If you’re reading this you’ve survived the rage virus pandemic up to now. Who’d have thought a strain of rabies would give human beings cannibalistic cravings? Now the infection is spreading at a sprinter’s pace, like a bite based relay race. Whether you’re a virologist calling it sixth extinction or an evangelical calling it the end times, you have to admit it’s pretty fucked up.
At least the symptoms are obvious: a spiderweb of black veins spreads across the face. The irises turn bloodred, and foam pools around the mouth. Fever boils brain. Then the body collapses and goes cold. When it gets back up it does the robot down the block.
Smart people are going into hibernation. Doomsday preppers are lowering venison into fallout shelters. The wealthy elite are wheeling whine into panic rooms, and a modern day Noah is leading animals into his fleet of underground buses. Suburbanites are filling bathtubs with clean water, nailing down their windows, installing gun turrets on their roofs, and laying landmines in their lawns.
We’ve been told to shelter in place and while it can be lonely the outside world is not a place you want to be. Trust me.
I’ve watched the infected form human pyramids to get at survivors. I’ve seen them scale commercial buildings like fire ants. Their team synergy is a sight to see and these leaning towers of zombies are hungry. They’re gnawing their way up the corporate ladder, ravaging open offices, chewing upper management down to the bone. A horde can downsize an entire call center within two minutes flat.
…And yet, like many employees whose businesses have been deemed essential, I have to go to work. Despite the blood trial up the block and the downed 747 across the street, Ship and Print’s hours have not changed.
That said I have some criticisms of S and P’s zombie apocalypse strategy.
Corporate has Left a lot to Be Desired
The rage virus is blood based. The masks corporate sent only cover the bottom half of our face. What are we supposed to do when an infected projectile vomits into our eyes? Our manager found some shades in the lost in found, but there weren’t enough to go around. The rest of us had to settle for reading glasses. Now we have to choose between getting puke in our eyes or being near sighted.
Corporate continues to provide inadequate munitions. Each Ship and Print location was issued one police issue Glock 17. Glock 17s take 9 millimeter magazines and yet we keep receiving boxes of 22 caliber rounds. When we emailed headquarters about the discrepancy we were told to make it work.
We’ve been forced to get by slingshots we’ve fashioned from office supplies.
We’re Not Meeting Safety Guidelines
We’re asking customers to wait outside the entrance, but there are intestines hanging from the stations and chunks of scalp on the handgrip. We’re trying to keep people safe, but our milkcrate barricades don’t come close to meeting OSHA guidelines. We tied the crates with zip ties but they topple all the time.
Customers try to ward off the infected by shooting them in the central mass. Even after we put up the sign that read, “Shoot them in the head or else you’re dead.”
I tried printing another with Keanu Reeves that said, “Be like John Wick give ‘em two in thick!” Still, customers are out there unloading their ammo into kneecaps.
Speaking of signage, I want to call attention to the fact that the Employees Rights posters that are required to be displayed by the Department of Labor are all covered in blood. Maybe that’s the reason no one is getting their fifteen minute breaks anymore.
Our Sanity is Wearing Thin
It’s bad enough to hear the infected at our doors, but due to lack of maintenance the office equipment is making strange sounds. Someone lost a finger in the production printer. Now it trumpets like an angry elephant. The copy machine beeps like it’s out of toner twenty times an hour and the fax machine keeps making a tone like a coked-up parrot. Oh and the satellite radio keeps playing “One Week” by the Barenaked Ladies over and over even though we’ve knocked out all the speakers.
Our Supplies are Running Low
We are starving. We keep submitting requests for provisions through the web portal, but they never arrive. Yet all of the planogram display kits keep coming on time. We haven’t seen a fresh water cooler in months, but the armored deposit service keeps knocking on the back door. We pried open the secure shredding container once we ran out of toilet paper. We’d still be using it if the shredding service hadn’t emptied it out.
Yesterday we had no choice but to raid the hardware store next door. It’ll help but we can only get by for so long on Red Bull and beef jerky.
We’ve Tossed Our Green Energy Policy out the Window
The CDC says the infected hunt the healthy by sensing body heat. Corporate didn’t have enough mylar blankets, so they mandated we cake on a layer of mud. Now they want us to keep the air conditioner running at twenty degrees all the time. It’s hard to meet customers with pep when we can see our own breath.
Now the power keeps going out and the backup generator isn’t up to the task.
Corporate sent us a hose to siphon gas from the cars out back. The problem is that most vehicles are too modern. Their fuel tanks have a metal flap to snag the hose and their filler necks have an obstruction to keep us from getting a good flow going. Suck all you like, but you’ll never get those things to come.
We are Overwhelmed
Everyone is over on hours because the infected never sleep. Corporate decided to mandate that when we clock out we leave the premises. That means we have to side step the horde, find a shelter, and get back within the strict five minute window before our shift starts.
If anything Ship and Print should be hiring more staff. We’ve gotten a surge of new customers ever since the infected swept through the FedEx up the block. Now more than ever people need to return their items back to Amazon.
We’re one of the few shipping services where people can mail essentials. Things like: vibrators shaped like eggplant emojis, gemstone water filtration pitchers, Millennium Falcon waffle irons, subscription lingerie, and espresso pods.
My apartment has been in ruins ever since that Range Rover knocked out the support beam, and yet my lease is for twelve months. So I still have to pay rent. Then there’s my student loans. Those aren’t going away any time soon not with all the debt collectors safe and secure in their bunkers. That and I have to make car payments to make. Repo men don’t mind working in Armageddon conditions.
And let’s say someone does come up with a cure for the rage virus. Ship and Print won’t cover it. So I’ll need to start saving up for health insurance.
It doesn’t really matter that there are corpses lying in the intersection, with their jaws hanging open, and tongues rotting in the sun. It doesn’t really matter that Wall Street is now a game trail for the infected. It doesn’t matter that the national guard outposts have been overrun. Capitalism has survived the fall of civilization.
So I’ve still gotta go to work and make that money.
Meet Noelle, a Hollywood transplant that’s been subsisting on instant ramen and false hope. She’s on the verge of moving back into her mother’s trailer when her agent convinces her to take a meeting at the Oralia Hotel. Enchanted by the art deco atmosphere Noelle signs a contract without reading the fine print.
Now she has one month to pen a novel sequestered in a fantasy suite where a hack writer claims he had an unholy encounter. With whom you ask? Well, he has many names: Louis Cypher, Bill Z. Bub, Kel Diablo. The Devil.
Noelle is skeptical, until she’s awoken by a shadow figure with a taste for souls.
Desperate to make it Noelle stays on, shifting the focus of her story to these encounters. Her investigations take her through the forth wall and back again until she’s blurred the line between reality and what’s written. Is there a Satanic conspiracy, is it a desperate author’s insanity, or something else entirely?