King of Keremeos

Episode 30: Warning: Graphic Content

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"Hmmm, I need a damn beer!"

That's what our latest character Vic Lemay ponders as he stands clutching a blood covered metal rod. He’s in the middle of nowhere, smothered in insufferable heat on a lonely, forbidding stretch of Highway 1. He's surrounded by the broken bodies of four youngish men he just beat to death. Big red pools and squishy chunks are everywhere...and look what these lunks did to his new sneakers!

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He doesn't feel real but this dreary dream won't end. Off to one side of the road is his vehicle, a small white bus with its windshield shattered after having driven into a trap. On the other side is a dusty sedan with a little boy inside staring blankly at the victorious fighter, perhaps also thinking this is all some messed up, bowling-shoe-ugly nightmare.

A stunned and disheveled woman, drawn and emaciated, stands outside that vehicle, breathing heavily, knowing it's more than likely her turn for an extra big can of whoop ass.

 

She's right, of course, as Vic casually approaches, stepping around the growing pools. Neither say a word as he winds up and swings for the fences, crushing the side of her head. Yup, one swing is all it takes. This guy doesn't even know about the whole end of the world thing but from the looks of it will fit right in.

The kid, meanwhile, no more than maybe four or five, continues to stare blankly from inside the car and offers no reaction to the bludgeoning.

It's as if his lack of reaction is some form of mocking.

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They look at each other briefly before Vic hobbles back to his bus to grab his supplies and then tosses them into the kid's ride.

 

He grabs the boy by the arm and yanks him out. He barks at him "put your skates on, kid" before driving away, leaving the kid alone amongst the fresh road kill. Talk about cornball, the cassette deck begins playing Clair de Lune, that lovely piano piece.

Vic looks in the rear view mirror to see the stoic boy continuing to stare back, as if he somehow had the upper hand in the bloody fiasco. No matter, Vic has to make tracks and get to Vancouver.

 

All right, you guessed it. In this episode we're doing another character intro. You'll have to wait and see whether Vic is a friend or foe, or something in between.

You see, things aren't so black and white in the hellish new world.

So, who in the hell is Vic Lemay? Glad you asked. Well, if you didn't, we're telling you anyway.

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So let's rewind just a tad.....before the world suddenly turned on its head. Vic "Suitcase" Lemay was a beloved Canadian children's entertainer, his smiley face and colourful guitar a mainstay on TV, radio and a theatre near you. He was an engaging storyteller with folksy narratives - a real Canadian treasure.

 

OK, we all know everyone has a dark side and this hard-smoking, short-tempered and foul mouth womanizer is no exception. Did we mention just how he loves his booze? Well, he really, really does! Problem is, he's one of the nasty, angry drunks. A violent sport with an unsettling lack of empathy toward his fellow man.

We don't have time to get into his gambling, porn, prostitutes or how his wife gave him the heave-ho after he gifted her the clap. 

Alrighty-then, you pretty well have enough character description – he’s not a nice man!

 

Oh wait, just to twist your noggin, on occasion he'll pull some completely unexpected act in the hostile, unrepentant world, such as giving his shoes and socks to a bum on who wasn't wearing any in the dead of winter.

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Darn, one last little bit of detail about Vic: our slightly disturbed children’s entertainer is also a double amputee below the knees, but can get around just fine with transtibial prosthesis. No one could tell what was under his polka-dot bell bottoms anyway.

As long as he doesn't have to run, he's just fun. On the other hand, you'd think running would probably be somewhat useful in this apocalyptic time.

 

Dead broke, Vic got a rather strange call from a Canadian TV producer asking if he'd be interested in participating the New Life Project, where several men and women from all walks of life spend a year in a lavish biodome. It's a closed, self-sustaining ecological system, where they'd all stay for an entire year.

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They could grow their own food and had all the supplies they'd ever need. It would be all part of a funky reality TV series where a camera crew would be locked up with the participants and follow their every move and, hopefully, drama would ensue.

 

They'd also have no contact with the outside world, expect for emergencies, and the TV show would air after the experiment. Obviously, they had no idea what was happening in the outside world, which sucked for Vic who loved watching his hockey almost as much as he loved his booze and strippers.

 

An even bigger problem was that nobody bothered informing the fools about what was hitting the fan after they had been in the dome for a while. Funny, ravenous human corpses and the weird mutant animal things even roamed around the dome but the people inside remained clueless.

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The state-of-the-art biodome at the Alberta border, a Government of Canada financial boondoggle, was really, really cool, though.

In that self-powering little world a community could live seemingly forever, as long as everyone got along.

