Send In The UCAVs

Everyone in New York City was dead. Same for Buffalo, Newark, Philly, Groton, Newport, Boston, Baltimore, and all the others in the northeast US. From Main, to the Eastern Shore, as far west as Pittsburg, the virus was everywhere. It spread through human saliva. No one knew how it started. Everyone knew how it spread. Nearly ⅓ of the country was dead.

“You sure we can pull this off?”

“Yes, sir!” I could have asked if he needed personal coaching and critiquing by Miranda Kate. But I don’t speak that way to my CO. We were safe, sitting 20 miles east of Breezy Point, on the US Zumwalt. “At least we don’t need pilots.” That was the good thing. We weren’t putting lives at risk.

He nodded, his nervous smile, and solid voice projected the air of confidence. We weren’t going to kill people to complete our mission. Unless the virus had a cure.

“The ‘scouts ready?”

“Yes, sir.”

Every Fire Scout on board was prepped for flight at 50 feet altitude, into Manhattan. We had orders from Cheyenne. They called it the Dead Sea Games. I still wasn’t used to the capital being in Wyoming, but it was the safest place in the US. Certainly safer than DC. DC was in the kill zone.

“All eight courses are mapped. The scouts will do their jobs.” Yeah. Destroy eight power stations in the New York City area, without risking human life, and along the way, kill any of the infected they encountered. Send in the UCAVs to kill the infected.

The infected. Better than calling them the walking dead or zombies. Certainly better than citizens, humans, friends, neighbors, men, women, and children. The infected. A name. A label. So we wouldn’t feel anything about blowing them to bits, or filling them full of holes.

The captain spoke into his radio, “‘Hawks staged yet?”

That was the other part of our orders. Blow up everything that floated in Hudson Bay. Sink it all. So nothing could take to the water.

“The Dead Sea Games are a go, Captain.”

“Time to kickstart the zombie apocalypse by publishing the Dead Sea Games,” the captain spoke calmly into his mic. “Launch ‘em. Launch ‘em all.”

We did. in a giant ball of smoke and fire, as the flat packs on the fore and aft decks emptied their contents. 130 missiles, launched in seconds. I’d never seen that. It was an overwhelming display of power. Raw power.

“Send in the UCAVs, Lieutenant. Time to go hunting.”

I spoke into my mic, “Scouts, go.”

Autonomous helicopters, and GPS guided missiles. We’d just killed thousands of the Infected, and hadn’t risked a human life. Everyone had always thought the Zombie Apocalypse was going to end the human race. It wasn’t. Our robot children would protect us.

As the Scouts disappeared over the horizon, I couldn’t help but say, “Good bye, New York. Wish I could have visited you at least once.”

492 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Zombie Mechanics 2014 Zombie Apocalypse Flash Fiction Contest. It’s just one of a host of Zombie Tales. Please, go read the others, and please, leave comments for the writers, letting them know how you feel about their carefully crafted words.

You can find the other stories here:

Zombie Mechanics Zombie Apocalypse Flash Fiction Contest 2014

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I Never Told Anyone

Today, at psychotherapy, I finally said something I’ve never said. And it’s something I need to get into the open. So, I’m going to put it here. My doctor said this is one of those things that older far beyond my years, and certainly was beyond my years when I said it the first time.

I can’t remember if I was in 6th or 7th grade. Yeah. That long ago. Dad had just finished a big project at his work, and I got to see the finished document he’d written. It was a stack of paper, notebook sized, a good inch and a half thick, maybe two. He was proud of it, and I knew to write something that size took a lot of time and effort.

But I heard my thoughts back then. It was years before I finished burying them. Back then, I’d just started burying things. And that day, I heard my terrified thoughts. The work he’d shared didn’t terrify me. Neither did his pride in having completed that work. No. What terrified me was what I saw in him, and the people he worked with.

They were all practically dead. In lives that didn’t change. On career paths. However you wish to define it. Every aspect of their lives matched a plan each of them had made years, perhaps decades, earlier. Many of them were in their 30s. As I watched them, I knew they would never really change. Never really do anything other than what they were already doing.

They’d stopped growing. Stopped changing. Stopped learning. Stopped exploring. They’d grown up, and there was no room in their lives for such childish pursuits. They had responsibilities.

If someone was a Marine, he’d stay a Marine. If Navy, they’d stay Navy. If civilian contractor, or civil servant, they’d always be that. If someone was an administrative assistant, they’d always be assisting someone.

It was the first time I understood how life in our social system worked. That’s what terrified me. And I heard my mind, screaming, “I’m not going to be dead at 30! I’m not going to be like them!”

