Tag Archives: Dr. Schulz

Dirge (revision)

March 7, 2010

Dr. Miller and I have begun our research of the ice worms on the Malaspina Glacier, just a few hundred miles from Juneau. Our encampment is an ideal place, far enough from the lake and tourism but not far enough that we can’t get to civilization within a day in the case of an emergency. Just dig in the ice and you can find dozens crawling around, like little squirming hairs.

March 10, 2010

Counting worm mean density in glaciers is tedious, especially the process of staking off areas. If I wanted to dig holes, I’d have become an archaeologist.

Our survivalist, Eric, entertains Dr. Miller and I with his stories. He has a way of telling them that uses his whole body, like the time he was carrying a dead seal to the butcher (who is a good friend of his) to sell its skin and fat and to get its meat cut into seal steaks. This was actually the normal part for him; apparently, PETA was hanging out, protesting, and they saw him and chased him through the streets. He had to chuck the seal into the crowd just to get away. “What a waste!” he told us and laughed a deep laugh.  He keeps us in warm spirits.

March 11, 2010

More worm counting. It’s cold and I’m tired. My fingers are numb. My nose is numb. My ass is numb. I’ve been slacking off to chat with Eric. Dr. Miller keeps eyeing me. I can only guess she disapproves of my slacking off or my flirting with Eric, though probably both.

March 14, 2010

I am writing this the next morning. I’ve always been a lightweight, but the cold is soothing to hangovers.

Eric and I started the day talking about science fiction. He’s a huge fan of Conan the Barbarian. He said that there were two stories about ice worms that he had read, one called “The Lair of the Ice Worm” featured Conan but was not written by Howard. The other, preferred by Eric, was called “Valley of the Worm” and was about a man named Niord who battles a giant ice worm and dies.

Since he offered some of his vodka, I reluctantly admitted that my interest in ice worms had been birthed from science fiction writers like Peter F. Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds. I recalled one story in which ice worms were used to terraform the planet by excreting the bacteria used to birth new life.

It was a strange conversation, but I felt like a connected with Eric a little. Then came the vodka. Dr. Miller will be livid.

March 15, 2010

Dr. Miller was bitten by a man wandering about the glaciers. I’m writing as Eric drives us to Juneau. She’s finally asleep from the anesthetics we gave her, but I’m not so sure about her condition. I can’t tell what’s wrong with her except for the fact that the wound is festering. He seemed to have some form of leprosy, perhaps, his body was so decayed. Eric put the man down. I don’t know how else to describe it since he was acting like a rabid animal. I just have to remind myself that it was mercy; it’s amazing he was still alive. Though it may ruin our research, we’ve left our camp behind. There is a large volume of bears about. Strange. Polar bears never head this far south. I wonder if this is a result of global warming?

March 16, 2010

If anyone is reading this, I am dead. My name is Dr. Hermann Schulz and I have been attacked by diseased polar bears. Like walking corpses. Some of them have their flesh torn right off from the bone, but they still keep coming with a ferocity not of this world. I was here with Eric Nass and Dr. Nancy Miller. They are both dead. God help me, they are. Poor Eric, torn apart by mad polar bears. He was every bit the man, though that means little under the might of a bear. Dr. Miller was bitten and contracted the disease. She attacked us and we left her. I leave nobody behind, save a couple of aunts and an uncle. I don’t want to die.

March 17, 2010

Ice worms come out at night. Must have killed tens of thousands just walking around.

If they had mouths, what songs would they sing for us? Or would it all be drowned out by the screaming?

March 21, 2010

I’ve had a few days to think while I lay in the hospital. Living bear corpses hobbling around the glaciers and tearing into Eric with bloody nails. All still vivid memories. This may sound crazy, but I need to know what killed my partner and my friend. Eric told me about that story and Niord and how his friend sang a dirge for him after his battle with the ice worms and his death. I think I’ll start experiments on the ice worms promptly. Maybe they know something we don’t.

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Filed under FEATHERTON III, Flash Fiction

Threshold (revision)

Travis began to doubt whether Sarah was still alive. He glared at a stranger, daring the man to tell him that she wasn’t alive. He quickly got out of Travis’s way. Why now? For almost two years, neither of them had felt safe, but they were alive and together. Now that they were among people, they had let their guard down.

