the foot hills, a vast majority of the surrounding cities like Meridian, Nampa and Caldwell was burning as well.

Don mentioned that the large fires in the valley floor driven by the unusually high winds had reached tornado-like proportions. Seeing a roaring fire tornado must have really been something to see. The roaring swirling fires started to create their own inward drafts, strong enough to suck people, loose items and generally anything small into the fires.

A good thing about the fire tornadoes was that it destroyed a lot of zombies attracted to the bright fires, but it also drove the residents out of the cities in droves. Unusually persistent and strong, cold, dry winds from the north fanned the fires, and even in an area noted for cold and wind, temperatures were unseasonably cold and the winds exceptionally strong.

The fire tornado reached approximately a third of a mile wide, with winds in excess of 155 miles per hour, or equal to an F3 tornado on the Fujita Scale. Most fire tornadoes are short-lived but this one persisted for several hours. Don’s people observed the huge fire tornado uproot 50’ tall trees, and pitch flaming debris up to three miles away.

Don’s group had to avoid not only the fires, but other groups of survivors passing through the area, as well as desperate people from the cities and urban areas. The extreme cold took its toll on the unprepared and thankfully to some degree, slowed the zombies down. Desperate people from the cities, cold, hungry and fearing for their lives, acted in ways unthinkable to them a few weeks previously.

Reduced to eating canned dog food for several weeks, some members of Don’s group watched desperate survivors turn to cannibalism, eating the children, elderly and infirm first. Some people who were eaten must have been bitten by a zombie but not turned yet, as within 72 hours Don’s people observed the cannibals begin the physical transformation brought on by the KCAP virus.

First the person loses all their body hair and their skin becomes an albino-like white, losing all pigmentation. Dark skinned people, become various shades of ashy-gray depending on how dark their skin was before becoming a KCAP cannibal. Fingernails and teeth turn black, and rapid muscle growth begins which causes extreme hunger as the virus drives the person to consume more fuel to feed its changes.

Driven by nearly insatiable hunger, the nascent KCAP cannibal goes on a feeding rage attacking anything and anyone nearby. Only the strongest survive, as the weaker cannibals are eaten by the strongest. The infected cannibals eating each other, strengthens and enforces the KCAP virus in the survivors. Don’s group did not stick around to note the full extent of the cannibal transformation but noted that speech and most cognitive functions did not appear to be effected.

They did note, however, the complete lack of emotion or remorse in the cannibals, having watched fathers and mothers consume their own offspring; children eating their parents with no outward concern. Doc Jamal believes the KCAP virus destroys parts of the neocortex responsible for remorse and empathy, while enlarging and encouraging the basic, primal “lizard brain” buried deep at the base of our brains.

The cannibal’s lizard brain enlarges and compresses the rest of the brain, causing headaches and parts of the brain to die as it is compressed against the skull. The cannibal’s cranium is unable to enlarge. The cannibal’s brain stem thickens and enlarges, with the whole nervous system enlarging.

The cannibal’s increased, thickened nervous system, allows faster reflexes and greater speed. Along with enlarged lungs; the heart enlarges and the circulatory system enlarges and thickens. The cannibals can process oxygen more efficiently and their heart enlarges to nearly twice its normal size. Interestingly enough, despite the enlarged circulatory system, the blood supply to the lizard brain remains the same, indicating a creature driven more by instinct rather than reason.

The lizard brain idea is based on a famous triune brain theory developed by Paul MacLean. Jamal believes that the KCAP virus enlarges and strengthens the lizard brain portion of the human brain. The lizard or reptilian brain controls the body’s vital functions such as heart rate, breathing, body temperature and balance. Doc Jamal believes that the enlarged and strengthened reptilian brain with the loss of parts of the neocortex results in a creature that is driven by impulse rather than reason.

Encountering a group of survivors deep inside the Lucky Peak State Recreation area, Don’s group of survivors learned that most of the Treasure Valley was lost to zombies. There were supposedly some pockets of survivors in the cities, but those were cut off by hordes of zombies plus the fires and not given very good odds of survival.

Don’s survivors travelled through the surrounding foothills even though it took significantly longer. Crossing the Snake River near Ontario, Oregon, Don’s group of survivors encountered a large number of survivors attempting to take boats north. Some former Air Force personnel from Mountain Home Air Force Base revealed the possibility of a significant colony of survivors in the Yellow Knife area of the North West Territories, Canada.

