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WARNING: Stories on this site may contain mature language and situations, and may be inappropriate for readers under the age of 18.

A NURSING HOME by Bryce Hyers
June 30, 2009  Short stories   Tags:   

Mid-Hudson Valley, New York.

— Bryce H. is a Licensed Practical Nurse, 35 years old. We met at his home in (name withheld), NY for this interview, in a typical post-war living room, free from clutter. At the time, just before the mass infection took hold and society as was known collapsed, he had worked at the county nursing home for under two years. The facility he’d worked for housed 240 residents and employed 180 staff members. This account is of his last day at the nursing home, which was the same day as the well-known, live-televised massacre at Ardsley, which claimed approximately 2700 military personnel and caused a mass evacuation to the north.

I got the call at about 9:00am, from a supervisor I never liked much. I nearly told her to go f’ herself when she told me I needed to get in to the Home but after some quick thinking I decided it would be a good move. My motives were selfish at first: try to steal as many medical supplies as I could — I had a feeling that things were about to get a lot worse — But it ended up becoming much more than that. I still sometimes feel guilt because my first thought went to helping my own ass before even considering that 240 elderly people — some residents I’d known closely for two years — were all going to be dead by this time the next morning.

The hardest part at the time was convincing my wife that I needed to leave. We’d been glued to the news since the big outbreak in New York City, and in between quick sprints to get supplies ready for the trek north we were fixed to the television. We lived in the woods at the time, nothing huge but about 1000 acres on all sides and at the top of a decent hill, and that gave us a little more freedom because the dead were still concentrated in the urban centers at that point, and the rednecks in the sticks were doing a good job of keeping them at bay. Stacey, my wife, was really upset because her mother lived in Queens. With the phones down there we had no way to contact Mom — cell signals weren’t working for a while, remember — and we were quietly assuming the worst. She kept saying that splitting up was a bad idea and she was right. She wouldn’t come with me though, for whatever reasons she had. It was a bitter fight, but in the end she held down the house after some friends of ours had shown up at around 10:00am. They came in two cars, loaded with all sorts of camping gear and food. They started making plans right away for where to get more cans of food, talking about what was important to bring. I remember mumbling something about having people to take care of and driving off before any more arguments could start. There were seven of us at that time.

I still remember that drive to work. It was so damn surreal. 18 miles of mostly back roads that seemed exactly the same as always, yet the satellite radio was filled with panicked, conflicting news broadcasts, mostly involving the same stupid fucks doing their commentary, arguing over what should be done. Talking heads — if there was one group of people I would have loved to listen to over the air get eaten that day… The music channels were switched to news, the news channels the usual worthless shit at the time. And it was a beautiful, sunny, cool morning. It probably was weird too since I normally worked evenings and hadn’t been awake at 10:00am in a long time. there was the usual amount of traffic on the state road but it felt more frenzied. A lot of cars were loaded up, lines at the gas station, the little convenience marts were jammed as I drove by.

The parking lot of nursing home was crazy with activity. A lot of families had come to take their relatives with them but it wasn’t working. Some of these people were such high maintenance just to keep alive, with pills four times a day, diabetics, incontinence, full-blown dementia… the list goes on and on. I mean, that’s why the people were living under care. When I pulled up to the front there was a dozen cars parked with doors open, the children and grand children trying to figure out how to get their immobile parent from a may chair or wheelchair into a minivan or family sedan. One guy, I never saw him before, was wrestling with Mrs. O’Brian. I guess it was his mother. I knew her well, or as well as you can know someone who essentially isn’t living in the same time period as we are. He was trying to reason with her to get into the car but she was really upset, screaming in her wheelchair, chanting the Lord’s Prayer over and over as she always did. After I’d parked my car at the far end of the lot and was hustling towards the doors I saw her sitting in her chair, arms reaching out and her pudgy little fingers grabbing for something, still chanting, alone on the sidewalk. She was oblivious to me and invisible to everyone, it seemed.

