Owen; the continuation of a story

Zombie or Post Apocalyptic themed fiction/stories.

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Post by doc66 » Thu Jul 12, 2007 11:53 am

Owen woke to a hand gently shaking his shoulder. He blinked away the sleep, trying to gauge his surroundings, succeeding only in discovering that he had no clue where he was. He knew that he was lying on a bed, which was a plus in his book, but his body felt as if he had been beaten by a shovel and then covered with mud. As his eyes adjusted to the dim light, he was able to see the guard standing over him, calling his name and trying to wake him.

“Where am I?” asked Owen.

“In a bed you’re not supposed to be in, dude, you wanna get out of it so I can keep my job?”

Slowly easing up, Owen slowly began to put everything together; he had fallen asleep next to Emma, he was in the infirmary and had been shot and generally beat upon over the last few days. He glanced around and saw that it was still dark, the light of the stars shown on the snow outside the windows, providing a measure of light to navigate by. Carefully, Owen swung his legs over the edge of the bed, taking his time in doing so since his hip was stiff and the leg felt as if there were a steel rod jammed into it. Slowly working his muscles, Owen was able to stand with the help of the guard, whose name Owen remembered after a difficult memory scan.

“You’re supposed to be guarding us, right Dave?” asked Owen. The man nodded and kept glancing at the door to be sure it was not going to open while he was guiding Owen back to his own bed. “What exactly are you guarding us from, or are you guarding every one from us?”

“It’s a new precaution,” muttered Dave, trying to get Owen to move a little faster. Owen resisted and stood by Emma’s bed. Owen gave Dave a questioning look. “They decided that anyone who comes in injured, no matter what, gets observed for a couple of days, just in case.”

“In case we decide to die?”

“Something like that.”

“I’m not going anywhere yet,” said Owen. As he spoke, the doors to the room opened. In walked the doctor and several other people, Jesse and Hank among them, along with Jay and Kyle. They were carrying rechargeable flashlights, the generators to the Lodge having been long ago shut off for the night. The harsh lights fell on Owen and Dave. The disturbing thing was that they were all carrying a firearm of some sort. Blinking in the light, Owen held up an arm to ward off the merciless glare.

“What’s goin’ on?” he asked.

The doctor stepped up and took Owen’s arm, elbowing Dave aside and half helping, half pulling Owen away from the bed he had been laying on. He repeated his question, trying to make sense of the suddenness of their appearance and seemingly harsh attitude.

“We need to move you two,” said the doctor. Owen struggled to remember his name, but could not. He only knew that he was sort of a doctor -- in reality, a physician’s assistant -- but the best thing they had at the moment.

“Why?” Owen demanded, looking to where the others were quickly putting Emma on a back board and toting the woman away. Jesse and Hank moved forward, both of them putting out hands to show that they meant no harm.

Looking around the room, the doctor shook his head, “I’ll explain later, right now, you need to come with me.”

“Where?” asked Owen still confused and trying to wake up. He glanced out the window and could see that while nothing had changed, it somehow seemed more sinister.

“Owen--,” started the man.

Owen decided that he was not going to participate in whatever was happening. He shook his arm free of the man’s grasp and backed himself against the wall. Slowly, other people were starting to wake in the room and all were thickly asking questions to those around them. “I’m not going anywhere until you tell me what’s goin’ on. Where are you takin’ Emma?”

Leaning in, Jesse whispered harshly at Owen. “Don’t make a scene, Owen. These men are here to make sure that you don’t.”

For the first time Owen took a good look at those that were around him. He saw that each of them were known to him, some he even knew by name and had shared meals and experiences with beyond just the casual hello. He recognized one of the men as having been trapped in the small town of Coulter with him not just a few months ago. The man looked sad, confused and scared. He gazed at Owen as if pleading with him to not cause trouble, because he did not want to carry out whatever order had been issued to him. Owen took a deep breath at the realization that something was terribly wrong. The breath turned into a lump of fear on becoming aware that thing which had the man frightened had to do with Owen himself. Owen suddenly wondered just what he might have done to cause the man to behave in such a way, or what the man had been led to believe.

Looking at the doctor then Jesse and then Hank, who was trying hard to avoid Owen’s gaze, Owen took a tentative step away from the wall. “You’re gonna tell me, right?”

“When we get out of here,” agreed Jesse.

Nodding, Owen grabbed the IV stand and began to shuffle along, following the Doctor and the others, uncomfortably aware that two of the men fell in step behind him. Hank had a comforting hand on Owen’s arm, as if he were trying to lend support to him. Unfortunately, all it did was lend to the uncomfortable feeling that all was not well, Hank was always one who was quick with a joke or crass comment, and his silence made Owen nervous.

“Would you like us to carry you?” asked the Doctor, “I know that the hip is still bothering you.”

“I’m fine,” said Owen, waving off the suggestion. “Are you gonna take that bullet out?”

