When the zombie plague spread out of Canada and swept across the world, a small and unlikely group of survivors banded together in central Alabama. Some were locals, others were strangers brought there by circumstance. But in the face of reanimated death, all that mattered was their ability to stay alive.
For months they foraged near Montgomery, but eventually supplies ran low while the number of zombies seemed undiminished. And so a fateful decision was taken: to leave this place, and try to find somewhere safer. Some suggested Newfoundland, others the Maldives. But both seemed so very far away.
As a first step, it was agreed to travel to the coast and try to find a small boat in working order. Moving by sea along the Gulf coast seemed much less risky than going anywhere by foot or vehicle–and, besides, most of the group were dimly aware that both the Maldives and Newfoundland were islands. Rather than try to find a vessel in Mobile (a major port, but also a city overrun by many thousands of walking dead), they chose instead to travel to the sleepy Gulf town of Phirul, Alabama. There they would need to scavenge supplies and gasoline, find a boat, and–if they could stay alive that long–set off on the next, nautical stage of their struggle for survival.
Some had more personal reasons for travelling there. Research scientist Dr. Myles Boffin hoped to find clues to the zed-virus from among the records of a CDC emergency registration center at Phirul town hall. Father Cadwell sought to retrieve a famed relic of St. Skalrag from the local church. And private eye Dirk Bogart needed answers to some things that had been bothering him ever since it had all started. What were those mysterious black trucks? The lights in the sky? And why had Walmart begun construction of an underground warehouse in Phirul shortly before the onset of apocalypse?
Survivors: Dick Danger (reality TV megastar); Brother Cadwell (monk) and his faithful hound Edgmont; Dirk Bogart (private investigator); Vinnie Bognavic (bank robber); Freddy and Eddy (young thugs); Sven (deranged groundskeeper) and Ben (insane garage mechanic); Demi Delite (independent contractor) and Dr. Myles Boffin (research scientist).
Primary objectives: Locate 30 supplies, travel to the pier, fuel the boat (if necessary), escape by sea.
Secondary objectives: Rescue the Relic of Sat. Skalrag from the church (Brother Cadwell); recover patient records from the CDC registration center (Dr. Myles Boffin); investigate the mysterious Walmart construction site (Dirk Bogart).
* * *
The arrow on sign pointed south as it declared “Pier, 2 miles.” The road through the center of the devastated (and strangely Germanic) town of Phirul, Alabama looked quiet, but the survivors had little doubt that dangers awaited them.
They warily approached the town from the north (bottom of first picture), in two groups. Dick Danger, Brother Cadwell, Demi, Myles, and Dirk advanced towards the bridge. Freddy, Eddy, Sven, Ben, and Vinnie took a more westerly route, towards a small group of cabins near the woods.
A single zombie shambled into view on the bridge. Dick fired, and missed—cursing his gun, his agent, the zombie, and the apocalypse. Why should he have to put up with this?
The zombie advanced, biting the TV star. Infection? Dammit, that wasn’t in his contract! Dick dispatched the abomination with a single blow of his machete. Brother Cadwell stepped forward to bandage Dick’s wound, and to offer a silent prayer that the bite hadn’t already sealed his fate.
Meanwhile, Freddy and Eddy searched the cabins in the woods, finding a few items and pocketing others. Sven, Ben and Vinnie checked out the truck, but it was out of gas and inoperable.
They then began to move towards the river, in search of a place to cross. The deranged but deadly Sven took on a particularly large and fast zombie with his axe, darted around it while keeping up a lively conversation with his hand-puppet “Mr. Messiah” about custard, Beyoncé, and global warming.
Back at the bridge, Brother Cadwell’s faithful hound Edgmont began to growl, as a splashing sound was heard in the stream. A pack of feral dogs was headed this way!
Suddenly, the pack began to flee the area. It wasn’t anything the survivors had done. Rather, with moans and groans a large group of zombie came lurching out of the barn near the road.
Zombies in the barn? Who would have thought it?!?
On the bridge the group quickened their pace as the zombies lurched out of the barn and moved towards them. However, there was more bad news: another group of shufflers headed towards them from a group of houses across the river, and still others milling in front of the town hall.
Dick and Brother Cadwell broke into a sprint, hoping to cross the bridge and break into the clear before the undead could reach them. Demi and Myles were further back, however, and had little chance of making it in time that way. Instead they ran west along the river and through the woods, intending to catch up with the other group of survivors.
Myles slowed as his asthma acted up, and was attacked by one of the pursuing zombies. Demi wouldn’t leave him, and swung a pipe at the creature—but to little effect. While Eddy and Freddy finished their looting and pressed on across the river, Dirk held back to help his companions. Myles’ scientific knowledge might be vital to all their survival, and as for Demi—well, the tough PI would never abandon a dame. He opened fire, hoping to thin out the zombies with a burst from his old but well-preserved Thompson submachine gun.
Meanwhile, Dick and Brother Cadwell reached the side of the town hall in what was increasingly becoming a fighting retreat. The TV star knee-capped one zombie then another with his pistol.
The monk’s faithful dog was knocked down and grievously wounded by a zombie, but rose to its feet to fight again. It was then knocked down, and eaten as his owner beseeched heaven to hasten the time it took to reload his crossbow.
