Ela Halloween Special #12

“So anyway folks, where to? I’ve got the meter running so you better make up your minds quick. You kids from outta town? Newlyweds on your honeymoon?  Just a little taxicab character I’m doing there.  A little humor in a dark time.  Hey, remember that show taxi cab confessions?”

Ela keeps up a constant chatter as she drives aimlessly around Sueno Beach running over zombies with mucho gusto.  To say she’s punchy would be putting it lightly, she’s too hurt, too tired, too mentally drained to stop talking.   She’s worried if she does she’ll pass out. 

In the back Duke and Martialla do more or less pass out, slumping down into a weird kind of half-sleep.  Have you ever been so tried that you couldn’t fall asleep but you didn’t feel awake either?  That’s the spot I’m talking about .  They’re snapped them out of their reverie toot sweet by something, that something being a zombie smashing through the windshield and into Ela’s lap at a high rate of speed. The car starts swerving wildly, Ela screaming her head off as the zombie chews into her stomach. Duke and Martialla do their level best to help, which isn’t much from the backseat, as the car fishtails and starts to spin wildly.

Between the three of them they eventually manage to hurl the zombie out the broken driver’s side window. It slams into a light post and folds over backwards to such a degree that its heels slam into the back of its head with a loud coconut cracking noise.  Seconds later the back of the car crashes into a building and they end up all turned about in the lobby of a bank.  After a beat Duke and Martialla flop out of the car onto the ground moaning like zombies themselves. A moment after thatEla steps out of the front and looks down at them.

“You see what I was saying before? Safety.   You should have been wearing your seatbelts – driving is about three things, safety, safety, and safety.”

While Ela lectures them Martialla and Duke recover enough to crawl to their feet and save Ela from a zombie bank teller coming up behind her.  They bash its  head in with one of them things that holds up the velvet rope for the bank maze.  Afterwards Ela takes the revolver off the belt of the dead old bank security guy.  And for good measure she swaps her ripped and bloody clownsuit for his uniform as well. 

Martialla watches critically as Ela adjust her new hat “Why do you get the gun?”

Ela sighs “Do we need to go through this again?  I feel like we’ve had this same conversation six times tonight.”

Duke looks like he’s sizing Ela up to try and grab for the gun “Yes.”

Ela points at Martialla “You don’t get the gun because someone needs to shoot you if you can’t really fly a helicopter and I don’t trust you to kill yourself.” She points at Duke “And you don’t get the gun because I hate you.”

“I guess that’s fair.”

Martialla shuffles to the shattered front of the bank “How are we going to get there now?  The car’s trashed.”

Ela points “Shouldn’t be too hard.  The TV station is across the street.”

Luck? Or is there a method to Ela’s madness? The world will probably never know.  I sure won’t anyhow.  Martialla and Duke certainly don’t care either – against all odds it looks like they just might get out of Sueno Beach alive.  They wait until the street is free of zombies and then make a mad yet not very fast dash across to the TV station – home of WSBF channel fourteen, the local NBC affiliate.  In the lobby there are a couple of zombies, which Ela takes out with a quick succession of shots to the head. 

Duke’s face drops “Jesus, you just went six for six!”

Ela tosses the spent revolver aside “Well that’s the end of that.  I’m surprised the old man even had the thing loaded.”

Martialla points to a monitor in the lobby in amazement “Look, they’re still broadcasting.”

After a commercial for a new kind of fat-free muffin mix and it switches to a news graphic with the bold words “Zombiestorm 2002” on the screen, complete with a cartoon animation of a zombie chasing a sexy lady in a bikini with an “arrgh” sounds effect.  They watch in utter disbelief as an anchorwoman in a lipstick red ladysuit reports from behind a blood-spattered desk.  In the background a guy with a headset and a clipboard is struggling with a zombie, fighting for his life.

“Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the on-going zombie crisis in Sueno Beach, a channel fourteen news exclusive.”  Behind her the struggling man goes down and blood sprays up in the air with a scream. “There seems to be no end in sight to the zombie hordes that began attacking our fair city several hours ago.  Estimates put the arrival of the zombies at sometime between the hours of eleven and midnight. There is no way to know for sure how many zombies there are, but one reliable source has told channel fourteen that there sure seem to be a lot of them.” Behind her three guys with makeshift weapons run into frame and start clubbing the zombie devouring their friend. “We go now live to reporter Marcus Robinson at the governor’s mansion.”

Cut to a black man in a sharp suit clutching a microphone in one hand why clinging tightly yet impassively to a chandelier.  Underneath him zombies stand on an extravagant diner table heedlessly stepping on an impressive diner spread as they reach for him and groan hungrily.

“Thank you Susan. Here at the governor’s mansion things are not going well.  The governor’s annual charity dinner, attended by some of Sueno Beach’s most outstanding citizens, has been crashed by some very uninvited guests.  They arrived fashionable late about around eleven thirty but there was nothing fashiomable about these guests Susan, they were zombies. And unlike their other guest they weren’t hungry for crab cakes or shrimp cocktails, they had another menu item on their minds, human flesh.”

“How is the governor holding up in this time of crisis Marcus?”

“Well Susan, right now he seems to be doing as well as you could expect at a time like this. A zombie is chewing on his thigh right now and most of his leg is gone, but despite that sources close to the governor have told me he still thinks he has a good chance of getting away and surviving for at least a few more hours.”

“What’s the general mood down there Marcus?”

“Well, I’d have to say it’s a pretty somber scene here right now Susan.  Not at all the night of merriment and networking that we were so looking forward to. People were especially disheartened just moments ago the mayor’s much-loved wife was eaten alive before their very eyes. She had climbed the drapes to escape the zombies but then the zombies pulled the drapes down and she was at their mercy. Truly a tragic end to such a respected member of the community.”

“Yes, she was a great lady and will be sorely missed.  Especially in a time of crisis like this. Marcus , can you tell me . . .”

“I’m sorry to interrupt you Susan, but the zombies seem to be forming a human pyramid of sorts to try and reach me. I’ll have to get back to you in a minute.”

“Marcus Robinson, live at the governor’s mansion.  And now we’d like to take you to Professor Ramonovich from nearby Coral Gables University, a foremost scholar of the occult.  Professor Ramonovich is going to give us some background on . . .  oh, I’m sorry, I’ve just been informed that Professor Ramonovich is dead. Sorry folks, we’re doing our best here, things a little chaotic in the station gonight.  Let’s take a look at our interactive a map of the city and where zombies have been reported as being sighted, which you can find on our website. As you can see the reported incidents of zombie activity are quite widespread and . . .”

Lucien is gaping at the TV screen “Am I really seeing this?”

Ela barks a not-laugh “Let’s just go.”

They get on the elevator and push the button for the roof but between the fifth and sixth floor it grinds to a halt.  Ela manages to pry the doors open and Martialla and Duke use her as a stepping stool to crawl out onto the sixth floor.  They pull Ela up after them and they look for the stairs, but they have to duck into a room to avoid a few zombies shuffling down the hallway.  It happens to be the very room where Susan is broadcasting from, bright smile plastered on her face as all around her hapless interns are struggling with zombies.

“The word we’ve been getting from the national wires is . . .” She frown as Ela rush into the shot “Hey! I’m doing a newscast here!”

“How do we get to the helipad?!”

Susan leans to try and get back in frame “You’re blocking my shot, get out of the way! We’re the only station with coverage of this crisis and I’m not going to let you ruin our exclusive.  This is my ticket out of this dump!  Go on, get!”

Ela grabs for her across the news desk “You’re the only station with coverage because everyone at all the other stations is dead! Your exclusive doesn’t mean dick because no one is watching it – THEY’RE ALL DEAD!”

Susan slaps her hands away and tries to shove her out of the way “Get out of my shot!”

Ela grabs at her desperately “Just tell us how to get to the news copter and we can all get out of here together!  We’ll take you with us, just tell us how to get there. We can all get away!”

“Look, this is the story of a lifetime, I could get a local Emmy for this!  I’m not about to . . .”

A kid with a nose ring holding a clipboard wanders onto the set behind her, drinking a cup of coffee.

“Hey Susan, we lost the broadcast.”

She turns on him like a thundercloud “What?! What’s wrong, why did we lose the feed?!”

He takes a sip of coffee “Well, the camera guys are all dead, the people in the control room are dead, pretty much everyone on the crew is dead now except for me and you. And that guy over there.  Okay, now it’s just me and you because that guy is dead now too.”

Ela leans in angrily “So how about that chopper?”

Ela Halloween Special #11

Our heroes (?) limp painfully back out onto the zombie-ravaged streets of Sueno Beach.  Away from the marina where good old dependable Lucien met his final reward.  Our three remaining survivors come face to face with a grim reality.  They’re on their last legs – physically, mentally, emotionally, the whole shebang.  They have to make their way past hordes of ravenous undead fiends to reach the channel 14 television studios.  Duke is in the best shape of the three.  Which isn’t saying a lot since he got mauled twice. 

Ela and Martialla are fading fast – they lean on each other like drunk hobos and don’t so much walk as they take turns falling forward while the other holds them up. The human body can endure a lot but everyone has their limits.  Blood loss, exhaustion, shock, having a zombie shark bite your foot off, these things they all take their toll.  Martialla is the worse off of the two.  With three deaths in quick succession she’s falling into a spiritual K hole of sorts.  Add that to the mind-numbing horror she’s experienced this night to her rapidly worsening physical condition and she’s ready to just lay down and die.  If Ela wasn’t there dragging her forward she’d probably do just that.

Ela feels dizzy and nauseated all the time but even with one foot she still forces one foot in front of the . . . well not other, but you know, she keeps going is the point.  Seeing Lucien dragged under the water like that rent her heart in two, but it’s only served to harden her resolve to make it out alive.  Lucien was nothing if not a survivor, and he’d never want Ela to think about giving up for even a split second.  The memory of Luciens smiling gay Canadian face spurs her onward.  Despite the pain, despite the awfulness, despite the empty feeling in her chest, despite the shooting pain in her footless leg.  She’s going to get out of Sueno Beach and that’s that, there’s nothing else for it.  They turn down the street their path illuminated by burning cars.  Also lit up by the dancing flames, assorted chewed up human body parts laying strew about like discarded dog bones.

Ela looks around wearily “Do we even know which way to go to get to this television station?”

Duke shrugs “Does it matter?  Have to take the path of least zombie resistance.  We’re in no condition to fight.”

Martialla stumbles badly and almost drags Ela down with her “What are we going to do if we get corned?”

“Probably get killed.”

Ela scowls at him “Shut up Duke, we’re going to make it.”

