Back from the Czech Republic

Apologies to all regarding my absence.  It’s been hectic trying to figure everything out from getting the information from the proper authorities to trying to piece every bit of information together because this is a rather perplexing puzzle.

It’s all rather disappointing, to be honest.  It’s been so long yet so little is known.  After taking samples from the spill, we’ve been desperately trying to separate the chemicals from each other.  It’s not very easy after they’ve been mixed together and they’ve reacted to each other several times over.  The company who was transporting the chemicals to be disposed of have been tight-lipped, not wanting to take any blame for what’s happened.

The chemicals we have successfully found, to our knowledge, haven’t the properties to do what has miraculously happened, bring the dead back to life.  It may forever be a mystery.

From the information we’ve gathered, this is how the circumstances went on.  The truck swerved off the road and crashed into the gates of the nearby cemetery.  The tanker was torn open and the chemical contents poured into the small cemetery, basically filling it like a pool.  The liquid seeped into the ground and open holes where the seepage got into the recently buried coffins.  The coffins aren’t of metal or tight wood constructs like most of you may know, these were made of thin, sometimes rotten, wood.  So the chemicals easily entered into the bodies of the deceased.  Through our investigation of the scene, there was a nearby underground electric cable with poor insulation running alongside the cemetery.  It is possible that a current was put through the chemicals and may have, to put it bluntly, re-booted the brains of those that were dead.  That’s the theory that we’ve been working with of late, the chemical spill alone couldn’t possibly do what we’ve seen.  However an electrical charge could’ve helped the situation.

We’re currently running tests using liquid samples with electrical charges to see if we could replicate the accident.  In time, we could have a breakthrough.  Or a mystery that has lasted for ages and will continue as such.

-JSB

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The Zombie Part 2: Modern Day and Killing the Walking Dead

“When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.”–George Romero, “Dawn of the Dead”

Evening, folks.  It’s Mason again, back and recuperating from my trip to San Francisco.  If you’re wondering, yes, there was a Red Court nest–and if you were in the San Francisco area, a gas leak didn’t cause that explosion.  A rocket launcher did.

JSB’s busy dealing with the Infected outbreak in the Czech Republic, so for the time being I’ll be your guide through the modern day world of the Walking Dead–what I like to call the “Rager” variant of zombie.  Bear with me, ’cause this one’s going to get strange.

Most of you may know that the United States Government has been waging an active war against countries that develop “weapons of mass destruction” since the ill-fated events of September 11, 2001.  America’s official stance is that foreign enemies have no business holding weapons that can kill lots of people, be they nuclear, chemical, or biological.  What most people don’t know is that the United States has been actively involved in the development of biological weapons–specifically viral weaponry–since 1965.

During that year, President Lyndon B. Johnson, at the direction of a shadowy organization known only to SASR operatives as “The Company,” signed an executive order authorizing the development of biological weaponry that could be used for combat purposes.  The Company took possession of federal funds designated for this purpose, and started work on a virus that would reanimate dead tissue.  Their research finally came to fruition in 1968 when they combined ancient Haitian techniques for reanimating corpses with modern chemicals.  This new viral weapon was an airborne pathogen that re-started electrical activity in the brain stem of any newly-deceased human body.  The risen corpses had basic motor functions restored and possessed an insatiable thirst for human flesh.  They were essentially walking stomachs that couldn’t be put down for good by the normal means of dispatching a human.

To make matters worse, the virus was transmitted through bodily fluid contact.  The saliva accompanying one bite from the Infected was fatal to a human within anywhere from four to six hours, and when the bitten human died, they rose as yet another zombie.  The Company found this out the hard way through field tests in 1968, when the first batch of pathogen was released in a secluded Midwestern cemetery.  This outbreak ended with some measure of containment and official federal funding ceased at the end of the Johnson administration.

This didn’t stop The Company from continuing private research through funds earmarked for DARPA.  They’re powerful like that, and they have the ability to influence any branch of government they want to get what they want.  Testing continued on what I’ve called the “Haitian” strain until 2000, when a branch of The Company located in the United Kingdom managed to develop a brand new variant of the Haitian pathogen.

This new virus was airborne, slowed the process of blood congealing in the body after death, and prevented the onset of rigor mortis.  In layman’s terms, it means that the walking dead created by this new “Rager” strain were faster than the earlier “Haitian” counterparts–which tended to be somewhat mobility challenged.  Rager Infected were also able to transmit their virus beyond just a simple bite–if a human got so much as a drop of blood from a Rager in an orifice they were doomed to become a Rager zombie within about 3-4 hours.  The last bit of misery associated with a Rager zombie is…well, the rage.  These zombies are possessed by some sort of testosterone-boosted anger reaction that causes them to become relentless attack machines.

