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Easter01's Father Michael's Saga

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szanne7000
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Postszanne7000 on Tue Mar 07, 2017 2:08 am

Decisions, decisions...

happypopcorn happypopcorn happypopcorn



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Easter01
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PostEaster01 on Tue Mar 07, 2017 3:44 pm


THE ZOMBIE EXPERIMENT
A Father Michael Story
by Joanne and Richard Easter (c) 2016



Part 6

The ambulance pulled into the service entrance at the rear of the eastern wing of the hospital. Marie Rose asked the driver to wait while she went inside and brought back a hospital gurney. The two men loaded her husband’s body onto the gurney, and offered to take it inside for her, but she declined their assistance, thanking them for their kindness. She draped a sheet over the body and pushed it inside.

She easily maneuvered the cart down the long, brightly lit hallway, past the double doors to the morgue, until she came to the entrance to her research lab. The sign on the door read, “Cryotherapy.” She entered a number code on the security panel for the electronic door lock, and when the door glided open pushed the gurney inside, flipped on the lights and locked the door behind her. She needed to hurry, for time was critical.

Along one side of the room were two stainless steel chambers that resembled upright freezers, but were capable of producing extremely cold temperatures using liquid nitrogen. Each unit was divided into two compartments, one capable of generating temperatures down to minus sixty degrees Celsius, and the main unit chilling the interior from minus 120 to minus 160.

Three years ago, she had received a grant from the Ainsworth Foundation to establish this laboratory to conduct experiments for new applications of whole-body cryotherapy. Although still somewhat controversial and not without risk, the technique had already been shown to provide significant benefits in alleviating symptoms in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. There was also some indication for improvement of long-term survival. In a typical treatment, the patient, clad only in underclothes, was exposed to just a few minutes of extreme cold.

Marie Rose prepared her husband’s body by removing his clothing and then securing him firmly to the gurney with several straps from his chest down to his ankles. When at last everything was ready, she lovingly stroked his cheek and leaned down to kiss him on the lips. “I will bring you back, my love,” she whispered.

Moving Ayuba into the unit would be a very difficult task for someone of her slight build, but she had no choice; there was literally no time to waste. For every minute that passed before she could get him frozen, the condition of her husband’s body would continue to degrade. She rolled the gurney over to the door of the chamber, and then carefully collapsed the legs so that it now lay flat on the floor. The small woman took a deep breath and then, seizing the front edge of the cart, with all her strength struggled to heave it into an upright position, gasping with the exertion necessary to stand it on end. This accomplished, she rested for just a moment, then walked it, pivoting it corner by corner, inside the chamber and leaned it against the back wall. She took one of the straps and secured it into place, and then closed the magnetically secured door.

Marie Rose powered up the chamber and waited impatiently for the temperature to drop to the lowest possible level, for the main unit. She watched the digital readout on the front of the chamber fall to a point equivalent to the surface temperature of the planet Saturn and, satisfied that it was working correctly, went over to her desk and collapsed into the chair, exhausted. She had done all she could do for now. She was going to need some help, and she knew just who she must call. She looked at the wall clock; it was a little after four-thirty in the morning, too soon to drag her brother-in-law out of bed with the grim news that his beloved older brother had been murdered. Ayuba was safe in the cryogenic chamber for now. More than anything else, she needed a shower, and a cup of coffee, because there was still much to do and people she would need to see. The clothes she wore were ruined, torn and covered in blood, but fortunately she had several pairs of scrubs stashed in her lab.

Thirty minutes later, still worn out from the evening’s ordeal but feeling cleaner and a little fresher, she returned to the lab. After checking the dials on the cryo unit, she made a pot of coffee and sat down at her desk. She checked the clock again. A little after five, still too early to make the call. She leaned back in her chair and sipped gratefully from the cup, forcing herself to think about the problem from the point of view of a medical professional rather than a grieving wife. What had inspired her during the ambulance ride to the hospital was the observation that her husband’s body reflected a man in otherwise perfect health, in whom the spark of life had been abruptly terminated by loss of blood. Neither she nor anyone else knew exactly what constituted that spark of life. Could it be possible to somehow restore that spark to a body?

Repairing the knife wound in the artery would be a relatively straightforward procedure, as well as replacing the lost blood. It was the complications resulting from the passage of time that would pose difficulties. With every minute that passed in which cells were deprived of oxygen, a condition known as hypoxemia, brain cells deteriorated. This was why near-drowning victims who were resuscitated after more than about five minutes were often brain-damaged, the time largely dependent upon the age of the victim and the temperature of the water. Her husband’s brain had been without oxygen for several hours, a point which greatly concerned her.

Another potentially very serious problem was associated with the freezing process. During freezing, water within and between cells forms ice crystals that can severely damage the cells. Research had shown that this problem can be alleviated, at least for individual cells or small tissue samples, by either a very slow, controlled rate of freezing, on the order of one degree Celsius per minute, or by a nearly instantaneous or “flash” freezing. She had done the best she could with the equipment she possessed, and could only hope that she could restore the damaged cells. From what she had read in the scientific and medical journals, there was some promising research in using stem cells to regenerate damaged brain tissue.

None of this would matter if she could not somehow find a way to restore that mysterious, elusive spark of life.

The minutes ticked by slowly. She drummed her fingers on the desktop as she waited. When the hands on the clock read six a.m., Marie Rose decided to make the call. She picked up the phone and dialed the number of her brother-in-law, Imasu. It rang and rang for a very long time, until at last a very sleepy, somewhat grouchy voice answered.

“Imasu,” she said quietly. “I have some terrible news. I need you to come see me at the hospital right away.”

There was a long pause on the other end. “Is it about Ayuba?” he said at last. “Is he hurt?”

“He is here at the hospital. You need to come now. Come straight to my lab in the basement, you know how to find it.”

Imasu arrived within half an hour, and she broke the news to him as gently as possible, and then, taking a deep breath, showed him Ayuba’s body in the cryo unit. He broke down at the sight of his murdered brother, and collapsed to his knees, shuddering with great sobs breaking forth. Imasu adored his older brother, and would grasp at any straw she might offer that might bring him back. Educated as an engineer, he had worked for a while in the oil fields of the Shell Petroleum Company of Nigeria and then followed his brother to Britain, arriving two years after his sibling. With his background, Imasu had been able to obtain employment teaching mechanical and electrical engineering at Queen Mary’s. Now he would help her in what had become her life’s work.

Neither her lab nor the cryotherapy unit were suitable for long-term storage of Ayuba’s body, so Imasu had managed to locate a space in which to set up a separate facility, far below the streets of London in an abandoned tunnel of the London Underground. During the twentieth century, the subway system had constantly been rebuilt and redirected and there were many of these unused spurs beneath the city, if one knew where to look. It had taken a little time, but consultation of old city plans and discreet inquires among the homeless population had finally led Imasu to a space he felt would be suitable and could be made secure against intrusion. He had carefully studied the design of the cryotherapy units in her lab, and built a much sturdier version in the tunnel, and had located a cable from which they could secretly tap into the power grid of the city. Imasu had also installed an electrical generator so they could be sure to preserve Ayuba’s body even in the event of a city power failure.

Marie Rose needed bodies to experiment upon in the quest to return the spark of life to a corpse, for she was certainly not going to attempt anything with her husband’s body until she had the technique perfected. She was able to purloin a steady but limited supply from her own institution. It had been a simple matter to befriend Walter Williams, head of the Pathology department, and sneak a peek as he typed in the password to his computer. She became familiar with the schedule of the security guards that rather indifferently patrolled the lower levels of the hospital, and could enter the morgue – which was never locked – after hours and alter the records of bodies received. She needed bodies that had not been autopsied, were relatively young and in more-or-less good condition, and this need was answered from the ranks of the unclaimed bodies, mostly indigents who had inadvertently extinguished their own lives through drug overdoses or by exposure during the winter months. She simply altered the records to make it appear as though the bodies had been sent on to the medical school for students to practice upon, or had been taken to a potter’s field for burial in unmarked graves.