Terrance asked several questions about Mountain Home; it appears that he knew some people there. Regrettably, the survivors bypassed Mountain Home Air Force Base and most of the Treasure Valley by a large margin. Don’s group traveled through the abandoned farm lands in the valley between Payette and Fruitland, Idaho.

There have been rumors circulating about survivors in the Canadian NWT for some time. Don’s group like many other groups of survivors (including ours), heard that survivors in the Yellow Knife area are living in several of the large, abandoned gold mines. If this is true, living in the abandoned mines would make sense as a subterranean mine provides shelter, but lighting could be a problem, among many other things.

Mal and some of the other mechanically inclined individuals have wondered how the folks in the old NWT gold mines solved the problem of heat, light, fresh air, not to mention basic needs such as sanitation. Living underground like a bunch of gophers might be a good way to hide from the zombies, but it comes with a whole bunch of new logistical problems.

Of course, we all assume that the Canadians and other survivors in the NWT are going to either have room for or even allow us to move in to the area. From what these survivors have said and from what we have observed on the road, there are thousands of survivors heading north.

Little else of worth is gained from further discussion and before it gets ugly, Sam dismisses the convoy personnel. Doc out of the goodness of his heart gives the survivors some basic medical supplies. Jenny appears to have fun talking to some children near her age. With the loss of Jenny’s twin, it must be hard for her to be the only child in the convoy.

The weapons and material from the four dead men are given back to Don’s group, and they leave without any further words. There is much anger on both sides for the deaths, but no sense in causing more useless death by fighting. Not exactly a friendly parting, but we are not shooting at each other again, so it is better than most partings these days.

I finally crawl into my bedroll near noon, dead exhausted from being awake more than 30 hours straight. Shack helps me take off my gear, and then my boots. With a quick peck on the cheek, Shack then tucks me into my bedroll. I am asleep almost immediately, as is Carol beside me.

My dreams are dark and violent, filled with burning buses, flaming cannibals, and caged naked women. While I did not think of it much, and it was hardly mentioned in the AAR, the interior of the cannibal complex featured prominently in my dreams. The interior assault lads mentioned finding a midden pit hacked through the asphalt filled with cracked human bones.

Regardless of my dreams, all the cages in the cannibal complex were empty. By the amount of fresh blood splashed around, the interior assault boys felt that the cannibals had a merry feast just before we attacked. I did not know about it until later, when Mal told me about it, but the Scouts and the scavengers took all the metal cages, chains and anything else of worth. Some of the material is going to be used to make repairs or reinforce the protective armor on the convoy vehicles, while other material will be stockpiled for later use.

I think one of the reasons that Nikola stuck me up on the roof is so that I would not get a look at the interior of the Costco. In a way I appreciate that as my dreams are going to be filled with nightmares enough as it is. Despite my dark dreams, I sleep until Shack wakes me up with a few gentle shakes of my shoulder. Shack has his morning offering of a tin canteen cup filled with slightly sweetened tea.

Sitting up in my bedroll, I realize that my hair has come undone and is all over the place. I am sitting on my pony tail which is pissing me off. I have to stand up to untangle myself, and when I do, I realize that sometime during the day, while I slept, I took my pants off.

Dressed only in my white cotton wife beater and a small men’s plaid long sleeve flannel shirt, I did not think before I stood. Oh well, no help for it now. As I attempt to untangle my hair, Shack sitting on the ground on the edge of my bedroll, I realize belatedly, gets a good lengthy look right at my crotch.

By the slack-jawed open mouth stare fixed on Shack’s face, I suppose the sudden sight of my bare Mons Venus, displayed at his nose level when I raised my arms above my head to fool with my damned hair, surprised him. Sitting down cross-legged on my bed roll, I realize that I still have my US Army green wool socks on. Yeah, oh boy! So I must look really sexy to a young virgin boy.

I take the cup of tea from Shack and kiss him on the nose which, amazingly, causes him to turn even redder. Shack, after my kiss, snaps his mouth shut. “What is the matter Shack, never seen a naked woman before?” I ask, teasing him a little. I know he has seen me undressed a few times these last few weeks; at least he does not turn his back now when I use the latrine.

“Uh, no, I mean,” Shack seems at a loss for words. “You don’t have any … um,” Shack seems to be struggling so I take pity on him. “Shack, I grew up in the Middle East where it is very hot. Being bare makes it easier to keep clean when there is not a lot of water for bathing. Most Middle Eastern women traditionally keep everything below the neck bare for hygiene sake. It is a cultural thing.”