Of course, I can say this all I want. I can share it. I can talk about it. But sharing it is useless, because, as I’ve said before, no one will understand. Oh, there will be some that understand. There always are, always have been, always will be. But many people will never understand what I saw that day, or how I felt about it.

My doctor and I talked about many things today, centered around that thought.

I told him if you ever want to see the true nature of someone, murder their smart phone. Break it, and watch what happens to them. Watch as they go crazy. “Do you know, there are guys out there, if their phone shuts off, and they can’t turn it on, I wouldn’t be surprised if they throw that sucker through the drywall.” Yeah. I said that.

“Same with their computers. Or their video games. Or NetFlix. Or the Internet.”

I reminded him of the study I’d talked about a couple of weeks ago. The one about 67% of men in the study electing to endure a painful electric shock to get out of sitting still, in a room, by themselves, for 15 minutes, with no electronic devices. Yeah. That’s right. Put a guy in a room with nothing but a chair, and a button that administers an electric shock to himself, and tell him he can leave after 15 minutes, or he can shock the shit out of himself, and he’ll shock the shit out of himself.

And that’s when the lightbulb turned on over my head, and I said, “Holy crap!”

My doctor knows exactly what I mean when I say, “Holy crap!” I’d just had an epiphany. I’d just realized something. Or, as I like to express it, another piece of the puzzle of life finally fit into the puzzle.

“They’re escaping, aren’t they.” It wasn’t a question. It was a statement. I was reciting a fact. “They’re escaping from their lives. That’s why they go crazy when their phones die. Why they spend hours glued to NetFlix, watching streaming media. Why they bury themselves in video games. They’re escaping the misery they live in. And when they can’t escape, and have to sit silently for a while, they can’t. They’ll shock themselves to escape. So they don’t have to deal with who they are. What their lives have become. The truth that they’re all walking dead.”

My doctor and I spent a lot of time talking about that today. About how people try to escape.

I know. I hear the voices screaming, “It takes one to know one!” and “Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!” Yeah. Most people will never understand, I know. I’m flawed. I’m guilty. I’m not perfect.

On my drive home, I listened to my music, playing through the car stereo. I turn it to 24 on the power meter when I’m in the car alone. I can feel the door panels shake in time with the music. I can see the rear view mirror vibrate as the sound waves move it around just a touch. I can feel the music through every cubic inch of me.

It’s my escape. From the misery. My own personal misery. Of dealing with a world I don’t understand, and never made.

But, what happens when that music goes away. In May, 2012, it did. I got dunked in some rapids leading to a waterfall. The camera I owned at the time drowned. It never worked again. The MP3 music player I owned also drowned, and never played another note from any music. It never turned on again. My cell phone took days (at least 3) to dry out. I was without any of those devices for days.

This happened on day two of a five-day camping trip. We had no TV. No Internet. No electricity. And pretty much no cell phone service. It would have wrecked many of the people I know, and have known in life.

I did OK. I was happy to get a new player, a few days after we got home. I was happy when my phone started working, also a day or two after we got home. I was happy when we replaced my dead camera in July of 2012.

I survived without them. And I can survive without them now.

I know people who would shrivel up like grapes turning into raisins if they had to endure such an ordeal. I know people who can’t live without being on their cell phone, on Facebook, or Twitter, or being able to watch another movie on their phone, to kill the time.

Time they can’t face on their own.

Because, if they had to face it, they’d have to face their lives. They’d have to face themselves. They’d have to deal with who they are.

And I see people like them every day. People who will do anything to escape themselves.

“I don’t want to be dead at 30! I won’t be like them!”

I never told anyone.

Until today.

Here’s a link to the study I mentioned.

Study: People Would Rather Suffer Electric Shock Than Sit Silently

I Hate Driving

Well.
Here I am again.
Getting in my car.
Going to drive somewhere.

Crap.

I hate driving.

No.
Not really.
Driving’s actually fun.
The driving part of driving,
That is.

The rest of driving
I could easily live without.
Except I can’t avoid it.
‘Cause, you know.
Other people drive.
Which is why I say

I hate driving.

Time to shut the door.
Buckle your ass in the car,
Idiot.
You know damn well why.
One word.
Physics.
Do you have any idea
How many idiots on the road
Drive like physics
Doesn’t exist?

I call it the Animated Cartoon Rule.
Gravity doesn’t work for them
As long as they don’t think about it.
The way people drive,
I think they feel that same way
About physics.

Fucking idiots.

Trouble is,
I have to drive
Among them.
Surrounded by them.