Her friends and colleagues had been sympathetic about the loss of her husband, and admired her “stiff upper lip” attitude as she bravely carried on in his absence. She had informed those who inquired about the funeral arrangements that she intended to have Ayuba cremated, as he had wished, and that the funeral would be a private affair. She thanked them sincerely for their friendship and concern. Doctor Harris had sent her the death certificate a few days after the incident. She had purchased an appropriate urn and loaded it with a few pounds of sand and wood ashes, and established it in a place of honor in the living room of her home, to show to visitors. No one seemed especially curious that Ayuba’s body had never again been seen after the night of the attack.

Month after month had passed, her husband lying frozen in the cryogenic chamber, as she tried without success to find a way to reanimate a body from which life had fled. If only she could discover the secret, not only could she restore her husband, but what a medical breakthrough it would be! The conquest of death itself! Yet the essence of that vital spark of life eluded her grasp. All her scientific and medical knowledge, all of her skill as a doctor, had failed her.

There had been only one thing left to Marie Rose. She had been forced to return to her roots, to tap into the folk knowledge and culture of her native land. To a Haitian, the idea that the dead could walk again was not at all preposterous.

She turned away from the brightly lit chamber and walked to the door of the room. Pausing at the threshold, she looked back. I will not fail you, my beloved, she thought.

Leaving the spotlights burning, for she could not bear to leave her husband in the dark, Marie Rose passed through the doorway and carefully shut and locked it behind her.


THE ZOMBIE EXPERIMENT
continues with Part 7
coming soon




Easter01's The Father Michael's Saga can be found: Here

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Postcroiduire on Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:13 pm

omgtext



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Samantha61
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PostSamantha61 on Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:14 am

lol Croi..Joanne is awesome isn't she..I just love, love her stories..and can't wait for the next new installment..

I am Joanne's biggest fan f


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szanne7000
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Postszanne7000 on Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:36 am

Is that your name, Easter? Joanne??

(I learn something new every day... :D )

And this is where it begins getting even better....



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Easter01
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PostEaster01 on Wed Mar 08, 2017 4:53 am

Suzanne,

I guess it is time for me to put my name in my profile.

Easter01

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szanne7000
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Postszanne7000 on Wed Mar 08, 2017 5:01 am

:D

I like calling people by the names they want to be called...

If you prefer Easter - I'll keep calling you that <3



Thank you, Crissi, for my beautiful signature <3
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Easter01
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PostEaster01 on Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:23 pm

Suzanne,

I like both names. So, it's cool. I have no idea why I put off updating my profile. Maybe, it's because it's an easy thing to do and it only takes a couple seconds. That sounds like me. thlol

Easter01

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PostEaster01 on Wed Mar 08, 2017 7:38 pm


THE ZOMBIE EXPERIMENT
A Father Michael Story

by Joanne and Richard Easter (c) 2016



Part 7

The abandoned subway tunnel was one of many such that had been hastily converted into bomb shelters more that seventy-five years ago during the bombing blitz of London by the German Luftwaffe. In these deep-level shelters, which lie mostly beneath the modern London Underground systems, thousands of people huddled during the bombing raids of World War Two. The tunnels and station platforms had been lined with row after row of bunk beds and cots, and equipped with cafeterias, restrooms, and medical aid posts for the frightened people listening to the rumble of explosions overhead. Access to the shelters had been through concrete bunkers resembling public toilets; inside, a spiral staircase led to safety underground. Many of the shelters could also be accessed from the active tunnels of the London Underground train system, the openings bricked up after the war and the long dusty corridors mostly forgotten.

A few of the old bomb shelters were now being restored as tourist attractions, to give visitors a peek at a fascinating chapter in the history of the city. As an engineer, Marie Rose’s brother-in-law Imasu had become involved in the restoration project and so had become familiar with the both the sites selected for development and those which were considered unsuitable and would be left to molder away in the darkness. Quite a bit of research had been involved, just to identify the locations of the long-abandoned sites. The particular shelter that he had selected to renovate and equip as an underground medical laboratory for Marie Rose was associated with an old Underground station that had been shut down even before the war. Taking advantage of the unlimited access to the tunnels granted to him by the city, Imasu had cleared away all of the debris and left-over artifacts from the war era, and brought in, a little bit at a time, literally truckloads of advanced scientific and medical equipment.

Setting up the lab had been frighteningly expensive. Not only had she required a great deal of high-end analytical equipment, she had also needed to set up several more of the cryogenic chambers to preserve the bodies she was attempting to revive in a manner that then could be applied to her husband. Marie Rose and Ayuba, as two successful professionals, had managed to tuck away a substantial amount of liquid assets during their life together, and each had been insured with million-dollar life insurance policies. The equipment and supplies needed for the lab had burned through nearly all of it.

She had not yet given up altogether upon the possibility that the solution to her husband’s revival ultimately lay in modern medical science, but it seemed to lie beyond her grasp. For months she had labored, conducting experiment after experiment upon the fresh cadavers obtained at such great risk, all to no avail. Her dear husband still lay dead and frozen in what really amounted to little more than a high-tech coffin.

Early in January, after yet another failure, she had slumped into her chair in despair. It wasn’t working. She could not do this. She wasn’t smart enough, wasn’t skilled enough, to figure it all out. She held her head in her hands and wept.

After a while, she dried her eyes and made herself a pot of tea. Her thoughts turned back to her childhood in Haiti. If ever there was a place without hope, it was her native country, one of the most impoverished regions in the world. The average income for Haitians was only about $250 per year, less than a tenth of the average for other nations in Latin America. Only about half of the population was capable of writing their own name. Yet she had escaped the poverty trap, partly because of a loving father who knew that education would be her only way out, and partly because of an English couple who made that dream possible.

Her father, Jean Claude Saint-Just, had been one of only a handful of physicians in the city of Cap Haitien, on the northern coast; her mother had died shortly after her birth. Jean Claude had doted on his only child. Some of her earliest memories were of sitting in his lap, her head leaning back on his chest, as he read to her from one of the books in his small library. He had shown her the world, through those books. His income as a doctor in Haiti was but a fraction of that made by doctors in other countries; many of his patients paid their bills with a brace of chickens or a goat or pig, and some could not pay at all, but he turned no one away. Papa had just sufficient means to enroll her in the Haitian Academy, a private, co-educational boarding school in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince that offered an international education for the best and brightest.

She graduated from the Academy in May of 1998 with the equivalent of a high-school education, and was wondering how it could be possible for her to attend college. In mid-September of that year, a tropical storm formed in the spawning ground just southwest of the Cape Verde Islands in the eastern Atlantic, and grew in power and ferocity as the trade winds carried it west into the Caribbean. Hurricane Georges, as it was termed by meteorologists, was among the most destructive storms of the decade, and although it had declined in power somewhat as it crossed the island of Hispaniola, it still caused a great deal of destruction. The hurricane was directly responsible for more than 400 deaths in Haiti, and destroyed most of the agricultural crops of the country. Port-au-Prince was spared the worst, but the northern section suffered greatly. The entire country’s power supply was shut down, and contaminated drinking water caused many people to fall ill.

It was not the worst storm to hit the island nation. Haiti’s location in the Caribbean meant that it was straight in the pathway of many of the Cape Verde hurricanes, and there was a long history of destruction. The worst storm in her memory, worse in fact than Georges, had been Hurricane Gordon in 1994, when she had been fourteen years old. Gordon had killed more than 1,000 Haitians.

In the aftermath of Georges, her father had plunged into the chaos, opening a temporary clinic at Cap Haitien where he and the handful of local doctors treated scores of injuries and provided immunizations against waterborne diseases. Marie Rose was right at his side, cleaning and bandaging wounds, passing out antibiotics and carrying out any other task that would help her father during this crisis. Helping people in this way was, to her, the most important thing she had ever done in her young life. The international community also responded to the Caribbean disaster by sending relief supplies and workers to help the citizens dig out from the storm. The poorest country in the hemisphere before the storm, the Haitians needed everything; food, clean water, shelter, medicine, electrical power. An international team from Doctors Without Borders flew into the country on the day after the storm and volunteered to help Jean Claude at his makeshift clinic. Young and tireless, Marie Rose quickly became indispensable to the exhausted medical workers.

