• Author B. D. West

The Zombies of Deadwood

The Zombies of Dead Wood

Dead wood… how do you describe such a crappy town? It’s not the Dead Wood you may be thinking of in South Dakota, you know the place with all the dead trees? I’m talking about Dead Wood Alabama. You probably never heard of it and after living here my whole life; I wish to God that I had never heard of it either. There is literally nothing to do here it is literally ‘Dead’. After I was old enough to drive I discovered I had to drive two hours just to get to the nearest city, which was something I refused to do. My name is Chris I’m the last known survivor of the Dead Wood tragedy, as they call it. I guess I better start from the beginning, but where to start? I hate to retell this story but if we should learn from this mistake, you need to hear what I have to say.

I was a metal head, yeah laugh now but metal music is what I loved more than life it’s self. I reviewed music for a metal magazine called Metal Doom. I loved my job because they let me work from home. I have social anxiety disorder and it was a daily struggle. Having a day job, which meant being out in the public, was not in the cards for me. This job fit me well, like a glove. When my medicine was working right, I ventured out in to town to check the mail. I received a lot of packages from Metal Doom and when I was feeling ok I would go pick them up. I had no car so I had to walk at least a mile to town. The town was buzzing one day with talk of a new factory coming to town soon and how it would create jobs in a struggling economy. I grabbed a news paper so I could read about it when I got home. The less I had to spend around people the better. Dead Wood was a farming community so something like this was a big deal. There it was a drawing of the new factory to be built right on the front page. The article said it would be manufacturing plastics for toys. They were going to use a chemical I couldn’t pronounce to make the toy material fire resistant and get this, choke resistant. It automatically came with a sour taste like lemons, to keep children from putting the toy’s in their mouth. You would think people would see right through that but not around here. Dead Wood only saw the dollar signs. The town’s mayor wrote an article stating how he was going to use the millions offered by the factory, to wake up this quiet town. He was going to build a shopping mall and maybe open a casino to bring in tourist. Looking back I wished I had known earlier about this factory, I would have written a huge article about the dangers it would bring. I would have said… well to hell with what I would have said now. I mean what good can it do now?

It only took three months to build Skyway Toy Plastics, amazingly short amount of time huh? I thought so too so I went to check it out. It was about a two mile walk for me so I made sure I wore my back pack to carry some bottled water. I never trusted public water. Metal Doom’s owner Jared, shared my anxiety about water and he hooked me up with Water Fall Springs.  It was the best water I ever put to my lips. The water comes straight from a water fall in North Carolina; I never drink anything else now. After passing Mr. Johnsons farm and suffering a sun burn on the back of my neck under the scorching sun, I finally made it to Skyway Toy Plastics. It had a massive metal chain linked fence running around the property. Smoke belched from, I counted fifteen, smoke stacks strategically placed all over the roof of the massive structure. I could feel nothing but dread as I looked at the factory that had been built so quickly. I turned around and headed back home and went back to my normal routine. It was about three months later after my factory visit that I started to notice changes in the town’s folk. I started to notice when I had to make a dash to the bakery for my mom. She was out of bread and she kicks up a huge fit if she’s making dinner and there is no bread. I walked into town and headed to Anthony’s Bakery. It smelled so good.

“Well… if it isn’t little Christopher!” Anthony said as I stretched a ‘shut the hell up’ smile on my face. I hated it when he called me Christopher; he made me feel as if I was eight years old again.

“Hi Anthony, my mom needs a loaf of bread today and that’s it.” I said trying to hurry him along.

“Oh ok.” Anthony said as his smile fell a little. “Well I hope your mom is doing ok, she’s one of my best customers. What have you been up to lately? I don’t see you in here much.” Anthony said as he wrapped up a fresh loaf in a neat plastic bag.

“I uh… work for a magazine. How much?” I said hoping he would cut this little reunion short.

“Oh! Three dollars even.”  He said as he reached behind his ear and began to scratch. “I swear, this rash popped up a couple of days ago and it just won’t go away. When he pulled his hand away some of his hair was entangled between his fingers and his finger tips had a little blood on them. “What the…” He said with a confused look.

“Geez man maybe you should go the doctor for that.” I said as I threw a five dollar bill on the counter. “And keep the change man.” I said as I hurried out of the store. No way was I going to get whatever he had. I walked slower than usual through town. I was feeling pretty good today and the weather felt great. I stopped and looked through a few windows and I noticed in some of them there were fliers talking about the new shopping mall coming soon and their store would be moving there soon. I was so distracted that I almost ran into Mandy’s baby stroller.

“Why can’t you just look where you’re going huh? You think you just own the town don’t you? Don’t you!” Mandy screamed.

