Authors: K. Bartholomew
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2014 K. Bartholomew. All rights reserved worldwide.
No part of this publication may be replicated, redistributed, or given away in any form without the prior written consent of the author/publisher or the terms relayed to you herein.
This book is a work of fiction. Events, situations, people and places are either products of the author’s imagination or used in a satirical sense for comedy purposes. Zombie Society is a satire by K. Bartholomew and is not intended maliciously. K. Bartholomew has invented all names and situations in this story, except in cases when public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental, or used as a fictional depiction or personality parody.
Table of Contents
Presidential Address To The Nation
“My fellow Americans – Tonight I’d like to talk to you about the dead, why they matter and where we go from here.
Over the last six months, we Americans, along with the rest of the world have witnessed the unprecedented event of seeing our loved ones, our friends and neighbors, returning from the dead to once again live among us. They may not be exactly as we remember them, but there can be no denying the fact that the dead bodies that awaken, walk around, eat and gather in large numbers on the streets of every city in our nation were once those that we knew.
Over the last six months, as many of you will already know, while we debated on how to progress with the unfolding situation, as we underwent this transitional phase, the dead have been held in detention centers around the country by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Now, with the approval of congress, the time has come to release the dead, to grant them equal rights as citizens of the United States and to encourage assimilation into our nation and our hearts. Hey – It’s the right thing to do.
Thank you, God bless you and God bless the United States of America.”
Six Months Earlier
“Who would want to work here anyway?” John Quinn asked, more as a statement than a question as he and Fergus stared off the edge of the office block they were building.
“You got me.” Fergus shrugged.
“I mean it’s a fucking prison.” Sure enough, the Suffolk County Jail stood ugly and imposing directly opposite. “They could’ve built overlooking the harbor, but no.” John stared over the walls at various lags grouping into clusters, bench pressing or shooting hoops.
“Hey man, I hope you aint off on another right wing diatribe.” Fergus, tall with wild red hair wasn’t the typical foreman. But he was good at his job which, despite his irritating left wing leanings was why John kept hiring him. “Besides, not everyone can afford to rent office space in the nice side of town.” Fergus turned to John, “I don’t know why you’re complaining anyway. Keeps you in work.”
“But for how much longer, Ferg? You’ve seen how the city wastes all our fucking money.”
Fergus rolled his eyes and turned away. Yeah, it was old ground.
John didn’t care though. The way the country threw away its money was destroying the construction industry. “Maybe you’ll care when there’re no more contracts and we all have to stop working.” And it could happen sooner rather than later. Between corporate bailouts for their buddies in Washington and interest on the national debt – Those two alone could pay for a lifetime of essential construction projects.
A cool breeze swept through the ninth floor of the future Titan building, drowning out the clangs of hammers and lifting Fergus’ red hair off his head. “Hey man, it’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that there’s nothing I can do about it. And no amount of your bitchin’ is gonna change anything.”
“Maybe you’re right about that. I just wish America would stop wasting money on shit we don’t need.” John glanced over to the elevator which acted as the building’s spine and primary support. By the doors, Jimmy Doyle sat forlorn on a toolbox, head cupped in hands. John raised his voice, “hey, what do you think Jimmy?”
Fergus sucked in a breath of air, “I’d just leave him to stew for a few days if I were you.”
John straightened, “why?”
“He broke up with his fiancé the other night. He aint happy.” Fergus guided John around with a hand to face the prison again.
“Ouch, poor Jimmy. That’s gotta be tough.”
“Sure, but he’ll get over it. Just give him a few days.”
“Let’s hope so.” John looked over his shoulder to Jimmy who’d stood and now hung his head as though receiving a ticking off from the school principle. But it was the hammer clutched in one of his hands that stole John’s focus. “Maybe I should just send him home for the day. It can’t be safe having him on site with that ugly mug - Bad for morale too. Doesn’t look like he’s doing much work anyway,” John whispered.
Fergus bit his bottom lip. “Are you sure that’s a good idea? Would you want to be all alone after being dumped?”
“Well he’ll have to go home at some point and I have everybody else to think about too. But you’re my trusted foreman. So whatever you think best I’ll go with.”
The quick pattering of footsteps grew louder and John whipped round to see an outline flash past his vision. The next thing he saw was that damn idiot Jimmy Doyle leaping from the ninth floor, arms flailing uncontrollably, legs pushed back from the inertia and head bracing itself for impact. He seemed to turn round at the last second, placing his hands in front of his face as though he changed his mind. It was too late though as Jimmy cracked a paving slab a few feet from the hot dog vendor and possible salvation.
