Friday, June 14, 2013

Primate vs. Zombies, Part Two

"Fire!" quacked Gunter.

Gonga was startled at the volume of the zombies' voices before he realized it was his own bellowing he heard. Mixed with Derrick screaming like a girl. Gunter calmly picked off the lead zombie with a purple dart to its decaying forehead. The zombie shook violently and collapsed. Darts hailed down on the rest of the zombies, sending them spasming to the ground. The last one twitched for a second and then lay still, like a severed limb.

"How long before they back to...people?" asked Gonga. He felt a little queasy.

Gunter poked an inert zombie experimentally with his foot.

"I don't know. It's not like we had plenty of time to perform extensive medical trials."

The first zombie sat bolt upright, gasping, the purple dart still suction-cupped to his forehead.

"Guuuu!" he gurgled, trying to form human words. The other former zombies were awakening too. They were moving slowly, but the light was back in their eyes. And they weren’t trying to bite anyone.

"Excellent!" quacked Gunter. "It's even more potent than we had hoped!"

"Me see this be so," said Gonga. "Must find rest of real undead to make not dead."

"Let's divide into teams and circle around the student center," said Derrick. "That seems to be where they are concentrating. Gonga, you and Gunter should stay together since you can understand Gunter."

"Quack!" quacked Gunter (this time it was the actual penguin word for "quack", a private joke between him and Gonga).

But the undead were multiplying faster than anyone had anticipated. Hordes poured out of the student center, the less coordinated zombies (mostly bookstore employees and patrons) falling and being trampled by those surging behind them.

"This bad!" yelled Gonga. "Them too big numbers!"

Gunter watched in horror as a former zombie sat up groggily, only to be bitten again. It was plain that the zombies were infecting the cured faster than he and Gonga could shoot.

"Retreat!" he quacked. "We need to get to higher ground!"

Gonga knew just the place.
"Follow Gonga!"

The undead were on all sides. He and Gunter broke cover and ran around the back of the library through Speaker's Circle, taking out the zombies in their path. There was no sign of Derrick's group anywhere. It seemed as if all of the zombies on campus were gravitating to the strange scent of gorilla and penguin. Gunter suddenly realized that they were running across the quad.

"Where are we going?"

Gonga pointed at the columns.

"There, to that!"

"So we're doomed. Did you forget birds can't climb? And penguins can’t fly?"

"But Gonga can climb! And me have rope in backpack for buddy!"

"This is not one of your best ideas."

Gonga was already half-way up the first column. Gunter fired over and over into the oncoming zombie mob. He could only keep them a few steps distance away now.

"Here buddy! Rope!"

Gunter looked up. The end of the rope was still out of reach.

"It’s not long enough!"

"Sorry Gonga not measure these things. Here, me make longer."

Gonga clung to the top of the pillar with one paw and dangled the rope low with the other. Gunter emptied one last clip of purple darts and then wrapped the end of the rope around his flippers.

"Pull, Gonga, pull!"

Gunter was heavier than Gonga had expected.

"Buddy should cut back on the fish feasting! Or do a pushup or something!"

A zombie was snarling and clawing at Gunter's feet. It was Derrick! He was a zombie now! And not a pretend one either. Gunter stepped on zombie Derrick’s face to ease the tension on the rope. Gonga scrambled back on top and hoisted him up. The zombies were piling on top of each other, inching their way higher up the sides of the columns. Gunter shook his head.

"Our position is untenable. The number of zombies has grown exponentially."

"It look like this end of line. It been nice knowing buddy." Gonga shot zombie Derrick and watched him twitch as several groaning zombies sank their teeth into him again and again. "It no use."

A chugging sound was growing louder in the sky. A helicopter popped out from behind Jesse Hall, flying low. Gonga and Gunter watched in astonishment as it came straight towards them, trailing a purple mist in its wake. Gunter started yelling something about "the professor". Gonga thought he caught a glimpse of some kind of lizard thing in the pilot's seat. But then, it had been a long night. What was certain was that the zombie plague was miraculously being stopped in its tracks. The purple liquid antidote had drizzled down on them all. The whole quad was littered with twitching bodies, gradually coming back to life.
Gonga hugged Gunter.

"Now they back to being fake zombies! Now it back to game! Gonga and Gunter win! We win! What we win, buddy?"