“I doubt it,” admitted the doctor, seemingly glad to have another subject to talk about. “From what I can tell, the bullet it lodged in your hip and will stay there, while it is uncomfortable right now, in a month or so, you won’t even know that you were shot but for the scar.”

“Really?” asked Owen dryly. “Won’t it cause some trouble?”

“Not until you’re about sixty, then you’ll have arthritis and pain, but for now, you’ll be fine. The human body is a wonderful machine that adapts and heals quite well.”

Owen noticed that they were heading to a part of the Lodge that was not currently in use; a wing far away from the main hall and other rooms. Two of the guards with them -- that was what they were he decided, guards -- held kerosene lanterns to supplement the light from the flashlights. The yellow light of the lamps made the walls seem darker, the shadows longer as they walked. He could feel the chill of the air on his skin and pulled his blanket closer around his shoulders. The people they passed all were careful to avoid his gaze. He was suddenly glad that is was late at night as he didn’t think he could bear to see many more expressions of concern as he stumbled by. The fear that he had felt in the recovery room was returning and Owen fought it down, knowing that a mistake had been made about something. He just wished that the doctor would tell him what was going on so that he could correct it and get back to feeling normal. He stole a glance at Jesse and Hank, both of whom had grim expressions on their faces. Another look around at Jay and Kyle showed the same expression on theirs. The sudden appearance of the people made Owen suspect that all was not as well as they were trying to pretend.

They stopped in front of a room and Owen found that the door was open. Through the opening, he could see that Emma had been placed on one of the beds. The doctor motioned for Owen to enter. After a brief debate with himself, Owen stepped into the room, where he was greeted with the doggy smell of George and a whine as the dog recognized him. The animal was secured in a wire cage that seemed to have been built for the occasion. Owen immediately went up to the dog and bent down as well as he could to comfort the animal.

“What’s goin’ on?” demanded Owen once more.

The door was shut and only Jesse and the doctor remained.

“Sit down, Owen, we need to talk,” said Jesse.

“Damn it, Jesse,” said Owen, suddenly scared for the first time in a long while, “What the fuck is happening?”

“Listen to us, Owen,” was all Jesse would say. He looked at the doctor and a signal passed between them. The doctor stepped up. Owen wished to hell he could remember his name.

“I’ve been running some tests, as best I can, on Emma’s blood and the dog’s,” said the doctor. “I’ve found something that I can’t identify right now. It’s not H66N7, at least it doesn’t appear to be so--.”

“—H66N7--?”

“The virus that causes the Plague, the Zombie germ, what ever you want to call it,” explained the doctor. “But because I can’t ID it, we need to put them in quarantine and anyone else that has had prolonged exposure to the dog.”

“Wait a minute,” protested Owen. “There’s a shit load of people who’ve been around George, not just me and Emma.”

“You’ve been around the dog the longest and Emma was bitten by the animal.”

“Bitten?” asked Owen, looking at Jesse. The other man only nodded his graying head and then looked away. “How?”

“She was trying to save your ass,” rumbled Jesse. “She took a bite so we could get to you. That damn dog wouldn’t let us near it or you. Kyle thinks its police trained or something.”

Not giving Owen time to think, the doctor jumped in again. “So in order to rule out any infection that might be dangerous to the rest of us, the three of you are going to be staying here for the time being. We’ll need to keep you under observation and run some tests.”

“What kind of tests?”

“The kind that will rule out your being a carrier of anything harmful to the rest of us.”

“I didn’t get bit,” said Owen.

“Did the dog lick you?” asked the doctor. He could tell from Owen’s expression that it had and nodded as if that were an answer. “We have to rule everything out, Owen, in this day and age, there’s nothing that we can take chances on.”

“How are you doing these tests?” asked Owen. “I mean, shouldn’t you have a full blown lab for this shit?”

“If only I could,” said the doctor. “I’m making due, Owen, and you will have to, also. We’ll have a nurse come and check on you every four hours or so. You need to be able to answer her when she knocks, or we’ll come in with guns drawn--.”

“Like you did tonight?” asked Owen bitterly.

“We have to take precautions,” said Jesse forcefully. “Didn’t you just hear what the Doc said? We don’t know what this thing is.”

“I heard,” whispered Owen. He sighed, his body finally giving into the defeat. “Can someone take this thing out of my arm?”

“I’ll have a nurse remove the IV,” said the doctor.

“I want lots of towels, too,” said Owen. “George needs a bath.”

“You need help?” asked Jesse, trying to make the best of the situation.

“Yeah, from someone who’s not afraid of us,” snapped Owen.

“I’ll help,” said Jesse.

The doctor shook his head. “I don’t want the risk of infection spreading.”

Jesse turned his gaze on the doctor. “I said I’d help.”

“Fine, But if anything happens, you’ll end up in here with them.”

“I understand,” said Jesse. “I could use the break.”

Reaching between the wire of the cage, Owen scratched the dog’s ears. “He can be let loose as long as there’s no one else in here?”

