Get yourself in that zombie reading mood with a little classic zombie movie scene from one of the best of all time, 28 Days Later
Upcoming zombie horror by @KehlBayern, only from TAKAMAHARA
Author’s Note: Winternight in Boston is a work in progress and things may change between the publication of this sample and the final product in October 2017.
Written from a first person perspective, Winternight in Boston is TAKAMAHARA’s foray into science-fiction horror and follows our hero as he attempts to survive in zombie-infested Boston. Originally a concept piece written for a small group, Winternight in Boston is now a full-fledged book arriving this Fall. When designing the narrative, I focused on delivering a thrilling, terrifying experience for the reader. As part of the development process I mapped out locations and routes throughout the Boston and Greater Boston area to capture the unique architecture and layout of one of America’s oldest cities. I will elaborate more in designer/development diaries to come. For now, enjoy Winternight in Boston from TAKAMAHARA.
Another night at the job, all alone, the darkness of the septic office maddening, deadening to the soul and the senses, cocooning me in an industrial layout optimal for productivity, miserable for human occupancy. The air outside is howling with the force a hurricane, the gales screaming between the buildings, whipping across and pushing through man-made mountains of black steel creating valleys of torrent that chilled blood and bone. The Maker’s Mark I picked up at the package store is almost finished but I’m not feeling anything. Maybe it’s working, maybe I’m building too much of a tolerance.
A lot of things had not gone my way of late, love, life, work, you know, the usual shit people deal with during this period on the third rock away from the sun. I keep asking myself what am I doing, why am I not making any changes, but the routine seems too strong, the desire to stay within my set path too comfortable to break. This is most true right now, while I’m alone, in the dead of winter in Boston.
Cold, bleak, without a woman to have sex with in this lonesome season of the year. Coworkers had cleared out earlier in the week, taking vacations, heading out of town to see family in distant parts of the country or maybe right in their back yards or maybe not going anywhere at all but even they understood that sticking around the office during this time of the year was a miserable proposition.
I don’t realize that so that’s why I’m here, QA’ing another abortion from this awful programming gulag. Protests had rocked the city for week and only calmed down because of the holidays. The epidemic had everyone on edge, everyone that knew how to read a paper or get on the internet stayed glued to the topic, the latest craze to consume the nation. Everywhere you looked there was something new and sensational about this epidemic, something more fantastical than the last. Mandatory vaccinations had helped calm the nerves of many city residents, but it did nothing to stop the constant fear that had ground the wheels of the economy to a halt.
Thank God for government contracts, I tell myself, or I’d be out of a job along with the rest of my colleagues. The past two months were hell – that’s when she left me, out of nowhere, saying I was a workaholic, too absorbed in myself, too aloof from the society within which I live for her to tolerate it anymore. I could never marry you, she said, and I could never imagine building a life with you, she added, her voice judging and resolute. I pretended to not care, deep down I did, of course, it was only natural. Sure, I knew she was a bit of a bitch when I started dating her but then again I could be a difficult guy too so who’s to say who was wrong where. Without her, however, I felt somewhat lost, a strange feeling really.
Last I heard she had lost her job and had joined the protesters in the streets fighting for economic justice. Heck, I would have given her the money she needed and would be happy to do so. She never called. Maybe her phone had turned off, maybe she couldn’t pay the bill anymore. Should I reach out one last time? A crazy thought, I know, given the conviction of her dismissal, but we all say stupid shit, right? Or is it just me.
The ceiling tiles overhead are bone white and perforated with thousands of pores of varying sizes. I remember in my old office we would throw pencils into the ceiling in an ad hoc game of cubicle darts. No one was around, the clock said 11:30 PM, the janitor long having left to enjoy his life, so I thought, what the hell, I’ll give it a try. The blue computer screen isn’t inviting me to do more work, or at least, not encouraging me to do so. Coding sucks. No one tells you this when you start working towards this career – it’s tough as hell, tedious as fuck, and damn, pays well but who is enjoying the money. Database software was the worst and that just happened to be CCS Enterprises specialty. A job is a job, I tell myself, reciting it verbatim in a mantra of comfort.
I take a pencil off of my desk and throw it upward, unsuccessful in my first attempt. I roll a few more down to the edge of the desk and begin tossing them upwards, one after the other, lodging two in the tile above Dennis’ desk.