Now I knew Mandy since high school and I never saw her yell not even one day in her life. She used to have a full head of beautiful blonde hair and a smoking hot body! Even after she had her baby, she was still hot. But now her hair was thin and pale and her blue eyes looked watery, like she had been crying. Her clothes looked like she hadn’t washed them in a month.

“Mandy are you ok?” I said as I slowly tried to approach her.

“Who are you? How do you know my name?” Her face darted all around my face then around her surroundings. “Watch where you’re walking next time Mr.!”

As she walked away I looked down into her stroller and there was nothing in there. I was officially starting to wig out. I had to get home before I had an anxiety attack right here in town and embarrass myself. I quickened my step and with each person that I passed I became more and more afraid. William the butcher was standing in the window mindlessly chewing on a raw steak. Millie the dry cleaning lady was sitting outside her store crying. Fred the newspaper editor was standing outside on the street corner yelling at passerby’s and throwing news papers at them. I didn’t want to see anymore so I started to run, I ran hard until I reached the Johnsons farm. The smell of copper hit my nose first as I walked past the farm and as I reached the chicken coop I noticed white chicken feathers quietly floating past me and into the road. Mr. Johnson turned around with his ax and wiped his bloody hands down his over alls.

“They just wouldn’t shut up you know how they cackle. Please don’t tell the Mrs.” He said as he slowly started to walk my way. I turned and ran as hard as I could. When I finally reached home I locked all the doors and windows. Mom came rushing out of the kitchen.

“Chris! What in the name of all that is good, are you doing?” She said as she wiped her hands on her apron.

“Everyone has lost their freaking minds! The people in town are acting crazy!”

“Now now… it can’t be all that bad. Come and eat dinner and we can talk.”

“I’m not kidding mom! The butcher was eating raw meat and the Baker has some kind of rash! Farmer Johnson just massacred his chickens. I swear he was going to kill me!” I said as I closed all the curtains.

“Now stop this! Come to dinner!” She said as she snapped her fingers. I reluctantly went into the kitchen. Since my father disappeared I couldn’t remember a time when dinner looked like this. The roast was raw and bloody and everything else was so burnt I couldn’t even make out what it had once been.

“Mom are you ok?” I said carefully. My heart started to speed up as she began to smack her head and rock.

“All these years I cook and I slave for what? For you? You are just like your father! Always wanting more and more and I have nothing to give anymore! Nothing!” She stood up and ran to her room and slammed the door. I could hear her smashing things and moving things around. I went to the door after working up my courage and ok I grabbed my baseball bat for good measure.

“Mom are you ok? Please answer me.”

The door swung open and she had her suitcase packed and she had her purse and keys. “Get out of my way!” She said as she pushed past me and out the door. She didn’t even take her car she just walked into the darkness and I watched until I couldn’t see her anymore. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I was the only sane person left in town. I moved at night to get supplies when I ran low and I loaded myself down with weapons. The town of Dead Wood went from a town of progress to a wonderland for zombies. I don’t know if you could really call them zombies, they were alive but a different sort of alive. Self preservation went completely out the window. I actually saw a couple of people walk off the Dover side bridge and just sink to the bottom. I observed one man just sitting on the corner in town pulling his hair out and eating it. I had to move to an abandoned warehouse about a mile away from the house. The stench of Mr. Johnson’s farm was directly up wind. It wasn’t just the chickens that smelled of death. My mother ran into farmer Johnson and well you can guess the ending. Needless to say, Mrs. Johnson met the same fate as my mother and a few weeks later Mr. Johnson disappeared. I wasn’t going to go looking for him if that’s what you’re thinking! Would you?

It was late one night that I ran into town to the grocery store to see if I could pick up some supplies. I successfully broke into the Brown Bag Mart. I was hoping I could find some canned meat and bottled water. It was when I picked up the bottle of water when it finally hit me. The weird things happening in town happened after Skyway Toy Plastics moved into town. I had to go there and find out. I left the Brown Bag Mart and headed straight for the factory. I hid at any sign of movement, nothing much moved these days. The animals had dropped dead weeks ago so if anything moved, it wasn’t good. I made it to the chain linked fence and I climbed over. Skyway Toy Plastics was illuminated by the full moon, funny how the smoke still poured from the stacks as if the factory was still buzzing with life. The front door was wide open and the lights inside flickered. I was terrified but yet I was relieved to see electricity. I had been living in the dark for months due to the erratic actions of the town’s folk. The factory was silent as the grave, aside from the buzzing of the flickering lights. I found a map on the wall and it said ‘you are here’ and it pointed to a lobby just outside the main production floor. I slowly opened the door and the noise of the machines still trying to pump out plastic nearly made me deaf. I looked around and found an emergency ‘off’ switch and pulled it. The noise slowly came to a halt; the smell of hot metal filled my lungs and nearly made me vomit. I saw an office up a flight of stairs and I prayed it had a phone or a working computer I could use to send out for help. The only problem I could see was I had to climb over a pile of mangled plastic to get to the stairs. I tripped and I slid all over the plastic, cutting myself on the sharp edges before I made it to the steps. My ankle screamed in protest with each step I made toward the office, apparently I sprained my ankle in the pile of wasted plastic. I breathed a sigh of relief when I reached the office and it was empty. For good measure I locked the door behind me. I sat down at what could have only been the boss’s desk and pulled the bosses’ laptop closer to me. Thankfully it had never been turned off or it would have taken forever to crack the pass word.  I saw a blinking red file in the corner and I decided to go against my fear of viruses and I clicked on it. A video screen popped up and it was pointed right at the spot I was sitting in. A man with grey hair and beard came into view.