After a moment of hesitation, the doctor shrugged. “I don’t see why not--.”

“I can take him on the balcony to shit and piss, right?”

“I’ll want those stool samples,” said the doctor, “but I don’t see why not. Remember, you’re on the second floor and the guards will be watching you when you do open that door.”

“Whatever,” sighed Owen. “Is there anything else?”

“The phone is connected with my lab,” said the doctor. “If you need anything, just pick it up, it rings directly there.”

“I need you to get out,” decided Owen.

“I’ll have a nurse come in and take out that IV and change Emma’s IV and dressings.”

“Great,” said Owen. “Now leave.”

The two men hesitated just a moment and then knocked on the door, announcing that they were ready to be let out. There was a series of clicks and the door opened. Giving Owen, Emma and the dog a final glance, they left the room and the locks clicked back in place. Owen reached over and undid the latch to the cage. The dog slowly sampled the air as the cage door swung open, his head low and tail down. Letting the animal decide that the room was safe on his own, Owen settled against the side of the bed. Just when he thought that things were about to look up….

George came over and sniffed at Owen, who began to pet the animal. Happily, George gave Owen several swipes with his long tongue, saturating Owen’s stubbly beard. Owen was about to admonish the animal and then thought better of it.

“Fuck it,” he told the dog. “If there’s damage, it’s done.”

The dog sighed and sat down next to Owen, leaning against his shoulder and yawning. Draping his arm over the animal’s neck, Owen buried his face into the smelly fur and let himself go.
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Post by AwPhuch » Thu Jul 12, 2007 12:07 pm

WOW!!! Plot thickens...maybe its the antigen..perhaps the dog was immune or something

WOW!!!!! man cant wait for the next installment
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Post by Ahkaine » Thu Jul 12, 2007 12:28 pm

<wipes brow> Damn! That was a close one!

I was ready for all hell to break loose.

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Post by K31 » Fri Jul 13, 2007 9:14 am

I predict:

Owen and Emma; The Adam and Eve of a new Zombie-resistant breed of kiddies. All thanks to smelly ol' George. :D
Dame aca, cono que a los mios los mato yo!

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Post by Ahkaine » Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:33 am

K31 wrote:I predict:

Owen and Emma; The Adam and Eve of a new Zombie-resistant breed of kiddies. All thanks to smelly ol' George. :D
Virus Resistant maybe. Bite Resistant........no.

It'd be nice if they developed some "interesting" side effects after they recover, like resistance to injury or quicker healing (nothing on the scale of Wolverine, but maybe 25% or 50% faster than a normal human).

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Post by Impus » Tue Jul 17, 2007 2:31 am

Still readin', still diggin'.
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Post by doc66 » Wed Jul 25, 2007 12:00 pm

Been working wierd shifts.... I have half a section ready just got to finish it....

Maybe this weekend.

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Post by jeepinbandtrider » Wed Jul 25, 2007 4:13 pm

What a tease :)

I log on see your name under most recent post and I think "SWEET another addition."

You should see the look on my face right now. Pure heartbreak :wink:
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Post by doc66 » Tue Aug 07, 2007 11:32 am

double post
Last edited by doc66 on Thu Aug 09, 2007 7:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by doc66 » Tue Aug 07, 2007 11:32 am

Sorry it's taken so long, work schedule is kinda weird.

Doc




Emma woke in a different place. The walls were white, not tan as they had been, the bed was softer in a comforting way and the lighting in the room seemed more diffused, gentler and inviting to her senses. The only problem was the smell; it stank of wet dog and bad shampoo. For a moment, She lay on the bed and tried to deduce where she might be, but could not remember having left the Lodge, so assumed she was just in another part of the building; hopefully that meant she was now on the mend. Struggling to sit up, Emma found that she still had the IV in her arm. Fighting with the tubing for a second, she managed to get the attachments situated so she was able to sit against the head board of the bed. Emma saw the room she was now in was one of the Lodge’s guest rooms, hotel-like in set up with two beds, the other slightly mussed, a bathroom and a small sitting area complete with a love seat and chair with ottoman. On the table there was a tray that was covered with the typical room-service lid. From under the lid wafted the smells of warm food, something she could not call eating in several days.

Shifting on the bed, Emma found that her bladder was uncomfortably full. Looking around the room, she could not see anyone who might help her out of the bed, so she struggled to swing her legs to the edge, sliding forward until her feet were on the carpeted floor. Emma sat that way for a few moments to gather her strength and then grasping the IV stand, she stood, her body swaying slightly from the unfamiliar position until her equilibrium settled. Taking a tentative step, she found that she could shuffle in the direction of the bathroom door as long as she did not over extend her stride. She was glad to find she was clothed in a pair of sweats since the room had a slight chill to the air.

