A few years back, I was commissioned to write a story for the 'We're Alive' podcast.
Long story short, it didn't pan out.
But I spent a very long time writing it for it to languish in my computer. I spent that time not only writing it for the 'We're Alive' folks, but mostly for my readers.
So what I've decided to do is publish my initial story here, via my blog, as a work of FAN FICTION, a completely unofficial piece about a character from the series. This is completely unofficial and unauthorized, but I think my work and time spent on this project deserve to see the light of day.
I would like to encourage everyone who might enjoy this fan fiction to check out the officials 'We're Alive' website HERE. It is a fantastic and well-developed world created by a group of professional writers and expert voice actors.
In the meantime, here's the completlely unofficial, unauthorized 'We're Alive' fan fiction, originally entitled (WORKING TITLE: BURT)
BOWIE V. IBARRA
From an idea from the creators of the
“WE’RE ALIVE” podcast
Copyright 2011 PRODUCERS OF “WE’RE ALIVE” PODCAST, BOWIE V. IBARRA
8. THEN THE REST OF THE WORLD ENDS
He remains only in my memory.
The final shot of ‘The Road Warrior’ played out on the screen. The camera panned away from Max, leaving him alone on the cruel post-apocalyptic Australian highway. Then, it transitioned to the closing credits and the Brian May end credit theme.
“She remains only in my memory,” whispered Burt.
As the credits rolled, Burt rose from his seat. He walked to a nearby wall that was lined with several dusty and old picture frames.
One was the picture frame with their engagement pictures. The central picture was of his loving and dearly departed wife. She was dressed in her white wedding dress. She looked stunning. Her deep brown eyes sparkled above her immaculate smile. Burt always told her she was prettier than the bouquet she held.
Around her picture were pictures of them together. Walking. Holding hands. Looking into each other’s eyes. Kissing.
For a moment, Burt could feel her kiss on his lips again. It made him smile, but he sighed with sadness.
The tape ended. The VCR clicked to a stop and churned. The blue field appeared on the television again. The word ‘STOP’ appeared at the top in bold digital white. As the VHS clicked again, the word was replaced with the letters ‘REW’. Burt could hear the old machine whirling away as it rewound the VHS tape.
Burt moved to another picture. It was a print of the ribbon cutting from the Montebello newspaper. Everyone was all smiles, at least in the picture.
What the picture didn’t show was the small mob of about thirty protesters who came out of the woodwork to demonstrate against the gun shop.
Burt was thankful for the interview by local news KABC. But he was even more thankful for the even-handed reporting that simply provided both perspectives fairly.
Thinking back on his interview, he thought he made a good point. Most of his argument revolved around local police being stretched thin and that it was every citizen’s God-given right to defend themselves, their families, and their property within the parameters of the law.
“Someday, these people will be faced with a circumstance where they’ll wish they had a gun.”
It was a perfect sound bite that the TV station used to close the piece. Burt was happy that was the last impression the viewer was left with.
Then Burt chuckled as he remembered Shirley’s passionate and obscenity-laced response.
They didn’t have any footage they could use from her interview segment that was appropriate for the air.
The thought made him think of one of their last conversations.
“You take care of the store when I’m gone, Burt,” she would say.
“Absolutely,” said Burt with resolve. “It’s our store.”
“It’s my store,” she responded as powerfully as she could. “Don’t you fuckin’ sell it, or anything. You take care of my store.”
“I swear on my mother’s grave,” he said. “I will defend your store.”
“Even if the world ends,” she joked. “And mauraders are fighting for fuel or some shit.”
Burt chuckled. “Even when the world ends.”
It was a funny joke to them.
The end of the world. That concept was always good for a laugh.
Then the VCR clicked to a hard stop. The white ‘STOP’ letters appeared on the blue screen again.
Having had to rewind the VHS tape automatically, the player had a particular program. The machine assumed the viewer had fallen asleep or just was done watching movies.
So the word ‘EJECT’ appeared on the screen. The machine spit up tape, placing it out of its rectangular mouth just enough for the viewer to grab and put away when they were ready.
Then, finished with its job, it turned itself off.
Thus, the blue screen transitioned to television.
Then, the TV was displaying what was now showing on the channel.
The world of post-apocalyptic Australia was now turned off.
