Who They Were

Tammy Mason, 47. She was a day-shift cashier at the Onondaga Boulevard Wegmans. She’d been married to her second husband Bob for nine years. She was employee of the month in April, 1997 and June, 2004. She enjoyed recreational bowling. She was worried that her daughter Janie, 17, was not going to go to college, even though she’d been saving up for years. She and Bob enjoyed watching 50’s movies and had been going to the Syracuse Nationals since its first year. Bob had been restoring a ’63 Impala for the past four years that he picked up for $4500 just before the Panic hit. They had looked forward to entering it one day.

B.J. Mangini, 37. Son of a prominent local politician. Easygoing and likable. Always a risk taker, had a tendency to get into difficult situations as a young man and charm his way out later. Used this to his advantage later when he became a history teacher at Fowler High School, where he single-handedly helped raise graduation rates by 2%. Hit the academic trifecta: popular with students, teachers, and administrators. Taken while registering voters on Seymour Street.

Sam Neimeier, 39. Day-shift worker at Manga, formerly New Process Gear. Had been considered as a possible foreman when the company reorganized–again–to try and save money. He was one of those guys that everyone on the floor liked. Had a  drinking problem that hadn’t yet become apparent to anyone beyond his closest friends which started after his divorce three years ago. Saturdays with his fourteen year-old daughter had been becoming awkward: She was becoming standoffish and wearing too much makeup. This upset him greatly, and by the time he was bitten, he’d told everyone he knew except her.

Lucinda Jackson, 33. Lucy to her friends, but Lucinda professionally. Human Resources clerk at SUNY Health Science Center. While she was really impressed with her own professionalism, none of the humans that she was supposed to be resourcing ever felt like they were either humans or resources. She considered them inconvenient intrusions upon her daily routine of shuffling papers from one large pile into another and complaining about how much work she had to do.  She took her lunch promptly at 11:15 AM every day since receiving her certificate from Bryant and Stratton in Business Communication, allowing her to be out of the office when the rest of the University took their lunch breaks. She was taken halfway to her daily dose of salad at Varsity Pizza.

Maryjane Bosworth, 56. Department of Motor Vehicles employee of the month, September, 2006. Maryjane had spent her whole life explaining to people that her middle name was Pearl, not Jane and fighting the notion that the DMV was an inefficient and unfriendly place. She succeeded more in the second than in the first. She was crisp and efficient, helping to ease the pain of learners’ permit exams, old age eye tests, and misplaced identification cards and signatures. As a result of her work, more than 500 people around Central New York had commented at cocktail parties that going to the DMV that last time had not been as bad as they had expected. She was taken, naturally, while at work by a client everyone had assumed was drunk.

Morgan Price, 26. Registered Nurse, Hutchings Psychiatric Hospital. Defied orders from the attending physician at the beginning of the outbreak, believing that patients with the “African Rabies” needed heating pads and extra blankets. Was one of the earliest turned humans in Central New York, along with several other employees at the hospital, where many early cases were sent. She died, leaving behind her young husband and younger child, doing what she thought was right, while becoming a major vector for disease transmission.

*******

“In Pace,” Holey said as he and Parker tossed Neimeier on the fire. He had no idea of the act of poetry he had just committed.

The world stank of burning flesh. Not even Uptown complained about it much. “I’ll take first watch,” he said. “No way I’m going to sleep out here tonight.”

“Hey Vannawhite. Maybe we should sleep close together so that we can warm each other with body heat.”

“I’d rather freeze, Parker.”

“You may get your wish,” Holey reminded her.

Vannawhite did some quick math, deciding it would be better to take her chances being closer to Parker than being downwind of the smell of burnt zombie. It wasn’t an easy decision. She’d been grabbed at all day by Z’s and didn’t want to spend the rest of the night slapping Parker’s hands away. Maybe she’d keep her ZED in her hand all night. That way if he accidentally touched her, she could… She drifted off, dreaming intermittently of hitting Parker in various body parts with her ZED.

Everything had gone wrong. They were too far out to get home. They had to head further north to get away from Liverpool. The temperature was thirty-six degrees: warm enough to keep the zombies moving but cold enough for hypothermia. They’d had to fight their way through a big cluster they’d attracted around Soule Road. It would be a long and hard trip home in the morning after a night of half-sleep on nearly frozen ground. They had no blankets. They were too tired to care.

“We probably ought to throw another log on the fire before we turn in. It’s going to be cold tonight.”

Price joined the flames while Jackson and Bosworth waited their turns, as patient as only the dead can be.

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