Before the outbreak, before the zombies, they used to spend nights making love with only the light of her favorite lavender candles. He always thought the scent was overpowering, but he’d grown to love it. What he wouldn’t do to bring back that night, and to bring her back. Even living in the truck for over a year, afraid of everything outside their doors, at least they had each other. There were times during the morning twilight, in that threshold between night and day, when they would cling to each other and never let go. Now he might never see her again. Dr. Z: if he ever found him, he would kill him…

* * *

He’ll never see him again. Jeremiah, his only remaining flesh and blood, in an unmarked grave in the dry plains of Texas. They had grown up together, taking turns on the slide. He and Jerm had done unthinkable things, but they’d done them to corpses. But even telling himself that didn’t make it feel right. They’d massacred their entire family. If there was any blood on their hands, that would be it.

Micah waits at the threshold of the Rapturist building. He could burn this place down, but he wouldn’t know if the heads of the operation would be dead. The gumshoe would find a way in. It was a matter of pride for a man like that.

Ever since that day, Micah had always told Jerm “We did what we had to,” even if he didn’t quite believe it himself. Well, there was just one more thing Micah had to do. This country is a cess pool, all stemming from this booming city of Juneau. He would purge it with a bath of fire…

* * *

“Burn him again.”

“I think he’s reached his threshold, Reverend.”

“Very well.” He laid hands on the hammer and the chain, simple devices of torture, used as an artist would use a paintbrush.

He hung against the wall, like a piece of rotting meat. Reverend Taddeo wanted to dance at the sublime beauty of it all. He had grown up never really believing in God or the afterlife, feeling guilty about it but not knowing why. Now that the dead had come back, Taddeo knew that there was a divine presence passing judgment on us all. The Rapture had come and God had spoken in his ears: “Thou art hath sinned. Convert the masses and thou art shalt be redeemed in the eyes of the Lord.”

“You will thank me later, Dr. Schulz. We are baptizing you, preparing you for the rigors of the new age where only the just are spared from God’s angels! We must all prepare for what is to come…”

* * *

“We have to be prepared. You guys are ready?”

“Hells yeah! That’s my girlfriend getting brainwashed in there!”

“Theo, she could just be there of her own free… never mind.”

“So, what’s the big plan?”

“I have a plan. Josh, we’ll need to borrow your truck. You ready?”

Josh exercised his strange ability to crack every bone in his body. “I was born ready.”

“Good. We make our move tonight…”

* * *

The zombies gathered at the threshold of the forest, seeming to have purpose and direction. They began marching toward the squatter camps set up around Juneau’s walls. They guards rang the warning bells, too late for the huddled masses clawing at the gates to be saved from the flesh-eating masses. The undead horde’s number tripled that night. The victims of poverty and overpopulation now hammered and clawed at the threshold, slavering and dreaming of blood.

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Filed under FEATHERTON III, Flash Fiction

Scars

May 1, 2011

I was looking at my scars today. For the first time, I felt a sense of detachment rather than horror. I wonder if I am ready to move on. I’d like to tell myself that it was only my flesh that was stripped away, only my bones that were broken–but I would be lying.

Then again, we’ve all suffered our wounds, be they physical or spiritual. No one has come out of this outbreak, apocalypse, rapture–whatever you call it–without their scars.

Sarah and her husband, Travis, made it out safely. Their child, however, did not. Luckily, it died shortly after it was born. If it was a stillbirth, the child may have torn apart her insides while still in the womb. She still hasn’t talked, even to Travis. He tells me that she’s always been afraid of the dark, but now she scratches at the walls and weeps, making animal noises from her throat. He confessed to me once that he thought about just letting her cut her own wrists one night. When they were first reunited, I felt such love and relief brimming from the man. Then, when he saw her, I think it dawned on him rather suddenly that he had lost the wife he knew that day she was kidnapped. I visit him from time to time. It was hard for him to accept my help at first. He’d believed for over a week that I had kidnapped her. But now I visit regularly to check up on him and Sarah. I believe he used to prefer being left alone. When I think of fortitude and perseverance, Travis comes to mind.

