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Zombie apocalypse fiction – Ruth’s story #88 Discussions in the mess tent about Ft. Detrick, Sarah’s twins, KCAP, and weapons TEOTWAWKI, and SHTF

December 14, 2013

After the colonels leave, Terrance our lonely Air Force PJ joins us for breakfast/supper. Terrance is not hard to pick out in a crowd. Tall and whip cord thin with skin like burnished mahogany, Terrance also shaves his head. Terrance’s shiny bald pate rivals Doc Jamal’s.

Terrance is also the only one in the convoy wearing old, faded US Air Force issued blue-gray tiger stripe desert BDUs. His matching blue-gray boots, despite their age, are still in good shape. Terrance has the same problem with his boots as I do with mine. Terrance’s boots just like mine were designed for a hot desert environment – when very cold; the rubber soles get hard and very slick.

Our boots designed to be worn in hot dry climates where, in the heat, the rubber soles would become somewhat sticky aiding traction on rocks and in the slick desert environment. I hate having to tightly lace my boots each evening; I envy Terrance the speedy side zippers on his boots.

Sporting a well-trimmed goatee with a short mustache, both shot through with gray, Terrance is a handsome man whom, hard to believe, is in his late 70s. Not the oldest codger in the convoy, but certainly in the upper age bracket.

Despite his advanced age, Terrance is jittery with excitement and launches into a lengthy monologue describing Sarah’s conception no matter if we cared or not. Urged on by Shack’s infrequent non-committal grunts and head shakes while stuffing his gob, Terrance babbles for quite a while about inane and obscure medical details.

Curse my memory for being able to remember all of Terrance’s medical babbling! The fact that all of the information came out in a rush proved that Terrance is quite knowledgeable about the rather likely manner of conception and birth of Sarah’s twins.

Due to the expected high infant mortality rate, Sarah is not naming either child until she is sure that they are going to survive. Resurrecting an old child naming habit from before the dawn of modern medicine is another casualty of the KCAP pandemic. I do hope that the twins survive.

Not sure if she is going to wait until the children are at least two years old, but she is waiting a while before picking names. Some of the lads have taken to calling the twins Thing 1 and Thing 2, which I am not sure that I either approve of or agree with. Of course the jack asses are doing so behind Sarah’s back.

Gennady has been very protective of Sarah, and I would not want to risk his wrath either for disparaging his assumed stepchildren. Despite his youth, Gennady has taken the role of Sarah’s protector rather well. Well, anyway, back to Terrance’s medical mumblings, sorry for the detour.

Terrance noted that the twins were a dichorionic diamniotic (DCDA) twin pregnancy which is a type of twin pregnancy where each twin has its own chorionic and amnionic sacks. This type of pregnancy occurs most commonly with dizygotic pregnancies. A dizygotic pregnancy is where two ova are independently fertilized by two sperm creating two zygotes.

During pregnancy, the mother’s and baby’s blood does not mingle. Each umbilical cord is attached to the baby’s placenta. A placenta is the box that keeps the babies separate from the mother. Fetal blood flows through the baby, out the umbilical cord and into the placenta but no farther.

The placental membrane separates maternal blood from fetal blood. It appears that even KCAP, the mother fucker of all bio-engineered viruses, is not able to penetrate the placental membrane. KCAP, however, does bind with the father’s DNA and is passed to the ova by his semen. The problem though is that sometimes during birth, the mother and baby’s blood can come into contact with each other and mingle.

We are going to have to watch Sarah to see if she was infected by KCAP during the birth of her first child. The KCAP child, as long as the infection does not reach critical mass, should survive. KCAP is an odd virus acting almost as if it were intelligent. The KCAP viral bodies recode the body’s white blood cells protecting the KCAP cells.

The KCAP virus burrows into the host’s DNA recoding it and adding two more stacked helixes. The recoded human DNA, now a quad-stacked helix, features strengthened positive supercoiled helixes. Referred to as KCAP Z-DNA (not to be confused with common, non-zombie Z-DNA) the superior positively coiled DNA is only able to be penetrated by other KCAP cells.