Replaced on the screen was the world of the current apocalypse taking place in California. In Los Angeles and all the surrounding suburbs.
That meant Montebello.
…bodies of the dead are rising and engaging in cannibalism. Religious leaders are calling it the end of the world. The bodies of the dead are rising and attacking the living…
The words at first didn’t register in Burt’s head.
“Bodies of the dead rising to attack the living”
“Acts of cannibalism”
“Wholesale murder sweeping Los Angeles, from Hollywood Blvd. to William Wright St.”
“William Wright St.?” whispered Burt, turning to the television. “The gun shop.”
385 William Wright St. was the location of the gun shop. The closed gun shop.
The intimate familiarity of the street name caught his attention. He walked to the television, listening and watching.
“…incredible as they seem, are not the result of mass hysteria…”
Over a helicopter shooting live footage of absolute and pure mayhem in downtown Los Angeles, a stern and stoic voice spoke with grim urgency.
“…report from FEMA in Washington, D.C., quote, ‘It has been established that persons who have recently died have been returning to life and committing acts of murder…”
“What?” whispered Burt, changing the channel to make sure this wasn’t some kind of movie.
A sheriff stood by a stack of flaming dead.
“… bad part is? I know some of these people…”
“… body that is not exterminated becomes one of them. It gets up and kills. The…”
“… Vamanos. Everybody let’s go. C’mon, let’s get to it. I know…”
“Dora the Explorer on PBS,” groaned Burt.
He changed it back to the original station. There was no sense denying it now. The news chopper was showing footage of the city.
Burt picked up his phone. He dialed the passcode to listen to his messages.
“You have four unheard messages,” said the voice.
The first was from his Uncle Oscar. The very same one he let the call notes pick up.
“Burt, its your Uncle. Call me. I just want to make sure you’re okay.”
Burt deleted the message and listened to the next message.
“Burt, it’s Mike. Can you believe that shit going on out there? I don’t know whaaaat the fuck is going on with those cannibals. I need some weapons, though. Give me a call. Bye.”
Burt deleted it, then listened to the next message.
“Burt, its your Uncle Oscar. I just want to know if you are okay. We’re doing alright over here in Sacramento. Crazy shit has started here, too. We just need to know that you’re okay. Call us.”
Burt deleted the message, then heard the last one.
“Burt, you need to call us now. We’re securing our house now and want to know if you are doing alright. We’re going to be fine here, but please, we’re trying to check up on all our family and you’re the only one we haven’t heard from. Call us. Bye.”
“Damn,” muttered Burt, dialing his uncle’s cell phone number frantically. He wondered again how things could have got so crazy in the course of ninety minutes, the length of the movie.
After a number of rings, the call-notes picked up.
“Hi. I can’t come to the phone right now, but if…”
Burt hung up the phone. He looked under the end table for the greater Los Angeles phone book. He picked it up and looked for his uncle’s home phone number. When he found it, he dialed it and waited for someone to pick up.
To his initial relief, someone on the other end picked up.
“Burt? Is this you?”
“It’s me, Uncle Oscar. Are you okay?”
“We’re fine. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. But what the hell is going on?”
“I can’t talk for very long, Burt. I just wanted to know that you’re okay.”
“I already told you. I’m fine. What the hell is going on?”
“It’s the end of the world, Burt. The dead are fucking rising and fucking attacking people.”
“I shit you not, Burt. We’re surrounded right now. There’s a bunch just outside our house.”
Burt began to panic. It was all so overwhelming and unbelievable. But it was true. It wasn’t a TV show. The news was real, and what was happening at his uncle’s house was real, too.
“What have you guys been doing? Are you guys okay?”
“We’re fine, we’re fine. We’ve boarded up all the windows. Sebastian and Seth are here. As things got crazy, they made a run to the convenience store for water. They said people were already looting it. They brought us back some water and Gatorade.”
“And ‘Chunky Asses’,” called out a voice in the background.
“Yeah,” said Uncle Oscar. “Seth brought a copy of ‘Chunky Asses’ and gave it to your aunt.”
Burt couldn’t help but chuckle. “Seth was always the dumbass right?”
“Right. But they said it was crazy out there. Lots of people are hiding. But lots of people are looting, too. The boys said there were lots of people with weapons killing people they thought were sick. People kicking people’s asses with pipes and shit. It’s just a total madhouse out there. Don’t go out.”