Nobody spoke for a few seconds as co-workers downed tools and rushed over to see if that damn idiot really had taken a running leap. Then a dozen men were peering off the edge at several pedestrians and the hot dog vendor crowding around Jimmy on the sidewalk.
“What the fuck? Why did he do that?” John glared at the long line of dumbstruck men. “Away from the edge.” They ignored him, such was their natural curiosity.
Fergus was already on the phone to the emergency services, as were several people below.
Arriving on the street, John and Fergus called Jimmy’s mother and awaited the cops and the inevitable police report. The TV news crew arrived before any of the emergency services and immediately set upon interviewing the hot dog vendor. It took over twenty minutes before the ambulance sirens could be heard down the street, not that they were needed.
The ambulance crew placed Jimmy on the stretcher and buckled him in. John took a final look at his former employee and shook his head. “You stupid idiot.” He muttered under his breath. “So young and everything to live for.”
The paramedics wheeled him up the ramp and then the news crew got something they never bargained on. The crowd gave a huge collective gasp as Jimmy began thrashing at those closest to him. The lead paramedic, in a state of shock, fell backwards and slid down the ramp. Children cried, dogs barked and John turned white. Even the usually pale and Irish Fergus morphed a few shades lighter.
Jimmy, his face cut to shreds, neck bent sideways, forearm pointing the wrong way and a spine that was undoubtedly broken in several places, tried hopelessly to lever himself off the stretcher. He didn’t notice the buckles at his chest and knees, perhaps understandable considering the knocking he’d just sustained. But there was no way he could have survived a tumble like that – Was there?
“What’s going on?” John asked nobody in particular as a strange gargling sound emanated from Jimmy’s throat.
Jimmy Doyle, paler even than Fergus, on account of having most his blood splattered around the hot dog stand, gnashed with his mouth, as though trying to eat air. Then the paramedic succeeded, after a brief struggle, to attach the oxygen mask, sending Jimmy into a rage.
Fergus squinted his eyes, “I don’t think he likes that.”
John scratched the back of his neck while looking at one of Jimmy’s lungs the paramedics had failed to scrape from the pavement. “I mean, how? How is he still alive?” Even now the pigeons made light work of the internal organ.
“It just brings it all home when it’s someone you know.” John stared down at his food as his family listened to the grim story. He’d spared the gory details since it was pork chop night. “The damn fool’ll be in a wheelchair the rest of his life, breathing through an oxygen mask.”
“Nine storeys?” Kerry, John’s wife shifted in her seat.” I didn’t know you could survive such a height.”
“Well, I can assure you he did. Must’ve caught the wind or something, but I doubt he’ll survive the night. He was pretty fucked up.” John saw his son’s eyes widen from the use of the curse word. “Sorry Finn.” But the events of the day justified it on this occasion. “Hey, how’d football practice go? You make the cut this time?”
Finn had been trying to make the first team all throughout middle school, but was never quite considered good enough. “No dad, but I’m getting close.” It was a great shame because over the last year Finn had worked hard on his game and had packed on a lot of weight to make himself more powerful. His time would come.
“I’m proud of you son. Just hang on in there.” John patted Finn on the back.
Although the TV volume was down, the images of several men in straitjackets being dragged into waiting police vans proved far too much a distraction.
Shannon, John’s eighteen year old daughter perked up. “I passed my first oral exam today.” Shannon was in her freshman year, studying Medicine at the Harvard Medical School.
“That’s great, honey.” John cranked up the volume and turned to face the TV, as Shannon reeled back in her seat.
…And this will change things. Indeed, we expect this to be a major story in the coming days, weeks, maybe even years.”
The footage showed an angry man in a white straitjacket being dragged along the ground by two cops. He continually bit air just as Jimmy Doyle had done earlier in the day. “
If you are just joining us, we are getting reports from around the world, including many in America that the dead are awakening. One eyewitness in Utah reports her dead grandmother knocking on the front door. Another incident in Detroit has involved a murderer being killed by his victim as he ransacked the house. These are just two of many cases we are hearing about, and more are coming through all the time.”
The images cut to a police patrol wagon as it roared into an army base.
“What’s going on dad?” Finn asked, tension filling his voice.
John hadn’t noticed his fingers digging into his thighs. “I’m not sure, but if you ask me, if they’re dead, they’re dead.” What was going on? John’s eyes went glassy as he thought about Jimmy Doyle taking a running leap from the ninth floor. After a while he’d regained consciousness despite having lost most of his blood and at least one internal organ to the pigeons. Jimmy must’ve been in excruciating agony. Surely the humane thing was not keeping him artificially alive with tubes sticking out from him. But John would reserve judgment until more was known about what was happening to these people.