"I never skulled we were all Wishful Fiction" - Future Taylor
Well 2016 was a shitty year wasn't it? So let's have a little catharsis as we begin 2017 and what better way to begin this newest of year than with some rude and explicit NSFW recent stuff from Moore and his foray into the Crossed universe. Although the back cover says you don't need to know about the main Crossed series I think some brief backstory will help. Crossed was created by Garth Ennis (and it'll get covered one day never fear, although he hasn't written every volume in the series; it's had a number of writers), it involves a horrible contagion that sweeps the world which sort of turns people into the rage zombies from 28 Days Later. Any drop of fluid from a Crossed will turn a normal person into one instantly. The name Crossed comes from the red cross shaped scar that appears across the infected person's face. What's truly horrifying about the sickness is that the infected not only attack and kill uninfected brutally or infect them too, they also have a tendency to discard their clothes and rape their victims before infection sets in and then they live hedonistic lives of excessive sex and murder including their own kids and are barely sentient. Basically they become feral. This story takes place one hundred years after the 2008 outbreak in 2108. The Crossed have pretty much made themselves extinct via AIDs and incest but the uninfected population of the world is very low now, and pockets of humanity travel around scavenging fuel and also relics of the past. Our main character is an archivist collecting media from the pre- "Surprise" (their word for the initial outbreak) world. Language has also changed in the preceeding hundred years which is odd considering they have access to media from our time, and which *sigh* allows Moore to indulge his love of wacky slang to a level that makes the book unreadable in places. There is an interesting story under it all but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't having to try and figure it out by looking at the just pictures in places because the speech is so difficult to follow.
Taylor: "Ordinary sun-up over ordinary bone-brunch. This one's outside Lewisburg. Seventy or eighty people. Probably a last stand after the Surprise. It's out seventh assuary since this run".
Yeah and that's a more understandable bit too. Inside the train, they discuss maybe running on coal but also that it might harm the green house layer, they use bio-fuel as it is so discard this option. They arrive at the "corpse of Colombia". Taylor and another woman go looking for stuff. Then suddenly an emaciated Infected runs at them, one of the men shoots it, but more appear. They are shot too.
Taylor panics saying there should be no nests of infected here at Mason Dixon. They find a dead baby and Taylor pukes. These were "illbillies" products of the Infected's incest. Taylor is askes how she feels and she says they were feeble but shouldn't have been there. The four of them have a thorough wash to make sure they have no Infected matter on them.
Later in her journal Taylor notes Infected numbers had drastically dropped by 2050. She also has a passion for science-fiction and fantasy stories which she calls "Wishful Fiction", she writes "I'm going to read some stuff that didn't happen, then go to sleep."
|The first shrine to "Phil" is found.|
Suddenly some Infected run past, but ignore them. Then suddenly pack of wolves comes running past as well. Using a back way they return to the bus/train and find the man they left in charge of it has been torn apart by the wolves. They bury him:
Taylor: "It was fuck bad, without much for burying. Everyone was sadded up, mostly because he was a young maybe... for a marker we made the Crunk [cross] thing out of sticks. Didn't look respectful. Crunk's just a fashion-the-pan".
Later that night Taylor pours over the newspaper photo of the man, and tries to make sense of the story on the back of the paper. Robbie says it's likely a pre-Suprise but why had it been displayed so? She sits on the roof exhausted by the day and writes, "I just want the stars."
Next day she ponders her latest Wishful Fiction book, "The Lord of the Rings" and reveals that her grandfather was six when the outbreak happened. His family kept him alive for nine more years before getting infected and he had to kill them all. In 2023 he joined her grandmother's tribe. They had two girls, then there was an Infected attack and he and her moms got away. They came to the safe haven of Chooga and their mums met their dads and Future was born. The world wasn't as simple as J.R.R. Tolkien made out she muses.
The arrive at a building shaped like a pyramid. Later Robbie asks if she is OK with seeing the Infected's and killing them. She says it was her first time as she grew up in Chooga. They continue on to a large bridge. They decided to make camp by it.
Taylor is still worrying about the shrine with the salt. Over the radio she communicates with her mum back in Chooga and tells her about her tangle with the Infected. Her mum says if they get too close "you don't mop. You fuck run".
Later the other two women in the group pair off for some sexy funtime. Taylor broods over the photo and calls the man "Phil" after the PH on his picture. She also watches a home movie they found made by some Infected raping and murdering gleefully.
Next day they find the Governer's Mansion and go inside for scout round. An initial sweep doesn't show any threats so they go in to scavenge and are impressed at how majestic the house looks inside. They keep looking and suddenly Taylor spots another shrine, this time a picture of Jesus and the word "Salt" written on it. The frame is the same as the one they found before.
|Some Infected attack.|
Back on the bus, Taylor writes up what happened. This was the first time she saw someone turn and now has some idea of what her mother went through. She can't stop thinking about the shrines, "I skull like I'm making connects that aren't, missing ones that are." She wants her mum and she wants Chooga, now.
Luckily they are on their way back there. She writes a little bit about Chooga, how they kept "red Alleghanains [Native Americans] there" And it was involved in something called the Trail of Tears. "So maybe that was the worst fuck shamed-up run Chooga's ever seen. And not mine".
The bus arrives and is let in the fortified town and the townsfolk greet them incomprehensibly and they discuss what happened.
Chooga Resident: "He finished the Crunk, true? Safing the viroment?"
Chooga Resident: "It was viroment that fooded him, you brownholes."
Chooga Resident: "Are you caspered over those Infecteds? You opsied poor Hope going over."
