Chapter 2, Apocalypse 2016

By the looks of it, Chief Moustafa was one of the unfortunate souls who had been too close to one of the blasts. He was missing a nose and half of his face looked scarred and a little melted. It continued down his neck and to his arm. He had floppy black hair on the unmarred side of his face, while the other side was bald.

And I felt guilty, so guilty. It wasn’t like he could help his disfigurement. That sort of reaction wasn’t in me—for all of my flaws, people couldn’t say I wasn’t compassionate. But on top of the scarring, he had green eyes and a scowl that automatically set me on edge.

I coughed and looked at the ground for a moment before giving a sloppy salute. “Chief Moustafa.”

“Private Fraser,” he rumbled, eyeing me carefully, making me feel sheepish and like an idiot. Then, to Commander Stokes, “Is this the best we can do? Her? Her hair is pink, not regulation, and she’s clearly a rookie, a former civilian who needed to know how to shoot. Or does she even know how to shoot?”

“I can get the job done,” I threw in, growing annoyed that I wasn’t being addressed even though I was right there. “And you’re hair isn’t exactly regulation either,” I petulantly added. He just stopped for a moment and looked at me blankly. “Well it isn’t. If we’re going to be criticizing each other without knowing each other at all, I might as well get that in.”

Moustafa looked at the Commander before slowly lifting one corner of his mouth. “She’ll work,” he said.

He waved behind him at me, and I looked at the Commander before trudging after the angry giant. I was allowed to kiss my parents goodbye before hurriedly packing and meeting Moustafa at the gate. I slipped a tiny makeup back in my pack along with a change of clothes and other supplies out of spite—that and it might come in handy with first impressions later, who knew?

We couldn’t take one of the vehicles because the city needed to save fuel. So we strode out, odd pair that we were. Me in my giant steel-blue parka with thick goggles on my face and a gas mask swinging from the bottom of my pack, an M4 carbine slung across my shoulders; him in head to toe black, his black hood down low like an executioner, Win Mag in hand. His pack looked tiny compared to the one taking up half of my body, even though they were the same size. Our geiger counters clicked slowly in sync.

He made long strides making it difficult for me to keep pace, especially in the snow. Not that I would mention it. I held my head as high as I could and tried to gracefully jog to catch up to him. I had my pride, and he had doubted my abilities—even though I doubted my own abilities myself and had no idea what I was doing. I was scared. And cold. And missed Netflix like so bad. Season 2 of Stranger Things, RIP. But I couldn’t let him know these thoughts. As far as he should know, I loved things like guns and pushups and MREs and whatever else I was supposed to like to be a survival goddess. I’m Bearetta Grills, I’ll drink my own urine. Ew. No, no I won’t. There is a line.

“My name’s Blurryface, and I care what you think,” I sang softly to myself to keep from boredom. We were walking along what used to be the main avenue. Giant oak trees used to cover the road with their branches and old Southern mansions sat back from the road. Now there were trees all over the road and grey, charred branches pointed at the sky. The old mansions had been looted, vandalized, and left in disarray. “My name’s Blurryface, and I care what you think. Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days—

“Please, something else,” Moustafa groused over his shoulder. “Less emo and depressing.”

I glared at his immense back. You could show a movie on the thing. Who was he to boss me around about singing to myself? Ugh. Fineeeee. He made me feel like a 17 year old rather than an almost 27 year old.

I growled a bit to myself. And then, “Uh, yo’ don’t get it twisted. This rap shit, is mine, motherf—“

His hand clamped over my mouth. And then I heard voices.

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Chapter 1, Apocalypse 2016

***Note: Not everything may be accurate, not everything may seem plausible, and it may seem a bit rushed. I’m doing this for fun, yo. The well-researched, thought out, re-written, agonized-over piece is still under wraps. I just wanted a project with a little less blood, sweat, and tears. My apologies to anyone who actually knows what they’re talking about in this kind of situation. I AM WINGING IT SO HARD.

