Tap. Tap. Tap.
Roger’s pencil struck rhythmically against the desk, only stopping when he muddled out one of the answers in his crossword puzzle, and scratched it in. “Man, enough with the tapping. It’s getting annoying.” This would be Larry, at the other side of the booth. Clad in the same navy-blue security guard’s outfit as Roger, he frowned and went back to his Deer & Deer Hunter magazine. Roger went back to puzzling over his crossword. Puzzle. An interesting word. Could someone puzzle at something? And would it have to be them doing the puzzling? Could someone say that they’d have to puzzle at something before they got an answer? Roger smiled at the thought. He began to tap his pencil again. “A word for beige, four letters long…” he intoned, not really seeking an answer. “Try ‘If you don’t stop tapping that pencil, I’m gonna ram it where the sun don’t shine,’” Larry said, giving one. “Nah, Larry, y’see, it’s gotta be four letters…” “Hmph. Smartass.” Larry went back to his magazine. The air-conditioned interior of the security booth was a welcome shelter from the hot, damp jungle outside. Though the entire facility was nestled in a wide clearing, with small palm fronds and low grass as the only vegetation, that didn’t make the elements any less fickle. The door of the small, brushed-metal gray structure opened up, and out stepped a small, wiry man with a bristling of a goatee. Roger stretched his back, working out the kinks that came from hours of chair-locked boredom, and decided to cavort about
the jungle for a bit. “Hey, Larry, I’m gonna take a little walk. Cover for me, will ya?” “Yeah, sure man,” Larry responded, still immersed in his hunting publication. The air outside was sweet in Roger’s lungs, and the grass cool through his leather sandals. He really was lucky to have a job like this. Decent pay, great location, and think of all the other poor stiffs stuck working in an office nine-to-five, twenny-four-seven. Okay, granted, Roger was working in an office too, but at least he could look outside and see an organic jungle, rather than an urban one. And he was already well versed in that kind of work. He’d been grinding some dead-end job at the steelworks, when one of his buddies had shown him the newspaper ad. Looking for security guards, it had said. Pay, benefits, must be willing to travel. It had piqued Roger’s interest to follow it further, and he’d found that the job was stationed, of all places, in the Pacific Ocean. Well, not technically the Pacific, he’d be on an island. But, hell, these guys were pretty much offering a paid vacation! An easy security gig, just some research facility that needed to keep away any kind of corporate espionage, and the like. Roger had stopped himself, unsuccessfully trying to find some reason that this wasn’t right. He wanted the job, sure, but…taking a job on some remote island? Wasn’t that something that most people thought about, planned about, discussed with others, before they just went ahead and skipped across the equator? Discuss with what others? He had asked himself. Roger didn’t have any family left. Friends? Roger wondered if he’d ever had any. It seems he had always had acquaintances, pals, drinking buddies…but never friends. Never anyone who’d give it a second thought if he never showed up to the bar again.
He had been on a southbound plane within a month. The company he worked for was called GeneTech. Not that Roger had any idea what it was that they did. The company-initiation videos, welcoming him into the family as a valued employee, had all been seen through glazed eyes. As long as they gave him money for food, clothes and drink, he didn’t care if his official position was Company Dipstick. Besides, there was something about leaving his home country, it just felt like an escape for Roger. And how could you escape when you were constantly surrounded by your adoptive family? From what he was trying to escape, Roger didn’t know. But he knew that in this green foliage and damp air, nobody gave a damn about him, and he liked it that way. The shadows were getting longer. Roger walked along the dirt trail until he came in sight of the facility’s main building. It really was an impressive thing, all steel and ceramics and blue GeneTech logos. He met the road just in time to see Larry waving a large, covered truck down the paved pathway. The wire-mesh gates slid open, and the vehicle sped along on its merry way. Things had really been heating up at the GeneTech facility. More and more trucks had been rolling by, more and more scientists hunched together, speaking their technical jargon. Roger wondered what all of the hoopla was about sometimes. Obviously not enough to check it out, but he idled away the hours of the day in dreamy contemplation. They’d probably get some sort of insight into whatever it was at the site meeting tomorrow. If you could call it a “meeting”. From what he’d heard from Larry, it was more of a social event than a business one. Well, people on an island for month-long shifts at a time had to keep entertained, didn’t they? Roger was awaiting the event happily; sure, he