Spotting and Killing the Walking Dead

Now comes the area where I’ve got some expertise.  First off, if you want to make a distinction between the Haitian and Rager variants of zombies, just watch how they move.  Haitian zombies are slow and easy to maneuver around.  They’re not that flexible and can’t follow you without a very easy path available for them to travel.  Ragers, on the other hand, are fast.  They can run, climb, jump, and will do all of the above to get at their human targets.

Killing zombies in either case is easy in theory but hard in practice.  SASR has confirmed through extensive field research two ways to kill a zombie: massive trauma to the brain or severing the head from the body.  Most people will try and resort to shooting zombies in the head, especially if they have guns.  This is a good idea in theory, but a couple of problems result from this method.  First, you’re more than likely going to be limited in the amount of ammunition you have in a given situation and zombies tend to travel in packs.  Second, it takes a skilled marksman to put a bullet in someone’s head and do it with one shot.  If you’re going to use a gun, make sure every bullet counts.

Melee weapons are good in a pinch.  I keep my handy-dandy field shovel around for burying in zombie skulls.  The key here is to make sure you swing with enough force to either break the skull and get into the brain, or go for the neck and sever the head from the spine.  Be careful if you’re attempting this on a Rager zombie, though, because the blood spilled from a Rager in death still carries the virus and can infect you if you’re not careful.  Blunt force trauma weapons also work (baseball bats, frying pans, shovels) but they’re not as effective as something with an edge that can cut if necessary.

My last suggestion for weapons?  Explosives.  Most of you won’t have access to grenades or other bomb-making materials, but if you do–blowing a zombie to bits means that they can’t attack you.  It’s the old Cobra Kai principle put to good use against the Walking Dead–if a zombie can’t stand, move, crawl, grab, or bite then they can’t hurt you.  Blowing one to bits will take care of them, but make sure you have the job done before you relax.

Finally–and this is a point I’m never going to stop stressing–keep your cardio up.  If you can’t run from a Rager, they will get you.  Make sure that you can get away from a pack of Infected and seek high ground whenever possible.  It could be the key that saves your life.

Keep the faith, readers.  I’m sure JSB’s going to school me on the finer points of the Infected, but that’s his job.  I’m here to give you what works in the real world.

–MY

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The Zombie Part 1

Originally, the zombie was a fixture of voodoo lore in Haiti.  A zombie wasn’t always a walking corpse.  A zombie could be referred to as someone living under a Haitian trance with the help of various chemicals, toxins and hallucinogens.  However, this belief was also used for the undead who were awoken to toil away while their master merely told them what to do.  This phenomenon was researched by ethnobotanist, Wade Davis, as he had traveled to Haiti to look into this strange culture to see if he could find the proper herbs and plants in order to stimulate a body before death.  In other words, he was researching how to stop someone from dying or quickly bringing them back from death.

What initially brought Davis to Haiti was the story of a man named Clairvius Narcisse, who was poisoned, thought dead and buried.  The poison was some mixture of neurotoxins (among other chemicals) that made him merely appear dead and he was buried alive.  Narcisse had been able to dig himself out of his shallow grave and those around the area were witness to what they thought was a zombie coming back from the dead.

Clairvius Narcisse, post death, 1963

Davis has written a book of his experiences, titled “The Serpent and the Rainbow”, which was also turned into a film but does not follow the book to the letter.  Most scientists have been extremely critical of Davis’ work and his lack of being able to reproduce the facts that he had given.  After first hearing of Davis’ work, the SASR traveled to Haiti to try to find a proper mixture that would reproduce the same results Davis had apparently found.  To this day, we have yet to reproduce any sort of chemical that would stave off death or bring a recently departed human back to life.  The local voodoo priests have been uncooperative to share their beliefs with those who do not practice voodoo themselves.

I will discuss what most people would consider the modern zombie in the next update.

-JSB

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Zombie Outbreak in Czech Republic

Apologies for the lack of updates, but I was sent in with an emergency team to Pardubice, Czech Republic.  There was an unfortunate accident involving a truck that had various chemicals for waste disposal as it had apparently veered off the road to avoid hitting a deer and ran into the nearby Metzenseifen cemetery.  Very messy.

We’re still trying to figure out exactly what chemicals were in the truck.  It seems that a local company dumped everything into the truck instead of getting separate trucks for each chemical they were disposing.  Until we identify all the chemicals, it will be . . . difficult to piece this situation together.  So to put it rather bluntly, the chemicals had seeped into the cemetery ground and, well, re-animated the bodies in the ground.  At least the fresh ones that were put in over the past month.

