Sometimes Zombies are the Least of Your Problems

Good Zombie Fiction

Episode 40: Warning: Graphic Content

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"Yes, yes, yes....no, no, no...yes, yes, yes....."

A withdrawn Leo can't help but mutter as he stands in the office throwing darts into a board that has a picture of pop singer Justin Bieber pinned to it. Outside the cemetery gates is a dwindling number of plague monsters. At this rate they'll be able to leave these grounds for the monastery.

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Their mission involves killing the blood sucking freak, the cardinal, and taking over that place.

 

And truth is, with the exception of a couple of the priests Leo had gotten to know who are still up there, he really doesn't trust anyone behind those walls. Oh sure, there's more than likely a few good ones who aren't in on the cardinal's dark secret, his bloody plans, but the dude can't take any chances.

Everyone there is going to have to die. If some innocent ones are whacked, well, too bad, so sad. Reparation, by the way, is an obsolete term.

All that matters is the safety of his own men, but they'll also find others and form a community that meets Leo's burly standards. 

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Leo has scribbled a new favourite phrase "do what you must" a couple of hundred times on the wall. As a kid he heard that phrase over and over from the hard-headed pastor at Saint Gummarus Parish. Turns out that pastor was right all along.

 

Yes, there's going to be a lot of bloodshed soon but it's the only way. Funny, though, Leo is also feeling decompiled and reassembled, as if his body and soul have been upgraded to a version better able to see the truth in all things.

 

Yes, it's all so clear now, what he has to do and how he has to do it. If this apocalypse hadn't occurred, he would have wasted away, standing on the sidelines within an existence without meaning. Now he has rapturous purpose and strength, so the end of the world, in fact, saved him. Talk about irony, eh?

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Seth and Michael knock and enter the office, wanting to check up on their leader who hasn't eaten in a couple of days. True, the shocker of a note by Fred Hall rocked everyone but the plan is largely unchanged.

 

"How are the guys doing?" Leo asks, his voice low and as raspy as ever. "I want them rested. We have a big day tomorrow, you know. Tell them to go to sleep, will you, Michael?"

"Sure thing Leo," Michael responds, nodding and scratching his behind as he leaves Seth and Leo to chat in private.

The cowboy seats himself on the couch and yawns.

“So my Leo, buddy, we're doing this. Pretty freaky situation with the cardinal. Look, I had no idea, I don't think very many of us did...."

 

"It's all right. I just need to know you're with me on this. That place, it's so, so evil. We're going to hit the armoury and then blast em' all. If there's some who are worth saving, you'll only have a minute or so to round em' up, it's the only way," an unwavering Leo answers.

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"Look, Seth, I was waiting until Michael left....look....things are going to get a lot worse before they get better....I'll protect you guys but I'll be doing some pretty harsh things. If, if I go really too far, just sort of remind me....remind me when I've gone way over, OK?"

 

Seth coughs, then smiles, "Your moral compass? No problem, I get it." The cowboy is then handed a dart and throws it right between Bieber’s eyes.

"Come on, cowboy, let's go downstairs and go over my plan again with the guys," Leo adds, smiling back.

 

Downstairs, the men stand in a circle around Leo who goes over the details of the raid, reminding them they'll have to kill most, if not all, the priests who will surely resist.

The cardinal has them under some kind of spell, it's the only explanation how the guys here didn't seem as enamored with the freak as soon as they got some distance from him.

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Then, someone lets out a fart and two of the men look at each other and giggle. Nope, this won't due at all, especially given the gravity of the situation. The little bugger let out a stinker too.

 

"Who was that? Was that you Ronald?" Leo's intense eyes fixated on the main culprit. "Not even an apology....you think this is all some kind of joke? Where's your respect for me? For these men?"

Ronald looks side to side and lets out another nervous giggle. The dude picks up a glass from the coffee table and approaches the suspect face-to-face. "You're going to act with a little god damn respect. If there's one thing I won't take, it's a lack of respect.......it's the rule...."

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The dude then smashes the glass into the man's face and poor old Ronald collapses in agony, a thick piece of glass lodged in the eye socket.

"Leo...ohhhh....my eye....my eye!"

Mr. Fart Pants on the ground thrashes as the dude turns around and wipes his hands.

 

"No disrespect, no lying, none of that.....things are going to be a lot different if you want to stay alive!" Leo commands. "Now get this fool cleaned up!"

He rubs his beard and looks at Seth, who provides a slight grin and says, "What we were just talking about, I'll let you know when you have."

