It was a world of want, of need, yet everything was for sale. Everything had a price.
And the price of love was too high. No one could afford it.
Who would invest in another mouth to feed? Who would want to have to back up the words “in sickness and in health” when sickness was far more likely than health? When poorer was far more likely than richer? When a little body heat wasn’t worth the cost of sharing food?
Love was for sale in the Zone, but only on a short-term basis. And everyone knew it.
Eve ran into the dank basement as fast as she could and slammed the door. There was no way she was risking one of those things getting in. She pressed her back against the door, and sank down to the ground.
“That could have been really bad,” she breathed heavily to no one in particular.
“Promise me right now Anna, that you’ll never go outside of this room without me by your side.”
“I promise,” replied a shaky voice from the corner. “Aunt Eve?”
“Yes Anna?” responded Eve.
“When will I be able to see my mommy again?”
“Soon Anna, real soon…” Eve couldn’t bear to tell Anna that her mom wouldn’t be coming back anytime soon. Not as a human anyway.
Clipboard, Slater, and Brooks sat at one side of the conference table. Court had been going quickly that night: two curfew violations, three fence violations, one robbery, four brawls, and one indecent exposure, which had been dismissed as a simple misunderstanding. They were waiting for the last five cases, who would be tried all at once for what Brooks called Kreznerkrime, urination or defecation outside a latrine. Those five would each get six hours of community service for their crime against public health–and were the most likely to be defended by Schick.
“You know, it’s funny. With all these Monday night court cases, we’ve never had a single accusation of rape or sexual assault,” said Slater. “Maybe this outbreak has been bringing out the best in people.”
“Give it time,” replied Brooks. “People will never change. Men will never change. Trust me.”
They both looked at Clipboard, whose face registered a momentary flash of discomfort before an instant return to his normal unperturbed placidity. Most people would not have noticed. Slater and Brooks were expert poker players.
He noticed they were staring at him. He cleared his throat and quietly said, “I don’t think that we’re going to have a problem with rape in the Zone.”
“I told some guys in Corpse Corps the story of Oneball Johnson.”
“Ron, what on earth is that smell? It’s everywhere!”
“You want a burger or you want to puke? If it’s puke, go over there. Don’t barf on my meat.”
“Krezner was getting worried about a cholera outbreak. Or E. Coli. I don’t know what. It’s hideous.”
“It’s better than how you smell. Be quick, pal. I got customers waiting with less refined palates than yourself.”
“It’s driving me crazy. I can’t figure out if I want to eat it or vomit. Just tell me what it is.”
“Well, business has been good lately, so we’re running low on rat. The Z’s are picking off the deer and the cattle are long gone. So I need something that’s like rat, but not a rat. C’mon. Figure it out. Haven’t you seen all the kids with coonskin caps running around lately?”
“Yeah. That damn Davy Crockett brigade. I can’t stand those little brats.”
“Did you see the what the new kids have to wear until they’ve passed their trials? The black and white tail? That single white stripe? It would be a shame to let all that perfectly good meat go to waste.”
“No–oh my God… …Well, I guess I’ll just have one then. Make it a small one, though.”
“That’ll be five silver. They’re half price until I can get them filleted just right.”
Where have all of the great writers gone? Aren’t there more stories to be told? Just about the only way to escape the madness is to lose yourself in a good book. I’ve read all of the books we have here. I want new stories.
Over the years, the salvage teams supplied us with hundreds of books. The Zone’s library is pretty good, but everything in it is old. No one’s publishing anything new these days. I guess it’s understandable with the undead around. Where have all of the writers gone? Are they off somewhere thinking up new stories? Have they been taken?
I wish they were here. They could just take a look around this place for inspiration. We’ve got some real characters around here. I hope where ever they are that they are writing. Someone needs to tell our stories for future generations, if there are future generations.
Richard Garfield had suffered many hardships throughout his life. Countless women he fell for sought only to use him, leaving him heartbroken. He had been the victim of corrupt employers who cheated him out of money. In time he barely had enough to live under a roof. It seemed as if poor Richard had been through it all. Of course, then there was the day his entire family had been consumed by zombies.
Once they took over Syracuse, Richard found himself holding out in the airport with most of the other survivors. Even then he was alone. He was a pale, skinny, young man who kept to himself. He wasn’t hated by the others, like he experienced in school, just an outsider. He hardly ever spoke unless the situation deemed it necessary. Whenever approached by others, Richard would avert his gaze and fumble with a gold cross that hung by his neck with a chain of matching metal.
Richard treasured that cross. His mother had given it to him after his father had left. She had received it from her mother who, in turn, received it from hers. It remained his only possession from his previous life. On the back, engraved horizontally, it read “Exsisto Validus.”
“James, they gonna be real mad at us if they catch us.”
“Then make sure you keep looking for them so I can dig. I can’t dig too fast with this spoon.”
Ever since he arrived, James had been looking for a way out. He tried to climb over the fence, but the barbed wire kept him locked inside. James and his crew longed for the freedom of life on the other side of the fence. He thought he had the perfect plan. He swiped a spoon from the cafeteria, and for the last few days had spent his free time digging a small hole under a secluded part of the fence while T and Wilson kept watch.
Today was going to be the day. He could feel it.
He didn’t know what the outside world held for him, but that wasn’t going to stop him.
He had cleared enough room to barely squeeze his frame through when T yelled over to him, “James, quick! He’s coming!”
James tried feverishly to pull himself the rest of the way through the tunnel, but his pantleg became entangled in the chainlink. The rest of his crew ran. The guard grabbed hold of James’ leg and yanked him back through the fencing and lifted him up by his ankle.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, kid? You wanna be ripped to shreds? You’re coming with me.”
He then led James across Runway 10 and back towards the terminal.