Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ninth Entry - Best Laid Plans

July 17

I just got back from meeting with Alex Sigler in the central park. The park looks really odd at night now with all the tents on the grassy areas. There were people milling around talking, playing cards, trying to forget what has happened to the world. Unfortunately we were all about to get a reminder.

Alex was waiting for me under the big tree by the basketball courts across from the pond with a largish black suitcase by his feet, the kind with the extendable luggage cart handle. The tree was blocking some of the light from the old-fashioned streetlamps that line the walkway, do it wasn’t until I got close that I saw that he was looking really worked up.

“What's in the suitcase?” I asked.

“The manners you have, your momma should be proud,” he snapped, and then seemed to think better of it,”Oh, sorry man. You probably-”

“My mother's been dead for years, don't worry about it. I suspect that my lack of manners contributed.”

He smiled at this, “The case contains the last of our dear Miss Sparks' personal belongings.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that I went to see Hashmir about reconsidering a rescue attempt, and he gave me this suitcase and one other. I believe his words were 'We cannot waste time and effort trying to recover dead weight. If they were worth having, they would get back here on their own'. The other case had Jimmy's stuff in it.”

I must have looked like I didn’t understand, so he went on, “He reassigned their apartments. He gave Jimmy's to one of his flunkies, and Sharon's to Teresita Gomez.”

My look of 'duh' was replaced by a look of shock, I'm sure, “Parasite?” I asked in shock,

Teresita Gomez, AKA Parasite, is (was?) the manager of African Swallow, one of those trendy clothing stores for teenagers who have more dollars than sense who want to buy overpriced t-shirts from fictional high schools that look like they came from Salvation Army.

I think I've mentioned before what a stick-up-the-ass Hashmir was before the world went to hell. Well for all the your-tripper-sign-must-not-be-more-than-six-inches-outside-your-entryway horse crap he gave everyone else, he let Parasite get away with murder. If someone opened their store more than five minutes late, they would be fined by the mall, but there were times that AS did not open until almost noon, and they were never greeted by Kaur and his notebook. Parasite's employees could stand out in the mall and hand out fliers in the center of the mall, put their tripper signage right in the walkway, and take way more than their allotted space during sidewalk sales.

The rumor around the shopping levels was that Hashmir and Parasite were getting it on after hours. I guess it is safe to say that's confirmed, eh?

“Yes, Parasite; the case contains basically whatever she didn’t want.” Alex explained to me.

“Did you look in it?”

“Yeah, there’s some of those little comic books, a pair of glasses, and some clothes. I guess being a stick figure, Teresita couldn’t get much use out of clothes meant for someone who actually finished puberty.”

I felt absolutely enraged. I would like to say I turned into the Incredible Hulk and went and stomped Parasite and Hashmir into a sticky red paste, but that’s not what happened.

Alex bent forward, and extended the suitcase’s luggage cart handle, and motioned it towards me,” Take this while we walk, and we can talk about things; our feelings and shit,” he said and started towards the jogging path the circles along the outside of the park up against the towering brick wall that makes up the exterior of Mallville.

I pulled the suitcase after me as I walked after him. As we got onto the jogging path Alex started speaking again.

“In further news, the medical center called to tell me that Sara died-“

“I heard,” I interrupted

“-which is complete bullshit. I saw Sara two days ago, she was up and walking around. It would have taken a bit of physical therapy before I would even consider sending her back out scavenging. Even then I think she probably would have been better off moving to roof duty, but that’s not going to happen now, is it?”

“Do you really think something is up? I thought I was just being paranoid.”

Alex stopped, and turned back to face me. He pointed his finger at me and said,” To quote a great man ,’ Just because you're paranoid don't mean they're not after you.’”

“Fox Mulder?” I asked.

“Kurt Cobain. WI would expect even a nerd like you to get that one,” he turned and continued walking.

“I was like seven when he died.”

“Whatever. Anyway, there’s no way in hell that Sara suddenly took a ‘turn for the worse’,” he said the last bit in a mocking tone.

“What do you think happened?”

“I think that someone had her killed; someone powerful enough that no one would question him. Oh, and did I tell you that Hashmir paid her a visit shortly before her turn? One of the janitors told me that he saw Kaur leaving her room about thirty minutes before she flat lined. He said that when he went past after Kaur left, Sara appeared to be sleeping.”

“Poison?” I asked.

Alex shrugged,” I’m not making accusations, just pointing out coincidences. Another coincidence is that Sara didn’t like our dear head of security. Neither does Jimmy.”

“I’m not a big fan of his either, what’s your point?”

“A couple of days before the biker attack, Sara and Jimmy told me they saw Kaur talking to a stranger down in the garage. Someone they had not seen around Mallville, and certainly no one they expected to find in the garage levels.

“What were Jimmy and Sara doing in the garage?”

“Looking for some privacy. Are you going to let me tell this, or not?”


“They said it was a hairy guy wearing a black leather vest. The back of his vest had a logo on it, ‘Hell’s Postmen’ it said.”

“A biker?”

“Bingo! Stupid name for a biker gang, but there you go. Sara said she saw that logo on the back of some of the bikers that attacked them. I think Kaur had them attack my crew. I think he was trying to bump off dissenters.”

