The Bultungin Chronicles

The Bultungin Chronicles


What begun as a rumor, and was initially dismissed after making rounds on social media turned out to be terrifyingly real. A vaccine intended to protect the world from a flu-like virus which had slain two hundred thousand Americans turned out to be the worst thing ever invented. Any person who died after being injected with the vaccine rose again as a flesh-eating monster, and anyone they bit was similarly affected. This is how the modern world dies...

The United States of America's first biracial female president instituted martial law, and the armed forces were brought into America's cities to stem the tide of chaos. Soldiers and police officers didn't fare much better against the living dead than their civilian counterparts did. There is a big difference between fighting human beings and fighting zombies. The zombies are ravenous, mindless, and know no fear, only hunger. Mankind is doomed.

"Boston is falling to the Zombies," said Captain Mitchell Whyte of the Massachusetts National Guard. The tall, dark-skinned, heavily muscled officer looked at the men and women gathered in the command center, his face grim. Around the world, mankind was fighting a war against the living dead, and the living dead were winning. Every human injured or slain by a zombie reanimated as one of the living dead, and thus, their numbers could only rise...

"Fuck that, Sir, this is our city," replied corporal Nikita Abramov, and the pimple-faced, chubby redhead, originally from Russia, glared angrily at her Captain. Captain Whyte held the corporal's gaze and the young woman shook her head sadly, blinking back tears. Around the command center, everyone looked sad, and downright demoralized. All except one, a mysteriously quiet young man.

"We should leave before it's too late," said Jarrod Mendes, one of the new recruits, a tall and brawny young Cape Verdean man originally from Brockton. Everyone turned to look at Jarrod, and the young man shrugged his massive shoulders. Can't blame me for saying what we're all thinking, Jarrod thought, standing his ground. The living dead were eating their way through cities around the world. They weren't about to be stopped by the Massachusetts National Guard.

"That's defeatism, young man, I won't tolerate this kind of talk," Captain Whyte bellowed, and Jarrod fell silent. The weekend warriors gathered in the command center were ordinary men and women, schoolteachers, grocery store clerks, construction workers, people who served their country basically one weekend a month, as part of the U.S. Army National Guard. They weren't special forces. They were definitely not ready for what they were facing.

"New York City has gone dark," said a petite, short-haired young servicewoman named Lena Yamamoto. She held her cell phone, and regaled everyone in the command center with the image of Times Square swarming with the living dead. In spite of his innate toughness, Captain Whyte repressed a shudder, and corporal Nikita Abramov looked away. Jarrod stood stock-still, almost statue-like.

Jarrod appeared perfectly calm, but he was storming inside. Born in the environs of Brockton, Massachusetts, to a Cape Verdean immigrant family, Jarrod is the son of two very different worlds. He attends Massasoit Community College where he studies criminal justice, and hoped to become a police officer someday, well, until the Zombie apocalypse came along and fucked everything up.

Jarrod's family, consisting of his father Jacinto, his mother Amelia and his older sister Ramona had already fled New England, heading for the remote wilderness of the Appalachian Trail, reachable through the state of Maine. Jarrod was the rebellious one who opted to stay behind because he would not abandon his friends, his job, and the life which he was still building. He wasn't feeling great about his decision right about now, that's for damn sure.

"Jarrod, my son, the humans are finished, we must go," said his father Jacinto, his eyes aglow with the unnatural light that separated their kind from ordinary mortals. Since ancient times, a secretive species known as the Bultungin has roamed the world. They look like people most of the time, but sometimes, they go about in their true form. They resemble anthropomorphic hyenas, for the most part. Shape-shifting is but one of many abilities which separate the Bultungin from humans...

"Pai ( father ), I think we can stop the zombies, right here in Massachusetts," Jarrod assured his father with the overconfidence of youth. Jacinto sighed and looked at his only son, wondering where the lad got his lack of sense. As a Bultungin, Jacinto had a lifespan measured in centuries, a genetic blessing of their species. Still, he was by no means invincible. If Jarrod thought he couldn't be killed, Jacinto had some sad news for him...

