If New Mexico suffered a zombie outbreak, one has to wonder: Would Santa Feans even notice the difference between a group of ghouls and a family of pale German tourists?
Certainly the undead would be hard to ignore if local government failed to respond. According to a team of Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists, a zombie epidemic would overwhelm the city in half a day. Assuming bite-to-zombification takes 45 minutes—the same as snake venom completing a lap through a human circulatory system—a single infection could spread to 45,000 people and leave another 13,000 irrevocably dead within 12 bloody hours.
Three months ago, SFR set out to determine whether Santa Fe could prevent a zombie infection from expanding into a full-blown global zombie apocalypse. We began with a few assumptions: Zombies travel at approximately 1 mph; it takes, on average, three zombies to devour a single healthy human; 20 percent of Santa Fe’s population are capable of fighting off zombies (an estimate based on the number of veterans, rounded up to include law enforcement officers, martial arts students, etc.).
In addition to enlisting professional epidemiologists, SFR interviewed many emergency response officials—all surprisingly enthusiastic about our fantastic hypotheticals. The research also included the possibility of quarantine and mass evacuation—yet, in every scenario, the continent was doomed (which is why 28 Days Later Director Danny Boyle has a secure career of sequels ahead of him).
(The map of the event's spread through Santa Fe is available for download as a large .pdf: Zombie Outbreak!)
So, SFR embellished the story for the sake of the plot. Nevertheless, every character in this work of fiction, with the exception of a few anonymous zombies and peace officers, is a real person (or in one case, a real Japanese rooster) who was asked to react to a variety of zombie situations. The procedural and personal details of the story have been fact-checked for plausibility and then coaxed with often-liberal employment of poetic license. In the end, this is a work of Halloween fiction, brought to life (no pun intended) by the contributions of more than two dozen Santa Feans, each with a role to play in saving the city—if not the world:
Oct. 30, 2008
Time: 6:17 am
Location: Española Allsups
A deep, tormented guttural groan erupts in the darkness.
Ed Vasquez’ eyes snap open and he’s back at the gas pump. The raspy wail continues until Valdez turns around and reaches into the bed of his 1967 GMC pick-up and taps the pet carrier. Inside, his Shamo rooster, a 3-foot-tall prize-winner from Japanese fighting-cock stock, shuts its beak and goes back to twitching its head and kicking up wads of straw.
“That’s right, save it for the judges,” Vasquez says, as the pump clicks to a stop. Another groan breaks through the air, but this times it’s Vasquez’ own reaction to the $66 bill he just charged to his credit card.
He’s back on his way to the Chama Poultry Show for not more than 10 seconds before he’s stopping again. A pale figure in a security watchman’s uniform limps across the road, clutching at a leg wound the size of a tiger bite.
“Hey, mister! You want me to call an ambulance?” Vasquez shouts, hanging over the peeling orange panel of the driver’s side door. No answer. Vasquez dials 911 on his cell phone. The switchboard is busy.
It takes all 225 pounds, 5 feet 9 inches of Vasquez to lift the man in a bear hug; there’s no way to fit the man into the shotgun seat of his truck because his legs just won’t bend. Instead, Vasquez tips the body over, delicately, into the bed of his truck next to the rooster’s carrier.
“Hang on, guy,” Vasquez says. “We’ll get you to the Los Alamos hospital.”
At the mention of “Los Alamos,” the man springs to life, his lips recoiling in a grimace of terror that reveals a tongue swollen fat like a lump of bread dough. The security guard waves his arms so frantically Vasquez jumps back a step. The guard crooks a finger in the direction of Santa Fe.
Goodbye, Chama Poultry Show, Vasquez laments silently as he lays on the gas. St. Vincent, here we come.
Time: 6:42 am
Location: Intake, CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Medical Center
One thing that sucks, big time, about being an emergency room tech, Mike Ranft thinks to himself, is that you never know what’s going to come in the door when you’re trying to walk out of it.
