Skip to content

5

Zed House

The house creaked in the wind, a tree tapped a metronome against the rotting clapboards.

"Burn it down."

"What?"

"You heard me, burn it to the ground."

The boss stared at the building for a few seconds, then shook his head. "And waste what could be reclaimed? Why would I want to do that?"

The old man pointed, "Z for Zed. That's how we marked infected houses back when we thought the outbreak could be contained."

"That was nearly a decade ago. Even if something's still there, it's got to be so desiccated that it's immobile. The copper alone is worth the risk."

The old man flicked his toothpick at the house as he turned to walk away, "I won't allow it, not worth the risk."

"Wait a minute here! This is not a military operation and, anyways, Colonel, last time I checked, you're retired. Your presence here is purely consultative."

He took a step back as the old man advanced on him, ready to cut loose. "What the f...," the Colonel stopped, reconsidered, looking at the house again. "I guess it doesn't matter what I say, you'd come back tonight on your own even if I could terminate the project."

"Well...," he took off his cap and looked down at the brim. "It would make my life easier if you signed off on this."

"John, you're mother would kill me if anything happened to you. I'll sign off, but only if we do this by the book."

The kid put his hat back on, resuming his role as boss, "Fine by me."

#

Clearing a house of the undead is like a slow motion SWAT operation. Zed behaves predictably, so it's best to take your time. One man kicked the door down while another set the clacker, then they retreated.

"If they're ambulatory, this shouldn't take long. I imagine they're hungry. We'll give it five minutes." The old man's eyes never left the doorway. The dust cloud that seemed to be all that was left of the front door billowed out onto the porch, dissipating in the breeze.

"OK, you know the drill. Let's do it!"

Four men ambled up the steps, one kneeling to turn off the clacker. Two broke left while the other pair kept watch just inside the door, eyeing the stairs. The shouts of "Clear!" following the pair around the ground floor. A shot rang out, quickly followed by the all clear.

The old man and the boss entered the house. "Was that a live one?"

"No, just wanted to make sure."

"Cool. Let's get the basement. John, you stay here, make sure nothing comes down those stairs. The crew can wait outside, off the porch."

The team was already at work by the time the old man made it to the kitchen. More dust and a jawbone lying on the floor. A skeletal arm, its hand grasping a coffee mug, was still on the table. The urge for some caffeine suddenly strong.

The all clear sounded from below and a rattle/bang from the cellar door out back.

#

John was halfway up the stairs by then, taking careful steps, his semi-automatic at the ready.

He could could see her from the top of the staircase, through the open doorway. She lay on the bed in what must have been her finest dress. She didn't move.

He stepped into the room, checking the four corners as the Colonel taught him. Stillness, nothing moved but the motes floating through the window pane divided beams of light.

The floor creaked as he moved. She had to have known, if she was still animated. The pendent on her necklace rested on the leather taut across her chest. Coated in dust, it didn't sparkle, but it still caught his practiced eye. He stepped towards her.

Who are you? What happened? You had time to prepare, there's no sign of a rush. Was it poison? He reached for the necklace.

"You either hate me or you're a dumb piece of shit."

The boy recoiled, letting out a shout. "What the fuck? It ain't moving without a good dose of WD-40. Don't go scaring me like that, you crazy mother fucker."

"You think?" The old man tapped the head with the barrel of his rifle. The eyes shot open, jaw snapping. His shot exploded in the room, shaking dust loose from everywhere. The top half of the skull gone.

He turned and walked out. "I want half of what you get for that necklace."

###

Here's another Col. Drinkmore short story: Who Is He?

Intruder Detection System: Model 38, Class A, Number 5
Copyright © 2010, Yaegini Lenoir

The laser ranging back and forth across the landscape betrays its approach. The machine makes no noise as it picks its way through the former suburb on six insect legs, looking for evidence of intrusion. It scans, measuring everything it can, and submits the data to central control. Scan, send. Scan, send.

Receive!

"ALERT: 30 meters in a heading of 23.3°, investigate car. Current height 3.5 inches lower than last baseline. Threat Assessment: 21% likely; Pre-emptive Action Threshold: 35% certainty."

...continue reading "Walking the Beat"

CDC: Get a kit, make a plan, be prepared
CDC: Get a kit, make a plan, be prepared

I'm a firm believer that the government is the only vehicle that allows the people to act as a whole. The CDC is the federal government at its best and their post, Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse, is evidence of that.

This is good advice. My only complaint is there is no mention of weapons, nor how to assume a more active defense against zombies. However, given the mission of the CDC, I understand.

READ THIS NOW!

#

You cannot brood over a prosecco.

— Eric Asimov, A Sip, a Smile, a Cheery Fizz, New York Times.

For most of my drinking life, I was a beer man. Oh, I usually had red wine with dinner ( I've never been into white wine unless it was truly good), but my go-to drink was beer. I enjoyed a good hopped up pilsner (Tuppers' Hop Pocket Pils) or a mellower ale like Fuller's ESB.

Alas, real life intervened to change my drinking habits. It started when I had to do something about my growing belly. Damn, there's a lot of carbs in beer. I backed off a bit. Then I began to have stomach issues. I haven't completely given up beer. I still enjoy it once in a while (Sweetwater Tavern's Pale Ale continues to delight my tastebuds), but too often, after just one, I feel uncomfortably full. What am I going to do? I ain't givin' up drinkin'.

