This is a fictional web novel
All characters, living or dead, and locations or events in this novel
are entirely fictitious or merely coincidental
Race sat in the back of the black SUV in the parking lot of Dungpileton Whataburger. The two zombie assassins sat in the front and it was hard to not stay fixated on the back of their heads. The bulges indicated they had been zombie for months. This time though he noticed a two inch protuberance at the skull base which every so often wiggled around. A breathing appendage?
The zombies gazed forward, intently focused on their prey - Damian Siegfried and the rogue botanist inside the restaurant. Both had joined their co-workers for lunch on this day, the every other Friday when they were mandated to be furloughed from work as part of the federal budget sequester. This topic of conversation was avoided, mostly to not hear I told you so from the botanist who was right in predicting congressional republicans would sooner lay off workers than tax their millionaire masters. Instead, Vince Santiago brought up the death of the mayor’s nephew.
I knew that sick fucker wasn’t going to live when they sent him to Dunpileton General. The Center for Disease Control has named it the number one hospital for antibiotic resistant staph bacteria. People check in but they don’t check out. That dick went gangrenous after they sewed it back on. Handling it after it was cut off was nastier than picking up severed limbs.
Vince’s knowledge of the hospital stemmed from his moonlighting duties as an EMT. He relished the graphic accidents he encountered, more so for their conversation value around his co-workers.
Bryce Jackson, the Minnesotan native, waited for Vince to finish then saw his opening.
Bryce Jackson, the Minnesotan native, waited for Vince to finish then saw his opening.
Now that I think aboot it that dick was probably infected after ya put it in a beg to take home to suck for the night. Dontcha know that then?
The group laughter enraged Vince. Had his medication kicked in he would have been indifferent to the insult.
Fuck you! Fuck all you faggots!
Despite the jovial atmosphere Damian was mostly lost in thought. Word on the street was he had a bounty on his head for what he did to the mayor’s nephew. It was better to amuse himself by flicking french fries off the table and watching the botanist pick them up to eat.
“Five second rule!” the botanist proclaimed. As if the fries were not infected by the roach eggs on the floor within that time frame.
Without a word the zombies grabbed their BXP 9mm submachine guns, each with a 32 round magazine clip. They glanced back at Race, nodded and stepped outside the vehicle. Race worked out his plan in his head again. It was predicated on maintaining his faux allegiance with the thin man and mayor. He would distract the assassins as they stepped into the restaurant thereby giving Damian and the botanist time to gun them down. At least that is what Race hoped they understood when he text them the plan while in the SUV. He disliked this only option because there were too many variables out of his control.
Assumptions. Assuming the group would not have guns. Assuming each person would not have their individual guns out on the table while they ate. Assuming Damian was not watching the SUV the entire time it was parked. Notifying the botanist brought on a look of confusion from Bryce and Vince but a head motion towards the zombies holding their weapons was all they needed to realize what was about to transpire. A distraction was not needed as Race saw the fire power of the group. He dropped to the floor just as the zombies entered the establishment and were abruptly met with a hail of bullets. The impacts sent them stumbling back, tripping over Race and crashing into the entrance doorway. Race composed himself, looking back to quickly assess if the assassins were dead and upon seeing their bloody, bullet-riddled bodies, decided it was safe to get up as employees and patrons frantically exited past him. Bryce and Victor were still perplexed but high from the bloodbath. They nearly fired their weapons on Race but were waved off by the botanist.
He’s with us.
As Race approached the group the tinkling of glass and a collective Oh shit! stopped him in his tracks. He whirled around to see the zombies right themselves to aim their Mac-10’s in his direction. Bullets trailed him as ducked behind the condiment bar alongside the botanists and his coworkers. During the lull of the Mac-10 reloading Bryce withdrew his other weapon from its holster, a Smith and Wesson X-frame Model 500 pistol, and trained its sight on a zombie’s wrist. The impact of the weapon’s .50 caliber bullet left a bloody stump with both weapon and hand sent flying over the service counter into the fry queue. Without missing a step the hand-less zombie walked towards the men, only slowed down by a torrent of bullets which disemboweled organs and shattered bones. The crippling barage felled him but he still continued to crawl toward the men as the other zombie, having discharged all his rounds, joined him. Suddenly it dawned on Bryce what to do to kill the zombies.
Shoot dem in da head. I saw it in The Walking Dead dontcha know.
The men complied. High caliber rounds exploded the zombie's heads on impact, dropping the standing one to the floor with the other. Both dead. Vince glanced at a large, yellow slug-like creature still writhing on the floor a few feet from the zombies. He pierced it with his Bowie knife to show to the men.
What the fuck is this, he queried. Race explained.
That is the zombie parasite. It was using them as a host and has the ability to deaden any feeling of pain in their bodies and apparently the parasite continues to control the body after its vital organs shut down. Damian, you will have to explain to your friends what this is all about because I have a church service to attend.
