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“Tis the times’ plague, when madmen lead the blind.” – Shakespeare, King Lear
She didn't know it, and -though the signs had been there for years for anyone with eyes to see- there was no evident, immediate warning, but today was going to be Loretta Jones' last day fishing at Badin Lake.
Loretta was not a people person. Between her fishing rods, folding chairs, coolers, sun umbrellas, portable grills and tackle boxes, she had staked out her claim for ten yards all around. Those foolish or unlucky enough to err into her sacred bubble were treated to an ill-omened glare from behind her calico-frame sunglasses and a brisk and agitated whisking of her hand fan. No-one accompanied her on her sojourn as friend or confidant. She was childless (mainly because she wanted to be) and her tin foil hattery had driven her husband, the late, great, Mr. C.O. Jones, to a premature dirt nap ten years before, and that’s the way she liked it.
Although it wasn’t really, she liked to think of this bit of lake-front beach as her private cove, her own closeted concavity of lake pressed into the soft clay of the Uwharrie National Forest by a giant finger. In the center of the cove, some ninety feet from each bank, a curious little round island stumped up from the rippled glass. Monkey Island it was called, though no-one really seemed to know why. Its vertex was dominated by a twenty foot high swatch of Pampas Grass that had always reminded Loretta of the crazy, troll doll hair. The frayed bouffant towered over the cringing brush groveling in the dirt like inferior serfs beneath the searing glare of their overlord.
She’d started in shade but the sun had now rode Apollo’s chariot to its acme and the fiery orb beat down on the floppy hat covering her blue-rinsed hair. She lately had begun to worry about sunburn as the march of sixty years had leeched a bit of the melanin from her black skin, turning her to a wan copy of what she had once been.
She heard rocks and twigs crunching as someone walked by her, a bit close, she thought, for her taste.
“Yah,” she cried, flicking her fan with a celery-cracking snap at the uninvited interloper. “Mind my line, boy!”
The accidental trespasser, a young man in his early twenties, seemed taken aback and he stopped short, looking at Loretta.
“Sorry, granny,” he said apologetically. “I thought…”
“You’d best be doin’ less thinkin’,” Loretta said, “and more movin’.” She waved her fan imperiously in a shooing gesture.
The man hurried on.
Just like young’uns today, she thought. Not a brain in their heads and all down for whichever dim-bulb victims’ group is crying foul in the latest oppression lottery. She wondered who was gonna go claim the jackpot today. The tree huggers? The save the crickets crowd? Sure, they’d be picketing her choice of bait. Maybe the Vegetarians are Murderers, too. They kill plants to eat cadre was the gold medal winner in the most recent Victims’ Olympics. It was some crazy shit, alright. Oddly enough, the one issue that had finally made her see the light was a choice of toilet. What reasonable person could argue with one bathroom for men, another for women? It wasn’t as if it were back to the bad old days of separate but equal race segregation. Still, it had come to this: fifty different genders, each demanding their own shithouse. It was just too bad that there weren’t more men left like the late Mr. C.O. (_]that would be [_Clarence Osbert) Jones, who had flamed one of these SJW, D and I snowflakes into a shaking puddle over some of the snowflake’s trifling horseshit.
A big man, you could always tell when and where Mr. C.O. Jones had made an appearance by the head and shoulder shaped holes of smashed wood in the jambs and headers of doorways.
He’d stood sentry outside a public restroom while his eight year old niece, Althea, went in to use the potty. Some guy, so he had later told Loretta, had walked up and made a beeline for the ladies’ room.
“Yo, dude,” Mr. C.O. Jones had said in his booming foghorn of a voice. “The men’s room is the other door.”
The man, woefully educated beyond his intelligence at PCU, had decided -unwisely- to have words with Mr. C.O. Jones.
“I have a right to use whatever restroom I like,” the man had proclaimed with all the smug certainty and self-important righteousness of the utter and entire fool. “If I feel like a woman today, I can use the ladies’ room.”