Chapter 1

I trained for 9 months. In that time, the zombies rose up. But we didn’t call them zombies. Wayyyy too on the nose. I was opposed to walkers because, duh, copyright infringement. They were just known as the Infected. Which was highly accurate. They did want to eat flesh, any living flesh, and they roamed. They weren’t very fast, but they could be dangerous in hordes. Luckily, no one in our fragile city had the virus. I mentioned before, there were heavy quarantines prior. But thanks to a few HAM radios, we could get some news in and out of what was going on. They were already covering the Southwest, so it was only a matter of time before they reached us.

Meanwhile, nuclear winter is the pits. I don’t knowwww if anyone has told you that, but it is. Like…seriously sucky, dude. It’s cold, dark, everything feels gross and a little dusty, and food becomes a major concern. Also, our water was intensely irradiated so while we did the best we could to attempt to purify it, I did notice my already very pale skin had a certain..glow to it. And no, I wasn’t pregnant.

Anyone who had been close to the larger cities that were decimated suffered worse from the radiation. Most people were vaporized, but those that didn’t tended to have scars like burn victims. THEY looked like the zombies we thought were coming. But they were all fine. Delightfully normal—as normal as one can be after a traumatic event.

As for myself, I lived at the Central Barracks. Cushy situation to be honest. The downtown of my city had been walled off as best as possible with scraps of metal, wood, and concrete, and the Central Barracks used to be a sweet hotel. My parents lived in one of the little shotgun houses by the mayor’s house. We still had a mayor. He just really answered to our commander, Commander Stokes. I saw my family and the mayor about once a week. Luckily for me, the mayor—unlike Sgt. Tibbs, the man who whipped me into shape—found me charming, if quirky. Definitely irreverent.

I’ll be frank: I hated military life. I found the structure to be chafing, and I’m sure my superiors found my presence to be chafing. We were all just chapped at that point. But I had gotten to be a decent shot (shout out to all of those Pre-War video games), and I could pack a wallop unarmed. I wasn’t outstanding, but it sufficed. Plus, I could talk my way out of a lot of things if need be. My mouth was my greatest weapon. If this had been normal times, if this was Pre-War military, I would have been gone so fast. But times had changed and as long as you fell in line when it was crucial, you were tolerated.

Pre-War. Everything was Pre-War. I think it was one of the shortest wars in history, with everything ending in hours. Who knew, we could have still been in the war and not known it. There was hardly a way to find out what was going on in the rest of the world. HAM radios only did so much.

We didn’t even have uniforms. The desert camouflage of the wars in the Middle East was useless in the grey and white landscape. So we scavenged and made do in our grey, blue, and white parkas—hard to find in a Gulf Coast Alabama town. But we did it. Most of us also had gas masks on standby. We looked like creatures from one of Dante’s circles of hell. But we didn’t look as bad as the things that attacked the scrap walls we had built around our city. The people who wanted to slaughter us and take our supplies. The creatures were bad, but bloodthirsty people…they were vicious.

The day before my life changed, I picked up some Kool-Aid packets from the commissary. I really, really hated how life was going. I know, in times like this, you’re supposed to suck it up buttercup and just survive. Common good. Fall in line. Blah blah blah. I just couldn’t do it. So with a final urge of stick-it-to-the-man-ness I had left in me, I dyed my hair hot pink. Or to be more precise, I flavored it “Pink Swimingo.” And it smelled amazing. I went to bed that night with a towel on my head, my fellow privates shaking their heads, and I fell asleep with a smirk on my face.

The next morning, as I was scrambling to get to my post, sliding over the icy cobblestones and pavement, someone ran clear into me (for once, it wasn’t my fault) and papers scattered everywhere. I stopped and began apologizing profusely as I helped him pick the papers up.

“No, no, don’t worry, it was my fault,” rumbled a deep voice, “I was in a hurry and—Private Frasier, what on earth have you done to your hair?”

