Blog, The Fantasy Realm

A Fantasy Realm Tale: Bone Country

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*The following is a transcript of a WHUS Radio FM broadcast aired on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 from 1-2 PM along with the music used to accompany the story*

BONE COUNTRY


{Legends of Azeroth (Main Title) – Tracy Bush – World of Warcraft}

Good afternoon, traveler. You have stepped into a portal here on WHUS Storrs and are now in the Fantasy Realm. Welcome. I am your guide, The Sage. Today, we travel into a future where the green earth has turned to dust. This is an adventure unlike any other. For your enjoyment, I recommend creating a character to follow along. Are you ready for this journey? Can you stand the heat of the desert? Are you one for survival? You get to decide, and best think quick, traveler. Your story is about to begin.

{Theme from the Walking Dead – Bear McCreary – The Walking Dead OST}

{Theme from World War Z – The Evolved}

Welcome to Bone Country.

It has been only a few years since the infection began to spread in midwestern America. Many believe it was a hoax the tabloids picked up. A fun story that went viral on social media.

You never actually thouht the infection was real or that it would spread. First to the rest of the U.S., then by boat and plane to the rest of the world. You never would have guessed that in only a few years, you’d go from living in a comfortable home to traveling with a beat up bicycle everyday, hunting for food and avoiding zombies.

You never thought a face mask would have a permanent spot on your face now that the air is as infected as the zombies themselves or that your lips would ache as you try to grin after seeing a green tree after so long.

You never thought you’d miss the annoyances of life like late public transportation or an over-filled sihwasher.

Yes, you have adapted, and yes, you have survived, but despite how surprisingly comfortable you are in your new routine of travel, search for supplies, then travel again, the world is very much a different place. A place where the earth is cracked and dry as bone and where the last human connection you had was over a radio transmission months ago.

This is Bone Country.

You first heard the static voice on your portable radio while you were hiding away in an abandoned house. You had just found a fresh pair of batteries, a lucky find.

The sound of the voice shook you awake. Shocked, dazed, and still a bit groggy, you missed half the message. You only heard the words “safe haven” before the transmission was lost.

After a few days, the voice came back, and this time, a lot cleaner.

It was a high-pitched voice; it sound soft and kind. It almost threw you off, thinking a voice like that can’t possibly survive in a world like this, but you listened, and you committed each word to memory.

“Hello, hello. This is Phyllis. I am with a community living in a vault underneath the tallest building in the city of Ravenhale. Our community is thriving; we have water, food, shelter. If you are out there and lost, I hope you can find us. We are Maddox. We are a safe haven.”

At first, yoou paid no mind to it. It sounded impossible, and you knew no one dared to tackle a city. Cities are dangerous, crawling with the undead. There was no way of reaching Maddox in your mind. So, you let it go.

However, in raiding a motel, you found a map of the area, and you realized you were a lot closer to the city than you thought. If you had a car, you’d only be a day’s car ride away.

But at that point, it had been months since you heard Phyllis’ voice. Despite the proximity, you still weren’t willing to make the trip.

That night, right before you slipped into unconsciousness, Phyllis’ voice came from your portable radio. The words “safe haven” stuck to you like glue.

After a few long-winded debates with yourself and a few zombies taken care of in the meanwhile, you decided, at last, to head for Ravenhale.

However, you are exhausted with traveling on a bike that has just enough air in its wheels left to take you to the next block over. Before you even attempt to walk to the city, you try your luck to see if you can find a functioning car.

Checking your map, you see a few gas stations you can try. The air is coated with dust as it blows in your direction. The world is quiet, and the quiet has been the closest friend you’ve had in a long time.

I did warn you, did I not, traveler, that this story would be unlike any other?

{Waiting Around to Die – The Be God Tanyas – Chinatown}

Despite the world you knew being lost to the past, Bone Country has been kind to you for the most part. You haven’t faced as many hardships as some others that you’ve met on the road.