 

You guessed it, they didn't. Having to wear ridiculous polyester outfits that looked like they were from some cheesy sci-fi movie in the early '70s, the cast was led an older woman who was a know-it-all environmentalist with an explosive attitude to match, and she never took a shine to poor old Vic. So, naturally, the two butted heads.

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Ya, plenty of drama in our biodome - TV gold!

 

Tired of being everyone's foil, things got a little murky as Vic, who wasn't feeling all together there even before the biological debacle, found himself outside the structure, having been voted out, even though it wasn't even a contest show.

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Vic remembers leaving the dome only to find absolutely no one outside. What the hell was going on? Some kind of joke? Did they cancel production and neglect to tell the idiots inside? Confused, he left the compound in one of the show's abandoned buses.

 

Indeed, something unsettling was going on, but, for whatever reason, Vic felt more numb than confused. He drove past a few abandoned cars but there was no traffic….nothing! It's like the world had suddenly ended......duh! 

                     

Someone is messing with him, gotta be! At this point, he doesn't even know about the pandemic or that the world was overrun by the dead, and we’re not just talking about decaying bodies littering the streets of every major city but the ones that have reanimated for a stroll and looking for unsalted fleshy snacks.

 

He eventually finds someone.....a woman beside a car on the side of the road desperately waving her arms. As Vic slows down he sees a kid in the sedan. No harm in helping out, no? Well, normally he'd just leave her there but he needs answers.

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You guess it folks, someone emerges from behind some brush and throws a rock into his windshield, forcing him off the road.

He's stunned only momentarily and then sees the four young men brandishing pieces of metal, a shovel and even a goalie stick (Yup, guns are hard to come by in Canada). They're lurking toward the bus ready to beat and rob. Hmmmm, a trap, eh? So let’s get at 'er and put your skates on!

 

A pissed Vic doesn't hesitate to go into fight mode, grabbing his cane and thumping one of the assailants, then grabbing the metal rod before.....well, you know the rest. Nothing is real. It's as if he's been moving for a while in some kind of haze and everyone else are shadows. This bizarre little episode was no exception.

 

Later, running low on gas, he enters the quant Village of Keremeos, but more cautiously this time. He grabs his cane and leaves the sedan in the middle of the main street to check out the cute little town. Of course, there’s nobody around.

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This craziness! Man, it's so quiet here. The sky has an ugly yellow tinge and, yes, there's a peculiar wind that makes it sound as if you're in a you-know-what movie.

Nothing in the antique shop, nor the burger joint or hotel. What the hell is going on? Everything changes, though, when he busts into the pub. Tired and hungry, and really needing a stiff drink, Suitcase is surprised to see a bunch of kids......kids!

 

"OK, kids, mind telling me what the heck is going on here? I've had a rough day!" he barks at the frightened group.

What in the hell are they hiding from? Where are their parents? Is there a cop in this dinky town?

"You-you're not going to kill us, are you?" a girl, maybe seven or eight, boldly asks. What kind of messed question is that?

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"Now why would you ask me something dumb like that, really?" Vic responds, frustrated. "I won't hurt you guys, but what the f**k is going on? You know, give me some answers. I've been out of the loop for a while. So why don't you fill me in, all right? Let's start from the beginning."

 

More kids suddenly emerge from a back room. There's got to be thirty or forty of them hiding in here - some small ones, some teens and others just about to hit their wonder years. A bunch of sad-faced orphans.

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My god, what kind of crap did he walk into? Hell on earth had started and he missed out on the start of the big party!

Another girl then steps forward and points at Vic with a look of tremendous relief.

"Hey, you're Vic Lemay! Vic the singer! Suitcase Vic!" she smiles. "I totally remember you!"

Vic nods and gives the kids a sly grin.

 

Yes, the kids fill him in about the end of the world, now ruled by walking, hungry corpses, and how the grownups all died suddenly like disco.

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Vic finds it all none too surprising and will lead this pubescent group. He doesn't need the hassle, really, but what other choice does he have? Well, he'd normally be inclined to leave them there but there's something about these kids that made him decide to stick around.

Maybe until he finds somewhere that's safe enough so he can ditch them. Maybe he'll be around a little longer than that. Madness!

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The first order of business is to find transportation and make their way to some place that has people, something more secure. It doesn't take them long to find a school bus and make their way into another town just as dead as Keremeos.

 

It's at the next stop, however, they find another group. That group is led by a large-framed man of Hawaiian decent who has a lovely head of wavy hair, Donald Ho. Ya, him. 

 

 

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Story by Sandor Gyarmati

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