I froze and looked up into the steely blue eyes of the Commander. I gulped and sort of saluted. It looked sloppy, I’m sure. “Kool-Aid spill?”

“And that isn’t your natural lip color, is it?” he asked slowly.

“No, sir. But there’s no reason you can’t look your best, even in a nuclear winter,” I said without thinking. I gave him an awkward “Oops” smile and began playing with the zipper on my parka. I was turning into Fran Drescher in The Beautician and the Beast. Not a good look currently.

His eyes narrowed. “Indeed. Sgt. Tibbs will have a fit you know.” I gave him a lopsided grin and what I hoped were convincing puppy eyes. Not that they seemed to work on anyone around here. “I was going to come find you anyways. Where were you off to?”

“Just…uh, watching the wall. You know, the usual…sir,” I wobbled, mentally wondering why I get myself into things.

Commander Stokes reached out to a new recruit who was jogging by. “Tell Sgt. Tibbs to have someone fill in Private Fraser’s post. Now. Get to it.” I watched the wide-eyed recruit stammer and salute and scurry away.

“Well, Frasier, walk with me,” he said, heading towards our government building. “You know, you’re a noticeable person, even without the, um, tragic Kool-Aid spill. I’ve seen you at a few parties at the mayor’s and heard you talking in several situations. You know quite a bit about Pre-War foreign politics, nuclear deterrence, and general diplomacy.”

“Um…Thank you, sir?” It was my undergrad so…

“And people, well, people who aren’t giving you orders on a daily basis, seem to like you…And those that don’t you can tolerate it seems. You’re diplomatic is the point I’m making. I’m sending out ten teams to do some recon. I had you in mind for a simple mission out to Louisiana, but now I’m thinking something different.” He looked at my hair and smiled. “I think you might be the person I send up to DC. I’m sending my best soldier, my best sniper up. It’s important that whomever goes up with him can work with him and listen to him when it counts.”

“Well, sir, I don’t have the most obedient reputation,” I began slowly.

“No, you really don’t,” he chuckled. “But, I think out of everyone, he’ll like you the most…or, at least work with you the most. Besides, I think that if there’s anyone left up around DC, you’re the one best suited to getting them to help us.” He sighed and fixed his steely blue eyes on me. “You’ve got spirit, kid. You’re going to need it.”

“Well, sir, I’ll do my best…” I began, not arguing. This mission would be dangerous and there were high chances I’d die, but golly, I had to get out.

“I’ll be honest, kid, I don’t think you’re a great soldier,” he blurted. Gee, thanks. “But, you would have been a decent politician back before all of this. Lucky for you, that’s what I need right now.”

We walked inside the grey, over crowded government building, sandbags and troops all over the place, and he began briefing me on what I needed to know and look for. Military, resources, weapons, other cities or settlements. Any group of people we could possibly work with—or watch out for. We climbed the stairs and got to his office. Inside stood a hulking man with his back to us, looking out the window. He had a .300 Win Mag slung across his back. I’m not a small girl, 5’7” and broad-shouldered, but I felt like a teacup Yorkie looking up at that man. I probably had the shakes too.

“Private Fraser, this is Master Chief Petty Officer Moustafa. He’s been working down at the docks.”  We had the basis for building a sort of tiny navy for the city, and our engineers were working overtime to make it happen. While our military was cobbled of all the former branches and then newbies, most of the former Navy and Coast Guard were at the outpost there. I nodded. “Master Chief Moustafa, this is Private Fraser.”

He turned around and looked at me and made a noise at the back of his throat that sounded like a growl. Which I have to say, sounded way better than my yelp of surprise. I make great first impressions.

Apocalypse 2016, Intro

So, I’m still writing my scifi. I took a break, but I am still doing it, you guys. Even if I haven’t kept up with this blog like I should either.

That said, I need a fun project that isn’t serious to play around with, so I’m doing something that’s supposed to be fun and cheeky but still in the sort of apocalyptic/scifi/disaster genre. I also want to put myself in it and make it a weird alternate reality that’s also cobbled with different things in this sort of genre that I love. And then be aware of that? If that makes sense? Ah, you’ll see.

Hope you like the start.

Apocalypse 2016

Introduction

It happened on my 26th birthday. September 17th, 2016. Things were already tense. The Rio Olympics had gone sour as a cocktail of viruses got together and bread something else. They were calling it simply the Rio Virus. It attacked your immune system, your gastrointestinal system, before finally making it’s way to your brain. But it didn’t kill you—not exactly. Yes, ladies and gentleman. That’s how our nightmare of zombies were realized. They looked just like everyone else. Only their eyes were all white. And sometimes they were missing chunks of skin or a limb. Because they had been bitten. But on September 17th, 2016, that wasn’t a North American problem. We were in heavy quarantine mode. The virus hadn’t turned people yet. Their immune systems were just slowly dying and people thought it was a sort of flu. Coughing. Fevers. The usual. The virus would peak later. In the after. In November.

The US election had everyone tense and 2 members of the Trump campaign had committed suicide. The Clinton campaign was reeling from the latest leaks from Assange, but most people were confident she would recover—even though everything was still unsettling. Debates were approaching on the 23d and everyone waited with bated breaths.

But on September 17th, 2016, North Korea did it. They actually had a nuke that could reach Hawaii. And they took it out. Within an hour, the US retaliated. And then came Russia. And China. And we bombed back.

Most of our major cities were gone and the fallout was terrible. Europe was ravaged—Eastern Europe suffered from airstrikes from Russia. China and Russia turned on each other in the middle of it all.

As for the US—DC, LA, New York, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Miami. Gone. Craters of radiation no one dared venture to. Everything was fragmented.

Now here’s the thing. In an apocalypse, people like me aren’t meant to survive. I hate running, it’s from the devil. I had no military training, couldn’t even fire a gun. No survival skills really. But I had a quick tongue, some book learning, and some raw strength paired with some under-developed boxing skills. Not a lot to go on, especially when my greatest skill was building amazing settlements in Fallout 4, but when the left-overs from the military in the area decided to park itself in my port city, I enlisted.

Most cities devolved into mass chaos from what I heard—not like I had access to 24-hour news anymore, but you got word. Looting, gangs, killings, weird mafias and tribes emerging. But because my city had a lot of leftover military, we were on lockdown. My family was moved to camps outside of the base, which made me feel better while I got my butt handed to me by a drill sergeant who I vowed to never let know my loathing of running. He would use it for fun to torment me. I had a smart mouth and sassy comebacks and he was not a fan.

This was not how I wanted to spend my 26th year. Happy fricken birthday to me. At least I didn’t have to worry over elections anymore.

It Happened

I finally have the gumption and the time to devote to my novel this weekend. Look out world, here I come. No, this isn’t much of a blog post. But darn it, I am trying… haha.

Something about the dystopian nature of the current US Presidential election has inspired me.

Also, I want to do another aesthetic post soon. Those were fun.

Gravitational Pool

I felt the need to write this so acutely that I just jumped out of the shower, and there might be a puddle of water collecting at my feet. But, here we are. Deadpool. This character compels me. And, for my family and friends who have had to sit through a flood of my fangirl-ing, they’re owed an explanation. I might get emotional writing this, but here it goes. I saw a list about him the other day and realized how much I adored this character.

Some characters move us beyond what any actual person might do. For me, Wade Wilson is one of those characters. I think he is that for a lot of people, especially millennials. Now, why am everyone so crazed? I can only guess what draws in other people, but let me expound on what pulls me in.

1.Chronic Pain

Sure, his regenerative powers are out of this world, but our Merc with a Mouth is in perpetual pain. Why does this mean so much to me? Because so am I.

