Three experiences on the Zombie Outbreak
'All this talk about internet films with so called dead people biting and eating other people made me think of The war of the worlds, says James Nielsen. 'Our grandchildren were staying with us for a few weeks and I much rather spent time with them, than worrying because of some silly prank. I thought that the President had been influenced by nutters when he gave his statement. Wyatt came to see us a few hours later and told us to come with him but ever since he started building that wall of his, I thought he had gone crazy. My Caroline however was eager to accept his invitation and we moved across the road. The first time I realised that it was for real was a few days later when Randall returned from Helsing bringing his sister's turned remains.' (interview CB, 2010-1)
'I had a friend who liked movies like Saw [a series of films about a sadistic psychopath who kills "sinners", CB]. He sent me videos of creepy looking people biting screaming people,' says Fred London. 'I thought it was some Bollywood film, but then without the dancing and singing. The videos kept coming but for many weeks I thought it was fake. It looked real, but they could also make realistic looking films about space travel you know? Maybe in the future people will wonder how we could think it wasn't for real. But they won't know movies and shows the way we do. And it wasn't as if it was everywhere: there was also a lot of attention for other stuff. A new comedy, a famous singer getting a divorce, Congress discussing an environmental bill, and the usual things: work, friends, sports, stuff like that. It wasn't until 12 July, when the President said that there was a virus making people act the way we'd seen in videos, that I believed it. But still I didn't think it had anything to do with me. I mean: it took a bitten person for things to get dangerous and there were no such people in Helsing. When Randall invited me to come to his place, I declined.' (interview CB, 2012-9)
'My friends were among the first who realised what was coming,' says Penny Drottning. 'I didn't believe them when they told me about it for zombies were like vampires and hobbits to me: fictional. When the guys participated in a survival weekend I'd set up and Sheldon slaughtered a hare, I knew it was for real: in the old world Sheldon ran away if only I talked about gutting a fish or so. For six weeks I joined them in their preparations and then it all started. We got out of Pasadena, save for Howard's mum, Mrs Wolowitz, who hadn't made it. Even before we'd left the neighbourhood I'd killed my first zombie. It helped that it wasn't someone we knew. It also helped that the guys were so shocked by the things we saw that I had to protect them: I didn't have the opportunity to feel sick. If I have to name one emotion that took hold of me back then, it was anger. Anger because of all those people dying, anger at how the world had changed, anger at abandoned cars and at front doors that stood wide open and anger at men and zombies attacking us.' (interview CB, 2011-5)
(From The histories of the people of Drottningville, Cynthia Böhr (ed.), first edition April 2025 CE)
How the plague started in Helsing
On 12 July 2010 the White House acknowledged what was styled as the outbreak of virus 42-06. For nearly two weeks then rumours had spread that a virus from India caused people to become cannibals and gruesome internet videos (that were being blocked after the President's statement) had added to the tension.
'There were teenagers in the village and at the mall who liked to walk like those in the YouTube videos did and scare others that way. Some even bit people,' says doctor Ramona Jung. 'I got my first patient asking for a tetanus injection on 9 July. This was a Mrs Van Dyke. I checked on her the next morning and she was fine. On my website I advised people to have a tetanus shot in case they'd been bitten. When Miss Lindberg asked me to come by to give her partner, Mr Jones, a tetanus injection, I could tell them that he was number eighteen already. That was on 15 July. Mr Jones had told me he'd had an encounter with a homeless man at the mall, the one legged Mr Noah Forbes, who was known for behaving wildly and loudly and for occasionally attacking people. Mr Jones always offered Mr Forbes food and Mr Forbes didn't always receive that gracefully. This time Mr Forbes had even bitten him, but Mr Jones wasn't concerned. When I checked on him the next morning I found police at his place though.' (interview CB, 2010-2)
Mr Jones and his partner had died. According to the official police statement they died of heart-attacks, caused by the general panic and their ages (they were both in their eighties), but it didn't take long for rumours to spread.
