(And on the 29th of February 2012, the dead will rise and walk the earth. The zombie apocalypse hits Los Angeles.)
(Leap Year, Creep Year is a ten part ongoing web series that continued the first Wednesday of each month in 2011. The full ten part series can be read below.)
The greatest thing about being a paramedic during the zombie apocalypse is I get to do the exact opposite of what I was trained to do.
We broke in to the Target Downtown to get supplies.
I figured a crossbow and a trusty baseball bat was all I would need. I stopped and eyed the Segways in the corner near the entrance. Shit, I would need a helmet. When you’re now in the business of killing now, safety just makes good sense.
But let’s get something straight. These aren’t your Dad’s zombies. These guys are quick and can jump. I miss the zombies from the old days of Hollywood when it was all grunting and sauntering. Now it’s all just screaming and running. When did the Creeps start running? Maybe its all the fucking Red Bull and Captain Crunch kids eat these days. Doesn’t matter Jack, Mr. Crossbow is here to send them to their room and give them a spanking.
The rules are the same. Damage the brain and the undead fall lifeless to the ground like yanking the batteries out of a toy robot. I figure if I can start an IV on a vein going 60 mph on the potholed streets of Los Angeles I can shoot a zombie in the brain.
Christ, we don’t even know how it started. The calls started coming in as soon as shift began and they haven’t stopped since. Jumbled updates from dispatch and scattered reports on Twitter pointed to the unbelievable, the dead were indeed walking the earth. Happy fucking leap year. Within a matter of hours, downtown LA had turned in to, well, downtown LA 10 years ago. Desolate, homeless, and not a hipster in sight. Looks like the irony meter just hit maximum.
I stalk the aisles of Target with only the light of flickering fluorescents leading my way. With the rhythm of my boots on the linoleum I start to remember the simpler times of only yesterday when I was in here shopping for oatmeal and q-tips. Ha, fucking q-tips. Seems like such a trivial practice at this point. Finally, in Aisle 8, I find what I’m looking for. I pull open the fridge, tear the package open, and take a long cold swig of chocolate milk.
It’s gotta be somewhere around 3 am by the time we deem the place secure. I climb to the top shelf of the home goods section to try to catch a wink. I lay the crossbow at my side. The last thought I could remember before slumber was that I should probably figure out how to use this thing.
It seems like only 5 minutes have passed before I awake to the sound of groaning. My sudden movement must have bent the metal because I feel the top shelf give and the whole section collapses. Murphy and his fucking Law are such a timely bitch. I open my eyes and I’m lying on the floor surrounded by down comforters. Thank god geese are so comfy.
I hear silence. The groaning stops. It picks up again and I hear footsteps running in my direction. I roll to my right with my crossbow and meet eyes with the zombie screaming and running at me. I cock the crossbow back and pull the trigger.
Oh fuck you Murphy…
Leap Year, Creep Year (Part Two: Y’all Better Pray)
I feel a rush of air whiz past my ear and see the zombie’s head explode.
I look back to see my EMT partner Katrina holding two pistols with the barrels still smoking. That 5’10” statue of female perfection never looked so good.
“You alright there John?”
“Bought time you saved my ass for a change”
Katrina had been my EMT for the past year. An Ex New York supermodel that was forced to turn to blue-collar work after a tragic ankle twist on the runway. Her modeling career was never the same. There’s always been sexual tension between us and possibly some dormant feelings but the timing was always off. Plus, we wanted to keep things professional.
I stood up blew the feathers out of my mouth. “We need to get some gas for the ambulance”.
“Sure, but where are we going to go. Wait, I hear there’s a safe compound up in the valley?”
“Ugh I hate the valley. I’d rather be eaten by one of those creeps than have to go north of Ventura blvd. Isn’t there a gas station right outside of Little Tokyo?”
“Yea, its over on Alameda”, chimes in a gravely voice behind us.
Katrina and I turn weapons drawn to the voice behind us. We see a figure emerge from the dark with a shotgun. A preacher with an eyepatch. The double barrels pointed right at us.
