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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


2005/11/17

Chapter 2: Part 9, Still Born

Note from the Auther: How's it Going? Well chapter two is coming to a close and there seems to be a lot of you who are into this story. If you would like be on the Zombie Me mailing list then shoot me an email at aw3sk3r@yahoo.com . Let me know if you like where the story is going or if you are confused at any part. Well enjoy! - William Zedalis

Sergeant Ridgeman had received the call from Adams during the interrogation of the suspects Larsen and Delholme. Although he was annoyed at the interruption he welcomed the chance to get away from Raimi Walters. Ominously dark was one way to characterize Raimi, but Ridgeman felt that sociopath fit him better. Ridgeman had seen plenty of gore and death during both Iraqi conflicts to give any sane man nightmares for life. The stuff he had witnessed as a mercenary for hire under Vion's Raimi Walters though, scared him shitless. He had never met anyone who worked independent of emotion before, but meeting Raimi had changed his whole outlook on life. He still wasn't sure if there was a god, but he knew now that the devil did indeed exist, and he walked the earth as Raimi Walters.

"So what do we know?" Ridgeman asked his team as he settled himself at the head of the debriefing room and sipped a cup of strong smelling tea. Adams looked at Ridgeman and then panned his head to the right and nodded to Quincy. All of them wore the same light swat uniform that Ridgeman sported. If it weren't for the guns, knives, and communications equipment that adorned their uniforms they would've been mistaken for a J. Crew commercial. Quincy stood up and walked to the front of the large boardroom table. Like everything here at Vion, the table was over the top with a gothic elegance. Its black mirrored surface reflected a punched tin ceiling engraved with serpentine vines.

The deep lines in Quincy's face expressed unspoken disquiet. "As predicted by Mr. Walters' infection model, it appears that a second level infection has possibly occurred." Quincy referred to what virologists called a communication of virus particles by direct transmission. "A patient was admitted into Mass General this evening with a finger amputation. Shortly after admission he exhibited classical signs of a Virachrome infection ranging from a bell curve response in his white blood cell population, cardiac myofibrillation, and localized muscle seizure. Doctors sympathetic to our situation notified Vion of a possible exposure. Following hospital protocol the ER called into the CDC for a pathogenic specialist for an emergency consultation. Those calls were intercepted by Lieutenant Adams at O-two hundred this morning and our operatives were sent out to collect the specimen under the premise of quarantine. They are currently en route to this facility. A concurrent interrogation is proceeding before the specimen looses coherency. It looks promising sir. Simons will call us as soon as any viable information has been obtained."

Quincy stood at attention and waited for any questions the team might have. It was Sergeant Ridgeman who broke the silence, "Q, you look as if you have something more on your mind, what's troubling you?" Ridgeman's question not only conveyed concern, but also probed Quincy's expertise. Quincy had been Ridgeman's resident expert on the work that Vion had been doing. He was a communicable disease specialist and had been following an outbreak of Ebola deep in the heart of the Amazon. The outbreak had occurred within the confines of a Zapatista guerilla encampment. Vion's interest in Quincy was not only academic but also functional. The year that he had spent in such a dangerous environment alongside militant guerilla fighters had demonstrated the man's versatility, and Vion appreciated that.

"Sir, it's just the nature of this particular pathogen. We're not even sure if common dermal exposure can cause infection, and god forbid if it's airborne." Quincy looked at the men in front of him. "We don't know this and yet we sent two of our men to pick up a specimen. We should have just sanitized the ER." The portent of Quincy's words hung heavily in the air.

"I appreciate your opinion and I believe your assessment is accurate. You and I both know that we are not in the jungle, and we can't just firebomb a village to eliminate a hazard. As for our team and the threat of exposure, we all accepted these positions and from what the people upstairs tell us the routes of exposure are mainly through fluid transmissions." Ridgeman could sense the unease coming from his men. None of them believed anything that came from Raimi or the scientists above. He was about to continue when there was movement off to his right.

Adams pressed a finger to his earpiece and spoke softly into the bud that protruded from it. Sure... Yes... and Visual... was all the men could hear as they watched him attentively. Adams pulled out a device that resembled a cell phone on steroids and placed it on the table in front of him. Almost immediately the wall behind Quincy lit up and the words "Connecting to Bluetooth Mobile Communicator..." flashed across the screen along with a small progress bar. Within seconds the bar was full and the inside of what seemed to be an ambulance appeared on screen. Centered on screen was a gurney with Alec securely strapped to its steal rails. Numerous IV's and infusion pumps whirred in the background while an erratic heart monitor pulsed out frenetic chirps.