KCAP Z-DNA is incredibly stable, strengthened by increased hydrogen bonds between nucleotides and base-stacking interactions among aromatic nucleobases.  KCAP replicates blindingly fast without equal, but requires a certain amount of viral bodies, believed to be determined by the victim’s mass, in order to consume the victim.

A certain mass criteria would explain why children and people of smaller stature are more susceptible to KCAP than larger people. Huge inclusions of KCAP viral bodies such as suffered from a deep, savage zombie bite allows KCAP to be able to overwhelm the body’s defenses.

Once the number of KCAP viral inclusion bodies reaches a certain point, commonly referred to as the KCAP critical mass point (KCAP CMP) or the KCAP tipping point the victim will remain KCAP infected. (We should refrain from using the acronym KCAP-TP less someone think that we have developed a special kind of anti-zombie toilet paper.) Such a victim may display some of the signs of KCAP infection but will not succumb to the disease.

Until such time as the viral inclusion bodies reaches the KCAP CMP, the KCAP virus burrows into the host’s DNA creating subtle changes, making the host body receptive to further viral intrusions. KCAP is an odd virus that will not kill its host by even the slightest infection providing that infection did not come from a zombie.

Only a massive infection causes death of the host. The KCAP virus appears to have two stages. In a cannibal, it appears to incubate until the host dies. Then the KCAP virus mutates again, driving the dead flesh. The viral bodies found in the dead zombies, are exceeding more active than ones found in the live cannibals.

KCAP also has the odd ability to protect its infected host from other common diseases such as herpes, small pox, and most common STDs. Mildly infected KCAP hosts have been noted to even heal from and recover from syphilis, gonorrhea, and milder forms of hepatitis. Terrance noted that KCAP’s possible ability to heal a person infected with HIV was never tested but has been hypothesized as a possibility.

Terrance further mentioned that despite being originally created as a Soviet Cold War bio-weapon, that perhaps KCAP could have been a cure for AIDS and HIV. That is if KCAP had not mutated or was originally designed as a weapon. Some believe, according to Terrance that the KCAP virus might be a blend of several different Cold War biological weapons that were stored together.

Hypothesizing that several leaks in storage areas, allowing the mixture of several different engineered bio weapons is a nightmare scenario. No one knows for sure if KCAP was created the way it is now or if it mutated in the old post-Cold War underground bunker. Another possibility is that there were several different strains or generations of the viruses that became KCAP which when mixed mutated into its present form.

If I knew where the ass holes that created this virus are, I would love to repeatedly kick them in the balls (assuming they were male). A common frustration mentioned often is that the perpetrators of this engineered pandemic apparently have escaped justice.

Though they died many years before I or any of my instructors in the Mossad were born, many people were frustrated that notorious villains such as Mengele and Shirō Ishii escaped justice. Sometimes it seems like those who so decidedly deserve justice escape from it.

We will never know what exactly caused the virus to get loose or how it mutated into its present form. The whole area where KCAP was first discovered is now a deep, highly radioactive, man-made, small inland sea.

The area will be uninhabitable for the next 150 years or so. Perhaps in a very, long time future generations, if there are ever any, may be able to explore the region and determine the origins of the virus. Perhaps the human race is evolving into one where everyone is infected with the KCAP virus.

With DNA strands of common viruses like Toxoplasmosis Gondi and Rabies, KCAP is a real witches’ brew. Thankfully KCAP has substantially weak lipid walls. KCAP is also anaerobic meaning that it hates oxygen. Terrance noted that unlike some other deadly diseases such as Ebola and the Bubonic Plague, KCAP quickly perishes outside of a host. Decomposing bodies and other infected remains quickly break down within days, and are not infectious after 72 hours.

The virus must remain in a living host. In truth Terrance tells us one of the most shocking revelations of the KCAP pandemic; the zombies are not truly dead, at least in a biological way. An infected KCAP zombie does not breathe, has no heartbeat, but is able to see, hear, move and has some ability to reason, even if in a primal animalistic way.