It was then that I felt I’d been given a twisted power I’d never asked for and didn’t really know how to handle: I was really going to decide how so many people would die. Instinct made me grab her wheelchair handles and I rolled her back inside, past an old man sitting in the foyer next to his vegetative wife in a big may chair, holding her hand and talking to her like he did every single day since I’d started working at the Home. I kind of parked Mrs. O’Brian’s wheelchair off to the side of the commotion and went to the supervisor’s office.

I remember there were three of the supervisors there, all with their calendars on the desks, scribbling notes and going back and forth to the phones and each other, and whoever walked in. The pace was furious. One of them was chain smoking right there at her desk. There was also this weird calm every time someone else come in, some other nurse or aide, this back and forth smile that said “Oh, you came too?” followed by the usual quick questions: Where are you going? Do you have a gun? How long will this…?” This one nurse, real sweetheart with short brown hair and big eyes from the overnight shift named Alyssa, threw up in a trash can when someone asked that last question. Didn’t even get to finish asking what was what, but we all knew what it meant. On many levels we knew what it meant. Her puking right then felt so fucking right. The smell… well we were all used to the smell. When she was done I remember her standing up straight and just letting out this “Fuuuuck…” It was so beat down, so hopeless. Her pink scrubs had these little Snoopy’s on them…

I was a float nurse, but I was asked to go to my main floor where I had my locker, where I’d been orientated and trained, and where I knew the residents best. Ground floor. The place was a mess. The smell of shit was thick in the air. An empty linen cart was in the north hall, and the bins for the dirty linen were overflowing, the hinged lids popped up over wrapped balls of dirty chux [incontinence pads placed on beds that soak up urine and can be easily changed] and soiled wash cloths and towels. The residents that could walk were milling about, asking where breakfast was or when the regular television programs would be coming back on. There were a few in wheelchairs, the ones who were mobile enough to push themselves or aware enough to ask to get out of bed even if they couldn’t move due to stroke or paralysis or atrophy.

— The patients that were fully aware — what were they doing?

Residents. Not patients. See, patients… Anyways, it really depended. I was at the home for about ten hours that day and I saw and heard more intense crap from those people than could fill two books. There was so much fear, so much bravery, all mixed in with a comical amount of Alzheimer’s patients who had no idea what was going on except that something was not normal.

— Comical?

Working at the Home, you develop a quick appreciation for the sane mind, and a way of dealing with so many people who don’t have that anymore. You get to choose frustration or humor. If you choose the first one, you lasted a few months. There’s something fucking dark and funny in regular circumstances when you have one person who is literally dying in front of you from whatever and ten feet away are two old women singing “Show me the way to go home…” who have no idea what’s happening, and an old man rolling up in his wheel chair who is pissed off because he hasn’t gotten whatever crazy shit is going on in his dementia-ridden reality, like maybe he’s asking what all the children on the school trip are doing up this late. And that was a normal evening. So yeah, you learn to deal with that. And learn to deal with dead people. We all know dead people now, but before the war, how many dead people did you know? I mean, really know? I went from knowing maybe ten before I started working at the home to knowing about 140 when the walking dead came around. I got to know death really well.

— Did the supervisors tell you what to do? What was the plan at that point?

I think they had a plan from the start. But there’s logistics, there’s families, there’s the hope that things will fix themselves. We know now what happened down at Ardsley in Westchester, but remember that right up until then there was a hope that we could turn things around. I even grabbed the med cart and passed out medications. The important ones. Insulin, heart pills, pain pills. I was liberal with the pain pills and Xanax. I was even keeping my usual notes for a few minutes until I decided that if everything did turn around I would probably be forgiven for not writing anything down considering the circumstances, and because stopping to even sign the med book took time that I didn’t feel I had.