'A patient of Ramona had seen men in white protective clothing behind the mall late in the evening of 14 July,' recalls Melody Stewart. 'Another claimed that the policemen who got out of Mr Jones's house had blood stains on their uniforms and looked utterly shocked.' (interview CB, 2011-8)
Based on an investigation by Rajesh Koothrappali and Sheldon Lee Cooper held in April 2011 at the police station of Helsing, this is what very likely took place: On 14 July three hikers made camp on land owned by the Olsson siblings. Earl Olsson told them to leave, but seeing that one of the hikers was feverish, he allowed them to stay, but only for a few hours. He asked the police to have a look later that day.
'We'd heard stuff on the radio,' says Earl Olsson, 'but we didn't buy that crap. Cannibals? Ha! We reasoned it was all a stunt for some film, like what they did with that film about a witch. Record something at night using a hand-held camera and use a lot of fake blood and money will come flowing to you. Hell, what did we know. Anyhow, I didn't recall anything about people getting feverish, so I wasn't alarmed, I just wanted them off our land.' (interview CB, 2011-7)
The hikers left in the evening of 14 July to set up camp behind the mall. A guard, Mrs Julia Wood, found two dead bodies (IDs telling them to be Florence Cook and Harrison Diamond) in a tent. Both had been shut in the head and the police report – that was kept a secret – confirmed that they'd both had bite marks and that they'd turned. The third hiker (whose ID read Paul Jun) was found at the other side of the mall, near the place where Mr Forbes often spent the night. His head was smashed in. On 16 July it was found that one of Mr Forbes's crutches had dried blood on it, so it is likely that the third zombie attacked him and – seeing what happened to Mr Jones – bit him before Mr Forbes could kill him. Mr Forbes took his spot near the mall's entrance, where Mr Randall Drottning saw him at seven in the morning of 15 July. Two hours later on Mr Jones gave Mr Forbes some food and he got bitten. Mr Jones very likely turned late in the evening or at night and then attacked his partner. An anonymous call to the Helsing police station at half past eight on 16 July alerted the police. They found what remained of Miss Lindberg and were appalled when she turned out to be "alive". Mr Jones's walking corpse had made it outside, where he got trapped in barb wire in the back yard and still made an effort to attack the policemen (Brian Gustafsson, Helen Jonsson and Martin Owusu). One of them smashed his head in with a huge rock and when that proved to kill him, the corpse of Miss Lindberg was dealt with in the same way. The police contacted Mrs Carla Dahl, a niece of Mr Jones, whose name was in the couple's agenda: she was to have come cleaning at eight in the morning. She claimed that she'd been delayed and hadn't been at her uncle's house. Preventing the police from visiting her was a report from the mall: Mr Forbes had been killed, his body smashed to pieces by the manager of the mall, Mrs Evie Livingstone, and employee Mr Marcus Eriksson. They'd both been bitten but they claimed that though Mr Forbes had attacked them, he hadn't turned. Sergeants Owusu and Jonsson wanted to arrest Mrs Livingstone and Mr Eriksson, but the bystanders wouldn't have that and to save their lives, the sergeants left. Jonsson's report on what happened was the last one filed.
So far no zombies had "mingled" among a group of the living but on 17 July Jakob Gordon's turned body was found wandering in the park, blood stained and moaning. Jakob was the sixteen year old step-son of Mrs Dahl. A video "Tribute to Jakob Gordon from Helsing" (the block on videos was on titles and not on content as contributors had soon found out), showed the boy's corpse being stoned and people calling out things such as: "Not the head, do the knees!"
'After Mr Jones and Miss Lindberg died people came to my practise, demanding a cure they said the government had already provided to all doctors. Of course there was no cure, though at that time I still believed the White House statement that scientists would soon find one. I got threatened with a gun more than once and I handed out vitamin pills and placebos mostly, just to give them something. In the riots taking place on 17 July my car was burned and that of my visiting friend was stolen: we couldn't leave. On 18 July it seemed that most villagers had locked themselves in their houses or had sought refuge in the church.' (interview with Ramona Jung CB, 2010-3)
'When I came in search of Sissy, houses had been locked down,' says Randall Drottning. 'Cars were damaged. There were bodies in front of the church and on the road as well. Some still moved, others were clearly dead. Blood and bowels everywhere. Birds picking at corpses. It was like being in a Tarantino film you know? Except there was no one talking. I found Sis and the other women and I couldn't utter a word.' (interview CB, 2011-2)
(From The history of Drottningville, by Cynthia Böhr, first edition July 2030 CE)
'The Torsvik shield shows all is clear,' Sheldon told Penny and Wyatt as they made it to the kitchen to have breakfast.
Things had been clear for many months now and Penny chided herself for coming to expect it. On entering the kitchen she found that Raj and Lydia were already present. Lydia was slicing a loaf of bread and after greeting Penny and Sheldon she continued what she was doing. Raj tucked away something he'd been working on.
'What are you making there Raj?' Penny asked.
'It is supposed to be a bunny for Leonard's baby,' Raj said, shyly holding the would-be-cuddle up.
'That's so sweet!'
'I applaud how far you've gotten with it since Leonard's revelation and I think it's fortunate that you have half a year to improve your cuddle making skills,' Sheldon said as Howard walked in. 'Has it occurred to y'all that with Livia being even smaller than her sister and Leonard adding his genes, the child will very likely be dwarf-size? I hope it's a boy so they can name him Tyrion.'
'A small man with the mind of a king,' Penny said while she sat down.
Sheldon nodded approvingly at Penny's remark. 'And his wife lives here already.'
No one felt the need to talk while they ate, but afterwards, as Lydia collected the egg-shells, Sheldon mused that it was sad that they'd never get to know how the song of ice and fire would end.
'I hope that other fans rescued GRRM and protect him on condition that he keeps writing.'
Howard cleared his throat. 'This is a nice segue to our wall,' he said. He looked from Wyatt, who was drinking his tea, to Penny. 'Considering we'll start this week and taking into account fifty days during which we won't be able to work due to weather conditions, it can be done before May next year.'
This led to excited chatting, with Raj being the most enthusiastic in picturing their future settlement.
'Oh, before I forget,' Penny said. 'Last evening two couples informed me that they are to wed.'
'Who?' Raj eagerly asked.
'Daniel and Melody as well as Rebecca and Neill. Could you prepare the ceremonies Sheldon? They'll marry on the first day of the fair.'
'That is so nice!'
'It is practical Raj,' Sheldon countered. 'There'll be a festive dinner already. I don't see why marriage is nice by the way: so far every woman who got married got pregnant. Imagine Melody and Rebecca not making an exception and the doctor allowing them to work for only two hours a day, just like Leslie?'
Raj was about to say something but he remained silent as Sheldon continued: 'Melody is the next best thing we have to a neurobiologist.'
'But most of the time she doesn't work in the CDL anyway,' Raj countered.
'Speaking of pregnancies,' Penny said, 'Lana and Caleb will become parents at about the same time as Leonard and Livia.'
'How lovely?' Lydia said. She ended nearly every line she spoke in a high voice.
'Leonard and Livia can house a baby, but Lana and Caleb can't?'
Wyatt placed an arm around his lady-friend's shoulders.
'Penny figured out something already, didn't you Slugger? Want me to inform Caroline about the wall?'
'She'll appreciate that dad.'
Penny brought a loaded basket containing bed linen to the laundry room. She congratulated Denise, who had laundry shift, on the upcoming marriages of her son and her late sister-wife's daughter.
'I'm very glad to welcome them into the family,' Denise said. She blushed a bit and with a self-conscious smile added: 'Melody is a catholic and Neill is a heathen: five years ago I wouldn't have been this pleased.'
Penny grinned and Denise continued loading one of the industrial washing machines. Penny greeted her but was stopped from leaving by a question: 'Penny, with Rebecca's room being free soon, do you think that Sharon might move to her room so Marion, or I, can sleep in Sharon's room?'
Penny had planned for the doctor to occupy Rebecca's room, thinking that she would appreciate the company in house five, but she still saw that a woman sharing a room with two little boys wouldn't work forever.
'I'll think about it.'