probably wouldn’t understand two words anyone said, but it was something to do, and they might have beer. “Yo, Roj-o” Larry greeted him as he walked into the booth. “You’re just in time for our shift to end.” “Whoops, sorry, Larry. Didn’t expect I’d spent so much time out there.” “Ah, it’s no biggie,” Larry replied, waving his hand dismissively. “Just a couple trucks. No axe-wielding terrorists yet.” Roger gave a derisive snort. The guards out here didn’t even carry nightsticks, and the most he’d seen were pistols on some of the guards deeper in the main building. “Well, anyways, I’m heading in. You coming along?” “Actually…” Roger stroked his stub of beard thoughtfully. “Y’know what, I think I’ll spend the night out here.” Larry made a face. “Alright, man, but don’t come crying to me when something with lots of legs and more teeth decides to take up residence inside your eyeballs.” “Oh, thanks for that resounding show of encouragement,” Roger said sarcastically. “Hey, I’ve got my sleeping bag and everything, I’ll be fine.” “Alright. Suit yourself.” With that, Larry stepped out of the booth and took the road back to the main building. Roger wrestled the bundle of his sleeping bag out from under his desk and opened the door into the warm evening air. Other than the downy bundle, he held a portable radio, a few bottles of water, and the plastic gallon baggie of trail mix he had made up while rummaging through the various food supplies in the island facility. He stepped through the narrow bushes, munching on the commandeered mixture of chocolate,
peanuts and various other snackfoods. Paying less attention than he definitely should have been, Roger felt a sharp, burning tug at his arm. “Sonofabitch” he cursed, eyeing the long scratch on his sleeve. It didn’t look deep, but boy, he knew it was going to be irritating. It was one of those scrapes where you could just tell it would end up being a shallow, tender scab, which took every opportunity to tear itself off in the most painful manner possible. Roger grumbled, decided that this small clearing was as good as any, and laid down his sleeping bag. He fell asleep to the chirping and rustling of…well, who knows.
Roger’s first thought was that the light was, in itself, too damn bright. He rolled over, grumbling. His second thought was that his arm, in itself, hurt way too much. He rolled the other way, grumbled a bit more, and sat up. Blinking against the sun, He reached for his water bottle and immediately recoiled. Youch. Looking at his arm, he immediately located the source of the hot pain. The cut he had thought trifling the night before seemed to have gained quite a vengeance. It was red and inflamed, and Roger could swear he saw a touch of green somewhere. He decided to gather his gear and head back to the main building, looking to scrounge himself some antibiotic cream, or something of the sort. He exited the jungle and started down the road, warm morning sunlight on his back and sharp pain in his arm. The thought occurred to him that he probably looked like some kind of ragged yahoo, and a good showering was in order. He stopped in his security booth, found his bag in the small space, and found himself a green-polo shirt. He rethought this. The cut on his arm was looking mighty conspicuous, and with all of the scientists around the
place it’d be a hundred times worse. “Yikes, nasty cut there. How’s about I check it out for ya?” “Wow, you should get that looked at-mind if I?” “Here, lemme stick this imposing medical apparatus deep into your forearm. Won’t hurt a bit, I promise.” No, thank you, Roger could mind his own health issues. He grabbed a longsleeved, cornflower blue shirt from the bag. Carrying a respectable pair of khakis to go along with it, he again began his trek down the road. Arrival at the large, modern looking building brought a request for identification. Satisfying this request, he continued into the spacious halls. His shoes tapped softly on the meticulously cleaned tile, and the veiled fluorescent lights reflected their glow off of the white walls. He stepped into the personnel wing, and made his way down to the shower area. Roger had scored a pretty nice place, in truth. It was clean, warm, the people were nice…hell, who could be ornery in a place like this? Roger’s feelings continued in this same vein as he entered the shower stall. Kneading out the kinks in his back under the warm water, he heaved a relaxed sigh. Today looked easy. He expected he’d just go into a daze in front of a television screen, attempt to eliminate as many motor functions as he possibly could, and waltz into the soiree at a fashionably late hour. Little did Roger know how very correct he was. By the time 8:00 PM hit, he had a mishmash of cooking-show programs thoroughly ingrained in his head. There was something about lamb, and teriyaki. Or perhaps he was thinking of souvlaki. Well, whatever it was, his appetite was thoroughly aroused, and he deemed it time to carry himself to the party. The banquet hall was spacious, to say the least. Large chandeliers hung on the
