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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 2: Part 4: Sheltered Hunger

The October night had been cold to begin with and now it was raining. Nick Daniels had been trying to find a place to spend the night after procuring a fifth of Canadian Club whiskey with the profits from a long day of pan handling. By the time he had reached the cemetery half the bottle was gone. The alcohol was starting to warm his body and lift his spirits.

His coffee can collection cup rattled as he dragged it across the wrought iron bars of the cemetery fence. He jiggled the can at various tempos and when the fence ran out as a field of granite monuments spread out before him he continued the beat with singing. He thought about the irony of it, he had spent the day singing for the pocket change of the living, and the only time he felt like singing was here for the dead. Shrugging his shoulders he started up the gentle slope that led towards the mausoleums and service buildings.

"Shall it be the Cliffton resort tonight or the Walberg?" Nick came to a halt at the top of the hill and started up a game of ini mini miny mo as his hand swayed back and forth. Silently mouthing the word mo his hand finally came to a stop at the tomb of Charles Walberg. "The Walberg Astoria it is then... Hiccup. I'll just shtop off at the bar b'fore going to bed... Hiccup." Stumbling slightly he climbed the three marble steps and entered the covered archway grateful to be out of the rain. "Bartender.... I'll have a glash of whishkey, straight up! Top shelf... nothing but top shelf for me..." Swaying back and fourth wildly Nick lost his balance and fell against the entry way. With the alcohol weighing him down he slid down the wall and decided that this was as good a place as any to stay the night.

Pressing the bottle to his lips he took a deep draught. He winced as the burning liquid worked its way down to his belly. When he opened his eyes again a form slowly started to take shape in front of him. It was of a man stumbling towards him, another inebriated wanderer like himself probably. The form stopped it's hobbling pace as it reached the leading edge of a large willow's shadow. It was as if wanted to remain featureless.

"Hello friend! Not a night to be without shelter and strong drink! C'mon up and join me for a drink." Nick paused waiting to see the shadows reaction. When nothing happened he leaned forward out of the doorway fearing he might not have heard a reply due to the rain. "I said hello friend. Get out of that rain and have a drink!" He was starting to stand up when he thought he heard a faint sound from within the mausoleum. Yes, there it was, between the pitter patter of raindrops there was another sound. A clearly distinct sound recognizable to most pet owners, it was the clicking of nails on a hard surface. Surprised by the direction of the sound Nick turned to see yet another shadow approaching out of the darkness. It was that of a large dog and it lumbered along as if injured. "Here boy..." Nick tried to whistle but the only sound he made was a forceful push of air through pursed lips. "You all right boy?" Nick reached his hand towards the wounded animal and started to wave it towards him. "Shit boy you stink to high heaven! That's aright tho... I prolly ain't smelling to good myself."

The dog continued its advance towards Nick. As it came closer he could hear it's stomach rumbling along with something else, a low guttural growl. Just as the thought that this might not be a friendly animal crossed Nick's mind it leapt towards him and bit down hard on his right hand. The momentum of the lunge carried the dog past the entry way and onto the steps. Pulling his hand to his chest Nick realized that his pinky and ring fingers were gone, and that his other two fingers had been de-gloved of skin. "Holy Christ!" Nick turned to get up before the dog could attack again and came face to face with a nightmare.

Nick could only stare at the face before him. The scars and stitches that ran all over it spoke of incomprehensible torture. Nick tried to scream but couldn't. A vice like hand gripped his throat. His alcohol addled brain fought to keep consciousness even as his larynx was torn out by a ravenous mouth. Nick Daniels would never sing again. As the final flicker of life faded out in Nick the last words he could hear was "Me!" repeated over the sounds of mastication.

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Chapter 2: Part 3, Raining

The elevator ride had been quiet as recirculated air washed over them making the tense silence more pronounced. Eric leaned against a corner with his back against the wall and Hans took up the opposite. Both Sergeant Ridgeman and Raimi Walters faced the elevator doors. "So... as you already know there has been a break-in here, a most unfortunate event for us as you can imagine. I have called the two of you here tonight because three labs were targeted during the event."

"Our security systems indicate that Mr. Delholme's cell culture lab was the first to be broken into followed by the tissue engineering lab. The final intrusion occurred at the isothermal facility." Sergeant Ridgeman said as he continued to face the doors. "The events all transpired during the shareholders meeting two nights ago. This raised a few red flags immediately. The first is why those three labs? And the second is why that particular night? Both of these have led us to believe that this was not a random attack by an unorganized activist group. Instead we believe it was orchestrated by someone with discreet knowledge of not only Vion's private affairs but also of the layout of our facility."

Eric shifted his weight from one side of the corner to the other. He felt as if the air conditioning in the small elevator had been turned off as blood rushed to his face. Hans continued to look stoically at the faux marble wall in front of him. Eric's mind was racing a mile a minute. Did they accidentally leave some incriminating evidence behind? Did they know about his involvement? Why did Raimi and Ridgeman choose the elevator to spring this new information? Were they trying to evoke a response from him? The confines of the small cabin enhanced the effect of being trapped. Why was the elevator ride taking so long? The claustrophobia was taking its toll on Eric. He was reaching for the gun under his shirt when the elevator reached the third floor. The doors opened and cool blue light washed into the elevator. Pushing past Raimi and Ridgeman Eric was grateful to be out in the hall and drew in two deep breaths to recapture his calm. Just as he was about to say something Hans stepped forward "I demand to know the meaning of this! I am getting the impression that you feel we are somehow involved in all of this. Let me assure you that we are not, and all this cloak and dagger bullshit is trying my intelligence."

"Dr. Delholme, you have always been quite direct. That's one of the reasons why I like you so. No, let me reassure you that Sergeant Ridgeman's investigation has focused its' attention in another direction. Tonight is going to be an informational session... for us all." Raimi's accent gave Eric the impression of a snake's rolling hiss as for us all sounded like for sale. Turning on his heels Raimi's patent leather shoes made the only sounds as he walked down the deep blue hall, click tap... click tap. He was fading into the dim light when Sergeant Ridgeman prompted them to follow.

It had started to rain outside. The few mirrored windows they passed by on the way to their destination were pelted with streaking coldness. Hans finally broke the silence "So was anything damaged or stolen?"

Sergeant Ridgeman, who had been following silently in tow, stated matter-of-factly "Yes, in fact that is the main reason why we have asked the two of you to come here tonight." Raimi's motionless shadow appeared as they approached the cell culture lab "Dr. Delholme from the timing of the security logs, your lab was the first to be broken into." The doors to the lab opened and Hans was the first to enter. "As you can see you're A.D.A.S. system was the only item removed." The Sergeant gave Hans plenty of time to take in the scene before asking "Is there a possibility that anyone outside of Vion might have known about it and what it contained?"

"No. Not that I know of. The system itself is used throughout the industry. Our system was tailored by our IT to fit the labs specific needs but it is still quite common. As far who might have known about what information it contained, I'll be damned if I know. Hell, after I got it up and running I was locked out of ninety percent of the information trafficked on it!" Hans picked up the empty shell that housed the servers drives and threw it back on the table. "When was the last time the IT had backed up A.D.A.S.?"

"Don't worry Dr. Delholme you data is safe and your lab will be up and running in a few days when our investigation has been completed." Sergeant Ridgeman's demeanor softened slightly as he sensed Han's sincere frustration.

"Yes. Absolutely correct Sergeant! The data can be retrieved. Though there are far greater things which may not be recovered. Gentlemen, we must be moving on to Mr. Larsen's lab." Again Raimi's quick movements ushered him into the hallway as he disappeared into the darkness. Sergeant Ridgeman was left to escort the others.

Hans shot Eric a penetrating glare "Congratulations Eric! When were you going to tell me about your promotion? It's seems as if yet again I have been left out of the loop. Why couldn't you tell me that you were operating another lab? Why all the secrets? Why couldn't you tell me about what you were working on?"