KCAP zombies, have been observed healing from injuries. Zombies infected early in the outbreak have been observed naked (their clothes rot off eventually) but have fully healed even from the most ghastly of wounds. Much similar to the way that the KCAP virus drives the cannibals to constantly eat, KCAP also motivates the zombies to eat.

The zombies, for lack of a better term, are able to digest the flesh and bits of bone that they consume. Zombie excrement, a viscous black goo which is devoid of any shape or form, often runs down the zombies legs. Zombie shit apparently lacks any discernible dead skin cells or other identifiable living cells. About the only thing notable about zombie shit is its smell, well other than its high concentrations of alkaloids.

Zombie shit has a particular odor to it, something that we have been utilizing as a form of early warning. The smell of zombie shit is more cloying than that of an abattoir but smells far worse than one. There has been some discussion about training dogs to detect the odor of zombie shit, but right now dog makes a fine meal.

Try arguing with someone who is starving that you want to train a dog to detect zombie shit when all that they can see is a meal on four legs. I cannot imagine that the cannibals have similar arguments, as they appear to much less squeamish about what they eat. Zombie flesh is about the only thing which the cannibals will not eat.

Another odd fact is that the KCAP zombies, created from dead flesh, do not inherit the increased stamina, speed and strength of the cannibals unless they were a cannibal before succumbing to the virus. Terrance says that older KCAP zombies, still shuffle around seeking flesh to eat. The zombies will eat any living flesh they can capture, with the exception of anyone infected with KCAP.

Earlier experiments injecting victims with mild doses of KCAP virus created more cannibals. Dead KCAP viral bodies injected into a person did nothing other than force the victim to suffer a mild rash. Somehow the KCAP virus has to be seasoned in a dead human before it enters another host or it just mutates and turns the host into a cannibal.

So far no method of inoculation was successful and just created more cannibals. Areas close to test areas were suddenly overrun with cannibals, such as the Druid Hills in Atlanta, Georgia. I wonder just how many cannibals were created before someone wised up and halted the experiments. I also wonder just what happened to all the accidental cannibals.

The cannibals, for receiving the viral protection, greater strength, and increased stamina, KCAP in essence supercharges the host’s metabolism. The host becomes ravenously hungry, and must feed its roaring furnace of a stomach. Not feeding the roaring furnace causes an effect similar to a very bad case of Rhabdomyolysis.

If the physical muscle pain, tenderness, weakness and swelling of the muscles is not enough to drive the KCAP infected person to attack the nearest available source of food, their brains appear to be wired for survival, breeding and eating. The carnage is truly hard to imagine.

The zombies and cannibals also suffer much of the rage usually associated with Rabies, especially if denied food. Teasing zombies drives them absolutely bat shit crazy. I do not want to think about some fool teasing cannibals. The horrid cheesy zombie films of the past such as The Astro Zombies pale in comparison to the real thing.

Most of Terrance’s information comes from radio data packets a large part of them from what little survives of the subterranean Fort Detrick US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC). With what is also left of the bio-defense agency, the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) co-hosted with it in the deep Cold War era subterranean bunker, the USAMRMC is still attempting to find a cure for the KCAP pandemic.

Made to survive an expected nuclear war with the former Soviet Union, the mile and a half deep subterranean USAMRMC bunker was mostly abandoned after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Most of us have realized the irony of the fact that we are suffering a plague from the Cold War era, escaped from a former Soviet underground bunker only to hope for a cure from people sequestered in another Cold War bunker.

The surviving Ft. Detrick commands also includes a few surviving members of the National Cancer Institute-Frederick (NCI-Frederick), the National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research (NICBR) and the National Interagency Biodefense Campus (NIBC). All of the surviving units from Ft. Detrick are now cut off from the surface.

