Velma Dinkley's Journal, April 13, 2009
Shaggy had not taken his father's death well. I ended up having to grab him by his arm as he held the pistol at his side, trembling from stress and shock. He nearly yelled in grief, had I not clapped a hand over his mouth and dragged him from the room. I took his pistol and made him some instant tea with our camp stove we had set up in the farmhouse basement. He stared at the wall for hours, tears streaking down his face and his long, thin frame wracked with silent sobs. Scooby Doo could barely raise a response, the Great Dane simply dropping his large head in Shaggy's lap and leaving it there as his master grieved.
I did what I could to make Shaggy comfortable until we were ready to leave, but there isn't much that one can do for someone who just shot their own father in the forehead to stop him from coming back as a ravening ghoul to feast on your flesh. I knew he was grieving, but we were all grieving. We had to push that aside for survival, though. All of our parents and siblings were missing or dead, and all we had was each other to rely on.
Strangely enough, after about a half an hour of sitting on the couch petting Scooby, Shaggy seemed to come to himself. He turned to look at me, and I could see that his eyes were red and his face was mottled from crying, but he smiled and asked what was for lunch, because he was "like, starving". I made a mental note to keep a close eye on Shaggy from then on. Stress can do strange things to a man in the best of times, and this was certainly not the best of times.
Sometimes I wonder if my parents would think that criminal psychology was an "imperfect science" after this. Certainly a dystopian society would be the perfect place to study the degeneration of society as a whole. Mankind was facing its final days, and I would be there to record it. I don't know whether this last realization made me happy or terrified when it first dawned on me, but as it is, I cannot remain impassive and scientific when I move through these chronicles. Some things simply cannot be viewed objectively, as you will soon see.
Things were looking even worse as we moved away from the white zone that was Ohio. As we moved to the southern border of the state, keeping to the back roads that Fred knew best, Daphne kept an ear to the CB radio we had. She was listening for something, anything but the static. We were alone, awash in a sea of carnage and death.
We chugged down the back roads, avoiding lone straggling ghouls, for what seemed like days as we shuffled past wrecks and pileups, even on these lonely highways. Some people had probably had the same idea of getting out of the state, and had started transporting sick or bitten family members immediately, without getting the full report from the news. When their passengers expired and then reanimated, the panicked drivers had more than likely been run off the road.
Of course, one could hardly blame them. The CDC was loath to release any kind of information at the beginning. I remember watching the leaked footage from Tianjing over the internet and being shocked at the brutality of the Chinese government's way of dealing with "insurgents". It wasn't until later that we knew that the military police were dealing with the horde exactly as they should have been. It was much too late for us by then. Once the news reports started advising that people who had been bitten be brought forward for quarantine it was much too late.
I digress, however. We were moving down the back highways of southern Ohio, thanking God that Fred has foreseen to put the winch on the front of the Mystery Machine like he always said he was going to do. Moving wrecked cars was a lot easier than opening the doors and throwing them in neutral. Mostly it was Fred and I doing a lot of the work. I think Daphne was in shock for most of the trip through our home state. She sat in the van while Fred and I pushed cars out of the way, Shaggy and Scooby watching our backs as we did so.
Shaggy had picked up a Mauser .44 carbine from somewhere. If I have not expressed admiration for this rifle before, then let me do so now. I have never seen a World War II era rifle take that much of a beating before today. I had heard stories from my uncle of how you could bury a Russian Mosin-Nagant in the mud for days, dig it up, clean it out, and it would fire forever without jamming, but this Mauser was something else. The rifle's butt stock saw more use than the actual functioning parts, however. We were trying to get out quickly and quietly, and the firing of a gun would just be ringing the dinner bell over our heads.
Fred seemed to be the only one besides myself handling this with any sort of decorum. He pointed out good locations to make camp, keeping a running commentary of what the military had been doing up until the point of radio silence, as far as he knew. And he knew quite a lot more than we did, being a field reporter for NBC. His press pass had gotten us into more than one place in the past, when we were still just "those meddling kids". It seems so long ago now.