And someone, I don’t know who, actually showed up in the kitchen and threw together what he could for the residents. It was a shitty last meal, mostly cold cuts and easy stuff like that. A bunch of sandwiches piled on a cart and wheeled to the unit. I wish I’d seen the guy so I could thank him. We gathered everyone who was able or mobile and who wanted to — a few still wanted to stay in their rooms alone to watch the television, or who didn’t want to go through the trouble to get out of bed — and we ate together. I had a ham and cheese sandwich and a ginger ale. Fuck, now even a shitty ham sandwich seems like a luxury. Maybe in hind sight it wasn’t such a bad last meal.

Anyway, in the corner of the dining room there was this huge television. The staff was glued to it more than the residents, slowly eating and pacing and instinctively and robotically taking care of the residents that needed care. CNN was on… the live feed from Ardsley. I mean there’s no use rehashing what we saw and how it felt because we all saw and felt it. Well for us it was different than someone in Kansas or something because it was only 50 miles south — and across a river. I remember feeling a little safer because of the river. But knowing that horde was rolling north, and that they’d cross the Tappan Zee bridge… Man, it boggles the fucking mind that they didn’t blow those bridges. Maybe buy us on the other side a few more hours. It was weird too, because I remember for one instant I thought I saw someone I knew on the screen, this guy from a job at a deli I’d had years earlier who had gone into the Marines, leaning up against a truck aiming a rifle at a distant deadfuck. But… whatever. It is what it is.

[Bryce lights another cigarette, takes a slug of his homemade potato vodka with what appears to be a slice of tree bark at the bottom of the glass, and looks everywhere but at the interviewer as he continues.]

When we saw the shit drop on the TV, when it was obvious the Ardsley line had fallen, you could hear shouts from the halls, from a nearby stairwell, “Fuck this! I’m getting the fuck out of here!” People buzzed by in the hall past the dining room where we were, and we all looked at each other to see who would walk out first.

It was a fucking tough moment because there’s the human instinct of self preservation, and the caring instinct in each of us that made us nurses and aides in general. I mean, we were at about a quarter of the staff we needed to normally run the place, and this was the conglomeration of everyone who’d decided to show up. This was the last of the best of the most caring, and now they were bugging out, heading out to get their families or whatever before that huge fucking swarm of moaning corpses found [name of the city withheld], or before the highways stopped, or whatever they had planned. Or didn’t. God, it was such a cluster-fuck.

At this point it was — you can print these names if you want — Alecia, Deb and Natasha. They’re fake names anyways. Really. I’m the only nurse on the floor but that means nothing at this point since Deb had been an aide for 28 years. She was kind of a mom-figure and with no rules, even though I was technically in charge, we looked to her. And she, I’ll never fucking forget how she sounded when she said this, she says “Let’s just start with Maggie.” Maggie was one of the veggies, as I’d privately called them. It seems wrong to say that just now, but she was in a vegetative state since I’d met her two years earlier, hooked up to oxygen and a feeding tube… still had her CPR bracelet on too. [A bracelet indicating that if the resident’s heart stopped, he or she wished to have CPR performed in order to resuscitate the resident.] I went to the med room and loaded the cart with all the narcotics left in the lock boxes — because I am not stupid — and locked them in the med cart’s lock box. You know, keep the good shit where it’s in my view. Then we rolled the med cart to Maggie’s room. She was in bed, in her silent stare with fists clenched, sheets soaked, feeding tube empty and shut off whenever ago. Deb put her hand on Maggie’s shoulder and said something — something nice about this being a better way — and I injected a thousand units of insulin into her arm with an IM [intra-muscular] needle. I remember instinctively wiping the area with alcohol first, until Natasha asked what the fuck I was doing. What could I say? I didn’t bother. Looking back it still seems strange they waited for me to do it.

