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Elgin: The Safe Zone & The Nightmare on Chicago Street.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 Kenny Muzzey

“Mister Mayor! The Mission burns! The zombies are marching, they close on the square!”





For as long as I can remember, I heard the rumors about safe zones. That is all they ever turned out to be, rumors…. Nothing more than pipe dreams and hearsay…. After a while you just stop believing…. The flame of hope dwindles and the darkness that has enveloped the world encroaches into your soul, darkening your spirit, and drowning out the light that has made you hold on for so long….


We started to hear whispering of a quarantine zone just outside Chicago, I rolled my eyes, but inquired anyways. “West” I am told, “Along the river.” “West” I thought, remembering a time when the “West” used to symbolize radiant beaches where seagulls soared, sunny skies, warmer weather, California…. The west coast…. The days before everything went to shit, before civilized society crumbled into a gloomy post-apocalyptic future, before the infection….




About a half days walk, gathering up our remaining possessions, we headed westward in search of another beacon that may never actually be. Growing weary and skeptical we arrived into the municipality that had been previously described. The group lay low as we scoped the area out, looking for hidden dangers, zombies, raiders, looters, and anything else that could pose a credible threat….




Another member of the group had broken away with me, Andy, we had gone to investigate a booming sound we had been hearing for a lengthy period of time. As we crept through the darkened side streets and allies we saw a sight we’d never thought we’d see. A blinding light illuminating a giant white tent, a sight that might as well have been the pearly gates, as guards, militia, and other law enforcement stood about CDC employees thoroughly inspected those who approached the safe zone.






On the inside there were grizzly sights to be seen, as we did not know what to expect, never actually being able to find a quarantine zone. Oil drums full of entrails, bones, the streets lined with police vehicles displaying red, white, and blue flashing lights, tents with local merchants and other venders selling food, drink, and other goods. Drifters, wanderers, families, and various other individuals roamed about telling tales of their travels, trials, and tribulations.






Two large stages were present at either end of the safe zone, which spanned several blocks. It was the closest reminder of how the world had once been. People danced, drank, and ate as if forgetting what was luring outside the fences, barbed wire, and armed guards.




As the night progressed a low lying fog had bellowed in, giving the whole scene a haunting feel. The natural pale white haze was dressed up by the flood lights, and emergency lights given off by emergency vehicles. A banner hanging above the desecrated city proclaiming “Zombies Coming!” as those below were paying no attention to it….





 
Sooner or later, as most good things do, everything came to an end. The zone had somehow been infiltrated by the undead. You could hear the screams of those who had been startled as they lurched from their hiding posts and toward the unsuspecting survivors. Even those protesting zombie irradiation were startled by the undead as they descended upon the lifeless remains of the city and the festivities that were within.




With all the celebration inside the walls of the safe zone, the people had taken a laissez faire approach to the safety of those within. Those who stood guard warned that it was an awful idea to leave the safe zone, despite the fact that it had been compromised. Zombies had amassed outside the fences and were wandering around the streets much like pedestrians and shoppers once had as the Nightmare on Chicago Street concluded….





                     
                         “Save our city [There's a time to pray and there's a time to fight]
                                                   (Cursed in death, we starve for flesh)
                  Keep our souls, Lord God [Anything can be a weapon if you're holding it right]
                                                      (Our skin is cooked and curled)                             
                      Through the rapture [Defend what is yours, they will not take our souls]
                                                 (We'll eat our skin and smash them in)
                                              and so we [it's time now to] rise and fight!”


Opening and closing quotations are from Ludo’sSave Our City” off their rock opera Broken Bride. Great band, excellent song, so check them out if you haven’t already. In addition, check out Elgin's Nightmare on Chicago Street event, held annually for the last three years. Finally, have a safe and happy Halloween!


~Kenny Muzzey~
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