Shawn Sullivan was a guy everyone thought was slightly crazy. He wasn’t a mean or sadistic crazy. In all actuality, he was quite charming. Anyone who took the time to get to know him quickly learned that he was a highly intelligent, humble, quick witted and generous man. It was the exterior that most people couldn’t get past; he was a big man. Intimidating to many, he stood at a solid 6’4” and the shadow of his shoulders covered two normal men. In high school and in college, he had been a football star, and something of a gym rat.
Shawn was a prepper. He wore camouflage clothing everywhere he went and he never left his house without his backpack, which he called his “Get Home Kit.” Everywhere it was legal, he kept a sidearm holstered inside the waistband of his pants. He trained with it constantly. In the evenings, Shawn passed the time sharing his knowledge, foresight, and insight into post apocalyptic living on his favorite website, The Zombie Preparedness Initiative, where he was a moderator and trusted member.
He’d had a few girlfriends in his life, but none of them really understood him. They saw all the talk of zombies, and getting ready for the world without the rule of law as an obsession and something that regularly became more important than their relationship. For Shawn, it wasn’t an obsession as much as it was a way of life. When he had a girlfriend, he was sweet, loving and attentive to their needs. He had few friends, outside of his online presence. His mother passed away when he was just five and Shawn had grown up with his father, working in the family business, called “Outdoor Adventures.” Working there, he regularly led groups of city folks on excursions into the woods. When his father died of lung cancer four years ago, he left everything to his only child, Shawn. Shawn then built the business into a booming, seven location, multi-million dollar company which allowed him to pursue his other goals. By all accounts, Shawn was ready.
Just before lunch on an early summer Tuesday, Shawn found himself sitting in the office of Roger Sheridan in Grand Forks, South Dakota. Roger was the accountant and banker for Outdoor Adventures. Since it’s inception in 1984, Roger was largely responsible for the continued growth of the company under Shawn. That day, they were talking about the monthly numbers, and where to invest next. Shawn wanted to add mountain climbing expeditions to the lineup. Roger thought there was more profit in purchasing a hunting lodge in northern Minnesota. Shawn was just finishing up his case when the doors the bank were smashed open and a man came awkwardly stumbling in. Judging by his gait, Shawn thought the man was drunk. And then he saw his arm. The flesh was missing along the length of his forearm and both bones were clearly visible.
Shawn immediately thought “zombie.” There was no question in his mind. “Roger, that’s a zombie.”
Roger didn’t reply. He just watched in stunned horror as the man bit another man on the back of the neck. Several customers screamed and ran out of the bank. Two men jumped on the attacker, yanking him off and throwing him to the floor. Pushing her fear aside, a blonde woman knelt down by the bitten man. Shawn and Roger watched as the man flopped around on the ground for a second, and then went still.
“Roger, we gotta go. This is going to get ugly. We need to get to my house,” said Shawn calmly.
“I can’t. I have to go help,” Roger replied, rushing out his office door.
As Shawn expected, the man on the ground bit the blonde woman who was trying to help him. As he quickly passed by, she screamed. But Shawn didn’t stop. He didn’t slow down. She was one of them now and he needed to get to his truck. He’d left all of his weapons, per the bank policy, in his truck. He’d had to park almost two blocks away.
His training kicked in, and Shawn paused at the door to survey the scene outside the bank. In his path about a block up was a car accident with half a dozen zombies eating their victims in the road. The immediate area was open though, and Shawn took full advantage. He sprinted up the block. Several of the zombies eating victims in the street saw him coming and shambled towards him. He batted the first one’s arms away, clamped his hands on its ears and spun it’s head in his very strong arms, twisting it a full 180 degrees.
He lept over the corpse at the next zombie, smashing its nose with his fist. The added force of his jump smashed the creature’s nose up into its brain, ending its short un-life without breaking his stride. As he turned right, his truck was now in sight at the end of the block and he ran at full speed. But before he knew what was happening, a man in a black suit stepped out of a doorway and the two collided. Shawn felt like he hit a brick wall. The man didn’t even flinch at the impact, while Shawn was thrown to the ground.
As he got up, the man asked, “What’s your hurry, son?”
“I just need to get to my truck. I’m very sorry I ran into you. Are you okay?” asked Shawn.
“I’m quite alright. I could use a man like you,” he said, holding his hand out to Shawn.
Shawn said, “I gotta go, I’m sorry. Glad you’re not hurt,” and started running towards his truck again.
The man passed Shawn as if he was standing still, barely even running, and stopped in front of him again. “Shawn. I said, I could use a man like you,” he said, sticking his hand out again.
He was immediately on the defensive. “I never told you my name. How do you know me?”
“I’ve been sent to find you. I’m with the government,” the man said.
