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       Parasite; The True Story of the Zombie Apocalypse, p.1
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           Doug Ward
Parasite;  The True Story of the Zombie Apocalypse
Parasite

  The True Story of the Zombie Apocalypse

  By Doug Ward

  Copyright 2012 Doug Ward

  Introduction

  Many people tried to understand what made the dead walk. It seemed few had any true science behind their unfounded theories.  The radio was full of these people extolling one supposed scientific cause after another.  Radiation from outer space, pollutants, cell phones, it seemed every possible influence was explored to some extent.  But no one looked at evolution.

  I don't mean our evolution.  Our lifespan is too long for us to observe this theory in living humans.  Although we understand natural selection from the fossil records, the easiest way to see evolution is through bacteria.  Their short lives allow us a clear view of how a life form can adapt to meet the demands of a changing environment.

  Darwin's theory is what would lead to our modern world's destruction.  It would crush our cities, and render most technology useless.

  This is the story of how it happened, how I saw and uncovered the true cause of the zombie apocalypse.

  This book is a work of fiction. The

  names, characters, places, and incidents are products of

  the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and

  are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to

  persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or

  organizations is entirely coincidental.

  Other Fine Books by Doug Ward;

  Ward's Laws

  Ward's Laws Part 2

  Ward's Laws Part 3

  Ward's Laws Part 4

  Saving Jebediah; Another True Story from the Zombie Apocalypse

  Symbiote; The True Story of the Zombie Apocalypse Part 2

  Creator; The True Story of the Zombie Apocalypse Part 3

  Predator; The True Story of the Zombie Apocalypse Part 4

  Lich

  Acknowledgements

  Thank you to all of my friends and family who stood behind me and pushed me forward. You guys are the best. Special thanks to Chris Allman for helping me work out some of the bugs (pun intended,) and also Heather Sandusky, who helped me with some of the fire truck scenes. I want to thank Max Shaginaw and Scott Lee for beta reading and J.D. Reed for editing the book (a huge task!) I would like to give a very big, special thanks to wife, April, for putting up with the millions of times we discussed zombies. I want everyone to know that as far as having a Zombie Apocalypse Action Plan, she's probably the most prepared woman I've ever met.

  Chapter 1

  Henry

  It had been a long night at the office.  I told my wife Melissa that I was going to work late to finish my newest paper.  I was documenting my findings for the Journal of Natural Science.  I didn't think it would literally take all evening, but I got immersed in my work, as usual, and lost all track of time.

  Even though I had a laptop and a desktop at home, I liked to do most of my work at school.  It was too easy to get distracted at home.  In the office of my University lab, I was able to stay focused.  No phone calls, no television blaring in the background, I'd even shut off my cell phone so I could be totally absorbed in the task. Furthermore, I had the added benefit of having my test materials on-hand for when I wanted to look at something.

  The paper documented my research of Zombie Snails.  I was trying to find the evolutionary link pertaining to why the flatworm, Leucochloridium paradoxum, evolved to gain the ability to control the common garden snail.  We understand that the eggs of the flatworm, being ingested by the snail, caused the latter to become the host.  I was interested in how the evolutionary process began.

  I know what you're thinking, "An entomologist, doing the work of a malakologist?"  I found an infected snail and got interested.  It just kind of happened.

  I saved the document to a flash drive and turned off the task light illuminating my desk.  Natural sunlight filtered through my closed blinds, maintaining the room's brightness.  I looked at the oversized clock my wife had given me for our tenth anniversary.  Melissa said that she bought the present so I could see what time it was.  Mel, as I like to call her, thought it would get me home at a decent hour.

  It was 7:00 a.m.  I was in the doghouse.  A quick stop at Starbucks on the way home would go a long way to softening the blow.  Melissa loved her cappuccino.  So I scooped up my brown corduroy jacket and made for the door.

  As I closed the door, I saw the brushed bronze nameplate situated neatly below the glazed glass window.

  Dr. Henry Cooper, Ph.D.

  Department of Entomology

  Slippery Rock University

  My mother had been so proud.  I can still hear her bursting with pride over the phone when I told her I got the University job.  She told me I was going to save the world.  I didn't have the heart to correct her.

  The glass in the heavy, wooden door rattled as I closed and locked it. I didn't like the name Henry.  My coworkers called me Hank.  A few even referred to me as Coop.  But as for friends, I didn't have any close ones.  My work took most of my time.  Mel had tried to include me in a few of her friendships, but they always fell apart somehow.  I don't blame them.  The only thing I was truly focused on was my work.  I got anxious when we had parties to attend or even if we were going to spend the evening with another couple.  That was time I could be working.  Some people might call me a workaholic, but I tend to think that I'm driven.  I'm thankful that Melissa understands and still loves me.

