Zombies and Loathing: Part 12 – Gastric City Planningon 2013/03/01 at 4:50 pm
I follow Sid Pruitt through the seemingly endless collection of alleyways that make up most of New Bunker. His goons walking so closely behind me I can nearly feel their breath on my neck. It’s like they’re daring me. Make a move junky. We’ll snap your fucking neck the second we think something’s not right. Acting the right amount of nervous is easy, I’m shitting my pants. Just no sudden movements and they’ll have no excuse to give in to whatever drug enhanced violent impulses they must be suppressing.
Most of you probably have no idea why the city is laid out the way it is. The walls that surround the city are still intact since they’re made to pre-Collapse military standard. In fact, the entire city is encompassed by three sets of wall, the outer wall being thickest but shortest, the inner wall being slightly thinner but higher. This allows for 2 of the 3 walls to be breached without actually making it into the city. The height of each wall lets snipers and lookouts survey all the areas of not only their own area, but of each smaller wall as well.
I digress, what this all means is simple: these walls aren’t going anywhere. The city can only expand inwards, into itself. Conroy and his people have a lot of tricks up their sleeves, but the ability to build anything resembling the sky-scrapers of old is not one of them. Instead small buildings, shanties, huts, lean-tos and shacks spring up in any street or open area. There are no cars in New Bunker and beside the fact that fuel and electricity are heavily rationed, there isn’t a street wide enough to accommodate one. So the city digests itself.
A zombie that has a steady supply of fresh meat will retain its almost human features for a very long time. A continually fed zombie may be almost indiscernible from an extremely brain damaged human being. Somehow the biology of the zombie keeps renewing itself as long as it is fed, not unlike the living. However, when a zombie is without food it begins to digest itself. Not only digesting it’s stomach, but somehow the entire body of the zombie begins to dissolve. If you didn’t know any better, you would chalk this up to decomposition. If you observed the process though you would notice that the process resembling rot occurs much more quickly than simply matter breaking down over time. Somehow, the zombie’s entire biology is connected with digestion, zombies can get nourishment from flesh even with no physical stomach. As a walking corpse slowly eats itself, we get the more feral, desperate variety of undead. A well-fed shambling zombie has almost no predatory instinct, but, like any starving predator, a hungry zombie will find meat with an eerie accuracy.
New Bunker is a zombie in the form of a city.
With its walls holding it back from any sort of natural expansion and it’s inability to produce or create the necessary resources to support the entire population, it relies on fresh meat from the outside world. The city fills itself to beyond capacity, erecting any sort of shelter to house it’s refugee population as they pass through it. With it’s population exceeding a hundred thousand, the city is always starving, digesting itself at a faster rate than it is being fed.
There was no thought put into this city, only a vision fueled by greed. Let them live in the streets. Let them fend for themselves, if they can pay the fee to make it past the walls, let them in. There are no more proper streets, just endless narrow walkways through decay.
It is rare now, as the population has dwindled to the point that nearly every zombie you meet is in some state of starvation, but when the dead first started to walk the planet you would find bloated zombies. Zombies filled to bursting, at times literally, with flesh. The irony here is the zombie has no way to store that energy. A zombie that eats one human a day is getting the same “nutrition” that a zombie who gorges himself on ten humans. Once they’re cut off from their food supply, they digest themselves at the same rate. They’ll both have their faces falling off by the end of the week.
New Bunker is a bloated, overfed zombie that is digesting itself.
The area around the city no longer has enough fresh meat to sustain it. You may live here now, you may even be happy with your life if you’re somehow in the winning minority of the lopsided New Bunker equation. No matter what I say or do, this city will be destroyed unless it changes the way it works. The challenge here is plain though, how do you re-train a mindless zombie to act against its way of life? That is the challenge I face in New Bunker.
I follow Pruitt into some old military looking building, no doubt a remnant from the original architecture of New Bunker. We board a freight elevator and begin our descent into one of the underground levels that most men and women never get to see, and if they do, they mostly never return to the surface. Pruitt sneers in my direction, I can’t help but wonder how many people he’s taken down and how few he’s taken up. The elevator creaks and rumbles as it goes down, the flicker of the lone neon light (I count at least 4 burnt out neons) providing next to no actual illumination but instead a sickly inconsistent strobe effect. Pruitt sneers at me and I can tell he is looking forward to my goods being turned away by The Banker. Pruitt wants to see my junky ass thrown into the pits.
With a bang the elevator comes to a halt and the accompanying guards heave the heavy steel grated doors open. I don’t even try to contain my disbelief at what I see next. A massive underground warehouse, floor to ceiling racks of stuff. Weapons, canned goods, books, medicine, toys, clothing, computers, cell phones, if you can think of it, I’m sure it’s down here. A sudden realization shakes me to the core: they’re stockpiling. New Bunker might be consuming itself from the inside out but for the select few, they’re insuring a very long, very safe, very comfortable existence.
A small man hobbles towards Pruitt, his back slightly hunched, wearing an immaculate suit and tie. He must be the first person I’ve seen in decades who is actually clean.
“This better be good Pruitt, I have no time for your foolish distractions, next time save yourself the trouble and bring the rats straight to the Pit.”
“Nah, this rat has something we can actually use.”