Adams adjusted the signal from the communicator and pushed buttons on the display until the words Encrypted Feed appeared at the bottom of the screen. "This channel's secure, you may proceed Simons."

The entire boardroom jumped when Simon's face materialized on screen, his long black hair moved with every jostle of the truck. "Simons reporting Sir!" He quickly saluted and then turned to the heart monitor and turned the volume down. "I would put our ETA at approximately ten minutes. I thought that I should place a report because I feel that time may be of the essence. The victim is most certainly infected with our particular Virachrome. The viral titer is off the chart and its profile is identical to that of the suspected agent. The vic lost consciousness minutes ago after suffering a grand mal seizure and has been immobile since. Before losing coherency he reported being attacked at Saint Bernard's Cemetery earlier tonight. He described his attackers as, and I quote "Cerberus, Stitch face, and a dead man." He also reported that two of his friends were killed before he was able to escape." The men around the boardroom table exchanged nervous glances except for Sergeant Ridgeman who calmly absorbed the information. "Sir, if the vic's descriptions are accurate, it can mean only one thing..."

"...That Raimi's science projects have become active." Ridgeman said as he finished Adams' sentence. "Gentleman it seems that we are no longer looking for just stolen property. The scenario has changed, it's time we moved to plan B."

"Sir, what shall I do with the specimen from the ER?" Simon's question brought everyone's attention back to the body on the gurney. The heart monitors display showed a flat unchanging green line and a steady tone marked the passing of Alec into death.

"The total time from the onset of infection until heart failure was just a little less than two hours." Quincy said, shocked at how rapid the virus took hold and worked its malicious magic. He had seen the effects of this particular infection before, as they all had, and knew what would happen next.

"Render the body useless and bring it in for Raimi and his group. I'm sure they could use the spare parts." Everyone could see the look of scorn cross his face as the words come out. It wasn't that he was averse to gore, it was the fact that Raimi would welcome the prospect of fresh meat already infused with the virus, and Ridgeman disliked anything that made Raimi's job easier. He was paid to do only one thing, and that was to clean up the mess that Vion had unleashed upon the world.

"Yes Sir! Even though I've got the specimen secure, I still don't want it turning around me." Simon's gloved hand's grabbed a scalpel from a drawer above the gurney. Lining it up with Alec's closed eyelid he slid the blade into his eye and then quickly drove the blade deep into Alec's brain. Twisting the handle as he went made certain that the blade tore and sliced through Alec's midbrain. This ensured that Alec's trip into death would be one way. Without the primitive portion of his brain there would be no motor control to drive the reanimated body. He would be still born like Jonesy had been.

2005/11/10

Chapter 2: Part 8, Cacophony of Fists

In the darkened hallway Corina could hear muffled sounds of activity coming from Jackson's room. What was going on? The sound reminded Corina of when her older brothers used to wrestle in the basement. Then, just as quickly as it began, it suddenly stopped. Shortly after, a large figure slowly appeared outside of the doorway to the room. From its size and shape it appeared to be Jackson. His outline framed by the faint illumination coming from the tap lights hanging on the wall. Walking towards them he stumbled but managed to remain standing. Andre and Corina stopped, "Andre, he shouldn't be able to walk, let alone stand. Not after that seizure he took and the wound on his leg." Jackson continued his approach, each time he started to come into the range of a tap light he grabbed the small fixture and violently tear it off the wall. Pieces of it spread across the floor as the cheap plastic explosively shattered.

"Jackson, what's wrong man!" Andre shouted as he started to walk down the hall. He stopped abruptly and jumped when Corina passed him. "Corina wait!"

Corina reached Jackson just as he stepped into the illumination of another tap light. She looked into his eyes and saw that the Jackson she knew was gone, what remained was just an animated shell. Jackson barred his teeth and forcefully grabbed her long curly hair. Like a date gone terribly wrong Jackson pulled her closer to his body, his mouth agape as his head leaned in. Drool dripped from his lips in anticipation of his first taste. Feeling as if she was being held by a statue, Corina wriggled in his cold arms as she struggled to be free. Jackson finally got the kiss both he and Andre had so longed for as his fever chapped lips brushed against hers as he continued pressing in. She could feel his teeth pressing against her upper lip as he opened his mouth for a taste. She was sick with dread as she thought about what was coming next.

