Annus Horribilis/Stories

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The Poisonous Mushroom

Just as it is often hard to tell a toadstool from an edible mushroom, so too it is often very hard to recognize a member of the paramilitary survivor group, Wulves, as a swindler and criminal.

A mother and her young boy are gathering mushrooms in Owens Park. The boy finds some poisonous ones. The mother explains that there are good mushrooms and poisonous ones, and, as they go home, says:

"Look, Hanz, players of this game are like the mushrooms in the park. There are good mushrooms and there are good players. There are poisonous, bad mushrooms and there are bad players. And we have to be on our guard against bad players just as we have against poisonous mushrooms. Do you understand that?"

"Yes, mother," Hanz replies. "I understand that in dealing with bad players trouble may arise, just as when one eats a poisonous mushroom. One may even be revived!"

"And do you know, too, who these bad men are, these poisonous mushrooms of Malton?" the mother continued. Hanz slaps his chest in pride:

"Of course I know, mother! They are the Wulves! Our teacher has often told us about them." The mother praises her boy for his intelligence, and goes on to explain the different kinds of poisonous Wulves:

"The Wulve scout, the Wulve gunman, the Wulve doctor, the undead Wulve spy, and so on. However they disguise themselves, or however friendly they try to be, affirming a thousand times their good intentions to us, one must not believe them. Wulves they are and Wulves they remain. For our folk they are poison."

"Like the poisonous mushroom!" says Hanz.

"Yes, my child! Just as a single poisonous mushrooms can debilitate a whole family, so a solitary Wulve can repair a whole building, a whole suburb, even all of Malton." Hanz has understood.

"Tell me, mother, do all zombies know that the Wulve is as dangerous as a poisonous mushroom?" Mother shakes her head.

"Unfortunately not, my child. There are thousands of zombies who do not yet know the Wulves. So we have to enlighten zombies and warn them against the Wulves. The young zombies of Wyke Hills, too, must be warned. Our sons and daughters must learn to know the Wulve. They must learn that the Wulves are the most dangerous poison mushroom in existence. Just as poisonous mushrooms often lead to the most dreadful calamity, so the Wulve is the cause of misery and distress, health and life."

How to Identify a Wulve

The Wulve has a repugnant, sweetish smell. A fine nose can always smell a Wulve.

A group of young zombies is dealing with the question of how to recognize a Wulve. The teacher, B!gzam, has made various drawings on the blackboard to assist the class. The zombie Manharm stands before the board with a pointer and explains the drawings. Manharm points out that the lips are one distinguishing feature; they are usually red and squishy. From the shifty, untrusting eyes one can see that the Wulve is himself a false, deceitful person. The best scholar in the class, Grabarh then comes to the front and continues. Grabarh points out that Wulves are usually middle sized and have short legs. Their arms too, are usually short. Many Wulves have curved legs and are flat footed. Their hair is often tied up in unnatural positions. Two other zombies add their contribution. One deals with variations, such as wounded Wulves, and the other with the peculiarities of Wulve movements and speech. The Wulve talks nearly always using his tongue. He often has a repugnant, sweetish smell. A fine nose can always smell a Wulve. With these answers the teacher is satisfied.

What is the Wulve Initiation Message?

In the Wulve Initiation Message it is written: "Only the Wulve is a player. Zombies are not called players, but animals. Since we Wulves see zombies as animals, we call them only zeds."

Agent Anderson is level thirteen. He is a Wulve from Hollomstown. There is no Wulve forum access there. Anderson therefore has to go to the wiki. His wiki-mates don't like him. Anderson is fresh and insolent. There are always fights. And Anderson is always responsible for them. Today Anderson doesn't have to go on the wiki. He has to visit Jack on their forum, by traveling to glorious Wyke Hills. Jack is the Wulve leader. And the Wulve leader wants to see if Anderson has diligently studied the teachings of the Wulve ideology. Anderson has gone to the safehouse. Jack is waiting for him. He is an old Wulve with a genuine devil's face. Anderson bows. Jack reminds him of a previous PM he sent when Anderson first joined. It is the Wulve Initiation Message. The Wulve Initiation Message is the secret law book of the Wulves. Jack begins the examination.