Dennis sucked. What a twerp. The guy couldn’t function as a normal adult and man was he ever an asshole. This open concept was a vision from hell if ever there was one. A job is a job, I tell myself. Thank you, gods of luck and maidens of chance. The power flickers off outside, the street lights spasming before going dark. My backup generator squeals, a high-pitched beep that tells me to backup all of my work. I go through the motions and save everything, waiting for the power to turn back on at any moment.
Five minutes pass and the backup is still squealing and will continue to do so for the next twenty five minutes unless I shut the computer down. As I’m sure you can imagine, I did just that. It was too much to bear. Shutting my computer off, I noticed a fair amount of police cars zooming into the city nearby, crossing the Longfellow Bridge, their lights urgent but quiet.
Kendall Square was just across the Charles River from Boston proper and the walk was nothing between here and there, but in the winter it could suck. For December, Boston’s weather was awful, cold and biting, with a blizzard on its way. Perfect, I’m thinking, a reason to stay inside and sleep and stay away from the office. I might even leave my phone off, I tell myself.
Twenty minutes pass and the power has still not returned to the office so I decide to start packing up my stuff to head home, debating on an UBER or maybe the T or maybe, heck, who knows, walking. Downtown wasn’t far from here, an easy walk, an adventure. I press my hands against the glass window to feel the ambient cold outside and I pull away at how cold it is. The MBTA or an UBER it is. I check my phone and I notice my service is absolute shit, I can’t connect to the internet to download anything. Odd but not uncommon.
This kind of service was not unheard of it for this pos cell service so I just say you know what I’ll save some money either way. The MBTA is not reliable, but it’s not expensive either. I don’t have to go far so I’m not risking my entire evening by chancing the Red Line. The power was still off outside and yet more police vehicles from Cambridge had crossed the bridge into Boston proper.
Oh well, I hope it’s not something big, I tell myself. You can never tell anymore. People either panic over the smallest things or are unperturbed by the most awful things. Beheadings in the Middle East? Not as mesmerizing as a celebrity scandal or manufactured reality television drama, it seemed. I try not to be cynical.
It’s a curse in many ways, a curse that is a lifelong affliction. She never liked it, always trying to see the bright side of everything, the upside in any situation. Sometimes it’s just not there, I told her, sometimes things are just bad. A matter of perspective, she would argue, to which I would reply, there is nothing concerning perspective when speaking about objective fact.
The subjective and objective cannot share truth. Spiritual and given to superstition, she hated what she called my closed mind but loved my logic, loved my ability to distill complex ideas into concepts the two of us could discuss. We had amazing conversations, after all. Amazing fights. They maintained that safe respect that kept things alive without making it dramatic.
I maneuver around the trashcans that are placed in a haphazard fashion and make my way out of the office, feeling along the cubicle separators to keep my balance in case I fall.
The emergency lights in the halls are active, the red spectral glow channeled down the hallway, powered by backup generators. The hallway EXIT sign is illuminated at the end of the hall, leading to the stairwell and fifteen flights of stairs. Fifteen incredible flights of amazing bullshit, I laugh, imagining my half-drunk ass slinking down these concrete death ledges. I wish the elevators were operational but, as the saying goes, hold your wishes in one hand and pee in the other and see which fills up first.
The stairwell echoes with my plodding step. I hack a few times from a nascent cold, filling the concrete silo with the death rattle of a diseased smoker’s cough. I check my jacket pocket and feel for the bottle of Maker’s Mark and tap it to confirm it’s there in a comforting gesture.
The red lights in the stairwell aren’t doing a very good job at shining light on my path so I’m really relying on the handrails at this point, shuffling down in that shambolic state so common on the streets outside the pubs on a late night. Big part, here at CCS Enterprises, crowd of one, good times. The lobby is small and cozy but also pitch black. I’m struck with the urge to piss and I debate whether I should wait until I arrive home or just go now. I decide it is better to go now so I make my way to the men’s restroom in the lobby.
The lavatory is locked with a push-button system of five numbers. Five. Three. One. I tell myself. Five. Push. Three. Push. One. Push. Turn. Damnit. It jammed. I really hate this damn door. The rest of the building was all keycards and sleek modern networked security.
The bathroom was something out of a Cold War bunker. Five. Three. One. Turn. Push. There it is. The door opens and the bathroom is dark. I step inside and slip the on the floor, twisting and bashing my head on the sink and falling on to the floor. I remember hearing the bathroom door click shut, leaving me in total darkness, warm water on my face. Then I passed out.