From what we have pieced together, the body of Karyl Kysilka was buried just a few days before our arrival but it was a cheap funeral and the local undertaker didn’t bury the body quite deep enough.  After the accident and poor clean up, the chemicals had somehow seeped through the ground and casket (which was of poor construction as well) and got into the body.  Until we figure out the chemicals, it will be difficult to pinpoint exactly how they were able to reactivate primal brain functions, but the body of Kysilka was able to dig itself out of the ground.  The rest of the details are sketchy.

-Over time, the chemicals had re-animated several of the corpses, some were able to escape, some were trapped in the ground unable to get out.

-The reanimated Kysilka attacked a couple passing the cemetery and were apparently unaware of his presence.  Luckily they weren’t able to get too far from the area to spread a possible disease.

-The mortuary’s owner called local police after witnessing strange disturbances outdoors.  He thought grave robbers were on his property initially, but explained later that it wasn’t people going in, it was people coming out.

-Local authorities had a difficult time handling the situation.  Ill-equipped to deal with these most strangest of circumstances, they were lunged at and attacked so they opened fire on any of the bodies that came for them.

-We received a call about the unfolding events so I headed up a team for research and possible assistance for local authorities.  By the time we had arrived, four bodies had been corralled into a nearby shed, all other bodies that had escaped had been eradicated.

Research is currently being conduction on both chemicals and the bodies as we worth with the authorities to piece everything together.  The driver of the truck seems fine but is under watch just in case.

For now, I can only classify them as undead or a narrower term of zombies.  This may change as we discover more information, but as it stands, it’s both an unfortunate accident and an interesting case for research.  With these events, I’ve had to brush up on my knowledge of “zombies.”  Look forward to explanations for these creatures in the near future.

-JSB

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Vampires, Part 2: Myths Busted, Questions Answered

I’m fully packed for San Francisco.  Spent some extra time in the gym today working out my anger over Charlie’s death on the heavy bags.  Decided against taking Black Betty with me and grabbed a Taurus Judge from the SASR armory.  If you’ve seen “Max Payne,” you’ve seen the Judge.  It’s a revolver that can fire bullets and shotgun shells.  Might not have the same effect as Black Betty, but it’s easier to conceal in my bags.

Oh, and as far as how I get my “tools” overseas:  I won’t go into detail on that.  Let’s just say that Burlap’s contacts in the Church extend beyond the world of confessions and sacraments.  I’m still not allowed back in Montana because of the cat issue, but that’s gonna be cleared up in three more months or so.

I’m a man of my word if nothing else.  Went looking for trouble after dark and ran into a newly-turned Black Court fanger.  That’s a rarity, but hey…it’s more fun for me.  I took out the silver chains after unloading a couple of bullets into the fanger, bound it, and then took the fangs for Charlie.  Left her screaming in the middle of a dirt road.  Her best bet is if a poor sap decides to pull off the chains, but even then she won’t be able to feed for a month.  If she’s not able to get out of those chains by daybreak…there’s gonna be a crispy critter on the road to the Ossuary.  Cleanup on aisle six level mess, readers.

And speaking of my word, I’m devoting this post to debunking a few vampire “myths” that have perpetuated in modern lore.  On top of that, a reader decided to toss a few questions our way, so I’m going to do my best to answer those as well.  We’re about information, and we aim to please.

Myth: Vampire bites turn a human.

Fact: One bite’s not gonna turn a human into a fanger.  Three bites, sixty bites…a vampire can feed off a human for years if it wants.  There’s a very specific process a vampire goes through when they turn a human, and even then only Black and Red Court vamps can create new Undead from humans.  Whites are born.

The process for turning a human works like this.  First, the vampire has to drain a human right to the point of death.  Then, the vampire gets the human to drink said fanger’s blood.  This starts the transformation process.  After the human drinks vampire blood, he or she is then buried in the ground.  They’re forced to dig their way out of the earth.  I’m not sure what purpose the burial serves, and I can’t find anything in the SASR archives that explains it scientifically.  Best I can tell is that it’s just ritual for most vamps.

The final step–what brings in the demon and sends out the person–is when the newly minted fanger kills another human for the first time.  There’s records of humans that have fought the Hunger for a long time, subsisting on pig and rat blood.  None I’ve seen ever last for longer than a couple of months without human blood, though.  It’s not for lack of trying; the demon in them just takes over and robs the human of its self control.

Myth: Vampires can transform into animals or a mist.