When we get radio traffic from Ft. Detrick it comes in huge bursts of data. By some fortuitous chance, several ancient computers and numerous working 9,600 baud modems were stored in the mothballed bunker. Along with several miles of asynchronous RS-232 serial cable, the old modems are working whereas many of the more recent communication gear is not.

Our main problem receiving the data packets had been that we had nothing to translate them with. It took some time and some studious dumpster diving by our Scouts in order to find all of the anachronistic radio gear we needed to translate data packs. Most of these kids had never heard of a modem before.

I had certainly never heard a modem key up or the unique sound it makes when receiving the handshake. At the sound of our first operational 9,600 baud modem, some smart ass mumbled “you’ve got mail” whatever the fuck that means. I had read about modems in school as part of computer history.

I had just never used a modem or seen an operational modem before now. Getting all of the damn power supplies with the proper conversion bricks was a real pain in the ass. Many modems were fried or operated at less than optimum ability due to the wrong power supply hooked to it.

Everything was digital by the time I joined the IDF. I knew what a modem was but they were long out of service by the time I was even born. Trying to find serial data cables and ancient modems from the stone age of computer technology was nearly an impossible task.

Thankfully our Scouts became adept at spotting amateur radio antennas. Many of the old HAM radio operations had several modems as well as the gear we needed to translate data packets. Without raiding several well stocked HAM radio stations, we would never have been able to decipher the data packets.

By another fortuitous coincidence, several old serial telephone hard lines from the Ft. Detrick bunker are still connected to the surface. The old solid copper phone lines do not have the speed and data capability of fiber optic lines but they are much hardier, surviving most of the things that destroy fiber.

Even the newer “improved” fiber telephone lines, however, all shattered underneath the impacts of the MIRVs, BLU-82 daisy cutters; GBU-43D MOABs, and Kinetic Fireball Incendiary (KFI) sub-munition loaded BLU-109D cluster bombs that were utilized in an attempt to cauterize Ft. Detrick and the surrounding areas.

There are also several reports that the Air Force launched reactivated FB-111s and B-1B bombers from the reactivated Robbins and Moody Air Force Bases in Florida. These reactivated old bombers dropped hundreds of GBU-35s, GBU-54s and numerous other, older munitions. Quite a few of the old mothballed Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) GBU-31 and GBU-32 bombs in airburst mode were also dropped, mostly by the larger legacy bombers.

Along with several reactivated, dinosaur B-52Hs from MacDill AFB in Florida, the older bombers dropped several thousand tons of ordinance on the remains of Ft. Detrick. In particular hundreds of the old mothballed BLU-97/B Combined Effects Bombs were also dropped.

We have heard conflicting reports of varied operations of the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). Supposedly the MLRS lads went a tad meshuga and launched hundreds of outdated and mothballed M26 rockets. Each M26 rocket has a range of 32 km and is filled with 644 M77 DPICM submunitions.

Due to the high failure rate of submunitions (approximately one percent), DPICM and similar shells fell out of favor with the military. However, during the Cold War, thousands of these particular weapons were manufactured. In use for more than 30 years, these old weapons were some of the most common shells used in conflicts such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Lebanon.

Some of the older DPCIM shells and rockets were being recycled into cheap practice shells, but there were still large stockpiles of outdated, suspect munitions. While the recycled DPCIM shells made good cheap practice rounds, the truth was that there were more DPCIM shells than could be strategically converted into practice shells.

Due to their age and the unacceptable rate of submunitions failure (at least at the end of the Cold War), most of the DPCIM and other firecracker shells were removed from active service. When the KCAP zombie pandemic hit, one percent failure suddenly sounded really damn good.

Many of those old DPCIM munitions were rushed back into service. Dug out of whatever munition purgatory where they were consigned to die, many of the old popcorn shells probably suffered higher rates of failure due to explosive’s age and possible poor storage.

When you are fighting a near unstoppable foe and you have a weapon that, at least on paper, more than triple the effectiveness of each conventional shell, you are going to shoot it, damn the consequences.

