I stepped out from behind the Latin Grocery and watched with awe as the ZCA humvee drove off down N St. towards 9th. The grumble of its engine slowly fading into background noise. I started into a jog and followed behind, what else was I supposed to do?

But what were they looking for? I hadn’t seen a police cruiser since I left my apartment, and I was starting to wonder who was watching who. What’s the point of a curfew if there is no one there to enforce it?

I was trying my best to keep my distance from the ZCA patrol, but there is only so far you can lag behind before you obviate the point. The searchlight continued to pan back and forth as the humvee plowed steadily down the street. I kept pace as best as I could. All of a sudden the searchlight jerked to the left towards a parking lot and the humvee stopped cold. I was easily 1oo yards behind and I couldn’t make out what they were looking at. I crept forward.

When the loudspeaker came on, I stopped dead in my tracks:

“Attention! Place your hands in the air where I can see them!” the voice commanded. Out of reflex I complied, standing there like a moron in the middle of the street with my arms raised high. My brain kicked in and I scurried off to the side of the street behind a pickup truck, and watched though the front windshield.

“Failure to comply with our demands will result in your detention! Put your hands in the air, NOW!” stated the voice. I was close enough to see that the ZCA agent operating the searchlight was the one holding the loudspeaker.

“Citizen, you’ve given us no choice.” he said, before placing the loudspeaker down. He tapped twice on the rear of the humvee’s cabin, then hopped over the bed of the truck to the street, bracing himself with one hand. Both side doors swung open and three more ZCA agents spilled out on to the street and ran in the direction of the searchlight. They carried black poles in their hands.

I snuck closer, holding my breath and watching every step. I had to see what was going on.

Moments later I looked up and they had two guys in custody, rope wrapped around their torso. The first agent ran ahead toward the back of the humvee and unlocked the steel cage. The other three followed, pushing the prisoners from behind, and stuffed them into the cage.

I was maybe 50 yards behind  when the engines revved and the ZCA agents re-boarded the humvee. I could see the prisoners reaching out of the cage towards them as they passed on either side, pleading their case.

The truck passed under a street lamp as it drove off and I could see that their hands were gray and filthy. The prisoners weren’t curfew violators, they were zombies.

The truck turned down 9th street heading south and disappeared. I did what you’d expect: I pissed my pants a little, then ran after it.

I turned right down 9th St., but I could see at least four of the ZCA humvees driving towards downtown, so I decided to take my chances and ducked into the alley. I made my way downtown, dodging trashcans and rats. Things were quiet. I hate the quiet. My heart was kicking into overdrive to keep my feet going at the same pace as my brain.

Curfews

Mayor Diggs

The Z.C.A.

Zombies

Me

Curfew

Zombies

Curfew

Zombies

The old Convention Center

Fences

Zombies

Fences

Cages…

“…The old Convention Center…” I blurted out as I stopped dead in my tracks at the base of the alley. I was looking out over the fenced off old Convention Center site that I’d walked past just hours ago on my way home from the office. It was flooded with stadium style lights. There were Feds everywhere.

I hugged the wall and watched. The humvee that I’d seen rounding up the zombies was in a line of identical trucks. They were driving into a holding bay at the north end of the fenced off site, unloading their cargo. “Jesus God!” I whispered. “They’re rounding up all the Zs and dumping them inside!”

Trucks lined were lined up 15 deep, all with zombies in their metal cages, all being unloaded into this giant pen. I couldn’t tell how many there were.

I noticed a fire escape ladder on the other side of the alley, so I grabbed it down and pulled myself up to get a better vantage point. I climbed softly, the rusty metal grates were grinding under my sneakers with every step. From roughly the third floor up I could feel the wind in the air. The temperature was dropping and I could feel each drop of sweat evaporating on my face.

From my perch, I felt like a hapless super hero, scanning my territory.

Looking out, I could see the full extent of the fenced off area. It spanned two square city blocks. There were hundreds of ZCA agents swarming around the perimeter. There had to be thousands of zombies scattered on the inside, all trying to get out.

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