Within the few days life as a refugee from the zombie apocalypse settled into a kind of routine. The army kept everyone within the Watervliet Arsenal safe and secure but if you were outside the walls you were on your own.
All government shelters had closed their doors to new arrivals but that hadn’t kept people from gathering there in hopes they would be saved. They surrounded the facility on all sides, a sea of displaced middle class Americans, crowded together and desperate.
Not that things were any better inside the Arsenal. Every bit of space was being used. Everything felt crowded and there was always some kind of noise in the air, be it the growl of generators, the cries of babies or the staccato of soldiers barking orders back and forth.
Mark Bradford spent his days wandering around aimlessly. After the ‘Heirloom Incident’ he tried to spend as little time as possible in the tent he shared with his parents.
Everywhere he went people were hungry for news. If their army protectors knew anything at all they were being tight lipped about it. All questions were answered with a curt, “The situation is being brought under control.”
At first the refugees in the Watervliet Arsenal had kept in touch with the outside world via cell phones, computers and social media but one by one everyone’s batteries were running out of juice and none of the powers that be were letting anyone use their chargers.
“Conservation of resources,” was the reason given.
Mark supposed it made sense but as he made his way through the maze of tents he kept wondering about his Farmville account. Everything must be ruined by now, he didn’t like to think about all those hours of hard work that had gone to waste.
Suddenly Mark spied a familiar face in the crowd.
“Alec?” he called, “Hey Alec!”
The older man looked around in confusion at the sound of his name. When he spotted Mark he grinned. Alec Stratton was paunchy and kept his wild gray hair anchored under a baseball cap that was embroidered with the saying; 'JEDI’S DO IT WITH FORCE'. There were a lot of things Mark admired about Alec; such as his easygoing manner, his wisdom and his experience.
But the thing that Mark admired the most about him was that he had seen the original Star Wars on the night of its premiere. The original effects, the original sound mix: he had seen it all. To hear him talk about it that night had been like Woodstock for nerds.
“Hey kid!” Alec gave him a friendly handshake, “I was wondering how you were doing.”
“I’m fine,” Mark said, “thanks to you.”
“You’d have done the same for me,” Alec said, “where are your parents? I’d love to say Hi.”
“Maybe not right now. They’re kind of stressed.”
“The end of the world will do that.”
Alec chuckled, “End of the world? If we survived the Star Wars Christmas Special we can survive this.”
They walked and talked for a time, pausing for a moment to listen to the old woman preaching fire and brimstone to anyone that would listen. Her delivery left a lot to be desired but she had stationed herself near the Port-a-potties guaranteeing herself a captive audience.
“This way,” Alec led Mark towards the far wall, “I’ve got someone for you to meet.”
The tents and refugees thinned out and soon Mark was walking around busy soldiers and boxed ordinance. Both made him feel nervous and inadequate. When a sergeant tried to turn them back, Alec explained “I need to talk to Harry.”
The sergeant nodded and let them climb up onto the wall where a heavy set man in disheveled fatigues dangled MREs over the edge of the wall. “Who’s hungry?” he cried.
Mark looked down the wall to see part of the crowd that had missed their chance to be admitted into the Arsenal. They were practically salivating at the sight of the military rations.
“This is Harry,” Alec said.
“Come on!” Harry cried at the people below him, “You want this? Then show me your tits!”
“No!” Harry cried with disgust, “I meant your daughter.”
Mark felt himself starting to blush, should he look? Was this exploitation or Girls Gone Wild territory?
After another pause Harry said, “No wait. Not your daughter. You again.”
“Come on man,” Alec said.
Harry dropped the handful of MREs with a semi-satisfied shrug. Then he turned, “Who’s this guy?”
“I’m Mark,” he offered his hand to shake but the other man left it hanging there.
“Don’t worry,” Alec said, “he’s cool.”
Harry raised an eyebrow, “He better be.”
Mark asked, “What’s this about?”
“You haven’t told him yet?”
Alec said, “I figured you should.”
There was a flurry of shouts and curses down on the other side of the wall, Harry ignored it. “Can you keep a secret kid?”
“Uh...sure...” Mark replied.
“Because I don’t need what we’re doing to get out to the general public.”
“What are we.-” Mark paused, “I mean what are you doing?”
Harry leaned in closer, the scent of his body odor nearly knocked the younger man off his feet. “I’ve got a D&D game going. First edition, invitation only.”
“Dungeons and Dragons?” Mark was relieved and appalled.
Harry put a finger to his lips, “Shhhhhhhh! The two things soldiers crave most are role playing games and porno and I don’t supply either to anyone but a select few.”
“Look!” Alec pointed off into the distance.
A mass of zombies was approaching, they were everywhere. A wave of panic surged through the people trapped outside the walls of the Watervliet Arsenal. They screamed and rushed towards the walls, stampeding each other, going wild with terror.
Mark and Alec watched the scene unfold before them with mute horror. Harry said, “Looks like the game is gonna have a late start tonight...”