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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


2006/05/30

Chapter 3: Part 4, Wayward Derelicts



Note from the author: Well here it is! I hope this installment finds you well. I even had some time to do a little art for this one. I hope you like it! William Zedalis.

A cold dew collected on him as the predawn progressed into early morning. The rain had stopped but still fell from trees in fat droplets to the puddles far below. Curious crows gathered at the corners of his vision and awaited his departure. The prospect of a free meal of carrion was far more tempting then the ominous figure sitting nearby. A large crow landed on the headstone that marked Jonesy’s final resting place and questioned Patchwork with a shrill cry. Like a statue coming to life after long years in a motionless pose, he slowly stood and stoically walked away. Another shrill cry taunted him as he continued walking. A wry smile crossed his face as the cry was cut short with a growling crunch. The blurred form of the dog landed with a thudding roll and immediately stood with predatory reflexes, a bent wing hung limply from its jaw. Shortly after Pieces trotted up to Patchwork and proudly pushed a feathered lump into his palm. Its minuscule size teased him with its warmth as he swallowed it. Unspoken thanks passed between the two as Patchworks hand absentmindedly stroked the damp scruff on the back of Pieces neck.

The sun, still hidden in the East, was already causing his eyes to squint as atrophied nerves fired and misfired causing bright spots to appear in the center of his vision. He would have to find shelter from the brilliance as he realized that, at least for the time being, he was a creature of the night. Though he felt pulled in multiple directions the hunger was back and urged him onward, while a deep seeded need to find answers burned blue within him. The image of those haunting eyes remained etched in his fragile mind. There was also the more human need to remove himself from the bloody scenes that dotted the landscape of the cemetery which pounded in the back of his head. Finally, he didn’t know how he knew it but, someone was out there... looking for him.

Passing through the cast iron gates of the cemetery he paused as a thought grabbed a hold of him and infused him with a childhood fear. It was the fear of the unknown. Somehow the dark familiarity of rows of granite and small stone monuments comforted him. He belonged there, and now he was leaving his birth place in the search of things undefined.

With the emerging sun behind him he headed west towards the city outline which cut into the wide landscape before him. The tops of the Prudential and Hancock towers glowed orange as their windows reflected the encroaching dawn. That was his destination. He was sure that the answers he sought lay buried within those crowded streets, and even if they weren’t there... food was.

Sounds of activity started to crop up around him as early risers awoke from peaceful nights of slumber. Delivery vehicles passed by, too busy to pay attention to the bum that stumbled slightly in the street. They wiped sleepers from their eyes just as casually as Patchwork wiped the drying blood from his face.

Further down the road the dilapidated form of a school took shape from a dissipating morning mist. Its broken widows stared unhappily at him as he approached. Beneath its boarded eyelids, within those dark pupils, a shaded safety resided.

The outside world once again retreated as he crawled through a partially boarded window. A cool dampness met him as he crossed the windows threshold. He returned its cool embrace with his own clammy handshake. Pieces nimbly followed through the window. The only sound he made was the slight crunching of broken glass under the pads of his feet. Although there was no outward sign, Patchwork could tell that his large companion also needed rest.

He turned to face his new surroundings. Through a settling dust he saw a long row of doors on his right which vanished into the darkness. Each door lay partially illuminated by rays of light which intruded through the tightly boarded windows opposite them. Tiny creatures scurried around in the shadows as their quiet solitude now became home for two more wayward derelicts.

A metallic rumbling echoed in the street outside as a large box truck struck the numerous pot holes which pitted the road. The sound brought Patchwork back to the task at hand. He needed to find security in this crumbling sanctuary and he needed to blanket himself within its darkness in order to reclaim some of his shattered reality.


The sun, now high in the morning sky, threw its brilliant rays across the hallway. They drove blinding spikes into his eyes as he approached the first door. He felt, more than saw that he had reached it by the change in texture, as broken plaster gave way to the raised grain of aged wood. He grabbed the slick metal of the door handle as he tried to gain access to the room beyond. The handle turned with the sound of grating metal and came loose as he pulled to open the door. He gazed down in frustration at the long metal rod that protruded from the brass orb he now held. His knuckles cracked as he squeezed it tightly in anger. His arm whipped in anger, burying the long metal shaft deep into the old wood with a muted thump. The effect of the violent penetration quelled the sudden fury that itched beneath his skin. Pieces scuttled around him sensing his sudden agitation. Then just as quickly as it had appeared, it was gone, as Patchwork moved on to the second door.

