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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 4: Part 3, Dead Inside

"You know you don’t have to do this." Jen paused just outside of the doorway of the Advanced Computing and Artificial Intelligence department at MIT. Her face was void of any emotion as she looked over at her friend.

Corina stood there, her hair still damp from a steaming shower she had taken at her apartment, though she felt that she could never wash away the horror she had witnessed. "I have to Jen. Jackson was my friend, and Andre... was too..." Her voice trembled slightly as she stopped herself from saying anything more and turned way from Jens’ piercing gaze.

Jen had also cleaned up and now had her hair pinned in a loose knot with her characteristic chopsticks. Her mismatched clothing had been replaced by a dark pair of jeans and a form fitting sweater that was better suited for late Fall in New England. Corina was dressed in a similar fashion. "Good, the more people who know about this the better our chances are of exposing Vion."

Jen turned and pressed the call button at the side of the electronic door. A voice filled with static came across the com "Hello."

Jen pushed the talk button, bent slightly, and spoke into the steel mesh of the speaker "My name is Jen Hargrove and I am trying to reach Klaus Anderson."

"Jen... I’m hurt that you’re not here to see me." She could hear a slight chuckle, it was Carmen. "Come on in, at the first corridor turn right. We’ll be three doors down on the left." A harsh electric buzz souded just above the door and Jen gave it a tug. It opened and they both walked into the quiet hallway.

Jen had wondered why the front door security seemed so archaic and now she knew why, it was just the first in an ever increasingly advanced security system. The doors on either side of them were guarded by varyious forms of technological barriers from face scanners to retinal scanners. She assumed that the differnt security measures were based on funding and the type of security required. Some doors had panes of glass embeded with steel wires, others had what appeared to be one way mirrors, and a few even seemed looked to be made of polished metal. They turned the corner and headed towards their destination. Though they passed by numerous closed circuit television monitors she could not find a single camera from which they were viewed. "Welcome to the future of surveillance, the age of the invisible observer." Corina, who had been trailing slightly, stopped and was trying to pinpoint where the image was being captured. "Don’t bother Corina it’s not meant to be found."

"How very astute of you Jen!" Carmens voice came from the door just ahead of them "Multivariant monofilament optic technology. It’s one of the many things we are funded to work on in our lab." Jen reached the closed door to their lab and knocked. "Say the magic words..." Jen flipped the door the finger and it opened on quiet pneumatics. Just inside the lab Carmen sat in a chair which looked like it came of the bridge of the starship Enterprise. "Just a reminder Jen, magic words are things like Open Sesame or Please, but I like your creative use of symbolic... ouch!" Carmen discontinued his jocular ramblings as Klaus jabbed him hard in his ribs. He had begun to throw an insult at Klaus when he saw the trouble within Jens’s eyes.

Klaus lay a steady hand on Jen’s shoulder "What’s wrong?" For a moment he felt her body buckle slightly then she caught herself. His heart sank with dark thoughts as he watched the inner struggle as she tried to reign in her emotions. Without realizing what he was doing he watched his hand move to the back of her neck and with an uncharacteristic compassion he pulled her into his arms. Jen lost her battle with composure and collapsed into Klaus’ tall frame. On a daily basis Klaus worked trying to program emotion into artificially intelligent neural nets. Now that he was confronted with it, he had no idea what to do except let her cry into his chest.

Corina looked to Carmen who was now standing and watching the catharsis with envious eyes. He turned to her, opened his arms and sarcastically beckened to her with a joking smile on his face. "Your such and ass Carmen!... Jackson’s dead!"

Carmen flinched as if he’d been slapped hard. His repetiore of quips emptied faster then the color from his skin. He went a fair shade of green and sat hard in his chair as his mouth struggled to find words. Corina continued "He was able to tell us that he’d been bitten by something before going unconscious. Either loss of blood or some sort of shock caused his body temperature to drop to the point of causing violent tremors. Andre and I went to get some..."

"He wasn’t dead!" Jen said as she began composing herself. "He got back up... But... but it wasn’t him, something was different, it was like he was insane." She wiped her eyes with her sleeve. "That whole place was insane.’

Klaus tentatively released her and was glad to see that she had recovered her self-control. He was afraid to ask but felt that he had too. "What do you mean... That whole place."