Tomorrow they role for the monastery.

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Meantime, down in the suburbs of Seattle, military man Ford sits in a cold lunchroom of the Sikh temple surrounded by several men with a visceral mistrust of this newcomer.

He supposedly has information critical for their long-term survival. Jack Burrows, his arms crossed, stands behind the prisoner, giving him a look that can’t get any nastier.

Ford pays no mind, only looking at the interrogator standing in front of him, FBI man Tim White.

 

“This is too fantastic even for me to believe, Ford. You’re telling me Hagstrom and this woman are blood sucking monsters?” White shakes his head. “My god, this can’t be….Hagstrom, so he’s alive, now more dangerous than ever? So, Hagstrom is alive.”

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“Who’s this Hagstrom?” inquires an irate Burrows. “How come we don’t kill this son of bee, this jerk here? He helped kill people. Gathering them up for those experiments. He’s got to die!”

A perspiring Keron steps forward and interrupts. Putting his hand on Ford’s shoulder. “He says he did wrong, he admits to everything. If we kill him now, then we’re no better than what those scientists did.”

 

He turns to White. “Look, if you want to send him away, I’ll understand, but we can’t go on to be a bunch of executioners. This place, would lose all its meaning.”

“Your nuts, you know that man. You’re a nice guy, but a nutjob, Keron. How can we trust this guy?” Burrows argues.

White waves his arms and tells everyone to shut the hell up.

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“No, no, don’t talk about what we’ll do with him now. It’s not important, Jack, not now. If what he says is true, we’ve got a whole lot of problems. If Hagstrom has become some mutant monster, we’re all in great danger…dead...hopeless...would have been anyways if Hagsrrom was still the old Hagstrom but this is messed up!”

 

“I know I messed up, thought we were going to save the world,” Ford says, unapologetic. “Right now, you need me, your people need me. Those two back there, they’ll find this place sooner rather than later, and with their ability to control all those walking corpses, they’re invincible. I’m telling you, you have to evacuate, go as far away from those freaks as you can, every minute talking here is a waste. You let me take someone and we’ll go scout out somewhere new, far away from that creap and the dead things.”

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White looks at the anxious faces starring at him and waiting for direction. He paces nervously before placing his hands on his hips and offering a verdict.

“No, we aren’t going to kill you. You probably deserve it. You help us now, you might even stay,” he says, much to Jack’s chagrin. “Look for a spot we can stay for now, out in the country, but I want you to go on scouting a more permanent location, maybe up in Canada.”

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Leave this place, the others look at each other and aren’t sure what to make of this new directive.

 

They’d be entering a big unknown out there but, on the other hand, if there’s a pair of mind-controlling monsters not far away that are able to manipulate a corpse army, what other choice do they have? A few in the room know that not everyone’s going to make it.

 

During dinner, after Ford has been safely locked away and the windows closed to keep an awful, constant burning hair smell out, White sits next to Keron who’s holding a styrofoam cup of cold coffee.

White is feeling overwhelmed, still in disbelief that his old nemesis, the serial killer Hagstrom, is not only alive but more dangerous.

How is he going to protect these decent people with that maniac running loose? And what about this Ford guy, can he really be trusted?

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“Keron, I gotta tell you, this is messed up. If you aren’t scared, you should be. I just hope I’m doing the right thing by letting this Ford guy in here, finding us a place. Oh my god….Hagstrom is out there!”

Keron puts his arm around the concerned agent’s shoulders and seems to beam.

“I trust you. We’ll be OK, I just know it. As long as we stick together. Good people sticking together, it’ll work out then.”

He hands White the lukewarm black coffee.

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The FBI man looks down and chuckles, thinking that perhaps Jack is right and Keron is a bit of a nut. Oh well, c'est la vie, baby!

When Keron asks what’s so funny, White answers, “Nothing, my friend, just keep thinking the way you do. I mean it.”

 

Later, further east, standing on the rooftop of the vanquished research centre, the blue-eyed albino Hagstrom looks out and admires his new army of dead standing and watching him below.

He feels so strong, so powerful, so virile, while his old urges, the lust for causing suffering and death, have only intensified.

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His cankles having mysteriously healed up nicely, he will rule the world which is now his piggy playpen. No one can stop him. It’s getting dark, so he can venture outside. The sunlight won’t disintegrate him but would result intense blistering and pain.

