The World of Deadlands

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An extract from one of the books that have been banned in the enclave.
It will give you an idea of how the War started, and how the survivors who are holed up in the fenced enclave are coping with being surrounded by thousands of the living dead.

A Short History of Cape Town City Enclave
First-person accounts of the War and its aftermath)
Name: Yolanda Visser (not her real name)
Previous occupation: Mortuary make-up artist
Current occupation: Resurrectionist amulet trader
Age: 27
Nationality: South African
(Date transcribed: July, 2015 aka Year 5).

Note: Yolanda is assumed to be one of the first to have encountered a reanimate/zombie at her place of work.

Interviewer: Thank you for sharing your story with us today, Yolanda.

Yolanda: Are you sure it’s cool for me to talk to you? Cos like I’ve heard that the Resurrectionists don’t like us to talk about what happened during the War.

Interviewer: Your identity will be kept confidential.

Yolanda: Uh. Okay then. Where do you want me to start?

Interviewer: Can you start on the day when you first encountered a reanimate?

Yolanda: Cool. So, at first it was like just a normal day. I was working at the Peaceful Sleep Funeral Home on Buitenkant Street, and I only had a couple of decedents to deal with that morning (that’s what we called the dead back then – it’s like a trade industry word, you know?) Anyway, I started in on Mrs de Beer. Totally straight-forward. She’d died of natural causes, basically because she was like, really old, and I was just going to add a bit of blusher, maybe a smear of lipstick. I didn’t want to overdo it, make her look like a drag queen or anything. Anyway, I popped out for a smoke break, and when I came back in there was this young guy in the preparation room, couldn’t have been more than twenty. I could tell straight away there was something wrong with him. I thought he was probably on tik or dope or something, cos like although he was really cute, his eyes were just blank and he didn’t blink or anything.

Interviewer: Were you frightened?

Yolanda: Nah. I knew Sipho, my supervisor, was just down the hall, and so I said to the guy: ‘You’re not supposed to be in here.’ But he didn’t answer, just cocked his head on one side in a lank creepy way and ran out. So anyway, I was about to sound the alarm, let Sipho know that another one of those freaks who are into dead people had broken into the funeral home, when Mrs de Beer started moaning.

Interviewer: How did you react to this?

Yolanda: How do you think I reacted? I totally freaked out. Look, sometimes the decedents burp and groan and fart and stuff – that’s just air escaping from their lungs and guts or whatever – but this was different, it went on and on. And then Mrs de Beer sat up and started sliding off the gurney. So I was like, oh no, someone’s made a serious mistake – like maybe she’s not dead, just in a coma or something. But then I remembered that she’d been in the cooler room for, like, I dunno, hours, so I knew it couldn’t be that. I was really scared by now – at first I just froze, it was like my brain couldn’t deal with what it was seeing, you know? But then she started reaching towards me, trying to touch me, and there was this weird white stuff snaking out of her mouth.

Interviewer: Can you describe it in more detail?

Yolanda: You’ve seen it, haven’t you? Like this thin wormy stuff. It sounds gross, but it reminded me of … I dunno … Thai noodles or something. It’s what turns people into Rotters, isn’t it? Infects them, right? Or keeps them alive and stops them decaying totally or whatever.

So I pushed my make-up trolley towards her, bashing it into her legs, and this gave me enough time to race out of there. By now I was totally hysterical, and I grabbed Sipho and told him about Mrs de Beer. But he was like, ‘Yessus, Yolanda, what you been smoking?’ And I swear I did my best to stop him going into the preparation room, but he was like, ‘Whatever.’ Of course the joke was on him because he didn’t come out of there, or if he did, he wasn’t, you know, alive. But there was no way I was hanging around, so I just ran out and went home.