In theory, a DPCIM weapon is more effective against enemy troops than conventional shells. The submunitions are small anti-vehicle bomblets with a fragmentation effect that can kill or injure anyone within approximately 20 feet. The problem is that the duds can lie around for years. The duds can be accidentally exploded by civilians or children.

Our own DPCIM 105 mm shells fall into the same category as the other munitions. Most of our DPCIM shells are from the early 1990’s but even now, they are more than 40 years old. When you are fighting for your very survival during a zombie apocalypse where only about five percent of humanity survived, worrying about possible unintentional injuries later is not a pressing concern.

After the conventional surface bombing, and then struck (if the reports are accurate) by four MIRVs, each one equal to 25 Hiroshima’s, the area around Ft. Detrick is an irradiated wasteland. Nikola mentioned, in passing, one day that only the areas around the CDC main HQ within the Druid Hills of Atlanta, Georgia along with the Emory University area (also in Atlanta, Georgia) and the area around Lake Balkhash were nuked harder than Ft. Detrick.

It is a wonder there are any communications at all from that hole. So while the communication levels might not be optimal, at least there is some communication. Unfortunately, the communication from the Ft. Detrick bunker while so far has been most helpful, it is doubtful that the survivors are going to be able to offer help for much longer.

We are likely also never going to know when the Ft. Detrick personnel die. They will just merely go quiet one day. The Ft. Detrick personnel’s death is most likely going to be prolonged and unpleasant.

The few survivors are not sure how long they can survive in the poorly stocked and hurriedly occupied bunker. While they have rations to last for a while, there are many things that they are lacking. The old Ft. Detrick bunker is also suffering from age and neglect, as it was deactivated and abandoned for more than 40 years.

Because the surface was scoured with daisy cutters, nuclear bombs and finally thermonuclear bombs the area around what used to Ft. Detrick is a radioactive waste land. Radiation levels are far too high for any rescue crew to dig the surviving Ft. Detrick personnel out. Not only are radiation levels too high, but the equipment and expertise required to excavate the bunker are in exceedingly rare supply.

Most of the Ft. Detrick personnel believe that they are living on borrowed time and expect to die very soon. From what we have heard there are some truly heroic efforts going on down there to ensure their survival, or just improve their quality of life a little. One of the few things that the surviving Ft. Detrick personnel do not lack for is office furniture.

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3 Comments
  1. medicine man permalink

    WOW!!!!! Great chapter. you really do your homework as to sarah’s twins and their method of conception. I was sadly mistaken about the relationship as far as blood exchange between the mother and child and I do appreciate the work you put into describing how they were, as one, but also, separate. I hope that the degree of separation will spare Sarah from infection and also the baby that was not observed to be a KCAP infant. The other infant or “Thing” truly was. I can’t imagine how this situation will work out. I will leave it up to the master, that is you my friend. I also enjoyed the information exchange from Ft. Detrick and how awesome Terrance is in translating the information to the convoy. I hope that they will be eating steaks and enjoying the move to the farm. But I know that it ain’t all, gonna be great. I feel like they are family members, this is because you write a badass story my man. Be well over the holiday period . I wish joy to you and yours, from me and mine. M.M.

    • Thanks for the kind words M.M.. I also hope that your family has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I will get Saturday’s post up early as it is my eldest daughter’s b-day and she does not want me sitting on the ‘puter all day.

  2. medicine man permalink

    I wish the Best to you ,your wife , your children & your family.
    We are going to Ocala to see the in-laws and have an adult beverage or two, play some guitar and return back to south Florida in a few days.
    I hope you will have a superb Holiday time and enjoy yourself with your family and friends.

    Damn, I wish you lived down the street from me so we could bounce the “zombie apocalypse” off of each other. But I don’t have near the knowledge of the mil & medical areas as you do.
    Anyway… Keep fighting the awesome fight you have provided to us., your story of Ruth is the best I have ever read, and I have read a lot.
    There are a couple of Civil War stories that came close to yours but not with the “flavor” that the story of Ruth provides. I can name them if you wish. Be well amigo’ .M.M.

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