Standing at the sign-in counter is a large man in his 50s. With one arm, he holds up a smaller, blood-drained patient by the waist. His other hand is clamped around the patient’s mouth. A pinkish foam runs over what looks like some sort of falconer’s mitt.
“Hey, hey, I got him” Ranft says, lifting the patient’s arm over his shoulder. “You’ve got to let go of his face. You’re going to dislocate his jaw.”
“Not until you strap him down,” Vasquez says. “Twenty minutes ago, he was as peaceful as a corpse. Stiff as one, too. Now if I let up, he’ll try to bite your face off.”
Fair enough, Ranft thinks. Together they drag the patient down the corridor toward the first open gurney.
“What’s your tattoo?” Vasquez asks, gesturing with his nose at the back of Ranft’s hand, which dangles in front of his face.
“That one’s a goat’s head,” Ranft says. “My other hand has an angel’s face.”
“Times have changed,” Vasquez says. “No way we could get away with visible tattoos at the Department of Transportation when I was your age.”
Vasquez keeps his suffocating vice grip on the security guard’s pallid face until an orderly delivers a set of leather straps. Ranft hears Vasquez mutter something about leaving for Chama.
That’s cool with Ranft—the patient’s flailing is increasing and he needs the elbow room for his examination.
Time: 7:27 am
Location: Nurses’ station, St. Vincent
The incident commander, Rick Kessler, RN, runs over Ranft’s initial observations: “Cool, cyanotic skin, no palpable blood pressure or pulse, raspy, crackling respirations at 12 per minute, O2 sat. of 50. Leg wound coagulated without assistance. Does not answer questions appropriately, responds to verbal stimuli with eye contact—‘No palpable blood pressure?’ You gotta be kidding me, Mike.”
“I would’ve written ‘zombie-like symptoms,’” Ranft says, running a hand through his spiked hair. “But I’m not sure how that would play with his insurance.”
Kessler chuckles. “There’s some kind of nasty rabies outbreak up in Rio Arriba County and Los Alamos. Two ambulances are en route here right now. Where’s the guy who brought him in?”
Shit, Ranft thinks, and races down the corridor, soles squeaking on the tile. Vasquez’ truck is still parked in the drop-off lane. Ranft spies Vasquez off in the distance kicking bushes in the parking lot. Ranft waves.
“I’ve lost my cock,” Vasquez hollers back. “You haven’t seen it, have you? It’s about 3-feet-tall standing straight up.”
Ranft stifles a smile. “The guy you brought in didn’t bite it off did he?”
“What’s that?” Vasquez asks, huffing as he stomps back up the hill. “My rooster burst clean through the side of his crate like it was crepe paper.”
Ranft dreads this part of the job, informing patients of the blood-urine-saliva-spinal tap regiment it takes to identify rabies and how even those are not 100 percent conclusive. But as he begins to speak, he’s drowned out by the Doppler effect of two wailing Los Alamos ambulances careening down St. Michael’s Drive.
The ambulance in the lead swerves wildly into the parking lot and hovers on two wheels for a long silent moment and then the second slams into its side, rolling it over. Ranft breaks into a sprint, then stops on his heels abruptly as several figures emerge from the empty windshields: hunched, limp-twisted humanoids as pale as the poor soul strapped down in Trauma Room 1.
George Romero’s entire film catalog flashes before his eyes as Ranft recognizes them for what they are: zombies. A platoon of doctors, techs, nurses and waiting-room gawkers rush blindly past him toward the crash. Ranft realizes he’s not going home this morning. He may not go home ever.
Time: 8:57 am
Location: En route to St. Vincent
In the months since her college graduation, Joyce Kwok-ne-Purley has served as the city’s emergency manager, whiling away the hours in a Bermuda Triangle of city, county and federal bureaucracies at Fire Station No. 1. Most of her effort has gone into compiling contacts, procedures and protocols into a three-inch-thick binder, which is sitting open on the passenger seat of her city-issued Crown Victoria.
When she’s being perfectly honest with herself, Purley knows Santa Fe’s puny size and relatively remote location hardly put the city in FEMA’s high-disaster-risk column. That may also explain why a 23-year-old like herself is trusted with orchestrating the entire city’s survival strategy.