Mr. C.O Jones had righted that wrong notion. “As long as my niece is in there,” he had informed the man, “you’d better grow a dick and use the men’s room. And if you think you’re gonna have trouble findin’ it, I’ll make it easy for you. Walk through that ladies’ room door and I’ll rip your newly sprouted cock off and park it in your coal chute.”
A tiny, unwilling smile briefly graced Loretta’s lips at the memory and was gone just as quickly. As much as she had harassed and harangued him into an untimely exit from this earthly gyre, when Mr. C.O. Jones had been alive, nobody had screwed with her, and she was right proud of that.
Ah, but it was all coming to a head, now. She’d heard for years how the population was being dumbed down, how the CFR and the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderbergers and the UN and the Fabians and even the USG were plotting to cull the world of its useless eaters and remodel the earth into Eden for the Elites. She’d initially dismissed it as cocked hat, conspiracy caca until she one day found herself incapable of juxtaposing her normalcy bias and cognitive dissonance comfortably against reality. As with most people, the redpilling took hold when she realized she wasn’t a member of the chosen: the select club of Blood Drinkers and Baby Eaters. She was part of the Trash Class. She was no Tyra Banks or Beyonce, a genetic blue ribbon winner who could be used as a blow up doll for the less than benevolent overlords. She had no truly useful skills that couldn’t be replicated by AI, or a robot, a machine, or any young, beautiful urchin from the street who would simply shut up and do as she was told for a night’s shelter from a storm or a crumb from the master’s table. She had exceeded her best-by date and might even be passed over by the organ harvesters. Once the wealth had been extracted from the producers of the world, it would be game over. And with the worldwide debt bomb ticking down to zero, it wouldn’t be long. The Powers That Be had not yet effectively moved their project of setting half the poor people in the world to killing the other half along a little faster, so Loretta knew they would have to get more proactive. In short, she had figured out they meant to kill her, too, and it would no longer be death by a thousand cuts. It was gonna be big.
So she had prepared. When the great culling came -and she was sure it would, in some form she hoped to recognize- she would be ready. When the vig came payable, she would have the best laugh.
And that time, she was about to find out, was now.
With no warning, the sun which had smiled so warmly was suddenly a dark frown. The sky, a happy and blemishless blue mere moments before, now filled with an ominous black cloud that swept aggressively out of the north, binding the compass from east to west. The anvilhead boiled and baked and puffed like a gasping pastry in an oven. An amassing wind stomped the mercury down twenty degrees and whipped the placid waters of the lake into whitecaps. The two story high Pampas Grass on Monkey Island flailed like the troll’s hair of which it so reminded Loretta.
Sinister, blue flashes crackled inside the cloud, jumping from one point to another like sparks. It wasn’t lightning (Loretta really couldn’t say exactly what it was), but it boded no good intent.
Like a rod -defined and regular- a blue beam shot out from the cloud and struck the lake with a booming Ka-Choom! sound. A welt of water ten feet high shot upwards from the impact of the beam.
More blue beams -complemented with a chilling, brain-frying buzz- reached down from the cloud, clutching and smacking giant handfuls of water.
The flashes pounded the lake
Ka-Choom! Ka-Choom! Ka-Choom! so frequently that the air itself seemed infused with a blue tint. With little thought to reckon how she had deduced it, Loretta knew today was the day one among the Reptilian Overlords had at last decided to put a round below the waterline of the good ship Terra, and the whole world was going down like a two dollah crack ho.
Other visitors to the lake had turned to the phenomenon, gazing skyward. As the blue beams swept over them with their ghostly glows, Loretta saw their sudden transformations in the spooky, unearthly luminance.
Even after the beams had disengaged from their victims, those it had touched retained an unhealthy, pale blue tint to their skin. Dark, cracked panes of veins suddenly erupted in the thin parchment of their faces and at their temples, pulsing so violently that Loretta was sure they would burst. Their eyes lost all luster and their faces, save for a sudden feral upturning of the lips, drooped like warm taffy. When they turned to look at Loretta, staring at her with their leaden eyes and moving towards her with a shambling, brainless gait, she knew the game.