“Actually, now that I think about it we probably won’t get killed right away – we’ll be eaten alive. Eventually we’ll knock off from blood loss or something as they eat us, but unless they bite into the heart or brain it could take a while to die.  I’d wager that’s what all the screaming we’ve been hearing tonight has been about. Aside from the general screaming that people would do just at seeing zombies or what have you.”

Ela gives him a death-glare “Shut the fuck up you human cockroach.”

Duke starts to say something back but Martialla laboriously raises her arm and points “Hey look, there are some zombies now.”

Duke looks “Yes, those certainly do seem to be zombies.  And unless I’m mistaken they’re not wearing any pants. Aaaaand they’ve got us surrounded.”

Ela does her best to focus but her vision is swimming pretty badly “He’s right, they’re all at least half nude.”

“Well, there is a massage parlor around here somewhere. You know, a ‘massage parlor’, wink-wink, nudge-nudge say no more?”

Martialla raises an eyebrow “How would you know about that Duke?”

Even in the face of oblivion he still manages to look embarrassed “I don’t know about it, I mean I . . . I didn’t say . . . I just heard . . .”

Ela laughs hysterically “We’re under attack by zombie hookers! And their zombie johns! What a way to fucking go!”

Martialla can’t stand anymore, she doesn’t just sit down but lays on the ground “Whatever they are they’re getting pretty close.  Are you two going to do something about that? I’m fine with just laying here and accepting the inevitable, but I’d like to know the plan.”

Ela grabs Martialla by the arm and starts dragging her painfully “Nothing is inevitable!  Lucien didn’t sacrifice himself so you could lay down and die Martialla.  We can get away in one of these cars.”

Duke yanks the mostly skeletonized body out of the driver’s seat “Yes, yes, capital idea!  Just look how well it worked for this fellow.  And the keys are still in it, what luck!  This is a Toyota Tercel you sons of whores! You’re all in big trouble now!”

Ela slides smoothly into the driver’s seat “Don’t worry, I’ll will take care of everything.  I’m a regular driving machine which is what car is too, a literal driving machine.  That’s why we get along so well, birds of a feather you know. Get in, get in, get in, we don’t have all night!  You know, I won the Ah’hinei’ai time trials in Hawaii back in ought ninety-nine driving a rutabaga powered sportster. The trophy and the prize money were great, but afterwards I went out drinking with Miss Australia nineteen ninety three and we ran into Pierce Brosnan.  Can you believe that?” 

Duke and Martialla collapse into the back seat and they say simultaneously “No.”

“So Peirce and I get to talking, that accent of his is a nightmare by the way, anyway I can tell you that story later, let’s get this road on the show.”

Zombies are climbing onto the car as Ela carefully puts her seat belt on, adjusts the mirrors, moves her seat back and forth a couple of times, adjusts the mirror again, and then finally turns the key in the ignition and starts the car up.  A zombie smashes through the driver’s side window and grabs her by the hair, prompting her to finally mash her stump down on gas.  They take off like a shot – zombies flying off the car as the tires squeal and throw smoke. The zombie that grabbed Ela is dragged to the ground and off with a handful of her skin and hair.

Ela has her arm up on the headrest looking out the back window “Cripes! That hurt!”

Martialla peeks up in the backseat “Are we going backwards?”

Duke peeks up carefully as well “It seems so.”

Ela knocks down a row of zombies like a kid in driver’s education murdering cones “Of course we’re going backwards – this is how a trained professional does it.  A front end impact will set off the airbags.  You know, I was talking to the stunt driver on the set of . . .” She yells and swerves as they run over a mailbox. “Hey, where did that come from?”

Duke’s eyes goes wild as Ela slows to a crawl “What are you doing, get us the hell out of here!”

“I’m trying to find the lights, I can’t see anything!”

Martialla wavers her onwards wildly “Who cares?! Just go!”

“Oh, that’s a fine attitude for a motorist to have isn’t it?   I don’t know how things work in Moosejaw or Saskatoon or Regina or whatever Canadian shithole you come from but here in the US of A we take safety seriously.  It’s that kind of thinking that leads to dozens of automobile related deaths each year. Safety if the watchword of the day when you’re driving my friend, and that’s a fact jack. Who cares? Who cares?  Just drive off into the night without lights? Well you’re sure as hell going to care when we slam into a brick wall won’t you?  You’ll care so much you’ll be dead! Ah, there we go.”  The lights cut on and she takes off again, crunching more zombies. “Hmm, we seem to be getting a lot of grinding, I should ask a mechanic about that.”

Other stuff post – a third of an idea for nothing

There’s probably a way this story could be wedged into the Grace blog but I don’t think it would work best with the main character not being the focal point.  Which is kind of the flaw with the Grace blog overall, often when I think of an interesting (to me) magic premise it has her be more of an observer than an active participant.  I’ll probably do nothing with this idea.

There’s this lady you see and she’s just hanging out doing lady stuff.  Based on every sitcom ever that probably means she’s either putting lotion on her hands or folding laundry.  Sitcom ladies love putting on lotion and folding laundry.  Then her wedding ring starts thrumming.  As you might imagine she finds this disconcerting.  Actually yeah, let’s go with the lotion idea, she takes the ring off for the lotion and then said ring starts vibrating and hopping around on the nightstand.  That would be cool. 

WTFF she thinks (you know what the extra F is for) and she grabs the ring as it pops up into the air of its own accord.  Before she can get too freaked out about that though she suddenly knows “oh shit my husband is in trouble” and his exact location pops into her head.  She hops into the car and tears off down the street.  She has a little trouble with the wheel because he hands are slick from all that lotion but she manages.

As she’s driving the location in her mind is moving and she eventually realizes that she’s heading for the hospital.  Uh-oh, Spaghetti-Os she thinks.  She gets to the hospital and runs in and asks the lady at the counter (are those always nurses or do they have administrator people hanging around?) if her husband is there and when they’re trying to help her and/or blow her off she follows her mental homing beacon into the ER where her husband is all ripped up.

“You can’t be in here!” someone shouts and they push her out the door.  A doctor comes out and says her husband was in a car wreck and they did everything they could but he’s dead, deader than every dead dog that ever died.  She’s sad, funeral happens, sadness, etc.  She mostly forgets about the whole crazy wedding ring thing because it’s so sad.

But then one day she sighs and goes to do something with the big plastic bag of her husband’s stuff they gave her at the hospital and when she pulls out his wedding ring both rings go bonkers and start shining with a bright light and spinning around and flying around and what have you.  Which is pretty freaky but she’s still too sad to care much about it.

The very next day a dude shows up at the house and he’s all like “Your husband and I were old pals and he told me if he ever died suddenly that I needed to come tell you a secret”.  And she’s not into it because she’s like “I know all my husband’s friends and I never seen you before” and he says they hadn’t seen each other in a long time but he has something really important he has to tell her so she has to let him in right now.

She’s not buying it but she says “go ahead and tell me then if you have something to say” and he barges in and tries to rip the ring off her finger.  I’ll say she’s wearing both rings at this point, that seems like something a fictional person would do if their spouse died.  Maybe even a real person would do that.  If I want things to get really hardcore he has some tin snips and he tries to cut her finger off to get the rings.  Point is, they tussle and she gets her gun because she’s in the coast guard?  Do you get a sidearm in the coast guard?  Maybe she’s in the naval reserve. 

Anyway the guy goes ‘bleeeeeeeaghhhhhh!” and runs at her like dudes like to do in movies when ladies have guns and she plugs him.  And she’s all like WTFFF?

The cops turns up and she’s telling them about it and one of the uniformed officers is like “I need to take these rings for evidence” and she’s like “What?  Why?  How are the rings evidence?” and then she does some Sherlock Holmes stuff and realizes that this dude is not a real cop.  He notices her noticing his uniform and he’s like “I’m actually an auxiliary policeman so that’s why my buttons look weird” or whatever the thing is that she Sherlocks. 

She calls out to the lead detective and is like “What’s the deal with this guy trying to take my rings?” and the dude bolts and it’s a whole thing. 

That’s a decent first part of a story, but like most of my ideas it’s really a third of an idea.  Her husband was a magic man because magic is real and there’s secret magic people out there.  He enchanted their  wedding rings so he’d know if she ever got into trouble but without intending to it also worked the other way round – she was alerted when he was injured.  Now that he’s dead these other evil magic people want these rings because he was pretty dang magic and he put most of his magic into the rings and they’re a valuable commodity. 

So I have a first act and an antagonist and that’s about it.  What happens then?  That’s generally as far as I get with story ideas and I wonder, once again, if that’s because I’ve spent so much time running RPGs.  In an RPG a set-up and a bad guy is usually all you need.  The players don’t need much incentive to send them running off in every direction doing all kinds of stuff, much of it insane in the membrane. And by all kinds of stuff I mean mostly violence.  Spending time building out story beyond that can be an exercise in frustration because 77% of the time you’re never going to anticipate which way the PCs are going to jump.  It’s uncanny how good players are at unconsciously thwarting the GM. 

Ela Halloween Special #10

The group limps along and eventually, painfully, reaches the world famous white sands of Sueno Beach Beach.  They it this far without too much trouble from their zombie friends, but the marina is a fair piece to the south and who knows what horrors await them?!  I mean I do, but you know. The remnant of a once proud bonfire crouches low and sputtering like an old silent movie star peeking at a lady in her bloomers, surrounded by the chewed-up remains of underage teenage revelers and the treasury of empty beer cans and bottles. They stop for a moment to warm up and dry zombie water off their clothes by the fire.

Lucien checks the keg and then tosses a Solo cup aside sadly “Empty, just our luck.”

Duke looks around at the fallen partiers “Where did the zombies go?  Why aren’t they still here eating?”

Ela holds her hands to the fire and rubs them together “Zombies don’t like the water, how many times do I have to tell you that? They’re scared to death of it, they won’t come anywhere near it!”

Duke gestures angrily at the bodies “Then what happened here Ela, what happened here?!  If zombies don’t like water who ate these people?”

“Oh it was probably just one of those cannibal families in a VW bus you’re always hear about.”  Duke starts her way angrily and Ela levels her shotgun at him “Don’t tempt me Duke, don’t tempt me.”

Duke retreats and sits back down, but winks at her “No matter what I do I can’t help but tempt women sugartits, it’s a curse.”

Tina jumps up and shout spittily in anger “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! All of you just shut the fuck up!  Elvis is dead and all you can do is . . .” She stops and takes a deep breath “I think we should all bow our heads and have a moment of silence for Elvis.”

Lucien nods “I think that’s appropriate.”