Suddenly it began raining—an act of God that the pious monk took as a sign. “Shelter in the town hall, my children, and have faith—we shall hold them off there.” Dirk provided more covering fire as they all began to run.
The zombie hordes continued to grow. Could the ragged band of survivors possibly survive such an onslaught of unthinking evil?
Vinnie was the first one to safety, bounding up the stone steps into the back door of the town hall. Myles and Demi struggled to cross the stream and catch up to the rest of the group.
Eddy was less lucky, set upon by flesh-eating abominations a scant few feet from safety. They tore through his hoodie, sinking their teeth into him. Badly bitten, he would crumple in a bloody heap—only to rise minutes later as one of the walking dead.
Fortunately, Brother Cadwell, Dirk, Sven, Dick and Demi would make it into the building without suffering a similar fate.
It was also too late for poor Ben: surrounded by a mob of unthinking murder, he used his formidable club (and fish) to buy precious minutes for his friends until he was finally killed and devoured by the ravenous horde.
Suddenly Demi cried out: Where was Myles? Nearsighted and slowed by his asthma, the brilliant but rather unathletic scientist had calculated that he would never make it to the former seat of municipal power in time. Instead he ran deeper into town, finally ducking into a house. Had he made it? It would be the last the group would see of him.
Inside the town hall, the survivors began to barricade the windows and doors as zombies tried to force their way in. A few did, before being dispatched. Clearly they couldn’t stay here long.
They decided to make a run for it out the east side of the building, towards a group of small houses that might provide a safer refuge. Freddy, Vinnie, and Brother Cadwell ran quickly across the street.
Dick, Dirk, Sven, and Demi ran into trouble, however—or rather it ran into them, as they were ambushed by a runner-zombie almost as soon as they left the building. After a difficult fight they finally finished it off, but the young woman was briefly separated from the others.
The group finally made it to a house, with Demi arriving shortly after. They quickly set about barricading and searching it.
Demi, Dirk, and Sven had been wounded in the fighting at the town hall, and were tended to by Brother Cadwell.
Outside, a couple of shufflers wandered aimlessly down the street. One, a flaxen-haired young child, clutched a blood-stained teddy bear. It was a truly horrible reminder of the tragedy that had befallen humanity.
After the group caught their breath, a few went next door to search that building too. With so many zombies milling around the bridge and town hall, there would be no going back–they would have to push on to the pier. In the distance, however, a solitary runner-zombie could be seen prowling in a field, directly in their planned path.
They all stepped out anyway, and the fearsome creature began to jog towards them. It didn’t get far: Dick Danger took the thing down with a single carefully-aimed shot to the head.
The sound of the gunfire soon attracted the attention of several shufflers from the vicinity of the town hall. Freddy and Vinnie both threw smoke grenade to block their line of sight, while Sven struck another down with a blow from his axe. Freddy also noticed something hidden the grass, besides a half-eaten corpse: an olive-green backpack filled with supplies and two containers of gasoline. He paused to pick it up, and then ran to join the rest of the group as they headed towards the concrete wall that marked the perimeter of the docks.
Bang! A loud retort echoed across the town as someone in the church steeple opened fire with a rifle at (or near) them. Everyone quickly sought cover behind nearby ruins. The noise also began to attract the attention of large number of zombies.
One zombified ex-longshoreman shambled out from amongst the parked trucks, but Dick took care of it. Another zombie came over the wall, and attacked Dirk with unexpected speed. The PI was bitten before the threat could be put down.
Demi, Vinnie, and Sven headed off to search the nearby warehouses for vital supplies—they still had less than they needed. Freddy ran off towards the boat, hoping to start it, accompanied by Brother Cadwell.
Dirk didn’t trust the young punk, and so he and Dick ran after them to make sure the vessel wouldn’t be leaving until everyone was on board–assuming it worked, of course. Demi was clawed by an ankle-biter in the first warehouse, and also started limping towards the boat, while Vinnie moved on to the second with Sven nearby. Looking through the building he came across an empty submachine gun. The ex-con was in luck: earlier in the day he had found several boxes of 9mm ammunition and somehow neglected to tell his companions. He quickly loaded his new weapon.
It was then that they spotted it: a huge, muscular zombie clambering quickly over the wall, and heading towards the injured, limping Demi. It was by far the most fearsome ghoul any of them had seen since the onset of the zed-plague. Dick shouted at her to run faster, while Dirk positioned himself on boat-deck where he might get a shot at the thing. Freddy desperately tried to start the vessel, but couldn’t: the keys couldn’t be found anywhere.
Vinnie and Sven ran from the warehouse too, and in so doing attracted the attention of the massive undead creature. Vinnie also noticed something else: a badly decomposed body beside one of the crates, clutching a set of keys. Could it be the keys to the boat? Sven ran as the brave ex-con slowed to retrieve the keys. “Hurry it up, jailbird–we’re not leaving you behind” shouted Dirk, as he fired his last two bursts at the huge zombie, slowing but not stopping it.
“Well, I ain’t stayin’ here,” replied Vinnie, as he pumped another burst of bullets into the thing, finally bringing it down.
With that he ran to the boat. The keys worked! Breathing a sigh of relief they started to back out of the harbour.
The deadly dangers of Phirul were now behind the dwindling band of survivors. But what had happened to Myles? And what new dangers might face them in the days ahead?