That problem, however, has also been solved as a transformed Kate, now aroused every time she is in close proximity to the serial killer, joins him. She throws down an outfit she gathered a few blocks away - welder’s goggles and a ridiculous leather getup. At least it will offer the protection they need from the harmful, nasty sun.

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“You’re a good girl, aren’t you my Kate. I sense, feel, there’s others like us out there in this world, our world. We’ll find them, together.”

 

Kate stands beside him and looks to the horizon. Everything makes sense now, she concludes, and Hagstrom's way of thinking has been correct all along. She felt like she was losing herself, her mind, when she began undergoing the change, but she now realizes what she’s received is clarity.

Yes, maybe you need to be decompiled in order to be put back together even better.

They smile at each other and hold hands.
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“The world is ours. I feel so…..strong…..I want it all,” she says. “But let’s find Ford first, he couldn’t have gotten far.”

 

The next day back up in Canada, the men at the cemetery have finished loading their vehicles and are about to head to their deadly mission. Two help a slumping, staggering Ronald, a bloody gauze covering his destroyed eye, into the back seat of an SUV.

Here we go…………..

 

Leo, who never wants to come back to this place, drives the lead vehicle. Passing just a few rotting plague monsters, they wind their way through the cluttered, debris strewn Surrey suburb, past the Sunstone Pub and onto the highway.

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Sitting next to him is Michael. “So, Leo, I didn’t know anything about the cardinal, what he really was. It was weird how, how I wanted to follow him….like….like he was in my head, you know?”

 

“I know, I felt him trying it on me too. He’s got to be stopped but you’d better do what it takes. If the rest of the people up there are under his stupid spell, we’ll have to kill ‘em all.”

 

Michael raises his eyebrows and looks ahead. “Ya, sucks, I know. No choice, I guess. After, when it’s all over, it’s going to be really good for us, finally.”

Leo turns to him and grins. “No, Mike, it’s going to be fricken great!”

 

Michael then points and shouts, “HEY, WATCH IT!!!”

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Leo slams the brakes and is stunned by what he sees directly ahead of him….it’s another caravan of vehicles heading toward him. What the heck?

The strangers all stop and two figures immediately exit their lead car. Leo and Michael do the same, pointing loaded handguns.

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“Don’t you move! Don’t try anything!” commands Leo, feeling eager for a fight. His men then pile out and also point their weapons.

 

Suddenly, a smile, a feeling of joy he hadn’t experienced in god knows how long, and the dude lowers his gun. Turns out one of the figures emerging from the other side is his friend, Fred Hall, who also gives Leo a big, wide smile.

The hockey star is standing next to a stranger that Leo thinks he recognizes. Yes, that’s Vic Lemay, beloved Canadian children’s entertainer. He’s alive?

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Looks like there’ll be a change in plans, especially after Leo hears what Fred has to say.

Plans to raid the mission are off, for now, as Leo’s group heads to a new location, a shipping container storage yard that’s fenced and secure.

 

There, they meet the rest of weary Fred’s group. They’ve been gathering supplies, including building materials, in the hope of eventually having enough to secure a farm property they’ve been eyeing in Ladner.

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The plan is to build a wall and grow their own food, but, more importantly, to be as far away from the monastery as possible. Turns out Fred has a grim story about that mysterious place that will knock Leo’s socks off.

 

Seth is thrilled to see Avril and the kids again as they give the big pretend old cowboy hugs. There’s plenty of handshakes and warm introductions. This new group has more than fifty, including little kids, but only two hunting rifles and a half-box of ammo.

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Having used up most of their bullets, they've been protecting themselves with pointy, stabbing weapons. Leo’s men are delighted to see their number instantly grow. The dude, though, doesn’t get a good vibe from the Vic guy, especially when told about his two “girlfriends” who are barley in their teens.

Is Leo going to have to kill this sucker too? Probably. It’s easy to kill a man, especially a jackass like Vic.

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For now, everyone converges in the middle of the compound where Fred explains why going to the monastery is absolutely out of the question.

 

“Quite a group you got here setup, Fred,” Leo says, looking back to give Vic, who’s got an arm around one young girl, a cold stare. Vic gives him one back.

 

“Ya, I’m glad you got my note. My god, I’m glad you’re OK. Thought you died. I think we’re so much stronger now we’ve got this bigger group. Things are looking up once we secure that farm,” the hockey star answers.

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Now they’ve got this little Kumbaya out of the way, it’s time to get serious.

“Ummm, Fred, mind telling me the whole story now. What the hell is going on up there?” Leo questions. “I need answers now!”