Anyway, Taylor and her mum talk about what happened. Then her mum says they are running low on birds, which turn out to be ostriches. Seems some have disappeared, they think wolves might be the problem. They have a grain surplus though.
After dinner, Taylor starts looking at a video they scavenged in Colombia. It appears to be someone off-camera training the Infected to speak normally and not act on their murderous instincts and when they fail, cutting their heads off. Taylor notes it's like a test. "I'm worried up now. It was so fuck controlled" she thinks. And she goes to sleep to think on it.
|The grim training video.|
There is an argument about whether they can spare the resources to go cleaning out the last nests of Infected in Tennessee. They decided to do so and the various buses get ready to move out. Taylor and Cautious travel aboard a steamer ship this time. They sail on down the river and when they go past a ruined nuclear plant they all put on protective suits.
|Off to Murfreesboro.|
They arrive at the large settlement of "Murfreesboro" to make sure they know about the Infected sweep. The town can spare eight buses for it. Taylor goes to see the Muslim Archivist for the town, a man called "Mustaqba". They have a bout of sex before getting down to the business of discussing her findings.
|If a Moore story has bad sex, it must also have good sex to balance it out.|
The next day the buses move out, they are going to sweep west. Chooga sweeps north. There is a discussion as to how Islam adpated to the post-Surprise world, that men could no longer "attitude over women, or men who had sex with men. It was not practical" in a world full of Infected. Seems the Christians gave up their faith (whut?) and only Islam remains?! Well in Tennessee at least.
Back aboard the ship Taylor watches another recovered tape. This time an Infected woman is strapped to a chair and is being forced to say the words "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog". She can't deal with it right now, and the ship soon arrives back in Chooga.
After some time spent with her mother Robbie's team take the last bus out on the sweep. Taylor is left behind but her interest piqued by the boat they found says she's going to take a horse and go look in the Appalachians. An older man called Keller comes too as does Cautious. As they ride, Taylor reflects on how religion failed in the face of disaster and the Wishful Fiction remained Wishful:
Taylor: "So was our history. So was our society, our story of ourselves. How we were best. How we were tight. it's like we don't skull something's a dream until we get woked from it. And we always get woked. And it always turns out to be a dream."
Taylor has a dream of six faceless people on mechanical horses. They tell her there was something she missed. She says she was part of the sweeps of the Infected Nest, "but what if there's a double-cross?" says one of the rider's as he and the rest depart and Taylor wakes up.
|An old Infected village found...|
They find more sleeping and they shoot them all. They are somewhat worried about how "normal" these Infected talked. They look at all the decorations on the houses, "I-it's almost like they did fuck more culture than us" says Taylor. There is a large shrine, painted in blood of "Phil" The Phonebook Killer.
|Getting infected didn't alter him at all apart from the scar.|
As the Infection spread, he decided he was going to do something about enhancing his enjoyment of it all and created a "study group". He does this by finding uninfected people and murdering and infecting them, feeding the dead ones to the live ones. He writes that he thinks he can condition them like rats. Their habit of eating their babies is going to make a colony a problem but he can solve it. He moves his group out to the Appalachians.
He takes a baby away from the Infected and raises it himself. His colony are contented and well fed, because a lot of uninfected hid in the Appalachians and they have been preying on them. He suffers some frustrations when he hits the twenty year mark though:
Beau Salt: "Twenty years work and I'm down to five and a fucking three year old. I'm worried they won't be enough."
His most intelligent Infected says they should tape the conditioning, which he does. The Infected child is older now and is able to speak normally and resist the urge to rape and kill.
|The first trained Infected.|
They find pens with ostriches in them, the ones that had been nicked from Chooga. Taylor suddenly realises the Infected could have planned for them all to go out on sweeps that would draw the buses away from the settlements and leave them partially undefended. The Infecteds had been kept bottled up by Beau Salt for one hundred years, with all the hatred being kept up and a desire for revenge against the "plain faces". Now it's the one hundreth anniversary of the Surprise they are going to attack Chooga. They saddle up and get ready to race back there to warn them.
|Salt's legacy and continued killings from beyond the grave.|
As they ride, Cautious says that Chooga is still well defended so maybe things will be OK. The buses might have got back already. We then are shown a bus returning to Chooga and being let inside. Taylor says of Beau Salt:
Taylor: "He's still alive, as good as. Stalking Chooga over a century.. A pre-Surprise murder-crimer who never got caught. Who never overlooked anything".
They realise the speech training would be for impersonating uninfected. But how would they disguise the cross on their face?
We then see the Infected bursting into Chooga after the doors were opened for the bus. We see the inhabitants stripped, tied up, raped, murdered - all the fun stuff. Taylor and the others realise the ostriches were stolen as part of a plan to lure the fighters out of Chooga. If Chooga is fucked, they'll go back to Murfreesboro to warn them.
They find most of the young women locked in pens and the men dead in a large pile. They spy the bus and Taylor realises it was the diversion to get the Infected inside. They creep and see that the Infected are having a party in the centre of town and leading it is Robbie. He was the young Infected boy who had his face mutilated age 12 so he could pass for an unifected. He infected the bus then drove it back so the rest could get in.
Archie goes down fighting, and gives Cautious and Taylor a chance to escape. They start riding for Murfreesboro and all Taylor can do is think:
Taylor: "Infecteds will fuck come after us. And but then they'll mop peoples from Alleghania. Or the world. And peoples, all our build back since the Surprise, will just be a fashion in the pan. And all the future will be infected..."
|To Be Continued...?|