We size each other up and after a beat I say, “Looks like we got ourselves a little Mexican stand off”
“Why you gotta bring race in this man? We are all god’s children” retorts the preacher.
“No it’s an expression. You’ve never heard it before? Look, ill pull it up on Wikipedia.”
We all pull out our iphones and check.
Katrina: “Aww Sally Merwin is ‘in a relationship’”
Preacher: “God never fuckin replies to my tweets”
Me: “Look, Mexican stand off.”
We all hover around my phone to read the entry and simultaneously “OHHHH”.
“Need a ride preacher?”
“That your ambulance outside”
“Yea, she needs gas though”
“Bitches always be needin somthin amirite?”. I guess this preacher cusses.
I laugh. Katrina rolls her eyes. This friendship may work.
“How did you become a preacher?”
“I wasn’t getting laid too much so I figured I should probably have a reason for it.”
“How did you become a paramedic?” he asks.
I subconsciously look off in the distance and before I speak we hear glass break in the northwest corner of the store.
The preacher ears perk up and he whispers, “sounds like someone didn’t like the China set”
“Let’s go”. I grab three helmets and we head towards the Segways near the door.
We strap on our gear and push the Segways max speed heading down Grand Ave.
With a full head of steam we hurtle at 4 mph towards Little Tokyo…
Leap Year, Creep Year (Part Three: Big Trouble In Little Tokyo)
It’s eerie quiet Downtown.
We cruise down Olive past Pershing Square with the whirr of our Segways as our only company.
Cars are overturned and the occasional trash cans are on fire. From the looks of it you couldn’t tell if the zombies had taken over or if the Lakers won the championship.
We go right on 1st and pass by City Hall. She looks beautiful at night. I always admired the…
And then we hear it. And then we see it. Right there on 1st and Los Angeles St. is a meandering gang of zombies screaming and blocking our way. Some claw at the brick buildings, some are waiting in line at Daikokuya, but most of them are standing in the streets fighting each other.
“You guys ready?”
“Let’s do this” sneers Katrina
“Whatchu think just cause I’m black I know how to shoot a gun?”. The preacher fires his shotgun and takes out the nearest two creeps.
I dismount my mighty segway and take a home run swing to the left side of a zombie’s head. THWACK! It reminds me of playing baseball for UCLA.
Katrina unholsters her two pistols and unleashes feminine rage.
So graceful. Where did she learn to shoot like that? God she looks sexy.
The rest of the creeps are alerted to our presence and they run at us like a screaming wall of teeth and decay.
I switch to my crossbow and lead the charge. THWIP! THWIP! THWIP!
BANG! THWACK! BANG! BANG! THWIP!
When the dust settles Little Tokyo is in shambles. Broken windows and blood decorate the street. The creeps lay in lifeless heaps on the ground.
“I guess that’s all of them” Katrina says.
We start to pile them up to burn them.
But out of the corner of my eye I see movement.
A blonde zombie in a tube top, mini skirt, and knee high socks stalks towards me. She’s covered in blood and holding a teddy bear.
I raise my crossbow and take my time with my aim.
“NO! Don’t shoot!” she screams.
Leap Year, Creep Year (Part Four: A Preacher and a Hooker
I lower my crossbow and take the scene in. She doesn’t appear to be a threat. Let’s see tube top, mini skirt, and knee high socks. But she’s covered in blood and holding a teddy bear.
“Is everything all right ma’am?”
“No, everything isn’t fucking all right. Do I look like I’m alright”
The preacher takes a step forward “What’s with the whore couture and teddy bear?”
“The teddy bear is my son’s that I’m looking for and my clothes are because I’m on duty”.
“Whatchu mean you’re on duty?” snarls the preacher.
“I’m a prostitute”
The preacher takes a step back, spits on the ground, and walks away.
Katrina breaks tension by offering our new guest a towel to wipe herself off.
“We’re on our way to get gas on Alameda, come with us. It would be a lot safer for you on these streets and we can look as a team”.
The hooker nods in reluctant agreement as she glances at the preacher.
