[The nineteenth century was an era of significant change for Santa Catalina Island. The Island was host to Spanish ships, Native Americans, Russian and Aleutian otter hunters, miners, ranchers, and a company of Union soldiers. As the century drew to a close the Island’s history took an interesting turn when the fishermen and sheepherders were joined by entrepreneurs with the foresight and vision to develop the Island into a resort community.]
R.I.P. Tony Scott (21 June 1944 – 19 August 2012)
August 25, 2012 02:00
Whittaker Longstreet, Tech Chief for the Marine Biological Survey Team
August 18, 2012 02:00
[Catalina Island is the only place in California where the number and size of road-going motor vehicles is regulated by law. For residents of the island who want to bring a personal car, this means signing up at the bottom of a 14-year waiting list. Tourists are not permitted to ferry a vehicle from the mainland, even for temporary use. These policies keep the total car count below 1,000. As of June 17, 2002, there were 1,591 people on the waiting list and the person at the top of the list signed up on February 9, 1989. Currently, Avalon residents have a total of 1,285 golf cart permits.]
Ken Roberts, UFC Heavyweight Fighter
(Excerpt from the Global Collective Experience Project)
I always thought “The Octagon” was where my skills were always put to the test. But after waking up in solitary in the sheriff station on Catalina, everything changed. Suddenly the whole world became “The Octagon” for me. It was where I either lived or died…or worse.
I also never knew what it was like to kill someone until that day. But as Gwenn Merryfoot said, it’s not killing but surviving. She said that if we thought of the undead as people, then it was going to make trying to stay alive that much harder.
I guess to survive in this new world, I’d have to give up a part of what I was…a part of my humanity.
I guess I should start from the beginning.
A loud noise woke me up. I jumped out of bed and landed on a hard, stone floor. It was pitch black all around me and my head was still spinning from the night before. I shook my head to clear it and remembered being dragged to jail by a couple of sheriff deputies who had me in handcuffs. I think I was in a fight at a local bar. I vaguely remember punching some fool trying to score off of my score, if you know what I mean. Then next thing I knew, a couple of sheriff deputies were escorting me to their squad car.
I remember one of them saying, “Damn Bill, do you know who this is? He’s Ken Roberts! He’s going to be the next UFC heavyweight champion, man. Santos won’t know what’s coming when this dude gets in the cage with him.”
“Yeah well your buddy here better know what’s coming when he faces the judge,” the other deputy said. “You may want to throw away those posters of him out of your locker. His fighting career may be over.”
“No way, man. This kinda stunt will only help his reputation. You’ll see.”
And the rest, as they say, was history cuz I don’t really remember much more than that. Next thing I knew, I woke up in a dark cell all by myself.
In the dark, I carefully made my way to where the door was. I almost tripped on the edge of the cot and when I reached for the door, I gave it a slight nudge. Surprisingly, it gave! I couldn’t believe that the door was unlocked. I cracked it a bit, only to find that it was just as dark outside the cell. I also heard what I thought was several people moaning or groaning outside. It’s funny, but it brought to mind a wild party I once went to in Beverly Hills after a fight. There was this room in one of those crazy-expensive house. There must have been at least over a dozen guys and girls—I mean “hot” girls—in that room. Anyway, the moans and groans reminded me of that night…for some random crazy reason.
I carefully made my way in the dark, groping at the wall to keep my balance and find a way out. I considered asking out loud who was in the jail with me, but the groans and moans made me wonder if that was a good idea. Later on, I was glad I didn’t make any noise that would draw attention. At one point, I jumped forward in the dark. I slammed hard against a door—I think—and fell hard on the floor. That’s when I heard the others in the dark room start to move towards me, moaning the whole time. I grabbed at the door and pulled hard. A flood of light struck me, almost blinding me in the process. I quickly got up and rushed outside.
I was in a hallway. It was mostly dark to my left. A woman was standing there, aiming a bow at me. I put my arms up. She had a glowstick taped to her bow.
“Who the hell are you?” the woman said. She had dark skin and was kinda good looking, except for the bow and how serious she looked. She wasn’t dressed in uniform so I figured she wasn’t a sheriff deputy.
“I’m Ken Roberts,” I answered somewhat disappointed that she didn’t recognize me. I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t watch UFC fights these days? “And watch where you’re pointing that thing.”