  It was becoming a warm spring day, the birds chattering all about the tree-lined campus.  In the distance, I could hear the wail of a siren.  As I walked toward the parking lot, I powered on my iPhone with one hand and fumbled for my keys with the other.  I had walked this path for so many years that I didn't need to look up as I navigated my way to the lot where I had parked the day before.  As the screen came to life, I looked up and took in my surroundings.  Smoke plumed into the sky in the distance, but all else remained normal.  A few people were about their morning business; it being early Saturday morning, that was the norm.  Much of the student body had probably taken the evening as an opportunity to blow off some steam.  The few ambling about were either going home from an all-night party or up early to get some studying in.  It looked like the former.  In the distance, two people were running and the rest just seemed to lurch about.  It looked almost as if they were in hopeless chase of the joggers.

  Keys in hand, I thumbed the button to releasing the door to my car, a 2012 Subaru Forester.  Mel thought the dark gray color would blend into the road too much, but I loved how it looked and had to have it.  As I swung the door open, I noticed some of the students were coming my way.  It must have been a wild night.  By the way they were walking, it seemed like the party must have just let out.

  I plopped into the light gray leather seat and brought the screen of my phone to bear. In simple block letters, I read the words "No Connection."

  That's odd, I thought.  I usually had a great connection.  Dropping the phone in the passenger seat I shifted the car into reverse and backed out of my parking place.

  As the car arced around, a young man came into view through the rear view mirror.  He looked like hell.  His clothes and hair were askew, but his skin tone was the worst.  He was literally gray.  As he lurched toward the rear of my car, I felt compassion.  I actually thought about getting out of the car to see if he was ok, but a quick glance at the built-in clock on the dash made those thoughts disappear.

  Fifteen minutes had passed and I had to hightail it.  I slammed the car's automatic transmission into drive and was on my w
ay.  The coffee shop was just a few blocks away, so I whizzed along the back streets, still damp from dew.  I passed a few more late-night partygoers on the way to Starbucks.  They all had that same gray pallor and walked as though they could barely stand.  It must have been a heck of a night.

  As I neared my destination, I couldn't believe my luck.  There was a parking space open right in front.  On a Saturday morning, that was weird, but what was even stranger was the fact that all the spaces in front were open.  I swung into the one directly in front and to my disappointment; I saw the reason the spot wasn't filled.  There, in the middle of the window, was a sign indicating that the store was closed.  I couldn't believe it.  I just sat there with my mouth open reading and rereading the same word.  Why would a coffee shop be closed on a Saturday morning?  My car idled as I thought of what I could do to smooth over the fact that I had not come home last night.

  I wasn't worried that she would think I was with another woman.  We were beyond that.  She knew the only other woman for me would have an exoskeleton and maybe antennae.

  I could stop at another place but that would make me even later.  Maybe if I go straight home I can start a pot of java before she wakes up. That might be nearly as good as a cup of Starbucks I lied to myself.  I reversed out of the spot and started down the road toward my house.

  I saw a few people in the rearview mirror and thought to myself, Those will be some sad people when they see that the shop is not open.

  I was now closer to where the party had taken place, because there were cars driven up on sidewalks and abandoned on the street.  One even had the door open.  Man, that guy would be upset when he comes out and finds a dead battery.  More people were walking about, but I hardly gave them a second look as I pulled to the side of the road to give a police car, siren blaring, room to pass.  The lights reflected off my face as the car flew by.  The officer in the passenger seat looked in shock as he locked eyes with me.

  I resumed my journey, noticing that people were shuffling toward the road, probably to get a look at where the police car was going.  I fumbled for my garage door opener as I deftly maneuvered through the last of the well-traveled streets.

  As I pulled into the driveway of our small Cap Cod-style home, I thought better of using the automatic garage door opener.  The door was very loud when the chain engaged.  The old Sears motor made half of the house vibrate.  If I parked outside and entered quietly, I could start a pot of Joe and have time to sneak back and wake Melissa with a kiss.

  Turning the ignition to off, I pulled the keys and as silently as possible, exited the vehicle.  I was almost on my porch when I spied my neighbor, Phil, walking towards his mailbox, probably for his morning newspaper.  It looked like he had just woken up.  His pajamas were halfway down his butt and, worst of all, he had no shirt on.