red-gold walls, providing a shocking contrast to the stark-white, clean motif of the rest of the building. He saw many standing around, chatting, attired in casual, comfortable clothing. Roger was not a bit relieved. He had had a last-minute panic over whether this was a tux-and-jacket occasion, but quickly stymied his anxiety by reminding himself that even if he came attired in a leotard and body paint, these people were too polite to do anything besides strategically ignore him. So, to pass the time Roger ate, and Roger drank. Roger drank more than he probably should’ve. Oh, not enough to do something potentially mortifying, but by the time a-well, nerdy, to put it bluntly-man stepped up to the podium, Roger’s head was delightfully swimming, and the women were looking more attractive by the moment. The part of his brain still with any semblance of self-control was telling him to shut up and listen to the man on the stand, and the rest of Roger grudgingly obliged. Looking more carefully this time, Roger took in the man. He had an average sized frame on his bones, a bit on the skinny side. Short, straight brown hair hung above rounded glasses and a gleaming smile. The man began to speak. “My friends and colleagues, I first wish to thank you all for showing up at our little event. And I would also like to thank those of you who suppressed groans as I came to the podium. I promise, I’ll try to be less mind-numbingly boring than usual today.” A polite smattering of laughter came, and the man smiled and continued. “This party is to congratulate you, the real backbone of the GeneTech facility here. Sure, it’s easy for me to say ‘You, do this! Hey you, do that!’ but you’re the ones who really make things happen.” More polite applause, but more enthusiastic this time. “We have finally reached the culmination of our work here-“
Roger turned to Larry, standing next to him. “Hey, who is that guy up there?” he asked. “That’s Dr. Pross. He’s pretty much our boss, I’d suppose. Of course, he leaves tedious duties such as managing the company to others. He acts as the head egghead around here.” “Ah, so that’s Pross.” Roger remembered noticing his name in the initiation video. He had sort of pictured the man as an enigmatic figure, the kind that you see in movies as the silhouetted businessman who orders the death of whoever Bruce Willis is playing. The real man was a bit disappointing compared to this. Roger’s attention returned to Dr. Pross, as he began to speak more animatedly. “-further ado, I present to you the pinnacle of our achievement here at Genetech Laboratories.” An aide whipped off the grey tarp covering a large object next to Pross. “I give you: The Long-Range Matter Communicator. A beauty, ain’t it?” The device was quite daunting. A large casing of brushed steel continued through tubes, lines, and valves until it reached an identical casing. Each case was tall, cylindrical, and about five feet in height, although they appeared to be on stands. A large panel rested on one of the containers, winking with displays. Pross continued. “For those of you not yet acquainted with the Communicator, here’s what it’s all about: The Communicator’s first function is to shatter and separate particles. Now, normally, this would be impossible without a massive particle accelerator. However, the advancements in today’s world are such that we are able to harness the power of black holes, the strongest gravitational force known to us. By accelerating protons towards each other, we can literally bend and fold the dimensions of space to form a microscopic black hole. The
black hole, along with the miniature accelerator here, work together to ram our particles together with enough force to shatter it completely. Finally, the two canisters here separate the debris. All but one of the particle’s fragments are collected into this container,” he patted the cylinder opposite the one carrying the display. “And the last fragment, here,” he indicated the opposite tank. “Now, what use is this, you may ask. What is the good of separating particles? We can already do that. But lo, my friends, hear this: we have been working with theories that could revolutionize communication as we know it. You see, whenever a particle is broken, and one of its fragments spun, all of the other pieces of it, no matter what their location, mimic its spin. Needless to say, this could render fiber optics totally obsolete.” The silence in the room was deafening. It wasn’t an awkward silence, not in the least. People were just staring in stunned amazement at the front. One could almost feel the general conscience of the room going, Woah. Woah. That’s, like…woah. Pross, again, resumed his speech. “Now, I don’t wish to disappoint, but that use of the technology is still a few years away. So none of you have to worry about your local phone company leaving a horse’s head in your bed.” Laughter. “But as you can see, we are on the verge of massive technological leaps and bounds, and you can all be assured that GeneTech will be ahead of the rest. And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I leave my podium. Please, enjoy the night.” Applause erupted, and soon the entire hall was cheering. As the festivities died down, Roger munched on his makeshift pepperoni-cheeseand cracker sandwich. He believed he had understood most of Dr. Pross’s speech. Instant communication, changes on the horizon, all that jazz. He couldn’t really get himself as excited as most of the crowd here, but hey, more power to ‘em. We all need something to
look forward to, Roger thought with a smile. The night passed forward. Roger found himself making small conversation than more people than he could count, and none of which he knew. He simply had to nod and smile to their overexcited banter of scientific this-and-that, until they ran off to discuss their thoughts with someone else. Roger ate, and Roger drank.
