Authors: Ann Riley
Southern Zombies Box Set
A Story of Survival
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events and incidences are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Text copyright © 2015 Ann Riley
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be used, reproduced or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
Self-published by Amazon Publishing.
Cover design by Ann Riley.
Copyright © 2015 Ann Riley
All rights reserved.
caused by the
. In the United States it is estimated that 22.5% of the population twelve years and older have been infected with
. In various places throughout the world, it has been shown that up to 95% of some populations have been infected with
. Infection is often highest in areas of the world that have hot, humid climates and lower altitudes.
Toxoplasmosis occurs from eating improperly cooked lamb, mutton, pork, goat or beef, or from drinking unpasteurized milk contaminated with Toxoplasma gondii.
Toxoplasma gondii can also be transmitted by handling contaminated animals, raw meat or having contact with food such as raw or under cooked pork or beef, water, or dirt.
Direct contamination is possible through open wounds. If people do not wash their hands after contact with contaminated material or before eating or drinking, the organism is transferred from the hands to the mouth and is then swallowed. Toxoplasma gondii has been found in the kidneys, bladder and intestine of infected humans. Infection from blood transfusions and organ transplants from infected donors is rare, but it has been reported.
In the human host, the parasites form tissue cysts, most commonly in skeletal muscle, myocardium, brain, and eyes. These cysts may remain throughout the life of the host. Diagnosis is usually achieved by serology, although tissue cysts may be observed in stained biopsy specimens.
Two or three weeks after the first infection, the Toxoplasma microorganism divides more slowly and a protective membrane forms around the parasite cells. The tissue cysts are formed primarily in the brain, eye, heart muscle, and skeletal muscle. Bradyzoites persist in tissues for many years, possibly for the life of the host.
Some short-term effects of toxoplasmosis may include fever, muscle pain, sore throat, headache, swollen lymph nodes and an enlarged spleen. Unless tests are carried out to confirm a Toxoplasma infection, these symptoms can be taken for "flu". The long-term or chronic effects of the infection result when the cysts spread to the brain and muscle cells. The cysts, which can stay in the body as long as the person lives, can rupture and cause severe illness. Another form of the disease can also affect the eyes, leading to partial loss of sight or to blindness in one or both eyes, hence the milky white color the infected ones display. Although toxoplasmosis can affect any organ in the body, the lymph nodes, skeletal and heart muscles, and the brain are most commonly involved.
Our outbreak started with a recall of beef and pork suspected of being contaminated with the toxoplasmosis parasite.
This toxoplasmosis epidemic hit around the same time as the flu vaccine season got started. Although live vaccines don't cause disease in the people who get them because they are made with weakened viruses and bacteria, there is always a concern that someone with a severely weakened immune system could get sick after getting a live vaccine. That is why live vaccines are not given to people who have a weakened immune system.
People who were infected with the toxoplasmosis parasite displayed symptoms of the influenza virus. So almost everyone thought we had a flu epidemic going around. People getting the flu vaccine already had a weakened immune system, thus pushing them further into sickness with the live flu vaccine. This somehow sent the toxoplasmosis parasite into overdrive and caused it to wreak havoc.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if say, a zombie apocalypse came? No? Call me stupid, but yes I have. Well, I guess not zombies, but some big disastrous event that leads to a dystopian society. Not that I want that, but I have just wondered about it.
My family is self-sufficient. I grew up in the south and grew up hunting, fishing and stuff like that. We also grew up knowing how to plant and raise our own food from the garden. I have nephews that hunt every time there is a season for hunting and my sister is a professional food canner, or so she thinks. Really, she is good.
I have nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews and even great greats. Don’t ask how many as I have lost count now. It sucks to get old. I’m pretty sure they all will be running as fast as possible to the “foxhole” as Trey, my great-nephew calls it.
My nephew Marc lives close to my sister Diane, who is his mom, and his dad Burrell. Marc has combined their property lines and made one big “foxhole”, as Trey calls it. He is working on electric fencing around the perimeter and the edge of the copse of trees. He has all these toys like four wheelers, Honda Pioneers and fun stuff. And let’s not forget the horses.
My husband is the exact opposite of me. He was a city boy when I met him and after 23 years of marriage, he still is. We have gone fishing a few times. I found that I won’t submit myself to that drama again as he likes to cast his line, reel it in, and cast it out. And when you go fishing in some of the places I have, you cast your line and leave it so you don’t get it tangled up. When our fishing trip ended, he had no line left on his reel. We will make a country man out of him yet.
This is the story of my family and how we are surviving this epidemic. We use the word “y’all” in every sentence almost. We have a dreaded high humidity and summers that feel like you are baking in an oven. We live life at a slower pace, not because we are “slow” as some people think, but because we like to enjoy life and the pleasures it gives. We wave at everyone we see regardless of if we know them or not and we love our southern cooking. We have our own country grammar that people from the North find hard to understand at times. Which I find funny as we have a hard time understanding them too. Not because neither of us speak properly, but because of the different uses of words.