  Please don't get me wrong.  I like my neighbors, but I was in a hurry and Phil had the habit of being quite long-winded.  Being retired and married to the neighborhood gossip can do that to a person.  Unfortunately, while I was selecting the front door key, I dropped them.  Bending over, I could see out of my peripheral vision that Phil had stopped and was turning my way.  He must have heard my keys jingle as they hit the ground.  I quickly scooped them up and headed for the door, eyes staying focused straight ahead.

  Putting speed before stealth, I had the door unlocked and was through the portal within moments.  I tried to look nonchalant about it as not to hurt my neighbor's feelings.

  Inside the house, all was still.  I could hear the ticking of the old battery-operated clock we had in the hallway to the kitchen, but all else was silent.  I was home free, I thought, hanging my jacket on the old hat rack we kept just inside the door.  As I crept down the tile hallway, I heard a thump at the front entrance.  Shrugging it off, I started forward once again.  Two more thumps and I wheeled about, hurrying toward the door.  I quietly opened the door and, to my horror, there was Phil.  Blood streamed down from the side of his neck.  He emitted a low, wet-sounding moan and raised his arms for what I thought was a cry for assistance.  As I grabbed his right arm and reached with my free hand to help him, his head shot forward, snapping teeth mere inches from my face.  His jaws continued to bite as my reaching for help turned into struggling for control.

  I pushed and he pulled, then we slipped in an ever-growing puddle of his blood.  His naked back made a slapping noise as it hit the sticky surface.  The momentum brought my face dangerously close to his as Phil's jaws continued their quest for my flesh.  I struggled to get away as his attention became focused on my wrist, which had gotten close to his snapping maw.  The blood was making things worse as I lost my grip over and over.  Somewhere in our struggle, one of us knocked over the hat rack.  It slid down the open door frame and landed between our faces.  Seizing the moment, I grasped the rack in both hands, my weight pinning his head to the floor.  His hands raked at my sides, but I kept up the pressure.  Bouncing, I repeatedly bashed his head against the tiled entryway.  Blood puddled out, but I kept bouncing and bashing until I felt something in his skull snap.  Phil's body went slack, arms plopping into the huge stain of his life's fluid, splashing red onto the walls and door.

  I knelt there, weight still pressing on my neighbor's broken skull.  Relief flooded my body.  No thoughts, just a strong feeling of exhaustion.  After a moment, I leaned back and let my body relax.  I closed my eyes, blocking the gruesome vision with black.

  A sound brought me back from tranquility.  A shuffling noise was followed by a soft moan.  My eyes shot open and I saw that old Mrs. Crawford, eyes fixed on me through my open door, was staggering toward me.  The Zen moment was over.  I shoved Phil's corpse out of the door, which was no easy feat considering his size and that he was all (pardon the pun) dead weight.

  Just as I was pushing the door closed, an old, frail wrist shot through the opening.  The steel door smashed into the brittle, age-worn bones and snapped it off.  The appendage hung, unmoving, from the jam.  As I drove the deadbolt home the limb fell to the floor, thudding lightly against the tiles.

  I could only stand and stare.  It lay in the thickening pool of my deceased neighbor's blood along with my jacket.  Not knowing what else to do, I went into the kitchen and retrieved a set of tongs.  I used these devices to pick up the severed appendage and walked over to my living room window.  Being careful to look both ways, I deposited the limb with a light toss in the shrubs and secured the window latch.

  I looked down at my shirt and slacks, covered in blood.  Walking into the kitchen, I began to shiver.  The trauma was taking its toll.  I could hear Mrs. Crawford at the door, trying to gain access.  Muffled thumps registered her vain attempts at entry. I stripped off the shirt and dropped it in the garbage can, then continued to the sink.  Water ran red down the drain as I washed myself.  Had my neighbors been infected by some new disease, something that affected their minds?  This renewed my scrubbing.  Just as I achieved a nice, rosy-red hue, I glanced into the window glass and saw the coffeemaker reflected there. Mel.

  Still dripping, I crept through the house saying her name softly. "Melissa," I called out again, uncertain of what the results might be.  Maybe she heard the struggle and was hiding.  At the door to our upstairs master bedroom, I paused.  Turning the handle slowly, I hoped for the best.

  As I swung the door in, nothing happened.  I said her name slightly louder.  Still nothing.  She wasn't home.  What did this mean?  There was no sign of a struggle, apart from the one I was in earlier.  Where did she go?

  Chapter 2

  Melissa

  Yesterday

 
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