There were two English physicians on the Doctors Without Borders team, Harold and Jeanette Smithers from London. Not having great expectations as to the skill level of the local medical community, they had been greatly impressed, not only by her father Jean Claude, but also by the energy, compassion and obvious intelligence of his daughter. During some of the few lulls in the parade of sick and injured, they engaged her in apparently casual conversation to gain a better appreciation of her educational level and of her character, as well as her plans for the future. They looked meaningfully at each other when Marie Rose expressed her heartfelt desire to, some day, become a doctor like her father.  The Smithers were obviously impressed, since before they left Haiti they approached Jean Claude with a proposal. They offered to sponsor her further education in England, to send her to a London university with a good pre-med program and to continue supporting her through a medical degree.

Her father was flabbergasted at first, and then overjoyed by the wonderful opportunity this represented for the child of his heart. He thought about Marie Rose’s mother, now many years in her grave, and knew that she would want this for her daughter. Marie Rose, on the other hand, was less enthusiastic about the prospect of leaving her family and the only home she had known for her entire life. Jean Claude sat down with her in their home on that same evening and asked her to consider what this offer could mean for her future. She had a brilliant mind; anyone who knew her could tell this, and even the English doctors had recognized the quality of her intellect. Haiti could offer her only very limited opportunities to achieve her goals and to improve the quality of her life. An offer like this would almost certainly never come again. She could return to Haiti to practice, if that was what she wished to do. Leaving the island would not close a door, but instead throw it wide open.

In his opinion, from having worked with them closely during the last few weeks, the Smithers were good people and could be trusted. Their reputation in the international medical community was impeccable. So it was, then, that Marie Rose packed the few possessions and keepsakes she wished to take with her, and after a tear-filled leave-taking, boarded a plane for London, England. She had come to love the great city and its people, and was now a naturalized citizen of Britain.

Her husband was dead. Medical science could not take her where she wanted to go. The only other path available to her meant that she would have to leave behind the world that she knew best and venture into a strange and unfamiliar realm of, what for lack of a better term, she could only describe as sorcery or magic. All of her training as a scientist and doctor had instilled within her an automatic suspicion of anything that could not be demonstrated scientifically, a rejection of anything that hinted of the supernatural. But, growing up in Haiti, she knew what she had seen. The dead walking. Since coming to England she had been able to more-or-less compartmentalize her mind, to lock away the cultural beliefs of her native land behind a mental wall and leave them unexamined.

Science believed that there was an explanation for the zombie phenomenon, that the so-called zombies were not really dead but humans who had been drugged to the point where the signs of life had been suppressed beyond easy detection, pronounced dead, and later brought back as mindless slaves. Some years ago Marie Rose had read a book written by Wade Davis, the famous Harvard anthropologist and ethnobotanist, called The Serpent and the Rainbow. Davis had traveled to Haiti in 1982 to discover the truth about zombies. Led deep into the Haitian jungle, he was introduced to a bokor, or voudou sorcerer, who showed him a magical “zombie powder” said to have the power to transform people into zombies.

This mystical substance was made from certain dried and powdered plants, lizards, toads, and ground up human skull, but the most important ingredient was a deadly nerve poison, tetrodotoxin, made from the puffer fish and thousands of times more deadly than cyanide. The bokor would make up a batch of zombie powder and seek out those whom he wished to turn into zombies, secretly applying the mixture to their skin. Within minutes, the victim was paralyzed by the poison, their breathing and heartbeat reduced to the point that they would appear dead to others, although the afflicted person would still be aware of their surroundings but unable to speak or move. Taken to a hospital, the victim would be pronounced dead by a doctor. The custom in Haiti is to inter bodies quickly because of the tropical heat that causes rapid decay.

The bokor would then dig up the body before the person suffocated and wait for the immediate effects of the poison to diminish, and by frequently feeding crushed leaves of poisonous Jimsonweed, Datura stramonium, to the subject, was able to keep them in a dreamlike state of submissive confusion. The person had become a “zombie,” easily manipulated into serving the bokor as a slave for work in the fields or for more nefarious purposes, with no memory of its previous personality.

In this way, science believed it had the explanation for zombies.

It might even be true, in many cases. But the people of Haiti, the people she had grown up among, were absolutely convinced that zombies represented people who had been really, truly dead and had been reanimated by the use of dark magic. All of her research and experimentation had failed to determine just exactly how that vital spark of life could be reignited in a dead body. If she must suppress all of her scientific principles and turn to magic to bring her beloved Ayuba back, then magic it would be.

But she did not know how it was done. There was only one place she could get the answer. She had to go home, back to the island, back to Haiti.

Marie Rose took a cellular phone out of the pocket of her lab coat and dialed a long distance number. Her uncle Patrice Saint-Just, her closest living relative in Haiti, would be her best starting point for the journey she must make into the culture of voudou. He was now head of the family, since her father had passed away five years ago, and she wrote to him on a regular basis. Papa, as an educated man and a doctor, would not have approved of what she intended to do, but Uncle still honored the old ways, was a devoted follower of the voudou religion. He might not approve of her quest, but he would understand, and would help her to locate a bokor.

Uncle Patrice had been delighted to hear from her, and agreed to pick her up at the airport. She had not explained the purpose of her visit on the phone, but had simply told him she would like to come home for a week or so and asked if she could stay with him. She knew before asking that she would be welcome; this was her family. It took her the rest of the day to complete arrangements for the trip. She had to let the hospital know that she would be out of town for a while, to assure that her patients would be properly cared for during her absence. Marie Rose spoke with Imasu about caring for her husband’s body and the lab equipment, and he assured her that he would look after everything properly while she was gone.

She boarded a British Airways flight at Heathrow at a little after 2:00 p.m. the next day. The flight to Miami International took about nine and a half hours. She was able to get a little sleep at a hotel near the airport during the long layover before the flight to the Hugo Chavez International Airport in Cap Haitien took off shortly before noon, landing after a two-hour skip over the Caribbean Sea.

THE ZOMBIE EXPERIMENT
continues with Part 8
scroll down


Last edited by Easter01 on Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:58 pm; edited 1 time in total




Easter01's The Father Michael's Saga can be found: Here

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Samantha61
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PostSamantha61 on Wed Mar 08, 2017 7:54 pm

watermelon watermelon I can't wait till these are redone..and we get a new story for this.. watermelon watermelon


Thank you so much Crissi, it's beautiful
~hugs and smiles my dear, dear BFF's~
I am so proud of all of you..
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croiduire
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Postcroiduire on Wed Mar 08, 2017 8:02 pm

All but "A Painter's Vision" are new to me, and I am enjoying them very much.



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Easter01
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PostEaster01 on Wed Mar 08, 2017 8:04 pm

hugsmilie

You all are so wonderful and encouraging. I'm posting everyday to get all my older stories on site. Then I'll be posting the next part of the saga which is all new.

Joanne








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Samantha61
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PostSamantha61 on Wed Mar 08, 2017 8:22 pm

I love rereading all of your stories over and over..and as you post them I am reading them again..and then I will have to reread them when the new stories come out..well worth the wait.. cutehug is it time the new ones yet impatient giggle


Thank you so much Crissi, it's beautiful
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I am so proud of all of you..
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croiduire
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Postcroiduire on Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:12 pm

When I first read "A Painter's Vision" my take-away was, "This, this right here, is the way EA should have done ghosts."



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Easter01
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PostEaster01 on Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:44 pm

thau

croi,

What a wonderful comment. omg!  "A Painter's Vision" is my favorite story. In a way don't all artists see something in their thoughts when they paint, or design clothes, or create amazing buildings, or even write a piece of beautiful music.

Thank you so much.

Easter01

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croiduire
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Postcroiduire on Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:45 pm

Absolutely, and also, how much we are a product of the visions that shaped us, the talents of those who produced us. How much was Sean influenced subconsciously by his grandmother's portrait (and, I presume, other paintings) that had been constants, moulding his taste, for his entire life? It's not just the genes, it's the habits and patterns, like threads on the back of a tapestry that suddenly surface again far from where they began.



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Easter01
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PostEaster01 on Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:57 pm


THE ZOMBIE EXPERIMENT
A Father Michael Story
by Joanne and Richard Easter (c) 2016



Part 8

After deplaning at the newly refurbished and modernized terminal building, Marie Rose was astonished and overjoyed when she was mobbed by a noisy and enthusiastic crowd of people whom she recognized as her relatives. The group parted as an elderly man in a white shirt and broad-brimmed straw hat made his way from the perimeter to her side. She felt tears welling in her eyes at the sight of this kind-hearted old man.