“My name is Professor Weston; I am the creator of Skyway Toy Plastics. I am leaving this message for whoever may be left behind, if I didn’t wipe out humanity as I know it.” The professor wiped his brow and continued. “I made a horrible mistake. I thought the plastic formula I came up with was safe, safe enough to drain the access water from the machines into the creek nearby. I should have checked to make sure the creek did not run into the town’s water supply. Oh God what have I done. I’m so sorry, I can’t fix this anymore, I can feel myself… slipping. Whoever you are if you are capable, take the disk I have left you on the desk and down load file named ‘The Toy Maker’. It should give the next scientist the formula to hopefully reverse the damage I have done. Maybe my maker will see that as my atonement. I hope, whoever you are, that you too will forgive me someday.”

The screen went back to the welcome screen. I felt strange and I wondered if Skyway Toy Plastics water pollution had spread to the next town or even the next. My mind swam with fear, the only people I knew to contact was the FBI. I went on to their website and I left an email and in the subject line I put S.O.S. I told them where I was and I copied the number off the phone in this office and I waited. No one called; I was just rudely awakened by the sound of a helicopter landing on the roof top. I grabbed the down loaded disk with the ‘Toy Maker’ file and the video and I headed to the roof. I was cautiously approached by two soldiers with guns pointing at me. I raised my hands in surrender.

“What’s your name?” One of the soldiers yelled.

“I’m Chris! I sent the email sir!” I said as the wind created by the helicopter whipped my hair around. The two soldiers looked at each other and silently agreed I was ok. They yanked me by my shirt and loaded me onto the helicopter and we were on our way. “And that brings me back to where I started right here telling this story for the hundredth time.” I said as I glared at Sergeant Murphy.

“I’m sorry son. I have to be clear on the details. You’re the only one who made it out of there alive!”

“Yeah, we also cleared that fact up two hours ago. Come on man! What the hell happened to Dead Wood? Why us? Why was I the only survivor?” Tears started to burn my eyes but I wasn’t about to let that jerk see it.

“Well I have been trying to understand that myself Christopher. Your mother wants you to let this go so you can come home.”

“What the hell are you talking about? She’s dead!” I said as I looked around the little white room with the tinted black window. “And that’s Chris! Not Christopher!”

“Chris… don’t you know where you are?”

“I’m in a little white room on some army base! What are you getting at Sergeant Murphy? You know what happened! Your soldiers came to get me!” I said as panic started to form a lump in my throat.

“Chris, I’m Dr. Murphy. I have been your Doctor for the past three months. You’re at the Skyway mental facility. You have been here since you terrorized your town. Don’t you remember?” He said with a confused look.

The blood rushed from my face and I felt faint as the memories came flooding back to me. It was I who reached over the counter and ripped a handful of Anthony’s hair out.  I broke out the butcher’s window and he offered me a piece of raw meat to put on the wound. I pushed Millie down and made her cry, I kicked Mandy’s stroller and made her yell at me and it was I that grabbed Fred’s newspapers and threw them all around. Worst of all it was me standing there with an ax, standing over Mr. Johnsons chickens with blood all over my clothes. My mother ran from me when she saw me coming at her with a bat. It was all falling into place. The room started to spin as I stood up and looked around me. Dr. Murphy was wearing a white lab coat, not an army uniform. The soldiers, who came for me at the lab, had really been the Emergency Medical Service and the factory I broke into was the clothing factory down the road from my house.

“That’s right Chris. Let the truth flood your mind. You’re safe here at the Skyway mental facility. Your safe now and you’re going to be ok.” Dr. Murphy said in his best soothing voice as he slowly approached me.

“No! This isn’t real! This isn’t real! You’re lying to me! You’re covering up the massacre!”

“No Chris, this… is real.” Dr. Murphy said as he slid a needle into my arm. The room began to swirl with colors and everything went black.

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