Ela rolls her eyes but she stands up and lowers head eyes with the rest of them.  They fold their hands in a sort of pray-y way but not really, standing around the flickering fire for a moment.  Ela keeps looking up to see if they’re done yet or not like a kid in church.

Duke raises his head “Maybe . . . maybe someone should say a few words.”

Ela snaps her fingers “You got it chief.  Elvis . . .  what can I say about Elvis?  Elvis was a man . . . like most people he liked the things in life that he liked. Uh . . . what else, what else, what else?  He acted like his balls had dropped off but he was nice enough I guess.”

Tina stares icy daggers at her “Why couldn’t it have been you? The world wouldn’t miss a heartless bitch like you, Elvis was a warm, kind, generous, caring person.”

Ela rests her shotgun on her shoulder “You’re right, the world probably wouldn’t miss old Ela at all if a zombie chomped me all up and maybe it will miss Elvis.  But it ain’t up to the world is it?  There’s no call in voting like American Idol.  I’m still here because I am a heartless bitch.  And Elvis is gone because he was weak – that’s the way it works.”

Sad but true.  After that there’s not much else anyone can say.  They stand around the fire for a few minutes and then move out.  That’s the key, stay on the move.  Ela once again leads the way as they walk down the beach towards the marina – a not a zombie in sight.

Martialla pulls up short “Hey, wait up! Wait a minute everybody, my foot is stuck.”

Duke tries to help her but barely even gets a pull in before he lets go and grabs at his arm with a wince “I think that stuff the doc gave us is wearing off. My arm doesn’t feel so good anymore.”

Lucien flops heavily to a sitting position on the sand “I think you’re right, my leg is starting to throb again.”

Ela waves them forward “Suck it up you two!  I’m walking on a bloody stump here and I’m doing fine.  Martialla move your ass or get left behind!”

Tina tugs on Martialla’s leg violently “No, she’s really stuck – her foot is in a hole or something.  I just have to get some leverage and . . .”

Martialla shout in pain and alarm “Ow! Ow! No, stop, you’re tearing my foot off!  I don’t want to live without a foot!  I’ll be a freak, an outcast, the lowest sort of miserable wretch imaginable!  Without a foot I won’t deserve even the slightest human consideration!  I’ll be abused and tormented by even the lowest of the low and they’ll be well within their rights morally to do it!  I’ll be . . . oh, sorry Ela, I didn’t mean . . .”

Ela walks over to them and helps pull “You’re already a freak Martialla, and an outcast, and a miserable wretch.  Can’t you people do anything without me?”

They’re both pulling and then all of a sudden Martialla’s leg comes free and she tumbles over on top of Tina.   Ela sways like a drunk performing a field sobriety test, but manages to stay on her foot. She curses and unleashes a shotgun blast down into the sand.  The sand flies up all around them as buried zombies in Tommy Bahama spring out of hiding and grab at them.  The gang swings into action trying to club the zombies off as Ela blows them to pieces, but there’s too many. They make a run for it but their escape route is blocked by offensively buxom zombie lifeguards in ripped red swim-uniforms wielding weird plastic floaty things with ropes attached to them.  Martialla launches herself at them and bowls them over, allowing everyone else to escape. Ela fires a few more blasts and pulls Martialla to her feet, helping her run like the world’s saddest three legged race.  Martialla has been badly mauled and she can’t keep up even with Ela’s hobbling pace.

Ela yanks on her unhelpfully “God damn it Martialla get the lead out!  We have to move!”

Martialla gasps weakly “Just leave me, I’ll hold them off for as long as I can.”

Ela drops her to the sand “You got it champ.”

Ela and Duke continue to the marina, but Tina and Lucien stop and look at each other.  They glance down at Martialla trying to get into position to fight.

Lucien speaks first “I’ll do it.”

Tina shakes her head “No, I’ll do it.  I don’t even care anymore.  Just make sure that if no one else is going to make it that Ela doesn’t either.”

Lucien hugs Tina and pats her on the back “You know I will.”

Lucien manfully hauls Martialla to her feet and helps her stagger away as Tina turns to face the on-coming horde of the walking dead.  She’s softly humming the tune of “Thriller” to herself as  Lucien and Martialla catch up to Ela and Duke – who aren’t moving so fast themselves anymore as their injuries are starting to catch up to them.  When they reach the marina they immediately run out into the dock, looking for a good boat, but just as immediately zombies start climbing out of the water and onto the dock from every side.  They try to run but even more zombies start coming out of boats and rafts and whatever’s handy for a zombie to be hiding in. Duke and Martialla are between Lucien and Ela – who’re doing their best to keep the zombies back.

Ela blasts a water-logged zombie into a fine spray like chunky mustard being thrown into a box fan set on high “You know, I’m starting to think that maybe this whole zombie’s not liking water thing isn’t exactly true.  I may have been wrong about that.”

Lucien knocks a zombie back into the water with an oar “You don’t say?”

Ela is blasting and reloading as fast as she can “Well it looks like our water escape is turning out a tad more suicidal than how I planned, what now? I’m pretty much out of ideas.”

Duke ducks and pulls Martialla down with him as Lucien nearly knocks them off the dock with a backswing of his oar “We need to get to the WSBF channel fourteen television station, the channel fourteen eye in the sky – we can get away in the news copter.”

Martialla weakly kicks a zombie off the dock “Yeah, yeah, copter fourteen will save the day!  I like this plan.”

Lucien is trading off beweet swinging his oar and using it to hold himself up “Do we know how to fly a helicopter (untranslatable Canadian gibberish)?”

Martialla smiles “I do.”

Ela whirls around and points her shotgun in Martialla’s grill “No more of your Canadian trickery!”

Martialla looks her in the eye coolly “I can fly a helicopter.”

A zombie grabs Ela from behind but with a karate shout she flips it over her shoulder and blasts its skull to kingdom come. She whirls around, shooting and blowing another zombie back into his friends and knocking them into the water.  She goes to reload, but all that’s in her clown shirt is what the good lord gave her. Using the shotgun like a club she knocks the last standing zombie to the ground.

“Go! Go! Go!”

They don’t need to be told twice, let alone thrice.  Duke helps Martialla up and they dash as best they can off the dock back onto dry land.  A zombie pops out of a jet ski rental hut, but Duke uses Martialla like a battering ram to knock it down and run past. Lucien and Ela are holding off the zombies coming up from the end of the dock.

Lucien jerks his head over his shoulder “Go on, go, I’ll be right behind you!”

Martialla hurls her empty shotgun at the zombies and then runs after Duke and Martialla – stepping on the zombie they knocked down and pushing its face into the sand like in a hilarious slapstick comedy. Lucien is backing away towards the shore as he clubs away with the oar, but zombies are climbing up behind him too.  He backs into them, whirls around with a yell swinging wildly with the oar, breaking it in the process.  He tries to leap for the shore but with the weight of all the zombies in the water the dock comes apart right from under his feet and he falls into the water with a scream and a splash. Ela turns around as Lucien disappears under the water with zombies clutching at him.

Ela lifts her hand “(untranslatable Canadian gibberish) my friend (untranslatable Canadian gibberish).”

Duke sneers that’s not how you say “(untranslatable Canadian gibberish).”

One zombie comes lurching out of the water and Ela leaps on it with an animalistic howl – knocking it down with her foot-cooler and tearing it limb from limb with her bare hands as Martialla and Duke watch in disbelief.  Spattered with gore she leaves the twitching body parts behind and staggers up beside them.

Ela grabs Martialla by the face “Can you really fly a helicopter?” Martialla nods dumbly “Let’s go then.”

Ela Halloween Special #9

Lucien looks Ela full in the face “Okay, fair enough, let’s get out of here, but go where? (untranslatable Canadian gibberish) is dead and he was the pilot, there’s no point in going to the airport now is there?”

Ela shakes her head “None that I can figure.”

Martialla slams her fist into a nearby car “Son of a bitch!” She grabs Tina and shakes her “You had to get that chainsaw didn’t you?! You fucked us!  You killed the doctor! We’re screwed!”

Ela pushes her way between them and shoves them back “Cut it out! Beating Tina to death isn’t going to help us now! As much as she might deserve it.  So she killed the doctor, so what? It was his own fault – when someone says ‘heads up’ you’re not actually supposed to look up.  So Tina is a moron, we knew that coming in and you wouldn’t let me leave her behind so it’s just as much your fault as anyone’s.  Plus I bet that guy couldn’t even fly a plane.  He probably just said that because he was afraid we were going to ditch him.”

Tina sticks her tongue out childishly “Yeah, so there.”

Martialla shakes her head “Okay, so we AREN’T going to the airport, where ARE we going to go?”

Elvis raises his hand and they all turn to him “Uh, I have something to say.  I have to go to the bathroom.”

Ela gestures exasperatedly “So go then, thanks for sharing that important information.”

Elvis is horrified “Outside? Where anyone could see?  No, absolutely not, I will not go to the bathroom outside like an animal.” He shakes his head and adamantly and crosses his arms.  “Slap me all you want Ela, but I need a bathroom.”

You can imagine the argument that that touches off, but Elvis won’t budge – he needs to use the restroom and that’s that. Duke tries to play peace-maker.

“Can’t you just hold it?”

“I’ve been holding it for what seems like an hour already!”

Martialla points urgently “Zombies!”

Indeed there are zombies coming from both sides of the street.  Ela blasts away at the west-bound zombies with her shotgun, but she has to reload after every two shots and that gives them time to advance.  Lucien puts a whole clip from a 9 mil into the lead zombie on his side, every shot center of mass, but it keeps coming like the T-1000.  He pulls out a heavy revolver and puts six high caliber slugs into it, knocking it down and blowing pieces of it off but it, still keeps coming.  And there’s a whole bunch of its friends right behind it.  Lucien pulls out another pistol and finally stops the lead zombie with a shot through the nose, but the rest of them shamble closer.

Lucien yanks another pistol out and throws the bag behind him “These things are useless!  Why didn’t you get a bunch of shotguns Ela?!”

Ela is reloading again “They had a limited selection – don’t blame me!”

Tina and Martialla dive into the bag, grabbing guns to add to Lucien’s firepower, but even three of them combined blazing away with small arms can’t keep the zombies at bay.  Elvis promptly manages to shoot himself in the foot and as he’s hopping around howling Duke is trying to figure out how to work the revolver he picked up.

Lucien throws his empty pistol at the approaching hoard “We have to get out of here!”

With both sides of the street blocked they retreat into a Sam Goody – and they’re granted a momentary reprieve as the zombie hordes outside stop to snack on their fallen brothers.  Ela keeps a watch out the front as the rest of them explore the darkened store.