Still, with only the silence, the sun, and the road as your companions, you can’t help but hear the wandering thoughts in your head. They’re thoughts most must have after living in a post-apocalyptic world for so many years.

It was Harriett who decided to rename the U.S. as Bone Country. She was the gardener at the last and only community you’ve been in since the end of the world.

You, Harriett and a group of another 15 or so people made a home in an old library. Though a few people protested it, the books as kindling for a fire made the library a good place to stay. After some hard work, fences were put up, and the community was able to grow, including sustaining itself with its own grown food.

Harriett’s thumb was as green as eucalyptus leaves. She was the one for the job. She helped making that library feel like home, along with a few others, like Jill who was a storyteller for the group, and Zach who would bring out his guitar when the woods around the library were particularly quiet.

The carpet almost started to feel like a bed… almost…

As homely as it almost got, it never quite made it. Zombie sounds always echoed in the forest and disturbed the peace. People were lost every few days, either while on a supply run or there was a suprise zombie around a corner. The fence was never stable, and zombies made it through constantly.

The day you lost Harriett, she was showing you the leaves of a pumpkin about ready to sprout in full. Her calloused fingers grazed the tiny leaves gently, as if petting a sleeping kitten. Her eyes were joyous like you had never seen, like she had made a new friend and was proudly yelling the fact on the top of her lungs.

She was a good-natured woman, always dressed in an apron with cacti on it. You can almost picture her dreadlocks now, tied back in a rubber band, kneeling next to her flourishing plants with her water bottle, pouring rain water in sparingly.

The day the zombie got her, Zach destroyed his guitar, and you never felt safe in that library again.

A week later, a herd of zombies swept right through the library, and you were the sole survivor. Several months later, and you can still hear Zach’s guitar and Harriett humming along.

You manage to find a car at the last gas station you marked on your map. You check it out. No zombies around it or in it.

You break the window and after fiddling with the car a bit, you manage to get the car going. The sun still has a bit of time left in the sky. You decide to drive toward the city before the sun sets.

{All Gone (Aftermath) – Gustavo Santaolalla – The Last of Us OST}

It’s starting to get dark, and you decide to start looking for shelter.

You see an old trailer home nearby, all enclosed, but who knows what can be inside?

There’s an abandoned plane, tempting you to climb in just for the fun of it.

Then there’s your car with the opening of the broken window.

Where do you choose to spend the night?

{Salty Seas – Devics – Push the Heart}

The next morning, you awake with a scratchy throat. It’s been a full day since you’ve niblle at something and taken a drink of water. You look through what you have left: an apple, a granola bar, and a bag of chips.

Which one will you eat?

You’ve made it a habit to at least try and find some food after you’ve eaten something, so you decide to head to a town nearby.

It’s quiet, like every other small town you’ve passed through. There are a few zombies on the road, but they’re idle and harmless. So as to not attract them, you wak and leave the car behind.

You reach the nearest grocery store. You look up to check if there’s a bell at the door, a problem you’ve run into before. This one doesn’t, so you walk in.

With only four aisles, you can immediately tell there are no zombies around. Though the place has been ransacked, there are a few cans and boxes left on some shelves. What do you find when you walk down these aisles? What do you take with you?

You check out one of the cash registers to see what treasures you may find. Near a rack, you find keychains all over the floor, except for one that managed to stay on.

It’s a keychain of a stuffed bumble bee. It’s fuzzy in your palm as you take it from the rack. It has a cute smile on it that makes you grin ever so slightly.

*cough cough*

Your head jerks up at the cough, You ask out loud for someone to show themselves, certain a zombie didn’t suddenly come down with a cold.

After a few moments, a small boy comes crawling out from underneath the cash register. You both stare at each other, not sure what to say.

Then, you ask his name.

He tells you it’s Billy. His fingers figet as he grips tightly onto an old hoodie. Though it’s like pulling teeth, you get him to talk and learn that his group left him there to supposedly guard the store, but that was over a month ago.

The boy, Billy, has been abandoned.

The radio static sound come from your bag. You pull it out and hear Phyllis’ voice loud and clear, same message as before.