I so badly want to tease Shack about staring at my bare pussy, but I need to visit the latrine and do my necessaries as I am still having my period. I am not exactly feeling horny right this moment. At least I am not cramping too badly this evening. Thankfully, I have enough feminine articles to last a while.

I have to remember to ask Doc to make sure that the Scouts collect any feminine hygiene articles they find. I know Mal is post-menopausal, but I am not sure of the other ladies. I admit that I have been lax in determining the needs of my fellow women in the company. Mal pretty much keeps to herself, while the three cooks and the Princess are not exactly social butterflies in the company. I kneel on my bedroll digging around until I find my trousers buried deep in my bedroll.

Shack turns his back while I pull on my trousers. The tea he brought me is more of the same black pekoe tea although this time it tastes like he sweetened it with sugar rather than honey. I finish the first cup and Shack pours me another from the old, battered plaid plastic Thermos. I miss my collection of fine Chinese teas from my condo; wish I would have grabbed some before I left.

Shack and I hit the latrine, and then to the canteen where we grab breakfast for me, dinner for Shack. Breakfast is several long strips of red mystery meat wrapped in a tortilla with brown long grain rice and cooked pinto beans. I wash my deal down with a few cups of tea while Shack bemoans the lack of Red Bull and Mountain Dew, having to suffice with Coca Cola. Shack informs me that the Scouts and guards have been lucky; finding a couple of cows and a deer earlier in the afternoon. The meat should last a few days for the convoy.

The next few days are fairly boring and standard. Travel through the night, sleep during the day. Our new Dodge truck with its healthy, turbo charged 5.9 Cummins diesel engine does pretty well despite the fact that it is being fed a steady diet of vegetable oil, kerosene, acetone, and lighter fluid mixed with diesel.

Nothing liquid and flammable is lost. Our Scouts and scavengers are busily collecting any flammable fluid that might run in a diesel engine. Even several bottles of scented, colored and insect repelling outdoor Tiki lamp fuel and torch oil were poured into the diesel tanks.

Even fed a shitty diet of fuel the Cummins has more power than the old Smart car. Despite only having the Dodge a few days it, has survived more abuse than the little Smart car could handle. As time passes and we travel further north, the roads are getting much worse and travel much more difficult.

While I did not think much of it at first, the four-wheel drive came in handy several times as did the 12 ton Warn winch on the front bumper. The most recent use of both was when we had to pull the colonels’ station wagon out of a ditch. Thankfully, the previous owner of the Dodge had all the accessories like snatch blocks, tree trunk protector, recovery straps, and various types of ground anchors tucked underneath the bench seat that Shack is snoring upon now.

Shack likes the four door cab of the Dodge pickup as he stretches out across the rear bench seat and sleeps during the night while I drive. The more room of the Mega Cab is nice compared to the old Smart car, but I do miss the fuel economy of the little car. Our Dodge truck also fends off the abuse of running off-road and through various debris better than the little delicate Smart car.

Other than the Scouts chasing some fucking elusive goats that managed to evade capture, the past few days went by in relative, monotonous boredom interspersed with the occasional moment of terror. Like a few nights ago, when we stumbled upon a fucking ginormous horde of undead in the highway.

Apparently, this horde appeared during the time between when our Scouts scanned the area and when we attempted to pass. This horde was as long as we could see, spread over all four lanes of the highway. Unsure exactly of how a horde that size could suddenly appear like magic, but the Scouts swore it was not there previously.

The horde of undead forced a hasty back track over some shitty roads that were not scouted previously. Some further unforeseen backtracking and less than stellar alternate routes made the experience one of the more notable if for nothing else, then for the sheer fact that we did not lose any personnel or vehicles.

So far my little Smart car is the only vehicle casualty we have suffered. The colonel’s station wagon is probably going to be the next vehicle that we are going to have to replace. The roads are getting much worse. The sheer numbers of zombies we either have to drive around or through are taking their toll on the colonel’s medium-sized VW station wagon.

The diesel engine in the colonel’s station wagon is also not as tolerant of the shitty diet we are feeding all of the diesel engines in the convoy. Despite the mechanics attempting to bypass most of the electronics and smog control on the colonel’s station wagon, it is still a highly complicated piece of German engineering.

