Thursday October 22, 2009
It started on a day no different from any of the other 295 I’d had that year. First block chemistry class, falling asleep in the middle of the lecture. Our dear old Mr. Fletcher had this uncanny ability to put me to sleep every morning for a full hour and 45 minutes! How crazy is that? Gradually, as I dozed near the back of the class, my ears wandered lazily through other peoples’ conversations, honing in on anything that wasn’t about the Lewis dot structure of a hydrogen dioxide molecule. Nothing interesting on the left side of the room; same on the right. I was just about to give up and go to sleep altogether when something caught my interest: my two friends Xander Orsino and Leon Crane speaking in hushed tones about rations, forests, and buses.
“It’s a morbid fascination, but we have to face it, it’s going to happen.” Patrick was saying, coaxing a grunt and a nod out of Xander. After listening in for awhile about going to the woods of Virginia, I assumed one of them was considering running away. Not to toot my own horn, but I make a pretty good Dr. Phil, and I thought if one of them was running away maybe I could help change their mind. If I had just left it at running away, if I hadn’t turned around, maybe I could’ve lived happier, not knowing the things I know now, what that ungodly moan in the dead of night means.
“What’re you guys talkin’ about?” I asked, turning around in my chair. Xander was drawing up a crude schematic in pen and didn’t look up as he answered matter-of-factly “Preparing for the impending zombie invasion.” I sat in silence for a second, but for some bizarre reason I believed him. It’s the sort of belief of a seven-year-old when there’s a monster under the stairs and you and your buddies, armed with nothing but cardboard tubes for swords and colanders for helmets, are the only ones who can stop it.
“Oh.” I said stupidly, trying to decipher the blueprint he and Leon were drawing up. It was the only thing I could think of to say.
(another golden opportunity to turn around and forget it all, wasted)
“We’re starting a survival group for when it happens,” Xander continued. “Do you want to join? We’ve got a list of members right… here.” He flipped through the notebook they were using to an unorganized list of about 15 names in black and blue ink. I saw some names had been crossed out and moved, others just covered over completely. After a silent nod Leon scribbled my name under that of my friend Leif and asked if there was anybody I would be bringing with me as he rotated the thick notebook so that I could properly read the names of 15 either paranoid or adventurous people who would eventually turn out to be the smart ones.
This next part is going to sound horrible. I thought for a minute, seriously considered all the pros and cons of each of my family members. I knew with a heavy heart that if (ha!) this “invasion” actually happened, not one of them would be able to cope. This was the first (but certainly not the last) moral decision I would make over the next decade that would weigh on my soul like a ton of bricks.
“Just my girlfriend Josie,” I said, writing her name under mine. I knew that my Josie was tough, she could fight; she had a better chance of survival than my own family. My attention once again turned to the ballpoint blueprint under Leon’s careful, calculating hand. “What’s that, Leon?” He looked up from the drawing for just a second before going back to scribbling a long wall of X’s around the bottom left corner of what appeared to be a heavily fortified, and expertly drawn, plain ol’ square.
“It’s a plan of our base camp,” he said, his piercing blue eyes scrutinizing the rail-straight lines for any imperfection. “We’re gonna take over a Costco and convert it into a compound where we can ride out the zombies.” The prospect of a zombie war intrigued and frightened me at the same time. For both, I would discover, I had good reason.
“What would you guys need me to do?”
“You would be in Bravo Group: weapons and ammo,” It was clear that Xander was the decision maker here. It was probably his idea to start the “Clan” in the first place. “Actually…” he mused thoughtfully. “How would you like to lead Bravo Group?” I was taken aback. Me, leading a group of gun-toting, rip-snorting, zombie killers?
“’Cause,” Xander replied. “I know you Blayne, we’re all friends. I trust you as a leader,” he leaned in a little closer. “The three of us would be the senior officers of the Clan. We’re sort of like the executive branch.” He smiled at his own little joke.
“…Okay, I’ll do it. But only because you’re so darn cute.” I said jokingly, play punching him like James Cagney in The Public Enemy. He and Leon laughed as Xander crossed out my name and put me down under SENIOR OFFICERS.