The New World (Excerpt) – (Saving Private Ryan)

So this is from a post-apocalyptic novel in the same vein as the Walking Dead and 28 Days Later.  Though instead of becoming undead zombies hungry for flesh, humanity is being infected by cordyceps fungus which attach themselves to your brain and take over your body and their goal is to keep propagating this fungus by infecting more and more people with spores that are ejected from infected people.  The infection takes a while to take hold but there’s no cure and civilization degenerates into roving bands of humans who try to escape into the wilderness and begin again away from the infection.

This excerpt takes place at the very beginning where all the main characters are being introduced.  Seifer Phyre is the lead singer in a band called the Self-Incompatible Hermaphrodites.  He’s gearing up to go to New York City planning to meet with industry heads to see if his band can get signed.  Until then, he’s working at a uppity, posh restaurant.  In this scene he’s watching television with his roommate Geoff who’s also in the band.  Please let me know what you think!

——–

The world exploded in gunfire and thunderous blasts from the mortars.  Seifer turned the television down a few notches.

“Hey,” Geoff called, seemingly offended, “Don’t turn it down.  It looses its . . .” He fumbled for the word.

“Immediacy?”  Seifer interjected.

“Well, I was going to say awesomeness, but immediacy is right too.”

Seifer turned the volume back up and then added, as an afterthought: “We do have neighbors you know.”

“Meh, fuck ‘em,” He laughed.

They were watching the opening sequence of Steven Spielburg’s Saving Private Ryan and both of them were as stoned as all fuck.  They stared at the horrific images on the screen and Seifer’s head lit up in a blindingly brilliant epiphany.  They were watching two groups of humans decimate each other.

Why?

The film was documenting the graphic, grittiness of war and the stupidity of humanity.  Seifer didn’t so much wonder why the movie was created, but rather, why it was that humans fought humans?  Was it springing from our animal nature to want to take over other people’s territory for our own?  It couldn’t be for humanitarian reasons, like the Bush Administration claimed, or else we wouldn’t be killing other humans.  The whole idea of war immediately filled Seifer with a sickening feeling of isolation.  Was he the only one who felt this way? Was he weird for believing that disputes could be solved outside of violence?

He’d once been quite scrappy in elementary school, but after getting his ass kicked repeatedly he reverted back to being a lover.  He couldn’t understand how generation upon generation could wage war against their neighbors; raping, pillaging, spreading chaos.  Were we simply territorial animals who coveted other animals’ areas and resources?  And especially now in the age of a global economy aren’t we all citizens of one massive country: Earth?  Seifer often wondered why there wasn’t a President of Earth, yet.  Are we not all human?  Why don’t we have a country called Humanity and treat everyone with all of the respect we would wish others to give us?

“Man, did you see that?” Geoff laughed, “That guy took off his helmet and got it right between his eyes.”

Seifer was horrified.  Why would Geoff be laughing? That’s disgusting.  How could anyone be amused at someone’s gruesome demise?

I wonder what veterans think about this movie? Seifer wondered.

Eerily, Geoff answered: “Apparently the soldiers who actually were there at D-Day say that this is the most accurate film for getting the feeling of what it was like to be on the beach that day.”

One of the soldiers on the screen was lying on the beach with his guts blown out, screaming for his mother.

“I’m sorry, I can’t watch this anymore.”

Seifer turned the channel; Geoff began to protest but then decided to light up another bowl.  He sucked in the pungently sweet smoke and exhaled it slowly through his nose.  He began to cough violently.

“Oh man,” He managed to choke out between coughs, “Nice.”

Seifer laughed.

Seifer began channel surfing and landed on CNN where a smarmy looking senator was in mid-sentence.

“-elieve that God gave us children to protect and nurture and that this new law would mean that innumerable children would be deprived of the opportunity, no, the gift of life.”

The name in bold, Josef Henderson (R), was displayed underneath the image of the elderly senator who looked like he was glaring intently on something past the camera.  Under his name was the text: new law means “innumerable children deprived of life”.

Seifer scoffed.  He hated when people in the media referenced God.  What God? He couldn’t believe that there were still people out there who thought that there was an archaic, vengeful deity sitting somewhere in the sky looking down and judging the world on their arbitrary lives.

For Seifer, his disbelief began when he found out that the geological age of the earth, backed up by hard science, was just over four and a half billion years old; not the six thousand that Creationists proclaim was supported in the Bible.  Knowing that fact, the notion of God was immediately dissolved as a viable idea in his mind.

Why would an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God create a universe solely for a relatively small group of people; complete with celestial bodies that humans will never ever visit and billions of years after the Earth itself was created?

Seifer wasn’t against personal beliefs, as long as they remained personal; as soon as they entered politics he felt it was incredibly dangerous and irresponsible.  Religious beliefs were a very intensely misguided source to be governing by.

“People are stupid,” Seifer rolled his eyes and resumed channel surfing.

Finding nothing on, he handed the remote off to Geoff.

“Where would you go during a Zombie Apocalypse?”  Geoff asked, exhaling a long column of wispy smoke.

He handed the pipe over to Seifer and he pulled a long drag off of it.

“What do you mean where would I go?”

“Like, a police station, a hospital?”

Time seemed to slow down as Seifer thought about what he would do, and suddenly he was there.  There had been a horrible apocalypse and he was looking out on a scorched plain of derelict bleakness.  Beside him, a woman with dark red hair was crying tears of blood, which were making winding rivers that connected in a delta-like formation on her chin; trickling down her neck and running into the divots in her clavicles and finally diffusing into the fabric of her blouse.  A man, wearing a blood-soaked blindfold was crawling on the acrid, black ground, reaching out for Seifer, weakly.

Seifer opened his eyes, horrified.  He tried to remember what Geoff had asked him before he zoned out.

“Oh, well definitely not a hospital,” Seifer said, handing the pipe back to Geoff, “A hospital has a morgue and if there’s an infection there all of the dead bodies would reanimate and you’d have a swarm of zombies, not to mention the sick people who die all the time at hospitals.  Plus, I think a lot of people are stupid enough to want to head to the hospital and the zombies would all congregate where there’s the most food, right?  So yah, no hospital.”

“What about a prison?”

“Nah . . . well, maybe if you get there first and grab a bunch of guns and get the hell out of there, cause again, lots of people are going to have the same idea,” The pipe made its way back to Seifer, “I’d probably hide out in a school, they’re built with security in mind, not as much as say a prison, but at least with a school there will be very few people who have the same idea that you do.”

“What’s the one weapon you’d have on you during said apocalypse?” Geoff asked.

“Crowbar,” Seifer said without a moment’s hesitation, “You can jimmy open locked doors, smash zombies heads in . . .”

“Hammer,” Geoff said, mid-toke, “Definitely a Hammer, or a baseball bat; definitely a baseball bat.”

“You should never grab anything that has a limited source like handguns, which run out of ammo; chainsaws run out of gas,” Seifer paused, “Now I’m trying to think of what’s in the apartment.”

They both laughed.

“Oh I know, a battle axe.”

“We don’t have one of those in the apartment.”

They were both attacked by a fit of the giggles.

“Oh, hey,” Geoff tried to get control of himself, “I want one of those old pike things that are like twenty feet long . . . that’d be fucking sweet,” Geoff explained.

“Or a scythe would be very useful,” Seifer said, “As you’re decapitating zombies, you could also harvest crops.”

Geoff coughed as he tried, unsuccessfully, to laugh and smoke at the same time.

“Hey you need to eat, right?” Seifer commented, “It’s the first weapons villagers got.  How do you think the villagers defended themselves without real weapons?”

“Very true.”  Geoff said.

There was a long silence that gripped the room and Seifer noticed the returned weight on his eyelids.

“I should get to sleep anyway.  I’m exhausted, and I don’t want to get run down before I leave for New York.”

In that space of time, Geoff had emptied, reloaded and was shotgunning another bowl and as he inhaled, he sort of waved a goodnight.

Seifer entered his bedroom and closed the door behind him.

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