EARTH’S SURVIVORS AMERICA THE DEAD: THE ZOMBIE PLAGUES
Earth’s Survivors America the Dead: The Zombie Plagues is copyright © 2016 W G. Sweet. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.
Cover Art © Copyright 2016 Wendell Sweet
Some text copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 Wendell Sweet
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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons’ places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
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A scatter of wrecked and long burned out vehicles partially blocked the entrance. A line of buses blocked the roads and pathways into the park. Sheet steel was welded over the windows. Holes burned through with Acetylene torches every few feet as gun ports. A long line of concrete barricades crossed in front of the buses about a hundred yards out, wrapped around the park entrances, and shot away up Central Park West and West 59th on the other side. The barriers extended out into the streets as far as she could see, but she saw no one patrolling or watching from the trees. Nothing. No rifle tips poked from the gun ports cut into the sheet steel either. Even so, she could smell them and their fear. They had seen her army from a long way off coming down Eighth Avenue. They knew what it meant for them, and many, she could tell, had accepted it. Suicide seemed to be their answer. Done right even she could not bring them back. And some opted for that out. Even now as she stood and listened, she heard the occasional gunshot. Some far off, some closer by.
But others only hastened the change. A shot that killed but did not destroy. In a matter of hours, or even minutes, they would come back. In a few days they would begin the process of change and they would find their way to her.
The ones behind her knew not to kill for the sake of killing. Not to destroy those they needed. There were plenty that were not needed. Those could be killed and consumed. Thousands. Thousands upon thousands of the weak, the elderly, and the ones she did not wish to make a part of her army. Those she left to them to do as they wished. But they knew the penalty for taking one that was hers: Death. Permanent death. And after a taste of forever, thinking once again about death was inconceivable. That would keep the majority of them in line. The few that did step out she would take care of personally.
She watched as the barrel of a rifle slipped through a ragged hole in the sheet steel. She looked around at her silent army once more and then thrust her head back, face staring up at the moon, and screamed into the darkening night. As a mass they all ran at the line of buses.
Donita hit the bus and quickly scrambled up the side, climbing over the shoulders of others. The gunshots were hard and steady, and dozens fell as the shooters found their mark. She reached the top along with hundreds of others and the roads into the park lay open before them. Lightly guarded, there were few left who could guard. The metal around her began to dimple as she paused, as if some unseen magic was causing the holes to suddenly appear. Donita launched herself through the air, came down, and ran straight at a man who stood firing over the tops of the buses. Spraying those that reached the top with bullets.
He saw her far too late, tried to turn, but she reached him and hit him hard, driving him to the ground. She straddled him, jerked him upward by the vest he wore and bit deeply into his throat. Her mouth seemed to widen as she fastened her teeth on his throat, across his throat, and then bit deeply. His arteries went in a spray of red and she tossed him lifeless back to the ground and made her feet once more.
Two of her fingers flew away as a bullet hit her raised hand, she screamed and tackled the shooter to the ground. Ripping his head completely from his body as he was still falling. She was up quickly and running into the darkness of the park, the others close behind her. The shooting all but behind them now.
The park fires were low and smoky, most had gone out. The sick far outnumbered the well now, and the sickness continued to take them. Most lay dead, rising, or waiting to die. The few who could still fight went down fast.
They entered the Sheep Meadow and the dying covered the ground. Some had come back already. Slow, ragged, on the cusp of change. Donita slowed and those that had stayed with her walked their way through the dead and dying along with her.
Around her, screams rent the air as her soldiers took those that fought, and gave them the gift they were reluctant to take. There own waste had killed them. The lake water had become fouled and poisoned, yet they had continued to drink from it. Even when it had begun to kill them they had not stopped.
The reservoir had been worse. Hiding its contamination better, and more had succumbed from that. In the end the sickness had fed upon itself just as the dead who rose had fed on the living and the sick. Within an hour the park belonged to Donita. The occasional scream rent the air, but they were becoming less. The dead and dying were scattered across the entire park now. The entrances and exits were wide open, the dead could come and go as they pleased. The breathers too, if they were foolish enough.
She continued on her way alone, her army spread out within the park, feeding, and waiting on her call.
The north end of the park was her destination and she walked the abandoned pathways and roads, finally finding East Drive and making her way along the darkened blacktop.
In the distance there was a glow over the tops of the trees, and the tops of the buildings. She could pick out individual streetlights farther away. Harlem. And Harlem would be a harder nut to crack.
The breathers in Harlem had closed it off entirely. Abandoned cars blocked the streets. There were shooters everywhere. The dead or dying were dealt with immediately. There was no mercy, no second guessing, dead was dead and dead bought more dead with it. They understood it on their own terms. They could not see it as it truly was. A gift. She had hoped she could get them to see it, but she was sure they would not see it until death introduced it to them. She could smell that fact. It came to her on the wind that blew across the tree tops and dropped down to the cracked pavement where she walked.
She reached the shadows at the edge of the trees and peered out at the split where Lenox Avenue veered away. Quiet, deserted, but not far away she could hear the noise that accompanied the breathers. The smell of fire and smoke hung on the air, igniting a fear within her that she could not suppress. She took the sweeping right hand road and walked quietly along in the shadows to the park entrance. She left the road and entered the tree line, following it towards West 110th Street. She stopped within the trees and looked out at Lenox Avenue where it crossed 110th and headed into Harlem.
On the park side there were buses that closed off the entrance and marched away into the darkness. The buses were empty.
On the other side of West 110th a nearly identical line of buses marched away. The space in between was littered with corpses, burned out cars, skeletal remains still resting in the rusted hulks. Beyond the second row of buses the street lights marched away into Harlem. She could smell the river, whether the Hudson or The East she did not know. The lights and the noise of the breathers drew her attention back to the buses. She scaled a nearby tree and looked over the tops of the buses into the projects and the city beyond.
The streets inside the closed off area were clear for as far as she could see. Some places had been devastated, buildings down, but gangs of people worked there still, clearing the damaged buildings, or what was left. Small trucks patrolled the streets. Machine gun toting men in the back, riding in the open air. Everything she had hoped to see was not there. There was no disorganization of any kind at all. Whoever was in charge in Harlem had the electricity on and the peace kept. No rioting. No bodies littered the streets. If there had been abandoned vehicles they had been cleared. People strolled the streets under the lights, looking as though the world had never changed at all, or had maybe even changed for the better.
Donita watched from her perch in the tree for a few minutes longer and then dropped to the ground. She found the shadows at the edges of the road once more and began her walk back down into the park.