I don't particularly like coming in to work on weekends, but I thought I'd be in for two hours, three tops.
For those of you who don't know, I'm an engineer at a factory in Minnesota. We have three main production lines and three auxiliary production lines. The auxiliary lines make specialty products and only run weekdays 7AM-3PM, but the three main lines run constantly except for holidays and a maintenance day every three weeks. There was a two hour break scheduled for today for a product change-over and I needed the time to run some tests and find out why a new machine wasn't working properly (I'll spare you the details, the mounting brackets were uneven).
So anyway that's why I'm here on a Sunday. The zombies are why I'm still here on a Sunday and will probably be here through Monday.
Yeah yeah, I don't have any excuse for not knowing about them at this point, it's been all over the news by now, not to mention daylogs over the last couple of days. I did know, I just thought it was too cold for zombies in this part of the country in October. Don't they migrate South or something? The first one shambled in through a loading dock door about 10AM, and I didn't even know about it until it was all over. Fortunately it didn't bite anybody and the shift supervisor was able to club it over the head with a pipe wrench. The only reason I even found out was one of the older machine operators had a heart attack and they called for the first responder over the PA system.
The first responders are specially trained employees at the plant who deal with emergencies, like heart attacks and major cuts and injuries until the ambulance can arrive. We pulled out a defibrillator (we've got several in the plant) and got his ticker going again, but 911 was tied up. When we finally got an operator we were told they didn't know when they'd get an ambulance out. Right, the zombies. So we treated him for shock (head down, feet up, wrapped in blankets) and moved him to the interior offices (not the front offices, which I'll mention later).
Emergency over, everybody back to work.
Well until the second zombie shuffled in. I saw this one and managed to distract it while they got it with the pipe wrench too. Zombies are only really dangerous in large groups of course. So I called the shift supervisors for the other two lines and found out, yep, another zombie had wandered in, and they managed to spear it with a forklift truck. I told them to bash it over the head if it was still moving and close up all the loading dock doors, and lock the outside entrance doors. Then I had the other two production lines do the same thing and I locked the front office doors myself (as the only salaried employee in the mill at the time, I was the only one with the keys to the front office, the supervisors can only get into the interior offices).
Which, by the way, meant that I was more or less in charge here. Well I had no intention of taking responsibility for the plant in the middle of a zombie invasion so I called up the plant manager and told him what was going on. I was expecting advice. I got "I'll be right down."
I don't think I need to tell you how dumb that was. Zombies out shuffling around, multiplying with (almost) every victim, and the plant manager is driving over? I suppose it's the SUV, turned him into Charles Bronson. See, my company has a contract with Ford. In exchange for our fleet vehicles being exclusively Fords, we get a substantial discount on them. Plant managers get a free SUV. Anyway I'll get back to him later.
Meanwhile we're buttoned up in the factory, all the doors shut and locked. We don't get deliveries on weekends but we still send trucks out, so we called to cancel all outgoing shipments since opening the dock doors would be suicidally stupid at this point. The roll down dock doors are pretty sturdy and I don't think the zombies could break them in. Even if they could, we've got welding equipment. The exterior walls are brick and the regular doors are metal, and all the windows are made of glass block except in the front office, which I locked up anyway. Meanwhile, the shift supervisor says that so long as the electricity was on, the natural gas was flowing, and the raw materials held out, we should probably keep running the plant.
And well, rationally, there is no reason to stop the mill. The plant is fed from three phase, 161 kV power lines that are about 30 feet in the air so I don't think they're in any danger. We pump in water from the river, the natural gas is piped in underground, and we don't get deliveries on weekends anyway so the raw materials are going to hold out at least until Monday. So what the heck, we keep churning out product during the zombie invasion. It strikes me as kind of surreal, but we're relatively safe inside.
So about this time the plant manager pulls into the parking lot. I head up to the front office to see what's going on. Since there's nobody in there to attract attention (what with it being the weekend), the zombies haven't bothered to break in yet although I'm sure they could easily. Anyway there's a couple hundred of them crowding around the factory at this point trying to get in. Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd, and that's doubly true for zombies. So the plant manager plows through about a dozen of them and then gets his SUV stuck on a pile of corpses. I see him try rocking the car a bit, alternating forward and reverse, but the door windows don't last long and he gets his dumb self pulled out and eaten alive. Looking back, I wonder if he had the presence of mind to try four wheel drive.
So I head back into the mill before I could attract attention and let the three shift supervisors know what's going on out there. We decide to let everybody take turns using the phone to call their families, but we keep running the production lines. We've got three million square feet of warehouse, let's use it.
Anyway it's about lunch time at this point and since I wasn't planning on staying this long I didn't bring a sandwich. You know the funny thing about being surrounded by zombies, even if they can't get in, the power is on, and the vending machines are working fine, somebody's going to take a folding chair to the display glass so we can get all the food for free. I suppose people will use any excuse.
There's a few radios in the plant the employees listen to while they're working, so we decide to turn on the PA system and set the receiver next to the radio speaker to broadcast the new reports through the whole mill. The whole place started complaining when we heard the national guard wasn't going to make it up here until late this evening, until the supervisors promised everybody time and a half for the rest of their shifts and then double time for any hours they have to work overtime.
Whatever, I'm salaried. I don't get overtime. I suppose there's a couple things I can do until we're rescued, there's a bug in the servo controller for the foil cross-cut saw I haven't bothered to fix yet, and production has been on my back about getting the interlocks running from the grading station downstacker to the other parts of the line, so I guess I'll get those done while I'm here. But I don't have a Lovecraftian compulsion to keep writing even as I am being devoured, so don't expect me to node something like "Oh no! They're breaking in!" later. If you don't see me in the chatterbox tomorrow you'll know what happened.
In any case, it's time Human Resources got off their keisters and formulated a workable zombie invasion plan. We've got emergency procedures in place for fire, tornado, heart attack... but of course a real emergency comes along and we have no procedure for it. That's corporate America for you.