And so we went from room to room, first hitting all the veggies and those that were barely aware. It got harder as we went because each next resident was slightly more aware than the last. And all the while there are residents crying, some asking to be changed [a term referring to changing linens in the bed that had been soiled with urine or feces], some asking if their father is coming in today, one just gibbering away at the window as always… And the three of us, moving like zombies from room to room quietly injecting our residents with insulin. And when we’d run out of insulin, and we came to those who had more of a mind, it was a cocktail of 30 or so heart pills, whatever it was they took normally, like Coreg or Metoprolol, mixed with a dozen Tylenol that I told them was Vicodin or Percocet. One of us would say a little something, or kneel down to the wheelchair and smile and say “Here’s your medicine” like it was a normal day, and give them a few spoonfuls of crushed pills in applesauce. Each of us had residents we couldn’t do, and residents we felt we must do. Tears flowed but we never outright cried. Not yet.

By the time we’d reached Mr Vernoy’s room I had grabbed a fifth of whiskey from the med room. It had belonged to a resident who used to have a shot a day back when he could think enough to ask for it. Natasha and I traded slugs off the bottle, sometimes chasing it with the generic cola from the dining room fridge. Deb said she had quit drinking years ago and wouldn’t touch the stuff, even in these circumstances. Alecia was chewing Valium from a blister pack I’d handed off to her like they were Skittles at that point, whispering “My God” over and over.

Mr Vernoy was this awesome guy. All his wits, great sense of humor, completely motionless though from a stroke, except for his right arm. His mind worked perfectly. He used to watch this big flat screen TV all day, mostly politics or sci-fi. When we got to him and saw a TV again, after maybe two hours since we’d left the dining room and began our mission, the ticker was scrolling at the bottom about the horde moving north, the one talking head was shouting to board up the windows and wait for help while the other two just shouted “Go north!” Mr. Vernoy, crazy fuck he was, asked me to lay out all of his sleeping pills on his table so he could take them when it was time. I still remember him smiling and saying in his warbling tongue “I don’t really want to miss this. This is the best shit that’s been on TV in years!” So fuck it. I did what he asked, lay his remaining 40 or so Tramadol on his table along with a bunch of the nectar-thick water boxes he used, and we moved on. It wasn’t easy to leave that room. I was really not convinced he would take those pills in time.

— What about the authorities? Where were your supervisors?

Shit, the authorities had much better places to be. The supervisors? They never came to the floor, for whatever reason. I know one of them killed herself. Or tried to. I don’t know what happened, but when I left the floor later on I looked in the office and she was on the floor in a pool of emesis, probably twenty empty Roxanol [an oral form of morphine] syringes lined up on her desk all OCD-like. I didn’t check her for vitals. At that point I didn’t care. No clue about the other two. Or if there were more in the building. Fuck, we never even finished.

— Finished?

Killing everyone. Yeah… There. I said it for what it was. We had maybe a dozen residents left on the floor. Alecia was stoned out of her mind from the Valium, and half of the pills she’d eaten probably hadn’t kicked in yet. I remember she stumbled off, holding the railings built into the walls that the residents used to help them walk. I never saw her again. Poor girl. She probably passed out and woke up dead.

By this point we tried to pick up the pace but everything was harder. The residents remaining were aware of what we were doing. Some wanted to wait for a relative they’d hoped was coming, like relatives had come for their friends on the unit. A few of them begged us to take them with us. The smell of shit, even though we were generally used to it, was really getting hard to deal with. And the tension headache, the emotional weight, Mrs. Corman slumped over the side of her wheelchair in the hallway by my hand with 23 more people dead that I couldn’t directly see…

I wanted to make myself a cocktail of whiskey and Lortab so badly, but I knew my wife and friends were waiting for me at home, dealing with whatever they were dealing with.. I wanted to just hole up in the med room with all those narcotics and waste away, locked in safe from what was coming north. I wanted to be strong and protect my residents who were still sitting in the dining room watching the television, crying and begging to be taken north. I wanted to make the perfect mix of pills and say the most perfect things for those that wanted me to stop and listen to them talk about how they’d lived a long, good life and were ready to let it go. I wanted to fucking bludgeon this one resident that screamed endlessly like a colicky infant because she made it so hard to get my head straight. I wanted my back and legs to get back from being gelatin. And I wanted to get back to my wife so I could hug her and fuck her and cry in her arms forever while she stroked my back with her fingernails and made the monsters and memories crumble…. God, I was a fucking mess…

[After a long pause, another cigarette and a fresh glass of vodka, Bryce goes on.]