Katrina and her ride their segway in tandem while the preacher and I take point.
“I don’t like her life choices of sin”, said the preacher
“Give her the benefit of the doubt preacher, you should know you shouldn’t always be so quick to judge”
“It says so in the bible, thou shall not troll for strange”
“No it doesn’t. Wait…fuck…does it?”
“Whatever maybe I’m paraphrasing but either way she’s a whore!”
I hear the whirr get louder then I realize what’s happening. The hooker jammed the accelerator on the segway and her and Katrina caught up.
“I’m not a whore!”
“You sleep with strange men for money? Yous a whore!”
“You don’t know anything about me! Sure I have sex for money but you don’t know how hard it is to be a single mom and put myself through medical school. I make so much money on this job and work so little I can still spend time with my kid and study”.
The preacher snorts and responds by hopping off his segway and walking over to the gas pumps.
“Fuck, they’re empty. Now what?”
We stand dejected for a beat then the hooker chimes in “I know someone that might be able to get us gas”
“Who’s that?” I say
“And where is he?”
Leap Year, Creep Year (Part Five: Keep Yo Pimp Hand Strong)
Of course her pimp is in Skid Row.
We hop back on our Segways and burn rubber at 3mph.
I hope this guy has some gas.
We only run in to a couple creeps on the way. Where do they keep coming from?
No matter, they are quickly disposed of by the hooker. This is where we learn about the hooker’s prowess with knives. Easily demonstrated as she decapitated a couple with a blade that could be no larger than that of a swiss army knife.According to the hooker her pimp taught her how to “cut a bitch”. She speaks of him with a combination of disdain and love that can probably only be replicated by a child alienated by abuse. She learned to be tough as a kid but always wondered who would take care of her when she was older?
The preacher zooms ahead.
He grunts at the satisfying crunch of a decapitated zombie head under his rubber segway tire.
As we roll through Skid Row we become unwilling players in the game of “zombie or hobo?”. It’s easy to play though when you take in to account that zombies are the ones trying to eat you.
We pull up to a dilapidated building with only the light of the moon illuminating the door.
The hooker knocks.
A porthole slides open and we see eyes.
It slams shut.
After a beat what sounds like seventeen different locks and latches are unhooked and the door swings open.
“Ey, where the fuck have you been woman?”
The hooker is thrown to the ground by a morbidly obese hispanic man in a purple suit.
Let me guess, the pimp.
He reaches a hand up to strike when his forearm is caught by the preacher.
“Lord says that there’s a sin”
They take a beat to size each other up and they step back.
“We’re here for gas” blurts the hooker
“I ain’t got no gas here”
“And where’s my son?”
“Both stashed it in a more secure place”
“And where’s that” I ask
He looks me up and down before he answers, “The Standard”
The Standard is a douchey trendy hotel on Figueroa. Built in 19… my inner wikipedia is broken by the sound of a scream coming from the corner.
It’s a zombie. In a cage.
We raise our weapons instinctively.
“Ey ey ey holmes that’s my little cousin. Don’t you dare shoot her”.
We look at what appears to be an emaciated zombie kneeling down and panting. It’s dying of starvation.
“Your little cousin is one of them now” Katrina chimes in.
“Ey fuck you lady” he inches towards the cage, now with a gun pointed at our group.
“I’ve been taking care of this girl since she was a little niña. It was just me and my abuelita in Boyle Heights. I remember when she was a kid her…”
The pimp trips over his alligator shoes and falls face first in to the cage.
The zombie takes hold and bites him on the neck.
It screeches in victory but a beat later is silenced by the preacher’s shotgun.
Two kills. One shot.
The hooker screams and we don’t know if it’s in horror or relief. We find out quickly when she lunges at the preacher and starts to cry on his shoulder. He appears shocked, looks in to her eyes, and then slowly wraps his arms around her.
Katrina smirks then looks at me “Well, off to The Standard?”
“Wait, how’s my hair?”