Purley glances in the rear view at her passengers: The city’s public information officer, Laura Banish, bundled up in a hot pink ski jacket, runs her tongue over her new braces while she thumbs her Blackberry; Mayor David Coss sits bent-backed to keep his head from banging against the roof. Purley hopes her eyes don’t betray her excitement. As alarming as the epidemic alert from the hospital is, she can’t help anticipate the opportunity to finally prove her mettle.
She throws the transmission into park at Galisteo and St. Michael’s, which is blockaded by two sheriffs’ cruisers and Sheriff Greg Solano’s Ford Explorer.
“How did you beat us here?” the mayor asks, lifting himself from the back seat.
“We got a call from the Reporter,” Solano says
“Those reporters are fast,” Coss replies. “Zombies? You’re sure they’re not just those kids who spook tourists on the Plaza once a month?”
Solano hands the mayor a pair of binoculars. A quarter mile away, a dozen figures seem to be idling around like dementia sufferers—doctors in scrubs, patients wearing tie-at-the-back robes. One pathetic individual crawls on his elbows, trying to drag a wheel chair still strapped to his ankles.
A shriek pierces the air and the group whips around to see Banish frozen in abject horror as a grubby, bloody hand with a goat’s head tattoo reaches around her blond locks. A second hand, marked with an angel’s head, slaps against her face and fish-hooks her mouth. Then a head, crowned with spiky hair, rises up from behind and plunges teeth first into the back of her skull.
Banish and the corpse previously known as ER tech Mike Ranft, collapse to the ground. Purley, Coss and the sheriff look up from the blood puddle spreading on the ground and take in the new arrival. He’s a heavy set middle-aged man with a federales-style mustache who, with a bird-gloved hand, twists out the end of the golf putter he just embedded in the back of the zombie’s skull.
“We need to get her to the hospital,” the mayor’s voice trembles.
“I wouldn’t recommend it,” Vasquez says. “There’re at least another dozen of these things blocking the doors, and about 50 inside who are about to turn. Mike, here, was fine an hour ago.”
The sheriff suggests they blast their way through, but Coss immediately pulls rank and vetoes that option. Whatever they’ve become, these people are still citizens. There could be a cure.
Purley has never seen the mayor so furious and, well, jurisdictional. A spasm shoots up her arm and it takes her a beat to realize it’s the vibration of her cell phone. On the other end is Tim Manning, director of the state’s Department of Homeland Security—telling her she and the mayor need to be at the Emergency Operations Center so they can move from Level 3 observation to Level 2 activation.
“Seal off the area, if you can,” the mayor says to the sheriff as they pull away. ”But don’t shoot unless you have to.”
The sheriff nods and waits until the Crown Vic disappears down the road to say aloud to no one in particular, “How are we going to pull that off?”
A hundred thoughts swarm Vasquez’ head—his work on the railroad rights-of-way, his herding of poultry, the Santa Fe National Cemetery he sped past on the way from Española—and suddenly he’s having one of those moments of epiphany that only come to engineers.
“Sheriff,” he says. “I think I’ve got a plan.”
“Who are you?” Solano asks.
“Ed Vasquez, Department of Transportation.”
Time: 9:45 a.m.
Location: St. Michael’s Drive underpass
On the other end of the line, Santa Fe Undersheriff Robert Garcia is scribbling so hard, so fast, that if Solano took a breath for just a second, he’d hear a sonic boom burst through his Bluetooth earpiece.
“I want every available deputy called in. I want every former deputy, retired police officer, military veteran, buffalo hunter, Olympic javelin thrower you can think of pulled into service. They step in the door, they’re deputized. You got me? If anyone’s worried about their families, they can deposit them at the county jail. Tell ’em if they can’t avoid engagement, beanbag bullets first, live rounds only under threat of immediate harm.
“Council’s going to have a field day with me, but I want this confined to the city limits—block all major roads out. Then I want them to commandeer any large vehicle they find—big rigs, tractors, buses—no, strike that. Keep the buses handy in case we need to evacuate. I want every intersection, parking lot, drive-in blocked on St. Francis, from 285 to Cerrillos.”