He looked to Jen and when she didn’t answer he repeated the question to Corina. She stood there with a look of concern at her friend. "Your right, I’m not sure whether Jackson was dead or not, but he was dying... fast. I am sure however, that Mocha did die and then he came back and attacked us."

It was Carmen’s turn to wear the mask of confusion. His face was a curious interplay between a raised eybrow and a jaw sinking in shock. "Who’s Mocha? Where were you?" He paused as he began to piece some of the story together. Then he said as an aside "I knew we shouldn’t have taken that dog!"

Corina continued "This may sound wierd, but I don’t think that he was bit by a dog. There were bruises in the shape of hands on his leg. Along with... along with what looked like a human dental imprint. Dog bites are more puncture like, this was a... a human bite. And Mocha’s had a half dozen bites in his chest."

With this Carmen vomited his diet of Cheetos and cherry soda into a trash bin which stated on its side in bright red lettering No Sensitive Data. Corina thought that Carmen would have got a kick out of this if it hadn’t been him wretching sensitive data by dripping mouthfuls into the bucket. "Are you OK?" She asked stunned slightly at his reaction to her description. All he could do was nod as he grabbed a printout from the table behind him and wipe his mouth. "Jackson called to tell us that he’d been attacked and that he was on his way to the Omega Psi Phi house. When we got there he was barely coherent. He muttered something like The body was alive. Then he went unconscious and began to sieze."

"Stage Four." Klaus said flatly as it was his turn to look grave.

"What?" Jen’s attention was locked back into reality as she intently focused on what Klaus had just said.

Klaus took a deep breath "Stage one, Localized viral infection. Cellular mechanisms such as mitosis and mitochondrial support are currupted by Virazymes. Stage two, Body temperature depression. As the Virazymes begin to depress cellular function the core temperature can drop by as much as ten degrees. This eventually leads to unconsciousness as the body begins to draw all blood to the heart and brain as hypothermia sets in." Klaus paused and looked at his rapt audience, he took another deep breath and continued "Finally stage four, acute tremor and grand mal siezures occrur as the Virazymes begins to attack the nervous tissue of the spine and brain."

"Then what?" Corina asked as she absorbed these answers to the questions which had danced in her head since upon first examining Jackson.

"I dunno. We have only decrypted about three percent of the data we grabbed from the labs. There’s a batch oriented integrity bot that keeps modifying the encryption." Jen gave him a confused look. He paused for a moment to think of a better way to put it. "Think of the hard drive as a house and the encryption is the front door. Well there is a robotic maid which keeps the house clean and everytime we unlock the door and open it, even a little, the maid comes by and adds another lock. Each time we are only able to see a fraction of the data. Our systems have been at this for thirty eight ours and cracked one hundred and fifty two million codes, and these aren’t normal PC’s were using here. We should have been able to break this thing wide open half a day ago."

Understanding flooded Jen’s face "I know you guys are doing your best but, is that it?" She looked to Carmen who had recovered enough from his sickness to quickly check the status of one of the systems. She thought that he was either very dedicated to this or he was embarrassed by his momentary loss of digestive constitution.

"No, we have extensive data on phase 1 and 2 testing of a drug called Immunomix-9. It seems to be a drug used to prevent rejection of transplanted organs. This was the first stuff we cracked, in fact I thought that this was gonna be a piece of cake as it was only protected with five hundred and twelve bit encryption. You know... kid’s stuff." Jen just nodded and motioned for him to go on. "There’s mention of it being combined with another drug also being developed which can help maitain the viability of organs outside the body. It sounds like really radical stuff."

A dark look from Jen qwelled his scientific excitement. He continued more somberly "We also have an updated schematic of the facility and this is what I think is the most interesting. It includes three more floors fifty feet below the parking garage. That’s equivalent to being close to ten stories below street level. They must’ve had one hell of a work crew to build that in the center of a major city without anyone noticing. Carmen thinks that they must have used the old Harvard Square train tunnels to move materials in and out. Which means that a lot of palms were greased to keep it silent, so we need to be careful about who we tell about this, and how we tell it."

"Whether we tell the truth about what Vion is doing might not matter at this point. Once the fires at the Omega Psi Phi house get extinguished there’s gonna be one hell of an investigation and it’s comming our way first." As minacious as her words were, she looked more determined then scared. "Corina, why don’t you fill them in on what Jackson did next."