“Dissenters?” I was puzzled by this, not the word, but that we had people who could even be described that way.

“Yeah; Jimmy, Sara, Wally, Mitchell, Malik Fensler, and Lu Vang were all vocally opposed to some of Kaur’s ideas. It just so happens that they were all on the scavenging mission that was attacked, and now Mitch and Wally are the only two survivors from that mission.”

“So Kaur felt Sharon was a threat too?”

“Possibly. She never said anything to me though. I think she just had the bad luck of being with them at the time.”

“So Hashmir won’t let us rescue Sharon because of Jimmy?”

“Maybe, or maybe he’s just being an asshole,” Alex replied.

“I talked to Mitchell yesterday though, he’s not against Kaur, if anything he was threatening me for defying Hashmir’s decision.”

“Mitchell’s a good man, but he’s scared. Don’t hold fear against him. He won’t be going with you.”

“Going with me?”

“Yes. I am sending you out on the next run, but you’re going to be in an extra car. I’m only sending the people I fully trust on this. While you pick-up Jimmy and Sharon, they’re going to proceed as if it were a normal run. You’ll meet up with them at their primary target, and you’ll all come back together. Hashmir can’t say shit if you guys just happened to go by where Sharon and Jimmy were and pick them up, certainly not once you have them back here sa-“

A scream arose from a short distance away from us, a high pitched terrified scream that silenced everything and everyone. Alex and I both looked in the direction of the scream, and could see a blonde woman in a grey t-shirt and blue jeans backing away from a maroon and grey tent.

From inside the tent shuffled a man, there was some white foam of vomit drying on his mouth, and his skin was grey-ish. I’m sure if I had been close enough I would have seen that his eyes were milky white as well. It was one of them, a zed inside the park, inside of Mallville, and he was moving fast.

“Get away from it!” A man yelled to the blonde woman, but she was still staggering backwards in terror. She backed right up into another tent, a blue one, and fell.

From where I was standing, I could hear the tent poles snap as the tent collapsed around the woman. It was like time stopped then, no one moved except the zombie; no one helped her, not me, not Alex, not anyone. We were all too shocked to move until the ghoul closed the distance between it and her, and fell onto her.

Finally someone reacted. A teenager in black shorts and a purple Sacramento Kings jersey pushed past the frozen observers, and threw himself on the zed. He pulled it off of the woman; there was blood around its mouth, the guy was too late.

Finally official help arrived, security officer Alex Rontreal, a heavily muscled blonde man with deeply tanned skin, pushed through the crowd, pistol drawn. He shoved the kid in the basketball jersey aside, and fired a shot into the head of the zombie. The echo resonated through the park, the only other noise was the sobs of the bleeding blonde woman still tangled in the tent.

The basketball teenager helped pull the blonde woman out of the collapsed tent. A splash of bright crimson covered the front of her t-shirt and her right arm. She must have put her arm up to try and protect herself, and the zed bit her. I knew what was going to happen right then, but it was still a shock when it happened.

Officer Rontreal is probably third in command of the security force after Hashmir himself. He basically is Hashmir without the accent. Rumor had it that he wanted to be a police officer, but couldn’t pass the psych exam.

Rontreal holstered his pistol, and pulled his walkie talkie from it’s holster on his belt, “Rontreal to Kaur, we have a problem.”

I couldn’t hear the response from where I was, only Rontreal’s reply,” We had a roamer in the park, a civvy’s been bit,” a pause, then,” Yes sir, I’ll take care of it.”

The basketball kid had been helping keep the blonde woman on her feet, she was sobbing and clutching her arm. I think she knew what was going to happen too, but not the way it happened. She knew she was dead already.

Alex Rontreal reholstered his walkie talkie calmly, and walked over to the woman and the teenager. Without a word, and almost so fast my didn’t see him do it, he pulled his pistol again, and shot the woman in the foreheard. I can still see it like a freeze frame, the back of her head exploding outwards.

The park erupted in screams of shock and terror. I could hear people crying out in terror, fear, rage. Children screaming….

My stomach did somersaults. I looked at Alex, not believing what I just saw, and found him to look pissed off instead of shocked. If looks could kill, Rontreal would have joined the woman and the zombie on the grass.

Alex spoke loud and calm, as if in response to some question that I could not hear over the noise that now flooded the park, “She had been bit, she was infected. It was too late for her; if I had let her live she would have become one of them, and infected more people. We must not let our emotions endanger our chances of survival, and I will not let them endanger Mallville.”

When most people returned inside, or to their tents, Alex and I watched as Hashmir and more of his security officer appeared. They wrapped the bodies in large trash bags, and took them to be destroyed. Kaur saw us standing there staring, but did not speak to us.

My talk with Alex did not last long after that. I went back to my apartment with Sharon’s suitcase. I’ve been looking through it (hopefully she will not be mad at me), seeing her mangas, some of her clothes, her spare glasses. Some of her anime DVDs are in there, and I’m watching one right now.