“Uncle….” She found herself unable to speak.

Timoun, li se konsa bon yo wè ou,” he said in Haitian Creole, Child, it is so good to see you. Patrice stepped forward to enfold her in his thin but still so strong arms. She leaned her head against his shoulder, sure now that everything would be all right. Although Uncle was older and grayer, some things had not changed at all. She had not seen him since 2010, when she had come to Haiti as a temporary volunteer with a Doctors Without Borders team in the aftermath of the earthquake that had devastated the island. She had been appalled by the extent of the damage and the suffering of her countrymen, but it was somehow satisfying to be able to close the circle in this way. She owed so much to the Smithers, for they had changed her life.

It was not until the next day that the crowd of cousins and other well-wishers had dissipated and she was able to sit down alone with Uncle over coffee. He listened intently without interrupting as she told him everything that had happened. Tearfully she recalled for him the events of that terrible evening when Ayuba had been killed by the two muggers, and when the emotional storm had passed, she found herself again consoled by the warmth of his arms. At last, she sat back and dried her eyes, recollecting her composure, and took a deep breath. “Uncle, I want to bring him back. I need to know the secret of the bokors.” She spoke haltingly in the Creole patois; the language of her childhood was slowly coming back after so many years of disuse.

Patrice’s expression did not change, but he picked up his cup and took a drink of the strong Haitian coffee, pausing for a long moment before replying. “Dear child, this is not a good thing that you want to do. Your grief has clouded your mind. The loa, the spirits, have the power to do this, but Ayuba would not be the man you remember.”

“I am a doctor, Uncle. If the loa can bring him back, maybe science can restore the man I loved. I have to try…he was everything to me, and I am lost without him.”

He continued to gaze at her sadly, and she felt compelled to explain. She described how she had preserved her husband’s body in perfect condition, frozen by extreme cold, in a special chamber, hoping to find a way to restore him. Now that all her scientific and medical knowledge had failed, her last hope resided in the power of the spirits.

Patrice set the cup down on its saucer and sighed. “Very well, Marie Rose. If you must do this thing, then you should have the aid of the very best bokor in Haiti. I must tell you, however, that he is a very eccentric old man and bad-tempered at times. He may well refuse to help you.”

“Please, Uncle.”

“Let me send a message to him to find out if he will even see you. It will not take long. He lives in the forest not very far from the city.” He stood up and went to the door of his shabby if comfortable home, put his fingers in his mouth, and whistled up a grandchild. He spoke briefly to the boy, a barefoot child of about ten years, who ran off immediately. Patrice returned to his armchair, sat down and took up his coffee cup again. “We will hear when we hear, perhaps tonight, perhaps tomorrow. Now let us talk about happier things. Tell me about this London where you live. Is it true that there are ten million people living there? I cannot imagine such a thing!”

No word came back that night, but in the morning the boy returned to the house and engaged in a quiet huddled conversation outside the front door with his grandfather. When they were done, the old man gave him a coin, patted him fondly on the head and sent him on his way. Patrice came back into the house and sat down with Marie Rose, who was nestled into an overstuffed armchair nursing her morning coffee.

“The bokor has agreed to see you this afternoon,” he informed her. “But you must bring him gifts. It is customary.”

“Gifts? What sort of gifts?” she wondered.

“He asks for a bottle of rum, and some cigars. These are offerings to the loa.” He hesitated. “He also says you must wear a pretty dress.”

At her startled look, he smiled reassuringly. “Ah, do not worry, niece. Janjak Pampil is a very old man. I think he must be a hundred, at least. He just likes to look at pretty girls.”

Marie Rose quickly regained her momentary loss of composure. “Do you have any rum, Uncle? I can pay you back for it.”

He made a dismissive motion with his hand. “I always have some rum, but I think that for this I will fetch the bottle of Barbancourt white rum I have been saving for a special occasion. We will have to buy cigars at the market, however. I will send one of my grandsons to get them.” He thought for a moment. “Cuban would be best, I think. But they are very expensive….”

She immediately dug into her handbag and came up with some bills. “Please let me pay for it. These are American dollars. Do you think this will be enough?”

Uncle Patrice selected a couple of bills from those she offered. “American money is always welcome here. I’ll send a boy, and we can leave after lunch. It is not far.”

A few hours later, Marie Rose was seated beside her uncle as his ancient Ford pickup truck rattled through the unpaved streets of western Cap Haitien, passing block after block of weatherbeaten tin-roofed shacks crammed tightly together. There was little vegetation anywhere in the city to provide relief from the tropical sun, just an occasional palm, mango, or citrus tree thrusting above the low rooftops. The heat was oppressive; her forehead was beaded with perspiration, and she could feel a trickle of sweat running down between her shoulderblades. The cotton dress she wore, a colorful floral print, was rapidly becoming damp.

Oh, my poor people, she thought to herself as she watched the urban landscape through the rolled-down window; Uncle’s truck had no air-conditioning. She had been away for so long that she had nearly forgotten the squalor in which most of the people of Haiti were forced to live. In school she had been taught that Haiti was a rather unique phenomenon. Originally a French plantation colony in which slaves were ruthlessly exploited and abused in the production of sugar and coffee, the overlords had been overthrown by a violent slave rebellion that began in 1791 and ended in 1804 with independence from France. But Haiti had been roiled by violence ever since. The worst times in recent history were under the rule of “Papa Doc” Duvalier, president of the country from 1957-1971, whose secret police, the Tonton Macoute, had been responsible for the murder of more than 50,000 Haitians. The memories of Duvalier’s reign of terror were still strong in the country.

They left the dense corridors of the city and rolled out into the countryside to the west, the dwellings of the inhabitants becoming sparser and sparser. Patrice drove for about ten minutes down Highway 1 and then turned north up a dirt road and continued on for about two more kilometers until they entered a woodland. It was by no means a forest, for the entire region was regularly scavenged by people collecting firewood for cooking, but it was largely devoid of houses. A short while later, Patrice pulled the truck over to the side and stopped beneath the overhang of a large kassod tree whose branches were covered with sprays of attractive yellow flowers. He got out of the truck and Marie Rose did likewise, looking around her for some sign of habitation and finding none.

Patrice pulled a bandana out of the rear pocket of his baggy trousers and mopped his forehead as Marie Rose came to stand by his side, an unspoken query in her eyes. He tucked the bandana away and pointed off to the left, where she could now see the beginning of a trail that led away among the trees. “You will find the hut of the bokor up that path,” Uncle Patrice informed her. “I will wait here for you. Janjak owes me a favor, but he does not like me very much.” He reached through the window into the cab of the truck and came out with a paper bag, which he handed to his niece. “Here are the gifts. Do not fear him. After all, he is just an old man like me.”

She looked at him, then peered apprehensively at the path, and then squared her shoulders and started off following the trail up the hill, clutching the paper sack. He reached into his pocket and pulled out an orange, and began to peel it with his thumbnail as he watched his niece disappear among the trees.

It was a short walk, the buzz of insects loud in her ears. A green Hispaniolan parrot clung to a branch just above the level of the trail and peered inquisitively at her, moving its head back and forth. At last she came to a clearing among the trees in which a small hut squatted, no more than five meters square and sheltered by the rusty tin roof ubiquitous to nearly every dwelling on the island.

The door was open, or rather, as far as she could tell, there was no door at all, and she could not see past the blackness to view the interior. She took a deep breath, walked up to the hut, and stepped across the threshold.

The inside was dimly lit by about a dozen short, fat candles arranged in a circle about three meters in diameter. Some of them must have been scented, for the incongruous odor of pine came to her nostrils, making her nose twitch. Beneath the pine was a sickly-sweet smell like decaying meat. She still could make out little detail, so she stood just within the entry, allowing her eyes to adapt to the low light.