When did we start experiencing zombies of the worst kind? October 2013 was our lucky day. Sarcasm intended. I was working. Mind you, I did work from home for what used to be a major television programming company. I had a great job. Who wouldn’t want to get out of bed every day and walk across the hall to go to work?
So I’m working on a project when Riley, my faithful little silver dapple dachshund started barking. He does this often as he suffers from small dog syndrome, in which he feels he can conquer any and all obstacles and opponents.
I leave the back door open so he can get in and out while I work. We have a fenced-in backyard so he is confined in our yard.
My husband Bobby was in Virginia for his company meeting with a potential client to set up new accounts for office blinds sales. He was due back the next day, but it didn’t look like he would meet that deadline.
So back to Riley. I heard him barking. But he didn’t stop like he normally does. He continued. Then changed from barking to growling, then to what sounded like attack mode. I left out of my office and went to the back to see what was going on. There, at the gate to my backyard was a Fed Ex delivery driver.
I’m thinking, what the hell is a Fed Ex delivery driver doing at my back yard gate? Throwing my package over my fence? Did I do something to aggravate him and he is getting back at me?
Yeah, I have had times of cursing them to myself when they wait until 8pm to deliver packages. But they couldn’t hear me, right?
Yes, all that was going through my mind.
I called out to Riley, who has no sense of hearing when he is being called. I went out the door and off the porch to the gate to get him and ask Fed Ex what the hell he was doing. I never got to ask him as he fell over the gate when I got there reaching for me.
I grabbed Riley and ran to the porch. When I looked back, Fed Ex was lumbering towards me. I ask him, “Can I help you?”
“What is wrong with you?”
“Do you need help?”
I was ignored. The only help he wanted was help getting to take a bite of me obviously as he came at me with his mouth open.
I got into the house, got Riley down on the floor and ran for my phone to call Bobby. No service. I tried to call my sister, Diane. No service, no bars no nothing on my phone.
So now I am alone, in the middle of…. Something. I didn’t know what was going on.
I had to sit for a minute to think and get my mind back together. “Turn on the news Tracie. See what is going on.”
Turning on the news gave me the shock of my life. There, on the screen was, wait for it…... Nancy Grace… talking about the mess that was soon to be known as the Day of the Zombies.
At this point I am sure that Nancy is drunk or on drugs because I am thinking, “there is no such thing as a Zombie’. No way, no how. Totally impossible. She has lost her damn mind. Why is she spreading all these rumors?
So I listen. And seemingly almost everyone thought we had a flu epidemic going around. Turns out we had a major recall of pork and beef which had been suspected of being contaminated with the toxoplasmosis parasite.
It also turns out that toxoplasmosis symptoms are closely related to the same symptoms you experience with the flu. People getting the flu vaccine already had a weakened immune system, thus pushing them further into sickness with the live flu vaccine. This somehow sent the toxoplasmosis parasite into overdrive and caused it to wreak havoc.
And again, obviously, this caused parasites to turn victims into mindless individuals intent on eating human flesh. This virus changes behavior in its host so an animal might aggressively attack its normal predator. Think of a rat turning around and running to attack a cat. It apparently can do the same with a human.
So I tell Riley, “We have to go get Auntie Diane and go find Daddy”. He just looks at me like “why”?
I am scrambling around the house. Looking for food, flashlights, water, dog food, blankets, first aid kits, and any necessities that I would need in an emergency.
I packed all my items in my oversize backpack, put on my boots, jeans, T-shirt and a jacket. I got Riley’s leash and opened the door to go out to my car.
Upon opening my back door, guess who I see? Mr. Fed Ex man at my back door with his face stuck up to the glass.
Really? Can I just get to my car?
I moved back from the door slightly, and kicked the door as hard as I could and Mr. Fed Ex went tumbling off the step and rolled off the carport floor and into the yard. While he was rolling around trying to get up, Riley and I run to the car.
Riley and I get in the car. Riley is barking. There are people stumbling around in our yard. They look really…...bad. Pale skin, white eyes and pus filled blisters all over their arms and faces.
Before we could get the car backed out of the driveway, we were surrounded.
Mr. Fed Ex had a few friends with him, including Mr. Mailman and the crazy lady across the street who likes to turn her car alarm on all the time to scare off burglars.
Started backing my car up. He just stood there. So they got bumped out of the way. Or I should say got knocked out of the way as I hit Crazy Lady so hard I knocked her into her car and set her alarm off for her. Thus saving her the effort of having to do it herself. I’m thoughtful like that.
Riley was still barking all this time. He clearly enjoys all the new action to bark at as he has blown snot and slobber all over my window at this point. Bobby is going to shit when he sees this.