She had little time before the pall engulfed her. Scrounging desperately in her oversized purse, she pulled out her custom-made tinfoil hat, complete with chin strap and propeller on top to deflect toxic thoughts and radiation. Tossing her floppy hat away, she hurriedly donned the crinkly headgear to defend herself from the Government Zombie Death Ray.
They’d really figured it out this time. Turn everyone but a few chosen into zombies. The zombies would eat each other, saving the hassle of messy cleanups and burials or cremations. In six months or so, the private armies of the elite, protected in their underground bunkers, would be dispatched to mop up the few remaining flesh eaters and police up the bones.
Hastily abandoning all she had come with, Loretta scampered back to her car, mercifully shielded from the eschaton by her tinfoil hat. Those who had laughed at her were soon going to be laughing from the other side of their faces.
Happily, the zombies edging towards her moved even slower than her arthritic, sixty year old frame did and she made it to her elderly Buick with only a couple of stumbles. As she stabbed the key into the ignition she was briefly afraid that embedded in the Government Zombie Death Ray might be some kind of EMP that would disable her vehicle.
Closing her eyes and hoping for the best, she turned the key. The ancient Buick sputtered to life and assumed a choppy sort of combustion, really no worse than it had been for years. She let out a rattling sigh, shifted into reverse, and bailed out of the gravel parking lot with a spinning of tires.
She flicked on her headlights, hoping the reassuring, everyday light from their beams would lessen some of the alien twilight. They didn’t help much. She had, for the moment at least, outpaced the roiling clouds, but they would catch up soon enough. She tried the radio and, as expected, got nothing but white noise.
The day had been hot, but now she rolled her windows up against the gloom. She had to get to her refuge soon. Whatever else the ray might be doing, it had already changed the air to knives in her lungs and her breathing was strained, draining her of fire and blood.
It wasn’t far to her house, and the way was mainly on the back roads. She passed only a couple of cars. She didn’t count those that had swerved off the roads and were now surrounded by feasting zombies.
As she slowed down to navigate the town’s byways, the beams and clouds again overtook her, but she was calm. She was safe. Taken all in all, she thought maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing that the world was ending. A world without white people was fine with her. A world with no people at all was even better. To her mind, the rest of the world's inhabitants -whatever their tint- clung to a tier a couple of rungs lower than rejects from The Gong Show.
Almost all the way home, she rolled by the local Pick-up and Stick-up. The plate glass windows were already shattered, the alarms blaring, flesh-slicing sharks' teeth of broken glass littering the sidewalk and pulsing galvanic blue in the crackling lightning. All manner of miscreants -from thug life hoods to middle aged men in business suits- were in and out of the broken windows, toting armloads of ill-gotten booty. She imagined the cigarettes and the booze had been the first things to go. Somehow a fire had broken out and the smoke, not yet thick, billowed out the broken window and only partly masked the licking, orange flames. She shook her head ruefully and knowingly, her lips pressed down to a prissy little slit. So soon it had come to this: Fire, thieves and kings broken by the sting of the sweeping beam, the wise and the dense alike falling unclean from the ray's indiscriminate wrath. They wouldn't have long to enjoy their crimes.
She turned onto the road leading to her house. On porches and in front yards, her neighbors all looked to the fast spreading cloud. There she was, Jezreel Cole, one of those white women that took all the fine, black men. Loretta knew that was the in thing now, and she supposed that was better than when the in thing had been to have them standing on the front lawn with a lantern in their hand, but she still didn’t like it. Not that she hadn’t had her own dalliances with white men after Mr. C.O. Jones had departed, but that was different . She -Loretta- knew what she was doing. Jezreel didn't even notice her as she drove by.
And there was Connie Prager. With her nine league boots, four-axe-handle wide ass and fashions by Zeppelin, she would never be charged with being light on her hooves. Even now, in the birthing throes of the world-ending cataclysm, she stood like a transfixed sheep on her front porch, watching the forbidding black cloud advance, a greasy chicken leg gripped in one paw, its grease running down the doughy flab of her arm, a bag of cheese puffs clutched in her other hand. To complete the Acid hallucination, she was shoeless, wore a tube top and a pair of cut off jeans that choked off the air to her cottage cheese thighs.
Seriously, Loretta thought. this is what you wear to the Zombie Apocalypse? She shook her head again.
She spotted Johnny James, at fourteen the youngest of the James clan, and one of only a few white folks she actually liked. He’d always been kind and respectful to her. Not that she had that much sympathy for him, but he was the only dim bulb in the whole burnt out, inbred rack, even if he was a squat-to-piss pussy. He, like everyone else, was spellbound by the gathering storm, but he managed to spot her and wave a hand in greeting. Loretta ignored him, her sights set only on getting to her shelter.
She pulled into her driveway with a screech, jammed the Buick into park and bolted for her doorway, her two hundred and ten pounds jiggling and jiving as she moved faster than she had in a while. Once inside she could handle whatever came. Anyone came banging on her door would get nothing and like it. If they persisted with their tomfoolery, she’d dry gulch them with six rounds of nine millimeter aspirin in the ten ring. That would cure whatever ailed them.
She bolted her door and walked around latching and locking all her doors and windows, pulling down and securing the specially installed steel shutters, knowing time was short. It would only delay a determined invader for a short time, but she didn’t intend to hang around that long. The Zombie beam worked fast, even if it didn’t work on everyone. Sitting here alone in her house, an old black woman without the protection of Mr. C.O. Jones, the first roving band of armed dindus, beaners, or meth-mouthed, mullet headed crackers would have her roasting on a spit just for a can of sardines. She couldn’t linger. Mr C.O. Jones was no more and she had to deal with the Zombie Apocalypse on her own.
Moving to a door so carefully concealed in the wall that sometimes even she had trouble finding it, she stopped only long enough to grab a crewel work sampler hanging on her wall:
And Faith Shall Throw the Dead Below.
She flicked an inside switch on and took the sampler with her as she descended the well-lighted stairs, and not a second too soon. What had been an uneasy order had already descended into chaos. The hideous sound of the beam was now here and she heard shouts and screams outside. She paused for only a second, looking back as she thought she heard footfalls on her front porch, expecting to hear a knock on her door and an entreaty for aid. But there was nothing. She turned back and hurried down the steps.
Everything was prepped and ready, courtesy of a $250,000 life insurance payout on Mr. C.O. Jones, and she had no need to do anything else save shut the well-concealed door behind her.
She had a whole world full of canned goods, dehydrated meats and vegetables, candy, petrol, well-concealed solar panels, battery packs and ventilation systems, water purification, septic and well systems, medical books, first aid supplies and antibiotics. She had a blooming arsenal of firearms and extra ammo. If push came to shove, she even had an old, dug well in her hibernation space, complete with twenty galvanized buckets and a thousand yards of rope. She was properly outfitted for a year, but could actually hold on to a subsistence survival for better than a decade if it came to it. Hell, the house could burn down on top of her and she could still survive and thrive.
Still, even with all her planning, she knew she had to abide by the cardinal rule of the Zombie Apocalypse: always save the last bullet for yourself. Thinking this, she prudently set her 9 MM on a shelf above her canned goods and sat back to wait out the disaster.
She wasn’t so foolish as to believe she had planned for every contingency that might crop up. She was only curious as to what they might be and if she could adapt.
The first few days had been bad as the carnage was localized. Even though she was fairly well insulated, she had still heard the poundings on her door on the first day. The shouts and pleas for aid, the breaking of her window glass and the metallic rapping against the obdurate, steel shutters; the screams and gunfire.
No-one had gotten in the first day. They had on the second. She didn’t know how they had found ingress, but she could hear muffled voices and footfalls above her head. As soon as she had heard the footfalls she had shut down all her equipment, afraid the intruders might hear the telltale hum of the rectifiers, or the sound of a relay clicking on or off. She sat, trembling, her pistol in hand, hoping to stay hidden. She was sure the power was out by now and, unless the intruders had flashlights, they were as in the dark as she was.
She heard cabinets and closets being opened and closed. They would, she hoped, take whatever could be taken from the pantry and the fridge, be on their way, and not be squatters. Then there were new, slower footfalls on the floor. Then hoarse shouts, then gunfire, then screams. She could only imagine the unholy drama being played out as Zombie and human clashed.
Then the shouting and gunfire ceased. For the next few hours, even though she knew it couldn’t be, she imagined she heard a multitude of footfalls, the ripping sounds of tearing flesh, slurping, and breaking bones. Then it was over. Until the sounds she heard (or thought she had heard) had been mute for several hours, she dared not power up her equipment.
Worse was the deafening silence that came several days later. That was something she had not planned for. As her little corner of the world was wiped clean of the living and the undead, the sound -or rather the not sound- of a bygone civilization settled like a closing curtain.
The everyday dissonance of engines, cars whishing by, the hum of appliances and power lines, the distant squawk of a radio, even the sounds of human voices had vanished. She could from time to time hear the wind blow, but mostly it was the hum of her own equipment. It was, she supposed, the only thing which kept her from going mad.
It was becoming harder to keep track of time and the days. There were no radio transmissions. Neither commercial, nor shortwave, nor CB. She had a day and date clock, but she didn’t trust it, not being able to see with her own eyes the sun and the moon. Those were the times she wished she had installed a CCTV camera, but she had been afraid of the risk. Even if it had been wireless, it would have tipped off any bad guys that there was someone nearby who was scoping out the situation. She didn’t want that.
Her refuse and septic systems were working as advertised, but faint, unpleasant odors of sewage and rot were gathering, and she was afraid that would be yet another telltale. She reflected, unhappily, that she was fast becoming one of the things she had most despised in her previous life: A mushroom. Those that were kept in the dark, buried in bullshit, and if they stuck their head above the bullshit, they got it chopped off and eaten.
The whole world was injun territory now, black as the pit from pole to pole. She was afraid to creep up the stairs, stick her head up, and peer out her door.
The irony was not wasted on her.
She had her books, and her videos, and her CD’s, but was often afraid to utilize then for fear they would be heard, or her reading lights would be seen, or she would drain her batteries.
So she mostly sat and thought about the world she had left behind, and the world to come.
She still believed the world deserved to be swept away. She had only her experience in the good old U.S. of A to guide her, but she supposed it wasn’t much different anywhere else.
She thought 535 shaved Bonobos could do a better job than the house and senate. They would be at least as intelligent and not nearly as corrupt.
She hated an intelligence apparatus haunted by more spooks than an English castle, ready and willing to drop the hammer on anyone unready to sing the official narrative.
She really despised a two party system that, when it had a choice of over three hundred million Americans, still managed to cough up a world class felon and a reality TV star as their champions. She couldn’t countenance the kind of plonkers that would dish up such a sexless harridan or orange-haired billionaire, or the kind of voters that would pull the lever for either of them.
Americans had been Gruberized, apparently developing a taste for shit and asking for seconds, and America itself had become a five dollar whore that gave three dollars change.
But what came after? With all the SJW’s firmly convinced of a Utopia of puppy kisses and happy pills being brought to them by a world government full of bloviating viziers, mandarins, and moguls, what they would really get was a New World Order of Peasant under glass. They’d already killed us off once. What made them think they wouldn’t do it again?
There would be survivors, sure, there always were, but they would be no more than they had been before: Slaves to their betters who would be, after they got Continuance of Government up and running, farting through silk again soon enough. How could it be otherwise? Those peasants weren’t going to oppress themselves.