She could now see that the circle of candles was laid out around the perimeter of a braided rug, and in the middle of the circle was the thin figure of a man seated cross-legged. The flickering light from the candles revealed that he was barefoot, wearing threadbare jeans cut off just above the knee, and a faded black tee-shirt featuring the hideously decorated visages of the rock band Kiss. She could see that his face was weathered and furrowed like the bark of an ancient tree, his white hair wispy and hanging down past his shoulders. As her vision adapted, she could see that, in the darkness outside the circle of light, there was a mattress along one wall, filled with a snarl of blankets and old clothes. There was no other furniture in the hut, but along the walls was an assortment of pots and containers whose contents she could not discern. Her eyes widened as she suddenly recognized another person in the room, standing silent and motionless in the dimness of one corner.

The old man on the rug spoke suddenly in a high, querulous voice, and she jumped. “Come, girl, sit with me,” he invited, and leaned forward to pat the rug directly before him. Marie Rose stepped forward into the circle and lowered herself to the floor. When she had arranged herself facing him, she was surprised to see that his eyes looked past her without seeing. The old man was blind.

As if reading her thoughts, he spoke again. “I do not need eyes to see you, girl of the city. I can smell your scent, hear the rustle of your dress. Did you bring the offerings for me?”

Wordless, her hand trembling slightly, she thrust the bag out to him, and he took it from her and opened the top to feel inside. He nodded to himself, and pulled out the box of Bolivar Libertador cigars from Cuba. He held them up to his nose and inhaled deeply, and then set them down to one side. He reached in again and extracted the bottle of clear Barbancourt rum. “Nice, very nice,” he said, speaking more to himself than to her, and then raised his voice. “Girl!” It was a command. The barely visible figure in the corner came forward now and knelt beside him. Marie Rose could now see that it was a little girl, perhaps six years old, but she did not look like a normal little girl. Her face was gray and the skin was sloughing off in places, and her eyes were murky white pools and devoid of emotion. Zombie? Marie Rose thought, and was horrified at the idea. The old man handed the bottle to the girl, and with a twist of the wrist she opened the lid and handed it back to him. The old bokor raised the bottle to his lips and took a long drink, smacking his lips, and then put the cap back on and set it on the floor beside the cigars. “Sit,” he said, and this time the order was directed to the little girl, who immediately dropped into a sitting position and gazed passively into the distance.

The dried-up stick of an old man wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “I am pleased with your gifts, with the respect you have shown. I am Janjak Pampil, the greatest bokor in all of Haiti. The loa speak to me, and do as I bid.” He fastened his sightless eyes upon her. “Why have you come to me?”

Before Marie Rose could utter a word, he went on. “Do you seek a love charm, to make the young men lust after you? Do you wish to curse an enemy, to afflict them with a dire and painful disease?” And now he lowered his voice conspiratorially, “Do you wish to know the secret of the voudou doll, to inflict constant pain and torment upon those who oppose you?”

Marie Rose swallowed hard, and said, in voice barely above a whisper, “I wish to learn how to bring the dead back to life.”

“Aaahhh…it is the secret of the zombie you crave!” Then, in a hard voice, he asked, “Why do you wish to do this? It is a terrible knowledge to have, and the loa always extract a payment.”

“My husband…” she stammered, thoroughly intimidated by this frightening old man.

Janjak raised a finger. “Say no more. I understand. It is revenge you seek. When he was alive, did your man beat you, leave you bruised and bleeding? Did he spend all his money on drink and leave you and your babies to hunger? Did he lay with other women, and come home stinking of their perfume? I can show you how to capture his ti bon ange, his soul, to trap it in a bottle. He will then be yours to command. He will be your puppet! At your will, he will bow, he will dance, he will eat grass out of the field!” He cackled, appreciating his own wit.

Marie Rose was shaking her head, tears flowing freely down her cheeks. “No, no, none of that! I love him! I just want him back!”

The old bokor spoke softly now. “Girl, are you absolutely certain that is what your heart desires? No matter your intent, he can never be the man he was.” He reached out without looking and seized the young girl by the chin, turning her head so that she was directly facing Marie Rose. The girl did not resist his touch. “This is my granddaughter, Anicia. She was six years old when a fever carried her away. For twenty years now, she has taken care of me, but I will soon have to let her go. You see her face? She rots.” He shook his head slowly. “The zombie is both alive and dead, and the dead flesh continues to decay. It just takes a very long time. Soon, I will have to release her ti bon ange and allow her to be all the way dead and seek the peace of the grave.

“You see, this is what is in store for your husband that you love so much. Do you think it will make you happy?” He patted Anicia on the shoulder and spoke softly to her, and the girl got up and retreated to her position in the darkness at the rear of the hut.

Marie Rose dabbed at her eyes, wiping the tears away with her fingers. She sat there, staring down at her hands in her lap, and then a great calm descended upon her. She raised her head and now spoke with confidence. “Janjak Pampil, I am a doctor, and a very good one. If your voudou magic can put the spark of life back into my husband, perhaps the science of medicine can find a way to make him whole again.”

The bokor sat without speaking, considering her words. He reached for the rum bottle again and took another drink, and then he passed it her. “Drink, girl.”

Without hesitation Marie Rose uncapped the bottle of Barbancourt and took a long drink of the white rum. It was smoother than she had expected, slightly sweet and fruity, having overtones of banana and mango. She handed it back to the voudou sorcerer without comment.

Cradling the bottle in his lap, Janjak nodded. “I have decided that I will help you. But this is dark magic you seek, girl of the city. You will need to call on the Baron Samedi to aid you, the loa of death. He will possess you, will ride you like a horse, and then he will decide, not you, if your husband is worthy to bring back from the grave.” Shaking his finger again, he cautioned her. “There is always a price to pay.”

“I will pay anything, do anything, to bring back my man.”

He looked at her with his white eyes, as if he could see straight through to her soul. Perhaps he can, Marie Rose thought.

“It is a blood price,” he said. “With the darkest magic, it is always blood.”

And then he told her what she would have to do.    


THE ZOMBIE EXPERIMENT
continues with Part 9
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Last edited by Easter01 on Sun Mar 12, 2017 11:06 pm; edited 1 time in total




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croiduire
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Postcroiduire on Fri Mar 10, 2017 12:10 am

Dance In The Graveyards

Wonderful chapter, but as a side effect, now I totally want to replace Grim with Baron Samedi in game.




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Samantha61
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PostSamantha61 on Fri Mar 10, 2017 12:57 am

That's funny Croi giggle


Thank you so much Crissi, it's beautiful
~hugs and smiles my dear, dear BFF's~
I am so proud of all of you..
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croiduire
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Postcroiduire on Fri Mar 10, 2017 2:17 am

But it fits so well! I've always suspected Grim was based on Baron Samedi anyway. Grimmy actually is a loa, that is, an intermediary between Bondye (or in game terms, the Watcher), who is not part of the world, and simkind. And Baron Samedi is the loa of death and resurrection; he can cure any mortal of any disease or wound, as can Grim (you ever notice, when a sim is saved from death, they are also healed from whatever injury or illness killed them?) When someone dies, Baron Samedi digs their grave and greets their soul, leading them to the underworld. He demands gifts for his services (and suddenly the Resurrect-O-Nomitron makes sense), and he can't resist games of chance (rock-paper-scissors, anyone?) Besides the sheer coolness of having a cigar-smoking, rum-drinking, top-hat-and-tails-wearing Reaper is irresistible!



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szanne7000
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Postszanne7000 on Fri Mar 10, 2017 2:51 am

Oh, Joanne!

OOOOOOooooo!!!!!



Thank you, Crissi, for my beautiful signature <3
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Easter01
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PostEaster01 on Sun Mar 12, 2017 11:04 pm


THE ZOMBIE EXPERIMENT
A Father Michael Story
by Joanne and Richard Easter (c) 2016



Part 9

The Dassault jet touched down at London’s Heathrow Airport early in the afternoon, having swiftly made the short hop from Lyon across the breadth of France and over the Channel. A car and driver was waiting for them and would have taken them straight to the Directorate field office in the Mayfair district had not Marcel emphatically directed the driver to take them to a hotel. The thought of trying to get some sleep in the barracks-style beds at the field office, after their overlong and exhausting day, was just not to be tolerated. Since they insisted, the driver, Victor, suggested the Millennium Hotel, which was located in Mayfair very close to the Directorate office and would just be a short walk away. They checked into two connecting rooms on the fourth floor, one for Marcel and Simone and the other for Michael, and immediately collapsed into bed without arranging for a wakeup call.