A procession of fire engines and squad cars descend from the St. Francis Drive off-ramp and flip around the intersection.
“Get someone combing the Net for some intel on zombies,” Solano says. For the first time since he dialed headquarters, he pauses to listen. “Yes, zombies. OK, I don’t know if they’re zombies or not, but they’re sick, infected people and only a shot to the head will stop ’em.”
As Vasquez and Solano board the sheriff’s Explorer, the sheriff gestures for the confused firefighters to set up their hoses.
“Put this all into a plan with anything else you can think of, and make it happen as you write it. I’ll see you in 15.”
Solano drives faster than he barks orders. Vasquez watches the dashboard clock, clicking his tongue to count the seconds. Zombies or not, there’s one sure advantage the humans have over the monsters: speed. They pull off the highway after exactly eight minutes and 12 seconds.
"Hey, hold on," Solano says as Vasquez jerks the door handle clumsily with his glove. The sheriff retrieves a thumbnail-size badge from his front shirt pocket and presses it into Vasquez' hand.
"I usually give 'em to kids, but it's all I got," Solano says. "Under Section 4-41-10 of the statutes of the state of New Mexico, I hereby appoint you a special deputy. You're a 'respectable and orderly' person, right? Can't give you a firearm, though."
Vasquez smiles and lifts his putter.
EXTRA: Download Sheriff Solano's Zombie Defense Plan!
Time: 10:27 am
Location: New Mexico Emergency Management Bureau, I-25
With the grip end of his golf club, Vasquez traces a city map projected on the wall of the lobby for the Multi-Agency Coordinating Group, otherwise known as MAC.
The black rubber grip runs down the length of St. Francis, swerves briefly onto Cerrillos, then all the way down the train tracks and Guadalupe Street until the pointer stops at Santa Fe National Cemetery.
“Fenced, remote, unpopulated,” Vasquez says. “Where else would you contain the dead?”
“Right,” Tim Manning, who assumed control once Coss signed the emergency declaration, says. “We don’t have much time. Twelve hours to be exact.”
“What happens in 12 hours?” the mayor asks.
“According to LANL and private projections given to our Infectious Disease Epidemiology Bureau,” Manning says, “there won’t be anyone left to infect.”
He clicks a button on the remote control; a small red circle over St. Vincent expands to engulf the entire county.
“I don’t know if your plan’s viable,” Manning says. “But it’s better than handing it off to the Office of the Medical Investigator—managing mass fatalities is officially his responsibility.”
“Well,” Solano says. “We do need someone to lure them.”
Coss interrupts: “I’m the bait in this jurisdiction, Sheriff.”
Time: 10:34 am
Location: Santa Fe Southern Railway Depot
At Cerrillos and St. Francis, Solano swerves the Explorer off the road and speeds down the side of the train tracks. Their dust trail catches up with them as they slide to a stop outside the railway depot. Santa Fe Southern Railway President Carol Raymond emerges from the cloud.
“I hear y’all have a zombie problem,” she says.
Raymond leads the pair inside to a portable television, which she says has been playing the same clip over and over for a half hour.
KOAT Spot News Reporter Matt Grubs is standing in the intersection at San Mateo and St. Francis, explaining to the camera, with open-handed gestures and a pretty-boy smirk, that a unique case of mass hysteria is spreading in the north side of Santa Fe.
“Look, there’s the city’s spokeswoman, Laura Banish,” Grubs says. “Laura! Laura, can you explain the situation to us?”
On the small screen, the camera zooms in on Banish as she turns around, slowly. Then, like a viper, she lunges at Grubs. The picture turns on its side after the camera falls to the ground. For 15 long seconds, Solano, Vasquez and Raymond watch as Banish tears open Grubs’ belly. The zombie woman looks up, bits of entrails stuck in her braces, and that’s where the footage ends.
Solano dials his undersheriff.
