"What's wrong with you two morons," She says as she slams the door.
The house was ransacked, and blood splatters strewn across the walls. Rick and I each take a seat to rest or bones while we watch her continue what she was doing before she saved our asses.
“Who is she,” I ask Rick, never taking my eyes off her.
“How in the hell do I know,” says Rick.
“Well she lives next door to you, ” I say.
“No, she doesn't… Tom lives here,” says Rick as he slowly glides his eyes across the splattered walls that are dripping blood in a few spots.
He sees a tennis shoe attached to a leg coming from under the sofa sitting crooked to the wall halfway across the room. He taps me on the arm softly and points to the couch.
“Is that your neighbor?” I say as Rick stares down at the tennis shoe and the leg saying nothing.
I nudge Rick on the arm and say quietly, ”Is that Tom?”
Rick stands up slowly, moves over to the backside of the couch and puts his hand over his mouth ready to puke. I can't help but watch Rick as his options have come to an end and clearly view what little food he had eaten in his emergency bunker shooting as projectiles from between his fingers.
"What's going on in there, " I hear the lady yell from the back of the house as I watch Rick spit what's left from his mouth and fling what hangs from his hand onto the wall covering dry specs of blood.
"Rick," I say quietly as I motion with my hands for him to return. He shuffles back to his seat wiping the remainder off his hand onto his pant leg.
Rick and I sit curiously wondering who the lady maybe or simply what her name is. She has our weapons including the System Zero GPS device.
"Do you have a secondary sidearm on you hidden anywhere?" Says Rick.
"No, what about you," I say.
"Nothing for incapacitating her in an immediate response," says Rick, "what are you doing?"
"I am trying to get a feed from the chip," I say as I tap on the chip behind my ear.
"Come on Curtis," says Rick, "I didn't help design the chip but can guess it's only a receiver."
"Hold on a second," I say as I keep tapping on the chip.
Rick and I hear a small beep from the System Zero device sitting in the same room our protector, but also our captor is located.
"Cut that out," she yells while still working on something we are clueless about in another room.
"Who are you," I yell to her. We wait and hear nothing.
"Yea, who are you lady," Rick yells.
She walks back into the room we are sitting in and says, "I'm the only person you should be trusting right now." She throws me a strange looking pistol then throws the same type pistol to Rick.
I look at the gun she threw to me and say, "I don't get it."
"I'm going to have to agree with my friend. I don't get it," says Rick
"Be careful with the firearms, they will go off," she says as we inspect them showing them no respect.
"Lady they are made of plastic and are just toys," I say as I point the gun at Tom's tennis shoe his dead foot resides in to prove my argument. I pull the trigger.
Tom's tennis shoe explodes with no remorse and liters the room even further but this time with rubber, bone, flesh, and substantial chunks of sticky blood.
I pause with a blank look on my face and stare at the so-called toy pistol.
"Watch where you're pointing that thing," eagerly says Rick as he gestures his words.
“The guns are not toys,” she said,” they may resemble them but are in no way just toys.”
I stand up and say, “Excuse me but who in the hell are you,” as I sternly look at her expecting nothing but the real answer.
“My name is Sherry, I am a bounty hunter,” she says.
“Why did you kill Tom,” Rick says.
“He sure looks dead to me,” Rick says with a smart ass tone in his voice.
“Look guys, I am here to get collect as many items as possible from Tom’s 3D Printer,” she says.
I hold my gun pointing it toward her with my finger around the trigger. “Thanks for saving our lives outside but we need some answers and when I say answers I mean we need the whole story.” She points at her gun safely not to pressure me into pulling the trigger on my gun and says, “Who’s gun killed the zombies?” Her gun looked exactly like the ones she had handed Rick and me.
The culdesac is littered with bodies: pale skins, dried blood around their mouths, clothes ripped and harshly worn. The bodies are frail and noticeably so before they were dead. Curtis and Rick tread through them. Watching them twitch rarely but randomly noticing their death was not as old as it looked. Curtis jumps back when the body to his right twitches and its cold dead hand lands on his foot. He looks at Rick with a disgusting face and kicks the body listening to the bones as hard strike on a set of bowling pins.
"How's that possible?" Says Rick.
"This is making no sense. We were only isolated for five days,” says Curtis.
Curtis and Rick, using the best of their knowledge, are trying to explain to themselves how the society in which they live took a massive shift at such a high rate of speed. Making the best of what they know in working the System Zero GPS, Rick started to notice an awkward green light behind Curtis's ear.
"Hey Curtis..." Says Rick in a slow and puzzled voice as he stares at the green light.
"Hold on I think I have something figured out on the System Zero Device," says Curtis as he presses the system transfer button on the outside of the device. The light behind Curtis's ear is flashing red.
"Turn off the transfer to the satellite you have in progress right now.
"It will damage the files."
"No it won't, just turn the transfer off."
Rick has his eyes centered on the light behind Curtis's ear and watches it as it turns green simultaneously when Curtis presses the transfer button. Out of curiosity, Rick touches the green light with his finger causing a small electrical discharge on the tip of his finger. Withdrawing his finger as fast as the electrical charge entered, he opens his eyes in amazement as Curtis quickly jerks his whole body away from him.
"What the," yelled Curtis, "what are you doing?"
"Were you ever given an RFID chip?"
"We both were, but you know they took them out because of a faulty output in the chips that were harmful to the carrier's health."
"Were you ever given another chip? Like, say, maybe an NTC(Neural Transfer Chip)?"
The conversation between Curtis and Rick is an education they are shocked they had never invited before, but the discussion is not their immediate conflict. Fifteen feet across the culdesac a bone rubbing, joint cracking undertone starts to occur but never attracts their attention. The sound begins to elevate as five of the corpses on the road rise craving substance.
Out of the corner of his eye, Curtis slowly watches the corpses stand to pop their wrist, arm, knee, ankle and jaw joints. The dry blood around their mouths starts to liquefy and drip from their teeth.
“Rick I think we should finish this conversation later, ” says Curtis as he puts his hand on Ricks’ shoulder.
Rick squints his eyes looking at Curtis while pulling his head back with his neck, Rick says, "No… Curtis you have a flashing light embedded in your head,” he turns so Curtis can see behind his ear, “are there any flashing lights?”
Curtis palms the top of Ricks’ head and turns it to see the oncoming corpses, and Rick says, "That's impossible, how the…”
Curtis and Rick walk backward stumbling over a few of the dead corpses still lying on the road. After gaining traction, the two of them are hanging on to each other and facing the row of houses on the opposite side of the culdesac and run.
“Use your System Zero Device Curtis,” says Rick.
“For what you did with it at my house!”
“That was for one of them, not five!”
“You seem to have learned how to work the thing fast in my house so start thinking!”
The house that lies on the path which Curtis and Rick are running appears to be vacant like most the houses on the street. But this house abruptly changes its vacancy when the front door is kicked open from the inside out, and the inhabitant is wielding a pistol. The occupant raises her gun, and says, “Duck, boys.”
Curtis and Rick look at each other and dive into the ditch, yelling, “Don't shoot, don't shoot, they will only get stronger.”
“Shut-up and keep your heads down. I know what I'm doing, unlike you two digital exorcist,” the occupant yells.
She makes sure the bullets are loaded into the pistol chamber and starts firing round after round into the oncoming heard of corpses. Human debris starts flying in all directions drowning the sight of Curtis and Rick laying in the occupant's ditch.
I hit the floor, not thinking about what I would land on before I jumped. The System Zero GPS hit the ground first, and I followed by falling on top of it. Knowing how fragile technology sometimes can be, my body nor my brain seemed to remember that when I was lunging through the air.
I roll over wondering what Curtis was warning me on. Andy, the butcher, form the local grocery two blocks over, stands over me looking like had he the crap beat out of him. His canine teeth are dripping blood. I pull my pistol from its holster and unload the low capacity clip into Andys's body in an assortment of locations.
Each bullet enters Andy's body, and he never bleeds. They absorb into his flesh. Andy does not look the way he did before he absorbed the shots. He looks stronger. Why!
“Curtis…” I say with a puzzled sound in my voice.
I'm still watching Andy, and the confusion in his eyes is frightening on its own. I shake The System Zero GPS.
“Curtis, can you hear me?” I say raising my voice.
I shake the GPS harder and watch the screen power down. I glide my eyes from the screen watching Andy move closer as I lay on my back crawling backward. Thinking I may have hope, I feel the blood drop from his teeth on to my leg. I keep crawling backward. He grabs my foot and my faith. I squint my eyes shut and yell, "Help!!!"
The front door of my house is kicked open; my eyes shut, but the sound is unmistakable. I open my eyes and see Curtis standing on the opposite side of the den holding an attachment to his GPS looking like a gun.
"Don't shoot!" I yelled, knowing the bullet would be my death ticket.
"Don't shoot! Don't shoot!
Curtis holds his System Zero GPS eye level and says, "Hold on to your guts."
Curtis types a code. A digital claw, the size of a human hand and molting red hot flies from the back of The System Zero GPS connected gun followed by an attached digital chain entering Andy square in his back. Not sure of the outcome or even actually what is going on, I watch the chain and claw withdraws from his back, and before it reaches The System Zero GPS gun, it turns white hot annihilating any existence of Andy's heart or blood. I stare in amazement as I watch Andy fall lifeless and motionless at my feet. Curtis throws me a towel.
"You might want to get his blood off your skin. If it soaks in and gets into your bloodstream your screwed," says Curtis.
"What the..." I say, frantically getting Andy's blood off my legs.
I can't help myself but watch Curtis as I thoroughly get the remaining part of Andy's blood off my legs. He is inspecting his GPS intensely. Like he seems to know something about it from out of nowhere.
"How did you know how to make The System Zero GPS be able to do what you just did?" I say.
"First you have to check this out," he says, as he motions me to the front door.
He pushes back the door that barely hangs on its hinges and steps aside. I slowly look around the door frame not wanting to have the same incident I just had with Andy but what I see laying in the street is a whole army of dead humans that look precisely like Andy.
"Say hi to what happened when we were in the fallout shelters for no more than 5 days."
Curtis: I wonder what the hell happened as each day passed. I took refuge in the small square fallout shelter that was placed in my house by my employer. Hopefully, Rick did the same. I have not spoken with Rick in 5 days, the day all hell broke loose, and I am starting to get Closter phobic in my small 8x8 emergency cell. I am glad today is the day our emergency manual says we can exit the shelters to search for answers. I push open the door wearing my emergency approved gas mask carrying the System Zero GPS and am overwhelmed with an avalanche of ashes that fill the shelter. The ash kills my half ate odd-tasting vegan Danish pastry, five days of those things just for breakfast can make cabin fever show its crazy face even faster. I guess that was the silver lining. "Can anyone hear me..." Blares The System Zero GPS as I lay it on the floor exiting the fallout shelter. The System Zero GPS did not activate itself until it was out of the shelter due to the massively shielded walls which would not allow any satellite signals to feed through. I grab the GPS, "Who is this?" "What do you mean who is this. Five days and you forgot my name? No wonder a one night stand is a long-lasting relationship for you.” " Rick?" "Yeah...." "Where are you?” " Press the 'Home Button' on your GPS." The screen lights up on my GPS and freezes on an activation screen with an input box. "What is..." "Press the input box and speak your daily work password." "KermitTotes9mm..." I say hopefully. "What's up with you and the Muppets?" "Shit...' "Did it work?" "No, " I say with disgust. "Try you clearance badge code, " says Rick questionably. "Kermit22986..." I say