Roger’s first thought was that the room was altogether too dark. His second thought was that his head hurt too damn much. He rolled into the fetal positions, cursing whatever had woken him up from merciful sleep. He then located the culprit. Something was making a high-pitched ringing, and it was getting louder. Or was that just his ears? Through his grogginess, he couldn’t tell. And the hangover didn’t help much, either. The ringing was getting louder. Roger rolled over, burying his head under the pillow. It didn’t help. This was going to drive him insane if it didn’t shut up, whatever it was. He was about to stand up, whenWham. Roger felt like he had been hit with a sledgehammer. No, that wasn’t right. Roger felt like he had been hit with twenty sledgehammers. No, still not it. Roger felt like he had been hit with twenty sledgehammers, composed entirely of ice and wielded by a group of people with a great enthusiasm for sledgehammering things. He was cold. Very, very cold. He clutched at his chest, trying to find if he was still, technically, alive. Was this what a heart attack felt like? If so, it was all it was cracked up to be. Roger convulsed on the bed. He felt like he was being drained, sucked dry and left aside, like one of the
wax bottles you bought at a candy store. Continuing the analogy, he felt like he was simultaneously being chewed up and spit out. Red flashed before his eyes. Roger was dimly aware of himself being thrown off of the bed. Then, it passed. Roger laid very still, sweat seeping from his pores. Something bad had happened. He quickly checked himself all over. Regular pulse, no missing limbs, no bleeding…just a frightened man in a T-shirt and shorts. Roger decided it was time to embark on that most noble of human adventures, The Quest To Find Out What In The Hell Was Going On And What I Can Do To Make It Stop Going On. He stepped out of his room, still panting. He was met with an odd sight. He saw a human shaped something in the darkness. His eyes had still not adjusted. He called a greeting out to whoever was lumbering through the hall. “Hey! Hey, Mac! Did you feel that just now? What was it? I think I might need to see a doctor, was it just me, or…” He stopped at the disconcerting lack of a response. He tried again. “Hey, buddy, you have any idea what’s going on? Buddy?” Roger stopped, The figure was closer now, and still advancing. Whoever it was, they were moving with an odd, shambling gait. And they had a foot-and-a-half long lamp stuck neatly through their chest. The glass had shattered, and Roger could still see the places in which it was embedded in this man’s (He could now see it was, in fact, a man. Or something with a man’s body) torso. Blood trickled, staining the shambling man’s shirt. “Oh. Oh. Shit! What happened to you, man? My God, are you okay? We need-“ The man interrupted Roger with a low, guttural moan. He heard the moan being answered
with several others throughout the building. Roger was more than a bit uneasy. This feeling of uneasiness deepened when the man took a swipe of the arm at him, and a gnashing bite. Roger jumped out of the way, and he ran. He ran until he hit the old security booth, and stopped to gather himself. So, he thought, So. It seems at least person in this facility, and most of the people, judging by those moans, are undead abominations that want to devour me. Roger had never been a superstitious man. But here, confronted with a man that should be dead attacking and attempting to bite him, Roger had to believe that something a bit odd was going on. Something a bit odd that started with T, and ended with –hose people are zombies oh God what am I going to do. Roger was ready to succumb to hopelessness. He didn’t really have much of a choice, all things considered. You couldn’t fight a zombie with just your fists. They’re the living dead, for God sakes, and it isn’t as easy to punch an unfeeling menace to death as Hollywood would have you think. Roger leaned against the desk on Larry’s side of the booth. It promptly crumbled and fell apart. Great, thought Roger, as the dust settled around him. God knows I’m screwed, now he’s just playing around. Seriously, how many nuns did I kill in a past life to earn this? Roger then saw something that caught his attention quite sharply. In the wreckage of Larry’s desk, something was poking up. Something metal, on top of something wooden. Something… Shotgunlike? Roger rubbed his eyes. No, this was just too perfect. He cleared away more of the rubble. And there it was, in all its glory, a pump action shotgun, sitting there. Calling to Roger “Please! Use me! Think of every horror movie you have seen! Do you not require me!?” Roger responded by picking up the weapon, and hefting it. The weight was
comforting, especially to a man running from the undead in his boxers. He was ready to fight. He was readyNo, wait. There were no shells in the chamber. He was ready to pick through a broken desk for ammunition.
