Albuquerque or Bust


5 AM in a bus terminal is somewhat like waking up to find yourself smack dab in the middle of the Zombiepocalypse. Rick Grimes, I sympathize with your plight. A handful of fellow travelers wandered into the station, bleary-eyed and looking more zombie than human. Heaven help me, I’ve waited with bated breath to hear them speak. Pretty sure the security guard wouldn’t have been too happy if I used one of the line posts to knock someone’s skull inside out.

Plus, it definitely wouldn’t be the ideal way to start my day. Just sayin’.

I learned my lesson after my last ZSC trip when I went to Dallas Comic Con. Suspect everyone. Has that guy across the way been watching as I report in to Juliette? The woman two seats down seemed awfully interested in what I’m writing… I should put my notebook away before anyone passing by reads. My cover cannot be compromised on this trip!

Noon in Los Angeles. The bus terminal was as busy as I’ve ever seen it. Contrary to what most would think, this is a good thing. I used the crowd to move around unseen by anyone that could be tracking me. It also bought me fifteen minutes to grab lunch. Actually, the salad ended up being breakfast. The ritual of eating poorly or rather, forgetting to eat at all during a con weekend began early.

Around 6 PM my fellow passengers on the bus got really talkative. The guys behind me leaned over and asked that question I dread, “So, where are you heading to?” Me being me, I tell them the truth. Don’t ask me why when I know the UGA could be after me. They’ve been too quiet. I don’t trust quiet . . . . Anyway, I told those around me about the ZSC and what we do. They ended up asking me questions until we arrived in Phoenix where an Amazon—the ZSC’s very own Jinxie G—rescued me.


Jinxie and I went to pick up the rental car. Due to complications, most of Thursday morning and afternoon have been censored . . . .

With Plan B fully checked out, we hit the road four hours behind schedule and with more than a few reservations about the new plan. That was until Jinxie pulled her wallet out to pay for something; a fortune she’d collected at a previous con a few months ago dangled off the bottom:

We took it as a sign to take the risk. Our nerves settled with some laughs and a ton of snarky commentary about bad cell phone reception in the desert, “Can you hear me now? No. You can’t. Because you didn’t drive into the middle of the desert to test your signal!”

The drive was fun, uneventful. We got within two hours of Albuquerque and decided to make a pit stop in what was probably the coldest city in New Mexico! Grants. Eleven degrees, snow on the ground, and Jinxie is wearing flip-flops. Though she did have toe socks on. In the minute it took to run inside the store, we froze. Two people who live in hot climates Do Not Do temperatures under thirty.

Don’t fret; we arrived at Cody and Alfred’s house in Albuquerque before becoming human Popcicles. Juliette arrived earlier that evening. The chaos was already underway as we shivered our way officially into the convention weekend.

Monday-the trip back to AZ:

No one will believe me if I say this, but Jinxie and I were up and on the road by about 10 AM. Shocking, right? Yeah, we didn’t believe it either. Of course, our main motivation ended up being hunting down coffee. But, hey, I won’t argue an early start. And it was a good thing we left early…

The mountain pass that we’d driven through just fine on Thursday transformed into a winter wonderland while we were at the con. We’re not talking a light dusting of snow. Oh no, it’d dropped a good three inches of snow with more coming down as we drove.

Did I mention that we drove THROUGH a cloud, as well? Yeah . . . that was special.

Eventually we started heading back down the mountain. Just like that the snow disappeared. There’s no UGA plot to blame for the random snowstorm, though I’m pretty sure some of the idiots passing us while we carefully drove over the mountain were UGA agents. Or suicidal . . . .

The rest of the trip back became a sightseeing fest since the sun set before I could see anything cool on our way to Albuquerque. By sightseeing I mean Jinxie would point out across the desert and say, “There’s a abandoned mine that way that’s good for disposing bodies and stolen cars. If you look down it in, you can see the pile of cars.” My reaction? Make a note of the location in case I’m in Arizona during the Zombiepocalypse. A girl can never have too many places to get rid of reeking zombie remains.

Tuesday and back to CA:

Very early that morning (by early, I mean before noon, accompanied by death glares from Jinxie), we headed to the bus station. This is the same bus station where last May I observed news reports covering the CDC’s post about preparing for the zombie outbreak. It is also where I determined that bus stations are the worse place to be trapped in when zombies shamble from their graves.

I said my goodbyes to Jinxie and took a moment to regroup. Traveling with a co-commander I can trust is far different than a busload of strangers. One particular stranger kept telling everyone to call him by a different name. I kept my eye on him until I switched buses halfway home.