To my right, I saw short steps leading down to a glass door that looked it led out to some kind of driveway or something. At least there was light by the door so I went that way. I checked the doors to find them locked.
Suddenly I saw three people outside. They were walking kinda funny, like they were dragging themselves along. Two were women, a young one and an older one. The third was a teenage boy. All had serious wounds on them—deep cuts that should have kept them from moving at all, if not killed them.
Just then, I heard something behind me. I turned around in time to see a sheriff deputy step out into the hallway. He came out of the area I came from. I was about to put my hands up and surrender, but the way he looked made me stop. The deputy, or what was left of him, was covered all in blood. He had a huge bite mark on his neck. His left arm was all torn up too, like it had been through some kind of meat grinder.
Suddenly, something struck the door right behind the deputy. The Amazon chick was reloading her bow and quickly moving back down the hallway. The deputy followed her. Then, five more people came stumbling out into the hallway. Two were women, and the other three were men who like the women were young and dressed like their were out partying except that it looked like the party turned violent and deadly judging by the way they all looked. I couldn’t be sure, but I think I recognized one of them as the punk I punched in the face.
Luckily, they all followed each other down the hallway away from me. I just crouched there by the exit, not moving and wondering what the hell was going on.
It was a while later when I decided to make my way down the hallway where the Amazonian woman went and those crazy people followed. Along the way, I heard yelling coming from other people, friends of the woman maybe.
By the time I made it to the precinct’s front office, I saw the rest who came with the Amazonian. One guy was dressed in a monkey suit and looked like some broker from Wall Street. Another guy was wearing some wet suit that didn’t look like the kind you buy at a dive shop.
They were all armed by the way.
I introduced myself to them and explained how I ended up in jail. I also told them about the three people I saw outside.
“There’s more than three out there, trust me,” the woman with the bow said with a grin.
It turned out her name was Gwenn Merryfoot, the broker—who turned out to be a reporter—was David Zabloski, and the wetsuit guy was Whittaker Longstreet who spoke with a southern accent that reminded me of those guys on TV who lived in swamps and hunted catfish with their bare hands. They told me there was another with them, a young guy who worked at local pizza place. Apparently, he had turned into some kind of violent lunatic after he was bitten by a female receptionist who they thought was dead. Seems Whittaker shot the pizza boy dead before he could hurt anyone.
Everybody decided to look around the place and check out the bodies for anything useful. Whittaker kept himself busy working on an electronic lock that led to the precinct’s armory. It seemed the power outage fried some wires, although I’m not sure how the doors will open anyway without power to the place.
I kept myself busy by helping search the place too. I opened a door that had a sign on it that read “CUSTODIAN”, when suddenly an arm shot out of the dark and tried to grab me. I easily dodged it. I quickly moved back into the hallway as a man in a janitor’s uniform came at me. His skin was kinda bluish grey in color and the veins were visible just under the skin. It was a little hard to tell, but I think he was Asian when he was…well, alive I guess.
I yelled for the others for help as it kept following me down a hallway.
Within seconds, David got behind the thing and blasted it with his shotgun. Man, was that thing loud! It tore a hole through the custodian’s stomach. His guts went flying all over the hallway, but I couldn’t believe that he didn’t drop. I hadn’t seen anything like that, except on TV—and it’s not the same, trust me.
The custodian suddenly turned around and went for David. I moved up right behind it and punched it in the back of its head. I know this is sick, but my hand almost went through his whole head! I pulled my hand out with pieces of his brain and bits of his skull still stuck to it. My punch was good enough though, ’cuz that janitor plopped down on the ground like the last fool I fought.
I then quickly wiped my hand on my pants.
Making sure there weren’t any more of them coming out of the custodian’s room, we decided to follow Whittaker’s recommendation to hang tight while he finished working on the electronic lock. He said it should take about an hour. He also said getting into the armory would help a lot since the armory would have what we needed to help fight those crazy things: guns!
August 11, 2012 02:00
[The total population of Catalina Island as of the 2000 census was 3,696 persons, almost 85 percent of whom live in the island’s only incorporated city, Avalon (pop. 3,728 (2010), with another 195 south of town, outside of the city limits. It is estimated that about 12,000 people visit Catalina Island everyday.]