Once in the bathroom, Emma was able to take stock of her appearance in the mirror and wished that she had not done so. Her hair was a tangled, oily mess. Emma knew it would take days to get a brush through it, and wondered absently if it would not be better to just cut it all off. Playing with the tangles for a moment, she observed her reflection, gauging the dark circles under her eyes, the flushed cheeks and pale skin. The face that was framed by the dark hair looked haggard and frightening. Emma was reminded of the pictures she had seen of newly released hostages as her eyes had the same blank look beneath the nearly black irises. Turning away from the mirror, Emma noticed the towels laying on the floor and that the wet dog smell was stronger in here. It was pungent and nearly overpowering. Coughing the odor away only worked for a moment, so Emma quickly finished her toilet, tested the faucet, happily finding it working and washed her hands and face. As she used the hand towel to dry (the only one that seemed not to be laying on the floor) she was happy to notice that the water on her face and neck made her feel a little more human. Placing the towel back on the rack, Emma felt her heart jump when she heard the noise of the sliding door to the room as it opened, accompanied by a burst of cold air. She stood for a moment with the towel half on the rack, wondering if she should call out or prepare to fight; she knew of no other alternatives since she had no clue how she had gotten into the room.

Suddenly, Owen’s dog was bounding into the bathroom, fur damp and smelling of shampoo. The animal saw Emma and skidded to a stop, the hair on the back of its shoulders and neck raising in a thick ruffle. It lowered its head, barring teeth, but did not make a sound other than a little rumble at the back of its throat. Emma froze, watching as George the dog observed her carefully, assessing her right to be in the room. The dog seemed to sniff for several hours before the ruffle began to flatten. Owen was not far behind the dog, calling to the animal to calm down and behave. He appeared in the doorway, his hair also damp, wearing sweats as well. Absently slapping the dog on the head, Owen grinned at seeing her standing.

“You’re alive,” he drawled.

Emma slowly finished putting the towel back in place. “I am, I think.” She grabbed the IV stand and shuffled to the door, hoping that the dog would let her out. The animal stared at her for a moment and backed up, not straying too far from Owen’s side as he did so. She stopped in the doorway. “Where are we?”

“Quarantine,” stated Owen. He reached out to help her walk, gently taking her arm. She let him fall in step beside her, protesting as he tried to lead her back to the bed. Instead she asked to be taken to the chair. He redirected their progress without protest. As they walked, Emma noticed that he was favoring his wounded hip, and she had to quietly laugh at their gait, which left them moving in a strange, swaying dance across the room.

“From what?” asked Emma as they walked.

“Everyone else, apparently.”

Emma paused in her shuffle and gave Owen a questioning look. He looked away, clearing his throat as if he were trying to decide just how much he was going to tell her. She could see that he was wishing he hadn’t said what he did.

“What’s the matter, Owen?”

He made sure she was comfortable in the chair and then collapsed in the couch himself. The dog took up a position next to Owen’s leg, laying down to start licking at damp fur.

“It seems that George here has some kind’a virus,” said Owen finally, not really looking at her as he spoke. Emma could feel her chest tightening as he spoke, she struggled to keep her breathing even, but found she could not; the fear of what might come next was setting in, a coldness in her heart. Owen still spoke, but the words were coming to her through a buzzing in her ears. “The witch doctor says that it ain’t the same thing as the Zombie virus, but close enough to be a kissin’ cousin. The problem is, he don’t know which cousin. In the mean time you, me and the dog are all stuck here while he deciphers what it might be.”

“Stuck here,” said Emma.

Owen nodded. The door is guarded outside by somebody, and we’re on the second floor.” He got up and limped to the sliding door, pulling back the drape that hung in front of it. Emma could see the main building through the glass and the snow lying on the ground between. Below them was the outdoor pool, covered with a tarp to keep debris out of the concrete basin. Owen pointed to the roof line across from them. “We can step outside to let the dog piss and such, but when we do, there’s a ol’ boy with a rifle to make sure we don’t go further.” He let the drape fall back in place. “They’re takin’ it kinda serious.”

Breathing deeply, Emma struggled to absorb his words. “Virus.”

“Of some kind.”

She looked at the dog, suddenly hating the animal and wondering why she was so adamant that it not be shot. Subconsciously, Emma reached across and felt the bandage that covered the bit mark that the animal had given her. The dog stopped its grooming and looked up at her, its brown eyes boring back into her own, seemingly aware of her violent thoughts. She blinked and looked away, the animal returned to its grooming, the silent communication that passed now severed.

“So they’re waiting to see if we turn?”

Owen shrugged. “Something like that.”

“Did he bite you too?”

“Precaution,” muttered Owen, returning to the couch, petting the dog as he sat. “Since George has licked me, he decided I was a risk, given that they don’t know how it’s transmitted.”

“Damn it,” breathed Emma. “Have they developed a test for it? I mean why us?”

Owen showed her where he had been stuck with a needle and blood drawn. “I guess that it kinda happened by accident. The shaman found it in you because of the fever you were runnin’, and then linked it to George somehow. I got tossed in here ‘cause I was with him at the house.”