He called out to the botanist who was taking advantage of the free fries in the queue.
And you’re coming with me.
The House of the Rogue Botanist
Race was growing impatient. The rogue botanist was in the back yard with his ladies - the rows of female cannabis plants Race swore the botanist would have sex with if he could find a way. Still, this was taking long even for the botanist. Walking outside he found out why. The botanist was sitting in a lawn chair in the shade of a large pecan tree (Carya llinoisensis). His cat Doobie slept on his lap. At his feet was a brown paper bag where upon inspection was filled with desiccated psychedelic mushrooms.
Goddamit! Why couldn't you just get stoned if you couldn’t handle sitting with hundreds of Jesus freaks?
The botanist disengaged to reply.
Sitting in the Man's house ain't my scene. I need to be somewhere else when I'm there. Can you dig what I'm saying?
I dig alright but just cool it when you're there or wherever you are and stay close to me.
Most Holy Trinity Church of Dungpileton
Most Holy Trinity Church of Dungpileton stood adjacent to the Brazoria County court house. All county and city supervisors were mandated to hold their staff meetings in the church conference room. After business matters were addressed the meeting was closed with a benediction. Attendance was strictly enforced and those who protested or failed to attend suddenly disappeared less they report this violation of the Establishment Clause to the ACLU. Under the auspices of its minister, Pastor Silas Angleton, the church vetted members according to their wealth status and slavish adherence to Christian doctrine. This worked in tandem with the hiring practices of the county and city. Interview questions were worded to ferret out the background of each applicant with no consideration given to those professing the faith of a non-Christian religion. Next door to the church was the brothel which was older than the church. City and church officials recognized from the beginning that controlling the citizens of Dungpileton was accomplished through controling the market for sex and drugs. It was customary for the male church attendees to satisfiy their primal urges before church services began. Foregoing condoms was a source of macho pride but unfortunately this enabled a breeding ground for numerous strain of sexually transmitted diseases which, when passed on to their wives and girlfriend often produced dim-witted offspring who were the future prostitutes and addicts of Dungpilton. It was a closed system of non-diminishing returns.
Race and the botanist joined the throng of worshipers filing into the church. There was no intention of stopping the infection which was beyond their capabilities rather, this was a reconnaissance mission to identify the masters and terminate them before they could use the zombie parasite outside Dungpileton. Leery of recognition, Race attempted to sit in the last pew but finding that and several pews forward completely occupied he and the botanist settled for the middle row. People took little notice of the botanist’s vapid behavior. It was no different than the deportment of most of the congregation. The mass opened with the congregation accompanying a young man strumming on an acoustic guitar.
I heard the voice of Jesus say, Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down Thy head upon My breast.
I came to Jesus as I was, weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting place, and He has made me glad.
I heard the voice of Jesus say, Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one, stoop down, and drink, and live
Race followed accordingly in his songbook, taking heed of how the botanist was acting and surprisingly finding him singing as if inspired from an epiphany. Then, as he leaned closer a sense of dread washed over him. The words were not from the songbook.
Glory be to the Bomb and to the Holy Fallout:
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen
Zhi Peng Zhou looked on approvingly at the congregation. As an exiled pastor from his Chinese homeland he was given a hero’s welcome at every church he visited. He found the gullibility of Christians was greatly enhanced if a person had purportedly suffered enormous retribution for his faith from an oppressive government. It served his bank account particularly well. As he was want to do, Zhi Peng relished the moment with a flashback to his childhood in the Anhui Province of China at the time of Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward. This was not a pleasant memory rather, a persistent reminder to ensure he would never want for food ever again. The failure of The Great Leap Forward to industrialize China resulted in catastrophic famines and unbearable hardships for millions of rural Chinese.
Who destroyed devils
To create angels!
Behold His glory!
Zhi Peng was ten years old at the time of the great famines which peaked in 1961. He remembered a progression of animals brought to the table when the crops failed. First poultry, then dogs and cats followed by the family mule then rats and finally hacked limbs, entrails and brains of corpses of people who died in the street from disease and starvation. The scavenging sustained Zhi Peng and his younger sister, Chunhua, and over time he relished the taste of human flesh. He likened it to the flavor of chicken but his family was the not the only one indulging in cannibalism. Within weeks the streets were cleaned of corpses and Zhi Peng body withered from the meager repasts of dirt, cockroaches and slugs. Then one morning he awoke to the sweet bouquet of human flesh boiling in a pot. Only when his appetite was satiated did he notice Chunhua was not present. Forever.
After the famines Zhi Peng languished in the agricultural collectives for years but he never forgot the power of Chairman Mao’s cult of personality nor the delectable taste of human flesh. Knowing power was centralized between the generals and powerful families of China, Zhi Peng decided to live in a land that was ripe for gullibility. A land where people would sheepishly allow one person to think for them; what to eat, what to read, when to sire children. In this land there were thousands of charlatans growing fat off their followers and still, the supply of sheep seemed limitless and waiting to be herded. This land was his destiny. This land was the United States of America.