“How did you know where I was?” Part of Shawn’s prepper nature was secrecy. He kept everything to himself. No one besides Roger knew about today’s meeting. Shawn’s instincts screamed at him. There was something wrong here.
“We’re the government,” he said simply. “We know everything.”
“My appointment wasn’t online anywhere. I don’t carry a cell phone.”
The man didn’t hesitate as he lunged for Shawn, grabbing his arm and pulled him in close. He leaned in towards Shawn’s neck.
The taller man yanked his arm free from his attacker, took one step backwards and punched his attacker squarely in the nose. Shawn felt the nose give way, but the man barely flinched. Instead, he grabbed Shawn again and attempted to bite him once more.
Shawn let his legs go weak, and dropped to a ground, escaping his attacker’s clutches. He drove upwards with an uppercut, catching the man in the chin. The attacker’s head rocked back, and he stepped backwards. Now on the offensive, Shawn pushed his advantage, kicking the man in the knee, breaking the leg and almost folding it in half.
The man reached down and twisted his leg back to it’s normal, straight position before regaining his footing.
“What the fuck!” Shawn yelled and he spun around, sweeping the suit’s feet out from under him with his leg. The attacker landed flat on his back, hitting his head on the sidewalk. Without a moment’s hesitation Shawn lept up in the air and brought both boots down on his attacker’s head, crushing his skull.
He glanced around, amazed to find that the streets were empty. After dashing the last few feet to his truck, he drove off quickly, leaving the suit’s brains leaking out onto the sidewalk. The hour drive to Thief River Falls, Minnesota went quickly, Shawn used the time to evaluate his position and create his list of priorities.
When he got home, he immediately put his plans into action. Since he had been planning for this eventuality for years, the large man was well prepared. Once inside his house, he hit the button on his “category five” hurricane shutters. Automatically, steel panels folded down to cover the doors and windows and the house was thrown into darkness. Shawn flipped a switch in the central hallway and the house was cast in an eerie red glow. These lights allowed for some normal vision, but the special red bulbs didn’t interfere with night vision. He drew his pistol and checked the house. Every closet, every room, all three bathrooms were clear.
When he was satisfied that the house, the garage, and the walled back yard were clear, he turned on the lights and fired up his laptop. His first stop on the internet was his email. He sent a message to his two closest friends, asking them to come to his house as quickly as they could. Next, he posted to The Zombie Preparedness Initiative, found some YouTube videos to post backing up his theory, and watched as the administrators upgraded the threat level to ‘Red Alert’ in real time. Finally, he checked all the news sites to watch the end of the world as long as his internet held out.
The first week passed uneventfully. Shawn’s friends never made it. He lived much as he normally did, minus the paperwork. He had his own well. Its pump was one of the things powered by the solar array on his roof. He showered, with hot water, due to a solar water heater on the roof of the garage.
By week three, Shawn was feeling pretty confident that the initial upheaval was over. The cable had gone out days before, although CNN, MSNBC, and even Fox News had been on looped recordings telling people to go to a survivor camp. They were also showing footage of the biggest camp in Scranton, Pennsylvania, which they’d named “Infection Control.”
According to his plan, once the major waves were done, it was time to make looting runs, and scouting for survivors. He started with the houses in a small subdivision seven miles away. It was the farthest subdivision from his house before getting into the much more densely populated suburbs. For nine days, Shawn cleared houses. Every third or fourth house, he encountered a zombie or two. They were slow and relatively easy to dispatch. Quickly, Shawn got into a routine. Knock on the door. Make a lot of noise to draw the zombies to the door, if there were any inside. Smash the door with a sledgehammer, breaking the lock and opening the door. A second swing of the sledgehammer took out the first zombie out of the door. If there were multiples, he would drop the hammer, draw his pistol and shoot them in the head.
Shawn knew that in Minnesota, everyone kept several weeks worth of food on hand because there were often weeks at a time when people couldn’t get to a store. Even the few who had a snow machine capable of making the trip, the delivery trucks couldn’t get to the stores to stock the shelves. These people were used to surviving on their own.
At the end of nine days, Shawn had enough food to last two years, if properly rationed. It was all catalogued, sorted and stacked in his garage. He had nearly a hundred thousand rounds of ammunition in various calibers, and the guns to shoot them. Behind the garage he had parked a dump truck he’d found, with a giant plow on the front. He’d used it to gather all the firewood from the houses he cleared. He cleared backyards until he had enough firewood to build a three hundred foot wall of wood six feet high and two feet wide. It stretched the distance from the house to his tool shed in the back yard. He felt more comfortable having one side of the walk to the shed covered.
Weeks turned to months. The Minnesota summer passed with Shawn staying busy. Most of August passed scrounging diesel fuel for his generator and building a radio antenna for a HAM radio setup he found. Every morning and every night he broadcast the same message:
“My name is Shawn Sullivan. I’m in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. I have food and can provide security to any survivors. There is a radio and two day’s worth of food and water at 2280 Bramblewood Lane in Thief River Falls. Use the radio to contact me, any time of day or night.”
He repeated his message over and over, on every frequency he could broadcast. He never lost hope, and never gave up.
The first Sunday in September brought the inaugural snowfall. Shawn wasn’t sure if it was the sound of the generator, or the smell of wood smoke that brought them, but sound travelled much farther over snow covered ground. The morning after the snow, there were forty or so zombies outside the house.
This wasn’t a big deal for him. He didn’t need to go outside for several months, and was hopeful the zombies would freeze during the long winter.
October passed fairly uneventfully. By mid October, there were hundreds of zombies outside of his house, and they were not freezing. Shawn put four hundred shells for his .22 rifle in his pockets and climbed the ladder in his garage up to the solar panel array. The array had a metal walkway along the ridgeline of his house. From there, over the course of two frigid hours of laying in the snow on a metal catwalk, he put down 324 zombies.
November was a brutal month. Shawn found himself early in the month with pneumonia. It took him three days to source the right kinds of antibiotics, according to the medical manuals he’d downloaded over the years. Finally, he’d been desperate enough to break into Target to raid their prescription counter. It was the last choice, because it looked like a group of people had tried to survive there. Shawn found thirty three dead bodies in the building and none of them were zombies. All of the bodies were under huge piles of clothes, surrounding a fire pit with the remnants of some particle board furniture scraps in it.
“Carbon monoxide poisoning,” he said to himself as he walked towards the pharmacy counter.
Behind the counter, he found and packed up all of the antibiotics and painkillers they had. He had a lifetime supply of Percocet and Vicodin, along with enough antibiotics to kill the bubonic plague.
He had plenty of other supplies at the house, so he left most of the rest of the drugs there. The only soda left in the mini refrigerators at the registers was a diet Dr. Pepper. He slugged down a doxycycline with half the bottle of soda and left the other half of the most disgusting beverage ever invented on the counter, before heading home.
Four days later, he felt somewhat human. It was November 8th when the snow started, and it snowed for the next nine days in a row. By the time it stopped, he guessed that eight feet all together had fallen. Not an unheard of amount, but certainly he wasn’t going to go anywhere unless it was on a snow machine. He passed his days inventorying his supplies, cleaning the house, and sleeping a lot. However, the majority of his time was spent planning the springtime offensive. With the first thaw, Shawn was going to clear every zombie within a dozen miles of his house. He was going to need a much bigger garden next year, and he wanted some breathing room.
On the last day of the snowstorm, the lights went out in the house. He knew the solar panels were covered in snow, and would have to be cleaned off.
Shawn climbed the ladder in his garage to the roof hatch, and then crossed the catwalk to the farthest solar panel, and started to sweep it off. The snow was very deep, and it was exhausting work in the bitter cold, but he knew the panels couldn’t support this much weight for long. The wind whipped bitterly around him. On the last sweep of the first panel, after almost an hour of work, he dropped his broom. It slid down the panel, catching the bristles on the lip.
Shawn held on to the railing with one hand and reached out to grab the handle of the broom. His glove slipped on the snow covered catwalk railing, and Shawn felt himself sliding down the solar panel. He bounced down to the roof of the house, and slid down the shingles. He rapidly moved his arms but was unable to find anything on the icy roof to slow his slide, or grab to stop himself.
The lone survivor picked up speed as he slid down the roof of his fortress. His frantic flailing turned him around on the roof and soon, he was sliding on his stomach head first. He landed on the side of the house most protected from the weather. The snow was only about a foot deep.
His head hit first, then his legs folded over his head, and smashed into the stone walkway along that end of the house. Both of his splintered femurs ripped through his snow pants, and blood oozed out the wounds. As the blood hit the frigid air, it froze almost instantly into gruesome bloodcicles that hung off his pants. His arms were both broken, and he had smashed several vertebrae just above his tailbone. It took Shawn nearly ten agonizing minutes to unfold himself. He was laying flat on the thin snow that covered the stone walkway when the first zombie stumbled out of the snowbank. The only exposed flesh was Shawn’s face, which also happened to be the only part of his body he could feel when the zombie’s teeth clamped down on his nose.
If your curiosity is piqued, and you’d like to read more, the entire 70,000 word novel “What Zombies Fear” is set in this universe, and available for free on this site. What was up with that government guy? How did he outrun Shawn so easily? Find out, http://whatzombiesfear.com/what-zombies-fear-a-fathers-quest/