We’d kind of stopped for a few minutes. I was trying to eat a Fig Newton and watching the TV in the dining room, leaning against my med cart and sliding a small pile of cardiac meds back and forth with my other hand… And that was when I saw my first real zombie.

I saw him through the window slumbering across the parking lot. A man, mid 40’s. Fresh kill. Not like the walking dead we all got used to later. He wasn’t even really gray yet, but it was unmistakably a zombie. I remember seeing him, maybe 50 yards out, and I went to the window for a close look. We were on the first floor or a three floor facility, and that didn’t help the situation at all. Of course someone else saw and shouted, and then they all shouted. Natasha, I remember, kind of stepped back, said “Fuck this” and started towards the exit. But she stopped, came back to me and gave this ferocious hug. We both wanted to break down but she broke off… (laughs) she grabs the bottle of whisky and takes a slug, and she just sort of hovers and mouths to the one resident who was looking at her instead of the direction of the deadfuck, “I’m sorry.” And she kind of shook her head with her eyes all squinted and puffy, and side-stepped out of the dining room. I’m still pissed she took that bottle. I haven’t tasted real whisky since then. Just this shit:

[He motions to his glass of vodka, takes a long drink, and smiles.]

Deb was at the window for a minute, watching the zombie as he closed in. It was so odd at the time. Dead guy walking towards us, dead people all around me. We know now for sure how the particular disease process works, that direct fluid contact is required for transmission, but back then? Fuck, I remember this wave of panic unlike anything I’d ever felt. It got my muscles back at least, and thankfully it gave me some tunnel vision.

I pushed the med cart out of the dining room into the hall, behind the nurses station. The quiet was surreal, but it was better than the moaning that was barely echoing from around the corners. I could hear a ton of movement upstairs, furniture being pushed maybe. I think they barricaded themselves in but I have no real idea. Fuck, I wish I could find just one person that was there that day. Just so I could have someone to talk to that knows. You know?

Anyway, I ended up grabbing a garbage bag and filling it with all the medicine I could think of. Mostly antibiotics, anti-diarrhea meds, heart pills… I took all the narcs from the med-cart lock box, of course. It was this adrenaline-fueled mania. It was like suddenly everything was so clear, like my vision was so precise and thoughts with just one direction. I’d filled the bag, made sure I had my car keys and headed back to the dining room.

Deb was still there, filling needles with something. I don’t know what. I don’t remember her getting the needles, even. And I didn’t go to hug her, as bad as I’d wanted to simply because I was afraid for my stockpile in my trash bag, which was wrapped around my fist. I knew, from years of casual reading about survivor stuff, that medications would be an incredible legal tender when the world ended.

There was this frozen-in-time look at Deb in her purple scrubs standing next to Mr Vanderwater as she filled a syringe, as that fucking corpse made it to the window and started slobbering his lips and teeth on the glass with that fucking moan, and Mr Bodero and Mrs Grein pushing backwards in their wheelchairs with their feet to the far wall, a quick glance at the TV guy saying “Aim for the head!” and the ticker saying Go North.

I backed out of the room and started down the hall, speed walking at first. I heard Mrs Grein, ever alert and assertive, shouting “You have to hit him in the head!” from behind me. No other sounds but Mrs Grein and the moaning zombie. I broke into a run, hit the doors to the lobby. A few residents were still there. Mrs O’Brian was still mumbling her Lord’s Prayer, though she was fifty feet further down the hall from where I’d left her, shuffling along by her feet, still strapped into her wheelchair, arms outstretched for something to grab onto… No supervisors, no security, no families…

I ran out through the automatic doors and felt that clean, wonderful air for the first time in hours. The smell of shit and urine was still burned into my nose but as I ran to my little Acura I could feel my shoulders pick up a little. No walking dead in the front of the building, no moaning to be heard. Just a one-mindedness to get back to my wife and go north.