She frowned. She could reasonably expect to live ten or twenty more years and she shouldn’t be thinking about such things. Such thoughts could only lead down one path.
Still, for almost the first time in her life, she wished she could hear -even if it was Connie Prager's- another human voice.
It was maybe a week later when she heard the movement above her. She jolted awake with a start. It had been quite some time since she had heard anything moving above her. Maybe it was an animal that had come in through the open door. Perhaps by now the weather had turned and it was cold out. The days had become so jumbled that she really didn’t know. She didn’t imagine that the burglars and zombies had had the courtesy to close and lock the doors on their way out.
She gripped the pistol in her hand, listening. The footfalls were heavy, definitely not an animal. There was no clicking of claws, but only the steady, two legged cadence of a human being. A big human being. Hardly daring to believe it, she thought she actually recognized the gait and meter. Surely it couldn’t be?
The hidden latch on the door at the top of the stairs clicked. But that was impossible. No-one but her knew it was there. The door creaked open. It was dusk, maybe, and just enough light came in through the open front door to eerily backlight the silhouette of the large man who stood in the doorway, the top of his head even with the header.
Loretta gripped the pistol tighter and held it at trembling arm’s length as Mr. C.O. Jones began plodding down the stairs.
Her vocal cords turned to immovable steel as the Zombie tramped implacably closer, one black step at a time. What would she say?
Mr. C.O. Jones reached the level at the bottom of the stairs and shuffled into the light. Skin had sloughed from his bald head, showing the bloody red musculature beneath. His face was slack, yet still split by the feral grin Loretta had first noticed at the lake. Sinew and ridges of bone stood out starkly on the backs of his hands. He was what leprosy would look like if it were a person. Yet his eyes sparkled, as if with glee.
“C.O.,” Loretta squeaked. “You wouldn’t hurt me, would you?”
C.O. shuddered a step forward, reaching out with a dripping hand.
“No,” Loretta shrieked. She wouldn’t go out this way. She placed the Nine mil beneath her chin, slipped her finger into the trigger guard, and fired. It was the prepper’s creed: Always save the last round for yourself.
She fell backward, the gun slipping from her nerveless fingers, into an eternal sleep in which she never had to worry about Zombies or the New World Order ever again.
Two months after the Zombie Apocalypse, the blueberries were about to windup their mop up operations.
It had taken some doing, but a squad of blueberries had managed to sniff out the hidden doorway in Loretta’s house and get into her panic room. It was tough going, the lock on the inside of the door quite substantial and unforgiving.
The panic room itself was very well kept and outfitted, more so than most of them, and this lady looked like she had held out longer than most of the preppers. From the looks of it, she could have gone on for years.
It was obvious she had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The doors had been locked from the inside and no-one else was there. And though she had started to smell and bloat a little, it wasn’t too bad. The blueberry in charge guessed she had been gone no more than a couple of days.
“I wonder,” said one of the peacekeepers, speaking Belgian French, “what she saw that did her in?”
“Who knows,” the head blueberry replied. “To me, she’s just another one that thought she could have it her own way. Free will is a liability these days, soldier. Be glad you’re part of the chosen.”
“It’s a lot of people gone, sarge. This could never be right.”
“I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear you say that, private. You’ll live a longer and healthier life if you keep things like that to yourself. Hell, I’d recommend you don’t even think it.”
The blueberry Sargent reached over to the wall and plucked the crewel work sampler off it, staring at it thoughtfully.
“And Faith shall throw the dead below.”
He set the crewel work sampler next to Loretta’s corpse almost reverently, and straightened up. He tilted up his pale blue helmet with the big white UN stenciled on it and looked down, maybe a little sadly, at Loretta’s corpse.
“Here’s another one thought they could buck the new world government. When will they learn? If the zombie death ray didn’t get ‘em, the crazy ray did.”
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