"Just saving an entire institution of higher learning from being destroyed. And thus the world. Now let's get down from this column. The graffiti up here's not very literate."

Monday, April 29, 2013

Primate vs. Zombies, Part One

Crouched with his back against the base of the library steps, Gonga concentrated on catching his breath. He smiled at his own cleverness. Zombies can't read, so why would they hang around a library? His paws shook as he counted out his remaining ammo. What time was it? Only midnight? He would have to get more darts before morning. But without his friend Derrick, how would Gonga know where to look? Derrick had been the expert at zombie warfare. If it wasn't for him, Gonga would not have known that college students had started turning into the undead until it was too late. They looked pretty much like regular people to a gorilla unfamiliar with the subtleties of human body language. Although all the incoherent groaning (especially in a week with no finals) had been a tip-off that something was not quite right. And now Derrick — Gonga swallowed hard — was one of them. The infected. Derrick had made Gonga promise that if they were separated, Gonga would carry on without him. And then Derrick had said something about always playing with honor, a lesson he'd learned long ago when he was a young man with an earring and had cheated in a skateboard race. Derrick said it wasn't worth it, that the right thing to do was to always play fair and square. Gonga didn't really understand what this had to do with killing zombies, but figured it was best to have a positive attitude like Derrick. But look where that had got him. It was time to move. Gonga pulled the strap of the blue and orange nerf gun over his shoulder, and peeked over the edge of the steps he'd been hiding behind. A couple of stray zombies were staggering towards Speaker’s Circle. Gonga couldn't believe that only a few short hours earlier he had been merrily playing his accordian there. It was getting hard to tell if he was the luckiest or unluckiest of all primates. Gonga decided to head farther east. There were no zombies visible in that direction, and lots of cover on the other side of the street. Gonga jogged with his head low, his jungle survival instincts kicking in as he scanned the terrain for potential zombie hiding spots. But there was no movement. Standing beneath the arch of Memorial Union, Gonga paused. Voices. Not undead groaning, but human voices. And one that sounded like a duck quacking. Still cautious, Gonga crossed the steps on the far side of the arch silently. He aimed his weapon as he rounded the corner of the chapel. It was Gunter! And Derrick! Wait, were they all zombies? But the people listening to Derrick had zombie-killing guns. Gunter was passing out darts that looked like they had been stained purple. Derrick was talking in his normal, non-zombie voice. "We have to contain them, before it's too late—" Derrick broke off. "Gonga!" Gonga was confused. He pointed his gun at his friend. "You zombie! You undead!" Gunter planted himself in Gonga's line of fire and quacked urgently in his penguin language. "Derrick is not a real zombie! That was a game!" "Not real zombie? All game? Why would Derrick lie to Gonga?" "I wasn't lying Gonga, I was just trying to...stretch the truth a little because sometimes people do that to be funny, see?" "So lying not lying if buddy say it just joke?" Derrick shrugged. "Something like that. But look, Gonga, you've got to help us!" "Help do what?" "Kill the real zombies!" "What? You just said zombies was game." Gonga scratched his head. Gunter held up the purple darts. "It was a game. But now it's real life. These darts have been coated with an antidote that reverses the effects of the undead virus. We have to inoculate all of the infected before their flesh permanently atrophies." "Why not have policeman or somebody like that do it?" asked Gonga. "Also Gonga thought you have to get a shot to get medicine, not get hit with little purple suction cup." Gunter waved his flippers impatiently. "The antidote can be administered percutaneously. But its potency is such that only momentary epidermal contact is required for it to be effective. And because of the game, the authorities think that the real zombies are just some sort of very convincing prank. We don't have time to change their minds." "Ok," sighed Gonga, "Gonga will help stop real zombies, who are not part of a lie that is ok because it is a joke, by using the same toy gun that he used for playing game, thinking that it was not game but real, and now will use weird purple stuff to turn real zombies back into fake ones. Hey wait, where did Gunter get zombie cure anyway?" "They're coming!" shouted Derrick. There was no mistaking these zombies for healthy college students. Gonga could see the death in their faces. He sure hoped these puny nerf darts were going to work.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Moonlight Spaghetti

Steam wafted upward from the bubbling pot. Gonga tilted the lid a bit to let more steam escape and poked at the noodles. Once again, he was aiding and abetting his good former friend Derrick in becoming even more of a “former” friend. Well, maybe not exactly. It was true that Derrick pretty much belonged to Lilia now. But at least he managed to keep up with Gonga somewhat, even if it was to help with all the details Derrick somehow didn’t have time for.

