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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


2009/09/19

Chapter 4: Part 7, The Key

The distant rumble of subway trains could be felt long before they were heard, and in the labyrinth of underground tunnels this fact had saved the lives of both MBTA staff and homeless alike. The erratic schedule of trains made avoidance of their blinding headlights nearly impossible and therefore sight in the smothering darkness was a sense that could not be trusted. Though, at the moment Noel Bradley was wishing that one of those thundering trains would come by and drown out the voice of his now rambling companion.

I get your point, I get it… I get it…” the cracking voice trailed off into a unintelligible mumbling and then returned. “But Descartes… his separation of m…m…mind and body inevitably leads to the question of how ca…can we trust our senses.”

Noel rolled his eyes and then closed them in frustration as he lay back down on a mattress of old blankets “Jerry, I told you that I don’t want to hear it. It’s hard enough to get some sleep with those trains, but its damn near impossible with you yammering on like that!” Jerry wasn’t his name, but he needed to call the babbling old man something because, it felt unnatural to keep yelling “Hey You!” every time he wanted his attention. His words fell on deaf ears though; they always did with Jerry as the sinewy old man continued on with his droning monologue, talking to someone who wasn’t there.

He had stumbled across the stuttering hobo in one of the secondary tunnels used for diverting trains when breakdowns occurred. The confused old man seemed far too interested in the electrified third rail for his own good as he repeated “I c…can hear it humming” rocking back and forth in a catatonic dance. Noel listened for a moment to the silence before pulling him away from what was surely an accident waiting to happen. Since then he had taken it upon himself to keep an eye on neurotic bum; it was a decision he regretted at the moment though.

It was nights like this which made Noel long to be outside in the open air of the Commons, sleeping under a tree, but the New England nights had quickly become too cold to stay out in the open, they always did. He absent mindedly touched the Harvard tunnel key that he had purchased from his friend “singing Nick” and was thankful for the warmth of the tunnel. He had long thought that the “Key” as it was called was just an old Boston legend the local homeless told each other on cold winter nights while trying not to freeze to death. Rumor had it, five years earlier a Boston Police officer had been caught selling the keys to the homeless and had been let go. He had only managed to sell a dozen or so of the copy protected keys before being ratted out by an informant for the B.P.D. The ironic part of the story though, was that now the ousted officer was supposedly one of the tunnels longest running residents.

Noel had been hesitant at first to buy the odd looking key from the jovial street performer, but Nick insisted that he no longer needed it. Nick's eyes had lit up whenever he spoke of the angelic child Tess he had sworn to help take care of, and he smiled warmly as he described the old schoolroom he was working to help clean. Beth, the child’s mother, had been to the subterranean world and immediately declined living there. She had jokingly told Nick that she’d never be able to get a tan living down there, but Nick knew that there was something else; she looked scared, not scared of the tunnels, but scared of what it would do to them, too Tess. At the time Nick couldn’t quite explain what he had meant, and now, after being down in the tunnels for more than a two months Noel thought he understood.

The mechanical smells of old grease and hot metal wafted in on currents of unnaturally warm air. Noel covered his head in one of the scratchy fire blankets he pilfered from a T generator room; it did little to help him escape from the world around. It had long ago lost its heavy woolen feel and did nothing to drown out the grating voice of Jerry as he darted tangentially from topic to topic.

The dark tunnels had a way of tainting everything in them, and Noel felt that if he stayed down here for too long, he too would become tainted, that somehow, if he spent enough time, or took one too many breathes of the acidic air, he would gradually change into a malfunctioning robot, slowly rusting away in the darkness. This was what happened to Jerry he thought, as an errant gyroscope caused the old man’s head to skip with each stutter. “I know you’re not-t r-really there… It is my C-Camera obscura which provides f-false input.”

“Jerry, why don’t you give it a rest for now and try to get some sleep!”
Noel’s muffled pleas would do no good. The old man would converse with invisible characters for hours. Sometimes Jerry would see animals that weren’t there, other times he would see things that couldn’t be there like elves and genies, and one time even a black unicorn. At the moment though, it seemed as if he was helping Plato catch up on the last twenty five hundred years of philosophy.

“Kant too, believed that the world was created by an evil scientist, whose sole intent-t was to trick our senses, which led him to question his own existence. Cogito, Ergo Sum! Ha! That showed them, he took back his reality with one simple r-reductionist statement. I think, therefore, I am!” Whenever Jerry became excited his voice took on a tittering, half laugh, half lunatic quality which had an infectious feature to it; and at this point Noel felt like he was really going to go crazy.