Martialla comes running back enthusiastically“I found a back way out!”

Elvis goes running off equally as excited “I found a bathroom!”

Duke is looking through the stacks of records “I found a rare Almond Brothers import album!”

Ela careful backs away from the window, keeping a sharp eye on the zombies feasting outside.  She sidles up next to Duke and without looking away, smacks him hard across the face. Duke has his fist clenched and half-way cocked to throw a punch.

 “You know one day someone’s going to get tired of your . . . omphfs!”

That as Ela rams the butt of her shotgun into his gut and drives the air out of him.

Once he’s able to speak again, Duke spits out “When we only had the axe, Ela had to have it and now that we only have one gun, who’s got it?  I’m starting to pick up on a pattern here.”

Lucien smacks him in the back of the head “Shut up.”

Ela nods “Thanks.”

Ela hops up on the front counter and starts to say something more, but she must have hit some switch or something, because suddenly music comes blaring over the store’s sound system, Avril Lavigne “Complicated”.  I remind you good reader that this tale takes place in 2002, a year before Avril committed suicide and was replaced by a look alike named Melissa.  Wake up, sheeple!  Ela spins and fires – the thunder of the shotgun deafening inside the store.  Everyone hits the deck, covering their heads.

Martialla leaps to her feet and looks around wildly “Did you get it ?! Did you get it ?!

Ela reloads “Get what? I hate that song, I hope Avril Lavinge kills herself soon.  What’s taking Elvis so long?”

Ela trots over and yanks the door to the employee bathroom open.  Tina lets out and anguished scream – Elvis is sitting on the toilet with his mouth hanging open and his tongue lolling out, a zombie in a Sam Goody shirt quietly slurping up his brains like pasta with red sauce.  The zombie doesn’t react in the least as Ela puts the tip of her shotgun under his chin and gives him both barrels.

Ela reloads and heads for the door “I guess Elvis has left the building.  Are you guys coming or what?”

Tina looks on, aghast, as Lucien and Martialla move to follow Ela “We can’t just leave him here! We can’t leave him for them to get to! We can’t . . .” She breaks off sobbing.

“Well we’re sure as hell not taking him with us. Carrying a dead body around zombie town is about a smart as jumping into a shark tank with bloody piece of meat around your neck. Honestly, some people have no sense.”

Lucien sounds mournful “[untranslatable Canadian gibberish]”

Ela heads out the back way, and after a moment Martialla, Lucien and Duke reluctantly follow after her – looking back at Elvis’s body sorrowfully.  Tina is left in there by herself, on her knees and grinding her fists into the carpet.  Eventually the zombies break in through the glass and come after her slowly as is the zombie’s way.  Crying her eyes out, she gets to her feet and runs after the rest of the group. The zombies don’t chase her, instead going to the easy meal in the bathroom.  When she catches up to the rest of them, she jogs up to Ela and grabs her by the arm.

“How could you do that? How could you leave him behind like that?”

Ela stiffly pulls her arm out of Tina’s grip “It was surprisingly easy.”

Tina rears back and rocks Ela with a punch, knocking her to the ground.  She starts to kick at Ela as well but a shotgun stuck in her face stops her cold.

“I will blow your face off!  Get back!  Elvis is dead, that’s a fact.  My job is to worry about the living.  I’m sorry I don’t have time to consider Tina’s feelings!  What does it matter what happens to his body after he’s dead?  All that means is it’s not my problem anymore!” Lucien helps Ela back to her foot and they continue on with Tina glaring at her. “The airport isn’t relevant anymore, that means we have to fall back on our original plan and escape by sea.  We head to the marina and then we’re going to get in a boat and leave this festering town behind. After that we’ll figure out what to do.”

Duke’s voice is muted and low “How much longer until sunrise?”

Lucien looks at his watch “I’d say about three or four hours, maybe five.”

Ela sighs “Great, looks like I picked the wrong day to give up injecting liquid ecstasy into my lady parts.”

Ela Halloween Special #8

Leaving the zombie in-line hockey zombies behind them, slipping and sliding in vain on a field of marbles, our trepid heroes troop off once more into the dark, cold, zombie-infested night.  Martialla, being one of the only fully ambulatory members of the group remaining, heads out alone to scout.  When she returns, Ela nearly takes her head off with a mighty swing of the axe.  Martialla manages to fall/duck out of the way and looks up at her with eyes wide.  Ela missed, but the side of her head is slick with blood nevertheless.

“Watch what you’re doing Ela, you almost lopped my head off by accident!”

Ela raises an eyebrow “Yes, sure, accident.”

Duke helps Martialla back to her feet “Just a suggestion, it may not be the best idea to sneak up on a group of heavily armed people in fear for their lives and on edge.  Fun, but not a good idea.”

Martialla slaps him on the back companionably “What do you think scouting is, other than sneaking around?”

The doctor looks around nervously, eyes wide like a scared colt “So what’s the lay of the land?”

Ela snorts “We’re relying on Martialla as our scout now? Someone just go head and shoot me now.”

Martialla smiles “It’s funny you should say that because around this very corner here happens to be a sporting goods store.  And a sporting goods store, aside from delightful balls of all sorts and sizes, jock straps to fit any man, and nutcups for all ages, is also going to have guns. That’s the good news.”

“What’s the bad news?”

Martialla nods her head in the direction she came “There’s a whole mess of zombie boy scouts around the corner waiting for us.  I tried to make a deal with the scout master, open up a dialog and reach an agreement beneficial to both sides, but he bit my ear off and at that point negotiations broke down.  I believe the same thing happened at Camp David back in seventy-nine.  I guess it’s kind of cool though, because now I’m like Picasso.  Or was that Raphael?”

Duke frowns “The ninja turtles? I didn’t even know turtles had ears.”

“They don’t after they cut them off.”

Ela gives them both a smack “Shut up about the ninja turtles.”

Elvis nods as if talking to himself “Now that we know they’re there, we can just go around them, go another way.”

Ela peeks around the corner for a second “We need to get in that store and get those guns.  Fighting zombies hand to hand, fun though it may be, is dangerous.  Sooner or later it’s going to get someone killed.” She looks at Duke “Someone important I mean.” She waves her foot-cooler at them “Look what trouble it’s already gotten us into. If we have the guns, we can blast our way through to the airport and get out of this zombie-infested stinkhole.”

Lucien grimaces, trying to hide his pain “So what’s the plan?”

“There’s about twenty or so of them altogether, sitting in the middle of the street so what we do is . . .”

Martialla is limbering up for the fight “I think they were sewing on their patches for flesh eating. Or merit badges.  Do boy scouts have patches or badges?  What is the difference between a badge and a patch anyway?”

Ela swats her “Shut up Martialla, even your recipe for mojitos is too sugary and everyone knows it!  Anyway, here’s what we’re going to do . . .”

Tina adjusts her very tattered and dirty dress “Don’t worry about it Ela, I’ll handle this one. Won’t take me longer than two shakes of a grasshopper’s leg.”  She fires up her chainsaw with a yank and a roar.

“No, god damn it!  Listen to me, this is a very intricate plan, we have to follow my instructions down to the smallest detail with split-second timing, otherwise . . .”

Tina revs the chainsaw “Sorry babycakes, I can’t hear you over the sound of me being awesome.”

Tina tears off around the corner waving the chainsaw over her head and shouting strange war-cries.

“It’s chainsaw time, you zombie mother fuckers!  Tina is going to chainsaw you up Texas style! Step right up, come one come all!”

The first zombie slurches forward at her, eager to feed and Tina swings the chainsaw viciously at it in a whirling motion – really putting her hips into it.  And, as we know, the hips don’t lie.  The deadly flashing blade strikes home, sending a disgusting rotten shower of gristle and bone and unrecognizable squishiness flying everywhere.

Tina raises her hands to the sky and mimes roaring fan noise “And the crowd goes wild! T-Na!  T-Na!  T-Na!  It’s just like Army of Darkness, hail to the king baby!  Er, I mean queen.”

Of course one second after that, the rest of the zombie boy scout horde bum rushes her from behind and she’s buried under a landslide of flapping zombie arms and legs as well as viciously snapping zombie teeth. As she goes down, the chainsaw flies out of her hands and tumbles end-over-end through the air.

“Heads up!”

Everyone in the gang scatters as the whirling chainsaw starts to come down.  Everyone that is except the good doctor, who stands like a deer in the headlights clutching his bag of medical supplies. He looks up in horror as the chainsaw comes down directly at him – the nasty end first.  The rest of the group turns away at the last second.  They don’t dare to look until the horrible grinding sound has stopped and blood has quit splattering on their backs. The poor doctor is no more, alas we hardly knew he. They stand staring at what’s left of him until Ela’s urgent shouting brings them back around. She sprints for the sporting goods store – as well as a one-footed woman can sprint anyway – and everyone else runs to try and save Tina.  They start pulling zombies off and throwing them aside, but soon they’re all in trouble – back to back surrounded by the zombie boy scouts with only their axe and sledgehammer and rakes keeping them at bay.

Martialla’s head is whipping around “Where the hell is Ela?! Some leader, she ran off and left us all to die!”

Duke has tears running down his face “Martialla, since we’re going to die I want you to know that I love you. Well, not love really I guess, but I could see us going out.  Not long term, but like a couple times. Well maybe not going out exactly, but if I got drunk and ended up in bed with someone I’d want it to be you. I mean if someone else who was better wasn’t around.  You have such a great ass . . . or you did before you got fat anyway.”

Martialla sniffs “That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”

Lucien covers his face with his hand for a second, shaking his head and saying something in Canadian.

Duke looks over “What did he say?”

“It doesn’t translate to English exactly, but something about how he can’t believe he’s going to die with morons surrounding him.”

That’s what it looks like is going to happen, the zombies surge forward for the kill, but across the street Ela comes sauntering out of the sporting goods store, as well as a woman with one foot can saunter anyway.  She’s got a heavily laden gym bag hung around her neck. Gone is her trusty axe but she’s replaced it with a pump-action shotgun.  She has a double-barreled shotgun in her other hand with the cooler and she has a whole bunch of shells stuffed in the front of her bloody clown shirt. She advances with the pump-action, blowing zombies away until she runs out of ammo – then discarding it and taking up the double-barreled number. Luckily enough at that point, there are just two zombies left – one for each barrel.  Setting the cooler down, she puts her charred stump on it and pops open the shotgun, expelling the spent cartridges.

“God made some people big and some people small.  And guns made them all the same size.”

Elvis is staring at her lumpy shirt laden with shotgun shells “Wow, Ela you should really have yourself checked out because that does not look healthy.  When’s the last time you did a self-breast exam?  Next time you’re in the shower here’s what I want you to do . . .”