It’s clear Leo is pushing his weight around, already attempting to take charge. Hopefully he won’t have to kill any of these new nice people.

The sun baking them in the dirty compound, everyone falls silent as Fred spins a yarn.

 

Turns out that the ever amorous Vic, who’s still constantly eyeballing Avril, brought Fred and his family out of that house and to a campground not far from the monastery.

Leader of the group there was Don Ho, the strapping Hawaiian with the beautiful wavy hair. Ho had been sending some people out to scout out the monastery, hoping to take it over.

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What they discovered, though, was something extremely creepy, priests apprehending people travelling the highway and taking them back to god knows what. A few of his own people had been snatched up as well.

Things turned sideways when a terrified priest named Chester turned up in the woods and ran into Don’s group, describing a harrowing escape after learning the true nature of the cardinal.

 

“Let me guess, a blood sucking mutant freak, killing people,” Leo says, conveying contempt, “Most of the suckers in there don’t have a clue what’s going on.”

 

“That’s right, you’re right, we didn’t,” a timid voice emerges. A skinny, balding, scuffed-face man steps forward. It’s Chester, who was a priest Leo had considered one of the good ones but may have had to kill nonetheless.    

Chester describes how he tried to help Don destroy the nefarious place.

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“When I learned what the cardinal really was, how he was killing people and most of us were there just for his food, some of us tried to get away. I’m the only one who made it. Lucky I found Don and Vic. Some of the priests, if you can call them that, are there just to serve the cardinal during daylight, protect the grounds and go find people for him to kill.”

 

Members of Leo’s group look at each other, aghast, as Leo pulls out Fred’s warning note. “I know, know he’s a monster. That’s why we were going up to kill him."

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“No, no, no, no,” you haven’t heard the whole story, there’s more. You ain’t going up there once you heard this,” Vic interjects, throwing his hands up in apparent dismay.

“He’s right, there’s more,” Fred adds, “Go on, tell him Chester, tell him everything.”

 

“Well,” Chester continues, “Somehow the cardinal is able to communicate, don’t know how, with other freaks like him, weirdos. Sounds crazy. One day a big busload of them showed up, maybe a day or so after you went on your mission. You never came back, so the cardinal assumed you were dead and didn’t seem to care. Anyways, there was this bus driven by some guy who looked normal but he was the only one. All the windows were blacked out. Ten more of those freaks who look like the cardinal piled out, said they were from an island off the coast up north. They said more were coming. I wasn’t about to stick around and be their dinner when I saw what they did."

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Chester notes, “One of them, his name was Archie. A real mean, aggressive one.”

Leo’s jaw drops. “What….no….can’t be….not my Archie….got to be someone else, has to,” he ponders.

The discouraged dude doesn’t want to believe that the freak who showed up is his jovial pot smoking pal Archie, but that’s exactly who he is, transformed into another blue-eyed being like the cardinal. What Leo doesn’t know is that his bar pal Gare-Bear had the unfortunate circumstance of being Archie’s dinner.

 

“They drink blood, kill people and drink blood, can you believe it?” shouts Chester.

“Me and Vic and Fred and Don, a couple of others, got the camp moved further south, then got a bunch of fuel one night and tried to start a fire, a big one. Things were so dry, thought we’d start a wildfire and burn them out.”

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“I take it didn’t work,” asks Leo, prompting a sullen Chester to respond, “No, we started a fire but they were able to put it out. Some of those freaks were in the woods. The one that said his name was Archie, picked up Don like a rag doll and snapped his spine. Then ripped him apart. Incredible strength. We got out of there, went far away. Thought we’d come down here, far away from them.”

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Fred nods, “That’s the story. They’ve also got all those guns and we have almost none. Where will we find guns in Canada? So if you go up there, they’ll kill you too like they did Don. Best to stay as far away from that place as possible.”

 

Feeling somewhat hooked on being "the man" around here, Leo looks back at his men and then Fred’s group. Then, he pats one of Fred’s nervous children on the head, a rare affectionate gesture from the dude these days.

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“I’m glad we ran into you. Hundreds of miles away, we should be safe, for now. But don’t count on that being permanent. You did really good getting away but if you want us to stick around, I’m in charge.”

 

Fred and the others quickly nod but it takes a perturbed Vic a minute to also agree. He and Leo give each other sharp glares once again. Yup, he'll have to kill this lurid guy, Leo decides. 

 

Not far away, keeping a low profile as usual, the bikers, helmets on and visors down, watch from a rooftop, eyeing all of Leo's movements these days.

 

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