Through word of mouth Zhi Peng found a human trafficker to take him to America. The Cold War was raging but transport ships out of China were still able to reach the States through intermediary countries. On the night of his departure Zhi Peng gave the trafficker his life savings of $5000 and joined 200 men in a cargo container within the hold of the ship for the month’s journey. He was assured that food and water would be provided but this amounted to a hosing down of fresh water and a sack of potatoes for everyone every other day. The replenishing of food and water from the ceiling hatch was the only light Zhi Peng saw the entire journey. One week into the trip the fetid smell of unwashed bodies and piles of feces became a breeding ground for dysentery as well as rampant scabies and lice. The men partitioned into groups in varying stages of illness. In the dark the moans of dying men was the only clue to move as far away as possible towards the container's bulkhead but this was the opportunity Zhi Peng took advantage of to survive. He stayed with the dying, waiting for them to stop breathing then patiently consumed their eyes and penis. No one could see what transpired but the sound of mastication was undeniable. In time Zhi Peng gnaw through the soft areas of the bodies; looking for the vital organs but was never sure what he ate other than the heart. The journey concluded in Seattle.
When the container's doors opened only fifty men were alive and spilling out in all directions, leaving behind dozens of half-eaten corpses. In the chaos Zhi Peng escaped to the heart of Seattle; finding a nondescript church nestled between a Star Bucks and 7-11. It was a Sunday and no parishioners were present to hear the sermon. Grateful for his presence the pastor and his wife took it upon themselves to care for Zhi Peng. That night was their last. Any evidence of the missing bodies was consumed over a month’s time and no one noticed the sermons were now given by Pastor Zhou. In time Zhi Peng gained a following within the Asian community. He built a larger church and become a prominent spokesman for the plight of the destitute in Seattle and Eastern Washington State. Pastor Zhi Peng was recognized for his contribution in reducing the population of the homeless in Seattle although no one realized they were now residents of a walk-in freezer in the church basement. Zhou’s work caught the attention of the thin man whom at that time was looking for an associate to preside over the operations of the Family on the West Coast as well as additional duties as seen fit in other areas of the country.
The mushrooms sent the rogue botanist somewhere else and that was in a montage of events from the first two movies of the Planet of the Apes series. He was George Taylor, the time-traveling astronaut trapped in a future where apes evolved to rule planet Earth and enslave humans who had devolved into mute scavengers. At his side was the beautiful Nova whom he befriended after his spaceship crashed and was now signaling to him she was in estrus. No matter that they were captives of evangelical mutant humans who worshiped a nuclear missile in subterranean caverns. He mimicked the mutants singing in their church; hoping they wouldn’t notice Nova begging him to mate with her.
“Wow”, the botanist murmured. “The perfect woman. Horny, doesn’t talk and I don’t have to pay for sex”. He grind his groin against the pew to the consternation of Race and horror of the parishioners around him.
Race looked around, waiting for the opportunity to leave without any further commotion. They were far enough in the pews to escape the notice of Zhi Peng as he conducted the church service
The apes were closing in on the botanist and Nova as the sermon was approaching the sacramental part of the service. Wafers and wine simulated the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
The peace of the Lord be always with you
And also with you
Now nets are thrown. The botanist and Nova are dragged to the floor, struggling against their ape captors. Nova is frantic and Taylor the astronaut/botanist is enraged. When Pastor Peng and the congregation greet one another to shake hands in the name of the Lord a parishioner reaches out to clasp the botanist hand.
Take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!
Washington D.C. U.S.A.
The room was unofficially known as the Cheney Chamber. It was here during the Bush Administration that President Cheney often visited to watch the torture of Muslim detainees. Former CIA agents recall him masturbating as the prisoners underwent his favorite torture – Water Boarding. Now David Roland was the only occupant. For over a week he was repeatedly beaten, electrocuted and water boarded but still his captors could not gather any information about his affiliation with the rouge botanist. He was subjected to torture when injection of the zombie parasite did not bring on the anticipated results. Unbeknownst to them David received the antidote from the botanist and was able to enlist the help of a CIA lab technician to concentrate it into a vaccine which was administered by pill. The technician died in the firefight which led to David’s capture. Now the thin man was present, much to the apprehension of the torturers. He was not pleased with the lack of results.
Has he said anything of value?
Then we shall proceed with the next phase.
With that the thin man ordered everyone out of the torture chamber. As he existed the door he turned to David, still bound in his chair, and then glanced over to a small, ragged-edge hole in the corner of the room.
We will see how persuasive the rats are Mr. Roland after they have you for dinner for a week.
Roland looked up through swollen eyes to see the thin man close the door behind him. The room was completely sealed from external sound and light. The only sound inside was the pounding of his heart, a pounding that was usurped by the tiny patter of feet moving towards him.