Maddox is a safe haven for any survivor. That’s the hope and promise of Phyllis.

Billy has survived this long, so you ask him if he’d want to join you on your trip to Maddox. He’s hesitant, biting his lips, but eventually nods his head, grabs his own knapsack bag from under the register, and follows you out the door to the car.

{The Last of Us – Gustavo Santaolalla – The Last of Us OST}

Just when you start to see the city over the hill of the highway you’re on, the car starts to stall and soon enough comes the subtle jerk of it stopping all together. There’s no gas left in the tank.

You turn to look back at Billy and tell him it’s time to walk the rest of the way. He steps out of the car without a complaint. You walk about, heading toward a bridge that leads directly into the city of Ravenhale.

Then, Billy asks, “What’s your favorite animal?”

What a silly question to be asked when trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. Still, you answer.

He then pipes up, his voice a little louder than before. “Mine’s a dog! I know, that ain’t a crazy, weird, unique animal or whatever, but I really like dogs. They’re funny and cute and they like to play. I met a dog once that liked to give people hugs. He even gave me one! Best day of my life.”

You talk dogs some more until you reach the bridge. The undead crowd the streets like a black and dreadful parade.

You have a gut feeling there’ll be some king of wound at some point. You think of the two spare bandaids in your bag; the only two things that make up your first aid kit.

There are a few totaled cars on the bridge, a few lone zombies roaming amongst them too. Do you check a few of the cars littered on the bridge or do you keep walking into the city?

{Black Parade – Globus – Break From This World}

Staring at the tall city buildings of Ravenhale brings you back to city life: the beeping horns of traffic, the boots, heels, and skateboard on pavement, the white noise of all the lights. All this overwhelms your memory. It feels so long ago.

It’s time you enter the city. You remember seing a trick on a TV show, or maybe it was a video game? Where the characters would dress themselves in zombie guts to disguise themselves and blend in with all the undead.

The heard in the city is three or four times the size the one that passed through the old library, so you decide to give it a shot, thinking, what’s the worst that can happen?

You take down some lone zombies nearby and proceed to cover yourself head to toe in its guts. Your skin shivers each time you take a whiff. Then you help Billy.

Billy tells you with a wrinkled nose and frown that it’s gross. You assure him you know.

So, what do you think, traveler? Will you make it past the undead?

Not bad, traveler. You’ve made it so far without a scratch. Only a few more bloacks to go before you reach Maddox.

You’re starting to feel a bit confident. Even Billy starts to smile a bit, starting to think of it as a game.

He hasn’t had this much fun in a while, and neither have you. You decide to take his lead and have a bit of fun.

{Another One Bites the Dust – Queen – The Platinum Collection (Greatest Hits I, II, & III)}

You’ve made it to the front entrance of Maddox. Congratulations! You manage to open the door ever so slowly without alerting any zombies.

You’ve made it inside.

{Clone AWake – Charlie Clouser – Resident Evil: Extinction OST}

{L’s Theme (From “Death Note”) – Music Legends}

The building is cold, corporate and yet nostalgic to the days before Bone Country. It looks unchanged and pristine. The floors are glossy and bright as through freshly mopped, and the walls are free of any dust. It smells almost like a hospital, medically clean.

The air almost burns your lungs with how cold it is, perhaps with how clean it is too. The silence here jabs you in the shoulder and makes your joints ache. It is not like the quiet of a road or of an abandoned town. This silence is unfriendly to the ear.

The building has several hallways in front of where you stand. Just to check your luck, you check the elevators to your right, but as you suspected, they don’t work.

With no operating elevators, and the only clue of the vault’s location from Phyllis’ message being it’s underneath the building, you start looking for a stairwell. You check a few doors. Some are locked. Others lead to small, empty offices. You can’t seem to find the stairs.

Then, Billy calls you. You rush over to him and see that he’s standing under a map of the facilities. On it, someone has written in sharpie the words “Maddox here.” There is an arrow pointing to a room at the end of a long corridor at the lowest level of the building.