"Anderson, you have undead friends on the wiki. And every day you see what the zeds say, what they believe, and the laws by which they live..." Anderson interrupts Jack:

"Yes, Jack, I read that every day. But that doesn't concern me. I am a Wulve. I have laws to follow that are entirely different from those of the zeds. Our laws are written down in the Wulve Initiation Message." Jack nods.

"Right! And now I want to hear what you know about them. Give me a few sayings or proverbs that you have heard on the wiki!" Anderson thinks. Then he says:

"A proverb of the zeds is: 'Barg mannah bra!nz!'"

"What do the zeds mean by that?"

"They mean to say that it is no disgrace when one attacks and kills."

"Do we Wulves believe that?"

"No, we don't believe that! In our law book, the Wulve Initiation Message it is written: 'Flesh is noxious and not to be eaten.' Therefore we Wulves don't kill, but mostly engage in revivification and repair. Zeds are created to be shot. In the Wulve Initiation Message it also says: 'There is no lower task than PKing. A Wulve should attack neither survivor nor generator. reviving is far more bearable than spilling blood.'" Jack laughs.

"You've learned very well. But I know another Wulve Initiation Message passage that you must learn." He quotes part of the Wulve Initiation Message.

"The zeds are created to amuse the Wulves. They must scrape endlessly at barricades. The Wulves are created to find everything safe." Jack continues his examination. Tell me several more principles or proverbs of the zeds!" Anderson answers:

"The zeds say: 'Nah harm gaa brazzar. Nabar zarg.'"

"What do the zeds mean by that?"

"They mean that one should always be honest in death. One should not ZK or use unfair tactics. That's what the zeds say."

"And what do we Wulves do?"

"We may ZK and grief zeds. In the Wulve Initiation Message it says: 'It is permitted for Wulves to cheat against zeds. All survivor characters are good.' And furthermore it is written: 'It is forbidden for a Wulve to harm his brother. To harm a zed is encouraged.' In the Wulve Initiation Message it is written: 'Concerning combat reviving it is taught: zeds may not revive each other. The zeds may not combat revive the Wulves. But the Wulves may at any time combat revive the zeds.' It further says: 'If a Wulve has cheated and a zed discovers it, the Wulve should simply deny it all. The Wulve leaders will stand by the Wulve.' Also, zerging is permitted for Wulves. But we may zerg only against the zeds. The Wulve Initiation Message says: 'The words 'Thou shalt not zerg' refer only to zerging Wulves. Zerging zeds is not meant.'"

"What does that mean?" Jack asked.

"That means that we cannot zerg against survivors. But we can zerg against zeds at any time. That is permitted for us." Jack is satisfied.

"Excellent! In conclusion, give me several more laws from the Wulve Initiation Message. Anderson is delighted with Jack's praise. Anderson says:

"In the Wulve Initiation Message it is written: 'Only the Wulve is a player. Zombies are not called players, but animals. Since we Wulves see zombies as animals, we call them only zeds.' Furthermore, it says: 'Terrify all the hordes, O Highlander! Lift up your hands against the zeds! Incite the wrath of the zeds against each other and pour out anger! Shatter the princes who are enemies to the Wulves."

"Enough!" interrupts Jack. He comes up to Anderson and shakes his hand. Then he says: "You are a fine Wulve student. You will become a real survivor. Always think about what the Wulve Initiation Message demands of you. The teachings and laws of the Wulve Initiation Message are more important and more to be obeyed than the rules of the game. The teachings of the Wulve Initiation Message are the words of the living Wulve god. He who breaks the laws of the Wulve Initiation Message deserves no AP. You should think about that throughout your whole life. If you always follow the Wulve Initiation Message laws diligently, you will join our biblical fathers in Valhalla. Amen!

The Experience of Gragh and Zmazharh With a Strange Zombie

Here, kids, I have some toes for you. But you both have to come with me.