“Garcia, addendum to the attack plan,” Solano says. “No officer is to defend any members of the press who choose to approach the zombies. They fend for themselves.”
Vasquez explains the plan to Raymond: They need to get trains on the tracks as quickly as possible to create a barrier between the zombie path and the Westside. If the plan doesn’t work, at least they’ll have a shot at saving half the city. They will set up their guns and hoses in the windows of the train cars. DOT Secretary Rhonda Faught is sending Rail Runner cars to the Southside. Raymond inventories what she has on hand: a dozen or so cars and engines—enough to cover the route at least as far as the St. Francis and Cerrillos intersection on the other side.
“It’ll take a few hours, but it’s doable,” she says. “By the way, what’s with the putter?”
“I thought I had an axe in the truck,” Vasquez says. “But when I looked, this was it.”
“You need to get yourself a pneumatic spike driver,” she says, hoisting up a jackhammer-like gun from behind the counter. “Let’s get to it. St. Francis help us.”
Time: 11:57 am
Location: Acequia Madre Elementary School
Ever since the call came in, Principal Bill Beecham has had the school on lockdown, all the kids hiding in corners and closets of locked classrooms outside the line of sight. That is, except for Dylann Mattes, third grader.
Dylann had hid in the bathroom, then nabbed a pair of adult scissors from the office. Now he’s watching the thing only he could recognize—the monster ripped from the pages of his own comic book—through the porthole in one of the playground forts.
Last year, Dylann participated in True Believers’ 24 Hour Comic Book Day. His contribution: a short opus titled “Zombie Chicken.” Watching the 3-foot-tall undead rooster, Dylann knows that, as its creator, he’s the only one who can stop it.
Through the domed window, Dylann waits for the rooster to turns its back and then he springs at the monkey bars. When he lands at the other end, the rooster rears its head. The cock charges and Dylann loops a figure eight through the play sets and scampers up a turquoise slide. The rooster tries to follow but, each time it hits the incline, its talons lose their grip.
Dylann launches the scissors. They spin end over end over end—and just barely miss the bird’s comb. “Dang it,” Dylann scolds himself. “That worked in the comic book.
He slides down the stairs’ handrail and leaps onto the playground’s picnic table. Holding his scissors in two hands like garden shears, he brings the blades together just as the rooster is within arm’s reach. The severed rooster’s head falls to the floor. Dylann hops down and starts to skip toward class.
Just then, the headless chicken spring back to life. By the time Dylann hears the patter of its talons, the bird has dug a claw into his ankle. Dylann shakes it off.
The back door to the school swings open and Ms. McCarthy yells at him to get inside pronto.
Knowing he doesn’t have long until he too is a zombie, Dylann shakes his head and flees into the city.
Time: 12:42 pm
Location: St. Francis and Cordova
If all is going right, phones should be ringing in every home and office in downtown Santa Fe. Before Purley left the command center, she’d drawn a polygon around the affected area and ordered the Emergency Communications Center to start the dialogic reverse 911 calls. Citizens will answer their phones and hear her voice ordering instructions to stay inside, lock the doors and keep out of sight.
Although the state assumed control when the mayor signed the emergency declaration, Purley has the most precious resource in the state: her three-inch binder. As the mayor left for his mission, she furiously called everyone—the Santa Fe schools’ emergency manager, the National Weather Service to get ticker-tape running across the city’s TV screens and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services, just in case the lines go down. She gets no answer from St. Vincent. The city shelter’s Red Cross is on its way with water, food and other emergency supplies. The major roads have been cleared of traffic. Meanwhile, Manning has activated Level 1 response and is liaising with the CDC, FEMA, DHS, EPA, even the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Reports started coming in that a handful of zombies circumvented the blockades at St. Francis and Old Pecos Trail and were diffusing throughout the communities along Galisteo and Don Gaspar. Pragmatically, Manning cancelled Coss’ order barring shoot-on-sight; any zombie outside St. Francis is a lethal target. The sheriff amassed 80 deputies and another 50 volunteers, distributed his zombie intel to a dozen four-man teams that, under Santa Fe Police Department Chief Eric Johnson’s command, are now combing the neighborhoods. Every few minutes, the report of a rifle echoes through the city. Sometimes there’s a bloodcurdling scream.