And ammunition he found. It seems that Larry had been able to smuggle a shotgun onto the island, along with enough shells to feed a Third-World country (Well, assuming it was a Third-World country that ate only buckshot) to satisfy his hunting desires. Roger wondered what kinds of trophies he had squirreled away. Not that he thought lowly of the man. No, while clutching his assumed-departed friend’s shotgun, he felt quite ready to raise Larry as King Of All He Surveys, and convert to the noble religion of Larryism. Except for the fact that Larry was probably shambling somewhere around that facility, feeling more than a little puckish for Roger’s gray matter. Roger sat down. He needed a plan. Fifteen minutes later, he had one. Everything he needed was here, it was just up to him to use it. The island had a small port about half a mile northwards of the facility. There was another port to the south, but that was reserved for the massive cargo-bearing tankers, none of which were docked. However, he was getting ahead of himself. Before any boating would be done, Roger’s situation would have to be remedied. Namely, the part about there being zombies in it. Roger was a realist. He knew he couldn’t hope to destroy who knows how many undead monsters with only his trusty shotgun. If he had a chainsaw, maybe, but that’s neither here nor there. He did, however, know that there was a device deep in the facility, and furthermore, it was one that functioned entirely by
smashing things against each other and making black holes. If that was not a machine that could destroy an island, or at least whatever was inhabiting it, then physics should seriously rethink what the hell it was doing. So, Roger would: •Fight way into zombie-infested facility •Locate dimension-folding *Set said device on doomsday course •Escape zombie-infested facility •Escape island containing said zombie-infested facility •Commandeer boat, make way to safe distance •Make witty and masculine pun/other comment as island detonated
Hah. No problem. Roger began to make his way down the road. Reaching the door, Roger slowed. He had to be on his toes from here on in, if he didn’t want his head to become a very stylish tureen for some zombie. He approached, and the door slid open soundlessly. The inside of the place was utterly pitch-dark. Luckily, Roger was expecting this. Through the magic of duct-tape, Roger now had a Shotgun-flashlight. Basking in his raging intellect, Roger turned on the light. He looked up to see a zombie standing much closer than anyone’s comfort zones would allow. He jumped in surprise at the creature shambling closer and closer too him. He also pulled the trigger, mainly in surprise as well. A roar escaped the large barrel. Roger clutched his chest against the massive, unexpected recoil, and suddenly remembering where he was, looked up and raised the weapon. Luckily, Roger’s impromptu attempt at defense paid off. The ghoul was now
missing a leg due to an unhealthy amount of buckshot ramming into it, and was now writhing on the spot, trying to reach Roger without losing its balance. And the undead are generally not known for their motor skills. So, Roger thought. I’ve got to shoot it in the head, right? That’s how you always kill a zombie. With much more bravado then he felt, Roger hefted the weapon, aimed, and fired. “Eugh,” he said, at the result “Euuugh.” He continued through the door, stepping over the ex-zombie. Through recent experience, he no longer held the weapon against his hip (Damn you, Bruce Campbell. He thought. You lied to me). He now braced the shotgun on his shoulder, looking down the barrel and feeling completely terrified. The flashlight’s beam was much too narrow. The hallways were much too large. Continuing in this vein, the building was much too full of zombies. Roger plowed onwards. Suddenly, his beam caught something. A leg. Dress. Something. Roger moved the beam up. A grotesque face leered back at him, emitting a low moan. He heard innumerable of the same moan returning from various parts of the building. Damn. It’s like I’m the last chardonnay at a wine-tasting party. Roger was not at all pleased with the analogy, but it was made on short notice. He raised the barrel to point at the creature’s head, and fired. The figure collapsed, motionless. Hearing footsteps, Roger whipped around. Flashlight. What is that? Arm? Ah, the head. Roger fired again. Another wet thud as the two-time corpse hit the ground. And Roger plowed onwards. The road to the Banquet Hall seemed to go on forever. Countless figures appeared moaning, and countless more fell away. Fear gave way to exhilaration, and Roger began to fall into some sort of macabre rhythm. Tread. Search. Step. Search. See. Aim. Shoot. Load. Step.