Ela smacks him as she reaches into her shirt and re-loads “Shut up! Who here knows how to use a gun?”

Martialla raises her hand “I do, I was in the army.” She gestures “So was Lucien.”

Ela laughs “The Canadian Army?  Do they even have guns?  I think they just tickle their enemies with maple leafs.  Does anyone here actually know how to use a gun? It’s not too complicated, just point at what you want to make dead and then pull the trigger.”

Lucien frown “It’s actually a little more complicated than that [untranslatable Canadian gibberish].”

Ela shakes her head and tosses the bag to Lucien “No, it isn’t.”

Elvis reaches for the bag “Hey, why does he get all the guns?”

Duke also moves that way “Yeah, I want to shoot stuff, too.”

Ela slaps them both down “Lucien gets all the guns because I trust him not to freak out and shoot me in the back at every little noise.  You and Elvis are too jumpy to trust with guns, I’d give a chimp a gun before I gave you one.” She snaps the shotgun shut “Now let’s get out of here, it’s past my bedtime.”

Other stuff post – #1 With a Bullet

I remember turning on the TV and seeing my dad fighting King Bullet.  It’s probably stupid to start by saying that I remember the most influential moment of my life, but I’m not sure how to start this.

That was the first and only time I ever saw my dad on TV.  He wasn’t on the national news often like Omega or Bluebird, but in the Midwest he was on the news all the time.  My mom never let me watch it.  She always turned off the TV or changed the channel.  I knew my dad was a superhero but that was the first time I ever saw him in action.

The only reason I saw it then is because my mom was on the phone.  Back then a phone was a thing that you had on the wall of your kitchen.  It had a curly cord that was like a little slinky covered in plastic.  I used to spend time fixing the cord after my sisters got it all tangled up.  I liked straightening it out. 

Point is that she was in the kitchen when I turned on the TV.  I almost changed the channel right away because I wanted to watch GI Joe, but then I realized that was my dad flying around above a big bridge.  I had seen his white and gold super-suit in the house before but never saw him wearing it until then. 

I wish that I had felt proud or excited about seeing my dad doing superhero stuff but I was just confused.  I couldn’t reconcile seeing my dad like that.  He was just a guy who could never start the grill and always bought the wrong thing at the grocery.   I don’t think kids can handle seeing their parents out of context.  I wonder if kids with parents who are pro athletes or famous actors have the same thing at first.  It probably takes a while to get used to.

It wasn’t even thirty seconds after I turned it on that he fell out of the sky.  At that point I had no idea that he was dead.  I think most kids, even if they kinda understand death at that age, can’t imagine their parents being vulnerable to anything.  And then throw in your dad being a literal superman on top of that?  There’s no way you can really understand what’s happened. 

Despite that, I was worried about what I saw so I ran in and told my mom that dad was on TV.  I don’t think she really heard me at first.  She gave me the “don’t bother me while I’m on the phone” look but I said that that dad was on TV and he fell into the water.  The look on her face scared me more than I’ve ever been scared before or since in my life. 

Seeing my mom so scared made me feel like the entire world was going to end or something.  I tried to grab onto her leg but she kind of shoved me off and ran into the living room.  I used to tell people that she picked me up and ran in with me because when I said that she pushed me, people would look at me like my mom was a monster.  But that’s not the truth.

My mom is the kindest nicest person ever.  People have said that if she did that, she must have been abusive.  If you judge her for that one moment of panic and fear, you’re wrong.  You weren’t there.  You don’t know what it was like.  You can’t say that. 

When I came in, she was on her knees in front of the TV switching the channel back and forth.  This was before TVs had remote controls, you had to change the channel on the actual TV with a knob.  After a little while she started to cry.  Not sobbing or anything like that, but tears streaking down her face.  I know this is a weird thing to think/remember, but what really struck me is how ugly it made her look.  Up until then, she had been the prettiest women in the world.  In that moment, it was like she had turned into a witch or a monster.  That scared me pretty good too.

She told me to go to my room and when I did, she shut the door behind me, which she never did.  She always wanted to be able to see me, make sure I was okay.  I hunched over by the door and listened for a while but eventually I started reading some of my books.  I was still freaked out, but I went about my little kid business.  It’s hard to explain what it felt like.  Maybe because I didn’t understand what I was feeling at the time. 

I remember that my aunt (my dad’s sister) and a neighbor came over with their kids and we were playing in the backyard while they talked in the living room.  I knew that something was on, but I felt like it was grown up stuff.  One of my cousins asked me what was going on and I said that I thought maybe my dad was in trouble.  But that was the extent of it.

The strangest thing of all to me at that time is when my mom left and my aunt stayed over with me.  I had stayed at her house before, but it was very weird to me that she was there in my house without my mom or dad.  She took me to MacDonald’s for dinner which wasn’t right either.  I told her that we only had that after church on Sunday.  She said that it was okay, but that really upset me. 

The next day, my mom told me that I wouldn’t see dad anymore because he had died.  She really tried and I think she said all the right things, whatever that means, but I still didn’t really understand. For a long time after, I expected him to come home.  I think I was ten before I really got it.  And even then there was a part of me that still thought he was out there somewhere.

I talked to a couple different child therapists over those years, but it never helped.  I don’t blame them, I doubt there’s much anyone can do, but talking to these strangers about how my dad was never coming home just made me more confused. 

I was 12 when I did what any good red-blooded American kid would do, I swore that I would grow up and become a superhero myself and I’d get revenge on King Bullet for killing my dad.  When I told people that, some of them said that superheroes don’t kill people.  I asked them, what about Skull Malone?  Or Crosswire?  Or Red Skurge?  They killed bad guys all the time.

I become a connoisseur of those who killed the killers.  They didn’t get talked about on TV as much, but there were magazines all about the heroes that killed.  I knew I couldn’t have them in the house but I’d buy them at the drug store, read them, and then throw them away before I got home.  People said those men weren’t heroes, they were vigilantes.  Fine by me, I’d be a vigilante then.  And King Bullet would pay for what he did.

In my memory, I didn’t see my mom much after that.  I know that’s wrong, I know that she still spent a lot of time with me, but I can’t help but remember it the other way.  Even though I was only with my aunt or a neighbor a few nights a week, in my mind it was most of the time.  Memory is funny like that.  I felt abandoned so that’s what I remember even though it wasn’t strictly true.

In HS, I was writing a paper about my dad and I asked my mom who she was on the phone with that day and she got very upset.  I didn’t get it at the time, but she felt guilty for not protecting me.  Part of the reason it didn’t feel like she was always there when she was, is because she had her own problems.  And I was a real asshole to her.  I guess you can’t help that when you’re a kid.   

I know more than one summer, I went to live with my cousins in Idaho because she was in rehab.  The really sad thing is when she finally did get herself straight for real and tried to reconnect with me, I was an angry teenage douchebag and I pushed her away.  We barely had any kind of relationship for several years.  All my doing.

Most kids grow out of the revenge thing, or at least sublimate it into some other kind of self-destructive behavior, but I didn’t.  I didn’t have powers like my dad, but I figured that was okay because there are plenty of heroes without powers.  The Archer.  Wraith.  Ultraweapon and Nighthawk don’t have any powers and they’re founding members of the freaking Sentinels!

I actually did become pretty good with a bow, but where the hell do you get exploding arrows?  Let alone arrows that turn into a giant net or release sleeping gas.  Plus, as I found out, even a hunting bow isn’t durable enough to be running around getting into fights with.  That’s just not what they’re made for.  Go figure, right?

I tried bodybuilding and training in martial arts but it became clear pretty quickly I was never going to be able to forge myself into a living weapon.  It helped me realize that when a kid from my gym got beaten so badly trying to be a vigilante himself that he never walked without aid again.  There’s a reason there’s only a few people like Wraith out there. 

I read somewhere that being rich is the best superpower and I came to the bitter understanding that that’s true.  Whoever Nighthawk is in real life, he has to be rich as hell to afford to design and build all those gadgets.  And Ultraweapon runs a Fortune 500 company.  Unless I won the lottery, I wasn’t going to be a tech-hero either.

Someone asked me why I never just loaded up on guns and threw on a flak vest like Skull Malone or all those other killers I was once so eager to read about.  Honestly, it never occurred to me.  I think deep down in my soul, I knew that my dad wouldn’t approve of that, that they weren’t real heroes so I shouldn’t be like them.  Strange but true. 

Not that the path I did go down was any more heroic. 

After Ace and the Four Kings were brought down, other villains kept popping up who had some (usually less effective) version of the Megatron Serum that Ace had invented (or stolen depending on who you believe).  If anyone knows why a highly addictive super-steroid is named after the leader of the Deceptions, let me know.  I figured that was my path to super-powers.

After HS (I did graduate despite what Wikipedia says) I made it my mission to get my hands on some “meg”.  A 19 year-old kid from the suburbs looking for some illegal super drugs?  That went about as well as you can imagine. 

The first time I got a hold of what I was told was a version of meg “only better,” all it did was make me crap my pants and give me awful night terrors for three weeks.  Which is luckier than most kids like me.  A lot of people died trying to do exactly what I was doing. 

Much has been written and said about how searching for super-drugs led to my own issues with substance abuse, but that’s not right.  I was angry and depressed and looking for an escape.  The two things have nothing to do with each other.

I spent the next several years doing fuck-all other than getting high and mooching off everyone I knew.  I got a lot of mileage out of the “poor me, my dad died” act.  I got a lot of people to give me a lot of money.  I feel sick about it now.  Hell, I felt sick about it then, but I still did it. 

I still talked loudly and longly about how I was going to get my revenge on King Bullet to anyone who would listen, but it was all just talk.  I wasn’t going to do shit other than party and then feel bad about it.  The funny thing about it is when I sobered up, things actually got much worse. 

Getting clean gave me the motivation and clarity I needed to actually make progress.  If you want illegal stuff, you need to make contacts with criminals.  I knew plenty of dealers after all, and some of them I hadn’t ripped off.  I may not be Wraith or Nighthawk but I knew enough about the practical applications of violence to be useful.  More than anything, what you need is the willingness to do violence.  People would be surprised how many folks involved in the drug trade don’t have the stomach for that. 

In honesty though, I rarely had to actually mix it up with anyone.  Just standing there and looking tough is usually enough to prevent any issues, most criminals aren’t looking for a fight, they’re looking for an easy mark.  Just having some back-up makes a world of difference. 

The final irony of all of this is that I’m 90% sure I had a line on some legit meg when I heard that King Bullet was dead, killed in that mess in Cincinnati. 

