Thursday, May 28, 2015

Summer in the Urban Civilian Retention Area (UCRA)

By Captain Jacob E. Billet
I remember my youth, wandering the west side streets of Grand Rapids. We'd ride our bikes down Lake Michigan Drive, the hot asphalt sucking at our rubber bike tires. My mother would bring us kids to the West Side Public Library on Bridge Street, we'd get some books, read for a while under the shade on the front lawn of St. James Catholic Church next door. A few bucks saved, my young friends and I would ride or walk over to the Dairy Queen on Fulton Street, get a Peanut Buster Parfait or a Dilly Bar. We'd go swimming at the Lincoln Park pool: ice cold water and heavy chlorine smell.
The only smell near that old pool nowadays: the city's local undead.
Other than the feeding runs and surveillance patrols, the moment the weather gets warmer, where the heat and sun can start to "bake meat," the city has us load up with 50 gallon drums of cool, refreshing water, an extra air compressor, generator and several heavy duty garden hose. It's not for our sake, to cool down us, or to play "wet habit time" with the nuns at the WSA. (Cripes, Stokes is really getting to me. That's something he'd only say, though not in the company of those battle-hardened, holy sisters.)
Shower time is for the UCRA civilians. The folks on the other side of the river, the living populace, with their "care and concern" for their undead neighbors, want these poor, rotting folk on THIS side of the river to enjoy a cool misting of water.
Sure, I understand why. Sun baked zombies equals hellacious smell, dried out, peeling flesh (nothing worse than a rotter shedding their skin, or in this case, a entire populace of undead littering the streets with orange-peel's like Autumn with leaves blowing about the streets), skin frying and sticking to pavement.
So we hose them down.
We drive up and down the streets, main ones first--Bridge, Stocking, Fulton, Lane, Lake Michigan Drive, Valley, then sweeps up Butterworth back to downtown.
It can be a day long excursion with us doing nothing else but giving the locals a soap-less shower.
Still, I'm almost glad the city cordoned off this neighborhood. It has kept most of the places of my childhood from being destroyed.
Yeah, I can't simply walk about like the old days, but sometimes it's just nice to see the old places. Though maybe NOT some of the old faces.
No one informed me that Mrs. Van Duin was undead and upright, still living in the corner house, two houses down from where I grew up. Used to wear heavy make-up back in the day. Ugh. She could use it now for sure.
For Captain Billet's further adventures in the UCRA and about Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2025, check out TRANSPORT. Available in ebook and paperback through most booksellers.
To be released July/August 2015
Publisher: Seventh Star Press LLC

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