“Have you shown positive?” asked Emma.

“I don’t now yet,” admitted Owen. “The testing is not complete.”

To Emma’s ears it sounded as if his words were a recitation of ones he’d heard many times before. She looked over at the table and the food tray. “How long’ve we been here?”

“Just a day so far.” Owen looked at the IV in her arm. “They said when you wake up you can get that out--.”

“What do we do, pound on the door?” asked Emma, touching the lines as if they were infected as well.

He picked up the phone and rattled the disconnect several times. Finally he spoke into the phone, telling whoever was on the other end that Emma was awake and wanted the IV out. After he hung up, he motioned to the food. “You hungry?”

Indicating that she was, Emma was told to sit and he pulled the table over toward where she sat. it was too high for her to eat off the table, but he grabbed a pillow for her to use as a lap tray and uncovered the food. There were several plates under the lid, one holding an assortment of vegetables, the other what looked to be some kind of meat-laden hash and finally a plate with wedges of cornbread. There was a bowl of real butter next to it. Owen spread a healthy serving of butter on the cornbread, than asked her what she wanted to eat. Emma told him she was just interested in the vegetables, so he gave her large portions on an empty plate, setting the cornbread slice next to the servings. Emma accepted the plate, surprised at how hungry she felt, eating as Owen made his own plate and joined her. He poured her a glass of lemonade and was watched by the dog as he began to take bites of the food.

There was a knock on the door, causing Owen to set aside his plate and answer the door. The dog followed, glancing at the table from which the food had appeared as he passed it. To Emma it seemed as if the animal was gauging the distance he might have to jump to eat. The dog’s look made her wonder just what they had been feeding the animal. She set her plate aside when two people followed Owen into the room.

Both wore regular clothing with an oversized shirt over a t-shirt. The oversized shirt was white and Emma assumed that it had been chosen to indicate medical personnel to the residence of the Lodge.

“Good morning,” greeted the taller of the two. Owen took up his place next to Emma and said nothing. The man came over and began to fuss over the IV stand which was still attached to Emma. While he did so, George took the opportunity to start a low growl. Owen shushed the animal and the man cast wary glances at the dog while he worked. He finally stepped back out of the dogs lunge range. “I think we can take this out since your moving around now.”

“Who are you?” asked Emma.

The man smiled and held out a hand. “I’m the closest thing to a doctor that we have at the Lodge, Pete Nolan,” he introduced. Emma tentatively took the man’s hand; it was dry and raspy, like a hand that had to survive several washings a day. His grip was firm, but brief.

“Since you shook my hand, I take it that whatever you think I have is not transmitted that way?” said Emma.

Nolan gave her a shy smile. “That would be correct.” He took a seat across from her and Owen. The dog watched him very carefully. “Since Owen has apparently told you about it, what questions do you have for me?”

“What exactly do I have?” asked Emma.

Nolan shifted uncomfortably. “Honestly, I don’t know.” He held up a hand to stay off any protests that she might raise before he could finish his explanation. “Let me start by giving you my credentials; I’m a physicians assistant, kind of a glorified RN, but more. I was working at Med Central when all of this started, so I do have some knowledge of the virus of the progression and mutations. Unfortunately, most of what I can bring to the table here is from what I remember reading in the medical journals.” He paused and looked at the two quarantined people before him. “How much more do you want to know?”

Emma sighed. “I want to know what you can tell me, I guess. Am I going to become one of them?” she asked, her words indicating the undead that prowled the earth.

“I don’t think so,” Nolan began to explain. “You have to understand the beginnings of the plague to get to where we are now. Everyone remembers that the plague started supposedly in Mobambu, Africa. The thinking at the time was that it was transmitted by a pest borne bite, more specifically a fly, somewhat similar to the fruit fly scare of the 1980’s. Once that was found to be not possible, researchers assumed it was a mutation of the Avian Flu. The problem was that the virus by this time was mutating so fast that they were having a hard time keeping track of it and its forms. The final virus, H66N7, is supposed to be the offspring as it were, of the original Avian Flu.”

“Supposed to be?” asked Emma.

“I don’t believe that it is,” said Nolan. “I can’t prove it, but I don’t think it is. I think that the virus was developed as is, not mutated. Anyway, I put together some equipment to test for the virus—I got my plans from a CDC field book I read—it’s all really crude but works. To detect a virus in the blood, I had to put together a black light microscope and some other stuff to keep the samples from being contaminated, basically a vacuum box to work in. Anyway—“

“Wait a minute,” Emma interrupted. “Why do you think that the virus was developed?”

Nolan looked embarrassed. “It’s conjecture on my part, but I can’t see something like this developing this quickly into what we’ve got now. It happened so fast—I just don’t have an answer for you that makes sense. I think that it is actually something man made, something that was developed by a rogue lab in Africa, a place where the controls for experimenting are non-existent or can be circumvented for the right money to the right people. I don’t know what you know about Mobambu, but it was a developing nation, only about seven years old, and the government was corrupt beyond our imagination. Recent coups had made the place so unstable that anything could happen there.”