They were so tired that they slept for more than fifteen hours straight, rising in the morning at about seven-thirty. Marcel and Simone were awakened by a light rapping on the shared door between the rooms, rousing groggily to find a disgustingly cheerful Father Michael on the opposite side. “Breakfast will be here in about twenty minutes, you two,” he said, as a very ruffled-looking Marcel glared at him with murder in his eyes.

Café,” Simone called out in a muffled voice, her head still buried in her pillow. “Beaucoup, beaucoup de café.”

It was actually more than a half-hour before his two French companions came into his room, freshly showered and dressed, carrying their duffels. Marcel wore his usual jeans, topped with a gray turtleneck; his hair was still wet, and he had it slicked back to keep it out of his eyes. Simone was also in denim with a yellow cotton blouse. There was a tray of fresh fruit in the center of a small table, orange and grapefruit slices, cubed melons, and strawberries, and a plate of croissants with containers of butter and assorted jams on the side. Marcel immediately grabbed one of the croissants and began to lather it with butter and strawberry jam, while Simone more delicately made a selection from among the fruit offerings. Father Michael, dressed in his customary black and priest’s collar, had already filled his plate.

Once the edge had been taken off their appetites, they began to plan out the day. Marcel popped another strawberry in his mouth and extracted the laptop from his duffel, setting it up on the table. Simone got up and walked over to the window, pulling the drapes aside to look out at the city as it began to stir.

As Marcel waited for the computer to power up. Michael observed, “It might be a good idea first to familiarize ourselves with the general background on zombies. We were about to do so on the flight across the Atlantic, but got a bit distracted.”

Oui, bonne idée!” Marcel agreed, reaching for the coffee pot to refill his cup. “Let us see what the Directorate has to say about them. I ‘ave never run into a zombie before.” He poured for himself and then glanced at Michael, raising an eyebrow in query. When Michael declined, he shrugged and set the pot down. He used the touchpad to go through the menu to locate the non-human threat index, and selected “zombie” for edification. A document opened, and he began to skim rapidly down through it, scrolling the page down as he read.

“Would you care to share with the rest of us?” Michael asked, dryly.

“Euh? Oh, pardonnez-moi, Father!” Marcel had the grace to look embarrassed. “This is very interesting. It says that real zombies are nothing like the depictions in popular culture. They…”

At that moment Simone, who had left her position by the curtain and had been sneaking up on Marcel, doing her best imitation of a zombie shuffle, seized his head between her hands and shook it vigorously, intoning in a sepulchral voice, “Brains! I must have brains!” When Marcel turned around to frown at her she stepped back a pace and then rapped him on the head. “Oh! Mon erreur! Empty! Nothing for us poor zombies!” she exclaimed, and then jumped back as he made a half-hearted grab at her.

Marcel rolled his eyes at Michael, as if to say, What can you do? “Hmm. As I was saying,” he continued, pointedly, “The movies have it all wrong, naturellement. Real zombies do not have a craving for brains, or human flesh at all.”

“Of course not!” Simone interjected scornfully. “The zombies, they are dead things. Why would they need to eat?”

“Another thing. One of the popular fancies is that of the ‘zombie apocalypse.’ Supposedly, the bite of a zombie is infectious, and can turn a living person into a zombie, a rapidly spreading plague.”

Father Michael now weighed in on the subject. “This view of the zombie can be traced back to the 1968 American film by George Romero, the Night of the Living Dead. It is interesting that the term ‘zombie’ was never used in the film. In his original concept, he envisioned them as ghouls, the term actually used in the movie. Ghouls are another sort of creature altogether, first noted in Arabian folklore, that do have a craving for human flesh. They are quite real, but they are not zombies. The viewing public, however, decided these movie monsters were zombies, and so zombies were reinvented, Hollywood-style.”

Marcel looked at the priest suspiciously. “Mon ami, how is it that you know so much about movie monsters?”

Michael sighed. “Late-night cable television. It is an affliction, I am afraid, of those of us who live by ourselves. Now, real zombies…”

“Are dead persons who have been brought to life by a necromancer,” Marcel finished for him, having just read this on the laptop. “The walking dead are slaves to the sorcerer who reanimated them. According to this, zombies are not violent, unless they have been ordered to be so, or if one attempts to interfere with one. The Haitian people are not afraid of the zombies in their midst, they are just afraid of becoming one.”

Peuh!” Simone interrupted impatiently. “What does it matter! ‘ow do you kill them?”

Marcel held up a finger while he read from the computer. “Wait. Hmmm…this could be a problem. Zombies in the movies can supposedly be killed by destroying their brains or setting them on fire. As for the traditional zombie…this is a little weird. One is to sneak up on a sleeping zombie, fill their mouth with salt, and light a candle.”

Simone snorted, and Michael smiled. “And what does one do with a zombie that is not asleep?”

“Run, Father. Run very fast.” Marcel closed the laptop with a snap.

“I know,” Simone now said flatly. “We stab them and set them on fire and blow off their ‘eads with shotguns.”

“Whatever works,” Michael and Marcel agreed.

Michael stood up from the table. “I suppose we should check in down at the Directorate office and then head over to Scotland Yard to see this zombie they have captured. He stretched broadly, and then lifted his duffel bag off the bed. Bags in hand, they went downstairs and settled their bill, and hailed a cab out in the street in front of the hotel.

The early morning London traffic was heavy, but the field office was only a few blocks away. The Directorate office was a nondescript three-story brick building that looked exactly like every other building on the block. The three agents walked around to the back where they found a loading dock, and a door that was labeled with a small sign that identified the premises as “Medallion Imports, Ltd.” At the right of the door was the ubiquitous panel with a numeric keypad. Marcel entered the appropriate code, and it opened to allow them in.

The security measures at the field offices were less stringent than those of the home office in Lyon, but certainly adequate to bar any unauthorized entry. Passing through two more checkpoints, they came to the door of the chief of the station and were admitted without further ado. The sandy-haired man who was the sole occupant of the windowless room rose from his desk at their entry and extended a hand in welcome. “Morning. I’m Alan Martindale. I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure.”

Michael introduced himself along with his two colleagues in a round of hand-shakings, during which Martindale unsmilingly assessed his visitors. “I received an encrypted communication from the Director yesterday alerting me to your imminent arrival. I was, however, expecting to see you chaps a bit sooner.”

Marcel spread his hands in a gesture of apology. “Je suis désolé, monsieur. We very much needed a good night’s sleep before we plunged back in.”  

“Right, then.” The station chief was not amused. “You have been appraised of our situation here?”

“The Director informed us of the robbery at the medical supply house night before last. Have there been any further incidents?” Michael asked.

“Nothing that gave any indication of zombies,” Martindale admitted. “You realize, of course, that in a city the size of London there are dozens of violent crimes every day and it is not always easy to sort out which might have a supernatural element. The incident at the supply house was quite remarkable, however, in its blatant disregard for the consequences of discovery. The supernatural element was brought rather forcibly to the attention of our local constabulary. The Directorate has a good working relationship with the police in Britain, but it is strictly unofficial. There are many officers in the Metropolitan Police who do not believe in supernatural felons, and this only makes our job more difficult.”

“Has the press gotten wind of this yet?” Michael inquired.

“Not yet, thanks be! I shudder to think if the tabloids get hold of it. Fortunately, thanks to the recent popularity of ‘zombie walks’ I doubt anyone would take a report of a zombie sighting seriously.”

“Zombie walks?” Simone asked, perplexed.

“Ah, yes. A large group of people who get together and dress up as zombies, shuffle along in sort of a parade. Completely bonkers.”

“I understand that the Met is holding the captured zombie for us?” Michael smoothly steered the conversation back on topic.

“Quite right,” Martindale agreed. “The unmistakably non-human nature of their felon actually led them to contact us for help in the first place. We’ve done our best to smooth the way for your investigation, and I think you will find Detective Inspector Mackenzie quite cooperative. I have a car and driver waiting for you downstairs to take you directly to Scotland Yard.”

Marcel nodded. “Merci, monsieur. We’ll be on our way, then.” The three agents stooped to pick up their duffels, which they had deposited on the floor next to the door when they entered.