Opening the door he knew he had found what he was looking for as the acrid smell of urine and spilled beer bit at him through the darkness. A quiet click echoed through the room as he latched the door behind him. He entered slowly with Pieces following quietly behind. Out of the pitchy black, scattered school chairs reached out menacingly with hooking desk like limbs. Patchwork’s eyes continued to adjust to the darkness within when a faint sound caught his ear. It was the lumbering breath of someone sleeping. There, lying in the corner on a begrimed mattress was the glittering glow of a body enshrouded in the warmth of a drunken sleep. The sardonic smile was once again upon his face as stitches pulled it in odd directions.

The cold metal knob in his hand slowly rose as he approached the slumbering meal. Breathlessly he mouthed the word "Me..."

2006/05/18

Chapter 3: Part 3, Psuedo Life

Note from the author:

Well this chapter marks the ending of material that has been written and rewritten. I have some ideas of where I'd like to go next, but the future is wide open. I hope you like where the story is heading, even though I don't quite know how I'll get there (and who'll be left). Again comments are always welcome. Thanks... William Zedalis.

The click echoed through the empty lab as Raimi stood before the controls of the remote surgical unit. He had no perception of how much time had passed since he had started, but the incessant cold was beginning to take its toll. Raimi clenched and released his long fingers to stretch them, and then briskly rubbed them together for warmth. He had been performing delicate surgery for hours without so much as a cup of coffee, and now his focus was wavering. He pushed his hand deep into his jacket pocket, past the inner warmth of the temperature regulation suit he wore and pulled out a small black vial. With a sharp pop its lid came off and two small white pills fell into his hand. He swallowed them without water and placed the vial back into his pocket. In a few minutes the low dose amphetamines would kick in and he would get back to work, but for now he took a moment and reflected on the day.

Hans' unrecognizable body lay on a cadaver gurney in the corner. Blood pooled in the low spots of its now vacant chest cavity. Raimi's hands had been a blur during Hans' dissection. It still amazed him at how fast the body could be splayed open and all the vital organs removed when skilled hands were at work. The most time consuming aspect had been the neurosurgery. He had sped that part up slightly by removing Hans' head from its bulky torso and securing it to one of the robots articulating limbs. He couldn’t help but stare in awe as the robot spun the head for proper orientation. Its nimble arms rotated the skull with precision as Raimi probed deeper into the neocortex. He no longer felt as if he was using a tool for the surgery. The robot, just like the scalpel, had become an extension of him. The two worked together as one, greater than the sum of their parts.

The extraction of the most sensitive tissues had progressed relatively quickly with the computerized aid. What had been Hans' reasoning center now floated limply in a nutrient tank before him. Tendrils of nerve bundles tethered it to a perpetual infusion of a cocktail consisting of Immunomix-9 and Raimi’s specialized virazymes. He took a deep breath realizing that he could now finally rest, time was no longer much of a concern.

With his thoughts clearing he turned back to the controls that sat flashing before him. There was no turning back now, Hans was dead and Eric... Well, that depended on what experiment he wanted to run next. His grip tightened on the control arm and he lowered his eyes onto the closed circuit monitor that displayed Eric’s exposed cerebrum.

He continued talking to Eric even though he knew his words fell on deaf ears. Raimi chuckled to himself, how could you hear when you didn't have ears, well at least ones that were connected? He stared down at the micro array of wiring that served as the communication conduit between Eric and him. Its sound activated microphone sat inches from Raimi’s slightly stubbled chin. "At first my results were promising. I had revived cellular tissue using viral architecture. You see virus’ have the fascinating ability to survive in dead tissue, in fact virus’ are dead themselves. Once they come into contact with cellular tissue the laws of chemistry takes over. Chemistry doesn’t care what environment it’s in, it just reacts." Again Raimi laughed at his unintended pun. "Interestingly, though once the virus enters the cell and chemistry forces its association with the cells replication machinery it suddenly comes into a pseudo life. It can become infectious and travel to other sources... and with just the right nudge viral replication can start. I took advantage of this characteristic in the design of my virazymes."

"This breakthrough, although amazing, grew all the more frustrating and for years my research stagnated as I watched cells reactivate under a microscope only to sit there and do nothing. I wanted more. I wanted hearts to beat, and lungs to breathe... I wanted thought. I couldn’t get the soul back into the body. It seemed that once the genie was out of the bottle it wouldn’t go back in." Raimi restrained himself as the urge to slam his fist on the control table surfaced from years of frustration. He took a deep breath and realized that the surge of energy meant that his little white helpers were starting to work.

"I could only reactivate common tissues, and the most basic of neurons that exist in the primitive brain. My problem was with the rapid degeneration of the synapses. Inexplicably cerebral media is the first tissue to turn to mush after death. It’s the reason why a body can be revived intact after drowning but the brain usually suffers damage."

Raimi’s hand moved the robots micro scalpel to Eric’s frontal cortex. Its tactility probe danced over the delicate surface of Eric’s brain as if it was petting it. Feedback sensors amplified the light resistance it encountered, causing the controls in Raimi’s hand to jitter slightly. Living brains were infinitely more fragile then the dead ones he was used to working with. The slightest puncture could cause the brain to bleed out in a violent stroke.

After pondering this thought for a moment he sliced through the optic nerve and began the removal of Eric’s eyes. He needed to make room in Eric’s skull for its new occupants and the ocular cavity would due nicely.

"I tried piecing together enough viable pieces of neuronal tissue to form a control center. The tissues, from various donors, immediately started to degrade as their interferon responses fought amongst themselves. It seems the brain is awfully protective of itself."

"That all changed when I met you. You brought me Hans... Hans and Immunomix-9. Now Hans had all the potential in the world, but he was stuck in the past. He was stuck there with his morals and his dead wife, but he brought me the other half of the puzzle. You know all about that though, don't you? It was your early research that helped me create Patchwork. While you were toying with that mutt I was delving into the deepest parts of the brain... and beyond."

"Eric, you had such promise... such vision! It’s ironic that you’ll never see through your eyes again." A gleaming set of robotic forceps darted into Eric’s skull and pecked out the now useless eyes. They fell to the operating floor with a wet plop and stared vacantly up at the operation in progress. Raimi began prepping the optical nerves for their new connections. "I am a compassionate creator though... I will give you new vision. How would you like to see sound?"

A pair of robotic arms slowly came into view carrying the tiny tendrils of Hans’ nervous system. Raimi increased the magnification of his view screen ten fold for the microsurgery. As the connections were made he could see Eric’s numerous blood vessels exchanging fluids with the new tissue. It would only be a matter of time before the electrical stimuli from Eric’s cochlea would race along Hans’ neural tissue and dive into Eric’s optic nerve.

Raimi thought of the other transformation which would soon transpire. The virazymes would be transferred from Hans’ tissue into Eric’s brain causing a chain reaction of viral uptake to occur. Numerous antivirals in Raimi’s arsenal would slow this exchange but it would eventually infect his whole body causing the inevitable cellular reset.

Through years of research Raimi had made many observations dealing with the progression of the virus through the body. The most crucial ones were the site of infection and when it occurred. There was most certainly a point when even necrotic tissue could no longer be revived. Raimi had pushed the limits and found that the closer to the time of death reanimation occurred, the more the specimen retained the characteristics of its former nature. This timing was directly affected by location of the initial infection site. If the infection had occurred in the trunk of the body, organ failure would occur first, causing death. The organs would then revive followed by the brain.

The main benefit of the virus taking root in the brain was that it would be the first to reboot and therefore limit the damage incurred. Raimi had taken this into consideration with his newest experiment. The infection would start in Eric’s optic center followed by the frontal cortex. This would ensure that Eric’s reasoning center would suffer the least amount of damage. He would also tilt the table in his favor by including Hans' reasoning center in the hopes that any undamaged cells would be incorporated into the new system.

His new creation would come the closest yet to imitated life. Surely some aspect of the two most brilliant minds in biochemistry would survive after the process. He could only wait and see...