You tell Billy he did a good job and start to navigate your path to Maddox. You quickly realize the building is a maze.

There are three different stairwells you must find to get to Maddox, each at a different corner of the building.

Once you think you’ve got it, you go in search of the first stairwell. You tell Billy to stay close, and he does so without question. Once you find the first stairwell, you head down the first five flights of stairs.

As you descend, you start to see more and more evidence of life: an abandoned heel in the corner of a concrete step, a smashed phone at the bottom of the steps, even smeared streaks of old blood on the walls. More and more as you go down, the building starts to lose its corporate charm; it starts to look more human.

You reach the end of this stairwell, and it’s time to search for the next one. This floor looks fairly similar to the main level, still as clean, still open and empty, but like the stairwell, more and more relics of the past show up.

There’s a watch, an opened briefcase, a binder, a calculator, a phone or two, some scraps of torn clothes, large shards of old vases with now dead plants and soil ruining the white floor, old pens; all this was splattered acrosss the halls.

You spend no time reminiscing and look for the next stairwell, Billy right behind you. You navigate the maze-like halls until you reach the next stairwell.

Like the last, there are five flights of stairs, but when you open the door to head down, the putrid smell of the undead hits you like a brick wall.

{Silent Hill Them – Edgar Rothermich – Best of Silent Hill (Music from the Video Game Series)}

This floor seems to belong to a different world entirely. One that has faced the wrath of the zombie apocalypse head on.

Though nothing roams these halls now, it’s very apparent they once did. A carpet of dust, dried blood, and debris adorns the white, glossy tiles. All the doors are smashed in, and the walls have nothing but scratches and marks. The air is thick, as though the infection has been sprayed with a can to compliment the ambience.

Billy shivers behind you as he inches towards your leg. Slowly, you make your way to the third and final stairwell.

You find it easily enough, now used to the building’s layout. This stairwell only has three flights of stairs. You can almost feel how close you are to this safe haven, but once you make it to the bottom, once you see the vault down the long corridor dead ahead, you find a group of mutated zombies right in front of you.

Quickly, traveler. How will you fight them off? How will you protect Billy?

{Black Tomb (From “Shadow of the Tomb Raider”) – Feel For Music}

You’re finishing off the second to last zombie, and Billy is safe.

Just when you finish it of and are about to get the last one, a massive, big-bellied zombie appears from a hidden hallway. It shields the whole entrance of Maddox. Your attention is now on it, and its attention on you.

{Jodie’s Suite – Lorne Balfe – Beyond: Two Souls OST}

You’ve finished off the big-bellied zombie! You’re ready to shout in celebration when you hear slow, heavy breathing behind you.

You turn to see young Billy on the floor, breathing heavily through his mouth as his bloody hand grips onto his upper arm.

The last zombie you did not reach lies still next to him, a screwdriver in its temple.

Billy’s eyes are low and his skin pale. In his other hand, he holds onto his old hoodie. His small body keeps shivering.

You’re frozen; your feet are glued to the ground. You merely stare, and when he finally finds your gaze, he lets go of his arm and leans his head against the wall.

You don’t believe it, but you can’t ignore the gash. A wound a bandaid can’t help with.

He’s been bitten.

You rush to him and try to cut off the circulation in his arm of his blood to stop the infection from spreading, but Billy, with sluggish movement, puts his hand on yours to stop you.

He takes a deep breath and whispers in a raspy voice, “I’ve always wanted a dog, to play with and run with and even sleep with if I could. It wouldn’t matter if he was big or small or fluffy or not, he’d be my best friend, and we’d do everything together. He’d never leave my side, and I’d never leave his. I’d teach him to sit and stay. I’d even teach him how to give hugs, and that first day he’d give me a hug would be the best day ever. I think I’d name him Sammy, and if it were a girl dog, I think Sammy would work too.”

His eyes start to turn darker, though you did manage to slow the infection. You reach into your bag and find the bumble bee keychain you took from the grocery store in which you found Billy.