Veuve Clicquot

The Good Stuff

My wife and I have a tradition of shelling out some bucks for a good bottle of champagne when the occasion calls for it. As I'm sure you know, it's easy to pay a lot of money for a bottle. While I have tried bottles in the $100+ range (Dom Pérignon most recently) and have found them to be quite good, they're just not THAT good. I have found that the $40 range is where you'll find the intersection of quality with value. There are many good choices: Moët & Chandon White Star, Perrier-Jouët Brut, but we find ourselves returning again and again to Veuve Clicquot. It hits our spot on the dry/sweet continuum and the flavor plays out well on the tongue. At that price, though, I cannot afford to drink it regularly.

Jaume Serra Cristalino

Every Day Bubbly

My drinking habits changed when my wife bought me a bottle of Cristalino Cava Brut (now called Jaume Serra Cristalino). At first, I admit, I was leery. It's $7.95 a bottle, how good can that be? Very, actually. And I've discovered it at Whole Foods for $6/bottle. It's a little sweeter than the good stuff (don't get the extra dry, it's sweeter than the brut). Cava is now my go-to drink. I still have choices, too. Rondel is another bargain Cava Brut and 1 + 1 = 3 if I want something a little more fancy. You're far more likely to find a glass of one of these in my hands these days than beer.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Italian Bubbly

There's a subset of bubbly that's far sweeter than I usually like, but goes real well with dessert. Prosecco and Moscato d'Asti are excellent with a slice of cake, scoop of ice cream or even some cheese and fruit. They are among my favorite wines, but they're specialists, not something I'd pour a glass of at the end of a long day.

So, come on over. We'll pop a bottle and I'll pour you a glass. The bubbles will take your bad moods away.

2

Old Green Barn

I've decided to document the last vestiges of life before the catastrophe. Given that there's only 10% of us left, there's a lot of abandoned places out there that have been left to return to the dust from which they came. This barn is a classic example. It looks like it would fall apart in a stiff breeze. You certainly couldn't refurbish it. Yet, I wouldn't tear it down. It's a haunting reminder of life as it used to be.

The Capital Weather Gang over at The Washington Post has written an excellent description of the threat that our sun poses:

Space weather: Are we ready for a solar strike?

This first in a three part series makes the point that the "more potent solar storms ... have the potential to wreak long-lasting havoc on electric power supply and communications infrastructure around the globe," and that we would have at most a 12 hour notice. What can we do about it? As individuals, not very much. The effort needed to protect our infrastructure requires everyone to pitch in.

Frozen Movie Poster
Frozen

directed by Adam Green

What a humdinger of a movie this is. My expectations were low: obviously low budget, a no-name cast and some of the special effects were, well, not so special, but, DAMN, it told a great story.

The premise is simple. Three kids talk their way onto a ski lift for one last run, only to get stuck aloft with no hope of rescue for days since the resort is closed during the week. This is another one of those little TEotWaWKIs of which I wrote recently. They were so focused on getting one more go at the slopes that they lost track of what was truly at stake. They had plenty of warning. The operator told them a storm was coming. The lifts were obviously empty for quite some time. And one of them was a beginner. Ah, but kids always think they're invincible.

The movie also raises another issue to consider. What if your only apparent option is one that involves a serious chance of death? Do you wait as long as possible to see if any other opportunities arise? But what if your energy is waning? The longer you wait, the less likely you'll succeed. This is a tough call and harkens back to our discussion of time scale in my review of the TV show After Armageddon. If you're 100% certain rescue will come in the morning, you'll wait, but what if you're wrong?

Do watch this movie. It will scare the crap out of you. Make sure you're bundled up, though, the story seeps into bones like a deep chill. And don't be the last one on the lift.

3

We had a freakish snowstorm here last week. Reminded me that the little decisions we make every day could lead to tragedy. Here are some every day things you can do to lessen the chances of that happening:

  • Keep your gas tank full

    For some, a 1 hour drive home took 7 or more. You don't want to run out of gas when it's significantly below freezing, you're in the middle of a desert or a bad neighborhood.

  • Keep your cell phone charged

    When the poop hits the fan, you're going to be making a lot of calls and frequent references to your GPS map. The latter, especially, drains power. Make sure you walk out the door fully charged. Also, it wouldn't hurt to bring along a chord to charge up if you get the chance.

  • Keep abreast of the weather

    This has to be more than just listening to the updates on the eights. I mean, grok the weather. What are the experts predicting? How could the forecast vary? What is the worst case scenario? Act accordingly.

  • Keep abreast of the news

    Related issues can have a significant impact. Does your jurisdiction have enough budget for plowing? Is there unrest that could escalate in an emergency?

  • If in doubt, stay home

    Seriously, is what you're doing something for which you should risk your life?

This idiot's story is a case in point. Was going to work that day worth what he risked? I mean, c'mon, he made a dash across an interstate highway!

I strongly urge anyone who has yet to do so to read Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why, which I reviewed previously (Book Review: Deep Survival).

1

It took me 7 hours to get home during the epic thunder snow of January 26th, 2011.

  • 2 hours on the train

    F-ing Metro was single tracking both Red and Orange lines for non-snow related reasons.

  • 1.5 hours waiting for a bus

    My toes began to freeze. Many people were not adequately dressed. Needed to pee, but no bathroom or convenient tree.

  • ...continue reading "The Long Journey Home"

Folks worry about zombies, asteroids or nuclear war as the agent of humanity's demise. It's the more mundane things, though, that should keep us up at night. To wit:

ARkStorm: California’s other "Big One"

While this is a hypothetical scenario, it still scares the crap out of me. Floods always have since childhood. I grew up in hurricane country. This is a tough balancing act, though, because you don't want to be too far from a water source.

This is also another reason to ensure you understand your local climate. Your life may depend on what you know might be possible.