I see Toby from time to time, but he’s not doing much better, I’m afraid. The day after he found Sarah and I locked away, he looked for the bodies of his friends and buried them. Sometimes I see him passed out at their graves with a bottle of homemade brew in his hand. I’d give him blankets, food, the shirt off my back. He saved my life, after all. But Toby never accepts any of my gifts. He just wanders about town, completely lost. If he doesn’t find a purpose in his life, I fear he won’t stay alive much longer. I feel responsible in a way.

The zombies left town as quickly as they’d entered. I can’t explain it. They don’t follow any kind of a feeding pattern. Rather, they act somewhat like they did in life. The dog zombies hunt in packs; the people zombies stick to each other. I once told Eric about the novel Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. He’d never read it before. It’s about a man raised by Martians. He brings their philosophies to Earth, including a practice/concept called “grokking.” To grok someone is to understand them completely. To the Martians, this includes consuming that person, taking them into your body. I almost think that the zombies feel incomplete, that they want to take humans inside themselves to… become human again, I suppose. Of course, this is all just speculation, barely even a theory. I wonder, but I’ve accepted the fact that I’ll never truly know the answer. The only thing I know for a fact is two truths: (1) nowhere is safe anymore, and (2) we must cling to the living if we hope to brave our dead.

~ Dr. Z

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Filed under FEATHERTON II, Flash Fiction

Threshold

As Travis walked out of the Rapturist church and into the frozen streets of Juneau, he began to doubt whether Sarah was even alive. For almost two years, neither of them had felt safe, but they were alive and together. Now that they were “safe” among civilization, they had let their guard down. He remembered how things used to be, back before the zombies. They used to spend nights making love with only the light of her favorite lavender candles. He’d hated that smell back then, but what he wouldn’t do to bring back that night, and to bring her back. Even living in the truck for over a year, afraid of everything outside their doors, at least they had each other. There were times during the morning twilight, in that threshold between night and day, when they would cling to each other and never let go. Now he might never see her again…

* * *

He’ll never see him again. Jeremiah, his only remaining flesh and blood, in an unmarked grave in the dry plains of Texas. They had grown up together, taking turns on the slide. They massacred their entire family before leaving home. Even though they were already dead, what they did wasn’t any easier. If there was any blood on their hands, that would be it. Even though it sounds crazy. Even though they were already dead. They did what they had do.

Lost in his own thoughts, Micah bumps into that man, Travis. They pause for a moment but neither says a word to the other. They just keep moving. In that moment, Micah hates him. What did he lose? He may not know it, but his wife is alive, at least. Micah awaits at the threshold of the Rapturist building. Micah could burn this place down, but he wouldn’t know if the heads of the operation would be dead. The gumshoe would find a way in. It was a matter of pride for a man like that. Micah would have his pound of flesh. Then they would burn…

* * *

“Burn him again.”

“I think he’s reached his threshold, Reverend.”

“Very well.” He laid hands on the hammer and the chain.

“You will thank me later, Dr. Schulz. We are baptizing you, preparing you for the rigors of the new age where only the just are spared from God’s angels! We must all prepare for what is to come…”

* * *

“We have to be prepared. You guys are ready?”

“Hells yeah! That’s my girlfriend getting brainwashed in there!”

“Theo, she could just be there of her own free… never mind.”

“So, what’s the big plan?”

“We need a decoy to get past the threshold of the Rapturist compound. Josh, I was hoping you could help us with that.”

Josh exercised his strange ability to crack every bone in his body. “I was born ready.”

“Good. We make our move tonight…”

* * *

The zombies milling clumsily about gathered at the threshold of the forest. They began marching toward the squatter camps set up around Juneau’s walls. The guards stationed at the turrets reported a wall of the dead that rivaled that rivaled that of the living. In the end, refusing new immigrants to the city only added strength to the zombies’ unstoppable tide.

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Filed under FEATHERTON II, Flash Fiction

Conviction

January 15, 2011

There are two people who have been making quite a stir in Juneau today, a husband and wife calling themselves “Travis and Sarah Scarborough.” They’ve been living out in the wild in Travis’s truck for over a year now and the papers have eagerly dubbed them “The Scarborough Savages.” There has been speculation on their identities, but it hardly matters now. As long as they’re human, I hardly see cause for concern. They’re no less dangerous than any other settler or squatter who lives in this city.