“What does all this have to do with us?” asked Owen. “How does that get me an’ Emma where we are now?”

Nolan nodded to George. “He’s a carrier of one of the virus’s, the mutations that preceded the H66N7. Now, that strain has been found in you.” Nolan shook his head. “This is the freaky part; I did some control tests and it seems that we are all carriers of this virus.”

Emma felt as if the air had just been sucked out of the room. She felt her face go cold as the blood rushed from her cheeks and struggled to come to terms with what Nolan was trying to tell her. “All carriers?”

“Everyone I’ve tested,” confirmed Nolan.

“We’re born with this?” asked Owen.

“No,” said Nolan, “not at all. I think that the virus is airborne. It has nothing at all to do with the Avian Flu. Sadly, it might be a part of us forever.”

“We’re always going to have the undead?”

“Yes.”

“Why do some people turn and others don’t then?” demanded Owen.

Nolan could only shrug. “I don’t have the ability to answer that question. It might be a chemical reaction in the body of certain people; I don’t know. If that is the case, what in those others make them immune, after a fashion, and others not?” Nolan sighed. “We may never know in our lifetime.”

“So where does that leave us?” asked Emma.

“That leaves you free to start life again,” said Nolan.

“What about George?”

“Keep him from biting people,” was all Nolan could say. “I can’t tell you anything else right now.” He stood. “I’ll have that IV removed and then you two can get back to what you were doing. I’ve already told the council about this, but I’d appreciate if you don’t say anything to anyone else for the time being.”

“What caused my fever?” asked Emma.

Nolan gave a short laugh. “The flu; a twenty-four hour bug. A nasty one to be sure-- but just the flu.”

“So all this was started by a flu?”

“In so many ways,” admitted Nolan.

He nodded to both and left the room. The other man smiled and moved up to Emma, removing the IV and taking the stand with him as he left. Emma and Owen simply sat on the couch in silence. After the uncertainly of the past days, it was somewhat of a let down to be simply be told they could walk out of the room without a fight. Owen stood and went to the window, looking out at the sparkling snow that lay on the ground.

“So what now?”

Emma could only shake her head. “I have no clue. It’s somewhat disturbing to find that we all have the potential to become Zombies. What about future generations, what kind of legacy are we leaving them?”

Owen turned away from the window. “Not somethin’ that I’d want to be born into, but I’m livin’ it now.” He looked over at the dog. “Well, what next?” he asked again.

“I’m going to meet with my crew and see if we can get the hell out of here,” she said. “What about you?”

Shrugging, Owen stepped away from the window and knelt by the dog. “I have a feeling me an’ George here won’t be as welcome as we once were.”

“George just got here,” pointed out Emma.

“Guilt by association,” decided Owen.

After a second of silence, Emma spoke. “I could use another hand--.”

“You offerin’ me a job?’ laughed Owen.

“I suppose so,” said Emma, then thinking of Hannah, Emma sighed. “Unless you have something to keep you here.”

Catching her meaning, Owen shook his head. “I don’t know if I do or not.”

With a nod, Emma slowly stood. “Think about it. I’m going to take a shower.”

She made her way to the bathroom. The emptiness in the pit of her stomach making her feel as if she wanted to double over and cry. There was so much to consider, so much had happened over the last several days, Emma was unsure if she could digest everything she had been told and experienced in the short time given her. Emma did not know if she were able to believe what Nolan had told them; his lack of expertise in the subject made what he had said suspect, but in other ways it made sense. She had no explanation as to why people became undead after getting shot, others after bitten, and others just died with no ill effect at all. The bitten always turned, but there was no reason why some of the corpses she had seen seemingly unharmed and trapped in auto accidents should be moving at all. The figures trapped behind the cracked windshields, skin mummified and cracked, pounding on the glass as a living being walked by; those she had no explanation for. Nolan’s assumptions made sense; something within the person had caused them to reanimate. A chemical reaction, a mutation, it was unclear what it was. Nolan admitted that he did not know what that might be, but the idea that they all carried the virus scared her.

Emma paused to wonder what might become of the newborn’s, specifically Hannah’s unborn child. Were those walking the earth today the final generation to do so? Emma hoped not, there was still so much living to do.
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Post by nemesys » Tue Aug 07, 2007 12:10 pm

I blame the Chinese :lol:

sweet chapter bud
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Post by AwPhuch » Tue Aug 07, 2007 2:33 pm

WOW kick ass man

AFT though :wink:

Great as always....man very strange that everyone has that pre-string of the virus..maybe they can isolate a cure...who knows
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Post by trickyasafox » Tue Aug 07, 2007 5:18 pm

awesome! well worth the wait

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Post by Andrea » Thu Aug 09, 2007 12:08 am

Thank you!!!
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Post by Makarov » Thu Aug 09, 2007 11:15 am

A good update.
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Post by doc66 » Thu Aug 16, 2007 7:21 pm

Owen and George crept along the dark roadway, letting the sound of the music lead them. Of course to some, the sounds might not be considered music, but to the Highlanders, it was sweet and melancholy at the same time. The high whine of the bag pipes cut the night air, sounding as if it notes could set the cold air chiming in harmony with the high drone of the pipes. The walk from the lodge was a long one in the night air, but Owen needed the chance to get out of the building since the walls had suddenly started to close in on him lately.

