Hank Hansom’s eyelids snapped open, as always, at 6:17 AM, exactly one minute before the alarm was set to ring. He drew the covers off his stout frame and pressed his feet onto the frigid floor. He padded towards the restroom, letting the cold seep from the balls of his feet to his stiffening nipples. He turned the shower on full heat and it took all of five minutes to attend to the ritualistic scrubbing of scalp to toe. He removed from the rod a towel draped at a mathematically precise configuration and proceeded to dry himself off with sharp, efficient strokes. The same methodology was applied to the removal of his facial hair, which took exactly three minutes, his ice chip blue eyes correlating the mean area of remaining bristles. He brushed his salt and pepper hair with a maximum of six strokes. He approached the closet and removed from it: a silk underwear, dress socks, khakis, navy blue suspenders, a white button shirt, a red and blue diagonal stripe tie, a navy blue blazer with tan patches sewn on the elbows, and a pair of leather shoes. Dressed, he descended the sixteen steps to the first floor and crossed the spartan living room to the small, clean kitchen. He poured himself freshly pressed orange juice and filled a bowl of heart healthy, fiber laden Cheer-Os with two percent milk. It took twenty spoonfuls and eleven sips to complete his wholesome breakfast. He deposited the paraphernalia of breakfast in their respective areas and took from the kitchen sink a toothbrush and a toothpaste: thirty strokes across each plane of the dental cavity, with a resultant of 360 strokes total completing the routine. Heaving a single, indulgent sigh, Hank Hansom took his leather briefcase from the foyer and opened the front door, illuminating the shuttered interior with the brilliance of a bright winter morning.
Canary street, a portion of a relatively upscale neighborhood, was in chaos. A Benz had wrapped itself around a light pole, and the doors of many a residence were left ajar. Hank surveyed the scene, his ice chip gaze moving left to right almost robotically across 180 degrees. Activity congested the northern end of the street. Hank observed: a young girl, perhaps nine years old pursued by a proliferation of diseased individuals in advanced states of decay. Hank’s heart hammered. He spotted with his keen eye teeth falling from the gnashing orifice belonging to the abomination leading the pack. Adrenaline filled white hot his pulmonary system. His fists trembled. The pack leader fell, snagging the golden locks of the fleeing girl to take her down. Hank was reminded of a childhood memory at a local lake where he and his family would go to feed carp at the docks. An unearthly cry, an ululation of joy, startled a murder of crows from their dark speculation. It had come from Hank Hansom’s throat, and see him, see him well, his middle-aged face an expression of sublime pleasure, pearls of sweat beading at the hair line, to trickle down a bulging vein, along the bridge of a blunt nose. His lifelong dream had come true.
Cloistered, in deep deception of personality, within the wooden cabinets of his humble adobe is an obsession. Shelf upon shelf of an alphabetically arrayed complete collection of Hollywood’s takes, from the worst to the best, of the undead phenomenon. Zombie literature filled another set of shelves. An unfinished novel whose protagonist, Hank Hansom, battled an unending scourge of viral life forms gathered dust in a cabinet. In the large kryptonite padlocked garage behind the house, where at this moment is headed Hank holds his greatest secret. His hands tremble uncharacteristically and it is a long moment before the lock opens. A profusion of raw material, professional tools, an arc welder, and a mechanical engineer’s reference book were the elements of Hank Hansom’s greatest obsession, upon which we gaze as he throws open the garage door: wholesale slaughter of undead elements.
It is a medieval torturer or an amoral riot control sergeant’s wet dream. Glistening in one corner is a flamethrower with multiple spray distribution settings, and next to it is a retrofitted lawnmower with aluminium bracings for ease of manuverability. An armored panic room on wheels, equipped with firing alcoves and a month’s supply of food for two. Chainsaws on a stick. Kevlar moon suits made from used bulletproof vests and suits bought at CDC scrimmage sales. A wheeled mechanism for rapidly unrolling electrified temporary borders of barbed wire and fishing hooks. Half a lifetime of technical expertise and dedication is crammed within, and despite its meticulously arranged layout, resembles a cavalcade of junk. At this point, Hank Hansom is weeping, for he has never thought this day would come, that it would be forever relegated within the confines of fiction. A growl shatters the protracted quiet of this chill blue morning.
Erupting from the pastel green garage of an upscale, relatively quiet neighborhood is a reinforced, retooled night black combine. On its sides are painted flaming skulls, the pirate insignia of a new age. Inside the bulletproof cab is Hank Hansom in a suit of centimeter thick kevlar. Out of all the fantastical creations in his garage, he has elected to bring with him a simple, honed machete and a handgun. He opens up the throttle, swerving onto Canary Street. The first gout of blood, diseased, virulent blood, sprays against the windshield. Hank Hansom laughs high and long, for despite all of his contingencies, he has forgotten to install windshield wipers!
The combine roars on.