Zombies and Loathing 17: Bleed, Bleed, Bleed
(See Table of Contents for previous installments)
Faithful readers may remember so many weeks ago when I mentioned that the last time I had a run in with Vincent Conroy there was an angry mob fully willing to tear him to shreds, despite being made up of the living and not the dead.
It was years ago, exactly how many I can’t rightly recall. Vincent was the leader of a small trading outpost, call the whole thing a blueprint for what he would later do in New Bunker. He would tax the traders unfairly for the right of his protection and in exchange offer a supposedly safe place for them to do their business.
Honest (if you can consider trading life’s necessities for a profit honest) men and women worked their trade and Vincent sat back and reaped the rewards. He himself always trading in the most lucrative medicine and drugs, all pre-Collapse, all very pure. The likes of which nobody had ever seen in years. It all made no sense.
Where did he get his supply? I found out. And it wasn’t pretty. The truth of the matter was enough to turn every single person in that outpost against him. In fact, up until that fateful phone call on my way to this forsaken city, I had presumed they had killed him. I still have no idea how he had gotten out.
But the Truth of it all was too compelling. I had the story, but I needed the proof. Even with Conroy dead (or so I thought), the story needed uncovering. And so I did. Peeling back layers of mis-information contaminated by decades of decay. Unfolding the crumpled, discarded secrets of yesteryear and ultimately coming across celluloid proof of Conroy’s reeking, fetid bullshit.
That same proof that my Benefactor so desperately wanted. The proof I had a feeling he would soon be seeking me out for.
Just like the last time we had crossed paths, the world was engulfed in violence. A cruel, primitive violence that just took so long to play out. The shipping containers and all their goods whipped the already volatile citizens into a feverish frenzy. Everyone grabbing at what they all felt was their rightful piece of the pie. Those who had gone without for so long suddenly having iron horns of plenty laid open before them couldn’t help themselves. They wanted their share. Of course, there was no order, no just hand determining exactly what that share was.
It was the law of the wild almost instantly. The biggest and strongest taking as much as they could, the weak trampled underfoot.
All weapons were seized before anyone was allowed entry into the city, it was one of the only things that kept things some degree of civilized within its walls. That meant that the fighting took place with fists and whatever blunt objects could be found. As I said, this would be a long, terrible sort of violence.
Broken arms, crushed skulls, stomped bodies. The containers stripped bare in minutes, the supplies themselves beginning their cursed dispersal through the city. If you were one of the lucky ones to have some share of them, you could do nothing but find your best hiding place and hope that somehow, some way, the madness would die down.
Because you couldn’t leave.
All too quickly the second part of Conroy’s plan became apparent. The exits to the city were sealed off. That must have been what he was doing during all the previous (now insignificant) chaos. The main gates were welded shut. Access to the tunnels collapsed in on themselves. Any attempt to scale the walls was met with a barrage of debris being hurled at the would be cragsman followed by an inevitable nasty fall.
To make matters worse, the smell of death would no doubt draw every flesh eating zombie from miles around up against the walls of the city, making escape even more impossible. I didn’t need to see the perimeters of the walls to know that even more than the usual number of undead were pressing against them. Mindlessly drawn towards the battlezone that Conroy had created.
One could only assume that the Vincent’s cronies were safe in their reinforced towers along the walls of the city. No doubt they had been allotted their own share of the stockpiled goods, enough food and water to stay safely holed up in their ill-gotten little fortresses above the madness for weeks, if not months. Or, if they had thrown in with the Banker, dead.
It didn’t take a particularly keen mind to see what was going on. Anyone with a critical eye could see it and you wouldn’t have to be a renegade vigilante journalist to crack this story.
Those containers only held a fraction of what Conroy had stowed away. I would guess that he had parted ways with less than half of his stockpiles in his flashy little stunt. The man was no fool, even without weapons he had no way to quell the rebellion of nearly 100,000 violent, raging citizens. He also knew that his city was sick, threatening to rot itself out from the inside.
He would have had to hit the big red reset button one way or the other sooner or later. The twisted model of New Bunker wouldn’t last much longer in the state it was in. This whole thing played directly to his advantage.
Cull the herd, survival of the fittest. Let the population rip itself to shreds in the name of “wealth distribution” and then step in when the numbers had become more manageable. How many thousands would he let die? A great equalizing. Every man and woman laid equal now, fighting over the bounty the malevolent God Conroy has laid out before them.
There is no more debt, no more “New Bunker dollars”. The distinction between the worker class and those who are here to indulge in the perverse depths of the city has evaporated completely.
It doesn’t take long before Darlene and The Skeleton Man find me.
Seems like I’m needed again after all. I have nothing else to do but hope he has a way out of this. I came here to topple Conroy and the only thing I’ve succeeded in doing is facilitating one of the great tragedies of the post-Collapse world.
The downtrodden and weak are being killed in the streets, fighting for their lives to keep their hands gripped around the very supplies they have sought after for so long. A frenzied law of the wild replacing whatever thing semblance of order was once maintained in the city. The last shreds of humanity ripped away from the citizens of this city.
Fuck me this has all gone wrong.