Fact: This is one area Stoker got wrong.  I’ve never seen a vampire shapeshift.  The only ones that “change” are the Reds, and that’s just when they lose their fleshmasks.  Black Court vampires can cast spells to alter their appearance, but those are just veils–illusory changes in form. They’re still humanoid.  I’ve got a couple of books in front of me that have some vampire legends about shapeshifting, but those are all Weres.  I guarantee it.

Myth: Vampires have to sleep during the day in a coffin/box of earth from their native land.

Fact: Vamps rarely sleep in coffins.  None sleep in boxes of dirt.  The ones I’ve seen sleep in coffins were former goth kids who’d listened to Bauhaus a little too much.  A vamp would probably find the notion of sleeping in a box full of dirt un-hygenic or disgusting.

Most sleep in beds.  And they don’t have to sleep during the day, either.  They can keep any hours they want; it’s just easier for them to travel around at night since there’s no sun to fry their undead skin.  I’ve caught a couple of vampires using sewer tunnels as a means of transport during the day.

Myth: Vampire blood possesses restorative qualities, is addictive when consumed by humans, and can give the person who drinks it supernatural strength and speed.

Fact: This made me laugh when I saw it on an HBO series recently.  Vampire blood doesn’t do anything for humans except leave a bad stain on clothes and a very nasty taste in your mouth.  I’ve gotten plenty splashed on me in my day, and it’s not made me any younger.  I could only wish.

One problem humans face with vampire blood is the Blood Bond.  If a vampire can get a human to drink from it three times, the human establishes a sort of psychogenetic link with the fanger.  The human becomes hopelessly lost in the vampire’s will, and the vampire can use the human as a sort of “dummy” whenever it wants.  It sees what the human sees, hears what the human hears, and can direct the human to act as it sees fit.  Scary, huh?

That’s enough from me.  Now on with the reader questions.

If vampires are above life/religion/deities, why do they fear a cross?

Vamps ain’t above religion or deities.  They’re part demon, and the demon in them (depending on the type) can’t stand the notions of faith in a Higher Power.  The best I can tell you, readers, is that when a demon–a creature of pure evil–is faced with a symbol of good (regardless of the faith)–it’s so offensive to the very core of their being that they can’t take it.

Remember my previous qualification on the issue of Faith Symbols when dealing with the Undead.  You have to really believe in the power of the symbol for it to work.  That’s why I don’t carry around a Star of David.

In the same vein…what’s the deal with garlic?

Vein…that strikes me as funny.  The genetic process that creates a Black Court vampire carries with it certain allergies.  It’s similar to when a human with allergies passes it on to their children.  One of those allergies just happens to be garlic.  As JSB’s stated, the garlic has to be really concentrated for it to be effective against the Undead, too.  Fresh cloves work in a pinch, but the really good stuff comes when you mix equal parts garlic, holy water, and silver nitrate in a blender.

Do vampires have a preference in blood type?

You know, I can’t answer this one with the same degree of certainty that I can the other questions sent in.  I can tell you that I’ve seen fangers develop a taste for certain types of people as they get older, though.  One I tortured kept asking for B negative, so you might be onto something with this.  I’ll go ask the research staff if they’ve got anything scientific to back up the idea of vamps developing specific blood type preferences.  JSB–you wanna comment on this?

If you kill one vampire, do the people they’ve sired (or whatever it’s called) become human again?  Do they die?  Or does nothing happen?
Readers, I wish the first option were the case.  The second would make my job easier, but that ain’t what happens either.  The sad reality is that when a vamp turns, they stay that way until someone ends their sorry existence.  That’s why we’ve gotta be careful…once you go fang, you don’t have many options left.

That, and people like me will eventually find you.

Keep the comments and questions coming.  If I don’t answer them, Burlap will.  The SASR is here to provide information for the safety of humans everywhere. –MY

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Packing for SF…and still training.

Today the SASR buries one of its own.  See the previous post I left for details.

JSB gave me the day off to pack for my trip to the Red Court nest in San Fransisco and to keep training in the SASR’s gym.  Conditioning is important for a hunter, and so are the right essentials to get the job done.  This post will give faithful readers a good idea of what to expect should you take up my work.

Conditioning workouts at the SASR run very heavily around body-weight conditioning and cardio.  A comedy film back in the States–Zombieland–covered this very lightly, but I can’t stress the importance of cardiovascular training enough.  I run a 5K each day as a way to “wake up,” then do some old-school pushups, sit-ups, and squats until I hit muscle failure.
After that, it’s time for hand to hand training.  We’re lucky to have two great martial artists in our hunter ranks, and I learn quite a bit from them.  One guy’s a Thai boxer–trained at Fairtex and had about sixty professional fights in Bangkok before he got kicked out due to “unsportsmanlike conduct.”  That makes me laugh every time I think about it.  You have any idea how hard it is to get disqualified from a Muay Thai fight?