It wasn’t like a weight being lifted off my shoulders.  It was more like an itch that you can’t help scratching suddenly being gone.   For a while you keep scratching that spot anyway because that’s what you’ve always done, but ultimately what’s the point?  The itch is gone.

I was very afraid that I would fall back into my old bad habits, but I was able to work around that.  I got a real job.  I talked to my mom and my sisters for the first time in years.  What really helped me is meeting my nieces.  It’s a total cliché but it made me feel hope for the future. 

It would be nice if you could just turn a corner and then everything would be fine after that, but it doesn’t happen.  Your problems and issues are still there, under the surface, and you have to figure out every day how to keep moving forward.  As someone said in group once, there’s no solution to life, every day is a new challenge.  It’s easy to roll your eyes at someone who says that they’re a work in progress, but we all are really.

Sometimes I feel like my life has passed me by, that I’ve wasted all my time and it’s too late for me to do anything.  But I’m not that old.  There’s still time.  It’s never too late to do some good in the world. 

Ela Halloween Special #7

Elvis and Tina move to apply their poor first aid skills to the injured party members but just then a cabinet bursts open and a form comes flying out at them.  With a shout, Duke turns and hurls one of the last flaming missiles they have at the wildly failing blur, but Martialla’s hand – quick as a striking Canadian snake – snatches it out of the air.  She yanks out the “wick” as the attacker is revealed to be a screaming man.  Martialla puts her hand out and knocks him down with a stiff arm.  Rather than a ravenous ravenous zombie (the hit sequel to hungry hungry hippos) we’re dealing with a short balding man with a trim salt and pepper beard and glasses in a white coat.  He cowers on the ground and covers his head like in those old duck and cover videos from school.  Which would totally protect you from lava.

“Don’t eat me! Don’t eat me!”

Tina kicks him in the hip awkwardly, hurting her own foot and hopping “Christ! Don’t do that! You nearly gave me a heart attack!  We’ve got enough problems without you jumping out at us, asshole!”

The doctor fearfully peeks around his fingers like a kid watching a horror movie “You’re alive?”

Ela manages to sit up and looks down at him “For the time being.  Thanks to me.”

And then there are seven.  And Dr. Jablonski is a highly valuable edition too, being an ER doctor. He’s able to patch them up well as can be, given the situation, and even better he’s able to shoot them full of all kinds of happy things that make the pain go away.  By the time he’s almost done working, Elvis and Tina are clowning around with the x-ray machine as he’s working on Duke’s arm, shoulder, and ass.  He even packs Ela’s foot in a special organ transplant cooler so that if they get out of there and find a working hospital, there’s a chance that it can be re-attached.  They set out from Stirling Memorial in high spirits (you know, for a zombie death march) but they’re down to their last few cocktails and they have to use them to get clear – the zombies don’t seem to mind the fire sprinklers at all.  Once they get outside they’re weaponless again, aside from the axe and a baseball bat – both of which Ela insists that she carries.

Martialla sputters and points at her footless leg “But, but, you, your . . .”

Ela slaps her sharply “Shut up Martialla, everyone knows about your tilted uterus! I feel fine now, better than fine, I feel great!  And even with one foot off, I’m a better fighter than any of you are.”  She sets the axe down emphatically and leans on it.  “Now, which way do we go from here?”

Tina points north “What about the airport?”

Ela out of reflex starts to slap her and tell her to shut up, but she pulls up and bites her lip “Wait a minute, what did you say?”

“Ponce DeLeon airport is just a few blocks from here.”

Elvis’s voice crackles with hope “Can anyone fly a plane?”

The good doctor raises his hand timidly “I can fly a small prop plane, I don’t have my license yet but I’ve logged a hundred hours or so.”

Tina is so happy she kisses him, much to his startlement.  That’s a word right?  That’s the good news, the bad news is that getting even a few blocks in a zombie-infested hellhole is easier said than done. They try several different roundabout ways to get to the airfields, but they find that there are zombies everywhere – and they’re all hungry. The crew is too weapon-poor and injured-rich to fight their way through, so their only chance is to displace and fallback and try to get there from a different angle. They cut through the Dobb’s Animal Park (ignoring Ela’s screaming about zombie goats) but find their way blocked again.  They’re about to turn back again when Martialla spots something.

Martialla grabs Ela’s shoulder and points “Hey, wait a minute. Check that out.”

“A toy store? What do we want with a fucking toy store?”

“There could be something useful in there, I’m going to check it out.”

Ela snorts “Fine, we’re leaving, I wish I could say that you’ll be missed.  Send us a postcard when you get to hell, okay?”

Duke points the other way across the street “But look over there, True Value hardware, I bet there’s something good in there.  You guys go check that out while Martialla and I go to the toy store.”

Lucien frowns “Why do you want to go to the toy store?”

Duke shrugs “Toy stores are fun.”

Ela covers her face with her hand “Jesus Christ, I’d rather lose both my feet than listen to this crap.”

Despite her annoyance, they split up and go their separate ways.  At the hardware store, Ela, Lucien, Elvis, Tina, and the good doctor add a sledgehammer, a few spades, and a second axe to their arsenal.  As they’re distributing the haul, Tina comes up from behind the counter with a Cheshire-cat like smile on her face.

They all turn to look and she lifts up a chainsaw “I just hit the jackpot! Oh yeah baby yeah!”

Ela slaps her across the face viciously “Put that down before you kill yourself, or even worse someone who matters! A chainsaw is a tool, it isn’t a weapon. Leave it behind!  I command you!”

Tina laughs “You stupid fool, a chainsaw isn’t a weapon? Haven’t you ever heard of a little movie called Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers? Or of a fellow by the name of Leatherface?”

Lucien is deep in thought “Were you in Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Ela?”

Ela slaps him and then wheels around to slap Tina again, even harder “No chainsaw! It’s not useful as a weapon, it’s too unwieldy! A chainsaw is not a sword, you can’t swing it at someone and expect that to do anything! Besides, you need fuel for it, jackass!  Come on, let’s go! Leave that thing behind, Tina, or I swear I will bite your nips off.  I mean it!”

Tina looks downtrodden for a second and starts to put the chainsaw down, but then she stops and puts it on the counter instead. She takes a bottle of gasoline she had hidden in her dress somehow (Victoria’s Secret Pocket?) and takes the handkerchief out of it.  With a sublime grin she takes the cap off the chainsaw and pours in the gas.  She carefully screws the cap back on and sneaks out after the rest of the crew – trying to hide the chainsaw behind her back and failing miserably.  Meanwhile across the street in the toy store, Martialla is grabbing all manner of things as Duke is jumping on a pogo-stick and trying to dribble a basketball at the same time.

“Blarrrrrghh!”

That’s the noise you might make if a zombie jumped out of one of those big cages for rubber balls and tackled you off your pogo stick – intent on chowing down on your liver like it was a corndog.  Which it might be, who really knows what’s inside a corndog?

Duke desperately shoves the snapping mouth part away from his own face “Martialla, help! Help!”

Martialla comes to the rescue with a ball bat – splattering the zombie’s head all over Duke’s upper body. Duke takes a moment to comment on how funky he feels (Ghostbusters) as Martialla helps him up. They hop on a Razor scooter together and whiz off to meet up with the rest of their friends. When they do, Ela sticks out her foot (the one still attached to her body) and sends them flying head over heels as the scooter comes to an abrupt halt.

“God damn it, this is serious!”

Martialla lays on her stomach, trying to get her wind back “That’s much faster than walking, we should all get them.”

Duke is holding his knee and wincing “And it’s not stupid, that’s a Razor scooter!”

Ela hacks the scooter to bits with her axe “Oh yeah? Well now it’s garbage!  While you idiots were playing grabass at a toy store, we were getting real weapons! Here, take these!” She tosses a spade and the second axe at them.

The doctor whispers to Elvis “Is she always like that?”

Elvis shakes her head “Nah not always, sometimes she can be a real bitch.”

Lucien cocks his head “What’s that noise?”

Duke looks around “I hear it too, what is that?”

It’s a weird combination of a whish-whoosh sound with a rolling kind of sound. They all stand still and listen in confusion and wonder for a moment, but soon enough the mystery of the mysterious sound is revealed to them. The entire DeLeon High School in-line hockey team comes skating around the corner and whirls to a synchronized stop on a dime – pounding their hockey sticks on the ground and dislodging little bits and pieces of gristle and blood onto the pavement.

Martialla gasps “What in the unholy crimson heck is that?!”

Ela hefts her axe “Zombie roller hockey players from hell!  Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit inhaling the fumes from burning brake fluid.”

Zombies on roller blades might sound amusing in theory, but YOU’RE not the one across the street from the putrid animated bodies of the De Leon High School Explorers inline hockey team – staring with their vacant white eyes and seeing their eternal and ungodly hunger for the still-quivering flesh of the living reflected back at you. Martialla, Ela, Duke, Tina, Lucien, Elvis , and some doctor guy are – and they don’t think it’s funny at all.  Okay, okay, full disclosure they DO think it’s a little funny, but chalk that up to stress and exhaustion and the giddiness brought on by several hours’ worth of soul-wrenching terror. Elvis and the doctor have shrunk to the back of the group fearfully as the rest clutch their weapons and wait for the inevitable onslaught – Ela at the fore with her fire axe in one hand and the cooler containing her severed foot in the other. The Explorers, little bits of skin and fat hanging out of their torn and bloody uniforms, are skating around in a classic double figure-eight pattern knocking around a severed head with their hockey sticks.

Ela whispers to herself “What are they waiting for? Why don’t they attack?”

Duke glances around “Maybe they’re waiting for reinforcements or something, are zombies that smart?  Do they plan?   We should attack them before they get here!”

Martialla shakes her head “Wait a minute, who cares why they’re not attacking us, why aren’t WE running away from THEM?”

Everyone looks around at each other for a second and then they take off running, at which point the Explorers finally break formation and start skating after their prey.

The doctor looks back fearfully “They’re gaining on us!”

Ela takes a quick look back “How is that possible?! They’re zombies for the love of god! How can they be gaining on us?  How can they even use skates?  They should be falling down, not catching up to us!”

Just then the lead zombie – whose helmet is cracked and has some brains spilling out – takes a picture perfect Happy Gilmore style slapshot, sending the severed head flying and hitting Martialla in the back of the legs, knocking her down and sending her domino-tumbling into Elvis and Duke, knocking them down as well.

Ela waves her axe “Quick, form a circle so they can’t get at anyone from behind!”

They start to raggedly and uninspiredly spring into action to circle the wagons, but Martialla gets to her feet, dusts herself off, and gestures for them to be still.  She straightens out her bloody Sueno Beach Video Rental shirt reminding us to “Be Kind, Rewind”, words that everyone should remember in these trying modern times.  She reaches into her pockets with a steely look of determination on her face.

Martialla stares down the skating hellions as they hurtle towards them “No need, I’ll take care of this, leave them to me.”

Martialla flicks her hands out in front of her like a magician revealing an empty box where his spangly leotarded assistant once was and sends a barrage of brightly colored marbles flying out of her pockets onto the street in front of the zombie hockey players intent on dismembering and devouring them. Ever try to skate over marbles?  Take it from me, sweet reader, it doesn’t work, as these zombies quickly find out to their dismay.  They fall like drunk penguins – or actually more like zombie hockey players tripping on marbles – and hit the ground hard.  Martialla laughs and pumps a Tiger Woods-esque fist pump in victory.

She raises her arms “Score – Martialla ten, zombies zero!”  She turns to gloat at Ela “See? See? I told you the toy store would be a good idea, but noooo – you can’t listen to anyone else, can you? You’re the big badass leader and you don’t listen to anyone, huh?  Well who was right, Ela? That’s right baby, I was! Me, Martialla.  Martialla was right and youuuuu were. . . YEAAAAAAAAH!”

That’s the noise you might make if a zombie roller hockey player had crawled close enough to grab you from behind by the ankles as you were gloating.  Ela leaps into action, knocking Martialla out of the way with a cooler to the face and then hacking off the zombie’s hands at the wrist. Martialla scrambles back and quickly pries the still grasping hands off her legs, throwing them away with a shudder. Ela looks down at her coolly as the rest of the zombies are still flailing about in the field of marbles and raises an eyebrow.

“Can we go now or did you have more to say?”

Ela Halloween Special #6

On the north side of the street, inside Mickey’s Irish Pub, Duke is pouring out bottles of high proof booze and setting them on a table beside him.  Tina, on the other hand, is sitting on the floor drinking a bottle of overproofed rum as fast as she can, or faster than she can rather since she’s spilling a goodly amount down the front of her Nicole Miller.

Duke frowns down at her and then dumps one of the bottles on Tina’s head “What are you doing?!”

Tina takes the bottle away from her mouth “Martialla told us to empty the bottles out . . .” she pauses to belch soggily “. . . that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Duke smacks her on the top of the head as she starts to drink again “Dump them out, Tina! Dump them out, don’t drink them! Martialla didn’t send us over here to get hammered, she sent us over here to . . . well I don’t actually know why she sent us over here but, YAAAAAAAAAAH!”

That’s the noise you make when a zombie comes bursting out of the bathroom, slips on a pool of sticky warm beer on the floor and as it falls latches its teeth onto your backside like a donkey eating a waffle. Duke screams and flails his arms wildly, staggering around and dragging the zombie behind him like some massive rotting tail.

Tina points and laughs hysterically “The zombie bit your bottom!”

In his wild scrambling about, Duke smashes into tables and chairs, shaking his hips around violently like a cracked out Shakira (the hips don’t lie) but that zombie won’t come loose – it’s attached to Duke’s muscular buttocks like a barnacle to the hull of a ship.  Duke leaps over the bar and finally the zombie comes free – slamming into the bar and tearing off a good chunk of prime rump roast for itself in the process. Tina is laughing so hard she falls over.  Duke comes up from behind the bar with a baseball bat in hand and a look of savage fury on his face. The zombie slowly gets up and Duke swings for the fences – knocking the zombie’s head off clean as a whistle. Duke awkwardly rolls back over the bar and continues to angrily pound on the lifeless torso screaming at it incoherently.

He spins to face the still giggling Tina “What are you laughing at?!”

Duke goes after Tina with the bat, who takes off running, laughing all the way. Meanwhile, on the other side of the street, Elvis is nervously filling up gas cans at Pete’s Pump and Pay – his eyes darting back and forth and jumping at every little sound. He almost jumps out of his skin as the door bangs open and Martialla comes walking out of the store with an armload of lighters and handkerchiefs. She’s also got a piece of beef jerky in her mouth and she’s singing softly to herself in Canadian. As she nears Elvis, she spits out the jerked meat, making a face.

“How can you Americans eat crap like this?  It doesn’t even taste like food.” She drops her armload of stuff in Elvis’s lap.  “Here, you carry this stuff, I’ll get the [untranslatable Canadian gibberish].”

Elvis starts to say something but instead screeches and clutches onto Martialla’s leg when he sees a zombie slowly shuffling their way from around the corner of the store. Martialla picks up the pump handle that Elvis dropped to the ground and carefully douses the approaching zombie with unleaded ultra plus gasoline. She drops the nozzle and takes one of the lighters, flicking it on and smiling.

“[untranslatable Canadian gibberish]”

With that dry cool witticism she tosses the lighter onto the zombie and she and Elvis grab their stuff and book. The zombie lights up like a Christmas tree, you know the old kind with candles, still coming after them a few steps before it disintegrates into a flaming mass of lifeless goo.  Martialla and Elvis get back to Ela and Lucien just as Tina and Duke are running from the other way with their arms full of empty bottles – and one full one. Lucien and Ela don’t notice them coming right away because they’re engrossed in singing a wildly off-key duet.

Ela is really belting out “I’m just mad about Saffron.”

Lucien is no less enthusiastic “Saffron’s mad about me.’

“They call me Mello Yellow!”

“Quite right!”

Ela suddenly cuts herself short when she sees the others returning and digs her elbow into Lucien back to shut him up “I told you to stop singing that stupid song – we need to be on the look out here!  How’d you guys make out?”

Martialla looks horrified “[untranslatable Canadian gibberish]! This is not the time for making out!”

Ela frowns “What? No, I meant . . . just forget about it.  What’s the plan?”

The plan is simple enough, and you’ve probably already guessed it yourself being the smart and attractive reader that you are.  They start moving again, slowly and cautiously, filling the empty liquor bottles with gasoline along the way, stuffing the handkerchiefs in the necks of said bottles and distributing them to everyone along with lighters.  They also wolf down a few Twinkies and whatnot that Martialla picked up for a quick burst of sugar energy.

Martialla is waving the full bottle around “I told you to empty them all out, can’t you do anything right?”

Tina snatches the bottle away from her and takes a drink “This one we can empty on the way.”

She drinks again and hands the bottle to Elvis who accepts it gratefully “God knows I could use a drink right now.”

They manage to avoid any major concentrations of zombies as they skulk through the streets, saving their home-made grenades for when they really need them. They can tell they’re getting close to the hospital when they start seeing half-eaten corpses with lab coats and medical scrubs in the streets.  Even closer still and they begin to see people in hospital gowns, some with IVs still trailing behind them, having been run down and devoured partially as they tried to flee.  Stirling Memorial Hospital itself has a jumble of ambulances out front with slaughtered EMTs and emergency patients lying in and around them.  As they arrive, a nurse on the roof is being pursued by a six-pack of zombies and runs out of roof.  As they close in, he leaps to his death rather than be eaten alive.  The place is crawling with zombies – you can see them in every window and door – some chasing still-living victims, others enjoying their grisly feast.

Ela limps along with Martialla holding her up “See? What did I tell you, this place is zombie central.”

Martialla tries to shift Ela away from crushing her neck “Maybe so, but this is the first time we’ve seen anyone else alive.  Doesn’t look like that’s going to last for long, we better get in there and save them.”

Ela snorts “Save them? We’re not here to save anyone other than ourselves, we’re here to get fixed up as fast as possible – get in, get out like robbing a bank. If we happen to save anyone along the way, fine, but we don’t even know if these things are going to work.”

Tina lights one of her improvised fireball devices and hurls it at a group of zombies hunched over ravenously devouring a man with a cast on his arm.  It explodes brightly and incinerates the horrid creatures in seconds.

Martialla tips her head “Now we know.”

Tina grins as she lights another “Cocktails anyone?”

Armed with the flaming power of fire like our primitive ancestors, they head in to the hospital. Our injured friends Ela, Duke, and Lucien try to stay in the middle of the huddle for what little protection that may offer. The Moltov (or is it Molotov?) cocktails work better than they ever dreamed.  In short order Stirling Memorial Hospital is transformed into a veritable zombie barbecue. And what’s better, the sprinklers come on quickly and put out any fires before they set the whole building ablaze, good job, city building code people!  Slaughtering zombies by the gurney-load, they reach the emergency room.  Martialla takes up a guard position at the door as Elvis and Tina do what they can for the injured parties.  Which isn’t much, if we’re being honest.  And I feel that we are.

Ela waves her severed foot in Elvis’s face, spattering blood everywhere “Come on man, just sew it back on already!”

Elvis tries to push it away weakly “Get that thing out of my face!  Do you have any idea how complicated a procedure it is to reattach a foot? That’s major surgery, Ela, it takes hours and hours!  I barely even know first aid!”

Tina comes with a scalpel in hand “I’ll take a whack at it.”

Elvis steps between Ela and Tina “No you won’t.  No one’s going to do it.  None of us are surgeons, trying to just sew her foot back on is only going make things worse for Ela.  What we have to do is stop the bleeding.  Beyond that?” He shrugs helplessly.

Martialla looks back anxiously “Whatever you’re going to do, do it! I can hear them coming.”

Ela takes the handkerchief out of one of the bottles and dumps the high proof booze on her foot-stump “Don’t be ridiculous Martialla, they aren’t coming, the sprinklers drove away any that we didn’t fry. Zombies hate water, why can’t you people get that through your thick skulls, damn it?!”

Spittle flies from Duke’s mouth as he shouts “Stop saying that! You don’t know that!”

Ela winks “Bite me.”

With that, Ela takes her lighter and delicately touches it to her bloody rum-soaked stump like the light kiss of a gossamer moth.  Flames leap up and she wails like a banshee which freaks everyone else out pretty good.  Mostly they scream and run around like chickens with their heads cut off (normal chickens not zombie chickens).  Martialla eventually has the presence of mind to grab a fire blanket out of the wall mount and smother the flames (they have those in hospitals right?  I feel like I saw one once when I was in a hospital).  After a moment Ela weakly raises her head, looking as exhausted and drained as a woman who just gave birth to a really fat baby.

Her voice is a whisper of a whisper “There, the bleeding is stopped, now do what you can do for Lucien and Tweedle-dumb fuck and let’s get the hell out of here.” She laboriously drags the back of her clown-sleeve over her sweaty face. “Looks like I picked the wrong day to stop using bear tranquilizers.”

Ela Halloween Special #5

Tina shoves Ela away from her and Ela comes flying back at Tina with fists clenched ready to slug it out.  Only Martialla and Elvis jumping in between to restrain them and keep them from having it out right then and there.  Ela breaks away from their grasping hands waving her arms (and axe) about angrily.

“What the fuck is wrong with you people?!  Why does everything have to be a fight with you morons!  Why do you have to question everything I say?  I’m trying to save your lives, what don’t you get about that?!”

Ela goes off on them about everything under the sun and all five of them back away in fright.  Not because they’re scared of her, but instead because through the glass they can see a dark shape is getting larger and larger in the display behind her.  They all stare at the rapidly growing shape behind the glass as Ela stomps up and down and curses them out for ever being born.  As she’s reaching the crashing crescendo of her diatribe, Martialla and Elvis turn and run for it as Tina, Lucien, and Duke drop to the floor and take cover.

Ela frowns as they cower and run off respectively “What? What’s wrong with you now?  Are you that afraid of me? Look, I know I’m one scary bitch but show some fucking backbone, you cowards! Yes, I’m the queen badass of the world, but just because . . .”

Before she can finish, the zombie shark slams into the glass at full speed, shattering it and sending thousands of gallons of water crashing out over Ela like a smelly tidal wave.  Just like in Jaws 3D only not super dumb looking.  By all appearances, this adult male tiger shark should be floating upside down at the top of the tank, little bits of flesh hanging off him and his eyes rolled back in their sockets, but he most certainly is not.  He rides the wave of water out of the enclosure like a body surfer, his dead jaws snapping and his double dead eyes rolling wildly like a Magic 8 Ball.

The rush of water knocks everyone for a loop and bowls them over, carrying them every which way (but loose). The massive zombie beast whips its head from side to side biting blindly as Lucien and Duke scramble away as best they can in their injured condition – Martialla and Elvis look on in horror from a catwalk above. Tina, in a mad attempt to avoid the jaws, leaps onto the back of the writhing beast and grabs onto its fin like a cowboy riding a rodeo stallion.

The zombie shark goes absolutely berserk with her on its back, redoubling its thrashing and trying to throw Tina off.  Lucien reaches up with his crutch and Martialla manages to drag both him and Duke up to the safety of the catwalk with Elvis and herself.  With another mighty lunge-flop from the deadite Galeocerdo cuvier, Tina is thrown off its back violently, her hands and forearms ripped to shreds by the sandpaper zombie skin.  Hurled through the air like a discarded yogurt cup, she slams into another tank hard enough to crack the glass.  She lays stunned for a moment as the shark zombie flops towards her like some horrible carnivorous inch worm.  From up above, Martialla and Elvis are screaming for her to get up and run but Tina can only sit there in a daze.

As the awful undead creature is moving closer, the cracks in the tank Tina slammed into slowly spread outward and finally it gives way, Elvis shouting as a second torrent of water sends Tina slip’n’sliding right towards the toothy maw of the undead tiger shark.  But the water also seems to shock her back to her senses, snapping her out of her daze.  She manages to twist away from the gaping maw at the last moment – shooting along the side of the shark like she’s going down Mount Splashmore.  She’s dragged along the shark’s knotty hide but she’s able to scramble to the stairs that lead up to the catwalk as the deadly fish flops around trying to get facing the right direction. The five of them watch in astonishment from above as the shark zombie slowly inches its way towards the stairs and with a mighty lunge throws itself across the bottom steps.

With another lunge, it starts to come up the stairs like a drunken frat boy doing the worm, causing the metal structure to groan as it buckles and strains under its weight.  The beast lunges again and the entire catwalk starts to come free, bolts flying out of the ceiling as the supports break away.  The lurching action sends Elvis tumbling over the side, but Martialla catches him – her arm almost jerking out of the socket under the strain.  Martialla would have fallen over the side too but Tina, Duke, and Lucien grab her and haul them both back onto the dubious safety of the catwalk. The shark lurches up further like a reverse slinky and the catwalk tilts at a forty-five degrees angle towards the shark’s waiting jaws.

As the five of them cling to the catwalk desperately, Elvis’s legs flailing just a foot away from the shark’s deadly rows of teeth, a waterlogged Ela comes back into the picture, grabbing the shark’s tail and yanking it back down to the floor like an old man starting a gas powered lawn mower.  With shocking quickness the zombie shark snaps its tail, flinging her off and smashing her into the wall at high speed.  It flails wildly trying to turn around and take advantage of her stunned condition, finally flicking its tail against the wall and whipsawing it around like a Tokyo Drift.  

Ela is scurrying away like a crab as the zombie shark lunges at her.  She leaps out of the way, sliding across the wet floor and slamming into a wall, feeling a searing pain.  She bounces off the wall and squeaks to a stop on the wet floor, looking down and only seeing her right foot at the end of her shapely toned legs.  The left leg is footless, host only to a bloody stump.  Ela hears screaming, looks up assuming it’s Tina, and after a moment she realizes that it’s her own voice she’s hearing.

Ela nearly blacks out, her vision swimming like a Baywatch lifeguard, but at the edge of her awareness, she sees the zombie shark flopping across the floor headed her way.  Say one thing about zombies, they never stop trying to kill you.  She fights to stay conscious, forcing herself to focus and block out the pain.  Looking on from above, clinging to the catwalk, her companions are shocked to see Ela lurch to her foot and limp not away from, but rather towards the shark!  She mashes her bloody footless stump down onto the end of Martialla’s shovel and pops it up into her hands.  Ela starts hammering on the shark with the shovel and screaming like a mad woman.

“Give me back my foot! Give it to me! It’s mine! It’s my foot! Give it back!”

Her vicious blows mean nothing to the zombie shark as it tries vainly to get around and bite at her. Finally Ela drives the shovel into the shark’s head like she’s digging a hole for a fencepost and the head of the shovel breaks off – leaving Ela holding a jagged wooden stick.  She looks dumbly at the splintered end for a second and then rams it through the shark’s gill slits like she’s making the world’s worst caramel apple.   Which is saying something because they’re all pretty bad.  The zombie shark’s frantic motions slow down, drooping like a toy with a run-down battery. 

After a few seconds its jaws are merely opening and closing slowly on reflex as the smell of flesh fills its nostrils.  Ela limps away and grabs her fire axe – Tina turning her head in horror as Ela starts to hack into the dying (for the second time) creature.  Martialla is the only one who can watch the whole scene unfold as Ela dismembers the thing and then triumphantly pulls her severed foot out of its gullet.  Once she has her hands on the foot she falls to the floor, clutching it to her chest and once again covered with blood and disgusting black scum.

Ela tucks the foot down her clown shirt “Well, I suppose now we’re going to have to head to the hospital after all.” She shakes her head as she uses the axe to lever herself to her foot. “Looks like I picked the wrong day to stop smoking crystal meth.”

As they take to the streets once more, they’ve got big problems. Ela has a belt around her ankle as a tourniquet, trying to reduce the blood flow, she leans heavily on Martialla as she grits her teeth and gamely tries to keep up a good pace.  Between that and Lucien on a makeshift crutch and Duke feeling weak from loss of blood, they’re only a hair’s breadth faster than the zombies slowly chasing them.  Elvis leads the way and Tina is at the rear, walking backwards with the axe in her hand and striking down any zombie that proves to be faster than the rest and gets too close.

Elvis is rubbing his hands together obsessively “This is not happening, this is not happening, this is not happening . . . “

Ela’s voice is not too pained to sound grim “Yes it is.”

Tina swings the axe and knocks down a zombie at the head of the pack “Shit on me, shit on me, shit on me . . . “

Ela tries to hike herself to stand up straight, choking Martialla in the process “Snap out of it, you morons! None of us are going to make it if two of the three people we have left in good shape wig out, so get a fucking grip! You don’t see anyone else losing it, do you?”

Elvis spins around so fast that he almost falls over “That’s because you’re already crazy!!!  You got your foot bitten off for CHRISTSAKE ! And . . .”

Lucien manages to shove Elvis forward as he hobbles “Keep moving [untranslatable Canadian gibberish]”

Tina hands are shaking violently as she knocks back another faster-than-average zombie “I don’t know how much more of this I can take . . . I don’t know . .  . I can’t . . . I can’t . . .” She backs into Duke and almost knocks him down “. . . THIS IS CRAZY!”

Ela sighs “Look people, all we have to do is get to the hospital, sew my foot back on, pump me and Duke and Lucien full of painkillers and adrenaline and we’ll be good to go. Piece of cake.”

Martialla looks at her “You do know how crazy that sounds right?”

Ela chuckles humorlessly “Crazy? Look around, we’re in a town infested with the walking dead, who are intent on killing us and devouring our flesh.  Given these facts I don’t think crazy has any meaning anymore.”

Martialla nods “Good point.”

Ela talks over whatever Tina and Elvis are trying to say “Okay we’re going to have to pick up the pace here folks, we need to get some distance between ourselves and our friends back there. On the double people, move it, move it, move it!”

They break into the saddest most ragged-ass run you have ever seen outside of a high school gym class, Elvis picking Ela up and Lucien making that crutch fly for all she’s worth. They widen the gap between the pack of zombies behind them and eventually lose them altogether.  But for how long?  Dodging down alleys and cutting through buildings to avoid other zombies, they get to the street that will take them to the Stirling Memorial Hospital.  After only a few blocks through, Martialla calls a halt.

Martialla holds her hand up “Wait a minute, wait a minute, I think I have an idea.” She looks around as if making sure she does have an idea “Yeah, here’s what I want you to do. Tina, you and Duke go over to that bar over there and bring me back as many empty bottles as you can, leave the axe here with Ela.” She waves at the other side of the street “Elvis, you come with me.”

Elvis frowns “What for?”

Martialla half drags him as she heads out “There’s no time to explain, just come on.”

Elvis looks at Tina, who shrugs and then hands the axe to Ela, sitting in the middle of the road with Lucien.  Tina and Duke head for the bar as Elvis hurries up after Martialla.  Lucien and Ela look at each other for a minute and then scoot around back to back, laying the axe to the side where they both keep a hand on it.

Lucien shrugs his shoulders trying to get comfortable, nearly knocking Ela over “What do you think she has in mind?”

Ela takes a deep breath “I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this was just a ruse to leave us behind without making a big scene. That’s what I’d do and I taught her everything she knows.”

“Don’t you barely know her?”

Ela sighs “If I could reach, I’d slap you in the face right now.”

“Yeah, I’ve noticed you seem to do that a lot.  So we’re going to die huh?”

Ela sighs deeper “Looks like.”

“Huh . . . too bad right?

Ela lets out a long breath “Yep.”