Purley is stationed in the decked-out recreational vehicle that serves as the city’s mobile command unit. In between calls, she monitors Coss’ cycling through the window. Whenever the zombies stray from the course, firefighters unleash their hoses.
“Sheriff,” she says into her cell phone. “How is Cerrillos looking?”
“Hold on,” Solano says. That’s the last she hears from him.
Time: 12:43 pm
Location: Cerrillos and St. Francis
The train cars stretch diagonally across the intersection, with gun barrels and hose nozzles protruding from every window. Guards with riot shields line the right-of-way. A few national guardsmen—there’d be more if not for the Iraq War—line the observation deck, shotguns locked and loaded.
Sheriff Solano paces the length of the barrier, stopping only when he sees Vasquez fiddling with the wheel of the caboose.
“Not bad for short notice, eh, Ed?” Solano says.
Vasquez twists slowly and clumsily whacks the sheriff in the head with the putter, then digs his teeth into his shoulder. Solano head-butts him away and draws his gun. His hand trembles, looking at his newly found, newly lost friend. Vasquez leaps.
Vasquez’ head is obliterated by the hammer end of Raymond’s spike driver.
“You owe me one, Sheriff,” Raymond says, then notices his wound. “Oh no.”
Sheriff Solano holds a finger up, then dials his undersheriff.
“Garcia, I’ve got an intel update,” Solano says into his earpiece, applying pressure to his wound with a handkerchief. “Zombies can use rudimental tools. Tell our men to watch out.”
“You all right, Sheriff?” Garcia asks.
“I’ve been bit,” he says. “I want you to put out a new order, my last order. If anyone sees me again, I want them to put a bullet through my brain.” Solano clicks off, walks to his Explorer and withdraws his laptop case.
“Where are you going?” Raymond calls out as Solano trudges away.
“To lock myself up,” he says, “and blog my last testament.”
EXTRA: Sheriff Solano's blog about becoming a zombie.
Time: 1:27 pm
Location: Santa Fe Plaza
Serene Rieke, 5-foot dynamo and punk rock hairstylist extraordinaire, could’ve sworn today was perfect for her goth look: black lipstick, thick raccoon rings around her eyes. She is a bit disappointed there’s no one downtown to freak out.
Shuffling slowly across the plaza, Rieke is firing off text messages.
Serene: where u at?
Jett: Holed up in projection room at cca. radio says zombies. where u at?
Serene: ooo. ill go there.
Suddenly, the crack of a rifle blast sends wood splintering from the Famous Carnitas cart behind her. Serene looks up to see four cops rushing toward her. Two are aiming guns at her, the others are waving torches.
“What the hell!” she shrieks.
“Oh my god, I’m sorry,” the leader calls out. “No offense, but you kinda look dead.”
“The undead don’t text,” she says, waving her phone.
“Our intel says zombies can use rudimentary tools,” he answers, before a subordinate points to a storefront across San Francisco Street. “They’re also afraid of fire. Get yourself inside, like now,” he says and follows his team, torches blazing, into the Plaza Mercado.
Rieke returns to her phone.
Serene: dude! i totally just got shot at.
She glances up, directly into the sunken eyes of an elementary schooler.
“Kid, you’re creepy,” she says and looks back at her phone, before doing a double take. “Oh, shit! You’re a zombie!”
There’s fight, there’s flight and then there’s camouflage. Serene rolls her eyes into the back of her head, lists to the side and releases her best zombie groan.
The kid tilts his head, pauses as if he doesn’t know what to make of her. Then, the phone in her hand buzzes and she can’t help but glance at it.
Jett: thats awesome!
In an instant, Zombie Dylann has clamped onto her face. As he rips away her cheek flesh, a cloud of smoke billows out from the Plaza Mercado.