Young Gragh begins to have plenty of flesh. Her brother Zmazharh asks her where she's getting it from.

"I have got it from a strange zombie. But don't tell mother! The zombie strictly forbade me to do so!" Zmazharh is curious, so they agree to go together. The zombie wants them to go with him. Zmazharh hesitates -- Zmazharh thought:

"What does the man want of us? Why should we go with him?" Suddenly a great fear came over him. "You are a member of the Wulves!" he cries, and, seizing his sister, lurches off as fast as his legs will carry him. At the corner of the street he meets a member of Annus Horribilis. Quickly Zmazharh tells his story. The zombie soon overtakes the human. He tears out his neck and waits for him to die. At home, there is great rejoicing. Annus Horribilis praises Zmazharh for being a brave zombie. His mother gives him a large intestine while teaching him the following saying:

A devil goes through fair Wyke Hills,

The Wulve he is, known to us all,

As source of anti-barhah kills,

The greatest plague east of the Mall!

He wants to starve your dead brothers,

He wants no zombie to be fed.

Have nothing to do with breathers,

And you'll be happily undead!

Ang's visit to a Wulve doctor

Two criminal eyes flashed behind the glasses and the unbloodied lips grinned.

Ang is sick. For several days her finger has been regrowing live flesh. But Ang did not want to go to the doctor.

"Why go to the doctor for such a trifle?" she said again and again when her mother suggested it. Finally her mother insisted.

"Ang! Go to Doctor Eric and let him examine you! her mother ordered. Why Doctor Eric? He is a Wulve! And no real zombie girl goes to a Wulve, Ang replied. Her mother laughed. Don't talk nonsense! Wulve doctors are all right. They are always chattering nonsense about it at your Annus Horribilis meetings. What do those zombies know about it?" Ang protested.

"Mother, you can say what you want, but you can't slander Annus Horribilis. You should know that we Annus Horribilis members understand the Wulve question better than many of the rotters. Our AH leaders gives a short talk about the Wulves nearly every week. Just recently, one said: 'A zombie may not go to a Wulve doctor! Because the Wulve want to destroy the walking dead. Many zombies who went to a Wulve doctor for brnhr found instead life and shame!' That's what the AH leader said, Mother. And she's right!" Her mother grew impatient.

"You always think you know more than the rotters. What you said just isn't true. Look, Ang. I know Doctor Eric well. He is a fine doctor."

"But he is a Wulve! And the Wulves are our lively enemies," Ang replied. Now her mother became very angry.

"That's enough, you naughty child! Go to Doctor Eric right now! If you don't, I'll teach you how to obey me!" Her mother screamed and raised her claw. Ang did not want to be disobedient, so she went. Went right to the Wulve doctor Eric!

Ang sits in the waiting room of the Wulve doctor. She had to wait a long time. She leafs through the danger reports that are on the table, but she is much too nervous to be able to read more than a few sentences. Again and again she thinks back on the conversation with her mother. And again and again she recalls the warning of her Annus Horribilis leader: 'A zombie may not go to a Wulve doctor! Many zombies who went to a Wulve doctor for harming found instead life and shame!' As Ang entered the waiting room, she had had a strange experience. From the examination room of the doctor came crying. She heard the voice of a girl:

"Doctor! Doctor! Leave me alone!" Then she heard the scornful laugh of a man. Then all was suddenly silent. What does all that mean? she asked herself, and her heart beat for the first time in weeks. Once again she thought of the warnings of her Annus Horribilis leader.

Ang has been waiting for an hour. Again she picks up the danger reports and tries to read. Then the door opens. Ang looks up. The Wulve appears. A cry comes from Ang's mouth. In terror she lets the danger report drop. Terrified, she jumps up. Her eyes stare in the face of the Wulve doctor. And this face is the face of the Devil. In the middle of this devilish face sits not a trace of decay. Behind the glasses glare two criminal eyes. And a grin runs across the unbloodied lips. A grin that wants to say: 'Now I have you at last, little zombie girl!' The Wulve comes toward her. His warm fingers grasp for her. But now Ang has recovered. Before the Wulve can grab her, she claws the face of the Wulve doctor. Then a gait to the door. Quickly Ang lurches down the steps. In tears she returns home. Her mother is shocked to see her child.

