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Natalie, Anthropologist of the undead

Natalie wasn’t, technically a scientist in the biological sense of the word. She taught herself everything she now knew. She had been a social scientist for most of her adult life studying the anthropology of the undead.

Not one person had ever really batted an eye at her. She was the definition of ordinary. She had long brown hair down to her waist but it was always tucked away into a perfect bun. Her brown eyes matched her hair and oddly enough she looked a bit like a mouse because her nose was cute and small while her eyes were a bit large for the size of her face. She wore black rimmed glasses that she didn’t really need, and were two sizes too big, but she felt they made her look smart.

She felt that she was important and yet she had always been passed over for tenure. Men looked at her without interest and she had never been able to make close friends. She had gone unnoticed her entire life. Most people found her too weird or too smart, too much or not enough of something that she could never really understand. Now, she sat alone in her makeshift lab in the basement of her parents house looking at the samples she created from rat one and rat two. From this she sat up rubbing her eyes under her glasses. “It’s done” she whispered to no one in particular.

“Now I just need hosts to deliver it”. She carefully packed what she needed. She had made it a simple injectable so it would be easy to distribute. She felt her heart race in excitement. Everything she ever felt was supposed to happen was about to happen.

The basement walls were wallpapered with zombie folklore. She read everything about zombies she could ever get her hands on. It didn’t matter if it was academic, or simply a post apocalyptic zombie novel. If it hadn’t been for the narrow mindedness of the people who thought she was a hack, she would have probably been labelled the leading expert on zombies. Most people - she felt, believed her to be a joke. A pseudo scientist that would never amount to anything real. People viewed her as a paranoid freak, never taking her theories seriously. The courses she taught at the university were never, and would never be core classes of any kind. They were meant to grab money for the school and provide easy course credits toward whatever degree one was obtaining.

Natalie had maintained a steady career despite what others had felt about her topic of choice. She had been a professor for fifteen years, gave talks, lectures, even written many articles and books. However, she had still been passed over for tenure. She had given her life to her passion and felt that one day the collapse would happen and everything she ever read or wrote would come to the forefront. She had been gravely disappointed when the US House of Representatives passed the amendment that barred the Department of Defence from the preparation for any “effects of Anthropogenic Global Warming”. Finally she had decided enough was enough. No one wanted to believe that zombies posed a threat to all non-zombie human life. Not one person in any position of authority wanted to take her preparations seriously to “Preserve the sanctity of human life” nor did they want or feel they needed to ‘conduct any operations to support any preservations of the human population’ so they relayed to her through long winded emails and formal letters.

Her lectures outlined many contingency plans for the survival of an apocalyptic event due to a flu like virus that changed people into what some would define as the living dead. They only needed to prepare - if they had done what she suggested the casualties would be minimal.

Now she was going to show them exactly what she predicted would happen. She was going to save the world from a viral outbreak.

She wasn’t a biologist by any means. It took years of establishing the right connections and suppliers to create what was destined to be. She closed up her side bag with the injections and her lecture notes for class. Smiling she walked up the stairs. She stood at the top for a moment to take one last look before she turned the lights off and closed the door to get ready for work.

“Natalie, honey, will you be home for dinner tonight?” Natalie’s mother, Courtney Courtwright had been the perfect wife and mother. She had been a member in the PTA throughout Natalie’s school career. Was actively in a number of fundraisers from elementary school through to her Phd and now worked as a fundraiser for a number of associations all tied to the school Natalie now taught at.

“No mom, I have to work late, papers need to be graded.” Natalie replied, frustrated by her mothers constant presence. Her basement was now her only sanctuary. She would have kept her own apartment if she hadn’t thought up her new plan. She needed to be somewhere that she could work without causing suspicion and she hadn’t had any hope that her old neighbours would have been kind as she brought in the rats.

“Sweety, since you have been back home we barely see you, you’re gone all day and then you lock yourself up in the basement. What is it that you are working on?” She glanced at her daughter hoping for an answer but knowing full well that she wouldn’t receive one. She had been growing concerned since the day she watched Natalie attempt to smuggle in a bunch of rats into the basement. She didn’t want to pry but she couldn’t see why her daughter would want them. The child had never wanted a pet in her entire life. Not even a dog when she was little.

“Mom, I eat when I am hungry, and I’m fine. I’m just working on my next book and it is taking longer than I had originally intended” Natalie grabbed her jacket and headed for the door avoiding any more conversation on the topic.

“Ok hun, well, have a good day at work dear” Natalie watched her mother fuss around the kitchen putting a batch of muffins in the oven. Her father sat at the table reading the paper never once looking up. She shook her head and glanced at her watch, it was only 8am and her mother had already done more than most would in an entire day.

