To be honest, so much had been going on for us at this time, that we had lost track of what was happeneing with the rest of the world. There I was with my MP compnay, in Baqubah, Iraq, and our only concern was trying to make it home. We had already lost too many good men and women do to our initial conflict, that the spread of a flu-like virus just didn't seem important to us. Then the letters from home began to slow down in the rate at which we recieved them. I really can't remember what it was that clued me first that something was wrong back home. Be it the oddly increasing numbers of infected that my friend was telling me about at the hospital, or the letter from home stating that a friend of mine had died from this disease, or even the look of true depression on my squad leader's face at the passing of her daughter.
Suddenly, the fighting we were experiencing began to cease. I guess that this was probably my first true sign. Here we were, in the middle of summer, when the majority of our combat was taking place, and suddenly it was quiet. The orders for us to stay longer had already come through, and now we had a new concern for getting home. Not one single person that I had come across gave a damn about anything other than making it home. We had lost the majority of our contact with our loved ones. There were noticably small windows in which we were able to communicate with the States. Nobody would tell us what exactly was happening. Phone time was rationed to five minutes a person, one time a week. Where cigarettes used to go for high dollars during peak days, now people were selling their times at the call centers for nearly $100 a pop. It continued on like this for several months.
Finally comes September, and all of the filtering that was attempted in order to prevent us from learning the truth, in order to keep our morale up, was pointless. The news had broken about the zombies. ZOMBIES for fuck's sake! we had all joked about having zombie plans, and here it was, time to actually take them seriously. And to make things worse, some had eventually ESCAPED! I don't care who you are, nothing can truly prepare you for this. I remember thinking, "Ok, they're pulling a War of the Worlds on us." I assumed it was something similar to the Blair Witch, where someone was making such a realistic movie, and somehow footage leaked out. People had to be over reacting to something that just couldn't be happeneing.
I will never forget the day it went from being hysterical reactions to something faked, to horrifying reality. It was a few days after the ESCAPE. We still hadn't recieved that bit of news. My squad was out on a regular patrol, and I, in my turret, saw what I thought to be a wild dog in the distance. I guess it was our HMMWV engine (hummvee to the everyday person) as we drove down the main route, that got it's attention. This thing, went from being hunched over what appeared to be a dead woman, and stood on two legs. I couldn't believe it at first. There it was, covered in blood and sores, and not much else.
I called down to my team leader, and got his attention on this...thing. We just went under the assumption that it was just some crazed suicide bomber. I attempted to warn it off as it started it's way towards us. I was yelling, and waving it away, but it still continued on. Finally, after firing a warning shot of to it's side, and it still coming at us, I took aim. We were traveling right towards it, but I know that I hit it, center mass. I even saw the red mist as it took the shot in it's chest. It didn't even slow down. My Sergeant told me to do what it took to stop "him", as our convoy stopped. Setting down the rifle, I took my 240B (a smaller calliber weapon than the well known .50 Cal., machine gun to the lay person) and opened up. Several shots later, it was the shots to the head that took it down.
For some reason, I couldn't put two and two together on this. the news reports just didn't even enter into my mind at the time. All that I could think about was, "Why didn't he just stop? And why wouldn't he go down?" Looking back, I wish that I could have remained that ignorant. I wish that life were that simple again.