She rolls her eyes…
Leap Year, Creep Year (Part Six: The New Standard)
The Standard hotel on Flower x 6th has it’s crowd. It’s a trendy hotel with asymmetrical furniture that makes it perfect for filming locations and douche bags. It’s rooftop bar stands tall against the surrounding buildings that make the Los Angeles skyline. While tolerable during a normal Monday or Tuesday night it’s the weekend crowd where you may find a collection of Tapout T-shirts and girls in matching neon mini skirts and tube tops.
We pull our Segways up to the valet and park well, wherever the fuck we want.
The pimp said gasoline and hooker’s boy would be here. But where?
We walk inside and see no one. The front desk is empty and the only sound we hear is the dial tone from a phone that hangs off the hook.
We walk in to the main lobby and see the pool table, chandelier, and the coffee shop all illuminated by only the moonlight outside.
Abruptly the dial tone stops.
Katrina and I whirr around weapons drawn and we see the preacher, “What, I didn’t want them to get long distance charges”.
In the renewed silence we hear the faint rhythmic beat of music. We take the stairs up to the second level and the sound gets louder.
It’s definitely coming from upstairs.
The elevator opens by itself and we get in. I hit the button marked “roof”.
The elevator doors open and the cabin is immediately filled with that same rhythmic sound. Could it be? Is this “house” music?
Who’s having a rooftop party during the apocalypse?
The banner reads “The E! Channel Faces Of Hollywood Party” and we look down to see Vera Wang and Armani adorned zombies milling around the bar, pool, and dance floor.
The elevator doors close behind us just as we hear one of the creeps scream. And running towards me, I see what is, without a doubt, a zombie Kim Kardashian.
Katrina steps in between us and says “Oh hell no” and wastes zombie Kim with a single shot right between the eyes. She falls lifeless to the ground. For good measure Katrina takes another couple shots at the body lying on the floor. Then we all stand around her and join in unloading our weapons at the talentless corpse (you know, just to be sure).
The noise stirs the rest of them and as I look at their faces I realize where we are, a zombie celebrity party.
I switch to my baseball bat.
The two groups charge each other and first strike comes from my bat denting zombie Justin Bieber’s head.
The war begins.
The preacher shotgun blasts the entire pop group One Direction.
Katrina blows off the head of Oprah and Chelsea Handler.
The hooker decapitates Snooki.
They come in waves but are no match for our pent up anger from years of being denied quality television. Take that zombie Dog the Bounty Hunter. Take that zombie ESPN anchor Skip Bayless. Take that zombie entire cast of “The Shahs of Sunset”. Take that zombie Lana Del Rey. Take that zombie Jack Black (we’re tired of your one note humor).
We waste them all until two are left standing, zombie Heidi and zombie Spencer. They stand there snarling on the corner of the rooftop.
I pick up a bottle of Jager from the floor and chuck it at zombie Spencer’s head. With a smash they both fall over the ledge.
I look down at my hands to see blood and jager and I begin to weep. “I just…I just… miss sitcoms so much”.
I look up and smile and we all laugh.
“Let’s go do a shot”
I pour the four of us some Bulleit Bourbon.
“So where are we going to find this cache of gasoline”
“And where’s my son?”
We hear a rustle behind us. The hooker groans and takes the shot of her whiskey. She pulls out her knives “I got this”.
She turns the corner and screams.
We run toward the noise and gasp at the site of a small boy gnawing on her leg…
Leap Year, Creep Year (Part Seven: The Short Kiss Goodnight)
The preacher is the first to react.
He runs up and kicks the zombie boy off of her leg, picks him up, and throws him over the ledge.
The hooker looks down at her leg and begins to sob.
The preacher comes over and gives her a hug. “Was that…was that him?”
She nods in defeat. “He…he…he was only six.”
She begins to fade.
She looks up at the preacher and touches his face. “Preacher I wanted you to know, I…”
“Shh shh baby I know”.
She tries to fight it but I see her eyelids grow heavy. They finally close. She slips away.
The preacher kisses her on the forehead.
He lifts her up above his head just as she begins to turn, and tosses her to the street below. We hear her undead scream all the way down until it abruptly stops.
The preacher takes pause and stands there looking down.