"The zombies will overrun Massachusetts just like they will overrun the rest of the world," Jacinto assured Jarrod with sad patience. Jarrod shook his head, refusing to believe that the United States Army could fall to the Zombie plague. Jarrod had been a fan of police and military forces ever since he could remember. While other young men watched MTV Cribs and the sexy show Caliente, Jarrod watched Law & Order and J.A.G. He was cut from a different cloth.

"Be that as it may, father, I will stay and fight," Jarrod said firmly, and Jacinto sighed, knowing that his son had made up his mind. Father and son exchanged a heartfelt hug and then parted ways. Jacinto left Brockton with his wife and daughter, hoping against hope that his only son Jarrod would change his mind and join them, but it was not to be. Foolishness is a universal problem, not just a human one...

"Cat got your tongue?" came a female voice, and Jarrod turned around and found himself facing...her. Tatiana Mateo, the tall, curvy, dark-haired and brown-skinned, Brazilian-born new recruit. She'd joined the U.S. Army National Guard mere months before he did, and they had struck a friendship of sorts after running into each other at training camp. Portuguese speakers tend to stick together, after all...

"Tatiana, if we stick around, we're dead meat," Jarrod said quietly, and Tatiana nodded. One thing about the Brazilian gal is that underneath her casual smugness and come-hither demeanor was a pragmatist. Jarrod always liked that about her. If the young Bultungin didn't know any better, he could have sworn that Tatiana was more than human, albeit very different from him. Probably wishful thinking on Jarrod's part, though...

"Los Muertos will make short work of our comrades," Tatiana added, and Jarrod was inclined to agree. That night, as Captain Whyte and the others went to join the remnants of the Boston Police to make a final stand in Dorchester, Jarrod and Tatiana slipped away. They grabbed a tiny boat and went out to sea, since the dead cadets from Massachusetts Maritime Academy were definitely not using it...

"My family left for the Appalachian wilderness, I think we ought to do the same," Jarrod told Tatiana, and she did not object in the slightest. As they navigated their tiny boat, they saw hundreds of people taking to the sea in boats of every size. Humanity was abandoning the land to the living dead and returning to the sea. Probably the smartest thing anyone has ever done in a zombie apocalypse scenario, to be sure...

"My family and I got driven from Manaus for being Bruxas, or Brujas, I have no home to miss," Tatiana said wistfully as they reached the shores of southern Maine. The town of Ogunquit was largely untouched by the zombie apocalypse, though the residents were a bit weary when the two rogue U.S. National Guardsmen reached their shores. Jarrod took that in stride, though Tatiana seemed amused by the apparent xenophobia of those country bumpkins...

"Go back to your boat, we don't want zombies or refugees," said Ogunquit Mayor Eileen Rosenthal, once Jarrod and Tatiana were brought to City Hall. They'd been accosted by some armed militiamen on the shore and taken into town at gunpoint. Jarrod and Tatiana exchanged a look as they stood, unarmed, in front of the Mayor, a petite blonde woman in her early forties.

"Ma'am, I am Jarrod, formerly of the Massachusetts National Guard, and I'm just trying to get to my family in the Appalachian Trail," Jarrod said earnestly. Tatiana looked at the Mayor, who reminded her of the annoying blonde from the American Pie movies before she started doing those funny shark movies. This broad is smug and not about to lift a finger to help our sorry asses, Tatiana thought, wryly amused.

"Look, lady, just let us get some supplies and we'll get back to our boat and we will be out of your hair," Tatiana said, trying to appeal to the practical mindset of the xenophobic town leader. Jarrod, born and raised in the U.S. didn't seem to grasp that in many parts of his supposedly great nation, anyone who isn't white is considered foreign. Tatiana, a brown woman from Brazil, totally understood America's racial hierarchy the moment she set foot there, ages ago. It's not exactly a secret...

