May 25, 2010

Zombie a Week Summary

To make sure everyone is acquainted with Zombie a Week, here is a summary. There are a number of changes from the currently published first-draft version, so if you read ZaW, then I would recommend paying attention.

In October of 1962, a team of Soviet scientists made a breakthrough in a bio-regenerative compound called Serum-349. When injected, subjects became capable of extremely rapid healing. However, subjects became, in all cases, medically deceased as a result of an immune system overreaction. After a brief period of death, subjects came back to life. Their brains, however, barely functioned and primal urges took over. Subjects also experienced an intense longing to consume living flesh. Rage overtook the subjects. All medical and scientific studies pointed towards there being no possibility of return from this “zombie” state.

Facility 117, the compound responsible for Serum-349, became overrun with zombies. Two men survived. One was Dr. Vladimir Tokovksy, the man in charge. Tokovksy wanted to weaponize the serum. The other man, Dr. Sergei Pavlov, wanted to destroy the serum and all research involved. Pavlov was infected with a small amount of the serum, but discovered that the extreme Siberian cold could save him. Eventually, Tokovsky was apprehended and Pavlov went to live his life. Pavlov believed that this nightmare was over. He was wrong.

The story jumps to Tikrit, Iraq in the year 2011. Staff Sergeant William Henry “Hank” Mitchell is tasked with taking a squad of both US soldiers and a group of mercenaries who work for Steelewood Industries to investigate a mysterious compound. Hank's position was that of a combat liaison between Steelewood and the army. Since the army was phasing out of Iraq operations, they were becoming short-handed in some cases. Steelewood supplemented their forces, but their ethics were always questionable.

They discovered burnt bodies, mysterious vials, and strange writings. Just as they were beginning to investigate, all US military forces were recalled stateside for a mysterious reason.

Then the story shifts to a lazy Department of Homeland Security agent named Paul Holdsworth. Paul is British and on loan from MI-5. Paul gets the case file on a chemical terrorist threat, but shirks off his duty. Paul is fired.

Isadora Fleming, a British MI-6 agent, arrives in DC. Her work, on the same file as Paul's, is coming close to fruition. She approaches a pastor named Vassili Markov, whose name appears on the DHS file for some reason. It turns out that Markov and Sergei Pavlov are the same person. Because of Pavlov's injection with Serum-349, he became resistant to aging. He fled to the United States and became a pastor. Pavlov explains that this chemical threat is a new version of Serum-349; one apparently without a cure. People suddenly start turning into zombies. Isadora and Pavlov seal themselves off.

Hank arrives in Washington to find that his parents, who he's been supporting for the last several years off his Army paycheck, are dead. Hank vows revenge and goes in search of answers. His search leads him to Paul. Using the DHS files, he and Paul find Markov's name and go in search. After making their way through the horde, they find the pastor and Isadora. The four join forces and decide that the best idea is to head to Andrews Air Force Base. Hank's plan is to find a way to get to Iraq and get revenge on Al-Qaeda, who are apparently behind all of this. The others have the option of taking shelter at Andrews, which should be secure.

They take a Humvee and make their way down to Andrews. On the way, Markov shares his faith the others. Isadora is the only one in any way receptive. They arrive and find that Andrews is completely overrun, but manage to signal the pilot of Air Force One, who is apparently the only person left alive. The survivors fight their way aboard.

The pilot is a Mississippi woman named Lena Sandburg. She and Hank really hit it off. Paul and Isadora start getting acquainted and wind up drinking together. Pavlov spends most of the plane ride to Baghdad in prayer.

When they arrive in Baghdad, they are greeted by the regional director of Steelewood, one Ernie Hale, a friend of Hank's. Hank negotiates the trade of Air Force One for a vehicle, some supplies, and a C-130. Paul starts to question Hank's leadership, but Lena and Pavlov talk him down. Isadora remains mostly quiet, except when she talks with Pavlov. They go back and forth about religious topics, with Isadora beginning to accept Pavlov's positions.

They make their way to Tikrit where Hank was just a week before. In charge of that facility is a man named Khalil Al-Mahalem, who is in charge of Al-Qaeda in the region. They capture Khalil and interrogate him. Despite Isadora's ruthless technique, he yields nothing. Khalil's satellite phone goes off and Pavlov answers it. The man on the other end was Vladimir Tokovsky, the other survivor of Facility 117. Pavlov vows to kill him.

The survivors find that Iraq is slowly being overrun by zombies. The rest of the world stands no chance. Using Steelewood's locator technology, they find that Tokovsky is working out of a reconstructed Facility 117. They board the C-130. Onboard that flight, Isadora and Paul's relationship is cemented. They admit their mutual infatuation. Hank and Lena grow closer, but not romantically. Pavlov is completely troubled and unsure.

They arrive in Russia at a seemingly abandoned airport in Siberia near Facility 117. Things are not as they seem. They find that the airport was overrun with zombies and two Russian soldiers survived. After a brief confrontation, they all join forces. One of the soldiers, a Colonel Vazinsky, explains what exactly is going on. When the Soviet Union fell, the KGB did not. Instead, it fell behind the shadows and looked for a way to bring the Soviet Union back stronger than ever. They found Tokovsky and learned of his Serum. Their plan was to deploy the serum and then take over the world. This failed when Al-Qaeda and Tokovksy were overzealous and managed to wipe out most of the world.

The seven of them assault Facility 117. The final battle results in both Tokovksy and Paul being killed. Isadora is devastated. Pavlov, after being injected with copious amounts of Serum-349, falls under a coma. Pavlov is treated using an inoculation that Tokovsky invented.

The story shifts to about a month later. Pavlov wakes up in Saint Petersburg, Russia; his hometown. Hank and Lena have started dating. Isadora became hard to find and withdrawn emotionally. In another scene, Isadora manages to get Ernie Hale to come to Saint Petersburg. Steelewood knew of Serum-349 and chose to take advantage. So, Isadora assassinates him. She is offered Ernie Hale's job by Steelewood operatives, noting her career.

Another month or so later, the survivors finally convene once again. They catch up, but Isadora is still apprehensive. Hank and Lena tell of their plan. They purchased a cargo ship and planed to go around the world spreading the inoculation to Serum-349. At the day of their departure, Hank and Lena married. Isadora revealed her impregnation to the others, surprising everyone.

The ship, named the Holdsworth, casts off. Isadora accepts the position in Steelewood and Pavlov decides to remain behind. He is aging and dies about two years later.


  1. Is there a reason that you changed Hank's wife to "aging parents" instead?
    I'm looking forward to ZaW2 by the way =)

  2. Cassandra - Yes! I sat down one afternoon (during class) and looked over ZaW and thought about what worked and what didn't. I noticed that I was having trouble making it work both ways with Hank... on one hand, he should be all broken up and grief-stricken because of his wife's death, but on the other, he and Lena are getting together. It just didn't make sense that he would be in any place emotionally for a relationship so soon after the death of a spouse.

    Anyway, thanks for the question and I do hope you enjoy ZaW2 when it starts on June 1st!