He sighs and looks up to the heavens. “What the hell is that?”
We walk to the ledge to join him and see a giant purple light coming from the sky towards the west.
“Yea, what the hell is that?”
“It looks like it’s pulsing.”
“Yea, it looks like it’s coming from Hill Street.”
“Let’s check it out” I say, “wait, we’re still gonna need to find that gas and regroup.”
From behind me Katrina chimes in. “You mean this gas?”
I smirk. My girl saves the day.
“Now we just need to find somewhere quiet”…
Leap Year, Creep Year (Part Eight: Try A Little Tenderness)
The Varnish is a speakeasy hidden in the back wall of Cole’s on Sixth St. It’s an umarked door and a bar with no windows so we figure the creeps wouldn’t find us in there. We needed a plan. And we needed to go check out that purple light in the sky.
But for now, we got what we came for, gasoline. And a couple barrels of it.
I turned the key to the ambulance and the diesel engine roared to a start.
I rev it a couple times then put her in to drive. I accidently hit the siren. Katrina jumps.
“Uh so, siren works”.
We drive past the front of The Standard and see the bodies of the hooker and her kid. They’re now nothing but pulp.
I think I see a tear form at the corner of the preacher’s eye.
He sniffs. “Damn allergies.”
I drive the half-mile down to Cole’s.
We get to the speakeasy door and the priest goes off to be on his own. “I gotta go pray”.
I open the door for Katrina and she sits at a stool. I go behind the bar to make us a drink.
“What’ll it be dollface?”
She smirks, “You always did know how to make me laugh.”
She pauses and looks at me. “Remember the first emergency call we ever ran together? That 300 pound guy with the heart attack we had to carry down three flights of stairs?”
“Of course”, I said passing her a whiskey on the rocks.
“I never told you this before, but there was a moment when you looked at me while I was doing CPR and you made that funny face you always do. That moment, that’s when I knew you would change my life.”
“How so?” I shoot back my whiskey neat and poor us another.
“That’s the moment I knew I was in love with you.”
I take a beat, “I never told you this, but when I saw you clock in that first day for work, I specifically requested to be your training officer”.
“Is that right?” she smirks and bites her lower lip.
I wink and throw my empty glass at the wall.
She cocks an eyebrow then does the same.
I pull her on to the bar, lay her down, and kiss her with the release of years of repressed emotion.
Apocalypse? Best thing ever…
Leap Year, Creep Year (Part Nine: As The World Turns)
The preacher bursts in the door and sees us lying under a blanket.
“We got company…whatcha guys doin” he says with a smirk.
“Sinning” I reply
The preacher and I walk to the front of the bar and see the ambulance surrounded by zombies.
“Ready to get your hands dirty son?”
“More than what just happened? Sure.”
We hear a double click and Katrina joins us, pistols in hand.
I walk up to the first creep and take a mighty swing that knocks his head off in to the chest of another. The zombie catches it, looks down, then back up in time to see the arrow from my crossbow headed for his left eye.
Katrina split kicks two zombies and lands in a crouch, guns pointed at their head. BLAM BLAM.
The preacher whips a creep in the head with his shotgun and it falls down. He places his size 16 boot on the zombie’s neck. “Dust to dust”. BOOM.
The commotion alerts other zombies and we see a group of them screaming and sprinting towards us down Sixth St.
We hop in the ambulance.
Katrina puts the key in the ignition and turns.
It doesn’t start.
“C’mon you piece of shit” I hammer a fist in to the dashboard and she roars to life.
The radio blares The Beatles “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” [<—-click to play]
I can’t turn it off.
“Where to?” Katrina demands
“Head towards that purple light.”
The rig lurches forward and we make a right on Los Angeles Street where we are confronted by a sea of zombies.
She slams on the brakes. “Now what?”
I regrip the wooden handle of my Lousville Slugger. “Batter up”.
“Oh lord”, says the preacher.
He leans out the passenger window.
I lean out the driver’s side window over Katrina.
We look at each other.
Our eyes confirm a silent agreement.
We know what we need to do.