"How do I know you're not advance scouts from some group trying to take over my town? Take them away," Mayor Eileen said, and she snapped her fingers for emphasis. Five burly white men with guns took Jarrod and Tatiana away, taking them to the sheriff's office. They were brought in and thrown into a large cell. The town sheriff was nowhere to be found. Apparently, the militiamen were running the show...

"Mayor Eileen will want answers, and I will get them for her, in the meantime, we'll get you some food," said Bob, a tall, bearded militiaman who appeared to be in charge. A few moments later, one of Bob's men, a skinny Asian fellow, brought sandwiches and Pepsis for Tatiana and Jarrod, who wolfed them down hungrily. The militiamen departed, leaving the prisoners alone for the moment.

"Next time let me do the talking," Tatiana said angrily to Jarrod, her eyes flashing with rage. Jarrod almost took a step back, for Tatiana's eyes turned solid black, quite unlike the eerie yellow glow that saturated his eyes when he transformed into a Were-Hyena or Bultungin. The young Cape Verdean-American watched as Tatiana's eyes resumed their normal brown color once she calmed down. Taking a deep breath, Jarrod decided to address the elephant in the room.

"Tatiana, what are you?" Jarrod asked, and the young Brazilian woman grinned, and waved her hand at him. A tiny black spark shot out of Tatiana's fingertips and leapt at Jarrod. Desperate to avoid getting struck by whatever the black spark was, Jarrod recoiled, and for a brief moment, he almost reverted to his furry, spotted self. Tatiana locked eyes with Jarrod, whose eyes were golden now, and downright feral. The Brazilian gal sneered, clearly pleased with what she'd done...

"I'm a witch, a Bruja, and you, Jarrod, I think you're clearly a shape-shifter of sorts, though evidently not a very smart one," Tatiana scoffed, shaking her head. Jarrod resisted the urge to throttle the witch, and willed himself to be calm. The last thing they wanted was for the humans to see them display their powers. The militiamen were gone, but there might be cameras or something...

"Alright, no problem, we both have secrets, can you get us out of here?" Jarrod demanded, and Tatiana rolled her eyes. In her twenty-odd years of life, Tatiana had met many supernatural beings disguised as humans, but Jarrod was nothing like them. Vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, monsters and demons are all real, along with witches, but living among humans made them highly adaptable, with a certain necessary ruthlessness. Jarrod was way too...human.

"Alright, let's wait for nightfall, and kill the humans before escaping," Tatiana said, matter-of-factly. Jarrod nodded, even though something in him rebelled against the idea of casual murder. His father Jacinto taught him to fight to stay alive, with discretion being his saving virtue. Jarrod would do what he had to in order to survive, but he wasn't casual about killing, unlike Tatiana here...

"Okay," Jarrod said, and he looked at Tatiana, wondering what he'd gotten himself into by saddling his wagon to her, so to speak. As for Tatiana, a young woman with extraordinary abilities whose wild ways were too much, even for the coven of witches and wizards in which she was born, she eyed the young Bultungin coolly. In Tatiana's worlds, there are assets and liabilities, and little else...

What neither Jarrod nor Tatiana could know is the fact that the process by which humans become zombies is poorly understood. After a flu-like virus killed millions worldwide, including two hundred thousand Americans, the World Health Organization, the European Union and the U.S. government rushed a vaccine through the usual paces. The vaccine was a success, but it turned out to be much worse than the disease it was designed to shield human beings against...

The vaccine turned out to be a virus with twin vectors, a contact strain which one gets through bites or infections, and an airborne strain which has infected one hundred percent of the human population...yet lies dormant. The airborne strain is activated upon an individual's death from any factor, whether bites, infections, or common ailments, or incidents such as drowning, car accidents, illness, and the like. With every human being worldwide destined to reanimate upon death, the human species is doomed.

Where does that leave beings like Jarrod Mendes, the descendant of shape-shifters, and Tatiana Mateo, the Brazilian-born descendant of a coven of Brujas? That's what this tale is all about. The humans are doomed. Nothing can be done to save them. This is their extinction level event. What will happen to the various races of monsters who've lived among humans for eons, masquerading as ordinary men and women? What breed shall inherit the earth?
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