For a moment Noel contemplated sitting Jerry back in front of the electrified third rail where he had found him and just walk away, but he quickly banished the idea. Noel’s heart sank as he pulled the blanket tighter over his head and groaned; he silently scolded himself for even having had such a thought.

“With Kant’s statement l-leading the way, many beg-gan to question what consciousness is? Does it p-prove the existence of the soul, or is consciousness epiphenomenal, the by-product of nerves p-processing sensory input? Benjamin Libet’s cognitive research and Robert Whites n-neurosurgical research just muddy the water. But you, you my friend, I think you have s-seen. Ha-ha! I think you know, but you won’t t-tell.”

With a curse on the tip of his tongue Noel sat upright and abruptly stopped short of unleashing his sleepless frustration. His words vaporized like morning dew in the early sun as he took in the scene before him. Jerry sat at the far end of the small utility room in his usual meditative repose, pitching back and forth with the cadence of his soliloquy. Though soliloquy wasn’t quite the right term, there was someone else quietly listening. A few feet away, couched in a predatory manner was a large, dark skinned male watching intently. Noel could see a pair of blood shoot eyes staring hungrily at Jerry through a head of tussled dreadlocks. A dark viscera clotting on his forearms left bloody marks as he shifted his weight in time with Jerry’s rhythmic bob. An oily liquid slowly dripped from between cracked lips making a semicircular pattern on the floor below.

This was great Noel thought, a homicidal crack head looking to roll over a couple of sleeping homeless men for whatever they had, which was next to nothing in Jerry’s case. The old man though, was unfazed by the threatening presence before him and continued on.

“No… not you. You have passed through the g-gates of the academy. You have eaten the forbidden fruit from the tree of Life! Ha! You know!” Jerry’s laugh elicited a reactionary flinch from the stranger raising an internal alarm in Noel.

“I think it’s time to go Jerry.” Noel reached for his bag and began to stand, though Jerry paid no mind to Noel, nor to the danger he was in. He continued to rattle on as if he were speaking with an old friend.

“And even if you had knowledge of these answers how could you c-convey them? Language is a weak imitation of l-life and c-could never convey the d-deep-pest meaning of all. Ha-ha! And Kant’s evil scientist might even be out there c-corrupting the flow of information between the t-two of us.”

At this point Jerry keenly eyed the stranger and his voice lowered to just above a whisper, slowing from its normally mantic pace. “Man can only truly understand by experience, you can show me. Just like Plato’s Meno, you will be my Socrates and I will be the slave, help me uncover the knowledge I have forgotten.” Noel stopped for a moment as Jerry’s voice lost its crackling and stuttering, his head had even stopped twitching and had become very still, it was a moment of clarity that sent shivers down Noel’s spine. Then before he could stop it Jerry lurched forward into the awaiting arms of Jackson.

Noel watched helplessly as Jackson’s teeth sank deep into the sinewy old man’s neck. Audible popping sounds could be heard just before Jerry’s eyes widened in pain. His mouth opened and unleashed a cry that could be heard in Central station through thirty feet of earth above. Jerry’s eyes locked onto Noels as he repeated over and over. “This isn’t happening, I’m not even here!” It was a cry he could hear fading as he exited through the back door and left the old man to the fate he had chosen.

Noel ran blindly down the dark tunnels, at one point he fell inches from the third rail after catching his toe on an uneven rail tie. His ankle rolled and his wrist hurt from where it smacked loudly against a rail spike but he quickly got up and continued running down the branching tunnels, all the while gripping so tightly onto the key that he left behind him a trail of blood…

If he hadn’t been busy trying to feed through the writhing screams of his latest victim Jackson’s basic neural activity might’ve had the thought; that for something to so willingly give themselves to him, this meal certainly fought the inevitable. In the end though, they all fell silent. As the warmth in the body faded, so too did his interest. His eyes rolled from the corpse on the floor over to the door at the back through which Noel had fled. Jackson stood slowly, already feeling the need to feed again, and shambled back out into the tunnels.

Fifteen minutes later Jerry’s still body convulsed and sat up slowly. His monkish repose silhouetted against a dirty concrete wall rocking back and forth gently. His scraggly grey beard quivered as his mouth worked in a silent conversation not even he could hear. Every now and then his head would twitch caused by a glitch in that errant gyroscope, and nothing had changed.