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By Frederick "Renocide" Bryles

Neo stood at the edge of the high-rise building while he considered the city below him. He stood facing a major street, six lanes carried cars to and from point A to point B, each car filled with a mind that did not understand where it was. Individuals, walking along the busy street or driving in a motor vehicle, did not realize the world around them was not as they perceived it. They had not yet been "awakened" as Neo had. Not yet been unplugged from the Matrix. He would soon show these the people the truth of it all but right now he had to locate the Oracle.

He had not heard from her for some time; had not been in contact with her for several weeks. He had returned to the apartment where he had first met her but she had vanished along with the people who helped her and the gifted children she had oversaw. He continued his search each day hoping she would contact him.

A wave flowed threw him then. It wasn't as a physical movement, but more as if a warm breeze flowed threw his body. Something was different.

He walked around to the side of the building he was perched on and simply walked off the edge. The concrete floor of the alley rushed up to him suddenly, as his long dark trench coat swirled around him. Wind thundered in his ear for a few brief seconds before his feet touched the ground. He crouched low as he hit, letting his muscles and bones absorb the impact. He stood up and adjusted his glasses, which had slid ever so slightly out of place.

He exited the alley and stopped. He reached out his senses looking for the disturbance he had felt before. He wondered if it was a trap for a split second. Could the machines cause some kind of glitch where they masked their own presence, as far as Neo's senses are concerned, and somehow replace it with something.else? He would not be able to tell and not investigating what it was wasn't an option.

He felt it again then and had the notion that moving farther up the street to his left would lead him closer to it. He kept a constant watch on the people and things around him. Agents could be anywhere and although he felt he could handle any agent at this point, avoiding them was what he preferred to do. Moving along the rooftop might have provided him with a better vantage point but he would stick out horribly as he leaped from rooftop to rooftop.

He continued down the street making each turn as he felt the wave move from left to right. He eventually ended in another alleyway and had the distinct feeling that he had reached the end of his journey. The sun had dipped low on the horizon and with the tall buildings it was nearly pitch black between the towers. Lights placed sparsely around the alley gave some light but it also left many corners in complete darkness. Several garbage containers lined the side of each building and piles of trash had gathered in a few spots. Neo slowly walked deeper into the alley looking into corners and searching for the source of the feelings he was getting.

A groan came from deep in the alley and a human figure emerged from a heap of trash. He stumbled up from its sitting position and nearly fell back down during its first few lumbering steps toward him.

"Who are you?" he asked.

No response came from the shadowy figure. It walked slowly toward him as it brought its arm straight out. A soft moan escaped the figure. Neo closed his eyes and when he opened them again he was seeing the raw code of the matrix. The buildings and trash around him flowed with a cold green. Symbols, the matrix used to define objects, rolled over each surface distinguishing the item it covered from anything else. The figure walking toward him was a garbled mess. Static jarred the reddish code that flowed threw the figures surface. Neo winced at the sight and returned his vision back to what the matrix intended all the minds inside it to see.

The figure broke threw the darkness it had started in and moved into the light provided by a lamp along the side of the building. Neo at first didn't believe his own eyes. The thing had the shape of a human. A head and neck and then a torso and two arms with attached hands, five digits per hand, two legs with attached feet for each. There the similarities ended. This thing, for all intents and purposes, looked as if it was dead. Its skin was a pale grey and several places it looked as if it had been plucked away. Holes in its flesh oozed with a dark liquid. It was thin, too thin to be alive and its eye sockets where sunk into its skull. Its eyes were wild, each looking in a different direction. Large patches of hair were completely missing and what it did have was thin and white. It wore a torn shirt and jeans that were caked with mud.

"Zombies?" Neo asked out loud.

The creature was just feet from him now as he stood still studying it trying to figure out if what he was seeing was "real" in the sense that everything was real in the matrix.

He kept expecting it to stop. Kept thinking that surely this was a gag and someone was messing with him. Morpheus would never play around like this but perhaps one of the others aboard the Nebuchadnezzar?

The last few feet between them ended abruptly when the thing lunged at him. Neo swung his right arm across his body to knock the hands away as he stepped away from the thing. What he believed to be a lumbering weak form turned out to be rock solid. His arm slammed into the creatures and stopped after only moving them inches from their intended path. Luckily he had stepped out of their reach at the same time and avoided ending up in the grips of the hands.

The dead swung his left arm out as if you swat Neo down but Neo easily duck back and the arm went wide. In one fluid movement Neo stepped inside the arm and placed the back of his left ankle to the back of the creatures foot. He reached up caught the thing by the chin with his left hand as his right reached down its left arm with his right. Reaching its right wrist he held it firmly and lifted with his left arm attempting to raise the creature in the air and with a spin, throw it into the building to his right. Neo did well to get the thing inches off the ground let alone throwing it anywhere.

The position put Neo off balance without the throw and the undead broke free of Neo's grip on his wrist as Neo was forced to lower it back down to the ground. It reached in and grabbed Neo by his trench coat and easily picked him up off the ground. In a blink of an eye Neo was slammed into the hard concrete of the street. The impact crushed the street into several pieces and dust shot up and surrounded the two. Neo rolled to his right in a tight circle and kicked out with his left leg. The blow was hard enough to dislodge the undead's feet from the floor and it dropped to the ground. Neo kept his role going until he was clear of the thing and came up ready to strike before it recovered to its feet.

It picked itself up off the floor slowly allowing Neo a few seconds to ready his next move. He moved to the creature's side as he started to spin. His left foot shot up has he came full circle and the back of his heel caught the creature in the back of the head. A loud crack was heard and the undead went limp. It fell to its knees and then slumped to the ground face first.

Neo rebalanced himself and walked over to the still form. He bent low and noticed for the first time that the thing smelled horrible. He checked the clothes but found nothing. No name, no address, and no way of knowing where he came from.

A metal sound suddenly came from deep in the alley. Neo looked up to see three sets of glowing eyes moving slowly toward him in the darkness. This can't be happening, he told himself. He wasn't ready for this. He had to get out of the Matrix and consult Morpheus, try to find out what this new threat was and what it meant.

-- END --

Hey, while working on my larger zombie fiction I took a break and whipped up this small story just for fun. You can tell me how much you either hated it or liked it by sending me mail at You will probably be able to find this at Zombie Bytes as well. Those guys/gals REALLY know how to write so I'm a little intimidated by them but we shall see. Alright, happy reading and please leave some feedback in my e-mail or the ATZ forums.

All work is the property of its author and is reprinted with permission. All Things Zombie owns none of the rights to the stories herein. For information on how to obtain the rights to these stories, please consult the author.

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