I’d like to question them for my own personal reasons, but they are difficult to reach. There is a constant mob after them for questioning and I’m just a part of it. I understand through the local papers that they hate other people, though I don’t know how much to trust those rags. If I could, it would be much better to talk with them myself. More than anyone, they probably know more about the zombies. I don’t know if I can reach them, but I have to try.

January 17, 2011

After hitting the streets, as they say, I’ve found from some good doctor friends of mine that Sarah may be pregnant and that they’re staying under the protection of that cult, The Rapturists that believes the zombies feed off sin. It’s amazing how large the congregation’s become. They believe that we are responsible for the zombies, that they are our “children,” in a sense. Basically, we made our bed and now we have to sleep in it. It’s a hopeless idea, but it’s caught on surprisingly well among the city people, basically the polar opposite of the so-called Border Guard. I can’t say I buy either story and I’m not sure if these two newcomers have, either. I just need to interview them to know for sure.

January 18, 2011

I had to give up my identification, paperwork, even some of my publications in order to meet with the Minister of the Rapturists. It’s a pain, but I was able to land an interview with their minister. Mostly, he spat some propoganda at me, wanted to see where I stood. I merely stated that I wished to ask them some questions to further my research on zombie behavior. He said he would talk to them about it and give them time to think. I wish there was more I can do, but I just have to wait here until the Scarboroughs make their decision.

January 19, 2011

I’ve been storming about the place, trying to speak to the Scarborough couple or at least get my paperwork back. Nobody’s heard anything about it. Or they all know about it and are just testing my patience. I’ve been sleeping on a bench in their entryway. I’ll be damned if they ignore me. I have to learn anything I can about these creatures. I only have this memory of Eric, this mission to keep the memory of the only man I ever loved.

January 20, 2011

I am freezing. The lobby’s not the best place for camping out. Every time the door opens, I have to double my efforts to keep warm. Luckily, entry and exiting from the premises is forbidden at night, for warmth but moreso for security reasons. A young woman by the name of Lucia has given me a blanket fresh from the laundry and some bread to eat. I’ve talked to her a bit about the Rapturists. She seems new here and doesn’t know much about it. When she tells me about the faith, there’s little conviction in her voice.

January 21, 2011

Today, Lucia and I talked about movies we used to watch before the infestation. It keeps me from thinking about the cold and the hunger. She named a few romantic comedies that I owned and I told her that she was more than welcome to stop by and watch them. I gave her my address and I thought she wasn’t about to take it at first. She seemed ecstatic to hear that and then sad. I felt she had something weighty on her mind she was about to tell me. However, her less-than-amicable husband, Jesse, came along and yanked her away. He’s a very prickly man and very suspicious. I suppose that one has to be a bit suspicious to survive nowadays, though. It’s sad.

January 22, 2011

I was given back my identification and papers and told to leave. My arguments were only met with large armed men. All this work, only to get swept out the door!

January 25, 2011

A surprise visit! Lucia came to speak with me today. She said that she was, in fact, Sarah Scarborough! She has agreed to be interviewed and recorded, though she said she didn’t know how much help she could be, the undead being dead. I assured her, they’re called undead for a reason. Hopefully, I can gain some understanding of the behavior of these creatures.

Lucia – that is, Sarah – does not believe her husband will agree to come, but I consider myself lucky to at least have her perspective.

January 26, 2011

After listening to the recording several times, Sarah’s perspective on life reminds me much of Eric’s. Eric believed in fate, that events in life were going to happen with or without our permission. It’s our job to meet this obstacles in a way that we would be proud of. Sarah is married to Travis, there is no way out of that bond before God in spite of what she may want or wish. I believe she loves Travis more than anyone, but I also think she is tired. Unfortunately, she had little to say about the zombies, but I wonder about their convictions, whether they are more than just corpses yelling for brains. Maybe they do have a purpose like the Rapturists believe. Then again, maybe it’s our duty to at least try to beat destiny like the Border Guard believes. I am torn on this, but I have scheduled another interview with Sarah.

She lived over a year with minimal contact with human beings, out amongst nature and zombies. Perhaps, if I ask the right questions, I can learn what I need to know about them.

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Dirge

March 7, 2010

I am keeping this personal journal for myself as a companion to my research.

