"Die Hard"

[The total population of Catalina Island as of the 2000 census was 3,696 persons, almost 85 percent of whom live in the island’s only incorporated city, Avalon (pop. 3,728 (2010), with another 195 south of town, outside of the city limits. It is estimated that about 12,000 people visit Catalina Island everyday.]

David Zabloski, writer and blogger for The National Inquisitor

It was just past 8 a.m. when we decided that Whittaker Longstreet’s idea of moving everyone to the Marine Science Center was a good one. All we needed was a means of getting everybody there safely and quickly. Unfortunately, Whittaker’s dinghy was destroyed by the Apache helicopter and Javier’s maintenance golf cart only held two passengers. Walking there was out of the question. What we needed was a vehicle that could hold everyone—like a bus.

At the mention of a bus, Louis Jefferson suggested we take one of the tour buses used to drive tourists to and from the island’s interior. He said we could find those buses parked at the Discovery Tours center across from the police station in Avalon. We agreed that Gwenn, David, and I should get the bus while everybody else stayed in the Casino. We also agreed to go to the police station first and see if Roxanne Kasey’s husband, Steve, a Sheriff Deputy working the graveyard shift was on duty.

I gathered what I needed to take with me, and that’s when I noticed that my hands were slightly shaking. Maybe it was the ordeal of what I had been through during last three hours. All I know was that I hadn’t been that scared since I was involved in a shootout with the Russian mob in a downtown bookstore some years before. Somehow, this seemed worse. At least back then, when I shot one of the Russians dead, he stayed dead. Shooting at people who refused to die just seemed to take the whole fear factor up a notch or two.

After talking about how the the people—or zombies as we were starting to call them for lack of a better term—were attracted to noise, Whittaker said he can rig up makeshift suppressors for our guns using whatever bits and pieces of tools Javier can help him find in the Casino. He said it would take a few hours, but it would help us use our weapons without drawing too much attention. He also suggested that we didn’t take the golf cart. Speaking of weapons, Gwenn said she would need to try and retrieve as many arrows as possible from the zombies she shot earlier. Without a weapons shop or sports mart on Avalon that sold bows and arrows, she would eventually run out of arrows.

Despite the risk, we agreed to help Gwenn get back as many arrows as she could from the fallen undead.

It was just before noon when we came up on the fallen zombies on St. Catherine Way. We counted nine zombies overall. They all suffered from various wounds, besides the arrow wounds or gunshot wounds we inflicted. Some had gaping wounds where large pieces of flesh seemed to have been ripped from them. One young woman dressed in very short shorts and an even shorter t-shirt was missing half of her throat. A thick, tar-like substance was oozing out of her wound. I’ve seen human blood, but this didn’t look right.

I once wrote a piece on a family of lycanthropes reportedly living in Taxco, Guerrero, about 100 miles southwest of Mexico City. Local townsfolk were reported missing. On several occasions, badly mutilated bodies were discovered. What I saw turned my stomach. It looked like the work of wild animals, but I knew of no animals in the area large enough or powerful enough to inflict the kind of damage I had seen on those bodies. Immediately, I suspected that a werewolf may have been hunting in the area. Ironically, Taxco was a former silver-mining town so the idea of a werewolf in the region seemed absurd. Nevertheless, the attacks persisted. My investigation eventually led me to a villa just outside of town. By the time I got there, the place looked like it had been abandoned in a hurry. To this day, I suspect whoever lived there was tipped off by the local police who seemed to be on several payrolls at once. I eventually found out that the villa had belonged to a wealthy family since the early 1800s. Strange occurrences surrounded the villa until silver was discovered in the local mines. As the story goes, the family quickly left and abandoned the villa. Coincidentally, my research showed that the family returned to Taxco once the silver mines dried up.

Oh yes, where was I? The zombies

Together, we decided it was alright to search the bodies for IDs and clues as to what may have caused them to turn violent. We found credit cards, hotel keycards, keys and even money. I know it may be considered stealing from the dead but as far as we were concerned, we needed to do whatever it took to survive in a world that had turned upside down on us quite literally overnight. I may be a journalist and even an idealist, but that doesn’t stop me from seeing reality for what it was. I’ve seen enough weird things out there to warrant arming myself for protection. I’m proud of the fact that I’m a reporter and I carry a gun. So sue me if you don’t agree. Matter of fact, my friend Glock has something to say about it.

Just as we were about to search the last two bodies, we spotted Manny Bahls running down the street towards us. When he got close enough, he said a large group of walking undead were coming down both sides of the street. With the crowbar he had in his hand, Manny tried to lift a nearby manhole cover. He said he knew his way around the sewers and that he could get us near the police station. He said Marlon Smith spotted the horde of undead from the Casino’s upper balcony but didn’t know how to warn us without attracting attention. Manny risked himself by leaving the Casino to help us out.

Testing a zombie holocaust
Just then we spotted a throng of undead making their way towards us from the direction of Avalon. We took took shots at the oncoming horde. One was struck in the leg; its kneecap shattered. It fell but despite its wound, the thing started to claw its way towards us.

Worried that we would be overran, Whittaker and Gwenn took to the high ground by climbing up a dirt slope towards the road above us. I followed them just as Manny managed to pry open the manhole. He disappeared down a rusty ladder while I quickly made my way up the slope to join the other two. It was difficult moving through the dry brush, but it was safer than being on the street with what appeared to be over a dozen undead coming right for us.

We picked off as many of them as we could but they kept coming. We kept moving up the slope as they kept trying to get at us. Those we killed fell and rolled down striking some unfortunate enough to be in the way. We kept pushing our way until we reached the top of the slope and stood on level ground. The street was not far behind us. We turned our attention to the last remaining zombie and dropped it. Just then, we saw another horde of zombies coming from the direction of the Casino. There were far more of them this time.

They must have heard us because the horde turned and looked at our direction. They then ran as one up the slope and came for us. Just then, I saw Manny stuck his head out of the manhole and whistled out loud to try and get the incoming horde’s attention. They stopped in their tracks and looked towards their new prey.

“What’s he doing?” Whittaker said with frustration. “We need those zombies to keep coming at us.” Whittaker then walked up to the edge where the ground sloped back down. He began to frantically wave his arms and shouted at the zombies. It worked as the horde turned and made its way back up the slope.

The three of us took off and followed the street where it curved up above the Casino. We then slowly made our way down to St. Catherine Way towards the manhole where Manny was waiting. From the street, we could see the zombies at the top of the slope aimlessly moving about probably wondering where their meal went.

Catalina sewer
We quickly climbed down the rusty latter and followed Manny. I was surprised at how wide the sewer tunnel was. It reminded me of the maintenance tunnels in New York’s subways. It was wide enough for three of us to walk side by side. Manny explained that Wrigley had the sewers built back in the early 1900s. It was also rumored that Wrigley even had secret access tunnels built between his mansion and exit points somewhere along the rocky coast. Supposedly, the tunnels were used during Prohibition to transport barrels of alcohol to his mansion after it was built in 1931. I thought of what a story that would have made if it was true! Imagine the headline: “Gum and Rum on Catalina!”

I asked Manny how was it that he knew his way around the tunnels. He said he and his friends would occasionally explore the sewers back in high school. They even found an abandoned storage room which they converted into a kind of clubhouse. There, they snuck in some beers and played Ultramodern 4 as well as Dungeons and Dragons—role playing games popular among people who preferred indoor pastimes over outdoor ones. Manny described how much fun they had pretending that people on Catalina were being hunted by a pack of ravenous werewolves bent on slaughtering everyone.

“Since apparently zombies are real,” Manny said. “Do you suppose werewolves might be too?”

I just looked at him and thought of Taxco, Guerrero. “Maybe,” I said.

As we made our way through the sewers, Whittaker was going on about the physiology of the zombies we encountered. He explained how the zombies preferred to grab their victims then deliver a vicious bite. But even if one of them couldn’t grab on to you, they could still try to pummel you with their arms. He said they’re pretty easy to hit, and a direct head shot could easily drop one. He added that it made sense. Take away the brain—the body’s CPU—and the rest of the system crashes! I have to admit that I was quite impressed by what Whittaker knew. I may have to take back everything I ever thought about dem good ol’ southern boys.

We encountered two ghouls about halfway to the police station. Both were men and wore cargo shorts and Hawaiian print shirts. By their ages and appearance, it was apparent they must have been a father and son on vacation.

After we easily took care of them, we searched them both and found keys, some cash, a hotel keycard and a gas card. Their IDs showed they were from Oregon. I began to wonder if what was happening here was happening in Oregon too.

Just before we arrived at the tunnel leading up to the police station, Manny explained that he thought we would have to find a way through a steel door that normally blocked the room where a ladder led up to the street level. However, there wasn’t any steel door. Gwenn said it looked like there might have been one there at one time, but it had been removed as indicated by the scorch marks left by a cutting torch. A shaft of sunlight shone down into the room. A tall iron ladder led up to the street above.

Gwenn went up the ladder to see if it was safe. Moments later, she softly whistled for us to climb up. When we reached the street, we saw a Sheriff’s patrol car nearby. A Sheriff deputy, lay nearby. Gwenn was busy retrieving her arrow from the back of the zombie’s head. I looked inside the patrol and spotted the keys still in the ignition. I took it out and used one of the keys in the ring to unlock the mounted shotgun. Whittaker and Manny had ran up to the front entrance of the Sheriff station to find the door locked. Gwenn and I joined them and used the deputy’s set of keys to unlock the door.

Gwenn held up the deputy’s badge for us to see. “It’s Steve,” she said. “Roxanne’s husband and Mary’s father.”

“We’ll give it to her when we get back to the Casino,” Whittaker said as we quickly stepped inside, worried that more zombies may wander into the area.

We locked the door behind us and looked around. The front office was quiet and deserted. There were no signs of anyone in the office, not even a dispatcher on duty. A front counter took up most of the front office. There were several desks and file cabinets as well. Two doors led out of the office. One door had a sign that read “Holding Area” on it. The other had an opaque glass window with no sign on it.

We stood in the front office wondering if we were alone in the Sheriff’s station.

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"Die Hard"

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