David Zabloski, writer and blogger for The National Inquisitor
(Excerpt from the Global Collective Experience Project)
It was just past 8 a.m. when we decided that Whittaker Longstreet’s idea of moving everyone to the Marine Science Center was a good one. All we needed was a means of getting everybody there safely and quickly. Unfortunately, Whittaker’s dinghy was destroyed by the Apache helicopter and Javier’s maintenance golf cart only held two passengers. Walking there was out of the question. What we needed was a vehicle that could hold everyone—like a bus.
At the mention of a bus, Louis Jefferson suggested we take one of the tour buses used to drive tourists to and from the island’s interior. He said we could find those buses parked at the Discovery Tours center across from the police station in Avalon. We agreed that Gwenn, David, and I should get the bus while everybody else stayed in the Casino. We also agreed to go to the police station first and see if Roxanne Kasey’s husband, Steve, a Sheriff Deputy working the graveyard shift was on duty.
I gathered what I needed to take with me, and that’s when I noticed that my hands were slightly shaking. Maybe it was the ordeal of what I had been through during last three hours. All I know was that I hadn’t been that scared since I was involved in a shootout with the Russian mob in a downtown bookstore some years before. Somehow, this seemed worse. At least back then, when I shot one of the Russians dead, he stayed dead. Shooting at people who refused to die just seemed to take the whole fear factor up a notch or two.
After talking about how the the people—or zombies as we were starting to call them for lack of a better term—were attracted to noise, Whittaker said he can rig up makeshift suppressors for our guns using whatever bits and pieces of tools Javier can help him find in the Casino. He said it would take a few hours, but it would help us use our weapons without drawing too much attention. He also suggested that we didn’t take the golf cart. Speaking of weapons, Gwenn said she would need to try and retrieve as many arrows as possible from the zombies she shot earlier. Without a weapons shop or sports mart on Avalon that sold bows and arrows, she would eventually run out of arrows.
Despite the risk, we agreed to help Gwenn get back as many arrows as she could from the fallen undead.
It was just before noon when we came up on the fallen zombies on St. Catherine Way. We counted nine zombies overall. They all suffered from various wounds, besides the arrow wounds or gunshot wounds we inflicted. Some had gaping wounds where large pieces of flesh seemed to have been ripped from them. One young woman dressed in very short shorts and an even shorter t-shirt was missing half of her throat. A thick, tar-like substance was oozing out of her wound. I’ve seen human blood, but this didn’t look right.
I once wrote a piece on a family of lycanthropes reportedly living in Taxco, Guerrero, about 100 miles southwest of Mexico City. Local townsfolk were reported missing. On several occasions, badly mutilated bodies were discovered. What I saw turned my stomach. It looked like the work of wild animals, but I knew of no animals in the area large enough or powerful enough to inflict the kind of damage I had seen on those bodies. Immediately, I suspected that a werewolf may have been hunting in the area. Ironically, Taxco was a former silver-mining town so the idea of a werewolf in the region seemed absurd. Nevertheless, the attacks persisted. My investigation eventually led me to a villa just outside of town. By the time I got there, the place looked like it had been abandoned in a hurry. To this day, I suspect whoever lived there was tipped off by the local police who seemed to be on several payrolls at once. I eventually found out that the villa had belonged to a wealthy family since the early 1800s. Strange occurrences surrounded the villa until silver was discovered in the local mines. As the story goes, the family quickly left and abandoned the villa. Coincidentally, my research showed that the family returned to Taxco once the silver mines dried up.
Oh yes, where was I? The zombies…
Together, we decided it was alright to search the bodies for IDs and clues as to what may have caused them to turn violent. We found credit cards, hotel keycards, keys and even money. I know it may be considered stealing from the dead but as far as we were concerned, we needed to do whatever it took to survive in a world that had turned upside down on us quite literally overnight. I may be a journalist and even an idealist, but that doesn’t stop me from seeing reality for what it was. I’ve seen enough weird things out there to warrant arming myself for protection. I’m proud of the fact that I’m a reporter and I carry a gun. So sue me if you don’t agree. Matter of fact, my friend Glock has something to say about it.