— Did you ever find out what happened to those who were left behind?

No. It still bothers me because I didn’t somehow — and I don’t know how — deactivate the automatic doors at the front of the facility. Those dead dumb fucks would have a hell of a time getting in without those doors. I mean, they probably would have eventually. Maybe the power failed before they got to the front the building. Maybe if there really were people upstairs making barricades… maybe they would have done it.

I just keep thinking of Mr. Vernoy. He really put on a good front for us. He was in the Navy in the Pacific conflict. I sergeant, I think. Once, only once really, he talked about the Kamikaze pilots and the insane fear, but he always stopped talking about it before he got too in depth. Looking back, him saying stuff about the television being interesting… he was just trying to save us, get us moving along I think. Looking back I can hear the fear in his voice, I can feel him questioning if he could kill himself permanently before the zomb’s got into him. I keep imagining him stuck in that bed, nothing but one working arm, hearing the moans get louder, chewing those Tramadols and hoping beyond hope that they would do the trick and do it fast enough. And I keep imagining him stuck in that bed, one working arm, moaning and clawing at the air, hoping for a bug to eat or whatever the fuck the rest of the veggies turned living-dead-veggies hope for…

And this image I keep having of Mrs. O’Brian chant-mumbling her Lord’s Prayer as some limping zombie just barely as slow as her bites into her shoulder… and Mrs Saldnez… We forgot to do her. We forgot…

[Bryce stands and paces, grinding his right fingernails down the back of his head and up again, then slides his clenched fist against his chest, his thumb vibrating a low thump against his shirt, his head down and lips almost contacting his thumb. His eyes veer right and stare through the floor as his voice becomes timid and distant, his breaths very long. The thumping hand then mixes with it sliding a frigid clawed hand across his chest and neck. Back and forth, twitching in what appears a ritualistic compulsion. His left hand holds the glass of vodka perfectly still, as though it’s unattached to the manic gestures of his body. His voice sounds evicted.]

How many therapists do you think this is going to take? Not just me, but all of us? Who will teach the next generation of therapists? What do we tell them? How the fuck do I tell my kid about… about life before this? I—

[He quickly stands, moves to each window and evaluates, breathes, moves on. His right hand slides down his clothing to the custom steel punch handle in its thigh holster. When he crosses all three windows he draws a deep breath and with a sudden casualness lights a cigarette.]

The rest of the story is the same shit you’ve heard. Starvation in the snow up north, that awful fucking aftertaste of lungs, the reduction to animalistic instinct and how pure it felt and at the same time how fucking horrible it felt. But we made it out. We fucking made it through that winter. And… [he half-laughs and gestures to one of the bottles of homemade vodka on a nearby shelf.] And at least I can sometimes justify what I did. Sometimes I wonder if I’m wrong, that maybe there is some sort of God, and I wonder if I’ll be punished for doing His job by deciding who lives and who dies. I wonder if all those people who called me an angel will testify on my behalf in the afterlife. I wonder what… [He stands still with his line of sight drifting in long circles.] I don’t want to wonder about this shit anymore. Look, I help people. That’s what I do.

— Bryce and his wife Stacey have been married for nine years. They currently manage a government-funded not-for-profit euthanasia resort. Their first child is expected in early September.


  1. Oh My!! This is an Wonderful Story!! Please write more!! I’d like to know Bryce’s adventure through the city and back to his wife then there journey to the north!! Great Story!!!