Katrina hits the strobes, turns up the music, and steps on the gas. The ambulance peels out and screeches toward the herd.
The preacher shoots.
Katrina mows them down.
[*I look at the world and I notice it’s turning. While my guitar gently weeps.*]
When the song ends we’re covered in blood and brains.
We stare at each other in silence.
I reach over and hit the windshield wipers and a zombie falls off the hood and we laugh.
We drive towards where the purple light from the sky is going. When we turn off 9th St on to Hill we see it’s the old Mayan Theater, and there’s a stream of zombies shuffling out.
Katrina puzzled. “Are they all coming out of there?”
“It looks like it.”
“Oh shit”, says the preacher
“Precisely” I say
“No, oh shit this.”
Katrina and I look down at the preacher’s forearm and see, as clear as can be, the unmistakeable dotted circle from a bite mark…
Leap Year, Creep Year (Part Ten: The End)
“Shit shit shit.” The preacher stares at his arm. “It must have happened in the battle. I don’t know how much longer I have. You gotta promise me you’ll shoot me when I turn John! You gotta promise me!”
“You’re a real good paramedic John I can tell. Sometimes you have to make the tough decisions for the greater good without emotion.”
The tension of foreshadowing weighs heavy inside the ambulance.
Katrina breaks the silence. “So, what are we going to do about that purple light and the zombie factory?”
“Do you think they’re all coming from there?”
“Maybe. But the question is, are there more locations than this one?”
“I guess we gotta destroy that mother fucker to find out.”
I’m gonna miss that wise crackin preacher.
“Preacher, I’ve got an idea.”
The preacher and I step outside the ambulance to chat. The conversation is animated but brief. Katrina looks puzzled staring at us from behind the windshield. She comes out to join us and slams the door shut.
I look over to the old Mayan Theater and see a couple creeps perk up at the noise.
“Here they come.”
I pull out my crossbow and take out a couple of the closest dead heads. The preacher’s shotgun rings out to my left and Katrina’s double pistols to my right. After taking out ten of them a whole new herd wakes up. They’re bloodthirsty to slaughter the nearest flesh and right now we’re looking like a medium rare steak.
The preacher yells, “It’s time John.”
Katrina keeps one eye on the running herd of creeps and the other on me. “What’s the plan now slick?”
I look at her and wink. I run to the back of the ambulance to grab my med bag and defibrillator and leave the back doors open.The preacher get’s in the driver’s seat and starts the rig. He adjusts the driver’s side mirror to see me. I nod. He nods back.
He looks at the wave of undead running in our direction and screams “I’ll see y’all in hell!” He hits the accelerator and lurches toward the crowd. I take my crossbow and hit one of the barrels of gasoline we stored in the back of the rig. Gasoline spurts into the air like an exposed artery then begins to leave a trail in the wake of the screeching ambulance.
Katrina confused, “Uh John, what are you doing?”
The preacher plows through rows of zombies and heads toward the theater.
“Whatever you’re gonna do, do it fast.” Katrina says in between firing her pistols as an onslaught of creeps continues to sprint towards us as hungry as a newborn wolverine.
“John I’m running out of bullets.”
I put down my gear and turn on the defibrillator to the max setting.
I put the defibrillator paddles to the gasoline trail and it lights up like the sun. The preacher crashes the ambulance in to the front door of the Mayan theater just as the stream of fire ignites the barrels…
Katrina and I fly back from the blast and land on the street, her in my arms.
After the white flash it takes a couple seconds for my senses to recover. I look around and dozens of zombies are lying on the floor around us. Some in parts. Some whole.
Katrina surveys the scene. “Well, it looks like that worked.”
“Of course it did. We saved the world.”
Katrina rolls her eyes at me. We stand up, brush ourselves off, and face beautiful downtown Los Angeles.
The serenity of the moment is fractured when we hear something speeding towards us falling from the sky. We look up in time to see whatever it is smash down at our feet in front of us.
There it sits, blackened and still on fire, the sign for the old theater.
“Ha, fucking Mayans.”
—- The End —-