World War Zed

16. Snippets of Conversation

Snippets of Conversation

What follows are a collection of small snippets of odd conversations and / or the various recollections of people who I have met or talked to online over the years since the end of the war. Sometimes I can remember the names, sometimes they are changed to protect the person involved or due to security, but they are all very much true.

Craig, US Infantry, Boston

“I was already a soldier before the war started, so when we started drafting any survivors we found, I ended up as a Sergeant due to my army experience. I was involved in operations right back from the withdrawal from the northeastern states, through the defence of the Rockies, and then on through the years as we headed back east clearing the towns and cities as we went.

“We saw all sorts of weird shit, but the weirdest was definitely the kid. We found him, living an absolute shit hole. He’d been scavenging for God only knows how long, and we have absolutely no idea how he’d avoided all the Zeds. I say kid, he must’ve been a kid at the time of the outbreak, but by the time we got to him he was an adult, albeit a small one.

The place he lived in was pretty secure; big high walls, a good gate, and so on. We only knew he was there when the infra-red cameras picked him up. Quite a few people used to hide from us. Some due to trauma, some had set up their own little Kingdoms and didn’t want to give up their little fiefdoms, and some were just nutjobs.

“This kid was different from all of them though. He was hiding from us, and once we got inside the house we understood why. His mother was chained to a bed upstairs. She was Infected, but through some freak of nature, she couldn’t moan like the others so she lay there thrashing away, wearing her limbs to bloodless stumps. He’d swathed her in sheets and tied them down so that by the time we got there all you could see was her head snapping away.

“That’s not the worst part though. He’d been feeding her. We found some IDs and stuff in the mess downstairs. The kid had been out killing survivors, and had then chopped them up and brought them home to feed her, or enticed them back to his rats nest, we never found out. Unfortunately, he legged it shortly after we got there and we didn’t manage to catch up with him due to his knowledge of the area. God only knows what happened to the poor beggar.

We had to shoot what was left of his Mom.

Eugene, Runners Corp, Kenya

Prior to the War, I was a long-distance runner. I got picked up by the South African police during the start of the Infection and they quickly realised I might be useful to them.

I spent my time running backward and forwards between outposts. All the power stations had gone to automatic shutdown at the start of the War, so until we managed to re-capture them, we had few means of reliable communication.

I never ran so far and as fast as I did on the day I saw the first swarm though. There was a wall of moaning, staggering undead as far as the eye could see. As the ones at the front sensed me, they set up a moaning that spread to the entire horde. Hundreds of thousands of Zeds all moaning at me in a massive chain swarm that went on for kilometre after kilometre; I froze for a few minutes, stunned by the volume and sheer terror. Then, along with various small creatures, a couple of antelope, and a scared looking cheetah, I ran like all the hounds of hell were behind me.

They were.

Tarno, Seychelles

I was fishing off the island when I saw them rise out of the water like some sort of grey unholy tide. The men and boys who were mending their nets on the beach didn’t stand a chance, and I watched as they were ripped apart and devoured in front of my eyes.

You could see them moving under the boat, walking slowly through the deep, clear water before moaning up out of the surf.

The Seychelles are low to the water, and the Zeds easily took over the island. As soon as I’d managed to pull myself together, I sailed my little boat around to the other side of the island to see if anyone had made it.

I ended up with a boatful of strangers clinging to each other on the decks of my small boat, others hanging onto the sides or to some of the floats that we used.

The Zeds swarmed over the island like some sort of shambling two-legged locust infestation and then disappeared back into the sea, leaving the island utterly stripped of life. Only a score of us survived to try and re-build. Over time a few stragglers joined us, but we lived in fear and took to our boats in terror many times over the years that followed. Even now, they still occasionally rise from the deeps to torment us with their moaning cries, the souls of the dead trapped screaming inside them.

Max, Elite Zed Removal, Brazil

No, it’s not my real name, she died years ago anyway, I’m just Max now. This war was the best thing that ever happened to me. I know that sounds callous, but I was stuck in a relationship with a man I hated, parents I loathed, and neighbours who were in constant competition to make their front lawns the greenest. It was like being a Stepford wife.

I killed my husband when he came at me, his skin grey, face covered in someone else’s blood and moaning along with the rest of the neighbourhood.

He’d made me practise with that damned gun for hours every week, it was the only thing he ever did right. When he came for me, I blew him away and then carried on shooting until every last groaning bastard one of them was lying in a heap on the ground. I couldn’t stop though.

I was a shelf stacker in the local supermarket before the war; he wouldn’t let me get a job that might mean I earned more than he did. I got picked up by a local militia group and I started fighting, we all did. I just didn’t stop.

Now, I travel around the world and fight for money. Well, the money is a perk really; I fight because I enjoy it. Sick huh?

There’s something immensely satisfying about blowing the bastards away, or if you get the chance smacking them over the head with a Bar or baseball bat. I’m still part of a group; we’re for hire and will be until we run out of Zeds or get eaten.

Brian Holt, Wall, Texas

I was on my own for over five years. I was a survivalist. When it all kicked off, I kissed my Bible, said a prayer, and then I closed the doors to the shelter and ignored everything that was going on outside.