    Comment by Jen on July 1, 2009 @ 6:12 pm

  2. Wow. One of the best stories I have read on this site; it grabbed me from the beginning and never let me go.

    Comment by Amy on July 1, 2009 @ 11:09 pm

  3. reminds me of dan borwns book world war z but yeah this is exceptional continue please

    Comment by Brandon on July 1, 2009 @ 11:31 pm

  4. Sweet, i loved it. Please put out more!

    Comment by Gunldesnapper on July 2, 2009 @ 9:09 am

  5. Not bad. Good read. With both my grandmothers in nursing homes, it touches a chord. Hope there will be more.

    Comment by David Youngquist on July 2, 2009 @ 5:55 pm

  6. Nice story.

    Comment by Workman on July 3, 2009 @ 2:36 pm

  7. Do you work in a nursing home? If not kudos on the research!

    Great story, gripping and intense with nary a shotgun in sight. More please.

    Oh and Brandon (3) Max Brooks wrote World War Z not that hack Dan Brown. Purlease 🙂

    Comment by Pete Bevan on July 4, 2009 @ 5:47 pm

  8. Great story! I was riveted to my seat until the end. Great, great stuff. Thanks.
    J. Roy

    Comment by J. Roy on July 5, 2009 @ 11:10 am

  9. A truly great read. Keep em comming.

    Comment by Zoe on July 5, 2009 @ 11:38 am

  10. Great story. More please

    Comment by Derek on July 7, 2009 @ 2:34 pm

  11. Your almost as good as Max.
    great job.

    Comment by Dave gorack. on July 7, 2009 @ 6:46 pm

  12. Scared me a lot. I love the way you write.

    Comment by Sammie on July 8, 2009 @ 10:36 am

  13. One of the best i have read on this site yet! The tension i felt reading about this guy staying and not getting home to his wife was immense! I could imagine the Zeds creeping up 684 towards him and then BAM!! there is one in the parking lot from 50 miles away. Write more!!!

    Comment by Jeff on July 8, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

  14. Great narrative, human inner confict really gives the story its depth

    Comment by rob on July 22, 2009 @ 9:51 pm

  15. Great story. Really fits in w/the World War Z book theme. Zombie/Apocalyptic stories about real world issues like elder-child-pet care etc. are compelling because everyone can relate to them & ask themselves “what would I do”. Few people have a real plan for real life disasters like hurricanes/terrorist attacks etc.

    Comment by D.Mc on July 25, 2009 @ 5:22 pm

  16. Just….WOW…you really know what you are writing about. Thank you for this point of view. My husband and I care for his 89-year-old mother who reminds me of Mr. Vernoy–only her right arm and her sharp mind work. I have always wondered what the hell would happen if the you-know-what hits the fan (earthquake, riots, etc).
    We are so grateful we don’t have to place her in a home.


    Comment by Christiane on July 27, 2009 @ 2:14 am

  17. Now this was a great story, with the similarities to wwz. It also hit home because of its location. To think that there was a massacre in ardsley (my girls town) and wwz located in yonkers… zombies come to ny… sweet

    Comment by zmbstompr on August 2, 2009 @ 10:49 pm

  18. I remember reading about a nursing staff that did this in New Orleans, days after Katrina hit and no help came. The waters was coming up and they didn’t have what they needed to move the patients.

    I don’t think it’s murder where death is inevitable, so close that you could see it.

    Comment by Mercurial Georgia on August 3, 2009 @ 6:49 pm

  19. Really amazing. I agree that this is probably the best story I’ve read yet on this site. Keep up the great work!

    Comment by Chris on August 11, 2009 @ 2:02 pm

  20. At first I was not into this short story, but wow! I was floored, it made me think of my mom who has worked in a nursing home ever since I was child.

    Comment by lhilshey on August 11, 2009 @ 6:27 pm

  21. At first I was a little turned off by this story, but my that little voice in my head said “Give it a try!”
    And wow was I floored, this was great and made me a bit sad. The reason being, is that my mother works as an RN at a nursing home.

    Comment by lhilshey on August 11, 2009 @ 6:32 pm

  22. Amazing! I really enjoyed this short story and I think it honors the World War Z style very well!

    Comment by Zesarra on August 12, 2009 @ 12:13 am

  23. amazing although i wish you included more detail about the obvious mental torment he has from leaving. Great story though, please add more!