The remainder of the ride back home was mostly uneventful with only one near miss. I almost disposed of a man after he sat behind me for hours making the most disgusting noises, noises I’ve come to associate with those that have become infected and are in the process of turning into a zombie. The smell didn’t help matters. It wasn’t until he started talking (loudly, I might add) that I stopped thinking about doing my duty as a ZSC commander… and started wishing I could dispose of him simply for being gross and annoying. What? I never claimed to be NICE after a week of travel and convention stress!

I made it home safe, sound, and without blood on my clothes. Another successful Zombie Survival Crew mission.


Travel Tips From The Oracle

The chief has been called on to travel across the country on a mission for the Zombie Survival Crew, where she will meet up with Green Brigade Commander — IronE Singleton, her trusted right-hand man, Red Brigade First Lieutenant, Neil Brown, Jr., and me (the Oracle — Commander of the Purple Brigade). Since this is the first time our fearless leader has traveled on ZSC business without the use of her trusty workhorse truck, and since she’s practically lived in it for months on end, I decided there were a few reminders she might need.

  1. You don’t need to carry your whole life with you. This is a short jaunt and you’ll be back in time to leave in your beloved truck for the next mission. Keep the truck packed and only bring essentials. Commercial airlines DO weigh luggage.
  2. While it may pain you to leave it behind, it is best to remain circumspect with the airlines because the government is controlling the baggage, so leave the trusted crossbow at home.
  3. (And this is one from personal experience) Do NOT attempt to carry on a pink plastic stick…. Airport security does not find this amusing and will put you in jail for the attempt.
  4. You are not in control of the itinerary. The airline has commissioned pilots and they give the directions to the pilots. In fact, if you attempt to storm the cockpit to issue instructions, airplane security will detain you.
  5. The other people on the plane are not all UGA plants (although I’m sure there will be one or two, so watch your back). Do not respond with any guerrilla warfare tactics learned from Neil Brown, Jr. if someone attempts to engage you in conversation.
  6. Texting and calling is forbidden while in flight. This is non-negotiable. The rest of the commanders and I have taken up a collection to ensure that the regulation remains that way. It is the only time within the year where we can be certain of lack of communication from you. We’re all going to take a nap… after ensuring command is manned appropriately.
  7. You will be involved in some social situations during your mission:
    1. When someone reaches for you with open arms, do not run screaming the other way. They are trying to give you a hug, not chew your face off.
    2. It is best not to enter the room throwing orders left and right to bystanders as you trundle through the crowd.
    3. It is generally frowned upon in a social situation to run screaming in circles. If you feel the need, please excuse yourself and find an empty alley or bathroom (with lots of carpet to deaden the sound) to carry out this activity.
    4. Smile and nod — this works in all situations.

Hopefully the chief will be able to remember these 7 simple rules… Otherwise, the next memo from the Command Center may be about taking up a collection for bail.

Escape From Arrest

I knew I was taking a risk by flying a commercial airline to rendezvous with our fearless leader, Juliette, in Philadelphia. It was a risk which had to be taken, though. The UGA has been trying to get a bead on me for months, and I felt exposed as I drove up to the airport. Fortunately, there were enough people around that they didn’t attempt an outright snatch in broad daylight. And yes, I knew where the danger lay… the security checkpoint.

Why would the Purple Brigade Commander travel via commercial air when I have a working flux capacitor at my disposal, you ask? Well, the answer lies in keeping the flux capacitor under wraps until it is absolutely necessary. The UGA doubts that I have a working model, and I want to play to those doubts. If they had any idea of some of the modifications I’ve made… well, let’s just say I might become numero uno on their list of commanders to abduct–along with my gadget.

The sweat beaded my brow as I approached the license checkpoint. I arrived at the airport via a circuitous route, and was fairly certain I was not followed, but the security officer would alert the UGA immediately upon checking my identity, I was sure of that. After detaining me so bin stands could be moved from one place to the next, she waved me on to the security checkpoint. I took off my shoes, and placed them with my keys in one bin, and put all of my electronics in another bin. The tension mounted as the bins slid toward the scanner. An agent approached me from behind and said my bins could be consolidated, which she did. I quickly double checked to ensure nothing was planted among my possessions. Phew!!! I continued toward the scanner.

Once my articles were on the conveyor belt, I stepped through the people scanner and an alarm went off. I stepped back, my heart slightly accelerating. I KNEW I didn’t have any metal on my person and suspected foul play. But when I stepped back through the x-ray, I came through clean. Then it was a matter for waiting for my bin to come through. And that’s when they nearly had me.

<-- I have had one of those on my keychain. A pink plastic stick. Yes, I know it’s a kubaton which is potentially a weapon, but it’s pink and plastic for pete’s sake–how can anyone take it seriously?? But here’s where the genius of the UGA comes into play…I was right to suspect the agent who “assisted” me with the bins, and here’s why. Apparently, as long as airport security catches what they consider to be a contraband item prior to exiting the scanner, and you freely surrender the item, then no harm–no foul. BUT if it makes it all the way through the scanner and someone identifies that you have it after the fact, and you didn’t surrender it prior to going through the security check point, then you get a little trip to see the judge… in other words, you’re under arrest.