Penny thought things over as she walked to the medical practice. On its door hung a piece of paper with the week schedules of both Ramona and Alonso, the dentist. Ramona was sitting in the waiting room, studying a thick book. She seemed to be both pleased with having a patient, as well as anxious that someone had gotten sick.
'Don't worry, I'm here for a social talk,' Penny said. 'No one's been to see you yet?'
'No. I don't expect anyone either.'
'Lana and Livia told me about their pregnancies,' Penny said.
'Both mothers are perfectly healthy.'
'And I know that they're in good hands. What I came to talk to you about is connected to Lana's pregnancy. For the first months after its birth her child can stay in her room -'
'And add more noise,' Ramona burst out while barely raising her voice. 'I'm sorry, but Lana and Caleb are so loud. At night. During the day. It drives me nuts.'
Ramona turned red and glanced at the door to see if it was closed. Penny told herself once again that she ought to spend more time thinking of the needs of the silent, unobtrusive people.
'Of course I'm happy for them,' Ramona said. 'They've looked forward to having a baby for some time.'
'Lana looked radiant when she told me,' Penny said. 'Now if you would give up your room for the baby, I have a quiet room on offer for you.' Checking her watch she added: 'Could you come with me for ten minutes or so?'
Ramona looked puzzled but she nodded and accompanied Penny to the farmhouse. Having arrived on the third floor they greeted Livia who was awaiting her pupils. They were chatting a bit when rapid footsteps announced the two Close boys, followed by Sansa Irving. As soon as the children saw the adults, they stopped in their tracks and politely greeted them before disappearing into the community room for classes, followed by their teacher. Penny and Ramona walked up the stairs to the attic. The attic used to be one huge space, smelling after owl droppings, with the only light falling in coming from cracks between tiles. Even after four years Penny was sometimes amazed to find it the way it was.
'We have a spare room on the first floor, but it's a room that can house two. Of course Caroline lives in a similar room and my friends –'
'I don't care for the size. I just long to live quietly.'
This surprised Penny coming from Ramona but she knew from experience what it was like to be too close to other people. As Ramona went from room to room Penny fixed her shoe-lace and thought of how surprised the winners of the Games would be to receive a real custom made medal.
A relaxed smile graced Ramona's features after she'd chosen the middle room closest to the stairs.
'I'm sorry I didn't notice that you weren't happy in house six,' Penny said.
'What? No! My friends live there. And Lana is rather nice. And Caleb, well…'
'Noisy guy, friendly enough in his unpolished way?' Penny suggested.
Ramona snorted with repressed laughter but she quickly became serious again.
'Please don't tell them what I said.'
'What's so wrong about what you said? But don't worry, my lips are sealed.'
Ramona smiled and looked at her future room. 'So I can live here after the baby arrives?' she tentatively asked. There was hope in her voice that she might move in sooner.
'I'll announce the changes during this evening's meeting. I'll work something out.'
Community meeting in meeting room (farmhouse), Monday 13 October 2014 CE
Chair: Penny Drottning
Minutes: dr Sheldon Lee Cooper
Present: all off and above fifteen years of age safe for Howard (childcare), Randall, Sharon, Sarah C, Leo, Tom, Missy (guarding), and Raj (monitoring)
P: Welcome everyone, especially Duane, who joins us for the first time! I will start by sharing – in case you hadn't heard yet – that there are going to be two babies born in half a year's time. [chatter] Livia and Leonard will become parents [cheers] and so will Lana and Caleb! [cheers, applause] Congratulations! [more applause]
As you know approximately two weeks from now we will host a fair with guests from the Stein farm. I'm looking forward to it, especially since we'll also celebrate two marriages! [chatter] I'm happy to announce that Melody will marry Daniel [cheers, applause] and that Rebecca will marry Neill. Congratulations to you happy couples! [cheers and applause continue]
Now, you will understand that all this causes a shifting in the housing. Daniel will move to Melody's room in house six and Rebecca will move to Neill's RV. I asked Ramona if she'd be willing to move out so her room can house Lana and Caleb's child. Ramona kindly agreed. [exclamation from Lana, who hugs Ramona. Caleb hits the doctor's shoulder] After the Fair Ramona will move into a room on the attic in the main house. Of course Lana's baby isn't due yet, but the kitchen block of house six is small enough as it is, and with Daniel moving in there, it's convenient to have Ramona move out already. And with a spare room in house five, there can be a bit of re-shuffling if its occupants feel for it.
