ATTACK OF THE RED SASH.
I was awakened by the blaring of a loud and persistent wailing alarm. I stumbled out of bed and made my way to the door. Alarm? What was going on here? I could hear footsteps racing outside my apartment door. A distant voice yelled, “Triage, triage!” Where was I? Then suddenly it all came back to me. I was several floors underneath the General Hospital in East Los Angeles in a secret laboratory run by the La Familia zombies. I was here to be tutored on the history of the zombie race.
Vida, the zombie dog, had adopted me and had taken to sleeping in my quarters. She was now urgently whining and scratching at the door to get out.
I opened the door and we ran out. The hallway was full of techs and medics racing toward the entrance to the Mano Poderosa lab.
Then, suddenly, Pearl was at my side, still dressed in pajamas.
“Lazo, What the hell´s going on?” she asked.
“I don´t know, heck I didn’t even know this place had alarms.”
Just then Mr. Nez came hurrying by, followed by a team of medics with grim faces. He turned to us as he hurried passed.
“We´ve been hit! Come along we need all the help we can muster.”
Pearl and I quickly fell into step behind Mr. Nez and his team. We looked at one another, silently mouthing our questions. We´d been hit? By whom? And where? Suddenly a loudspeaker blared through out the lab.
“Attention, attention. Oñate victims now arriving at the Northeast entrance.”
Then it all fell into place. The Oñate zombies, of course!
“The Friday meeting of La Familia.” Mr Nez barked over his shoulder, keeping us all jogging at a brisk pace. “Someone detonated a bomb of projectiles at head level. Lots of our people were hit.”
We reached the main entrance to the lab and I could see that a makeshift emergency ward had been set up. Bodies of zombies were laid out on cots and stretchers, but they were alive. Moaning from their wounds, but still alive…er, dead. Sort of.
Off to the far end of the room I could see a large mound of bodies that were NOT moving. These bodies were ghastly pallid and motionless. I could see that each one had been hit once or more in the head by metal projectile, similar to the metal darts with which Pearl and I had been targeted at Olvera Street.
I walked up to the mound of zombie carcasses. Mr. Nez and his group were busy examining the survivors. As I approached the death mound, my stomach wrenched. These were the first “dead” zombies I had ever seen. It made me shudder. It sank into me just how deadly the Oñate threat really was.
“My god, they’re actually dead.” Pearl said quietly joining me. “And I thought we were invincible.”
“Report!” I heard Mr. Nez call out behind us.
We turned to see he was addressing La Señora Falcón who was covered with the grey mucous fluid that passed as zombie blood and looking like she was still in shock. But she appeared otherwise unhurt. She took a deep breath and spoke.
“They hit us this evening at the beginning of the meeting,” she said. “There was an infiltrator who positioned a bomb device on one of the credenzas in the main meeting hall, making sure it was a head level. When the bomb went off, the blast sent these metal darts right into the crowd. “
“Did you catch him?”
“It was a her. We did but she pulled out a handgun and blew her brains out in front of us.”
“Oñate.” Mr. Nex said grimly, decisively.
“Yes, I´m sure of it,” La Señora Falcón replied.
She reached into a side bag slung over her shoulder. She pulled out a piece of a red sash, partially burned and covered with soot.
“Mr. Nez nodded. “The Oñate scarlet sash.”
“Scarlet sash?” Pearl asked.
“It’s the scarlet sash Juan de Oñate wore as a conquistador. He now uses it to identify members of the Oñate clan.”
Mr. Nex turned to the medics. “Let´s finish triage. Sandoval, Melendez, get the injured into the medical ward and see to their wounds. He turned to several techs working nearby. He nodded toward the pile of bodies in the corner.
“Use the tunnel. The furnace is scheduled for six this morning.”
The men moved to the bodies and started loading them onto hospital gurneys. Mr. Nez saw me staring at the bodies.
“We have a tunnel that connects this facility to the county morgue,” he explained. “Its right around the corner at Main Street and Mission. We selected this locale because when we do get to the point where we´re ready to experiment with the mutant gene, we´ll need a ready source of cadavers. There are several thousand cadavers there now.”
“And these bodies?” I asked.
“The county periodically burns unclaimed cadavers that have been processed on alternate mornings at 6AM. Several workers there are members of La Familia. ”
The medics soon were moving the wounded zombies into an emergency sick bay that had been set up in the hospital wing of the lab. Before long Pearl and I were helping push gurneys down the hall and into the emergency room. It was clear that all of our resources would be devoted to helping out our injured comrades and that the research at the lab would be on hold for a while.
After we had helped settle the wounded, Pearl and I went from bed to bed asking if there was anything they wanted. We spent the rest of morning helping out as best we could.
By dinner things had quieted down. Pearl and I were having supper in the commissary. Vida, never far from me, was asleep under the table, when Mrs. Gonzalez came up to us. She looked haggard and tired. The smile I ordinarily associated with her was gone.
“Lazo, Pearl you´re to go to room 27 in the hospital wing at 7Pm tonight.”
“What´s up?” I asked.
“We’re at war now,” Mrs. Gonzalez said with gravity. “And it’s time you all grew up.”
Copyright 2013 by Lazaro De La Tierra and Barrio Dog Productions Inc.