Gonga dashed a bit more oregano into the pan of tomato sauce. The onions had browned nicely and now the garlic was blending in as well.

What were friends for except to help cook up awesome dates for each other?
Gonga grinned as his own wit. Maybe Derrick would return the favor someday. Or not. Derrick was notoriously bad at cooking anything that wasn’t already in a freeze-dried, shrink wrapped package that just needed water added at high altitudes.
The timer beeped and Gonga shifted the noodles to the strainer waiting for him in the sink.

He had plenty of time on his hands since Derrick had decided to take Lilia out to a moonlight location for spaghetti. They had to wait for the moon to come up first.
Half an hour later Gonga had loaded pasta and sauce into separate containers and manhandled it into the back of Derrick’s car.

He stood back as Derrick pealed out, leaving him in a cloud of burning rubber.
Gonga looked up at the cold moonlight.

He shook himself once, then turned and prowled off downtown.

The Textbook Game Blogger: Laura Prather

Monday, March 26, 2012

Address Marathon

It was spring break. And Gonga was engaged in the most grueling marathon of his life.
Twenty-six dozen full length addresses to painstakingly copy from the address list to the boxes of glaring white envelopes. Twenty-six dozen stamps to affix to the upper right hand corner of the envelopes. And twenty-six dozen cards with Derrick’s grinning maw enclose by illegible cursive purporting to announce his graduation to stuff into the envelopes.

Gonga’s decision to stay in Columbia over spring break was the quickly turning into the biggest mistake of his life.

Derrick was graduating. And his mother had forbidden him to skip town during his last snippet of freedom before entering the real world of drudgery and bills.

“I am not sending out your graduation announcements, if you want that return trip to Mt. Everest your uncles promised you, you better stay in town and write addresses till you puke.”

Derrick had imitated his mother with truly remarkable flare. Until he got to the part about puking. Gonga wasn’t quite sure he could picture Derrick’s Mom using a word like that, but he hadn’t given it much thought as he fell back on the couch, laughing at Derrick’s machinations.

It wasn’t till a few minutes later that Gonga realized he was getting roped into help. He had already made the fatal flaw of complaining about having no plans over spring break. By the time he realized where Derrick was leading him, there was no turning back.

Unfortunately, all of Derrick’s other “friends” had decided to skip town. Either they really did lead more interesting lives than Derrick, or they heard about Derrick’s imitation of his mother through the grape-vine and quickly invented excuses to be out of town.

Actually, based on the timing of their other facebook activity, Gonga found it very unlikely that Sean and Tommy would be through the grape-vine about his Mom’s threat. In any case, no one else was available.

The only person besides Gogna not smart enough to get out of Dodge was Lilia. But then again, she wasn’t smart enough to get away from Derrick either.

The Textbook Game Blogger: Laura Prather

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bradford Pear Tree Vendetta

The chainsaw bucked in Gonga’s grip as its teeth bit into the tree stump. He withdrew the blade and began again, making a smooth incision into the wood. White petals fluttered down around him. The Bradford Pear tree shuddered and leaned to one side, then fell with a splinter of wood and a spray of petals. Gonga raised the chainsaw high above his head in triumph.

The sound of the engine was louder now.

Gonga groaned and rolled over, slowing coming to the realization that it was actually just a lawn-mower outside making the noise, and not the chainsaw he had been fantasizing about.

He tried to blink his eyes open, and failed. Snarling with frustration, he lurched out of his bed and stumbled to the bathroom where he turned on the hot water, then fumbled around for a rag. A few minutes later he finally managed to un-glue his eyelids and open then a crack.

An un-shaven, un-combed, puffy eyes gorilla with gunk running out the corners of his eyes and down his face greeted him from the mirror.

Oh, he hated Bradford Pear trees. If he could cut down the entire arboreal population in one fell swoop, he would do it. Even if it took him a year. People could whine about missing the pretty white flowers as much as they wanted. He would never miss the stench. Or the millions of tiny pollen particles that attacked his tear ducts and sinuses every spring.