"Because..." Eric seemed to be searching for words to pull this new dagger from Hans' back. "Because, you're not going to like what you see." Eric turned and exited the lab before he could see Hans' reaction.

Hans walked down the corridor more than just lost in thought. Somewhere between his lab and Eric's they had gone through a door that Sergeant Ridgeman unlocked with a proximity card and from that point onward he felt as if he had stepped into an alternate universe. Hans had been told that this wing and all subsequent floors were dedicated to government funded projects and therefore off limits to unauthorized personnel but he had no idea what those projects were. As Hans followed behind Eric he noticed that the halls were absolutely free of clutter. The highly polished stainless walls were free from adornment save for the recessed indigo lighting that hovered inches from the floor. The whole place reminded him of an institution mixed with the antiseptic feel of a surgical ward. He had no idea exactly how close his impression was to the reality of the blue hallways.

Ahead Hans could see Eric disappear into what seemed to be a dark hole in the wall. As he approached he realized that it was a doorway with a proximity sensor like the one that permitted entry into the blue wing. The room beyond was unlit and seemed to radiate a dark warmth. This is Eric's lab? What kinds of experiments were done in the dark? "No good can come of this..." Hans whispered to himself as he entered.

Eric feigned surprise as he surveyed the overturned cages and papers spread over the floor. He ran to the smaller cages that lined the wall and pretended to check their contents. Raimi watched as Eric finally acknowledged the shiny steal of the empty cage. "Pieces! Oh my God! Where is he?" Project Pieces had been the unofficial named of Eric's project. "Tell me they didn't take him!" Eric felt he was giving the performance of a lifetime.

"It wasn't all they took." Raimi said as he looked down his nose at Eric and watched as he searched the cage for the animal. Raimi nodded to Sergeant Ridgeman and then walked out of the lab.

Hans walked aimlessly around the room staring in shock at the aberrations inside the cages. Sergeant Ridgeman could hear him murmuring interrogators like Wha..? How...? He placed his hand on Hans' back and guided him out of the lab. Eric, realizing that there was nobody left to act for, gathered himself and followed.

They passed another proximity door and Hans could feel the ambient temperature drop drastically. Shortly he could see his breath billowing before him. This must be the Isothermal facility Raimi mentioned. Hans' sense of foreboding became almost debilitating. When he thought about what he had just seen his legs would start to give out from below him. Sergeant Ridgeman was there at each falter with goal oriented statements like it's not much farther and we'll be there soon.

As the thought that he could go no further crossed his mind he could hear Sergeant Ridgeman say that Project Patchwork was dead ahead.

The lab doors opened and condensed moisture crawled along the ground as it dissipated into the air. Thermal garments lined the entry way to the lab. Hans noticed thinned neoprene surgical gloves stationed at the end of the garment isle. They would give a blend of protection from the low temperatures and biological infection while maximizing surgical dexterity. Hans had only used them once before while dissecting cranial tissue infected with the Ebola virus back in 96. What horrors could they be working on here? He thought as his spotted the operation theatre.

Although familiar with its layout from the blueprints Carmen had pulled from the Cambridge fire database the look of awe that Eric wore was truly genuine as he neared the surgical stage. Robotic surgical arms hung lifeless from the ceiling. Their computerized assistance was needed during the delicate neurosurgery that went on here. Thin surgical probes could delve deeper than the smallest human hands ever could. Advanced software algorithms cancelled any tremor seen in the surgeon's hand giving exact surgical strokes. He was amazed by its technological elegance. The night of the break in was the first time Eric had actually seen the system but he had seen a similar remote surgical robot that NASA and MIT had been co-developing. The science and technology required far surpassed the crude surgery used during the development of Pieces.

Raimi walked around the far side of the operating table and started to flip switches. Plasma panels started to light around the perimeter of the OR. "Gentlemen I would like to introduce you to my project... Project Patchwork." Eric felt a rough shove from behind and turned to see Sergeant Ridgeman pointing a black 9mm at him. "and from what Sergeant Ridgeman tells me Eric, you seem to know a great deal about it already."

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