He now recognized his location. He was nearing his goal, and he began to walk faster. Out of nowhere a hand whipped out of the darkness, grabbing him by the hair. He felt himself being yanked back, and panic overtook Roger. He struck back blindly with the butt of the shotgun desperation giving his muscles new fire. He connected with something hard. It sounded promising, so he connected with it again. A third, a fourth, a fifth time. Roger tore himself away, to see a very much destroyed zombie toppling onto the floor. He continued. A scraping sound behind him. He whirled around, casting his flashlight beam along the corridor. Nothing. The scraping continued, growing very near. What the hell is doing this?! He thought frantically. In his wild movements, he shone the light down, and there lay the culprit; a zombie he had previously thought destroyed, crawling after him. It’s body had been severed at the mid-torso, and the spinal cord scraped along the floor. A grotesque sight, to be sure. Roger finished off the creature, and plodded down the hall. This is odd. I haven’t seen anything ahead of me for ages. No zombies, nothing. He walked along uneasily. After perhaps five minutes, he peered up ahead. Was that a glimmer up ahead? If it was, it was the faintest of the faint, but it was enough to spur Roger along with new hope. He had lost track of how long he’d been making his way through the building so far. All he knew that was when he made it out of this place, he had earned himself a nap. The glimmer of light grew brighter as Roger made his way onwards. It was only a reflection of a reflection of a reflection, carried along by the bright white gleam of the walls. But he was getting closer. His anticipation made him careless, however, and he failed to realize an obstacle on the floor until he stumbled over it. Cursing, he crouched down. He was surprised to see that he had fallen over a body. Roger had thought that
everyone in this facility had been-zombified? Was that the word? Anyways, to see a plain old body, that was, as morbid as it may sound, a relief. That is, until Roger turned the body over, to find Larry’s sightless eyes staring up at him, and six bullets holes in Larry’s chest. Guns? But-who? Zombies can’t shoot guns! They can barely grab and bite! Roger was thoroughly confused now. And not just a bit angry. He realized he had grown fond of Larry and his tough-guy manner. He wouldn’t have been mad if Larry had been just a zombie, lying in the hall. But this was different. Another human being- a living man in this place full of the undead, ad stolen Larry’s life from him. Roger clenched his fists in anger. Larry, I promise I’ll get the bastards who did this. It was a foolish sentiment. Why was he getting so riled up over a coworker? Because it was a cause. It was another thing to keep him trudging through this hellhole, going by some half-assed plan that wouldn’t even workNo. You couldn’t think like that. You might as well just lay down and die here, just like Larry is right now. Or, you could stand up, grab your gun, and blow this island and everything on it away. Roger leaned down, and closed Larry’s eyes. He saw a little patch on the man’s vest. A deer. Larry loved to hunt. “Sorry, buddy. I hope you don’t mind if I take this along with me.” Roger grabbed the patch, pried it off reverently, and put it securely in a pocket. He was in sight of the banquet hall. Approaching, he heard a low hum emanating from the room. Good. The machine is still up and running. But, getting closer to the room, there was a low, uneven murmur accompanying the hum. Voices? Roger crouched down, and crept closer. He was now looking straight into the banquet hall. And there he
saw it. Four men, armed with some kind of diminutive machine guns and bulletproof vests, were encircled around a fifth. The last man was different from all the others. He seemed unarmed, for one. He was also crouched at the panel on the Communicator, hissing irritably at the men. He seemed familiar… “Make sure none of those things get near me. Make sure you’re keeping a lookout!” Roger now identified the speaker. It was Dr. Pross. Pross? What the hell’s going on? Roger inched closer and hit behind a large potted plant. “Trust us, boss,” one of the armed men said in a deep voice, “We’ve got this place covered well. I still dunno how that security guard survived the blast.” “Hmph,” Pross said, concentrating on the panel “Perhaps a genetic irregularity, some sort of exposure to a chemical, who knows. Well, he’s out of the way now.” So, you bastard, you’re the one who had Larry offed. His crime was surviving, was it? Then, Roger thought of something that had never occurred to him. Why was he not one of those zombies? What could haveThat plant! The cut! Roger quickly looked down at his arm, where the cut should be. Only, it wasn’t. There was no trace of the cut, no trace of…anything. No hair, either. No freckles. Just pure, pink-white skin. The plant must be what protected me. Roger was dumbfounded by his luck. What if he hadn’t gone out that one night…would he be another one of those mindless, flesh-hungering drones? What ifWhat if you stepped on a land mine when you got off the plane to this island? The fact was that he was here, right now, and he had some crooked scientists to take down. But how to take care of those guards of his? Roger sat and thought, but could think of no