Seconds seemed like an eternity before Andre came to her aid. Jumping on Jackson's back he managed to wrap an arm around his throat and pulled Jackson's threatening maw away from Corina's soft flesh. Andre forced his other arm between them like a crow bar and started prying Jackson's arms from around her. He finally managed to get to a point where she could free herself. They both fell backward as Jackson lost his grasp on Corina's shirt. Enraged at seeing his prey escape, Jackson turned his sights onto the next best thing. Tucking his chin under Andre's forearm Jackson's cold lips pressed hard against the taught muscle. Andre felt a burning pain far greater then when he'd been branded during the initiation into the frat. Jackson's jaws continued pressing harder and harder until his teeth struck bone. Blood welled up from around his mouth like a gothic fountain, it gushed down his throat in crimson torrents.

Andre continued holding back Jackson. The dead weight of Jackson's body pressed down onto Andre's small frame. Broken bits of metal and plastic cut thought Andre's shirt and bit into his back. Jackson twisted around in his arms and pushed down hard on Andre's chest. Andre's resolve began to fail him as he looked into the face of death. The two confronted each other and Andre helplessly watched as Jackson finished chewing the mouthful of meat. Bits of half eaten muscle fell onto his face. Andre tried to yell for help but couldn't gather enough air into his lungs under Jackson's immense weight. Cold fingers clasped tightly around Andre's windpipe. He could feel cartilage popping as it buckled under the strain as Jackson's grip tightened. The dim light of the hallway faded out as the pressure staunched the flow of blood to his oxygen deprived brain. He barely felt it when Jackson tore the side of his face off. Then the blackness turned to a brilliant white light as his body gave up the fight and shut down.

Frantically running in the dark Corina collided with the door jam that surrounded the entry to Jackson's room. An explosion of pain burst on her forehead as she fell backwards into the hallway and blacked out.

Jackson sat atop of Andre rocking contentedly as he enjoyed the meal he had caught. With each rock Andre's limp body exhaled a sickening wheeze that mimicked life. Within minutes, Jackson sensed the cooling of the meat and could no longer enjoy it. The fresh kill had begun to spoil.

Further down the hall a golden glow shimmered in the darkness. It was a glimmer that far outshined the fading light that lay below him. He fixated on its beauty as it drew him to it like a moth to a flame.

Fighting off a concussion she rolled onto her stomach and felt the world spin around as if she was riding some frightening carousel. She had no idea how long she had been unconscious, and in the dark she was having trouble locating her surroundings. Gradually she began to remember, "Andre!" she cried. There was no answer except for a quiet Click... Schickt... Click... Schickt... that was steadily growing louder. It was the same sound she heard earlier when Jackson walked towards her. Fear finally crystallized her thought as she remembered the assault. She sat upright and fought the natural tendency to faint by taking in two rapid breaths and then breathing deep and slowly exhaling. The sound was drawing nearer, and in the darkness she thought she could see movement.

Hurrying as fast as her contusion would allow she grabbed a hold of the steel door frame and pulled herself into the safety of Jackson's room. The footsteps were just outside now as she tried to slam it shut. The heavy door swung easily, stopped, and then sprung back slowly. She had tried it again with the same effect before she realized that a small throw rug was caught between the door and the jam. Corina could hear a moan from within the doorway. Working fast she removed the bunched up rug and slammed the door shut. Locking it behind her she could hear pounding as Jackson's large fists angrily rained against the door.

Trying to catch her breath Corina leaned against the hard steal of the door. It rattled with every assault but continued to hold. Just how long it would was a question Corina didn't want to think about. Off to her right a faint orange light protruded from under an overturned electrical heater. The room was a mess, everything had been overturned and books lay scattered across the tiled floor.

