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Interactive Case #4: Zombie Outbreak! (Part 2)

Review Part I

Congratulations! You and your friends Greg and Travis have made the right decision. Time to return to Austin and help take back your city from the hordes of undead.

Date: October 27, 2004
Place: Austin, Texas

It's strictly pedal to the metal as you drive your pickup truck south toward Austin, listening to the radio the whole way. There are hardly any vehicles on I-35 south, but the other side of the highway is a different story: traffic is backed up as far as the eye can see. The sight of an endless procession of people with seemingly all their worldly possessions packed into their cars makes you question your decision to return home.

About 10 miles outside city limits you run into a roadblock staffed by some jittery National Guard troops. The air is crackling with tension. A fight breaks out when one guy, desperate to get back to his home, tries to charge through the barricades. A guardsman knocks him out with the butt of his rifle. You decide this would be a good time to turn around.

Fortunately, you know this area like the lines of your face. You backtrack up I-35, take the first exit, cut down a couple of rural roads and back streets and within an hour you're cruising up Lamar Boulevard past the University of Texas.

The expected hordes of zombies do not materialize to greet you. In fact, it could be just another quiet Sunday morning, except for the occasional Apache helicopter passing overhead. You cruise down the Drag, a section of Guadalupe Street normally bustling with shoppers, but all you see are some Army troops arresting a handful of looters. Where are the zombies?

National Guard troops confront
a small stagger of zombies near
an Austin railroad station.
A mile later, your question is answered. You pass an alley and spot a man staggering toward the street. Normally, you'd dismiss him as a wino and keep going, but today, you back the truck for a closer look. The man is about 40 and moves with a noticeable limp. One arm hangs at his side, while the other flails about spastically, as if trying to wave mosquitoes away from his face. As he gets closer you notice blood on his shirt and a gaping maw where his throat used to be. The three of you can only stare in amazement as he shambles closer. And then, he looks up at you and groans; he's picked up your scent. A chill runs down your spine.

"Let's get out of here," offers Greg. But Travis has other ideas. "Wait," he says. "I want a picture." When he turns to reach back for the camera he lets out a surprised "whoah!" Approaching the truck on the other side is a white guy with dredlocks. On any other day, this guy would be polishing off a plate of sesame tofu and wheatgrass at the Whole Earth Cafe, but today he's clearly a meat eater. He reaches for Travis about the same time you reach for your shotgun. Greg ducks and you blast the head off the erstwhile vegetarian. As scared as you are, there's an undeniable thrill to the narrow escape. Travis feels it too; as you accelerate away, he lets out a loud whoop and shouts, "who needs deer hunting?!"

Your first stop is the home of Greg's grandmother Ruth Mahoney. She lives in a tidy Victorian in Austin's Hyde Park section and has has been a sort of surrogate mother to the three of you. Upon arriving, you see no signs of any zombies, but you grab your shotguns just to be safe. Inside, everything seems to be as it should. Ruth is there, sitting before her beloved TV in the dimly-lit front room, an Afghan thrown over her legs. She turns her head and smiles and you breath a collective sigh of relief. Greg rushes over and embraces her.

What happens next seems to take place in slow motion. As Greg hugs Ruth, she opens her mouth and clamps down on his trapezius muscle. Greg screams and staggers back as Ruth stands and moves into the light. You can see now that her eyes are dead, her skin has a waxy gray pallor and what you initially mistook as a smile is really a zombie leer. You try reasoning with her, a common mistake among neophyte zombie hunters. "Mrs. Mahoney?" you say, hand extended. "It's us. Mrs. Mahoney?"

But she's only hearing one voice now: that of the zombie imperative: brains! She moves closer, dragging one foot, her grandson's blood streaming down her chin. You and Travis raise your shotguns, but neither of you can muster the strength to pull the trigger. After all, this is one of the finest people you know. When you look at Travis, he shrugs and says, "she would have wanted it this way." And it's true. So you nod and take aim. Greg shouts "no!" as you both pull the triggers. A moment later, what was once Ruth Mahoney falls to her knees, and then does a face plant to the floor. Greg drapes himself on top of her and starts blubbering, and you notice the blood stain blooming across the back of his shirt.

Now what?
(Click the number corresponding to your choice)

The game is over. Raise up your shotgun and put the poor man out of his misery before it gets any worse.

Get the hell out of there! Your friend's already infected. Shoot him and you risk catching a spray of infected blood in your eyes and mouth. Leave the sumbitch alone with his grandmother: he'll be joining her soon enough.

Hold on a minute. This is your friend we're talking about here! Help him out to the truck, being careful to avoid any contact with his wound, and get him over to a hospital for a vaccination. You've still got several hours before he turns.

Proceed to Part III of the case.

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