What Would You Do in a Zombie Invasion?

In June, 2012, I posted a blog titled “Healthcare Workers and Zombies” in Charles Wellston’s Grits n Gravy page. My anthology, City of Brotherly Death, called for a reality check when I considered how modern-day people would respond to a zombie invasion. Eternal Press has slated Steel Rose for publication in February 2013. I anticipate more editing before the book goes to press. Another reality check.

The Kryszka aliens of Steel Rose, at least the bad guys, make zombies by injecting captured humans with a chemical to alter their brain function. The renegades starve their prisoners, gauge out their eyes, cut them, etc. When they’re through, the victim resembles one huge gaping sore. Afterwards, the soldiers will soak the prisoner with cadaverine and putrescine, chemicals found in decaying corpses. All the torture, brain damage and cell alteration strips away judgment and thinking, leaving behind an angry specimen starving for human flesh. At that point, people had better look out.

Unlike traditional zombies, the ones in Steel Rose breathe and have a pulse. They look and smell many days’ dead, but when they’re awake, they’re deadly. The chemical administered incites aggression, anger, and a craving that won’t quit. They only know hunger and will kill to satisfy it. Kryszka natives who ingest this chemical experience the craving, too.

Let’s revisit the hospital I mentioned in Grits n Gravy. Suppose our respiratory therapist is caring for someone who’s been “doctored” by the Kryszka renegades. Our doctors examine him, treat his wounds as best they can, and keep him sedated. The chemical coursing through his blood will never show in his lab reports. Our equipment, primitive by Kryszka standards, cannot isolate and identify the mysterious chemical. Keep in mind that hospital personnel are overworked and burned out as it is. When the patient wakes up and tries to bite people, most caregivers will label it “change of mental status” and restrain the patient. That’s the best case scenario.

Worst case? Our patient is sedated, breathing through a tracheotomy tube with mechanical ventilation. His respiratory therapist must suction his airway and mouth. This goes doubly so if his EEG fails to show brainwave activity and the doctors expect to harvest viable organs. No one will suspect aliens or zombies, even when he wakes, yanks out his tube, and bites the hapless therapist.

Let’s backtrack to possible events leading to the patient’s admission. Perhaps an innocent Joe gets into a fight with a Kryszka renegade, and manages to shoot and kill him. Alas, many aliens travel in pairs. At least the Kryszka do. The renegade’s backup injects our citizen with the chemical and carts him off to aliens’ underground compound for the zombie treatment. Later, someone finds his body in an alley and calls the police. The paramedics put him on a ventilator and rush him to a hospital. The doctors may appreciate the severity of his injuries, his emaciated state, and then blame a wild animal for the attack.

The hospital in Steel Rose has an advantage because a refugee Kryszka doctor works there. He trains the other doctors well, and they learn to detect foreign chemicals in the blood. Treating casualties by Kryszka renegades becomes a routine event. Still, traditional rules prevail; guns are banned. People dumb enough to obey the no-weapons rule become a Blue Plate Special for the invading zombies. Administration hates spending money for competent officers, and the security guards employed pick up their marbles and run home. They might be able to handle one Steel Rose zombie, and I repeat one. Not a whole slew of them.

Then I started wondering. What would I do if a horde of zombies broke into the hospital where I worked? In my fantasy world, I’d run to the gift shop and hide behind the Mylar balloons. That might not be so bad. The helium in those balloons is lethal to the Kryszka soldiers who lead these zombies. A few inhalations from a punctured balloon will kill them. As for the zombies? Different story. Reality check: adrenaline enables people to do surprising things – either speed run or fight like hell. No one can predict what they’d do until the zombies show.

Our staff therapist could run. He could try to fight back. As I mentioned in my other post, his tools, like scissors and a screwdriver, won’t get him far with zombies. If he’s lucky, he will get underground employment by a zombie squad. That’s probably the only way he’ll survive.

Steel Rose portrays a scene where our protagonist shoves an administrator into the path of the zombies. Uh, oh.

The helium in these balloons is lethal to the Kryszka alien.

The helium in these balloons is lethal to the Kryszka alien.

 

When the Balloons Call

These lovely balloons came from the Giant.

These lovely balloons came from the Giant.

Lately, I’ve been watching my budget; I’ve set my sights toward a Kindle e-reader or tablet. That means working overtime hours at my day job. My downfall came when I went food shopping this morning at the Giant and got waylaid by an enormous pink butterfly balloon.

I’ve already got two pink Mylar butterflies at home, but that’s not the point. I’ve got a weakness for Mylar balloons in general, and every time I shop at any supermarket, more balloons call to me, tempting me to buy. At my usual haunts, the cashiers have gotten to know my tastes, and they will lay out a huge assortment, knowing I will succumb. At the pharmacy where I get Mike’s medicine, the Mylar assortment goes out in the aisles as soon as I call in for a refill. So I wind up leaving with something in addition to the medicine. One cashier assured me that they had plenty more of balloons with which to tempt me.

As soon as the pink butterfly flew my way, it squatted on my head, marking its territory. There was no point in running because all the aisles were riddled with balloons–Mylar flowers, insects, Disney characters, roses. They popped up in strategic places. I walked in, thinking about a fruit platter, and then those butterflies swarmed my way. All thoughts of fruit and anything else left my head. The last two visits to the Giant have matched me with pink butterflies, and now the inside of my car has taken on a pinkish tinge. In the interest of conserving resources, the Mylar butterflies hold their helium well.

Because it was getting near 90, I turned on the AC as soon as I got to the car. This enables the balloon to keep cool while I stowed my groceries. I must be the only person this side of Pennsylvania who will cool down a car to protect a balloon.
I’m still planning to get that e-reader, perhaps sometime in August. I’m thinking along the lines of Kindle Fire, or something that I can use for reading and sending email, as well as reading eBooks. But the balloons will always lure me into buying at the store. Always. They don’t call me Barbara of the Balloons for nothing.

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