    Comment by rene on August 12, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

  24. Dan Brown’s book World War Z? Try Max Brooks :p Anyways, great read. My eyes teared up from the emotion conveyed. Good work, hope to hear more from you soon.

    Comment by Meganne on August 14, 2009 @ 1:39 pm

  25. i can relate to this story as i work in a mental health hospital.realy googd m8 love to here more

    Comment by rob on September 8, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

  26. Best story on this site!!!!! You had me gripped beginning to end. The dilemma created here with the choice to save yourself or help others is something that everyone can relate to, and it gives your story an incredible edge. For a moment I almost thought I was reading new excerpts from World War Z!

    Comment by jimdandy on September 11, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

  27. New to the site. Just read the story and the others are right this is one of the most well written and researched stories. The way you wrote it I felt like could picture the nursing home and the frantic nature of playing the Grim Reaper.

    Comment by Chris on September 15, 2009 @ 9:31 am


    Comment by JERRY A on November 11, 2009 @ 6:40 pm

  29. Original, sensible and very creative. You have a good hability to create characters beyond stereotypes.

    Comment by Renato on February 11, 2010 @ 9:19 pm

  30. Wow. My absolute favorite Z book is World War Z and to find a story styled like it is so great.

    Comment by Julie on March 13, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

  31. Pitch-perfect. Best I’ve read so far on this site, and on par with the vignettes in Brooks’ book. The attention to detail really makes the story. Well done!

    Comment by RudeMorgue on March 16, 2010 @ 12:28 pm

  32. Thank you everyone for your comments. I wish I didn’t have to change some details for the sake of copyright infringements and whatnot. But you all got the picture, and I am thankful you enjoyed my first piece of fiction I’ve written in six years. It was really a fun format to work in. Thanks Max.
    And yes, I do work in a nursing home, and had I not been so eager to complete this by the deadline I would have changed some things (like my first name) but it’s done.
    There’s a new chapter in the works, though not in this format of course. Until then, I am thankful to have so many great stories to enjoy.
    Thank you everyone.

    Comment by brycepunk on April 11, 2010 @ 1:15 am

  33. A Wonderful, Wonderful story! I loved it!

    Comment by L Martin on June 11, 2010 @ 7:07 pm

  34. Great Story!!! Fits WWZ perfectly!
    Can’t wait for the next chapter! JK

    Comment by JKnWWZ on June 15, 2010 @ 3:16 am

  35. This really touched me as a Medic myself.

    See, now I don’t really agree with euthanasia but… At the same time I don’t think what he did there was wrong.

    It was a touching story, but I really think a stand alone one. I enjoyed it, I do hope that you carry on writing more.

    Comment by ScottB on June 26, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

  36. This is in my view the best story on the website and how it hasent been given an award yet is criminal.! They should put this in Brad Pitts movie ….but they woulden dare!

    Comment by Frank on July 26, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

  37. New to this site but a huge fan of WWZ. Not only does your story fit the tone and style of the book, it left me with some of the same feelings I had after I read parts of that book for the first time. I could easily see picture you painted and it was very moving.
    Thanks for writing!

    Comment by hermitstull on July 26, 2010 @ 6:25 pm

  38. Written in the true style of WWZ.

    Comment by Eljay on March 27, 2011 @ 11:02 am

  39. Bryce, you did a great job of capturing the hopelessness of such a situation. Thank you for sharing this story with us. It was deeply moving.

    Comment by Johnny Floater on December 3, 2011 @ 11:59 am

  40. After the brave words of the generals and the platitudes of the politicians safe in their bunkers … all that is left are the words of the people who endured it. Well done.

    Comment by Jasmine DiAngelo on April 6, 2012 @ 10:06 am

  41. One of the best stories so far. Scary and heartfelt.

    Comment by Gear Jammer on April 6, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

  42. One of the best that I have ever read!
    However, please note that the Navy doesn’t have Sgt’s…their NCO’s are Petty Officers

    Comment by Darbey on March 15, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

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