Martindale cleared his throat. “Ahem. I trust you are familiar with the firearms regulations in Britain? Handguns are banned completely. However, I have been able to obtain special permits that will allow you to carry shotguns, if you have any. If not, we can provide you with some from our armory.” Without waiting for an answer, he walked back to his desk, opened the top drawer and extracted three sheets of paper. “These are photocopies of the originals. Be sure to keep them on your person at all times.”      

Michael took the papers from the station chief, kept one and passed the others to his friends. “Mr. Martindale, we have our own shotguns, but we thank you for your offer. We are also equipped with several other types of ordnance, including explosives.”

Martindale visibly shuddered. “Absolutely out of the question. We operate here in Britain only on sufferance, and I insist that you do nothing to upset the authorities.”

Marcel dryly observed, “I think that a plague of real zombies is likely to be quite upsetting to the authorities here, n’est-ce pas? We are here to put out this little brush fire of yours, and we ‘ave the approval of the Directeur to use whatever means seem appropriate.”

The station chief started to bristle, and Michael stepped in quickly to pour oil on the troubled waters. “Sir, I think we can make a reasonable compromise here. We will leave the explosives here with you and retrieve them if we find it necessary. Before we do anything else, we need to investigate and determine the magnitude of the threat. The permits you have obtained for us will certainly be useful if we run up against anything hostile.”

Martindale looked far from pacified, but as a good soldier was accustomed to following orders. “Right, then. The Director has asked me to provide you with anything you need for your mission. I’ll see you down.”

Machettes?” Simone interjected suddenly. “Avez-vous des machettes? These would be very good against zombies, I am thinking.”

Martindale actually smiled for the first time. “Yes, miss, we do have machetes.”


THE ZOMBIE EXPERIMENT
continues with Part 10
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szanne7000
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Postszanne7000 on Mon Mar 13, 2017 2:27 am

Machetes... hehehehhehehe



Thank you, Crissi, for my beautiful signature <3
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Easter01
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PostEaster01 on Tue Mar 14, 2017 2:53 am


THE ZOMBIE EXPERIMENT
A Father Michael Story
by Joanne and Richard Easter (c) 2016



Part 10

Thirty minutes later they arrived at the Curtis Green Building on the Victoria Embankment next to the Thames River, the new home of Scotland Yard since 2015 when the “old” New Scotland Yard building had been sold to an investor from Abu Dhabi. They presented their credentials and surrendered their duffels, and waited in the lobby while Detective Inspector Mackenzie came down to escort them into the heart of the building.

“Ah!” he said when he spotted them. “You’re the chaps from Interpol, here about our special guest. Let’s go upstairs to my office where we can talk privately.” Mackenzie was a large red-faced man sporting a walrus mustache and wore a cheap rumpled suit, but seemed affable enough. He led them through the labyrinth of the structure while conversationally providing them with a rundown on the recent history of the Yard and its new home. “It’s really a homecoming, in a way,” he observed. “The building next door was the Scotland Yard building until 1967, when the Yard moved to Westminster, renamed New Scotland Yard, you know. Our building here was the forensics and technology annex to the Yard before the move. Now the Arabs are busy buying up Britain, the government put the Yard on the block, and hey, Bob’s your uncle, here we are.

“Ah, here’s the lift.” They arrived at a pair of elevators at the end of a hallway and Mackenzie pressed the button for the third floor. The Inspector had a private office only a short walk from the elevator, and he invited them to take seats and offered them some tea. Impatient to be about their investigation, all three declined. Notwithstanding, Mackenzie poured himself a cup and sat down behind his desk.

He took a sip, put the cup on the saucer and leaned back in the chair, studying his guests. There was a keen intelligence in his eyes that belied the somewhat comical aspects of his appearance. “No disrespect, Father,” he said after a moment, “but how does a priest become part of a criminal investigation?” Before any of them could answer, he waved a hand in dismissal. “Not that I doubt your credentials. They are the real thing, and I have had independent confirmation that you are what you say you are. But this is all…highly unusual.”

“Who better than a priest to investigate the supernatural?” Michael observed quietly.

“Inspector, the good Father is an essential part of the team.” Marcel was quick to defend his friend, becoming a little annoyed with Mackenzie. “I assure you he is quite experienced in these matters.”

“No offense intended,” Mackenzie replied. “But this is the first time we’ve had a dead man in lockup, and I’m having rather a difficult time getting my head around all this. It’s bad enough that we have to deal with muggers, rapists and murderers, but now zombies? Next we’ll be arresting hobgoblins and leprechauns?” He sighed and shook his head.

“What can you tell us about him?” Michael inquired.

The Inspector opened a side drawer in his desk and pulled out a thick file folder, flipping it open to the first page, which (reading upside down) they could see was a vehicle accident report. He skimmed through it quickly, refreshing his memory, and then lifted it to extract a photograph that showed a blood-covered victim lying on the street. He turned it around and laid it on the desktop for their inspection. “About six months ago, in early December, this man was killed in a hit-and-run accident by a drunken socialite who fled the scene. We caught up with her later, but that’s not particularly relevant now. The man who was killed was John Tanner, thirty-eight years old and one of the city’s homeless residents. We’ve got some information on him from social services along with his military record. Tanner was a decorated veteran of the Gulf War, a good chap who served his country and afterward was unable to cope with a return to civilian life, just fell off the grid. Drugs and alcohol abuse, that sort of thing.

“Fingerprints and DNA confirm that the man we’ve got locked up here is that same John Tanner.” Mackenzie rifled through the folder and pulled out another sheaf of stapled pages. “Here is the coroner’s report from December. Tanner was pronounced dead on the scene, no doubt as to whether he survived or not. Body was taken to St. Bartholomew’s and then, since the man had no family and the body was unclaimed, sent off for burial at the government’s expense.”

He pulled out another photograph and laid it beside the first. “Here is the fellow we’ve got locked up. Same man. No heartbeat, no respiration. A dead man walking about.”

“Has he said anything since you brought him in,” Marcel asked.

“Not a word. It took a half a dozen officers to take him down at the crime scene, and he never made a sound then or since.” He shook his head again. “Half of those officers are on medical leave now. He continued to resist so violently that we were forced to secure him in a straight-jacket.” Mackenzie leaned forward. “Now here’s the thing. A few hours after we had him in lockup, he quit resisting, actually quit moving altogether. He hasn’t stirred a muscle since, just sits in the chair staring straight forward.”

The three Directorate agents exchanged glances. They knew that the enslavement of the dead by a necromancer was total, that the zombie would mindlessly seek to carry out its instructions regardless of circumstances. The lack of activity suggested that the continuing inability to serve as directed had sent the creature into something of a shutdown mode.

Michael spoke now. “What sort of evidence were you able to collect at the scene, and from the creature’s body?”

Mackenzie reached into his desk again and came up with a plastic evidence bag containing some clothing, which he flopped onto the desktop. “This is what the thing was wearing. The techs have already analyzed it, so you can have a closer look if you like.”

Simone reached forward and pulled the bag toward her, raising an eyebrow in query.

The inspector shrugged. “Help yourself, miss.”

She opened the bag, and pulled out the clothing, a pair of Levi’s jeans and a common blue work shirt, both stained with dirt and blood, along with a pair of grimy athletic shoes. To Mackenzie’s surprise, she leaned forward and inhaled deeply from the garments. She looked up and exclaimed, “Il sent comme un tunnel de métro!"

“Pardon me?” Not understanding the language, the Inspector was puzzled.

“A tunnel! A...  a subway!…tunnel!” Frustrated, Simone groped for the unfamiliar English word.

Mackenzie was astonished. “That’s right! That’s what the forensics people concluded from the trace evidence, the soil on the shoes. I was just about to say so. But how did you know?”

“My colleague has some rather special talents,” Michael observed dryly, and then adroitly redirected the Inspector’s attention. “I was told that the officers at the scene recovered a bag containing some of the stolen goods. What were they taking from the supply house?”

The Brit rummaged through the file folder again and extracted more paper. “We received an inventory from the house just before you arrived.” He scanned it quickly and then handed it to Michael. “It appears to be a variety of surgical and medical supplies, intravenous tubing and the like, but mostly pharmaceuticals.”

Michael pounced on this, intensely interested. “What sort of drugs?”