It had been two days since the doctor had told him and Emma about the virus and his beliefs, since then the word had been spread among the rest of the Lodges population and the reception to the news had certainly been a mixed one. There was an under current of disbelief and anger—at what or whom was not specified, but all the people were on edge about the recent discovery. The tension was such that George was growling at most people who came too close to him and Owen, so to elevate some of the stress, he had decided to see if he could crash the Highlander’s gathering for the Rites Ceremony.

The group had taken over one of the larger cabins near the Lodge and from what Owen could tell, they had been steadily drinking all day from a massive cauldron containing as much alcohol as they could pour into the container. They had hunted down a pig from somewhere, killed it with blows from their Sgian Dubh’s and then roasted it over a rather large fire with the grease from the pig popping through the skin and landing on the fire, causing flare ups that scorched the skin of the hapless animal. Propped near the fire, sitting in rocking chairs and folding camp stools, were the few recovered bodies of their comrades. Even though it had been cold, the bodies were starting to show signs of decay. This did not seem to matter to those gathered, they came up to each figure in turn and toasted the corpse, pouring a portion of drink into whatever container the dead might hold and then drinking to their memory. Some of the more intoxicated would plant a kiss on the face or begin conversations which lead to their being lead away by another. Cases of beer had also been found and consumed in addition to the dangerous alcohol mix, the cans littered the ground inside and outside the cabin. When they had been approached, two of the Highlanders, sober ones, had intercepted the emissaries from the Lodge and told them it was a private matter and they should simply leave. Thankfully the people had taken the warning at face value and left.

Owen had found himself sitting among the trees with George and a pilfered bottle of Jim Beam at a distance watching the proceedings as the men and women drank themselves into a strange trance until just before dusk, when setting out on foot, carrying the decaying bodies of their comrades still in the chairs, they turned on the CD player and began to blast the wood with the sounds of the bag pipes. The cauldron came with them and Owen could see among them the small shape of Emma, dressed in a kilt of her own, leading the procession away from the lodge. Once he topped the bottle, he called to George, who never seemed to get more then thirty feet from him, and began to follow. The dusk turned to night quickly in the cold air and Owen found himself wishing that he had worn a heavier shirt under his leather jacket. He was comforted by the weight of the MAC and a spare pistol.

At the crest of the road, Owen stopped to gauge his surroundings. The road way had been narrow and wound up the side of a large hill, following the contours of the hill, reminding him of his West Virginia home as he walked. George trotted unconcerned beside him, making Owen feel that if there were something out there to be wary of, the dog would have already given him some kind of sign about the danger. From his vantage point, Owen could see off to his left the moon and star light reflecting off the water of the lake. Before him the road straightened and became the dam that had formed the Pleasant Hill Lake and the resort area of the Lodge. He stepped forward and was able to make out the long causeway which lead to the tower-like pump station jutting from the surface of the lake like a medieval keep. A flare of light sprang up just below the edge of the road to his left, drawing Owen to see what the source might be. His feet crunched on gravel as he stepped off the roadway. Stopping at the guard rail, Owen was amazed to see the size of the fire below him.

The spillway of the damn was a large, circular concrete pad. In the center of the pad rose columns of stone topped by lintel’s of the same material. In the dim light, under the moon and stars, it seemed to Owen as if the sanctuary of Stonehenge had been transported to the side of the lake just for this ceremony. In the center of the circle a bonfire raged, the flames dancing to the sky and casting a magical glow on to the faces of the gathered. Between each tall support sat one of the slain, still seated in their respective chairs, cups in one hand and Sgian Dubh’s in the other. All seemed to be grinning at the sight of the fire and the macabre scene made Owen’s hell fire-raised flesh prickle.

As he watched a huge cup was dipped into the cauldron and the man dipping the cup raised it above his head, chanting something as the bag pipe music mourned its tone out over the water. He heard feet crunching gravel nearby and Owen turned quickly from the scene toward the sound, his MAC at ready. He saw the small shape of Emma emerge from the darkness into the light, her dark hair wild. In the light her eyes seemed to absorb the fire, reflecting nothing back, just two dark holes that looked into his soul.

“A bit pagan, isn’t it?” she whispered.

Owen nodded. “How did you know I was here?”

“I always know when you are around.” She turned to the scene and Owen followed her example, wondering all the while why George had not alerted him to her presence. When he glanced at the dog, the animal simply yawned and sat nearby.

Below them the cup was being passed. Owen noted the kilt and mentioned it to Emma. “I thought you hated those things.”