You give it to him. You tell him, it’s not a dog, but it’s still a friend.

He giggles as best he can and hugs the keychain tightly, wincing at the pain in his arm.

He then asks you, “I know we’re so close to Maddox, but do you mind if we just take a quick break? I’m real tired.”

You agree, just for a little while, and you two just sit there in quiet for a while. All you can hear is the wheezing breath coming from Billy that grows weaker and weaker by the minute.

{Reaching Roth – Jason Graves – Tomb Raider Original Soundtrack}

Before Billy’s breathing gets any worse, you decide you aren’t giving up on him just yet. You carry him and rush to the entrance of Maddox, hoping for some kind of miracle. You band on the large metal vault door, until it starts to slowly open itself uo.

You step in and see exactly what Phyllis has promised: a safe haven. Once a large scientific facility, it now has tents, mattresses, plays pens and books all around. There is a kitchen and a garden area as well as showers and large storage rooms. It reminds you of the old library, only safe, for there are no zombie sounds or invaders to be seen or heard.

However, there are no humans around either. Maddox looks like a ghost town. You place Billy on a nearby mattress and start roaming around, calling out for Phyllis or anyone else.

An old man appears, finally. He dwadles over to you in an old lab coat and welcomes you to Maddox, though his voice has a hissing sound to it like a snake.

{The Promise – Globus – Break From This World}

The man tels you his name is Geoffry and that he was a scientist in the Maddox Corporation before catastrophe. He was able to save many who were in the building when the infection spread and with his colleague, Phyllis, they were able to create a community.

“I’m glad you heard our call,” he tells you.

You ask where Phyllis is and all the others. He says they’ll be around shortly. You ask about the lights and the electricity and the running water. He explains Maddox has solar panels that are still semi-operational.

“The essentials work,” he says, “I suppose that’s what happen when things aren’t properly maintained.”

He offers you some water, but before you can accept, you hear a loud groan from Billy.

You then ask Geoffry if he has any idea on how they could possibly save Billy. Geoffry goest o check Billy, but after a few minutes, he shakes his head.

“It’s too late,” he says, “There’s nothing we can do.”

You sigh and almost miss Geoffry’s comment that it’s probably for the best. You ask what he means.

He turns away and says, “I’ve been here for a long time. Phyllis and I did our best to make it as homely as possible, and the company we kept made it so; but we were trapped here. Always stuck here with no option of going anywhere. Life felt mundane here, pointless. Phyllis didn’t understand. This is no may to live. I did them all a favor, as I’ll be doing with you.”

You manage to hide behind a desk before he attacks you with his weapon.

How will you handle this situation, traveler? Will you fight this man? You check the entrance and see it’s sealed shut. You are trapped inside Maddox with a mad man.

Billy, now a zombie, rises and before you even realize it, he has bitten into Geoffry’s neck.

Though it pains you to see it, you take out the two zombies and are now left alone in Maddox.

Yes, traveler. Maddox is now yours.

You find the radio transmitter and decide you will carry on the promise of Maddox, the safe haven, for any other survivors out there.

You find Phyllis’ old stick notes with her original message scribbled out, the one that brought your to Maddox. You use those same scribbled out notes to send out your first message.

{Take Us Back – Alela Diane – To Be Still}

A few years have passed. You’ve carried on the promise of Maddox, and it is now a thriving commnuity with survivors from all over Bone Country.

You even managed to find a dog, and you named the dog Sammy.

Unlike the library, this place, this safe haven, truly feels like home. The garden blooms with people who enjoy to cook dominating the kitchen. The older folk entertain the children with books and games. A group of volunteers check the upper levels and clear them of any zombies. There are even a few singers who preform to the rest of the community.

It’s a heartwarming place and sometimes, it almost feels like there was never an apocalypse at all… almost.

That is the end of our tale for today. Thank you for joining me, but it’s now time for you to step back through the portal to WHUS Storrs. I hope you join me next week for another adventure. Until then, fairfarren, traveler.

THE END

Fairfarren, Friends

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