Zach Henry, age fourteen, is being heralded as a hero for saving the small seaside community of Danvers Bay. “His quick thinking and ingenuity saved many lives, maybe hundreds,” claims the town constable, Derek Sherdon. “If it weren’t for Zach I know I’d be dead.”
Danvers Bay is a small fishing village in the northernmost part of in the Allied Nations. Situated just outside of the Arctic Circle, the small community is cut off from most of the world for much of the year. Even so, their strong fisheries and resilient citizens have made this a surprisingly affluent community.
On the night of Libra 12th, the citizens of Danvers Bay awoke to find themselves in a real life horror story. “They come up out of the sea,” Constable Sherdon relayed to the Valhalla Crier earlier today. “I don’t know when they started, but there must have been a hundred of them by the time I was called to investigate.”
“I don’t know what they were,” says Margaret Hailey, a survivor of the attack. “They looked like people, but they couldn’t have been. People don’t do what they did. People don’t come out of the sea like scavenging crabs. People don’t move around if they’re dead, but these things did.”
The INSL investigators were able to conclude that the deadly nocturnal visitors were ghouls. These creatures are a rare breed of undead related to zombies or skeletons, but much harder to control and much faster. Their speed has been well documented. Studies have shown that they retain the same speed in death as they did in life.
While this by itself makes them very dangerous, the most hazardous thing about them is their bite. The Center for Disease Control has acknowledged that a ghoul’s saliva carries a potent disease, which causes severe necrosis to the bitten area. If a character dies from the bite, or dies while the toxin is still in his body, he will also become a ghoul.
Despite this, fourteen year old Zach Henry was able to enact a plan to distract and ultimately destroy the creatures. “I woke up around two or three in the morning when the pumps blew out by the boathouse,” Zach confides. “I didn’t know what was going on but it scared me something awful. I looked out the window and there was these people milling around on the street. Most of them were across the way at the police station poundin’ on the doors and punching at the windows, but others were trying to break into other houses, including mine. That’s when Mr. Nelson came out with his shotgun. He kind of kicked open the door and two of them went flying. He leveled the gun at the third and unloaded with both barrels right in its chest.”
Though knocked to the ground, the third ghoul didn’t stay down long before it rose again and started coming after Zach’s neighbor. “The other two that he knocked down were already coming at him, but he didn’t even see them. Them other two was on him fast. They grabbed him and started biting. He screamed something awful.”
The screams, as it turned out, were just the thing to turn the tide. When Mr. Nelson was attacked all the other ghouls turned on him in a frenzy of biting and clawing. Zach noticed this and also noticed how they would be turned from their course any time they heard a human scream.
That’s when Zach got the idea to use his drone. His remote control aircraft was a birthday present that he had been mastering for the past two months. Along with the camera and lights, the small craft is also equipped with both a speaker and microphone, which he commonly uses to communicate with friends across town.
“I opened up my window and held the drone steady while I worked the lift with my other hand,” Zach explains. “Once I got it airborne I closed the window. I knew I didn’t want them hearing me upstairs. So then I flew up to about forty feet or so, so I could get a real good look at what was going on. I saw how they was all over at the police station and I heard the shots so I figured the Constable was trapped. I flew it over there and brought it down to about ten feet. Then I just started screamin’”
Constable Sherdon heard the screams and thought he had lost another citizen. Little did he know that those screams would be his salvation. He had been asked earlier to investigate a disturbance at the docks. He barely left the station when the first of the ghouls spotted him.
“I didn’t recognize the guy, and I know everyone in this town,” Constable Sherdon explains. “So I called to him. He just kind of turns and looks at me and the next thing I know he’s charging at me full bore! Damnedest thing I ever saw. He’d’a been on me but he hit an ice patch and went sprawlin’ and slammed into Andy’s truck. I heard his arm break from clear across the street, but it didn’t slow him down but a step. By that time I look up and see five more of ‘em coming chargin’ at me from down the way. I got spooked! I admit it! I turned right back into the station and slammed the door behind me.”
While his quick reaction and dumb luck might have saved his life, his harrowing experience was far from over. By city ordinance the station does not have a lock on the door, the thought being that a public building should never be closed to the public. So rather than call for back-up, Constable Sherdon was forced to hold the door shut against the increasing numbers of the undead hordes.
“I had my revolver on me, of course,” the young constable explains, “so I drew it when they started pushin’ open the door. I knew they was undead. I didn’t even need my training for that. I could just smell ‘em. Ain’t nothin’ alive that smells like that. So I figure I better shoot for the head. That’s how they train you at the academy.” Constable Sherdon pauses, obviously shaken, before continuing his story. “You know, they can tell you to aim for the head all they want, but when they’re pushin’ in on you and you can’t see ‘em through the door anyhow, all the tellin’ in the world ain’t gonna help. I had six rounds and I only killed two of ‘em before I was empty.”
While straining against the gathering ghouls and deciding what to do next, Constable Sherdon heard the screams of a child from outside his door. He held tight, afraid that somebody was losing their life. He was devastated that he could do nothing about it. As the screaming continued though, he noticed the pressure on the door relax. When the scream started moving away, and the pushing stopped completely he took a look out the window and saw an amazing sight.
“There was one of them toy drones up in the air about ten or fifteen feet off the ground. There was a light on it, and this weird, screaming noise comin’ from it. The dead was following it. They was all angry and snarling and trying to get the thing, but of course they couldn’t reach it. They was more interested in that little screaming light in the sky than they was in the warm body right behind them. I couldn’t believe it!”
“Once they started following, I knew I had ‘em,” Zach says while his parents look on, beaming with pride. “They just kept following, so I kept leading. Once I got them out of town I figured they might follow a little further so I took ‘em on up to Widow’s Bluff.”
Widow’s Bluff is a sharp cliff overlooking the bay just east of town. While the waves crash against the rock wall during high tide, during low tide there is only an expanse of rocky boulders at the base of the sharp cliff. Using cunning that is rare in a fourteen year old, young Zach led the ghouls in a slow, steady march up to the top of the seventy five foot bluff and then hovered about ten feet beyond the cliff’s edge.
“Every damn one of them just walked right off,” Constable Sherdon exclaims in wonder. “He was like the damned Pied Piper! That young boy killed more of them things than anyone and he didn’t even leave his bedroom. The kid’s a damn hero! A damn hero!”
Over the course of the next few hours the town managed to rebound from the initial surprise and organize. Once everyone was armed and prepared, dispatching the remaining ghouls was relatively easy. They have been keeping watch on the shoreline ever since, and the number of ghouls coming from the surf has dwindled each day. Though they may never look at the unquiet waters of the bay in the same way, they can be secure in knowing that they can deal with the creatures if they arrive again.