In that nether realm between sleep and awake, I could feel the warmth on my face, seeping through my eyelids and into my soul. In my dream – I decided – I was napping on the beach, maybe on a tropical island free of zombies, maybe just West Palm Beach, FL. I didn’t want to open my eyes because I knew that would kill the dream. It’s amazing what we know to be true in that moment before we wake.

Out of duty, I opened my eyes. I had no idea where I was, except I was inside a tent. The sun was strong, shining through the screen mesh at its peak. My face was hot.

“Where am I?” I said out loud, stretching out of the knot I’d put myself in overnight.

“Dude, where are you?” asked Pete.

“What? Who is that?!?!?” I spoke out, confused.

“Dude, it’s Pete. Um, are you inside the tent?” Pete asked.

“Yeah, I’m inside the tent. Where are you?”

“In your apartment man.”

I sat up and moved the golf club that I’d apparently propped up against the tent’s zipper door, which I then unzipped. Pete was staring at me from the couch in my apartment, which is where I last remember seeing them both. There was a cloud in my brain. The storm apparently passed directly over my apartment.

Exiting the tent – that I’d apparently set up in the middle of my apartment, I got flashes of the prior night.

“We did drugs.”

“Yup.”

“We played video game and drank a lot of beer.”

“Yup.”

“I drunk dialed my interns?”

“Yup.”

“How are you so sure about all this?” I asked Pete, incredulously.

“I do a lot of drugs. I’m good at it.”

I stumbled over to the bathroom and crammed a couple of Excedrin in my mouth and stuck my head under the running faucet. Yelling over at Pete, who was now standing at the window looking out, “Are there still zombies out there?”

“Yeah man, they’re all over the place” said Pete, “Shit, they’re hanging out around my truck too – do you think they can smell human?”

“Think so.” I replied.

“Well that blows, how are we going to get out of here now?”

“Don’t worry, I have a plan, remember? First, we’re going to do some re-con.”

Clean-up will have to come later. We put on our shoes and I grabbed my golf club, a stack of dinner plates and a flathead screwdriver. I motioned to the ax that Pete brought, and he picked it up. Ready? Ready.

We stood inside the front door in the lobby looking out. To the left there were 6 or so zombies surrounding the UPS truck. Across the street there was a BMW 3 series, a Ford Escape Hybrid and a Chrysler 300.

“See the 300 over there? That’s where I’m going to run. Take the plates and throw them as far as you can over past the UPS truck, then run toward me.” I announced.

“C’mon, let’s take the BMW! Or at least the SUV.”

“We can’t, we don’t have the keys.”

“You have the key for the 300? It’s yours?” asked Pete.

I just smiled and waved the screwdriver around. “We need keys for the BMW and the Ford. This is the key for the Chrysler. Trust me, I’ve seen it on YouTube…”

Without delay, I went for the door. Pete followed behind. As I ran toward the driver’s side of the 300, I heard the crash of the plates some 20 yards off.

“This better work,” I thought to myself. I jammed the flathead into the door lock as far as it would go, took a step back and kicked it as hard as I could with the heel of my shoe. The screwdriver sunk into the car door. I gave it a twist and the doors unlocked. Pete, running from the other side of the street, hopped the roof to the other side and we got in as I grabbed the screwdriver out of the door.

“Check the back seat!” Pete yelled, “I’ve seen this movie before – there’s always a zombie in the back seat!” I could feel myself about to piss my pants, but  it was just a duffel bag and my bladder calmed down.

I took the screwdriver in my right hand and jammed it into the ignition. Pete did the rest, giving it a solid whack with the head of the ax. With a twist of the handle the engine came back from the dead.

Who needs Zipcar when you have a screwdriver?

We drove downtown, Pete as the spotter, me playing Grand Theft Auto: Capitol Z Edition. I honked the horn incessantly, trying to lure as many zombies as I could into the street for us to run over. I clipped off arms, saw heads popping off, felt the Wheaties-crunch of bones as bodies were run over. Pete stuck his head out of the sunroof and took wild swings with the ax. We dispatched dozens of zombies. Eventually I slowed down and stopped honking. This wasn’t fun anymore, it was just kind of sick.

And besides, we were running out of wiper fluid.

We drove past the Trader Joe’s but it was swarming with zombies, same for the Whole Foods and Safeway. Most of the liquor stores had already been looted. Downtown D.C. was dead, as usual.

Not knowing what else to do, we started towards my office. Maybe we could get to Dr. Cadore. Maybe he knew what was going on and could help us. Maybe. Or maybe he would just shut us out and leave us for dead.

It was mid afternoon on some day of the week, and we were getting hungry. And I needed coffee.

We drove past eleven Starbucks until we found one that was empty and hadn’t been completely looted. I pulled up on the curb right to the front door and Pete rolled down his window to test the door. It was unlocked! I pulled the car back and forth until there were just a few inches between the car and the door, and we climbed out the window and into the Starbucks.

“God I love that smell!” I exclaimed. We did a quick perimeter of the store and confirmed it was empty. I grabbed a paper bag and started throwing all the cookies and nuts and pastries inside. I almost grabbed the latest Nora Jones album, but figured that wasn’t even worth free.

“What’ll you have Pete?” I asked as I went around the counter to the giant Ferrari of an espresso machine. I had no idea how to use it, it looked harder to turn on than my ex-girlfriend. It had more knobs and levers and buttons than a space ship. Before he even had time to answer I called out, “How about a can of iced latte with a shot of instant coffee powder?” It’ll have to do.

As we were about to jump back into the passenger window, a large military transport sped by. On it were those three letters: Z.C.A. “Duck!” I yelled in a whisper. They didn’t see us, but in its wake followed a small pack of lumbering Z’s.

“Let’s get the crap out of here!” Stated Capt. Obvious.

We hopped back in the car and screwdrove it down the street in the direction the ZCA truck had passed. Three blocks later I stopped short and my jaw dropped.

Pete turned to ask, but no words came out.

“That,” I replied, “is the containment site where the ZCA rounded up all the zombies before the second outbreak.”

We crept forward. There were half a dozen armored ZCA vehicles at the near end of the fenced in containment site in a barricade. Agents clad head to toe in Kevlar were marching back and forth, dumping the contents of large plastic bottles into the top of a tanker truck.

There was an opening in the fence, but zombies weren’t rushing out, they were filing in.

I nudged the car forward, hand on the shifter, ready to kick it in reverse if we were spotted.

From the side of the tanker extended a long arm over the containment site from which a long hose was attached. Red fluid was being pumped out into troughs on the other side of the fence. The large plastic bottles they were dumping in looked like the bottles of antibiotics I’d seen in Cadore’s lab.

“What’s going on man?” Pete mustered.

“They’re medicating them – feeding them antibiotics. They are trying to cure the infection.”

“Crazy man,” Pete said in astonishment.

“I know what you mean.”

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