“I’m the Boss,” she said. “It’s my place to be a part of the Rites.”

“What are the Rites?” asked Owen.

“Watch,” she told him, leaning close to him.

Owen could smell the pleasant odor of her skin, her sweat and the alcohol on her breath; he found that those scents, along with the closeness of her body, was distracting. He remained focused on the ceremony with difficulty. “What are they saying?”

“Last Rites,” she said. “Neal used to be a priest, but the coming of the undead shook his faith a little. He’s become a kind of Catholic-Pagan warrior-priest since then.” She began to follow the chant as it was said, repeating it for Owen to hear. "Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit," she whispered near his neck.

Below them all responded with: "Amen." The priest, if he could still be called that, anointed the palms of each of the dead hands with what looked to Owen to be the Sign of the Cross, using the liquid from the cup to do so he repeated the Rite with each body, receiving a loud “amen” after each performance. When he was finished he raised the cup over his head and spoke. Emma supplied the words that did not make the distance. "May the Lord who frees you from sin, save you, and raise you up."

All the Highlanders responded: "Amen."

Emma grinned up at Owen with a feral look to her expression. “This is where it gets weird. They took this from a movie.”

As Owen watched people took their place behind each of the dead, grabbing up the chairs and lifting them over their heads as they began to chant. With each the beginning of each line, the body was raised above their heads, the bag pipes shrilling out over the water and providing an otherworldly soundtrack to the setting. Those who did not have a chair were pounding their Sgian Dubh’s on the concrete, the hollow sound echoing in time with the chant. They were hitting the pad so hard that Owen could hear the ring of the hammers chime as they beat out their rhythm. He was surprised to find that he recognized the chant as they bellowed out the words.

Owen found himself repeating the words as they called out.



Low there do I see my father.
Low there do I see my mother
and my sisters
and my brothers.
Low there do I see,
the line of my people back to the beginning.
Low, they do call to me,
bid me to take my place among them
In the halls of Valhala:
where the brave shall live forever!



With the final words, the bodies were tossed into the raging fire, weapons, chairs and all, the alcohol in the cups flaring as the flames reached the contents providing a comet-like entry into the fire. The chanting turned into a disjointed caucophony of noise, reflected back by the waves of the lake. The din was nearly overpowering and Owen found himself stepping away from the scene as if pushed back by a physical hand. Emma laughed and pulled at him, urging him to come down to the fire. He glanced at George and saw that the animal was already staring intently at the cavorting figures below them as they raised cups, called out to God and gods, challanging, saluting and defying all in a single breath.

Letting her lead on, Owen found himself among the gathered with a cup being thrust in his hand. The feeling of the magic of these people was strong, the comradery and companionship like nothing he’d felt before. In that instant, Owen knew that he belonged.

He grabbed up Emma in a crushing embrace and knew where his future lie.
Last edited by doc66 on Thu Aug 16, 2007 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by doc66 » Thu Aug 16, 2007 7:25 pm

I found myslef not wanting to end this yet again, but I knew it was time to write yet another tale. So, with the final installment of Owen, I hope that it finds all happy and satisfied with what I wrote. There's more story in Emma and Owen, just not right now. I see a future for these two, but you'll have to wait to see just what it might be.

Hope you liked the Rites. Being Catholic, I had to mix the two, I felt that it fit this new world.

Check out Cole for more on not only Emma and Owen, but Hannah, Jesse and all the others.

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Post by AwPhuch » Thu Aug 16, 2007 8:12 pm

Dude! Most awesome!

The Viking Warriors Prayer (from 13th Warrior) made my hair on my neck stand up!

Awesome...simply awesome!
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Post by Shorty0969 » Thu Aug 16, 2007 8:47 pm

You know how I feel about ending this story...but you did a great job anyway.

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Post by trickyasafox » Thu Aug 16, 2007 10:48 pm

great work doc, and thank you for giving us so many books within this zombie world you created.

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Post by SilentVectorX » Mon Aug 27, 2007 5:51 pm

So that's how this chapter ends...

Cool, though I didn't see it coming at all.

Very cool.

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Post by Tetra Grammaton Cleric » Fri Sep 28, 2007 10:09 am

Doc66, this a continuation of my praise for this story (and Cole) in the Cole thread. Read the mad props from me there.

I missed out on Hannah before it got taken down so I missed out on finding out Owen's "origin" - why he has the gun kata mofomojo, why he refused to kill the living, where he learned to make silencers, that sort of thing.

If it doesn't mess with your intellectual property and such, I'd love to know...
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Post by doc66 » Fri Nov 30, 2007 9:15 am

Okay now that Hannah is back up don't forget to read Owen....

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Post by Gun_Nut_2k1 » Fri Nov 30, 2007 10:15 pm

Hey I think that is the first time I ever got sig'd!
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Oneswunk wrote:Interesting idea, but I still prefer the feel of wood in my hands.
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