Even a skunk would smell better than those things. Skunks at least never made anyone’s sinuses swell shut.


Gonga put the rag down on the sink.

A skunk would be a nice pet…

He pictured the adorable black and white striped creature curled up at the foot of his bed. He room-mates would probably stop short-sheeting the bed if he left his skunk on guard. He could even take her on campus with him! Then all the kids who thought is his shins as a kicking block would think twice.

Of course, he would probably have to get her glands removed. Otherwise she might get startled and spray someone by mistake. That could make your eyes swell shut.
And the odor that lingered afterwards?

Well. Anything beats Bradford Pear stench.

The Textbook Game Blogger: Laura Prather

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Music Therapy

Relaxation comes in many forms. Some will sit in front of a TV and watch sports mindlessly for hours. Others go to the games and drink themselves into oblivion. Some would rather drown their sorrows in ice-cream, or fried foods, or amusement parks. Still others prefer to plug in a good soundtrack and let the music dictate their emotions.

Gonga usually resorts to a combination of several of the above methods after a particularly hard day of work.

His worst work-days generally come in early spring when it’s just warm enough to ditch the jacket, and just crazy enough that you will probably run into wind, rain and a hail all within a couple hours of each other. Umbrellas while a nice idea in general, simply do not work for a job that requires you to use both hands to pass out flyers. And with Missouri wind, umbrellas seldom offer much protection.

Last Wednesday was a perfect example. Gonga was wet, cold and hungry from being outside all day long. It had been windy the entire day, and ended with a downpour. His last stack of flyers had gotten completely drenched, at which time Gonga decided to just go home.

There are few things on earth more soothing than a whole quart of Moose Tracks Ice-Cream enjoyed in solitude. Gonga only heightens the enjoyment factor by mixing in a couple of mashed bananas. Yes, he huddled in a blanket on the couch while eating his ice-cream. But then again, he was soaked to the skin from the rain and wind. So one can hardly blame him. Eating ice-cream might not have been the thing to warm him up, but it warmed his heart, which is what he needed at the time.

The cherry on top of the whole experience was the music his brother had given him for his birthday. It was the most beautiful, most relaxing, richest sound-track Gonga had heard in a long time. Yes, his brother admitted that he had discovered the music while playing a video-game. Gonga didn’t care. It was great music, and he was going to enjoy it!

The Textbook Game Blogger: Laura Prather

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Buck's Ice Cream

Gonga’s teeth chattered as the wind bit through his t-shirt. He had grabbed the t-shirt from the bottom of the clean shirt stack in his dresser, and it was decidedly the worse for wrinkles. He’d hoped that wearing a t-shirt and shorts would convince the weather to behave accordingly. But it seemed that the weather didn’t know that you were supposed to dress for the weather you wanted to have. Or was it, dress for the job you wanted to have? Oh well, it didn’t matter. The weather hadn’t co-operated and Gonga was shivering painfully as a result.

He’d promised to go get Buck’s Ice Cream with Derrick after his friend got out of class. But he was pretty sure that Derrick’s plans would change as soon as he felt the bite in the wind.

For now, he was hurrying down Hitt Street and making his way across campus.

Gonga decided that Tiger Stripe ice-cream was overrated. Sure, it was the school’s colors and all that. But yellow dyed vanilla with Oreo cookies really didn’t cut it with him. His ice-cream needed something more to it. Mango was great. But nothing beat Butter Pecan.

The thought of cool Butter Pecan sliding down his throat, and the little chunks of nuts crunching between his teeth made Gonga shiver in anticipation.

He shivered a second time in tribute to the wind. Missouri weather was ridiculous!

An Add Sheet sailed through the air and smacked Gonga in the face. Really? Ok, if Derrick chickened out on this one, Gonga was never going to let him live it down. That boy had better join him at Buck’s Ice Cream for death by hypothermia or he would never hear the end of it.

Gonga did a double take. Lilia, Derricks’ girlfriend, was sitting just inside the glass doors of the ice-cream shop.

Figures. He should just start expecting to see her show up everywhere. But he would really appreciate it if Derrick would let him know when she was invited.

Worse yet, now he knew Derrick would show up. No chance of him missing out on time with Lilia. Even in this weather. And now Gonga’s single opportunity to hold something over Derrick was gone.

The Textbook Game Blogger: Laura Prather