Turn the car on, dummy.
No being late.
Now, put it in reverse,
And before you go anywhere,
Look for other humans
And their cars.

Oh.
Look.
There’s one.
About 3 blocks away.
Think I’ll sit here.
Speed limits 25, I know.
But they’ll do 30 at least.
Every time I’ve tried backing out
When someone’s that far away,
I end up in their way.

Have you ever seen the face
Of someone you backed out
In front of?
That look that says,
“I should fucking run into you.
And then sue you.
I’d fucking win in court.”
Yeah.
That look.

I hate driving.

OK.
The idiot’s moved past me.
Now, look for other idiots.
You know they’re there.
You know how people drive.
Are we clear?
Good.

Back out of the driveway.
Now into first gear.
And away we go.
To the stop sign.
At the corner.

It’s a stop sign.
That means you stop.
Thank God no one’s behind me.
Sometimes I think
I’m the only one
In my entire neighborhood
That actually stops here.
And doesn’t slow down,
Glace both directions,
And then floor it.

Look.
Another car.
Way down there.
Heading this way.
Yep.
I’ll sit here.
Let that one go first.
So I don’t get in their way.

See.
I’ll do 25 at best.
Residential neighborhood.
People walk on the roads.
Rabbits.
Cats.
Dogs.
There’s a reason
There’s road kill on the roads.

Stupid people.
Stupid.
Stupid.
Stupid.

Great.
Someone’s behind me now.
While I wait for traffic to clear.
Yep.
There’s that look again.
The, “What the fuck’s your problem!” look.
Yep.
There he goes.
Trying to push me into the road.
And there’s the other look.
The, “Some people shouldn’t be allowed to drive!” look.
Yep.

Ah.
The car has cleared.
Now, I can go.
Put it in gear, and turn right.
And,
Sure enough.
The dingbat behind me
Never even looked.
Just road my ass
All the way through the corner.

And there’s that other look.
The “You ain’t riding the ass
Of the car in front of you!” look.
Yeah.
I get that all the time.
I’d scream at him,
“It’s a physics thing, you idiot!”
But he wouldn’t understand.

And.
Stoplight.
Red, as usual.
Ah.
Look at the idiot.
Soon as it spreads to 4 lanes,
What’s he do?
Come screaming around me
In the left lane,
Then smacks on his brakes
So he don’t hit the cars
Already stopped for the light.

“Hey, dingbat!
There’s a reason I wasn’t driving stupid!”
You have any idea how many times
I’ve wanted to scream that?

Now, wait for the light to turn green.
Be ready to pop the clutch,
And pour gas
On the ground.
‘Cause the bitch
Behind you
Is going to push you
Into the car in front of you
If you don’t get the fuck
Out of her way.

Green light.
Add gas.
Accelerate.
But I’m not in a hurry.
‘Cause the light ahead
Is red already.
And we’re all gonna stop again.

Yep.
There she goes.
Riding my ass.
Sorry, darlin’!
I’m not in any rush
To reach the back bumpers
Of the cars at the stop light.

And, there she goes
Into the other lane.

And, here I go.
Passing her at the light.
See?
She’s 3 cars behind
Where she would have been.
If she’d just stayed put.
But.
You know.
I wasn’t moving fast enough
For her.
And by the next light,
I’ll be further ahead.

It’s an observed behavior thing.
People are stupid.
Can’t figure out
No one’s going anywhere.
So, they swap lanes
Endlessly.
And tailgate
Endlessly.

God.
I hate driving.

Left turn at the next intersection.
Move over to the left turn lane.
Light’s yellow.
Stop.

And try to ignore the idiot
That just slammed on their brakes
And dumped hot coffee
In their lap.
‘Cause they had to stop,
‘Cause I didn’t run the light.
Like they would have.

Freaking idiots.

Just get me there alive, God.
That’s all I want.
Just get me there alive.
Don’t let one of them kill me,
Just ‘cause I’m on
The same road they’re on.

I hate people.
I really fucking do.
I really fucking do.

#MWBB – Week 2.16 : Buena

Jack looked at his handiwork, hanging from the wall. Two people, one man, one woman, both naked, both posed where he wanted them. He wondered if the wall was more alive than them. He carefully checked the wall for damage and stains. “Can’t have those. They’ll ruin the scene.” He quickly wiped away any bloodstains he spotted on the wall.

Things had gotten easier, with time. He’d run out of nails, and glue when had made his first masterpiece, it took more than he expected to get their poses right. Of course he had pictures of them. He had pictures of all his work. This was his fourth masterpiece. It wouldn’t be his last, there were others to create. There were so many possible ways to pose two naked bodies.