I do not believe the Volkswagen engineers planned that the diesel engine in the vehicle would be subjected to such abuse. I suppose it is a testament to the fine engineering that the engine has run so well for so long despite its diet.

It has been weeks since the Scouts located a petrol station that was not either already plundered or a burnt out wreck. Even petrol collected by draining the vehicles that we pass is getting scarce as we are not exactly the first to come up with that plan. Although the Scouts are able to acquire a lot of used motor oil which is what most of the vehicles are running now with the exception of the Strykers and HEMTTs whose engines cannot tolerate shitty fuel. Fine diesel fuel is running scarce and there is even talk of having to abandon one or more of the HEMTTs and Strykers. The Strykers and HEMTTs average five miles per gallon.

The M-35s and M-923s with their very basic diesel engines are able to run just about anything other than straight gasoline. The Scouts were lucky a few days ago and found a few houses that had some #2 heating oil in old, forgotten underground tanks.

We have to do a lot more off-road travel lately, something that I am thankful for the Dodge truck’s four wheel drive. Although an automatic transmission would be nice rather than the five speed manual. I rarely am able to get the Dodge into any gear higher than third anyway.

The snow plow surprising enough is doing fine despite the abuse it suffers, but it has the same engine problem as the Strykers and HEMTTs. Most of the roads are only passable for short stretches and this requires a lot of weaving and backing on the part of the snow plow. Rick and the Princess has, apparently, become an item in the last day or so, something that I did not see as a possibility. Maybe some sex will help mellow the Princess.

Nothing really noteworthy happened to include in my journal over the next few days. I did have a rather lengthy discussion with one of the Army 1%er FEMA camp survivors about his experiences while in the camp. While horrible and certainly nothing I would wish upon anyone, it is not anything that we have not heard before. Despite the physical and emotional abuse the FEMA camp survivors appear to be in good spirits, and the company’s moral is decent.

Our convoy pulls into the Snohomish National Guard Armory early one cold rainy morning. There has been sporadic amount of sleet and hail tonight and it is particularly cold tonight. For the end of June, it is damned cold. I do not have a way to be certain, but to me it almost appears to be getting colder, which is odd. Maybe I am just more sensitive to the cold since I hate cold weather.

The convoy members are looking forward to sleeping indoors for a change. Gabe and the cooks have been doing a good job keeping the company fed but meat has been getting scarce. Beer and wine are but a faint memory. Shack has sorely missed his Red Bull and Mountain Dew. Everyone is tired of either MREs or beans and rice, but that is what we have to eat. I shudder to think of Don and his bunch eating canned dog food. Shack said something about an old movie called Mad Max, but I have never heard of it or understood the reference.

Shack and I have been getting closer and it appears that most people in the convoy consider us an “item” despite the persistent rumors that I am a lesbian. Although, I do think Shack would be surprised to hear that, as he is the only one to hear about some of my love life. Other than Carol and Nikola, and now the Princess and Rick, there are no other couples in the company.

Rumor is rife with suggestions that Gabe is dating one or perhaps all three of the female Army cooks, but so far the four cooks have not enlightened anyone. Mal and Terrance seem to have grown close, not sure if they are an item yet, but they have been spending a lot of time together. Terrance is a fair hand with several musical instruments. Sometimes Terrance will play for the company. Surprisingly Mal has a beautiful voice and sometimes will accompany Terrance.

As our convoy rolls into the Snohomish armory through the wide open gates, I pass a dark-colored, four door Ford pickup parked in front of the armory. Shack tells me the boxy thing covering the bed of the Ford pickup is a camper shell. When the last of the convoy vehicles are in the armory compound the gates are closed behind us and chained shut.

By the way the gates and everything is open, I have a feeling this place was gutted a long time ago. As is our typical routine for the day, we circle the vehicles and park in our assigned spaces deep in the yard. Once the place is cleaned out, we might get a chance to sleep indoors. Shack is snoring again, having gone back to sleep on the bench seat behind me. I give him a few more minutes of sleep.

Getting out of my idling truck, I stand and stretch watching for the colonels to come around and approve the day’s parking. As the day crew starts breaking out the camouflaged netting and the tents, the Scouts gather for their morning preparation and brief.

Our merry little convoy is settling into a routine rather well, with everyone’s role established. I shake Shack awake and after he gets dressed, he helps me stretch the camouflage netting over our truck. After the camo netting is over all the equipment, we erect our still damp canvas tent aided by Carol, Nikola and Shen.

