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Zombie Me: Patchwork and Pieces

Chapter 1: Part 1, Litany of Rot

Chapter 1: Part 2, Shattered

Chapter 1: Part 3, Growling with Hunger

Chapter 1: Part 4, Vion Rising

Chapter 1: Part 5, Stand Off

Chapter 1: Part 6, The Call

Chapter 1: Part 7, Free Association

Chapter 1: Part 8, First Taste

Chapter 1: Part 9, Bert and Ernie

Chapter 1: Part 10, Starting to Rain

Chapter 2: Part 1, "Me!"

Chapter 2: Part 2, C.A.B.L.E.T.V.

Chapter 2: Part 3, Raining

Chapter 2: Part 4, Sheltered Hunger

Chapter 2: Part 5, Clouded Eye Open

New short story "The Awakening"

Chapter 2: Part 6, Everything Yet Nothing

Chapter 2: Part 7, The Cheshire Smile

Chapter 2: Part 8, Cacophony of Fists

Chapter 2: Part 9, Still Born

Chapter 2: Part 10, Empty Nest

Chapter 3: Part 1, False Rescue, Hidden Hope

Chapter 3: Part 2, The Process

Review of Brainchild... A collection of Artifacts

Chapter 3: Part 3, Psuedo Life

Chapter 3: Part 4, Wayward Derelicts

Chapter 3: Part 5, The Cleaners

Chapter 3: Part 6 The Corridor

Chapter 3: Part 7, Echoes of Death

Chapter 3: Part 8, The Road Kill Machine

Chapter 3: Part 9, Fixed Lividity

New short story "Alone in the Woods"

Chapter 3: Part 10, Fire Within

Chapter 4: Part 1, Eye of the Beholder

Chapter 4: Part 2, Home

New - Character Sketches

Chapter 4: Part 3, Dead Inside

Chapter 4: Part 4, Dead Soldiers

Chapter 4: Part 5, Kill Switch

Chapter 4: Part 6, The Call Part 2

Chapter 4: Part 7, The Key

Chapter 4: Part 8, Reunion

Chapter 4: Part 9, Unleashed


Chapter 1: Part 6, The Call

The glowing digits of the Westinghouse alarm clock had read 11:30 p.m. although it seemed to be much later to her. Jennifer Hargrove was a nervous wreck, she had been since two nights earlier. Grabbing her cell phone she started to dial a number known by heart and stopped. She tossed the phone to the other side of the bed angry with herself for acting like a scared teenager. The last words Eric had said to her specifically implied to everyone that there was to be no communication until the media coverage had died down or unless he had called first. There had been no news coverage of the debacle. There hadn't even been any radio traffic on Jackson's police scanner hours after it had happened. They had all sat there as the moonlight faded on the 18th in that God forsaken storage building in St. Bernard's cemetery. Each one listening intently to hear the police closing in on them. Instead all they heard was a shooting call at a bar on Revere beach and some vandals seen spray painting at the Downtown Crossing train station.

She flipped on the television and scoured through the news stations. Nothing but the weather and those mind numbing human-interest stories. She laughed as she though of the cleverly worded snippets of reporting that were meant to tug at one's heart, human interest, more like special interest. Her training in psychology kicked into high gear as she analyzed the hidden intentions of those segments. She thought of her slightly paranoid Societal psychology professor Mr. Weber and his lectures on mass media. He would expound for hours on how these segments were meant to create emotional connections with the viewer to offset the mostly lack luster content of local, domestic, and global affairs.

The TV flashed to life as the channel surfing continued. She paused just long enough on MTV to catch a glimpse of a tattooed arm being pierced by a skewer. It had been at least ten years since she had seen anything on MTV that she could identify with or make out anything that resembled a music video. Her thumb reflexively clenched the remote as the numbers in the channel display continued to climb. She paused again as a large man in a bloody apron wielded a wailing chainsaw. She knew this story all too well, in fact her undergraduate study had been based on the dementia of Ed Gein. His horrific activities had spawned many horror movie characters in addition to the infamous Leatherface. Characters like the crazed Norman Bates in Psycho and the cross dressing serial killer Buffalo Bill in the Silence of the Lambs. Even the roughly sewn human skin suit came from the life... nightmare that was Ed Gein. Jen's thumb began to quiver as her blue eyes reflected the violence on screen. Her thumbnail cut a deep impression into the soft rubber of the channel up button as she continued her ascent. Skittering past Jason Vorhees and running from Freddy Kruger her thumb pressed ever faster. Ten more days till Halloween Elvira pronounced on some channel that was running a horror movie marathon. The channel surfing ended abruptly as the sole image of the scarred face of Edward Scissorhands lit the screen.

An image invaded her thoughts. It had been the one she had fought back all night. The image of an eyelid fluttering open brought her back instantly to that lab. Lit from the ultraviolet bulbs of numerous cell culture chambers eerie forms glinted off metalic surfaces. The glacial atmosphere of the isothermal lab had chilled the beads of nervous sweat on her neck and hands. There in the back, lying on a stainless steel exam table, shrouded in darkness and shadowed by IV stands was a body. She exchanged questioning glances tinged with a nervous fright with the members of her cadre. They had expected what they had seen in the animal testing labs, even the dog that had looked like it had been experimented on for months. The sight of which had left them all a little rattled, and now this forbiding form loomed ahead. The corpse looked to be that of a man in his late twenties. Long lines of fresh scars ran over the entire length of his body. It had been hard to discern in the darkness, but something about his face gave her the distinct impression that he was not a consistant organism. His countenance had distinct features of more than one face. A police artist rendering of a crimal from multiple accounts roughly approached how she had felt. Maybe it was how his cheeks were uneven, or that his upper lip didn't match well with the lower. All this could be explained by how stitches pull skin in random directions she thought, but still she could not shake that feeling.

The whole scene felt distant as it replayed in her mind, Jackson's deep baritone voice now seemed mute and slurred as he stated that there was no pulse, even her own movements as she closed in now replayed in slow motion. Her hair as it had fallen in her face as she tipped her head to get a closer look. Misty breath fell on the motionless frame of the body. She jumped back with a startle! The scene came into stark clarity as her inner camera zoomed in on the most minute of motions, the corpse's eyelid had flicked open briefly.

That tiny movement had the same effect as if she had been slapped across the face. The glimmering light of her scented candles contrasted sharply with the harsh glow from her TV. She picked up her cell and dialed Eric's number, the phone had just started to ring when she realized that she had been crying.

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Chapter 1: Part 5, Stand Off

The stand off had continued for what seemed like an eternity without any movement on either side. Intermittent growls of hunger cut through the air like deafening roars. In the darkness he could sense the creature scanning him, looking for weaknesses, and looking through him... into him. The presence in the corner tracked every flicker and minute twitch of his aching body. After a short while his bicep no longer wanted to play with his newfound friends at the game of being still. Tremulous spasms pinned tendons against muscle. A violent eruption of off-white lava burst from between the sutures in his shoulder. Putrid magma flowed down his arm, renewed with every pulsing flex, unimpeded by surgical stainless or black nylon.

A sudden flurry of movement exploded from the corner and was immediately upon him. It seemed that as soon as the ride had started that it was over and the carnies were telling him to get off, some fun house. His head hit the floor triggering a lightning paced channel surfing of random memories. The remote in the hands of a schizophrenic watching a snowy black and white TV with the volume turned down. Mothers giving comforting hugs, fathers helping with homework, triplicates of holidays, and hundreds of birthdays flickered on the static filled screen. Could that be right? How could he have had hundreds of birthdays? For that matter how could he have memories of more than a dozen different parents.

Through all of the many sitcoms of life that played on the TV the one character that remained the same was the family pet. It was a large Doberman Pinscher that looked as if it was the long-standing champion in a southern Cali dog-fighting ring. Its body had been sectioned off by hundreds of healing scars and fresh stitches. Its body cordoned off into the major muscle groups. The forefoot was bisected by spiraling stitches at the pastern. A large scar ran from the withers down to its chest giving one the impression that it had been split in two and pieced back together, in fact the whole creature looked as if it had been assembled from a multitude of pieces. The other flashes of memories had been frightened away by the image of the dog, even the schizo had abandoned the remote and ran away screaming in lunacy.

The TV went black as sharp claws pulled him back to reality. The dog was no memory, it was real, and it was on top of him. A gaping jaw loomed over him as drool rained down. Any strength that he had gained from his rest now drained from him as powerful paws pinned him to the ground. A rotten stench fell upon him as the beast closed in. This is it he thought, happy to be released from this confused nightmare and hoping that whatever existed beyond this hell had more answers than questions. His arms fought back in vain as the dogs strong neck rammed it muzzle to within inches of his. In an instant it would be over and then peace.

That moment never came nor the peace. The dog's demeanor changed from aggression to a curious sniffing as something had caught its attention. Approaching his jugular the scar-strewn visage had stopped and started moving slowly to his shoulder. Finding what it wanted its mouth opened and a long tongue rolled out. What came next surprised him with a nauseating fascination. As if tending to a newborn the dog proceeded to clean all traces of the fetid puss that coated his arm. When finished the animal strode off him, circled twice and took up its position in the corner. A metallic clinking could be heard as the animal retreated. Someone had placed the dog in chains so that it couldn't get loose. His mind awash in questions focused on one in particular, where were his restraints?

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Chapter 1: Part 4, Vion Rising

In the late summer of 1986 Hans Delholme had lost his wife to renal failure. After being on an organ transplant waiting list for a year and dialysis for six months her condition declined rapidly. Desperate measures and an experimental new drug being developed at CIT prompted Hans to donate one of his kidneys to his wife Dora. Although far from an ideal donor Hans' kidney would work well for a short time but eventually her body would reject it unless something counteracted her immune system. HYB20-X was that agent, it was the newest development in immunosuppressant technology. Although promising at first the drug worked far to well in dampening her immune system, she eventually succumbed to complications brought on by the common cold.

Two years later with his life savings Hans started a Californian biotech firm called Immunogenix. The corporate profile was much like that of the hundreds of other upstart firms in the US. It was a small privately funded firm with idealistic goals. The company was focused on the budding technology of solid phase DNA/RNA synthesis. After ten years of research and fighting against an approaching bankruptcy Hans' small team developed Immunomix-9. By using modified Short interference RNA (siRNA) to Hybridize across nonspecific genetic divides Immunogenenix was able to create a drug that allowed the cellular DNA of a donor organ to mimic the recipient DNA of the host and visa-versa. Immunomix-9 was the silver lining of Hans' grey skies, the world would be a better place because of it, and it was all for her... it was all for Dora.

In stark contrast to Hans' bright outlook, was the dark financial forecast for Immunogenix. Due to poor business planning the small biotech firm was far overextended financially. There was no way that they could fund the phase three clinical trails needed for FDA approval. A motto that Hans' father told him years back in Norway echoed in his ear canal and reverberated in his mind... "Desperate times call for desperate measures." this was a truly desperate time for Immunogenix. Hans would not let his wifes' legacy fade the way she had... no... he wouldn't let her die twice!

As if in answer to his prayers Hans had received a proposal through his companies business attorney. It was from a large New England Biotech firm based in Cambridge Massachusetts called Viron Technologies. Viron had come into large capital backing from an undisclosed source. They wanted to buy out Immunogenix and all their intellectual property. Hans had known of Viron through many of their publications in the industries most popular journals. Dealing mostly with variant protein coats on viruses Hans had read the articles just to stay up on the tech, but there were a few articles that had really caught his attention.

The articles had dealt with the cellular decay of appendages following traumatic amputation. The Viron scientific advisory committee felt that there was a way to aid the revivification of amputated limbs long after the standard of the S.T.S.D.T.M or Short Time Separation and Decreased Temperature Model that prevailed among medical professionals. This model stated in short that severed limbs could only be reattached if a limited amount of time had passed and the severed limb had been refrigerated, this was also the case for organ transplants. Hans remembered the article because he could see the benefit it would have for transplant patients. The ability to use organs that were no longer viable would have a huge impact on the dreaded transplant waiting lists, being able to use technically dead organs coupled with Immunomix-9 would be the largest medical breakthrough in the history of medicine.

Hans' only concern was that Immunogenix would be swallowed whole by the large biotech firm and Immunomix-9 lost in the merger. Sure their intentions were for the drug and the supporting IP, but they were not divulging whether or not they were going to market it, develop it further, or shelve it to keep it from competing with another drug they might be bringing to market. Viron's holdings were vast and arose from mainly a biotech background, as they had grown they branched out into other fields such as industrial chemicals, leather tanning products, paints and dyes, and computer software. This was not uncommon, most large companies adopted a chimeric structure to soften economic blows when one market had a recession.

The Viron business advisory committee sensed Han's hesitance and reacted promptly. They proposed a new business entity that would consist of their biotechnology division and Immunogenix. Although less daunting then the large corporate entity the new company would still be the largest biotech firm in the hemisphere. The proposal even included a tenured consultancy position for Hans, although he knew that was a bone to entice him into the deal. It wasn't like he would need the money after the sale, as the deal stood right now he would make five million for the company alone and another fifty million over five years for the intellectual property.

After weeks of sleepless nights the tenacity of Viron's business attorneys and a slew of PR and marketing reps broke down any remaining indecision he may have had. After the due diligence had been done the final contract was signed in the summer of 2001. Although just a technicality there was a formal signing where the major players from both companies where present. Hans was the last to sign the stack of documents. Not being comfortable with the formal nature of the meeting, the backslapping, and all the fake smiles, Hans stepped out of the meeting room and into the lobby. An unsettling feeling came across him as he watched a work crew installing the new corporate logo. Claws... bloody claws, Hans thought to himself as he walked under a workman's ladder. As he passed out through the front entry way he looked up one last time at the clean lines and spindly lettering of the new logo that traced out two shadowed words, Vion Technologies...

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