It took her thirty minutes to drive to the pharmacy. Pulling on a white coat before walking in she looked like one of the many nurses sent in to help with the distribution of flu vaccines. Her identity tag was solid and had cost her a nice sum of money to obtain it. She sat down at her station and slipped the injections into her pocket. Taking the tray with the vaccines she turned taking the syringes from her pocket and placing them on the tray while taking the flue vaccines and dropping them in her opposite pocket. She sat and exchanged friendly banter with the other nurses and people getting their vaccines. She injected over 100 hosts with her concocted virus and then told the others she was going for a quick coffee break. She pulled her jacket off when she reached the street corner, looked around quickly and then stuffed the coat and the I.D into the city garbage can. She smiled and headed towards her car. In the next 24 hours she was going to become a very important person...some might say the leading expert in the entire world.

Natalie, day 1 Journal Entry

I haven’t been asked yet about my first day. I know I will be and I will have to lie but I need to let out the truth somehow. Shaun gave me this journal to help keep my findings which you will also find scribbled on the pages in here. However, first, I need to write out my story. I’ve been hiding from it for a long time. I thought Shaun was going to figure it out but luckily no one has made contact. Mostly because of me as well but I will tell you all about it. Here it goes:

It happened much faster than my calculations predicted it would. I really did feel that I had been careful, but somehow I made a wrong calculation somewhere along the way. Maybe I underestimated the effect genes would play in the reaction to the virus? Whatever the case, it spread much faster and infected more hosts than I had ever predicted it would. In fact it was nothing like what I expected.

I had been in my office on campus when a deafening scream rattled the window. I stood up to look outside and was surprised to see a group of infected had circled a group of other, healthy university students. They all stood for a moment in a stare down when, as though in slow motion, three of the infected opened their mouth unnaturally wide and let loose an unholy screech. The sound that they produced was fantastical, cracking some windows and shattering others. The non-infected university students grabbed their heads and collapsed to the ground. I was on the seventh floor and still covered my ears while my brain rattled slightly. I was far enough away to not feel too disoriented and I continued to stare in disbelief as the infected jumped on to their prey without further hesitation. Some students who got caught up in the mix managed to fight through receiving minor abrasions while others had clear indications of being bitten. Six of the twenty or so people were taken down completely. The infected tore into their bodies, ripping out arms and legs from their still flailing bodies. Blood sprayed across the ground and up the building like gruesome graffiti.

Horrifed by what I had done I grabbed my jacket and bag and ran out the door.

What I didn’t know at the time was that I hadn’t created a zombie virus technically. Unfortunately there is only so much you can observe in mice and rats. I had never been trained formally on infectious diseases, so everything I had done up to that point was complete ‘guess work’ at the very best. I studied the aftermath of civilization, how they would survive, not the biological components of what an infection caused exactly. What I had developed was a virus like no other. This tore apart a persons DNA make up and put in its own code. Some infected turned dominant, the muscles in the throat doubling in size and the mouth expanding to a ridiculous radius that seemed almost comical. The teeth became pointed and the tongue developed barbs evenly across it. They did not gain visible muscle mass but the brute force was unmistakable as the infected could clearly tear limbs from the non infected with efficiency and ease. They also developed vocal cords that could let out a screech that was incredibly debilitating to most non-infected and also called other infected to them. Others had obviously been attacked but didn’t present any signs of infection other than the odd clotting of skin and muscle poking out from a wound. I had created a different species capable of destroying civilization as we knew it. I need you to know, who ever may read this that this was not my intention and I have been trying to make up for it ever since.

I managed to make it out of the building in a panic. A variety of stages of the infection took hold of people around me. I turned to watch a man throw up on himself, sweating profusely through his clothes his skin greyed and glistened, he began to excessively blink as though he couldn’t focus or see in that moment. His throat began to shift, muscle looked as though it was building and binding to the muscle already present. His mouth opened and split down both corners and instantly skin grew to bind it together again but it had become noticeably bigger. Some of the infected were quick while others were quite slow. Some others fell and just refused to get back up, dying in the spot where they fell.

I stood in disbelief as I watched one of the infected jump effortlessly over a truck to attack six other people. The efficiency was incredible, his nails had grown out like claws, he slashed out and pulled people down, using the slash of a wrist and neck to slow the non infected down. Once he seemed satisfied that those around him were down, he pulled limbs from them like leaves from a tree and began to tear the meat off the bones with his teeth as he ate.

They were deadly as individuals but I saw that they were also smart in an animalistic sense, banning together sensing their chances were better like a pack of wolves on a hunt. This was something far from my intended playbook. This was a new species and they were quick and methodical. I wanted shuffling dead that were easy to kill and evade, this was nothing like what I had predicted and I was terrified.

“God help us” was all I could think. I couldn’t turn away. A man stood not more than fifteen feet in front of me, he had been bitten in the arm, his eyes were glazing over he opened his mouth as if to yawn, instead a low growl began turning into a deep yell until it hit a pitch that I knew no regular human could bleat out. I covered my ears and ran as fast as my legs could carry me. I reached my car, my hands shaking, I attempted to put the keys in the ignition several times before they stayed in place and I turned the ignition. Slamming the gears into reverse and flooring it out of the parking space, I saw behind me two of my students being taken down by another pack of the infected. I tossed the car into drive and floored it out of the parking lot dodging people attempting to save themselves by hitching a ride, it would only slow me down. My heart was pounding, I couldn’t wrap my mind around what I obviously had begun. Ambulance and police screamed by me not paying any attention to my dangerous and outright reckless driving. Drifting onto my parents road I pulled the e-brake in front of the house jumping from the car while it was practically still moving. Not bothering to put it into park or take the keys out. Running up the steps two at a time I crashed through the front door. Realizing that it had been far too easy for me to crash through I looked back to see that the door had already been crashed through before my cheesy attempt.