After our musty smelling tent is erected, Nikola and Shen erect the radio antenna while Carol, Shack and I unload the radios and batteries. Shen’s English is getting much better and he can almost be understood now. Shen, Nikola, Doc and I have all been out of cigarettes for about a week now and we all crave a smoke badly.

While the cooks are preparing breakfast, Shack and I wander around outside the armory looking for the latrine and to see what we can find. It feels nice to stretch our legs. Some early scouting has already told us that the armory has been picked clean of any weapons and all vehicles are either stripped of anything useful or destroyed. There are signs of a significant battle recently around the armory. The Scouts report what might be a large, mass grave in the wooded park behind the armory.

An exceptionally hirsute tall, brown-bearded male has been seen wandering around the armory. Everyone is cautioned to look out for him as he might be the owner of the blue Ford pickup parked in front of the armory. A remarkable thing about the description of this hairy man is that he apparently carries a huge stainless revolver in a brown leather, Dirty Harry rig under his left arm. Oh, and he is also armed with a very large sheathed broadsword hanging on a wide black leather belt on his left hip.

When the sword part of the description came over the radio, it was met with a flurry of questions. Who the fuck runs around with a sword? When clarification came back apparently this guy is carrying a sword straight out of the middle ages, like he was some kind of Dark Ages reenactor. The few times this tall fellow has been seen around the armory, he has been dressed in blue jeans, a long sleeve plaid shirt and leather work boots.

There is quite a bit of radio discussion about the heavily muscled dude with an honest to God sword! The sword has a thick chunk of metal with an etched Gothic cross on the butt like this dude is some Holy Crusader. There is some discussion that there are signs of people squatting in the armory for a while.

The mechanics think there might be a few gallons of diesel fuel in the bottom of the huge bulk tank in the motor pool and will collect all the motor oil they can find. A latrine is established and guards are dispatched after another breakfast of oatmeal flavored with maple syrup this time.

Shack and I walk around the armory a few more times while eating before going inside. Shack actually holds my hand for a little while as we walk around which is very nice. I have finished my monthly curse, and I find the idea of seducing Shack getting more appealing the longer I am with him. I feel like a dirty old woman wanting to seduce someone more than 10 years younger than I am.

The perimeter guards have mentioned a few zombies in the trees around the armory, but this area appears to be mostly abandoned, so hopefully there will not be too many zombies around inside. The civilian buildings nearest to the armory, both across the street and the highway are burnt out hulks.

It looks as if this area was fought over and looted a long time ago. There is probably not much of value here but with the nice thick fence and a few large buildings, the armory might give us some shelter for the day. Sleeping indoors would be nice but the five of us with the radio gear will sleep outside while some might get to sleep inside once they clear the buildings.

Shack and I walk into the parade hall where we practically collide with the very tall bearded man. Behind the very tall heavily muscled man, who is easily over seven feet tall, are several zombies wearing current issue US Army fatigues.

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13 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink

    Nice cliffhanger. Is there any close in Browning HP shooting work in our future?

    • You will have to wait for the next chapter to see.

  2. Tim permalink

    Cool!! Keep them coming! You left us on a cliffhanger.

  3. phil. permalink

    its time for Ruth and Shack to splice.

  4. Guido permalink

    Allen- Thanks again for Ruth’s Story. I hadn’t read for awhile and it was good to see a few more chapters. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I am looking forward to more in 2013, keep up the great work!

    • You are welcome, Guido. More to come shortly.

  5. What an excellent surprise to find a second chapter right after the previous one. Super job as usual.!! I like where it appears Ruth and Shack are heading to. Keep up the good work. M.M.

  6. Christopher Shawbell permalink

    Hey Allen, thank for coming over and having a look at my site. and thanks for the Like and Following. I didn’t find another way to msg you. Are you on twitter?
    ~Chris

    • Christopher, I am not on Twitter. You can message me here anytime or on Facebook. I appreciate you visiting and following my blog as well.

    • Your link doesn’t work – not sure what you’re referring to.

      • Christopher Shawbell permalink

        Jake,
        Were you intending to reach me?
        Chris Shawbell

      • Yes, Chris, “graveyardofmymind.wordpress.com is no longer available” when I click on your name. I was hoping to “hav[e] a look at [your] site” as you recommended to Allen, but was unable to.

  7. Woooh Nellie!!

    Thanks

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