Rare Saga

The unexplored saga story world.

Escape from the Zompocalypse: A Budget Survival Guide

Ukraine, Prypiat, Avchyeya Checkpoint

As the Geiger counters buzzed from the radiation exceeding safety limits, we lined up to pass through the checkpoint. The inspection was simple – they took away the Geiger counters and recorded the readings. But from the corner of my eye, I noticed the white guy behind me was shaking. It was November and around 0°C in Prypiat, and he only had a wool sweater and windbreaker on. “He’s probably just cold,” I guessed.

Kyiv, Boryspil International Airport

After leaving the checkpoint, we rushed to the airport in an hour and a half. My flight was in 2 hours, but the white guy missed his flight to Frankfurt and had to wait until tomorrow.

On the flight back home, my phone was off for the nearly 14 hours from Kyiv to South Capital. Going through customs, I turned my phone on and was surprised to see a video sent by the tall, fair Ukrainian translator while flying. I had thought she was attractive but was too shy to make a move. Looks like the Slavic girls are more proactive, I mused.

The video took time to load until I was in the taxi. It finally loaded just as speculative news of rabid dog attacks at the airport emerged in my social media feed. But instead of the translator, the video showed the white guy from earlier. His skin was pale and shriveled, with protruding purple veins. He lunged and howled at bystanders, biting their necks as blood sprayed. The bitten people convulsed and stopped struggling. “What the fuck,” I couldn’t help shouting. The taxi driver looked back, chuckling that young people really know how to play these days. Mystified, I texted the translator question marks.

It was late in Ukraine, so the translator was likely asleep. I pocketed my phone and focused on getting home.

Back home, the translator sent another video. Two figures shambled along slowly and awkwardly. Zooming in, their skin was similarly gray and pallid, with dark veins popping out. One was the white guy, the other the man he had bitten earlier.

“What happened?” I asked the translator. She video called me instead of replying. On the screen, Kyiv’s streets were filled with the zombie-like figures. In accented Chinese, she whispered urgently, “The zombies are here. Be safe,” before a howl interrupted her. The phone flipped as a zombie lunged at her, accompanied by her screams. The video cut off. I quickly checked social media for news about Kyiv, but the scattered posts about a rabies outbreak disappeared.

I opened my laptop to check Kyiv’s live street cams. It was late and nearly empty, but flipping through the feeds, I finally saw a “person” move like the white guy had. I texted the translator again but she didn’t reply. This seemed real enough to prepare just in case. I called my wife to come home.

My wife and I had been married 10 years. She was in poor health, so out of fear of radiation, she stayed home while I went to Ukraine alone. We were DINKs, with no family left, so we just needed to handle our own survival and escape.

When my wife returned, I described the situation. She reacted strongly, “You went to Ukraine for a few days and seduced a Ukrainian girl?” She twisted my ear, “Do Slavic girls taste that good?”

“Ow, stop, that hurts! Check my phone if you don’t believe me!”

Slap!

“Hey, no hitting!” She tried again. “Okay, okay, don’t get violent! I didn’t curse you.”

“Let’s see what else you’re hiding!”

Since we couldn’t stay home, and had no time to build a bunker, we could only flee. But where?

The destination needed a few conditions:

First, relatively remote but not unpopulated. We wouldn’t survive alone in the wilderness.

Second, strong local control and security forces to isolate, screen, and select newcomers.

Third, medical facilities and self-sufficiency. To provide basic healthcare and production for survival.

Fourth, armed forces to fend off zombies and deter raiders.

“Where can we find such a perfect place?”

“In the north, the grasslands. There’s a military combined training base of elite troops, live fire drills, ample provisions, advanced field hospitals, and large stockpiles. It’s hundreds of kilometers from any city, so ordinary people can hardly reach it.”

My wife looked shocked. “How did you think of that place?” I smiled, “Got drunk there with retired soldiers. We imagined this scenario.”

“You didn’t talk about women when drinking?”

“Women were our working hours topic.”

“Look at you. Let’s pack up and go now.”

“We can’t just show up at a military base unannounced. They’d shoot us for sure. And even if they spared us, we couldn’t explain how we knew to be there before the outbreak.”

“Then what?”

“We’ll time it so we’re heading there as the outbreak starts but before the zombie hordes arrive. If we enter the base ahead of them, we’ll be safe.”

We debated the plan multiple times. We’d have to abandon the truck since it was too conspicuous. The electric car would raise fewer suspicions. We just needed to charge it up fully before leaving.

My wife rested in the car while I hid supplies in it, like the rice cooker, hot pot, clothes, and drone – anything we’d need on the road. We mapped a 1600 km backroad route to avoid crowded freeways and cities with infection risk, even though it was longer than the 1100 km highway.

The increased weight and towing the old car meant the 1000 km range dropped to under 800 km. Although we had a range extender engine, I maintained optimal electric speed to conserve fuel since we’d mainly be on rural roads. The solar panels were as useless as ever, giving just 19 kWh over 3 days.

We stopped at a small dam for hydroelectricity. My wife didn’t understand why I had to modify the circuits live. I explained how 3-phase AC power worked and the need to separate the 220V lines for optimal charging. We had improvised weapons to handle the zombies around the station.

After preparing overnight, I killed three zombies then barricaded the door to safely access the power. As I was charging the 11th hour of the 12 needed, a drone suddenly appeared overhead, with a speaker! A crude male voice blared questions and demands.

I tried to negotiate, but he refused to disclose his location or accept help. He arrogantly ordered us to leave immediately or he’d direct zombies to attack us. I realized he was bluffing and wouldn’t compromise. Based on the drone’s range, he had to be at the communication tower 1.6 km away. “Am I right, miss?” The drone quickly retreated.

Sure enough, zombies appeared as I was restoring power. We continued on.

On day 7, we neared the grasslands. The conspicuous truck had to be abandoned at a rest stop. I charged the old car, put on tire chains, and loaded it onto a trailer towed behind the truck.

After letting my wife rest in the car, I went to hide the truck. Unexpectedly, I saw a familiar drone in the plaza, still rigged with a speaker.

A bloody van raced around me then stopped. Four people got out – a brawny man, a short fat one carrying a door, the singing internet star controlling the drone, and the driver who stayed inside.

The leader was polite at first, proposing we team up. The internet star interrupted, pointing to my truck, saying it was odd and customized for the apocalypse. The fat one tried to shove her aside, saying the men were talking.

I played weak, offering the keys and pretending to be suicidal to get rid of them. It worked. They raced to find the truck while I walked back to the repair shop where the old car was. As I was about to relax, zombies appeared on the road they had taken, drawn by the noise.

I explained to my confused wife what had happened as we drove away at top speed. After an hour and a half on the backroad, the familiar base appeared. Seeing the flags and uniforms, we finally felt safe.