Corina quickly relayed how Andre had givin his life to save hers as Jackson had viscously attacked them. Carmen looked as if he was going to vomit again then, when she told them about the severed torso which crawled after them he ended up depositing some more sensative data. She finished her recap with Mocha and how they escaped from the staiway from hell. "Now I am definetly sure that he was dead, and yet he came back and attacked us."

"So you’re talking zombies, like in those movies." Carmen groaned between words but managed to get out. "Man we’re all wicked screwed!"

Jen’s voice lashed out like a whip "Not if we get them first. We can go back and get some real proof which we can show the press. We know they were experimenting on humans we just need to get some hard evidence."

"Jen, I think we all need to take a break, get some food or something. I can sure use some, we probably all could use some." Klaus looked over at Carmen "Well maybe not you bro, but you know what I mean. We need to step away from this for a moment and think clearly. Especially after what you two just went through. I sure as hell want to talk with Eric and find out what he thinks about all of this. Have either of you talked with him?" They both shook their heads. "Well, we can try him later. I have some pizza back at the apartment but I wouldn’t recomend it. Carmen’s been trying to colonize it with intelligent bacteria. How bout that Indian place on Mass Ave, it’s got some booths in the back where we can talk."

After a few minutes Jen grudgingly admitted that she could use some food.
Klaus grabbed his jacket and began stuffing various articles into it’s inner depths including a handheld computer he developed and a small pouch which clanged with a multitude of tools. Corina and Jen were alread outside the lab heading towards the main entryway. "You coming Carmen? Hey man, are you alright? You don’t look so good bro."

"I’m fine" He shrugged off the question "I’ll be right behind you. I just want to get this automation script running." He stopped for a moment as if something was weighing on his mind. "You know, playing heroes is fun and all, but this is some serious shit, people are dying! And... and we still have work to do to secure funding for our lab."

"Yeah, I get you, but there are some things more important then the daily grind." He put a hand on Carmen’s shoulder "There’ll be a PBR waiting for you at the table. OK?" With a faint nod from Carmen Klaus left the lab and hurried after the girls.

Minutes passed as Carmen sat at his computer with his head in his hands. Slowly he moved them to the keyboard in front of him. He pulled up the security console and watched as his friends left the building. An audible click issued from the door as he locked it remotely. He then pulled up another window which contained video feed from what appeared to be a small IT room containing many flashing computer screens. A man, dressed in a tight black sweater, sat with his back to the camera. He appeared to be talking to himself, but Carmen quickly realized that he was using a small communicator attached to his ear. Within seconds the man touched his earpiece and turned to the camera, it was Adams. "I assume that it’s safe to talk."

"Yeah." Carmen’s voice was weak and small. He was broken. "Did you get all that?"

"Yes. We’re sending a team to the hot zone which..." He looked down at the dossiers lined up before him. "Which Corina spoke about. We want you to go meet with them at the restaurant and gather as much information about the infection and it’s victims as possible. We’ll monitor it all on the portable audio recorder."

"I’ve done enough for you. I don’t want to do this anymore. I feel like I’m dying on the inside because of this." Carmen’s eyes began to sting as he tried to prevent himself from breaking down.

"Need I remind you that hacking into any corporate entity is a felony, let alone physically breaking into it and absconding with biological materials. Remember that you agreed to help our investigation."

"I wouldn’t have agreed if I knew that innocent people were gonna die." Carmen began to shiver with emotional shock.

"No one is ever truly innocent. I will also remind you that the people I work for aren’t the type to go through the proper legal channels to press charges against you. Your friend Klaus was right to be cautious about talking to anyone about us. Now... keep your mouth shut, do what we tell you and you might just get out of this. Hell you might even get some funding for your lab from us, I really like your micro-camera assemblies." Adams said this with a sardonic smile.

"Do you understand me?" Carmen sat there frozen as he remembered the things in the cages at Vion and what such a company could do to him. "Do you UNDERSTAND ME?" Adams voice was begining to show impatience. All Carmen could do was nod in agreement. "Good, we’ll contact you to let you know what to do next." Again Adams gave the camera another knowing smile. "Be good Carmen... We’ll be watching." The screen went dark leaving Carmen once again alone... or was he? He quickly looked around the lab and wondered if Adams was still watching him. Then his stumach knotted painfully as he made another deposit of sensitive information.


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