After a few days of shoving wrecked cars out of the road and trundling down the highway at a slow but steady pace, we came across a sight I would never forget, not if I tried every mind altering substance on the planet. We pulled to a stop in front of a Chevy Suburban that had stalled in the middle of the highway. The first thing that seemed odd to me was the car seat in the middle of the road, covered with a blanket.
All of the SUV's doors had been left open to the elements, but there was a woman in the front seat. A cursory glance told me she was dead; if it hadn't been the gun in her hand, the red blossom in the middle of her forehead would have clued me in. As we stepped out of the mystery machine to get ready to move the car, Scooby's hackles went up and he let out the lowest, most menacing growl I had ever heard that cowardly dog make. His whole body bristled with fear or rage, I couldn't tell, and he was adamant about not letting Shaggy near the car seat in the middle of the road. Then I noticed it. The blanket was moving. Small grunts and gurgles were emanating from the car seat. Daphne shrank back against the van, and Shaggy moved back as well.
Fred swallowed hard and looked at the wriggling blanket. He turned to me and nodded. I drew my Beretta from its holster and stood point while Fred used the muzzle of his hunting rifle to very gently lift the blanket away from what it was covering.
I think this was the day I began to wonder if my faith in science instead of relying on religion to comfort me was justified. At least when you believe in religion you have something to fall back on. You at least have a cursory reason for believing this to be happening because of the will of a malevolent deity. There was no scientific explanation for this. I couldn't come up with a formula for how the living dead worked. All I knew was that they were dead and wrong and they wanted to kill me and my friends and eat our flesh. Nothing in all my years of hunting fake ghosts and unmasking villains had ever prepared me for this. Nothing ever could.
I admit I turned to the side and vomited what little breakfast I'd rationed myself. The smell is something one does not get used to. I still have a little trouble with it today, in fact. That day, under the blazing June sun, the smell was overwhelming, reaching up to my nostrils with rotting fingers and plunging them straight into my brain. I could taste the rot. My eyes watering, I turned back to the car seat and tried to take in what I was seeing.
The kid had been about four or five when it (no, it was a she, she had a sticker on her shirt from daycare, it said Hannah, remember?) had expired. Long blonde curls were matted and slicked with blood and gore. Her stomach had begun to distend from decomposing gases, and her skin was beginning to slough off. Black bile dripped out of her mouth and down her chin as the child snapped and snarled and tried to wriggle free of her car seat so she could get at us. As she moved, the source of her infection revealed itself; - a bite mark on her inner forearm. The blanket coming up off of her face had much the same effect as pulling a cover off a bird's cage. She reached for me, her eyes milky and occluded, and I retched again, dry heaving the last of the canned fruit I had eaten up and out of my stomach.
Fred looked nearly as sick. He raised his hunting rifle to his shoulder. Before I could stop him, he squeezed the trigger and a loud crack echoed across the highway. The car seat dropped back, the little girl finally put to rest with a bullet in her brain. As Fred made to pull the winch out to haul the SUV off the road, I grabbed the car seat and dragged it off the road. Grabbing the blanket, I covered the girl with it and turned to help.
Daphne put her arms around me then, and I realized I was crying. Tears were rolling down my face completely and utterly without me being aware of it. You see now why I cannot be partial and coldly analytical, gentlemen. I am way too close to my subject matter. But sometimes it is necessary for a scientist to get into her work. I…I think that's all for today, though. I cannot continue.
A/N: Two chapters for you, what a nice change of pace, eh? Again, not your daddy's Scooby Doo. For those of you not aware, I adore zombie movies and fiction, enough to attempt my own little AU with the Scooby gang as my puppets. First person is also a little more of a change of pace, too, because I have to allow adverbs in there, and those of you I've beta'd for know how much I hate adverbs. (You will get a word document marked in red back if you ask me to beta, no lie.)
Anyway, hope you enjoyed a walk on my darker side. I'll update this sporadically, when I see fit to dip more into this world. As always, thanks for reading!