“You’ve got the list there,” the Inspector pointed out. “Mostly stimulants…pharmaceutical grade caffeine and nicotine, epinephrine and dopamine…also amphetamines, and, ah, anabolic steroids.”

“Sounds just like what someone might need who is trying to revive the dead,” Marcel pointed out.  

Michael stood up, followed by his two French companions. “Well, Inspector. All that will be helpful. We’d like to see this John Tanner now, if that would be convenient.”

Mackenzie closed the folder. “Certainly. I’ll have someone run off a copy of this file while we are in Interview.”

As they walked down the hall to the interview rooms, which were on the same floor, Mackenzie explained. “We have been holding the…zombie…in an interview room in order to avoid bringing any more attention to his presence. It would not do to house him with the general prisoner population because word would certainly get out concerning his, well, unusual, nature.”

The last door in the hallway was labeled “Interview 1” and was noteworthy for the two guards stationed outside the door, both of whom were armed. Mackenzie nodded to the guards and led the way inside. The small room was dimly lit and filled with video monitors and recording equipment; a technician was watching one of the screens which showed a view of the motionless figure inside the interview room on the other side of the wall. There was a large panel of one-way glass separating the two rooms.

Michael placed a hand on Mackenzie’s arm. “Inspector, I know he is your prisoner, but I need to ask you and your man to wait outside while we interview the subject. We are also going to need all of the recording equipment shut down. All of it, sound and picture. Just leave the speaker on in here, nothing else.”

Mackenzie looked a bit put out, then shrugged in resignation. “It’s your party. Nothing about this situation is by the book, why should this be any different? I trust that, if you learn anything important, you will share with us?” He motioned to the technician to comply, who began flipping switches. One by one, the monitors went blank. The inspector went to the door. “Come along, Charlie. Let’s have a cup of tea and leave them about their business.”

Michael locked the door after them and turned to Simone. “Would you mind waiting out here to keep an eye on things? Don’t let anyone in. You can watch through the window, and hear us through the speaker.” She nodded and went to the outside door, leaning against it with her arms crossed and with a good view into the interview room.

Marcel put his hand on the door handle. “Are you ready, Father?” At Michael’s affirmative, they went into the room and stood just inside assessing the scene.

The creature who had once been John Tanner, the decorated veteran whose life had been snuffed out in an instant by a drunken driver, sat behind a stainless steel table in a chair whose legs were bolted to the floor. The upper half of his body was enclosed by a straight jacket secured by leather straps buckled in the rear, his arms crossed before him with the sleeves pulled behind and similarly fastened. Several turns of stout chain had also been wound around his body and padlocked. His ankles were shackled to bolts set into the floor. His legs, where they protruded from beneath the jacket, were clad in an orange jumpsuit.

Marcel whistled softly through his teeth. “Ouf! They really did not want this one to get loose!”    

“I am sure I do not want to know how they got him into that jumpsuit and straightjacket,” Michael replied softly.

The priest walked over to the table and pulled out the interviewer’s chair and sat down in front of zombie Tanner, while Marcel circled around and stood a few feet behind the prisoner. Michael studied the creature before him for a few moments without speaking. Only the zombie’s face, and hair was exposed; his skin was gray in color and there was a long dead-white slash that ran down the right side of his face from brow to his jaw, mended with a series of rough stitches. His medium-length hair was matted and dull black in color, hanging limply at the sides and partially obscuring his forehead. Michael thought he had never seen a face so entirely devoid of all expression. The eyes were milky white pools in sunken pits that gazed ahead without focus.

Michael folded his hands on the table and addressed the creature. “I am Father Michael Mendez. Do you remember who you were?” When there was no acknowledgement of his presence, let alone a response to his question, he continued. “You were once the man known as John Tanner. Fifteen years ago, you were a captain in the Queen’s Royal Lancers, serving in an armoured division in the Gulf War. Do you remember this?”

The thing who had been Tanner sat without moving, without blinking, without making a sound.

“You should be dead, John.” Michael leaned forward and spoke in a low, intense voice. “You were killed in a traffic accident half a year ago. Do you remember the impact, the pain? Slipping away into darkness? Did you have a family, John? Friends? Are there people who loved you, who grieved for you?”

When there was still no reply, Michael tried another tactic. “Who did this to you, John? Who denied you the peace of the grave, dragged you back and forced you into abject slavery?

The zombie sat as immobile as an oak tree, as responsive as a stone.

When Michael sat back in his chair, feeling frustrated, Marcel spoke up. “Pardonez-moi, Father. Allow me to try something.” The priest glanced at him, nodded, stood up and stepped back, making room at the table.

Marcel quickly disrobed, still out of the line of vision of the prisoner, and walked around to the front of the table and placed his hands flat on the surface. The zombie took no notice of the nude man before him. Then Marcel focused; he began to shimmer, his form distorting and reshaping, fur sprouting to cover his body in a sleek ebony mass, and in mere seconds a massive black panther stood on its hind legs, forepaws on the table. It opened its mouth and snarled at the zombie, displaying a gaping fang-filled cavern, and locked piercing yellow eyes onto the figure before him.

The zombie blinked, once, and swiveled its head slightly to gaze directly at the panther, and then back again without further acknowledgement of the intimidating feline presence.

Back in human form, Marcel looked at Father Michael and shrugged. “It was worth a try, at least, t’sais?"

They turned and left the room. The dead man took no notice of their departure.

Simone was waiting for them in the annex. She had moved up and was standing before the glass, examining the dead thing that had been John Tanner. “You saw, chérie?" Marcel asked.

She shared their frustration. “It is ‘ard to know what to think. Does this creature feel anything? Does it think? Can it even speak?”

“It certainly would have diminished mental capabilities,” Michael said slowly. “Brain cells would have deteriorated significantly after death. It is now guided by the force that animates it. It is only a tool, an extension of the necromancer.”

“It seems more like a machine than a living thing,” Marcel observed.

“I think you have the essence of it, mon ami. It answers only to the programming that its master has ‘coded’ into it, by whatever esoteric means was used.”

“If we can determine what it is programmed to do, we can find the master!” Simone was excited.

“Ah, Simone, but we already know the most important part of its program,” Michael told her. “It must return to its master. It cannot operate independently for long.”

C’est vrai!" she exclaimed. “Then we need only to…”  

“I think it is time we had another word with the Inspector,” he said, as he opened the outer door.

They did not have to look far, for the Inspector and his technician were leaning against the wall on the opposite side of the corridor, chatting with the guards. Michael beckoned to Mackenzie. “Inspector, would you rejoin us? Just you, please.”

The Detective Inspector came back into the room and stood waiting, his hands shoved into his pockets. Michael closed the door behind him. “So,” Mackenzie said. “How did it go? Learn anything new?”

“I am afraid that the thing was no more forthcoming with us than it was with you,” Michael admitted. “However, we have determined a plan of action.”

“I should hope! I don’t know what we are supposed to do with this fellow. We can’t very well tuck him off to prison at Wormwood Scrubs or to an asylum. We certainly can’t bury him! If you chaps have a plan I would be glad to hear it.”

Michael coughed discretely. “We would like you to take him back where you found him and turn him loose.”

Mackenzie was apoplectic. “Are you daft, man! Do you have any idea what we went through to capture him in the first place?”

“Hear me out, Inspector,” Michael said soothingly. “This creature has one overriding command in its programming, and that is to return to its master. We can use that to track down the person responsible for creating him and the others.”

The Inspector was still considerably ruffled by the suggestion, but calmed down enough to consider what Michael was saying. “Still sounds like a good way to come a cropper, but if you are sure this is the best approach…”

Marcel now put his oar in the water. “Inspector, information is what we all need most of all. If we don’t put a stop to this zombie master, he can just keep making more and more of them, ne voyez-vous pas?"

“We’ll put a GPS tracker on him and follow him to his lair,” Michael added.

The Inspector became thoughtful. “That just might work...Right, then, we have a plan.”

Later, he was heard to mutter, “Extend every courtesy, they said…”


THE ZOMBIE EXPERIMENT
continues with Part 11
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Last edited by Easter01 on Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:10 am; edited 1 time in total




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szanne7000
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Postszanne7000 on Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:01 am

Plans, plans...

We all know what happens with plans...

...hehehe



Thank you, Crissi, for my beautiful signature <3

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