What was going on? Corina's mind raced with possible scenarios ranging from rabies to a humanized strain of mad cow disease. No matter what ideas entered her thought, she just couldn't make the symptoms fit anything she had learned at school or seen during her internship at the ER. Something wasn't adding up. Jen had said something about a break-in at some biotech. Corina tried to remember but the struggle with the door had exhausted her and the whole ordeal was slowly eroding her sanity. She refocused her concentration and was trying to remember when another sound distracted her from her thoughts. This one was coming from inside the room. It was a faint rustling that was barely audible over Jackson's cacophony of fists. Then she could see where the sound was located, it was coming from below Jackson's overturned mattress. The mound raised and lowered as if something from below it was trying to rise up. Corina could see the outline of a slender arm snake its way through the tangle of sheets and blankets. It was followed by a shoulder, and then a torso. Corina couldn't tell in the dark whom the shadow belonged to, but one thing she learned tonight was that things weren't what they appeared to be. Hesitantly she asked in a voice trembling with caution, "Jen is that you?"...

2005/11/07

Chapter 2: Part 7, The Cheshire Smile

Eric stood there with a look of shocked disbelief written on his pale face. Beads of cold perspiration collected in the small of his back where the barrel of sergeant Ridgeman's gun poked painfully. Ridgeman deftly noted the outline of Eric's hidden weapon and skillfully removed it, and for the first time since childhood had Eric felt utterly helpless. Ridgeman examined the gun, "The safety's still on. First rule of engagement Mr. Larson is to never go into a situation where you think you might need a gun... with the safety engaged!" Sergeant Ridgeman emphasized his statement by pushing the muzzle harder into Eric's back. After checking the Beretta's clip, Ridgeman slide the weapon across the surgical table to Raimi.

Eric felt disoriented in the room. The sterile surgical lighting cast harsh funnels of light from around the room to the operating stage. Although Eric was caught within one of these bright beams it provided no warmth from the frigid surroundings.

"Naughty naughty Mr. Larsen, now what would you be needing this for?" Raimi said while he eyeing the weapon. "Surely you were not planning on another break-in? Maybe you were going to kill someone, ahhh I hope it wasn't going to be me! I would be greatly offended if that was true." Raimi stood motionless behind a flashing workstation used to maneuver the robotic arms. He worked quietly at the controls of the remote surgical system (RSS) as its arms unfolded from the ceiling. "This is quiet a system we have here, don't you think? It has the capability of making slices from meters, to millimeters." A glint of polished stainless steel caught the light as a four gauge scalpel appeared from the tip of an arm. It spun in three hundred and sixty degrees cutting wide circles in the air. Another arm unfurled itself from its hiding space in the ceiling and began a hypnotic dance with its twin. Their smooth soundless motions arced, rotated, opened, and closed with a malignant grace.

Hans backed away from the mechanical ballet, and braced himself against a wall that outlined various transplant procedures. He couldn't tell if his body had become numb from the events of the evening, or from the artic air that continually fell from hidden vents in the ceiling.

"Sergeant Ridgeman, is Mr. Larsen, going to tell me how he found out about my little project, or am I going to have to be indecorous to my guests?" Raimi's rhetorical question fell on deaf ears as sergeant Ridgeman intently listened to unseen voices speaking to him through a small headset he wore. Raimi continued, "Well, Eric?"

"I don't know what you're talking about!" Eric continued to try to act shocked as if he hadn't known anything about the work which went on in the cold depths of the blue wing.

Raimi made a quick gesture with his hand and Eric fell back with a cry clutching his face. The robotic arm equipped with the scalpel retracted itself from where Eric had been standing. "Don't play me for an ignorant fool!" Raimi said as rivulets of crimson dripped from between Eric's fingers.

Eric pulled his hand away from his face revealing a deep laceration which ran from chin to cheek. He quickly ripped his undershirt and pressed it to the right side of his face. "Damn you! I told you I don't know anything about any break-in!"

The arms moved menacingly closer to Eric on invisible tracks. "No more games Mr. Larsen."

Eric glanced to the robot and then to his bloodied shirt. "All right! Just don't come any closer with that thing." Eric looked to Hans for some sort of help and quickly concluded that the man was a useless quivering bundle of fear. "All right... I was inputting some new research into the A.D.A.S. system when I came across a locked project folder titled Patchwork. I was curious so I started looking around and eventually found a back door into it." Eric's demeanor changed hoping that Raimi believed his half truths.

