Feed: The Newsflesh Trilogy
Our story opens where countless stories have ended in the last twenty-six years: with an idiotin this case, my brother Shaundeciding it would be a good idea to go out and poke a zombie with a stick to see what happens. As if we didnt already know what happens when you mess with a zombie: The zombie turns around and bites you, and you become the thing you poked. This isnt a surprise. It hasnt been a surprise for more than twenty years, and if you want to get technical, it wasnt a surprise then.
When the infected first appearedheralded by screams that the dead were rising and judgment day was at handthey behaved just like the horror movies had been telling us for decades that they would behave. The only surprise was that this time, it was really happening.
There was no warning before the outbreaks began. One day, things were normal; the next, people who were supposedly dead were getting up and attacking anything that came into range. This was upsetting for everyone involved, except for the infected, who were past being upset about that sort of thing. The initial shock was followed by running and screaming, which eventually devolved into more infection and attacking, that being the way of things. So what do we have now, in this enlightened age twenty-six years after the Rising? We have idiots prodding zombies with sticks, which brings us full circle to my brother and why he probably wont live a long and fulfilling life.
Hey, George, check this out! he shouted, giving the zombie another poke in the chest with his hockey stick. The zombie gave a low moan, swiping at him ineffectually. It had obviously been in a state of full viral amplification for some time and didnt have the strength or physical dexterity left to knock the stick out of Shauns hands. Ill give Shaun this much: He knows not to bother the fresh ones at close range. Were playing patty-cake!
Stop antagonizing the locals and get back on the bike, I said, glaring from behind my sunglasses. His current buddy might be sick enough to be nearing its second, final death, but that didnt mean there wasnt a healthier pack roaming the area. Santa Cruz is zombie territory. You dont go there unless youre suicidal, stupid, or both. There are times when even I cant guess which of those options applies to Shaun.
Cant talk right now! Im busy making friends with the locals!
Shaun Phillip Mason, you get back on this bike right now, or I swear to God, I am going to drive away and leave you here.
Shaun looked around, eyes bright with sudden interest as he planted the end of his hockey stick at the center of the zombies chest to keep it at a safe distance. Really? Youd do that for me? Because My Sister Abandoned Me in Zombie Country Without a Vehicle would make a great article.
A posthumous one, maybe, I snapped. Get back on the goddamn bike!
In a minute! he said, laughing, and turned back toward his moaning friend.
In retrospect, thats when everything started going wrong.
The pack had probably been stalking us since before we hit the city limits, gathering reinforcements from all over the county as they approached. Packs of infected get smarter and more dangerous the larger they become. Groups of four or less are barely a threat unless they can corner you, but a pack of twenty or more stands a good chance of breaching any barrier the uninfected try to put up. You get enough of the infected together and theyll start displaying pack hunting techniques; theyll start using actual tactics. Its like the virus thats taken them over starts to reason when it gets enough hosts in the same place. Its scary as hell, and its just about the worst nightmare of anyone who regularly goes into zombie territorygetting cornered by a large group that knows the land better than you do.
These zombies knew the land better than we did, and even the most malnourished and virus-ridden pack knows how to lay an ambush. A low moan echoed from all sides, and then they were shambling into the open, some moving with the slow lurch of the long infected, others moving at something close to a run. The runners led the pack, cutting off three of the remaining methods of escape before there was time to do more than stare. I looked at them and shuddered.
Fresh infectedreally fresh onesstill look almost like the