Just as we were about to search the last two bodies, we spotted Manny Bahls running down the street towards us. When he got close enough, he said a large group of walking undead were coming down both sides of the street. With the crowbar he had in his hand, Manny tried to lift a nearby manhole cover. He said he knew his way around the sewers and that he could get us near the police station. He said Marlon Smith spotted the horde of undead from the Casino’s upper balcony but didn’t know how to warn us without attracting attention. Manny risked himself by leaving the Casino to help us out.
Just then we spotted a throng of undead making their way towards us from the direction of Avalon. We took took shots at the oncoming horde. One was struck in the leg; its kneecap shattered. It fell but despite its wound, the thing started to claw its way towards us.
Worried that we would be overran, Whittaker and Gwenn took to the high ground by climbing up a dirt slope towards the road above us. I followed them just as Manny managed to pry open the manhole. He disappeared down a rusty ladder while I quickly made my way up the slope to join the other two. It was difficult moving through the dry brush, but it was safer than being on the street with what appeared to be over a dozen undead coming right for us.
We picked off as many of them as we could but they kept coming. We kept moving up the slope as they kept trying to get at us. Those we killed fell and rolled down striking some unfortunate enough to be in the way. We kept pushing our way until we reached the top of the slope and stood on level ground. The street was not far behind us. We turned our attention to the last remaining zombie and dropped it. Just then, we saw another horde of zombies coming from the direction of the Casino. There were far more of them this time.
They must have heard us because the horde turned and looked at our direction. They then ran as one up the slope and came for us. Just then, I saw Manny stuck his head out of the manhole and whistled out loud to try and get the incoming horde’s attention. They stopped in their tracks and looked towards their new prey.
“What’s he doing?” Whittaker said with frustration. “We need those zombies to keep coming at us.” Whittaker then walked up to the edge where the ground sloped back down. He began to frantically wave his arms and shouted at the zombies. It worked as the horde turned and made its way back up the slope.
The three of us took off and followed the street where it curved up above the Casino. We then slowly made our way down to St. Catherine Way towards the manhole where Manny was waiting. From the street, we could see the zombies at the top of the slope aimlessly moving about probably wondering where their meal went.
We quickly climbed down the rusty latter and followed Manny. I was surprised at how wide the sewer tunnel was. It reminded me of the maintenance tunnels in New York’s subways. It was wide enough for three of us to walk side by side. Manny explained that Wrigley had the sewers built back in the early 1900s. It was also rumored that Wrigley even had secret access tunnels built between his mansion and exit points somewhere along the rocky coast. Supposedly, the tunnels were used during Prohibition to transport barrels of alcohol to his mansion after it was built in 1931. I thought of what a story that would have made if it was true! Imagine the headline: “Gum and Rum on Catalina!”
I asked Manny how was it that he knew his way around the tunnels. He said he and his friends would occasionally explore the sewers back in high school. They even found an abandoned storage room which they converted into a kind of clubhouse. There, they snuck in some beers and played Ultramodern 4 as well as Dungeons and Dragons—role playing games popular among people who preferred indoor pastimes over outdoor ones. Manny described how much fun they had pretending that people on Catalina were being hunted by a pack of ravenous werewolves bent on slaughtering everyone.
“Since apparently zombies are real,” Manny said. “Do you suppose werewolves might be too?”
I just looked at him and thought of Taxco, Guerrero. “Maybe,” I said.
As we made our way through the sewers, Whittaker was going on about the physiology of the zombies we encountered. He explained how the zombies preferred to grab their victims then deliver a vicious bite. But even if one of them couldn’t grab on to you, they could still try to pummel you with their arms. He said they’re pretty easy to hit, and a direct head shot could easily drop one. He added that it made sense. Take away the brain—the body’s CPU—and the rest of the system crashes! I have to admit that I was quite impressed by what Whittaker knew. I may have to take back everything I ever thought about dem good ol’ southern boys.
We encountered two ghouls about halfway to the police station. Both were men and wore cargo shorts and Hawaiian print shirts. By their ages and appearance, it was apparent they must have been a father and son on vacation.
After we easily took care of them, we searched them both and found keys, some cash, a hotel keycard and a gas card. Their IDs showed they were from Oregon. I began to wonder if what was happening here was happening in Oregon too.