I hope that in the future more people will marry and become parents. We might also receive other additions to our community, apart from the people from Greeneville who are on their way to stay. All this will in time cause a housing issue. We'll have to build houses in the future, and more importantly, we'll need space for that. After all, in time of need we need the walled land to grow food to feed us all. The more houses, the less food. Therefore, after the preparations we've made in previous years, this winter we will expand the wall. [excited talking] If I may please! [people shut up] Thank you. We will close in the Nielsen property, which, once the wall is finished, will be the home of Caroline, Sarah and Alex. [people mumbling among each other] If by the time the wall is done Sarah is still dating Raj –
SN: Of course I will be! [laughter]
P: – he will move in there also. The free rooms in the house will serve as temporary emergency shelters. The rest of the walled Nielsen property will be used for housing.
LeW: Perhaps a play-ground can be made there? [approving sounds]
P: That's a good idea!
GC: And a basketball field or so? [approving sounds]
P: You and your sports Gareth! [laughter]
P: Digging a trench and building a wall will take a lot of resources, for we want this done as soon as possible. We'll start tomorrow. I'll pass you the new schedule Sheldon made. Please have a look at it and if you have any questions, feel free to ask.
'How are the minutes getting along Sheldon?'
'I'm at the first silly schedule related question Raj.'
'What was it about?'
'"Will you blow up the referend's barn for building materials?"'
'It will fall apart any day now or so Howard told me, so we won't have to waste resources on that. Let alone fight zombies who'll come to investigate.'
'Zombies do no such thing.'
Raj sighed and rephrased: 'Zombies who will be attracted by the noise of the collapse.'
'Missy asked me to remind you not to be late for dinner at her place.'
Sheldon checked his watch.
'Leave the rest of the minutes for tomorrow, that will still only be two days after the meeting. Say, why doesn't Rebecca make them?'
'She claims she can't read shorthand. I have long suspected that her heart isn't into administrative tasks.'
'She's good at repairing clothes. And she likes to interact with children,' Raj said while ticking against a terrarium.
'I fear that in her wedding night she'll get pregnant.'
'Ha dude: she already is.'
'What? With Gareth for a father? And how would you know?'
'It's the glow. I'm good at reading it.'
'Missy's skin was different when she was newly pregnant with Mary-Elizabeth. So was Leslie's when she was carrying Niels and again when carrying Baby W. I knew about Livia and Lana over two months ago already.'
Seeing Sheldon frown Raj added: 'I'm a human predictor stick and I would make a bet about it if you had any comics to lose. Now remember: it's up to Rebecca and Neill to announce the pregnancy.'
'All right, all right. And I wouldn't be surprised if you were wrong.'
Raj shrugged away Sheldon's disbelief. He turned to leave, changed his mind and said: 'At times I wonder how they are doing.'
'The guys from the comic book store,' Raj explained. 'Stuart. Captain Sweatpants. Don't you feel guilty? For not having told them?'
Sheldon sighed. 'What would have happened if we had informed them? Let me repeat. One: they would have laughed at us, thinking we were insane. Two: they would have laughed at us and when the virus broke lose, they would have remembered what we said and come to steal our stuff. Three: they would have believed us and demanded we take them with us. Captain Sweatpants would have ended up doing something stupid to alert zombies and he'd be eaten. Stuart would have done the same, but with him being skinny he wouldn't have lured the zombies long enough to allow us to escape.'
'They could have made it.'
'Possibly. But not very likely. Since you feel bothered by this, just think that there's a multiverse where they live on this very farm.'
Raj nodded and smiled a bit. 'I will. Thank you Sheldon.'
Raj left. Sheldon shook his head. 'And in that same multiverse, we'd be names on the wall.'