My home was an old missile store, set deep into a hillside, everything was heavily reinforced concrete and although the complex was massive, I only used a small part of it to begin with. The remote cameras I’d set up outside kept me informed, and the radio transmissions I picked up showed me the world outside had gone to hell in a handcart.

I had enough food, water, and supplies to keep me going for twenty years. I turned into a real old hermit, set in my ways, utterly independent. And then one day, the little lady arrived. I saw her on the camera, starving, thin, malnourished, and half dead. I don’t know how she’d survived for so long on her own. I hadn’t seen another sign of life in years, the only sound being the Zeds digging outside the walls, endlessly scratching at the concrete.

Every morning, I used to look at the monitors to see if there had been any change, check for new Zed holes and activity, that sorta thing. But when she turned up, she turned my routine upside down. She was lying by one of the heavily reinforced doors to the bunker, but by the time I got to her, she was unconscious and a small group of Zeds was closing in on her. I think I may have gone a bit mad, as all I remember was coming to back to myself as I knelt over her, crying with relief that she was okay, a big ole pile of Zeds twitching gently in the hot sun of the desert.

I lifted her up and brought her inside and for the next few years she was my only companion, I suspect she may have saved my sanity. Man is not meant to be alone. Strange though: I always hated dogs before I met my Sandy.

Tiamat, Chinatown, London

So are you going to try and convince me that you adults are the victims with all your talk of Generation Zed?

Good. Don’t, I’ve heard it all before.

We are Generation Zed, The Lost Boys, Ferals, call us what you like, we don’t care. We were kids when the outbreak started, lost, alone, and scared, and we did what we had to survive. Can you even try to imagine what it was like to spend your whole life running, hiding, scrabbling away from the grasping hands, not just of the Zeds, but of adults who wanted you or thought they could look after you, from other kids who wanted to eat you? We weren’t truly feral, but some of the gangs were. We managed to stay relatively sane… relatively.

Our group of six was lead by an older kid who’d grown up on the streets, she was used to running, hiding, fighting, scavenging, and for some reason known only to herself, she found us, looked after us, and took care of us. We spent years living in fear, years surviving in the pit that London became during the war.

She gave us all names that we clung to, new names that allowed us to forget our old lives. I used to be called Lu, but she is dead. She is a dead girl wandering through my head screaming at me from the inside.

I wake screaming most nights, the grey hands of the fallen reaching, moaning, into my dreams and you tell me I should be grateful to be alive? I’m not alive; I’m almost as dead as one of those grey-skinned killers that you so-called adults still haven’t managed to get rid of.

Go away, or give me food. I’m done.

Simon Murray, Derby, UK

You wouldn’t think a guy could survive in a theme park would you; mind you, you ever see a Zed trying to climb a water flume? Funny as hell.

There were just four of us who managed to survive there, two long-term friendly couples. We were on holiday together when things kicked off, and we just stuck together and managed to keep each other alive.

The whole place was pretty deserted the day we went there but we decided to make the best of it. All it took was one reanimation to clear the place out in panicky terror, and we got stuck on one of the rides for a little while. Saved our bacon, but we had to unclip and climb down, which was terrifying. We couldn’t really go anywhere else for ages, there were fun-loving Zeds all over the place, who knew Zeds liked the Big Ride at Alton Towers?

We just stayed up high, there were always Zeds wandering around, but we kinda kept out of their way. We could always run faster, and when we saw the swarm or any of the larger groups coming, we would leg it up to the highest tower we could find with as much food and drink as we could grab. Then, we’d keep very quiet and watch them wander vaguely through. The swarm was the worst. We didn’t make a sound for two days, thankfully it was summer or we would’ve died from exposure.

When the government finally came through in the army clean-up, we all joined up on the spot: the first shower and shave I’d had in years, and it felt wonderful. It also felt great to be able to fight back rather than just occasionally smack one in the head or run away all the time.

Bill Cotton, Tristan da Cunha

We’ve been called the most remote place on the planet. We’re 1500 miles from nowhere, a volcanic island floating around in the middle of the Atlantic.

There’s only a few hundred of us here, but we’re still a British Colony and so we got the broadcast that went out from the government as they retreated to the Isle of Wight. We kept in contact too. We’re utterly self-sufficient, although we used to get a couple of supply ships every year, they were for luxuries and people transport more than anything else and obviously stopped once the Zeds decided to take over.

We grow all our own crops on this island. Hell, we’ve even got a couple of holes of a mini-golf course, although only the Governor uses that, and it was only recently re-instated once we’d decided that we didn’t need every available bit of land for growing vegetables.

We only saw a few Zeds thank God. Our one-man police force and the governor took things seriously and organised us into patrols and watches. Thankfully we saw no more than twenty of the things, which was good, as we had no defences to speak of other than our houses or being able to retreat to the volcanic cone that formed the island in the first place.

The first thing we had to learn to do was to barricade the doors to our houses at night. We had no crime, so nothing was ever locked. The few dogs we had on the island became suddenly a whole lot more useful than they used to be and got taken out for walks along the coast a damn sight more than they used to as well.

These days, we’re a major site for one of the new Zombie monitoring stations the UN has started dotting around the planet, and I’ve been made the local controller. The swarms they’ve found and are tracking are all monitored from computers in the town hall and we feed back the data to the British Government and the UN.

It’s better than growing vegetables for a living.

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