From the journals of Field Marshall Jason Sweeney:
When all was said and done, it truly may have been the birthday cake that saved all our lives.
I look back over the years, the bloodshed, the heartaches, the friends lost and the devastation wrought across the globe, and I wonder how much worse it had been if not for that cake.
I know I don’t have too many years left. Thirty-two years of conflict have been hard on me, and the cybernetic implants can only augment my damaged cells — they don’t give me extra time. But I wouldn’t have it any different. I can look back over my life and know that I made a difference. Humanity would, in all likelihood, no longer exist if not for me. And that cake.
I guess I should really thank the shambling entities that had been my co-workers, may their original souls find peace in the afterlife. The dim spark of thought that animated their minds had not the ability to truly fool me. And for that I am thankful. For if I had not seen through their charade, I would not be here to write this.
I travel the long road of my past to that day and remember a bright sparkling September morning. Crisp, with a hint of autumnal air, yet the sun promised summer would linger a while longer. My wife woke me with a kiss and a sweet “Happy Birthday”. My birthday no longer held the same sense of joy that one has as a child, but the memory of that feeling still pervaded my thoughts, giving a sense of promise to the day.
I went into work with a lightness to my step, yet my co-workers seemed dull and lethargic. It took a small shine off of my mood. The day proceeded and I went through my tasks, but noticed very little in the way of regular office banter coming from the nearby offices. It almost felt like the office was sharing a collective hangover. I reined in my cheer.
But at lunch, an email alert asking all employees to come to the meeting room popped up on my screen — I knew it was time for the standard office birthday cake. I waited until I heard all of my co-workers make their way ahead of me and then headed down the hall. There would be a cake. There would be a card. They would sing “Happy Birthday”. We would all relax for around half an hour, eating cake and chatting.
When I arrived in the meeting room, I immediately knew something was amiss. My co-workers were listless and unsmiling. No one said anything coherent beyond a grunt or two or even the odd moan.
And then I saw the cake.
And the frosting of brains.
And that was when I knew… my co-workers were zombies.
Suffice it to say, I managed to escape the meeting room. What follows, all school children know. The mad dash through the city. The frantic messages sent across the web. The forming of the enclaves. The development of the hunter squads. The loss of Europe. The mass mobilisation of the Human Defence Force. The eight-year Battle of Pittsburgh. Dr. Johanna Reed’s discovery of the de-animation beam.
This, we all know.
But if not for that cake, with that frosting, who can say what might have happened?
Who can truly say?