We have begun our research of the ice worms on the Malaspina Glacier, just a few hundred miles from Juneau. Our encampment is an ideal place, far enough from the lake and tourism but not far enough that we can’t get to civilization within a day in the case of an emergency. Just dig in the ice and you can find dozens crawling around, like little piece of living hair. Our survivalist, Eric, pulled one of his chest hairs out to compare and laughed to find that his were bigger. If the worm was dead, I suppose it would look just the same.

March 10, 2010

Eric has been telling me about how he is an ancestor of the vikings. He takes great pride in his Norwegian heritage. The man even looks like a viking. He’s a giant of a man with a beard down to his stomach which cradles the frost. The only difference is that his hair is more of a blue-black rather than the stereotypical blonde. He’s what they call a “Dark Norwegian.”

March 11, 2010

I’m enjoying Eric’s company but I feel that Nancy is the only one serious about her work. Our first job is to count ice worms in different areas at different times of the day. It’s daunting, though I know this information is necessary for our studies. Nancy glares at us often when we are chatting behind her, carrying the instruments while she does the measuring. Then again, she says that we’ll never get anything done if she lives the resarch to us. I’m okay with this and I’ve been happily carrying our tools around while chatting with our behemoth friend.

March 12, 2010

I am writing this the next morning. I’ve always been a lightweight, but the cold is soothing to hangovers.

Eric is a wealth of information. He’s a huge fan of  Norse mythology and celebrated fan of Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the barbarian. He said that there were two stories about ice worms that he had read, one called “The Lair of the Ice Worm” featured Conan but was not written by Howard. The other, preferred by Eric, was called “Valley of the Worm” and was about a man named Niord who battles a giant ice worm and dies. The story, he says, is a celebration of a man’s pride and spirit, much in the style of eddas like Beowulf.

Since he offered some of his vodka, I reluctantly admitted that my interest in ice worms had been birthed from science fiction writers like Peter F. Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds. I recalled one story in which ice worms were used to terraform the planet by excreting the bacteria used to birth new life.

This inevitably got us talking about the end of all things. Apparently, the Norse peoples would clip or pull the nails from their dead so that a ship made of nails wouldn’t come from Hell and bring about the end of the world. But, Eric said, even with everyone doing all this, the end was still inevitable. I wonder, then, where did they get the nails from if they took them from every dead person?

March 13, 2010

Today, while listening to the radio, we heard a hoax program about zombies. I wondered what brought on this “War of the Worlds” style program.

March 14, 2010

It’s on again. We checked every station. It’s on every station. Why?

March 15, 2010

We haven’t been able to get ahold of our employer, but we called family. They say that it is all real, but that it is safe up north. They are all heading up north. Nobody believes it’s actually zombies, but there’s obviously something going on. Nancy can’t reach her husband and kids. She’s scared shitless. We all are. If it’s some kind of epidemic, we’d be safer out here until it blows over. Nancy has decided to go home and we don’t blame her. We’re packing up.

March 17, 2010

Eric is dead. He shot at a polar bear right in the head and it just kept coming. not sure how the bears keep finding us but we’re lost out here. had to abandon equipment. zombies????

March 18, 2010

Ice worms come out at night. We must have killed tens of thousands just walking around. Read a story once about ice worms that lived on another planet. Ice worms were brainless but secreted chemicals to give information to passing ice worms. Like how bees find flowers. Nancy is yelling at me about writing in my journal, but we need to rest sometime. I don’t talk to Nancy anymore. I only talk to the worms. At least the worms don’t have any teeth. Or nails.

If they did have mouths, what songs would they sing for us?

March 19, 2010

Rescue team found us. Zombies are real.

March 28, 2010

I’ve had a few days to think. Living bear corpses hobbling around the glaciers and tearing into Eric with bloody nails. All still vivid memories. I’ve spent several days studying zombie books since my release from the hospital. This may sound crazy, but it occurred to me that Eric never got to sing his story as he died like Niord did. If only to honor him, I’m opening up my journal again. I shall be his Grom and sing his tale. If I can research more about these undead creatures, maybe I can make sure that Eric’s death was not completely in vain. I’ll start experiments on the ice worms promptly. After all, they don’t have any teeth. Or nails.

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Filed under FEATHERTON SESSION, Flash Fiction