Just before we arrived at the tunnel leading up to the police station, Manny explained that he thought we would have to find a way through a steel door that normally blocked the room where a ladder led up to the street level. However, there wasn’t any steel door. Gwenn said it looked like there might have been one there at one time, but it had been removed as indicated by the scorch marks left by a cutting torch. A shaft of sunlight shone down into the room. A tall iron ladder led up to the street above.
Gwenn went up the ladder to see if it was safe. Moments later, she softly whistled for us to climb up. When we reached the street, we saw a Sheriff’s patrol car nearby. A Sheriff deputy, lay nearby. Gwenn was busy retrieving her arrow from the back of the zombie’s head. I looked inside the patrol and spotted the keys still in the ignition. I took it out and used one of the keys in the ring to unlock the mounted shotgun. Whittaker and Manny had ran up to the front entrance of the Sheriff station to find the door locked. Gwenn and I joined them and used the deputy’s set of keys to unlock the door.
Gwenn held up the deputy’s badge for us to see. “It’s Steve,” she said. “Roxanne’s husband and Mary’s father.”
“We’ll give it to her when we get back to the Casino,” Whittaker said as we quickly stepped inside, worried that more zombies may wander into the area.
We locked the door behind us and looked around. The front office was quiet and deserted. There were no signs of anyone in the office, not even a dispatcher on duty. A front counter took up most of the front office. There were several desks and file cabinets as well. Two doors led out of the office. One door had a sign that read “Holding Area” on it. The other had an opaque glass window with no sign on it.
We stood in the front office wondering if we were alone in the Sheriff’s station.
August 04, 2012 02:00
[The deepest water between Catalina and the mainland is approximately 3,000 feet or more than 1/2 mile. Water temperature ranges from 64 to 73 degrees in the summer and 54 to 59 degrees in winter.]
Whittaker Longstreet, Tech Chief for the Marine Biological Survey Team
(Excerpt from the Global Collective Experience Project)
Our team was on Catalina studying the migratory patterns of Great White sharks from San Diego to the Pacific Northwest through the Catalina Channel. My primary task was to build or repair the team’s equipment ranging from the tracking tags to the submersible, Brody, we named after Roy Schneider’s character from the movie, Jaws.
On June 23, 2012, the other members of my team decided to drive in to Avalon to celebrate a successful tagging of a Great White that day. I was invited to go but I needed to continue working on repairing Brody. A hydraulic leak in the steering section had prevented us from using Brody to follow the shark we had tagged. I was anxious to get the repairs completed, so I declined the offer.
I didn’t even realize how late I had been up working on Brody, but when I woke up, it was about 5:30 a.m. I think I only got about four hours of sleep and felt deader than a doornail. The others had not returned so I became concerned. I knew they would not have spent the night on Avalon—at least not without calling me. Cell phone signals are fairly weak on the other side of the island, but I’m sure they would have tried to contact me through the shop’s land line.
After I gathered up my gear, I decided to take a dinghy over to Avalon, knowing it would get me there faster. I had modified the dinghy’s Hidea outboard engine’s 2.5hp output while still conserving fuel capacity. On a straightaway, that dinghy definitely outperforms its counterparts! But I digress…
Sometime before 7 a.m., I passed by the Catalina Casino. The first thing that struck this southern gentleman from Charleston, South Carolina, was the sight of the boats moored near the Casino and all the way down to Avalon. Every single boat—whether it was a small fishing boat or a luxury yacht was either half submerged in the water or had completely sunk. Passing by some of the boats, I noticed the damage to their hulls. I also noticed bullet holes on many of the boats. It looked like a warzone.
I spotted a golf cart with two people on board making their way towards Avalon from the direction of the Casino. Meanwhile, further down the street at least several people were walking in the direction of the golf cart. I didn’t think much about it until I saw the golf cart turn a quick 180°—something I honestly didn’t think golf carts were capable of. Next thing, I heard the unmistakable report of a 9mm Glock G17. At first, I thought I was in the middle of one of them movie sets, but my discerning ears confirmed that the sound of that Glock going off was real and not a prop.