Anyway, I tried to call my boyfriend at work – he’s in IT, although not any more obviously – but the network was down. So I got home, had a shower and few drinks to calm me down, and then I had a nap. I guess at that stage I was thinking, maybe Mrs de Beer had been in a coma or something, that there had to be a rational explanation. I woke up hours later – three am, I think it was – the vodka and the shock must’ve knocked me out, you know? I mean I live fairly close to the stadium and with the FIFA World Cup going on and everything, all those vuvuzelas and tourists everywhere, I generally wasn’t getting much sleep. And then I switched on CNN, and the newsreaders looked really scared and lost – like when the whole 9/11 thing happened – and were babbling about a virus and stuff. And then suddenly the screen went black. Anyway, I heard screaming, and I looked out of my flat’s window and it was chaos out there. People were running everywhere, and everything was lit up, bright as day, and I figured out it was because the city was on fire, like totally on fire, and I opened the window and smelled the smoke.
I didn’t want to stay in my flat, there were these weird banging and groaning noises coming from next door – so I ran outside. Everyone was screaming, ‘Get to the stadium, get to the stadium!’ So I followed this crowd, and it was just like doing the FIFA Fan Walk, only, you know, more hectic and panicked and stuff. I mean, I was used to seeing dead people, but not walking and running and attacking people.

But by then the stadium was totally full, and there were literally hundreds of infected people lurching around. There was no way I could get back to my flat, and so a bunch of us raced towards this restaurant in Green Point and we hid out in the kitchen, which was in the basement of this huge building. There were twenty of us or so, and we were there for weeks. It was horrible. We could hear the city burning around us, and the air force planes crashing, and then it was all like, quiet, and then we just heard the moans of the dead ones. We had plenty to eat of course, but with so many people and only one toilet … well, you can imagine. It was just like one of those zombie movies – you know, the one where they’re all trapped in the mall – only like, way more hectic and disgusting.

Anyway, so we were all sure we were going to die, and then we heard someone banging on the door. We’d boarded it up and stuff, but a couple of the guys looked out and there was this figure dressed in this long brown robe like priests or monks wear. Well, we didn’t know what to think. We couldn’t tell if it was a person with a freaky dress sense or one of the dead ones. But it didn’t take long to figure out that it was going to help us. They’re not called Guardians for nothing, you know.

Interviewer: How did you know it was going to help you?
Yolanda: The Guardian brought us food, and kept the dead ones away from us.

Interviewer: How did it do this?
Yolanda: I dunno, no one knows, do they? It’s the Guardians’ thing, isn’t it? Probably with its mind or whatever. All I know is that when it was around us, the Rotters kept their distance, like they were scared. Anyway, there were these really cute six-year-old twin girls with us, and the Guardian kind of gestured towards them, it didn’t speak or anything, but we assumed it was going to take them to safety first. The kids’ parents freaked out a bit, but they were also relieved to get the kids out of there; the place really stank.
The Guardian left us where we were for a few days. That was hectic, we were scared it wouldn’t return, that we’d starve to death or whatever. But then it came back, and there were more Guardians with it. They gave us some clean clothes and food and stuff, and we followed them out.
It was really freaky being outside again. I couldn’t believe it! The whole of Cape Town was trashed, with like, the whole of Long Street and even the Waterfront just gone.
How much more do you need?

Interviewer: Can you describe the beginnings of the enclave?
Yolanda: Oh, right. So the Guardians took us in these big wagons to this huge empty space, keeping the dead ones from attacking us. One of the guys, this cute Malawian kid, said it was where Khayelitsha used to be, but you couldn’t tell for sure cos like most of the shacks and houses were all burned to the ground.
So we camped out for like, ages, and then the Guardians started getting us to build this huge fence, and they brought us wood and bricks and stuff so that we could build shelters and dig toilets and things, and for the first few months we had this whole shanty town vibe going on, you know?
I work on a market stall now. I know, crazy, right? Well, it’s not as if I can go back to my former career. With all the decedents being thrown outside the fence so that they’ll get infected and turn into more of those zombie things, no one does proper funerals anymore.
(She laughs).

Interviewer: Are you happy?
Yolanda: I guess it’s okay. I mean, the Guardians look after us, right? Bring us food and stuff from the agricultural enclave.

Interviewer: Are you a Resurrectionist?

Yolanda: I guess. I mean, I’m not sure I buy into the whole worshipping the Rotters thing, but I mean, after seeing what happened during the War, I’m not really surprised that people worship the Guardians. They saved us. And the Resurrectionists say that everything’s better now that we’ve all got a fresh start. They’ve kind of got a point. Before the War there was all this violence – hijackings and rape and stuff, and now there’s none of that; no crime or HIV or anything like that. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I miss American Idol and Friday night drinks and clothes shopping and stuff, but it could be worse.
(She holds up one of the carved Resurrectionist amulets she sells)
And who am I to complain? Business is good, right?