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: