Sunday, 27 October 2013
Welcome to the ZomBlog,
This entry is a wee break from the usual science. I've been participating in the Zombies, Write II writing challenge. Using a prompt from Dan I composed the below story, set in the world of Zombies, Run.
Please enjoy, 'a brief too far'...
Runner Five rested her hands on her knees, welcoming the chance to catch her breath. She barely flinched as the gate Warden inspected her sweat soaked body for scratches and bites. It was a procedure to which she'd become long since used to.
'You're clear Five, good to have you back,' the Warden proclaimed with his usual unwavering, cheerful manner. Five nodded and made her way to supply depot.
The contents of her backpack were emptied unceremoniously across the table. Batteries, ammo, pain meds, antibiotics, sports bras, and underwear formed the bulk of the pile. The team got to work sorting. Five did her best to avoid the smirks and stifled laughs.
'A few close calls out there Five?' asked Mike, the head of the storage team, sarcasm dripping from every word.
'No more Zoms than usual', Five replied curtly.
'As long as its just your legs that are running.'
The entire group erupted into fits of laughter. Five scooped up the underwear and bras, stuffed them into her backpack and stormed off.
Back at her shack Five was relieved to find no one else around. She reached underneath her bunk and pulled out a battered old tea chest. She popped the lid and swung it open, revealing a cache of underwear and sports bras. She added the new arrivals to the collection and shoved it back out of sight.
'Nice chest Five', came a voice from above.
Startled, Five spun to face it, heart pounding. Sam Yao lay on a top bunk, dog eared copy of the instructions for Darkness & Demons spread across his lap.
'Bite me Sam', snapped Five, and angrily stomped out.
'What? No! I meant the tea chest', Sam called after her.
The next day Five stalked the wilderness alone again, well almost. She truly loved the silence, perhaps one of the few positive aspects of the apocalypse. Even the Zombies no longer bothered her. They'd become little more than an inconvenience, she dodged them as one would a fallen tree.
'I'm about to lose you on the cameras Five.' Sam's voice on her headset snapped her back from her thoughts.
Perfect. Five had been waiting for this opportunity. She pulled off her backpack and undid the buckles. From inside she removed a sports bra and set of underwear.
Behind Five a branch snapped. Slowly a Zombie emerged, stumbling toward Five from between two trees.
Stuffing the underwear into the cups of the bra Five hooked the strap behind her thumb. With her other hand she grasped the bra between the two cups and stretched it back. Closing one eye she took aim at the incoming Zombie. She steadied her breathing, and began counting down in her head.
Three. Two. One.
Five released her grip. The elastic contracted, sending the underwear hurtling toward the rotting target. The airborne briefs made contact with the Zombie's face, lightly bounced off, and landed on the ground.
Runner 5 cursed to herself.
The Zombie paused briefly, staring at her in what Five thought was a mixture of amusement and confusion. It was as if the Zombie was astounded anyone would do something so pointless and so stupid. No, that was her imagination, Zombies always have that look.
Rummaging in her backpack Five grabbed another pair of boxer shorts. This time she carefully placed them into the bra, open end toward the front.
Five fired again, aiming slightly higher than the Zombie's head.
The boxers flew through the air, almost gliding, in a perfect arc. The wind puffed them partially open, and they descended onto the Zombie's skull. The boxers sat at a jaunty angle. Five laughed quietly to herself. Thank God Sam can't see her, this must look ridiculous.
Satisfied her plan would work, and having got to grips with the method, Five loaded another pair of boxers into the bra. As she steadied her aim she took a step back. Something pressed against the heel of her shoe. Without thinking Five fired her pants based payload just as her world turned upside down.
Five felt as if she were falling in slow motion, gracefully sailing downward, hard ground rising up to meet the back of her head.
When her vision cleared Five was looking up at the Zombie. It towered over her, appearing massive. Five smiled. Sitting neatly upon the Zombie's head were the pair of boxers. Her aim had been spot on. Its eyes were completely covered.
In one fluid motion Five rolled toward her pack and pulled a bat free from its holder. With cat like agility Five rose to her feet and began circling the blinded monster. She was careful not to make a sound. The Zombie kept lurching forward, toward the spot Five had fallen. Wherever Five moved, the Zombie stayed on its original course. Five smiled with satisfaction. Her theory was bang on. There's nothing mystical about how Zombie's hunt. Sight and sound. Like everything else.
'You okay Five?' Sam's voice asked over the headset, laced with concern.
It startled Five, such had been her focus on the task at hand.
'Nothing I can't handle Sam', Five replied.
At the sound of her voice the Zombie began turning, seeking the source. Five moved in front of the Zombie.
'Thanks for your assistance sweetie, you were a big help.'
Five brought her bat firmly down on its head, popping it like a melon.
Back in Able Five paced nervously outside the Major's office. Despite the success of her experiment she still remained somewhat hesitant about how her idea would be received. The Major's staccato call echoed from the office, ordering Five in.
Five entered and set the sports bra, with its underwear ammunition, on the desk. She would never forget the bemused look on the Major's face. It alone was worth the risk of being dismissed.
Dawn was breaking as the crowd of Able residents assembled in the training area. The Major stepped forward, a hush descended, and she began to address them.
'All of us know too well the challenge we face in combating the Zombie threat. They are an enemy unlike any other the human race has faced. To gain victory, and I am convinced we shall, requires new thinking, unique thinking. I have been presented with a tactical advantage, one we must all learn to master. Runner Five, your demonstration please.'
Five stepped forward, bra and underwear in hand. The supply team, led by Mike, fought to hold back laughter. The mirth infectiously rippled out to the rest of the crowd.
Two of the Major's Officers dragged something through the flaps of the tent. As it came into focus, the laughter ceased immediately. It was a Zombie, writhing forward, straining against its restraints.
'Major are you mental?' A deathly hush came upon the crowd. They strained to eye who had spoken. It was Sam.
Sam became nervous as the looks fell upon him, and added, 'Sir'.
Without even looking at him the Major shot back, 'be silent and watch Mr Yao.'
Every eye was on Five. Controlling her breath she counted down and repeated her skillful shot. The blinded Zombie bumbled around, its putrefying brain unable to figure out why it was blind, its extended arms never considering to simply remove the underwear.
'We have heard many stories', continued the Major, 'the undead are mystical, magical, they have enhanced powers that lead them to find us wherever we hide. The stories are wrong.'
The Zombie was moving toward her voice, as it reached her, the Major casually stepped sideways, and the Zombie crashed into the podium falling with it to the ground.
'Not only has Runner Five proven this today. She has given us a new weapon against the monsters. One that requires no bullets, and little maintenance. Once blinded the Zombies are easily taken down in hand to hand combat.'
Illustrating her point the Major pulled a large combat knife from her waist and sliced into the Zombie's head, nearly parting its entire skull in two. It fell down limp.
'We owe Runner 5 a debt of gratitude.'
The entire crowd broke into applause. Grudgingly Mike joined in and Five fired him a smug wink.
As the applause faded out at single hand rose. The Major followed it to its source and let out a heavy sigh.
'Question Mr Yao?'
'Does this mean I have to start going commando?' All eyes turned to him. 'Sir.'
Thanks for reading,
Doctor Austin ZITS BSz MSz DPep, is a Theoretical Zombiologist and Head of the Zombie Institute for Theoretical Studies at the University of Glasgow, Scotland UK.
Joining me on the 28th & 29th of October 2013 for the brand new lecture Zombie Science: Brain of the Dead at the London Horror Festival. Book your tickets online or by calling 020 7482 4857. The lecture is part of a 3 year project supported by a Society Award from the Wellcome Trust.