Time: 2:12 pm
Location: Our Lady of Guadalupe Church
When Mayor Coss is done saving the planet, Purley reflects with a smile, he ought to consider a career as a rodeo clown. From the top of the emergency RV parked in the church parking lot, Purley watches Coss cycle in circles in front of the zombie horde, now several 100 ghoulish heads deep: waitress zombies, German tourist zombies, Mexican day laborer zombies—a true representation of Santa Fe’s metropolitan nature.
It’s not in Coss’ nature to taunt anyone, so instead he’s got a turkey whistle that seems to be working. The tricky part came when the rail line ended, but now they’ve replaced the train barrier with two convoys of empty Santa Fe Trails Buses, flanking each side of the zombie mob. They have a half mile to go.
A glint off the new statue of the Virgin prompts Purley to spend a moment in grief over her friend Banish, the young public information officer who remained so upbeat, so cheerful, even after the bike accident that sent her face first into the gravel—hence the braces. Purley thanks the Virgin that Public Works finished repaving the two dozen potholes along the length of Guadalupe.
Suddenly, Purley regrets tempting fate: The mayor cuts his last loop too sharply and the tire of his bike catches on one of the new dividers set up to prevent left turns from Agua Fria onto Guadalupe. He flies over the handlebars and lands on the curb. Before he can scramble away, a zombie senior citizen seizes his ankle and clasps a pair of dentures on the mayor’s calf.
Coss slams one of his boots square into the snarling old lady’s face. Purley swears she can read an apology on the mayor’s lips as he stands up his bike and starts to pedal again like his leg isn’t leaving a trail of blood, like un-death isn’t steadily working its way to his brain.
Over the next 45 minutes, the blood drains from Coss’ cheeks as the zombie parade follows him past the Cowgirl, past Bert’s Burger Bowl, Chopstix, Allsups and the DeVargas Center. Coss collapses just within the front gate of Santa Fe National Cemetery. The firefighting teams take over and blasts the mob, including Coss, into the center of the tombstone-studded field.
“Now what?” Santa Fe Police Chief Eric Johnson asks Purley, stroking his mustache.
“We keep Santa Fe from burning down,” she says, pointing to the massive cloud of smoke worming into the sky behind them. “Zombies I didn’t foresee, but fire—ha! It’s all right here,” she says, patting the three-inch binder.
Time: Two days later
Location: Caja del Rio
Within 24 hours, state police had evacuated 75 percent of the county and, within 12 more, the city will be empty. The Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team is just waiting for the town to stop smoldering.
Joaquin Brandi can see the fire from his 1967 Bell helicopter, a Vietnam-era chopper normally used for private aerial photography, hovering over La Bajada. Officially, he and his passenger are part of the State and Regional Disaster Airlift Plan, but they’re not exactly saving anyone. Kerry Mower, on loan from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, picks off stray zombies with a rifle.
Brandi asks over the headset whether Mower has heard about the guy who, when bitten, stripped down to his tighty whities and threw himself into the Santa Fe River. As the story goes, the guy never turned and the scientists are jabbing him with syringes around the clock to find a cure.
Brandi asks Mower whether he has heard about Gov. Sarah Palin’s call to Gov. Bill Richardson, demanding that he allow private citizens to hunt zombies from helicopters themselves, with a $75 bounty for every head. Mower says the idea of turning execution into a hobby industry makes him sick—especially if there might be a cure.
The sniper signals to hover in place. Mower thinks he saw something. A moment later, he gives the all-clear—it was just a bush.
As the helicopter putters away, the deadwood bush below begins to shake. A little boy zombie emerges, frees a strip of a lip-flesh, covered in black lipstick, from his hair and puts it in his mouth. Chewing slowly, zombie Dylann turns his dead eyes toward Albuquerque. SFR
EXTRA: Los Alamos Scientists map the spread of a Zombie Outbreak (large file!)
EXTRA: The inspirational Zombie Chicken comic by Dylann Mattes
EXTRA: McCain and Palin Respond
EXTRA: Obama and Udall Respond
EXTRA: Editor Julia Golberg learns of the Zombie Attack:
VIDEO Of the Zombie Outbreak map: