Born on Halloween
Thomas Calabrese … Ezekiel “Zeke” Forrest was a former Marine and aspiring triathlete who lived in Vista, California. He was currently working as a security guard at the San Onofre nuclear power plant during the decommissioning process, three twelve hour shifts from seven pm to seven am, Friday through Sunday, and this was a great schedule for Zeke because it allowed him plenty of time for training during the week.
It was early October and Zeke was following a strict vegetarian diet and taking additional supplements as he prepared for the Hawaiian Ironman in March of the coming year. There had been a subtle change taking place at San Onofre ever since Zeke started work there in June. In the beginning, it was like most work environments, some employees were friendly, others were cordial and polite and a few stayed to themselves, but now everyone seemed distant, aloof and short tempered. San Onofre had become a hostile work environment and Zeke planned on quitting once the Hawaiian Ironman was over even if the facility had not shut down by then.
There were times that Zeke noticed individuals staring off into the distance for minutes at a time without moving and if it was just one employee or just an isolated incident, it would have been no big deal to Zeke, but with each passing shift, he began to notice more and more employees behaving this way and as the month of October grew to a close, it had gotten so common place that Zeke could walk by at least a dozen people standing motionless like mannequins in a store window. Every shift became increasingly more difficult to get through so Zeke decided to leave at the end of the year instead of the spring like he originally planned because the negativity at work was taking a toll on his training which caused him to experience bouts of depression and irritability when he was home.
Zeke began to experience cravings for red meat and mistakenly assumed it was just his body’s normal reaction to his special diet, but it was nothing compared to what he saw at work. Zeke would be on his normal security patrol and see employees chomping on meat sandwiches, like they hadn’t eaten in days. He even saw one technician that worked near the deactivated Unit One reactor eating raw hamburger out of a plastic bag like it was snack food.
Harold Reid was an electrical engineer with Southern California Edison and had been with the company for fourteen years and was making a good salary, had great benefits and a bright future until the word came down that the San Onofre Nuclear power plant was shutting down and it was at that time that his whole world started to unravel. He had not been with Edison long enough to qualify for retirement, a transfer or even a severance package. Harold and his wife had just purchased a new home in San Clemente, but with the loss of his job, they could not afford to keep it. Add to that, he was diagnosed with Lyme’s disease after he was bitten from an infected tick while on a family camping trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota. The ongoing stress of his financial situation and his weakened medical condition deeply affected his marriage and Harold eventually separated from his wife Martha. He moved into a studio apartment in Oceanside and found short term employment at San Onofre as a subcontractor during the decommissioning process. Harold’s world had quickly transitioned from unraveling to collapsing then to disintegrating. He was filled with hopelessness and wanted revenge on the people at the plant. He wanted them all to suffer like him.
On October 31st Harold’s estranged wife called as he was driving to work and informed him that she was filing for divorce. When he arrived at San Onofre, Harold’s supervisor was waiting in the lobby and told him that they were terminating his contract three months early because of his poor job performance and bad attitude. Harold was told to clean out his locker and not come on site because his security clearance was rescinded.
This was the last straw for Harold who finally reached his breaking point and his festering anger had finally taken him past the point of no return. For weeks he had been placing small amounts of nuclear waste in the ventilation system while taking large doses of iodine, bentonite clay and zeolite supplements to strengthen his immunity to the radiation that was poisoning everyone around him. Harold’s way of thinking became so twisted that his main source of pleasure was watching how the toxicity affected his co-workers, but now that he was leaving for good, there was no reason to hold back any longer. Harold would give them all something to remember, a parting gift that they would never forget.
The vindictive engineer went to the place where he had hidden the nuclear waste and removed the entire ten pounds from its lead container and placed it inside the ventilation system and directly in front of the large circulating fan then left the facility. He raced out of the parking lot and smashed into several cars on the way out then entered Interstate Five at the Basilone Road ramp and headed south. Harold swerved over to the shoulder, slammed on his brakes and looked into his rear view mirror. When he saw a semi-truck approaching, Harold opened his car door and deliberately stepped into its path. The force of the impact propelled him a hundred feet through the air and by the time Harold stopped bouncing along the pavement every bone in his body was either broken or crushed. His suffering was over, but the real nightmare was just beginning for the others at San Onofre.
Zeke had just finished his three shifts and felt relieved to be away from San Onofre for a few days. He was so tired that he did not even feel like training which was really unusual for him. He fixed a green drink in his juicer and doubled up on his supplements especially the antioxidants then sat in his recliner in the living room and closed his eyes. He didn’t even know how long he had been asleep when his cell phone rang, “Hey Jerry,”
“Can you take my shift tonight?” Jerry pleaded.
“You’re kidding…I just finished three days out there and I don’t even want to think about going back, I really hate that place.”
“I’ve used up all my sick leave and I can’t afford to lose this job, I’ve been feeling really lousy for weeks and I think my wife must have caught whatever I got,” Jerry explained, “She’s spitting up blood and can hardly stand up. I need to get her to the hospital. They told me, they’ll fire me next time I call in. I called everybody else first just so you would know that I am out of options.”
Zeke shook his head in resignation, “Take care of your wife, I’ll cover your shift.”
“I’ll make it up to you,” Jerry promised.
“Don’t worry about it,” Zeke replied.
When Zeke left his apartment at six pm, young children with their parents were already out in costumes with bags in hand, eager to get an early start on Halloween and it was dark when Zeke entered the parking lot of the power plant and the gate guard barely acknowledged him. He thought to himself that this was going to be another long shift and even if he was doing his normal security sector at the southern perimeter which kept him outside for most of his shift, it would have been bad enough, but Jerry worked Unit One and stayed indoors the whole time. Zeke didn’t want his own negativity to make things makes things worse so he forced himself to think about something more positive, like his training schedule for the coming week.
The radiation had been circulating through the ventilation system since seven thirty am and it was now eight pm and that was over twelve hours by the time Zeke entered Unit One. The psychiatric disorder called “Capgras Delusion” causes people to believe that people they know have been replaced with imposters. Hundreds of people were affected by rampaging paranoia and fighting throughout the structure. These were not mere disagreements or even fistfights, but life and death struggles. Zeke saw one employee crush another’s skull with a tool box and another stick a screwdriver through a person’s throat. Two men approached Zeke with large metal rods in their hands, intent on doing him bodily harm, Zeke was armed and ordered, “Drop those rods!” When the men continued moving toward him and he was backed up against the wall, Zeke had no choice, but to shoot them.
The bloodlust was cannibalistic in nature as slow lumbering men destroyed each other. The radiation poisoning had also affected the” cortical motor area” which affects motion and the basal ganglia which inhibits actions. Zeke was soon surrounded by individuals who could not control their impulses or determine friend from enemy. He was forced to shoot everyone he came across as he made his way through the building, bodies were littered everywhere and those that had not been killed were now cannibalizing the brains of the cadavers and Zeke shot these individuals as quickly as those who were still on the attack.
The mindless aggression was primarily caused by the infection of the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala which curbs primal and aggressive impulses. The entire building with filled with killing machines and it was lucky for Zeke that since the increase of terrorism threats that each security guard was now required to carry eight magazines for their M-16’s. It was a target rich environment and every place Zeke turned there was an infected human he had to kill. He was running low on ammunition so he picked up a metal hammer on the floor and began crushing skulls as men charged at him. Even though he was greatly outnumbered, Zeke ability to move quickly had not been infected so he was able to weave and swerve among his slower attackers.
While he experienced minor symptoms, the radiation did not have the devastating effects it had on the others for two reasons; one was that he had not been on duty that long and two was his special diet. After Zeke fought his way out of Unit One he noticed a group of infected men so he jumped on a nearby forklift and raised the forks chest high and raced toward them. He impaled two men on the blades then used them as battering bumpers against the others. When another group of twenty men suddenly approached from a different direction, Zeke found a two by four and jammed it against the gas pedal while pressing down on the brakes. He pointed the forklift at the large group of men headed in his direction then jumped off. When the forklift got within ten feet of the group of men, Zeke fired and hit the propane fuel tank and the forklift exploded showering everyone near it with flames. He took off at a full sprint and headed for the main gate when he saw two women come under attack from five infected individuals and shot two of the attackers while on the run and crushed the skulls of three others when he got within arm’s reach.
Zeke looked closely at the two women to make sure they were not infected then ordered them, “Head to the gate, I’ll cover you,” the two panic stricken women ran for safety as Zeke shot two more two men who tried to intercept them.
Three security guards approached and Zeke quickly determined from their vacant looks and lumbering movements that they had been infected and even though they were acquaintances, he still killed them and took their ammunition. Zeke turned in a circle while firing an automatic burst when the infected people surrounded his position and they dropped like pins at a bowling alley.
“What’s going on? What’s wrong with these people?” A guard who had not been infected screamed as he ran up to Zeke.
“Hell if I know, but if it’s coming at you and looks like a politician on his way to a Congressional hearing, shoot it” Zeke strongly suggested.
Off in the distance, men were burning everything they could find and a few of them that were too slow to get out of the way got caught in the blaze, but they just kept walking around oblivious to being on fire until they fell over dead.
Police and fire personnel started arriving at the plant as the battle raged on. Zeke ran up to the driver’s side window of a female deputy who skidded to a stop in her cruiser, “Got any additional firepower?”
The female deputy popped the trunk and Zeke got out the twelve gauge shotgun. The deputy finally comprehended the seriousness of the situation and got behind the car with Zeke and they opened fire. In less than a minutes dozens of police officers began arriving on site and wasted no time engaging in the fight. No one stopped firing until every infected individual was lying dead.
Zeke stood next to the female deputy as they surveyed the human carnage and burning structures and casually commented, “Happy Halloween… I wouldn’t expect to get any candy from these guys.”
Three months later after a thorough investigation determined the cause of the contamination; Zeke was interviewed about his involvement, “It’s surprising what a former Marine with a functioning weapon and a good diet can accomplish.”
There was one major residual effect that Zeke experienced from his exposure to the radiation; the line between good and evil became so clearly defined in his altered mind that it left no room for compromise, forgiveness or mercy. On October 31, 2016, Zeke “The Vigilante” Zombie was unleashed on the evildoers of the world.