The day I got diagnosed with chronic migraine was rough. I cried. I had had migraines since I was 6. I was 21/22 when diagnosed, and had lived with migraines most of my life at that point. I would have at least 3 a week and some lasted for months. Good days were when I just lived with a minor headache instead of the perpetual drill that ate at my brain and made me want to throw up. So why did I cry when I had been living in pain for so long? Because I had believed for so long that this was just a weird fluke…I was in a fairy land, of course, but everything seems so much more hopeful before you give it a name…a name that includes the word “chronic.”

Migraines have always made me feel weak. I can’t do certain things because of them. I’m not always in a good mood because of them. But here we have my favorite anti-hero. In perpetual pain. And being the biggest smart-mouth you could hope for. That alone is enough to make me love him. Maybe it’s made me a bigger smart mouth, I don’t know. But it’s nice to have a character I can relate to on that painful level.

2. He’s insecure.

Who can’t relate? I think insecurity about something is a big part of the human experience, but to see a popular character, albeit anti-hero, be insecure? That’s just lovely. It makes you breathe easier. And you know? It’s comforting to know that he still does his thing. When you’re a kid, you have Superman. When you’re a 20-something navigating the world, Deadpool pushing through things like insecurities seem pretty heroic.

3. Let’s face it, he’s got issues.

And thank goodness he does. Because I have them too. I’ve got depression and anxiety, deadpool batmanwhich I admit to people often because most of us do. A lot of my close friends deal with anxiety. Some are depressed. Some are bipolar. And you know what? They’re fantastic. They have struggles, but they work through it–and I want to tell every single one of you, if you read this, I admire you so much. I have yet to meet a human that I adored that didn’t have to overcome something. Deadpool is the same way. He’s addicted to guns and blows all of his money on ammo and pain meds. And yet…there he is, surprising us all with a lot of selfless acts. Like the time he filled in for Peter Parker as Spiderman. Now, our Merc is a killer, let’s be honest. Quite violent. But when he did that for Peter? He killed no one because he didn’t want to hurt Peter’s rep. That’s really sweet if you know both of them. And his consideration of Hawkeye? Priceless.

4. As a friend of mine put it, he wants to love everyone so much, but he’s too scared and has too many trust issues to follow through.

I feel him. I’m not that severe, but like I said, I have trust issues (I’m working on it). I care about a lot of people…in fact, I probably care about them too much too soon. And they probably never know it. Watching him deal with it, you relate. And I don’t think I’m alone in that. I think a lot of us are in the same boat.

5. He’s clearly dealing with life via humor…and aren’t we all?

At least, I am. I laugh to keep from crying. It’s how I cope. It’s how many of us cope. It’s how comedians are coping, let’s be real. And yodeadpool.pngu know, I think there’s something brave in that. Laughter keeps you moving forward. It gives you courage to keep on. And Wade makes me laugh.

I think, at the end of the day, Wade Wilson is a very deeply, complex and flawed character, trying to cope with so much (such as the loss of his daughter), and it hits me. I think it hits his cult following. He’s the underdog we all identify with. D
eadpool is messed up, but at the end of the day, he cares about his friends. He cares about people. He has a heart of gold, and that, that is what we are all looking for. Someone who’s in no position to judge us and just cares. A character with our problems who still manages to pull through. Honestly, he was created in 1991. He’s a millennial as far as I’m concerned. He’s us. He is our messy generation that has struggled and fought and screwed up.

 

But also he has an amazing sense of humor and great taste in tacos and pancakes…And he has a point. Chimichanga is fun to say.

It’s probably the humor thing, isn’t it guys? I just waxed poetically about Deadpool…for over 1000 words. Okay. There’s a questionable life choice for ya. See you Friday.

And moms, DON’T TAKE YOUR KIDS TO HIS MOVIE. Last thing we need is someone getting mad and then some mom protestor group stalls the sequel.