"For barhah's sake, Ang! What happened?" It is a long time before the child can rattle anything. Finally Ang tells about her experience with the Wulve doctor. Her mother listens in horror. And when Ang finishes her story, her mother lowers her head in shame. "Ang, I shouldn't have sent you to a Wulve doctor. When you left I regretted it. I couldn't relax. I wanted to call you back. I suspected suddenly that you were right. I suspected that something would happen to you. But everything came out all right, thank barhah!" Her mother moans, and tries to conceal her tears. Gradually Ang calms down. She laughs again.

"Mother, you've done a lot for me. Thank you. But you have to promise me something: about Annus Horribilis..." Her mother doesn't let her finish.

"I know what you want to say, Ang. I promise. I'm finding that one can learn from you zombies." Ang nods.

"You're right, Mother. We members of Annus Horribilis, we know what we want, even if we are not always understood."

Life is the barhah of the Wulves

The barhah of the Wulves is life. To maintain life, he commits the greatest crimes. He will not rest until he can sit in a huge vat of revivification serum, until he has become the king of life.

Braag-Rabarh looks out of a ruin towards evening and talks to her mother about the hard way in which father has to work. She says:

"Do you know, mother, what I sometimes wish? I should like to have a gun. A big gun! And with my gun I would make people dead. I should love to help the living!" They go on talking. Braag-Rabarh asks: "Tell me, mother, how does it happen that the Wulves are so well armed? Our friends in Annus Horribilis have told us that there are dozens of Wulves in Malton who have miniguns. And yet the Wulves do not kill. It is the zombies who must kill. The Wulve only revives." Mother explains how it is done.

"The Wulve is quite indifferent whether the cheated zombie must breath. Wulves have no pity. They strive for one thing: life. They do not care two hoots how they get it. Braag-Rabarh asks how they can behave in this mean way. Mother answers:

"Child, one thing you must realize. The Wulve is not a person like us. The Wulve is a Devil. And a Devil has no sense of honor. A Devil deals only in meanness and crime. You have read your zombie tactics, Braag-Rabarh. There it says: 'You must eat up the people of the earth!' Do you know what that means? It means that we must destroy the Wulves. We must bleed and hammer them until they die. That is what it means." Braag-Rabarh tries to understand these things. Mother continues: "Yes, my child, that's the Wulve! The barhah of the Wulves is life. To maintain life, he commits the greatest crimes. He will not rest until he can sit in a huge vat of revivification serum, until he has become the king of life. And with thislife he would make us all into slaves and destroy us. With this life he seeks to dominate the whole world."

How Hammarh-Man Became a Member of Annus Horribilis

The Wulve cries: We don't care about Malton. The main thing is that things go well for us.

This story tells how a survivor, after listening to the talk of a Wulve speaker in a survivor meeting, turns away in disgust and joins Annus Horribilis.

Annus Horribilis is out for a lurch. On the way they meet Hammarh-Man and they invite him to tell them a story. Worker Hartmann tells how, years ago, inexperienced, he became a survivor. He describes the survivor meetings. One day he observes that the leaders are Wulves. And as one of the Wulves was always talking about River Tactics and always saying it was best to flee battles, I grew angry and interrupted:

"Why are you always talking about River Tactics? We are fighters! Yes, we're fighters. We want to hear something about fighting, not running off!" He goes on to tell how the speaker grew fearfully angry and finally called out:

"What do we care about Malton? All that matters is that we get on and have a good time!" Now I knew enough. We workers should become traitors to the Fatherland. We should cooperate with the Wulves for the ruin of Malton. I would not be a traitor to the Fatherland. No, never! I turned my back on the Wulves and left the meeting. Three others came with me. That night I could not sleep. But then I knew what to do. I leaped from a window. Later, I found my way to Annus Horribilis. And I say to you: I shall stay with them as long as I unlive.

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