“They wonder why I use bodies, I know,” Jack spoke quietly to the couple in his latest masterpiece. “Because bodies are more realistic than paint, or clay.” He adjusted the woman’s hair, carefully brushing it out of her eyes, then adding more hairspray to hold it in place. He checked their body positions, making certain their body parts fit together properly. The woman on her back, stuck to the wall, her legs jutting out. The man between her legs, his hips thrust forward.

“I really must find a better way to keep them in place,” he shook his head, looking at the strips of wood, tied to their limbs, holding their arms and legs in their eternal poses. “One that doesn’t show as much in the pictures.”

Jack took pictures from every angle. Shots of body parts, and full body shots. “It’s important to capture both the details, and the entire picture.” He stopped several times, to adjust details in the poses, “There, that’s better.” And he resumed taking pictures. “That should be enough.” He shut his camera off. “See, Mother? I am an artist. You said I wasn’t. You said I’d never be good at anything.” He pulled a faded picture of his mother from his camera bag, and faced it at the bodies. “See, Mother? See? I make beautiful works of art, don’t I.” He carefully placed the picture in his camera bag.

He made certain the curtains to the room were open, so the world would see his work when the sun rose. Then, he turned out the lights, and headed home. He locked the room as he left, and carefully placed a small, wooden plaque on the door. “Buena #4,” he read the plaque, “The fourth in a series of masterpieces.”

He smiled as he walked the hallways, to the stairs, then the building’s exit. “It was Buena, indeed. I wish everyone could see that. Could understand that.” He sighed. “I do good work!”

Jack went home, and used all his hot water in the shower. If felt good to let the heat soak into his shoulders and neck. He could feel his muscles relax. He ate a small breakfast, and washed it down with a glass of orange juice, the kind with pulp. Real juice. Not that processed crap. Then, he stretched out in his bed. As he drifted off to sleep, he started planning the body positioning of the couple for Buena #5. “It will be my greatest work.”

Jack slept well that night.

549 Words
@LurchMunster


This is my entry for Year 2, Week 16 (Week 2.16) of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other stories in the challenge.

#Finish_That_Thought Week 52 : Boom!

The massive 2:00 AM explosion jolted the town awake. Lights came on in every house. People staggered outside wearing robes, to see if they could figure out what had happened. Neighbors met outside, wondering what had happened, as they watched the inferno at the Eastern edge of town.

Everything went as I’d planned.

I walked along the streets, a gun in each hand, with eight spare clips ready for use. Each time I saw a white man standing, watching, I shot him. And I know, not one of them went to heaven when they died.

I shot the Sheriff and his deputy, then the mayor, the judge, the doctor, the lawyer, the pastor, and the deacons of the church. I shot them all.

Mrs. Simmons took her daughter and left town when the pastor’s son got little Sally drunk, then got her naked and had fun with her, showing of the pictures of what he did. And the white men made sure Tommy’s future wasn’t wrecked by what he’d done.

Mrs. Waters hadn’t slept at night, since Deputy Bob gave Beverly that glass of tea with Ecstasy in it. Bob and Sheriff Don decided she liked two men at once. Now Beverly spends nights naked, in front of her Webcam, putting on a show, and you can watch her all you want for $9 a month. She’s slit her wrists twice now, and someday, everyone knows Mrs. Waters won’t find her soon enough.

I could have written stories about those evil men. About the girls they ruined, and the families they destroyed, but that wouldn’t have accomplished anything. They’d still be unpunished for the things they’d done, and they’d ruin another mother’s daughter, just to have some fun.

But the day we put Lenora in the ground, I’d promised her those men would never hurt another girl again.

Lenora had loved flowers, cats and dogs, and horses too. But those men never got over how she once had been a boy named Leonard, so they tortured her no end. Bobby shot her dog one day, for no reason he could explain. And they let their sons push her around, knock her down, and beat her. And the doctor wouldn’t have, “one God Damned thing to do with that thing,” named Lenora.

I told her we’d leave town soon. At the end of the school year. Two days later she climbed a tree, tied a rope around her neck, and a sturdy limb, and escaped the torture they made her live in.

After I shot everyone I could find that night, I stood before Lenora’s tombstone, at her grave site. “I got them all, sweetheart. They won’t hurt you or anyone again.” I let the fingers of my hand trace the outline of my daughter’s face on the cold, hard granite stone. “And soon, now, you won’t be alone.

I put my last clip in my last gun and knew I’d never see the dawn.

492 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Week 52 of Alissa Leonard‘s Finish That Thought. Please, go read all the creatively shared stories in this week’s challenge.