I am now sure that Hashmir will be watching me, if he has not been already. Because of that I am going to be keeping this diary with me. I cannot risk security breaking into my apartment while I am not here and finding it. Not when I am so close to rescuing Sharon. I cannot, will not, let them stop me now.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to sleep tonight. I’m not sure if I want to. Every time I close my eyes, I see that woman being shot in front of everyone. They didn’t even take her to the med center, or even out of view of everyone. It’s like it was meant to be seen by all of us as some sort of warning.

I don’t even know her name, but I’ll never forget her death.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Eighth Entry: Blocked

July 16


I went to Alex today about Sharon, and he already knew.

“She sent me an e-mail too, and I’m all for rescuing her, and Jimmy, but we have a problem.” He explained to me.

“Worse than the walking dead?” I asked.

“Much worse; Hashmir. I don’t know if she e-mailed him too, or if he is monitoring e-mails, but he seemed to find out about it right about the same time I did, and he has forbidden sending a rescue.”

“What? That’s ridiculous. Why would he not allow us to rescue one of our own people?”

“He says that we cannot ‘waste’ the manpower, that we need to focus on gathering supplies, not on picking up the slack for people who can’t take care of themselves.”

“They were attacked-“

“By bikers, yes, I know. I’ve heard some shit about that too, from both Sara and Jimmy before that run. He says the bikers are another reason, ‘we cannot risk losing more people to those murderers’” Alex mocked Hashmir’s accent almost perfectly.

“Aren’t we risking a run-in with them every time we go out?” I asked

“Of course we are, but Hashmir seems to think there’s a difference.

“So you’re going to just leave them out there.”

“We don’t have a choice right now. Hashmir is going to be watching us. I suspect he is monitoring my e-mail, and he is probably going to be watching yours as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is monitoring my office too.”

“We need to talk to him then.”

“No! He’s dangerous. If he had his way, we would not be accepting anymore survivors, we would be training everyone in here to be soldiers, and we would expel or shoot anyone who defies him. I have my suspicions about some other things that have occurred too. You don’t want to cross him.”

I’ve never heard of Alex Sigler being afraid of anything, so this has me kind of worried. Still, this is Sharon we’re talking about here, and I’m not going to abandon her… again.

After leaving Alex’s office I headed over to Mitchell Malloy’s apartment. As soon as he saw it was me at his door he said,” So she e-mailed you too?”

I think she may have e-mailed everyone in Mallville; she probably did e-mail Hashmir. I know I’m being petty and jealous here. It’s not as if I have the image of being a knight in shining armor or anything, but it’s nice to feel special.

Mitchell stepped aside, allowing me to enter his sparsely decorated living room. The whole place looks like it came from Ikea, but then Mitchell did move into Mallville after getting a divorce.

“So how are we going to rescue them?” I asked him.

“You haven’t talked to Hashmir yet, have you?” he asked in reply.

“I wasn’t planning on asking Hashmir.”

“You ought to have. He says no.”

“And you’re okay with that?“ I asked, anger flaring inside me.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m okay with it. I’m not in the one who runs things.”

“Okay then, is the council okay with abandoning one of our own out there?”

“I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter. The council may be in charge, but they don’t really run things. If you want to go out there and get yourself killed, you go right ahead.”

“We’re not going to get ourselves killed. We go out there every couple of days, and we have not had any losses since Sharon went missing. There aren’t that many zeds out there.”

“It’s not the roamers you should be worried about. Don’t cross Kaur unless you want to regret it.”

“I’d regret abandoning Sharon and Jimmy a hell of a lot more.”

He turned his back to me, ”We’ve all lost people in this, it’s just a fact of life now.”

“They're not lost. We know where they are. What kind of coward would leave them to die when it would be so easy to save them?”

“The kind of coward who wants to live. The kind who knows what’s in his best interest.”

“What if it was your wife that we could save?”

“I hope that bitch is dead," Mitchell spat.

“Alright, what if it was your daughter? If she’s still out there somewhere, wouldn’t you want someone to lay their life on the line to save her? Sharon is someone’s daughter!” I yelled.

He rounded on me then, and for a split second I thought he was going to kick my ass (and he could too), but instead he moved past me and opened the door, “Don’t you ever talk about my daughter again! Get the fuck out of my apartment!” he roared at me.

I wandered for a bit after that, the adrenaline draining out of my system leaving me feeling a bit nauseous. I walked the hallways of the living areas, around the shopping floors, and over the medical center.

I got more bad news there. Sara Seder, who had as far as I know been recovering from her gunshot quite well, had taken a turn for the worse last night, and passed away. The med center people didn’t tell me this, but I know she must have been decapitated, and her body destroyed as soon as they declared her dead.

Maybe I'm becoming paranoid, but the thought that crossed my mind at the realization of what would have been done with her body was that there would be no evidence of how she died. There are no autopsies performed anymore, so there will be no evidence of what really killed her. Of course this assumes that what I was told by the med center staff if a lie.

Yes, definitely paranoid.

When I got back here to my apartment, there was a note taped to my door with my name written in Alex Sigler’s spiky handwriting:

Meet me by the pond tomorrow at 9pm. We’ll go jogging.


I don’t know what that’s about, but I’ll let you know after I meet with him.