Case #5, Marty

Cinematic Persons Anonymous

“JESSICA JONES IS A MENACE! No, I do not want more pills… Do you know what it is to be her downstairs neighbor? The racket alone is liable to make you insane. I went up there one time to see what it was. The child had no glass in her door, there were holes in the walls and everything. It’d be okay if she was nice once in a while, but I’ve never met someone ruder in my life. You know, back in my day, we had respect for our elders. Not this one, though.Jessica Jones 2

“She just breezed on past me, called me ‘Gramps’ and—why are you rolling your eyes at me? Don’t you roll your eyes at me young lady. I don’t care if you are my doctor. Do you know what it’s like? Not sleeping? It’s horrible. I barely can get up and go to the park for my…

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Case#2, Adelaide Hux

The First Order can be stressful…

Cinematic Persons Anonymous

5EIH980I just… I’m just really stressed. Can I get a drink of water? Ah yes, thank you.

I know everyone thinks I just got this job because of my cousin, General Hux, but I have more talent than that daft, soulless ginger—everyone at home knows it. Only time I get any appreciation is around the holidays. Still, General…so much more exciting than “Head of the Financial Department”, isn’t it? No. I got this job on my merits. Mine. No one cares about numbers, about order, the way I do. It is called the First Order after all.

Well, before I go too far down a rabbit hole—you know, I might take that cup of tea you mentioned earlier? Yes, thanks. No sugar. Waste of coin, you know. As I was saying, Kylo Ren destroyed yet another incredibly expensive piece of technology…due to some sort of fit. I believe it…

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I just wanna write fluff…

I should be doing important things, like plot development and important metaphors and blah blah blah…sometimes I just want to write the floofy, fluffy, funny stuff, you know? Like I see why fan-fiction writers do it. They already have some good character development supplied for them, the setting has been done, people know the cast of characters, the adventure scenarios…

Meanwhile, me in SciFi world is wondering, “Hmm, do the doors have doorknobs? Or only certain planets? Or certain buildings on certain planets? What kind of food do we have? Where is it grown? If this ever gets done and famous, will Neil DeGrasse Tyson criticize the physics of everything like he did with BB-8? And how are my literary devices looking? Can I pull this into something decent-looking by a 4th draft? What would my college English professors think? Ugh..it’s cliche. It’s all cliche and they’ll know…One day, if I’m ever successful, some pimply-faced, teenaged boy will STILL find the flaws in my story and list them in great detail in a random comments’ section on Facebook…”

I just want to write something easy for a minute. Take a breather. SciFi and Fantasy, I think, provide more challenges than most genres, with the exception of maybe Mystery (because if you don’t have the mind to pull off the crime of the century, chances are your mystery isn’t so hot). The reasons being, you must craft your setting in crazy detail. Determine it’s physical laws, the rules of the societies. Usually you have to have some amount of lore involved. It’s exhausting. What’s worse is I know where my fluffy parts should come up, but I’ve got a ways to get there…and I can only write so much of it before I have the rest of the story done.

But then I read something like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? or watch Star Wars…and there’s something about the payoff of doing Fantasy and SciFi well that just might be worth it. Even if I’m the only one who ever gets to enjoy it.

Ground Control to Major Tom

We lost sweet, sweet David Bowie. The wonderful Ziggy Stardust. Jareth the Goblinking. He was always a lovely inspiration for me.

I keep typing away. Carving out what story I can. Sometimes I just…I reread what I wrote and I want to tear it up and edit it ’til the cows come home. But I can’t. I think I’ll get stuck if I do that. Plunging forward, that’s the way! I can rewrite later. It looks a bit hideous though, if I look backwards.

On a funny note, a friend and I have started a new blog, Cinematic Persons Anonymous, where we examine the mental well-being, trials, and even minor complaints of the supporting characters who may not get the credit, or even screen time, in the action movies we love. Thus far, we’ve had interviews from a royal robe designer from Ming City and the Head of the Financial Department of the First Order.  Do check it out.

If anyone has tips to make yourself keep writing, I’d love to hear them. Hopefully I can do a new post about fashion that inspires me.

Until later,

Xoxo Vicky Stardust

 

PS, my laptop kept changing Jareth to Garth. I’m quite cross with it now.