The other martial artist at SASR is one of the researchers, but I wouldn’t mess with her on a bad day.  She’s ex-Israeli Special Forces and very, very good at Krav Maga.  If you’ve never heard of Krav Maga, it’s a form of self-defense taught to all Israelis that focuses on two things: using whatever is around you to defend yourself, and making sure that the opponent stays down for good.

Which leads me to the “tools of the trade.”  First is a set of oak stakes.  I keep about three.  Two more slots in the holster built by R&D house silver spikes, in case I run into a Were or a vamp that might be susceptible to such things.

Next up is my go-to melee weapon.  Bertha.  It’s an elaborate Bowie knife with a titanium and silver compound blade.  R&D designed the hilt to look like a crucifix, which works as a great Faith symbol since I am a devout Catholic.  Titanium is also strong as all get out, and the blade has enough silver in it to make any encounter with the Supernatural very, very unpleasant.

I keep a shovel around too.  It’s an Army issue foldable shovel with a sharpened serrated edge.  I ever lose my knife, I’ve got this thing handy to bury in a zombie’s skull or decapitate the Undead.  It also works well in a pinch as a field knife.

Last is a sawn-off shotgun.  Black Betty.  We get all kinds of shells from R&D to test–holy water, garlic, silver buckshot.  Most of ‘em don’t work.  The gunpowder in the shell either evaporates the water or cooks the garlic.  Silver is good for making baddies angry, but it’s expensive to produce those shells in mass quantities.  We even had a guy try to give us a shell with blessed slivers of wood he claimed were carved from Christ’s cross.  JSB fired the idiot the next day.

I keep a few spellcasting items around as well.  Chalk, salt, a couple of small candles–just enough to put a circle together and focus my will into a problem.  JSB doesn’t approve of Magick, but he takes the tack of “as long as it’s used for good, I’ll look the other way.”  Me?  I’ll use anything that kills off the Unholy.

I’ve got to get back to training, but the most important rule I’ll leave readers is this:  When packing for a hunt, make sure that every tool in your arsenal works, and serves multiple functions.  That way you’ll never be without, regardless of the situation.

Any suggestions on improvements, readers?  I’ve heard about this French martial art called Parkour lately.  Seems like a great way to make sure you don’t get bitten by the Walking Dead.  I might have to look up some videos on that one after lunch.

–MY

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Dreamwalker Attack at SASR?

Sleep is a rarity for a professional supernatural exterminator.  Usually, it’s because we’re up at night taking out all the “ghoulies, ghosties, long-legged beasties, and things that go bump in the night” so the rest of humanity can sleep in peace.

Sometimes, you gotta get in your shut-eye, though.  And that’s where you can be most vulnerable if you’re not careful.

I got hit by a Dreamwalker last night.  Not sure who it was, but the guy was powerful.  I had to force myself out of REM cycle sleep twice to stop the nightmares these things can generate.  Each time I woke it was with the typical signs of a Dreamwalker’s intrusions into the human physiological system: cold sweats, rapid heartbeat, that “panicky” feeling you get in your gut when things are about to go south, and racing thought patterns.

I can survive these attacks.  I’ve dealt with a Dreamwalker or two in my day, and I know how to kill them if necessary.  One of the R&D monkeys at SASR wasn’t so lucky.  The Dreamwalker got to him and he died in his sleep…by shoving his throat onto the sharp end of a bed post.

We bury the guy today.  Standard SASR procedure in these instances is to not tell loved ones anything, as far as I can gather.  Most of the SASR really don’t have families anymore.  It’s kind of hard to discuss what we do around the family dinner table at holidays, and the supernatural doesn’t exactly recognize Christmas, if you catch my drift.
It’s probably better that the poor guy’s family–if he still has one–doesn’t know what happened to him.  The SASR always has a hunter take what we call “preventative steps” to stop one of our own from becoming a creature of the night.  There’s just too much at risk, and God forbid one of our own give the supernatural world added information on what we know and what we’ve done.
Still, the fact that we got a dreamwalker attack less than 24 hours after the start of this blog gives me hope.  We’re making waves in the Unholy world with this information.  They’re starting to get scared, and they’re sending the best hitters they’ve got in retaliation.  That means we’re doing the right thing.  No matter what it takes, the SASR will keep providing you with material that could save your life.

Count on that.  Rest in peace, Charlie.  I’m gonna honor your memory by chaining a fanger tonight and pulling out his canines with a pair of pliers.  Won’t kill the vamp, but it hurts ‘em, and it takes at least a month for them to regenerate.

–MY

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