The arm darted again, Eric's head tilted back reflexively as it moved towards him. A thin red line of blood appeared on his forehead, "No more lies, no more acting! Let me tell you what our friend Sergeant Ridgeman has been able to discern from our data logs and some old fashioned detective work." Raimi held Eric at bay by taunting him with the scalpel. "One week ago we noted someone from your lab electronically snooping around the A.D.A.S. system. Later on that night our IT department reported that an outside source was again probing the same system. The interloper used a sophisticated algorithm to somehow break into the project Patchwork folder."

Raimi continued activating equipment around the lab. In the far corner a large tank lit up from within as its greenish contents bubbled with activity. A slender probe tipped with a long needle slowly descended from the ceiling. Raimi continued talking without taking his eyes from the panel before him. "The intrusion was determined to have come from the Advanced Computing and Artificial Intelligence department at MIT. The encryption on the project folder was developed in part with the government, and MIT. You can understand our concern. The general schematics and lower level material had been mostly a blend of the MIT encryption, while the higher level specifics of the project were mostly a level 5 government encryption. Our surprise came when we noticed our proximity card security data logs had been stolen by this same mysterious source. Someone really wanted to know what was going on within these walls and was possibly planning malicious acts. Before we had time to make any changes or investigate further the labs were broken into and as you know some important specimens were stolen."

For the first time since the interrogation had begun Raimi was distracted by sergeant Ridgeman. He appeared out of the shadows from behind Raimi and whispered into his ear. Raimi acknowledged Ridgeman's comment with a terse nod and Ridgeman once again melted into the darkness. Eric could see the outline of the door to the garment room appear as Ridgeman calmly walked out of the operating theater. Eric should have felt better now that the physical threat of Ridgeman was removed but the shear insanity of Raimi unnerved him. "You see Eric, I've been monitoring you activities for quiet a while. I admire you're unabashed ambition, and frankly your work on the Pieces project was truly magnificent. I had hopes that one day you would join me on far greater endeavors, but now things have changed." Raimi looked up from the controls and intently looked into Eric's eyes. "I know about your involvement with C.A.B.L.E.T.V., in fact it's your brainchild, isn't it? Your contacts with MIT, Harvard, and within the industry itself gave you a unique position. One from which you could not only act as an inside man but also gather a fresh new crop of willing, idealistic foot soldiers to help you achieve your goals. It is my purpose tonight to find out exactly what those goals are."

Eric had nothing left to hide, Raimi obviously had been digging deep into his past for a while. The only element that Eric couldn't figure out was why Hans had been involved in all of this. Hans' work had provided some key fundamentals for all research into resuscitative medicine, but they have moved so far beyond that he was too removed to be of any further use.

Eric made a dash for his gun which sat on the corner of the table, but Raimi was faster. He picked up the weapon and chambered a round. The motion was a blur as his black leather clad hands pulled the slide back and turned the safety off in one movement. "It seems like you are just digging yourself into a deeper hole." Unaffected by the quick movement Raimi continued in a deliberate tone. "Wouldn't it be quite ironic if I were to shoot you with your own gun?" Raimi waved the gun at Eric, motioning him to move backwards. "Since you've taken my project from me I think it's up to you to provide a suitable replacement. He was the prototype built from years of exhaustive research and countless failures. In some ways I felt he was my son, born from my ideas." Raimi raised the gun at Eric. "And now he's been taken from me!" Raimi pulled the trigger and Eric closed his eyes. Eric saw the flash through closed eyelids as the report from the gunshot echoed around the room. Eric felt a burning in his chest, his hands reached up to clutch at the wound and encountered a hard object. Opening his eyes, he looked down and saw the robotic arm with the hypodermic protruding from his left pectoral. Almost immediately he could feel the effects of the powerful anesthetic starting to numb his extremities. Raimi continued powering up the operating theater. "You wanted to know what project Patchwork was... well my boy you're going to find out."

Eric fell as his knees gave way to the drug as it took a stronger hold with each beat of his heart. He lay on the floor motionless as his vision blurred in and out of focus. Across from him on the floor was Hans, he was sitting upright on the floor. Blood flowed down his chest from a bullet hole in the center of his chest. For the first time Eric thought he could see Raimi smile. It was the crocked smile of the Cheshire cat, and as his vision faded out it was all that remained in the black of a dreamless sleep.