as the screen on the GPS begins to flicker. I see Rick on the screen smiling at me. "Wow, I'm impressed with the high HD compression codec it is using." "Yeah that's hard not to notice, " says Rick. I keep my eyes on the screen and notice the layout in Rick's house is an exact duplicate of mine, minus a few colors and pictures. Time stops for me, as I start thinking: I remember when I was younger and myself despising conformism, and how I live now. I blow it off by consoling my thoughts, "You gotta give a little to make a little." "Did you say something, " says Rick. "I was just thinking out loud, " I say. I still have my eyes glued to the screen on the surroundings of Rick in his house, and I notice someone walk across the hallway behind him. Or was that maybe a shadow from a possible flickering light? Questioning what it might be, I turn and look into my house as some of the emergency lights are flickering. They seem to have invited a whole circus of shadows into my home. Thinking nothing of it, I turn back to the GPS screen and see the shadow in Rick's hallway once again. "Rick I didn't know you had company..." The shadow is shedding its darkness with every step, the closer it gets. The puzzled look on Rick's face slowly vanishes as his eyes see mine. With no question, he lunges forward as the figure reaches for him with blood stains on its mouth and the look of death in its eyes.
Curtis: I feel like today, oddly enough, is going to be a great day. My TV is flickering a tad, but I tap the side of it, and it clears up as usual. My coffee is hot with the perfect amount of monk fruit in it, and just a touch of almond milk to give it that creamy taste that makes it perfect.
After doing my morning start me up, I reach over and hit the start button on my computer. My Vaio computer still uses Windows 7 and runs perfect, but has a lag time that seems to test my patience sometimes. I took a drink of coffee, and my login screen finally appears. Type in my password and watch it start logging in as I surf through some of my favorite morning channels on TV.
I rotate my chair to the desk and watch the icons start appearing on the desktop screen one by one. I double click the icon that resembles Animal from the Muppets. Animal! Even though I am in my lower 30's I am still entertained by the Muppets crazy antics. As I watch the Animal Icon enlarge, I am expecting another login screen. The large icon disappears, and the screen goes black. Not sure for the difficulty or reason why my work software is not running. I wait... After 30 seconds I hear a voice yelling my name from somewhere outside my house.
"Curtis," yells Rick.
I open my window and hear Rick my neighbor yelling my name, "Curtis...".
"What," I yell back. Not really disgusted but pissed at watching my computer do nothing.
"Is your computer messing up?" He yells in my direction.
Rick, and I work for the same company. We are both located in the same area because of the high intelligence in our work. When I say intelligence, I am stressing the term to mean security at a high level. We are both contracted for work in the private industry, but monitored at a level as great as or higher than the information we work with.
"Are they updating the O.S.," I reply.
"If so, I never received a memo," yells Rick.
"Me neither," I yell as I swallow from my cup of coffee.
I start to smell smoke for some reason, not clear on what it was.
"Hold on a minute Rick."
As I start walking through my office, everything looks fine, but I look at my computer, and the hard drive is billowing smoke from under its outer casing.
"Rick, power down and turn your wifi off. Our security has been compromised."
The constant humming alarm sound of the emergency broadcast system on a TV or radio station is an individual sound that is highly recognizable, and that's what I start hearing. I walk in front of the TV hoping to see if there may be problems elsewhere and hear the exact noise start emitting from my smartphone. Turning on the screen, I watch smoke flow from every port and drop the phone.
"Curtis... Curtis..." yells Rick.
Before I can turn around and face the window. I can feel the house shake. The shake was obviously a tremor from an earthquake or an enormous blast from a distance.
"Rick, you ok?" I yell and stick my head out the window.
"I'm fine Curtis... Look at the sky," he yells.
We both hear nothing but an oncoming wind in the distance like a locomotive at high-speed barely able to stay on the rails with no breaks and watch the sky turn black.