great inspiration. Well, if there isn’t gonna be any divine intervention, looks like I’ll do this the old-fashioned way. He chuckled. Yeah, the old fashioned way of taking down a zombie-creating scientist and his four armed guards, with nothing but a pair of boxers, a T-shirt and a shotgun with you. Roger hefted a shotgun shell. It seemed a little light, so he grabbed another from the makeshift duct-tape bandolier he had set up on his arm. Taking careful aim, he tossed them across the room. They landed with a splash in the decorative pool, and Roger cheered his aim. The guards immediately looked towards the sound. One of them moved towards it with a hiss of “Check it out!” from Pross. The guard edged cautiously towards the pool. Closer…closer…yes! Roger leapt out, grabbed the guard by the neck, and addressed the rest of the room. “Now, listen up! If you all don’t put your guns down and step away from that machine, you’re gonna earn your friend here a-a buckshot shampoo! The guards didn’t say anything for a bit. Neither did Roger. Neither did Pross. Finally, almost thoughtfully, the guards hefted their guns and sprayed bullets towards Roger. He felt the man he was holding jerk as the slugs hit him, and only managed to crouch in time to escape the same fate. “Ah, you’re that security guard!” He heard Pross call. “The fellow who was drunk at the party! I remember you!” Then in a somewhat more inquisitive tone-“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Skipping formalities, Roger responded. “You killed everyone in this building, you bastard! You killed Larry!” “Well, I could hardly leave him alive, could I?” For God’s sake, the man sounded
like a movie villain. Well, two could play at that game. “What is this, Pross? What are you doing?” “My dear, dear boy” Pross said. His voice dripped with condescendence. “I couldn’t have this device-the Communicator-part of a public corporation! Can you imagine the profits it will reap? Untold billions!” “So, this was all about money. You killed everyone here for money. On second thought, the lucky ones are dead. The others are…I don’t even want to think about it, yes.” “Sometimes, my friend, the quickest path is through the mud. Now, if you please. Guards, cease our young friend here’s existence.” The guards moved forwards to oblige. Roger had been expecting this eventuality. What else could it come to, really? So he had inched himself, bit by bit, towards the fallen guardsman. As Pross talked, Roger crept nearer and nearer towards the object of his desire-the guard’s gun. Now, Roger wrapped his hand around the weapon’s grip, and leapt up. The guards were surprised, to say the least. They thought this one would just be a timid little rabbit, all talk and no action. At least one of them was proven wrong, when he met forcibly with several of Roger’s bullets. Both the guard and Roger sunk to the ground. However, Roger had the advantage of not being recently perforated. “I see you’re going to make this difficult.” Pross gritted out. “You won’t survive, regardless. So why must you keep trying?” Roger responded to this by bushing his shotgun over the plant formation and firing blindly in the direction he assumed the guards were. He heard a yelp. He fired in that direction again, now with the submachine gun. There wasn’t any other sound. Roger thought this an opportune time to talk.
“So, Pross, do I hear incorrectly, or is it just me against one of your goons? I told you that you’d pay.” There was no response. All the same, it was time to finish this. Roger peeked above the plant structure. There was the last guard. Roger must’ve caught him with a bit of buckshot, as he was nursing a bleeding leg. He did, however, have a gun pointed in Roger’s direction, a discouraging obstacle. He was sure that the man would fire the instant he saw anything that was conceivably Rogerlike, and the guard was probably a good shot. Well, might as well make the last one special. Roger quickly crossed himself, and heaved the machine gun over his shoulder. He heard a surprised “Oof!” this was his cue to leap up and fire as many shotgun rounds as was humanly possible. Perhaps even a few more. Now, assured that all the men were dead, it was time for Pross. Except-Where in the hell is Pross? A metallic click behind him answered that question. “You could look behind you. Oh, and please, drop your weapon” Damn. Roger let the shotgun fall with a dull clank. He turned to see Pross standing, a machine pistol aimed squarely at Roger. “I told you you could not succeed! But still, you try, and you continue to aggravate me! You are a liability that I am afraid cannot allow to remain alive.” Pross was inching closer to the hallway as he said this, trying to get an escape route. “GoodbyeRoger, was it?” “Yep. Roger.” Roger said amiably. “Well, I’m sorry for it to end like this, Roger. We may have been friends under other circumstances. But alas, it was not so. Goodbye, Roger.”