Burt was suddenly filled with helplessness. His arsenal was filled with weapons that were no good to his family in Sacramento.
“Dammit,” said Burt. “Ya’ll got weapons.”
“Yes, but not a lot of bullets,” he replied.
“Don’t worry about us, Burt. You take care of yourself. We’ll…” Then his uncle shouted, “Over there! Stop it!”
Burt could hear gunfire and more shouting on the other end of the line.
“Uncle Oscar,” he said. “Uncle Oscar.”
“Burt,” shouted his uncle. “Take care. Thanks for calling. I gotta go. Call us later.”
Then the line went dead.
“What the hell?” asked Burt out loud.
The television announcer then caught his attention.
“…sidents of Los Angeles county are encouraged to stay in their place of residence at this point and defend themselves. If you encounter any of the attackers, FEMA has advised the only way to stop them is by removing the head or destroying the brain…”
Though Burt caught the last statement, it was a video image that got his attention.
Her store, he thought.
The anger he had repressed by ignoring the news, the rage he felt for the city and the people causing the unrest suddenly returned to the forefront of his mind. He was getting an idea why things got so rowdy, but that was no excuse for looting. In fact, considering the bizarre phenomena occurring across the city, it was now even more dangerous than your average LA riot.
It was the last thing he wanted to do. His plan was to stay in the house, ride out the storm. He did not want to go out into the stupidity of the city. But now, Burt knew one thing for sure, apocalypse or no apocalypse, he now had a mission.
“There’s no way in hell you stupid bastards are taking Shirley’s store,” he growled.
Burt was not taking this shit lying down. He hoped what waited for him on the burning streets of Los Angeles county did not feature what ‘Road Warrior’ had illustrated. Rapes. Fights. Death. But considering what his uncle had just told him, he didn’t hold out hope for any kind of decency in the middle of a riot.
With meaning, he rose from his chair. He passed by the kitchen. The meat thawing in the sink would have to be ignored.
No time, he thought to himself. He grabbed a handful of crackers and dashed to the weapon room.
Burt put on a military jacket immediately, putting the remaining bag of crackers into his jacket. The jacket was a heavy-duty coat that was hanging by the door for just such an occasion. He knew exactly what else to grab in his armory.
M-16 with a sling, fully loaded.
Two more fully-loaded magazines for the M-16 were placed in the jacket pocket, with two additional magazines prepared for his other loaded and lethal weapons: two .45 Colts. One was set on either side in a holster on his hips.
Burt knew he didn’t want to have to expend the ammo until he absolutely needed to. So he reached for his KA-BAR, a knife from his Marine Corps days. Etched into the cold steel were the initials, ‘USMC’.
“Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children,” he whispered.
Burt’s heart was ready. His soul was burning, a ball of spiritual fire ready to fight for the memory of his wife and the store.
Only a few minutes before, he was going to avoid the chaos outside his door like the plague it seemed to be. Now, he couldn’t wait to get out into it and jump into the fray.
As Burt looked at his trembling hand holding the KA-BAR, he took a moment to consider the danger. Could his body commit to combat in the world of the bizarre cannibalistic rising dead? He was hungry, but would the crackers he ate throughout the day provide enough energy to make a run for the store?
Burt took a deep breath. Then, he took a knee by the table where bullets were refilled. He placed his arm against the edge of the table. Still holding the KA-BAR firmly in hand, he closed his eyes and placed his head against his arm. He slung his M-16 across his shoulder.
Burt then began to whisper the only prayer he ever knew.
“This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.”
Burt thought about his past. His cousins. School.
“Without me, my rifle is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless.”
Why do you even show up to school, Scott. You’re useless¸ he could hear Principal Baines say.
“I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than the enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will.”
“My rifle and I know that what counts in war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our bursts, or the smoke we make. We know it is the hits that count. We will hit.”
Memories of the Viet Cong attack flew through his head.
“My rifle is human, even as I am human, because it is my life…”
Burt could feel his adrenaline rise. In spite of his hunger and shaking hands, he was going to make a hard and true push to secure ‘Locked and Loaded’ if it was the last thing he ever did.
“Before God I swear this creed. My rifle and I are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.
“So be it, until victory is America’s and there is no enemy.”
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