Fortunately for me, I was alert (I’m always preaching constant vigilance… and it pays off) and took note of everything that was happening, so that security, when they realized I would make them laughingstocks in front of the judge, decided that even though I did not surrender the mighty kubaton (and no I can’t say it without laughing) prior to going through the security checkpoint, that I was free to go. Why did they let me off? If they attempted to prosecute me, they would have had to explain how they not only missed stopping me 3 times, but also, I knew that at least 3 of their agents were unable to identify the kubaton as a weapon.

By the way, my electric toothbrush would be a much better weapon than a pink plastic stick… it has a sharp metal tip which is strong, vibrates at an extreme rate and would easily go through someone’s temple or throat. #justsayin Anyway, the first failure… the agent who scanned my license noticed the kubaton when I placed it in the bin and radioed to another agent to have him stop me. He failed to reach me prior to going through the security check point. Next failure, although I’m sure this agent was a UGA agent masquerading as airport security… the agent who moved my keys with the kubaton attached not only failed to note that it was a weapon, but definitely didn’t stop me. It was in her best interest that I be detained long enough to miss my flight. Oh and the UGA tampered with our fearless leader’s car as well, so she had difficulty in reaching our rendezvous point. The third failure? The agent scanning the items thought that the kubaton was a pencil, and let it go through unquestioned, but was sure my inhaler (from my recent bout with bronchitis) was a lethal weapon… until they looked. And then there was the discussion about whether the kubaton attached to my keys was “real” or not. Although the guard responsible for detaining me, took himself and the situation extremely seriously and accused me of knowing it was a weapon. Yes, I carry it for self-defense…and have never used it.

The kicker? I flew last month on business (non-ZSC business) and no one questioned the fact that I had a pink plastic stick on my keychain.

Traveling Incognito

As I was sitting in the Phoenix bus terminal during my trip to Dallas Comic Con, I began to realize something was… off.

My trip began right on the heels of the CDC releasing their Zombie Apocalypse survival guide on their blog. Little did I know exactly how influential this thing would be. Every single TV I passed from my home base to Dallas covered the CDC’s guide. People on the bus, once they saw my zombie-centric handbag, began grilling me about it. And after I told them about the ZSC? Forget about it. I spent nearly 2 days solid neck deep in zombie talk.

About 12 hours into the trip, I began to observe my traveling companions. It was a huge risk exposing myself as a commander with the Zombie Survival Crew in a situation where I could not escape anyone that turned on me. There were some folks that made me wish I had my sword on the bus. They shuffled around with no apparent destination. Their eyes were glassy, blank. No one home in there. And, ugh, they reeked. I’ve been lucky enough to never catch a whiff of the unholy B.O. of a walker, but I’m sure this had to be it.

So there I was, sitting in a bus terminal waiting while the bus gassed up… surrounded by potential zombies.

The thought forced me to take in our surroundings. How secure is a bus terminal? About as secure as a cereal box. There are more doors and windows in a typical station than solid walls. Survivors would eat up all their wood resources covering access points, leaving nothing to burn on cold nights or to cook with. On top of that, they layout itself is far too open. If a firefight were to break out, I’d have a deli counter or one of three concrete pillars to hide behind. Food supplies are laughable. Sure, most stations have a restaurant, but its all frozen food stuffs. Once the power goes out, that food will not last long. Nor will it tide over the size of crowd that could be trapped inside.

And gods forbid if the Zombiepocalypse should happen while we’re on the road. We’d become a veritable moveable feast! There is no storage for food. Space on a bus is non-existent, almost laughable. Sure, the bus can outrun a horde of zombies looking for a midnight snack, but eventually it’d run out of gas. A Greyhound bus isn’t exactly Dead Reckoning (Land of the Dead 2005). Once it is out of gas, the one secure element is gone and zombies have a huge can of human sardines to dig into.

Sleep deprivation is a huge problem associated with traveling by bus. At one point I was so out of it I swear I saw a demon crawl out of a box strapped on the back of a semi-truck and into the cab to attack the driver. A hallucination like that, even in someone like myself that is highly trained to handle the unknown, is really dangerous. The lack of sleep also made me really chatty.

Wait a minute…

It wasn’t until after I’d missed one night of sleep that people started to get awfully chatty with me on the bus. Some of the passengers got on at my home base. Those were the very same to begin questioning me about why I was on a mission to Dallas, TX. The connection never made sense until now. My travel itinerary was compromised, information had to of been given to our enemies.

There is a mole within our ranks.