Three things then happened simultaneously. A fourth, fifth and sixth thing shortly after. Roger dove down and to his left, to avoid the storm of bullets he knew to be coming. Dr. Pross pulled the trigger on his weapon triumphantly. Dr. Pross was grabbed from behind by a lifeless, gray hand. Three bullets found their mark, slamming into Roger’s leg. He gasped with the sudden pain of the impact. Dr. Pross disappeared into the hall, yelping. Suddenly, his cries were cut off. I think we can all infer why. And, finally, a stray bullet whacked into the control panel of the Matter Communicator. And, if you count all hell breaking loose as a thing, then a seventh thing happened. A massive pulse of gravitational energy escaped the machine, achieving the same effect on Roger as a kick to the stomach. Gasping, he struggled to his feet. Another pulse. A kick in the shins. May a footnote in history forever show Roger Perry, Aged 27, as the fastest man in the world during the Island-Escape Bullet In Leg Zombie Shooting Dash. Roger ran as he had never run before. Blood pumping from his leg left a messy trail as he ran, gunning down anything he saw moving near him. He saw the door. Another zombie. Pow. Another corpse. He was getting closer. Closer…closer… He burst into the open air. The pulses were still coming out of the facility, and they were getting faster and more intense. He knew he couldn’t make it to the harbor in time, not in the state he was in. He needed something, anything to take him… His eyes alighted on a row of dirtbikes, lined up neatly next to the underground
truck parking. There is a God, and he loves me. He limped over to the vehicles, adrenaline fading quickly and being replaced by pain. Keys…keys…don’t any of them have keys? Aha! Jackpot! He leapt on the bike. Well, “leapt” is a bit enthusiastic. Maybe “hobbled upwards” would be a better term. But, barring the means in which it happened, Roger was on the bike. He gunned the engine, and there was a satisfying Roar. He was starting to be able to feel the gravity pulses again. They were getting much stronger. He sped along the dirt road. Plants, trees, grass, everything blurred behind him. He looked back at the facility. It didn’t look right. It seemed as if one was looking at it through a heat haze, on a foggy day, during a bad trip. It blurred and twisted almost comically with each one of the increasingly frequent pulses. He was getting nearer to the dock. He could see the sparkling blue of the water…it was beautiful. He launched onto the dock, and leapt, this time really leapt, off the bike. The ground was shaking underfoot. He needed a boat. Sailboat there…I don’t know how to sail. Yacht…I’m just one guy. Raft…yeah, that’ll last a long time in the Pacific. And…what do we have here? His eyes alighted upon a slender motorboat. It had an enclosed cabin, but it looked small enough to be run by one man. Well, that was as good as it was gonna get, with Roger increasingly feeling that he was tied to a subwoofer in a hip-hop show. He scrambled onto the boat, and searched for a way to get the rope off. In retrospect, he could’ve simply untied it, but hacking it off with the fire axe was much more dramatic. His boat now freed, he started the engine fast as he could. Gunning the motor, he scraped, quite literally, past the yacht and the sailboat. Whoops. The water around him seemed to be boiling. He fired the motor again, and sped out like the devil was chasing him. Looking back at the island was a peculiar experience, to say the least. The island
shook more and more until the center of it…disappeared. Gone. Poof. Out of existence. More and more of the island was seemingly scooped out of being, as if by some diabolical hand with a penchant for island-flavored ice cream. Then…it was gone. The island was no more. “Well,” Roger said, looking back. “That was a bit anticlimactic.” Just then, the ocean was torn in two by the most massive explosion Roger ever saw. Although, considering most people didn’t see very many explosions, it could be described better as ‘The ocean was torn in two by the most massive explosion’. Fish, sharks, whales, and who knows what else got the greatest thrill of their wet little lives (And for some, it was the thrill that ended their wet little lives) as they were borne into the air by a gargantuan detonation of gravitational, explosive and nuclear force. Roger had long before checked the wounds on his leg. They didn’t seem too bad, just flesh wounds. Maybe one bullet, two in the muscle. He had bound them up, and they seem to have stopped bleeding. Besides, he wasn’t worried about no one showing up to help. Not after that show. He saw a dark shape on the horizon. A ship. That was quick. He contemplated on whether he really needed to fire his flare gun or not. Ah, the hell with it. The bright flare lit up the ocean all around him, shining against the black sky like a star.