I quickly tried to follow the golf cart which was now making its way back towards the Casino with the throng of people in pursuit. More shots were fired while the passenger, a woman by the looks of it, was firing arrows with a bow. Yes, she was indeed using a bow! And she was extremely skilled at using it too. I saw her take down just about every single one of those people on the street. The other, although pretty good at handling a golf cart was having more problems than a math book at trying to hit something. Eventually, the two managed to drop all the people. I saw them drive the cart towards the Casino’s parking lot. Meanwhile, I went ahead and docked the dinghy and made my way up to meet them to find out what was going on.
The two of them had their weapons drawn just I did when we all met up in the parking lot. I asked them what exactly was going on and who they were. After we all introduced ourselves to one another, I found out people in Avalon had suddenly and mysteriously gone insane. People were attacking each other on the streets.
The woman, who introduced herself as Gwenn Merryfoot (a Native American from Oklahoma), seemed familiar. It suddenly dawned on me that I had seen her on the Mammal Channel. She once starred in her own survivor reality show where she taught survival skills and hunting techniques to people who got themselves lost in the wilderness. If I recalled correctly, the show only lasted one season before it was pulled faster than she could fire an arrow.
The other introduced himself as David Zabloski, a journalist from the National Inquisitor, a tabloid magazine which did nothing but perpetuate ludicrous notions such as Paranormal activities, UFOs, Bigfoot, a dark-skinned elf living in the 21st Century on some remote Scottish isle, and so on. He said he was assigned to investigate the possibility of a WWII military research facility still being used on the island by the government. As far I knew, our facility was the only operational research station on the island.
We decided to carry on the conversation inside the Casino where we were greeted by a maintenance man named Javier Quintana. He led us upstairs to join several others in the Casino’s grand ballroom.
I introduce myself to everyone and found out more about what was happening. We talked about the possibility of what was happening as some form of viral outbreak. I asked if anyone saw what those infected were doing before they became violent. I also asked if they knew anyone who may have been ill or showed any unusual symptoms. No one seemed to know much about what was going on or what caused the strange, violent behavior that seemed to be spreading quickly throughout Avalon.
“They’ve turned into zombies, man!” a young man named Peter Nollan said in an annoying surfer accent. “Like in those movies or TV shows like Walking Dead.” Despite sounding absurd, some of the others were starting to believe his insane theory.
I quickly tried to calm everyone down by rationally explaining the improbability of “zombies” existing. I explained as best as I could that human cell structures, after it’s been dead long enough (or well enough for that matter), will not allow a deceased individual to live again. Even if it could for argument’s sake, it can’t work the way we think. After the body dies, no matter how long it’s been dead, it begins to decay. The decay can’t be repaired to the extent that the body will function, or allow movement. Simply put, once you’re dead, you’re dead. It’s a scientific fact.
Rather, I explained the need to leave the Casino and find a safe place. It’s quite possible that a virus could be spreading and causing people to behave erratically and violently, like they were high on drugs or something. We also needed to determine how the virus was spreading to avoid catching it. I urged everyone to consider going with me to the Marine Science Center near Two Harbors. There we can further investigate what was occurring. Louis Jefferson, an elderly African-American man, pointed out that David Zabloski admitted to having been scratched by a woman who had attacked him. Everyone looked at David with fear, but I pointed out that he wasn’t exhibiting any symptoms, so it’s possible that the virus—if it’s contracted through skin contact—may have an incubation period, or that David was fine. It was the best I could do to calm everyone’s elation. I really wished I could have done more, but my training and expertise was in engineering, not medicine.
Just then one of the survivors, a man who was keeping watch outside on the balcony, stormed inside. He said a helicopter—military by the looks of it—was circling the Casino. We all ran to the windows but dared not step outside. We all saw it, an Apache attack helicopter, quickly fly over the Casino Dock Cafe where my dinghy was tied. It suddenly opened up its 30mm cannon and let lose thousands of rounds. The roar was nearly deafening. A huge explosion followed as it struck the dock’s gas pump. A large plume of dark smoke rose into the otherwise clear sky. In seconds, nothing was left of the cafe nor the dock. My dinghy was gone too.
“Was that one of us?” Javier yelled. “What the hell is happening? Aren’t they suppose to be on our side?”
We watched the helicopter disappear from view as it flew out to sea. We stared at the smoking ruins of the dock.
It was clear what was happening. Catalina Island was now under government quarantine.
We were not going to be allowed off the island.