“MOM, DAD?!!!! Where are you?” I screamed running to the living room where the television was blaring. The house had been trashed. Everything tossed onto the floor, the couches torn apart while stuffing puffed up and out of the cushions littering the floor with its fluffy snow like dust. Glass littered the floor in various places from broken picture frames and my mothers collection of vases with fake flowers had been scattered everywhere. My heart sank into my chest as I ran upstairs. I discovered my mothers body lying naked on their bedroom floor. Her hands and feet had been bound behind her and she had been gagged. Blood pooled around her body. I stepped closer gasping at the sight of her slashed neck and stark open eyes. I looked away as tears blurred my vision.

I found my father on the other side of the bed his neck broken and bound in the same way as my mother though still wearing clothing. I stumbled out of the bedroom and hit the wall collapsing to the ground. My chest heaved as I sobbed uncontrollably.

Gun shots outside woke me from my stupor. I scrambled to stand back up and quickly realized I had no idea what to do. My mind went completely blank. I have written survival articles, books, contingency plans upon contingency plans and at that moment I didn’t know what the fuck to do. My own fucking plan escaped my memory as I began to panic. I panicked because my scheme was not going the way it was supposed to go. I covered my parents with sheets off their bed and managed to get downstairs to close the front door. Slowly I began piecing things back together, I started this new world, now it was time to follow through with it no matter what happened to the stupid plan. I took a deep breath and headed to the basement. Luckily the locks held, or the people who broke in entirely missed that it even existed. I unlocked the door and went downstairs and sat on my couch and turned on the t.v. The chaos was unbelievable people were reacting insanely and it was all happening too fast. I picked up the phone and began dialling. I knew I was going to have to work a lot faster then I originally calculated, but first I needed someone to pick up the friggin phone.

After hours of dialling government numbers I finally gave up. I had yet to get through to anyone, and watching the news I realized I wouldn’t be getting a hold of any government faculty. Turning the volume up slightly on the television I listened;

“…the infection has spread everywhere, we’ve received official confirmation from the Prime Ministers office that we are in a state of complete chaos. God help us.” the television switched feeds to scenes all over the world. People were running for their lives in the streets, out of office buildings while groups of the infected jumped onto their backs and began ripping them apart. The television switched to a scene of government officials walking into an unmarked bunker that turned out to not be as secret as they would have liked. Hundreds of people stood outside hoping to be rescued and have access to the safety of the bunker. Just as the doors began to close the camera panned out across the sea of people towards the back where the infected began picking off people five at a time, the carnage was horrific as the camera man attempted to steady his hand, he was knocked to the ground and the camera was sent flying cutting off the feed on impact. I looked away and turned off the television. I walked over to my lab and sighed. I stared at the deep red solution on the counter that sat mocking me.

“How the hell do I make more of you now?” I spoke to the solution, desperately wanting it to tell me what the fuck to do.

The plan had been to bring it with me to the CDC where I could fake the making of the cure there in record timing, but more importantly, I would have had access and the resources to make more. I wouldn’t be able to accomplish that anymore since the location was less then desirable. Sooner rather than later someone or something would come through that door to kill me.

I stupidly believed the government would have come to save me, unfortunately they hadn’t been given the time to even think of my name.

Footsteps from upstairs stiffened my body. I suddenly felt extremely unprepared to defend myself. “I’m going to die in the mess I created. They will never know there was a possible cure, if it even works” I whispered to myself. Grabbing the scalpel off the lab tray I tiptoed my way under the stairs shoving myself in-between the boxes of clothes and Christmas decorations my mother had stored there. I heard the door open briefly and then close. I let out a breath I’d been holding in. I closed my eyes and steadied my breathing counting to five slowly then I opened my eyes. Realizing I wouldn’t live if I stayed. I crept out of the hiding spot and crept across the lab as quickly as I could. As quietly as possible I grabbed my bag and then poured the red solution into a container. Grabbing my journal I stuffed everything into my bag. I walked over to the shelf where I stored the bleach and grabbed some more cleaning solution, grabbing a bucket I poured all the bleach I had. Pulling my scarf over my face and tightening it I held my breath as I mixed a solution I pushed the bucket closer to the stairs and turned on the fan. The white gas began to billow out towards the stairs. Foot steps got louder, shouts and more footsteps as I turned and tossed a couple canisters into the microwave and set the timer, I headed towards the cellar door. I heard a bit more commotion as I shut and locked the door behind me. Opening the hatch I climbed down. The small hallway took me out towards a storm drain that I could get up onto the streets three blocks over. Halfway through the hallway an explosion shook the tunnel. Luckily it held but I was afraid what I was going to discover when I resurfaced.

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