Skip to Content

Virtual Design Master – The Beginning

While we were all chatting on #vBrownBag this week, Josh Atwell mentioned a crowd sourced novel by members of the community called Life In the Data Center, and asked me if I had considered doing anything like that for Virtual Design Master.

Well, I sort of have.  I’ve gotten a couple of comments on twitter asking about a novelization, so it has been something I;ve been thinking about.  You may or may not know about my love of writing, but I have it on the list of topics for NaNoWriMo this year.  NaNoWriMo may dissolve into a novel of VCDX documentation, so I’m not sure if I will actually be participating (or maybe I should write 50 Shades of Virtualization, there’s an idea!).

Here’s a quick short story I wrote about how I got involved with Virtual Design Master.  Seriously, it is a quick short story, I literally just wrote.  No editing, not polished, but just a brain dump to get me thinking.  Also, the formatting is horrible, because I’m still learning how to fight with WordPress.  Hopefully I’ll figure it out.

I’m not quite sure what it is going to lead to yet, but we shall see.  I have a couple of other one off story ideas, including “Melissa’s First Kill”.  In the mean time, enjoy!

Virtual Design Master – The Beginning

I’m alone now.  In the blink of an eye, my life has changed.  So have the lives of many others.  I don’t spend that much time in data centers any more, but I decided to tag along for one of my customers’ disaster recovery tests.  Ironic, isn’t it?  We emerged from two days of seclusion to find the word in ruins.  Cars set on fire, bodies littering the ground, eerie silence around us.  There are parts missing from some of the bodies.  There are piles of gore, which I assume were people at one point.  Something had happened while we were hunkered down in inside.  We had decided to be serious about this test, after all, there would probably be no TV or internet in the event of a real disaster.  The Internet does not work on my phone, neither does e-mail.  I have no missed calls, no voice mails, no text messages.  We immediately tried to make it back to our respective homes, and someone offered to let me go with them.  I probably should have taken them up on their offer, but I didn’t realize what was going on.

The highway is like an evasive driving course, with cars stopped in odd places, and more bodies on the ground.  Some have been run over, some have been carefully avoided.  I avoid them.  It is driving through this minefield of bodies I first notice the…things.  Mostly off to the side of the highway, sometimes standing in my path, I drive around them.  Accelerate, break, steer, it becomes a pattern, and I am focused.  I slam on the breaks when I find my mother’s car a few miles before our exit, but the door is open, and she is gone.  I feel my stomach clench.  No sign of a struggle, but no sign of her either.  Her purse is gone too, which gives me hope that maybe, just maybe someone helped her escape.  She must have thought to grab it, instead of being dragged out of the car by one of these…things.  I notice some of the things starting to come my way, and I jump back into my car and continue home.

My neighborhood is a ghost town for the most part.  Some of these things are wandering around.  I run into the house and pack a bag, money in case it matters, my portable radio, some clothes.  I change into jeans and running shoes, and grab some snacks and water.  Why do I think I’m going to end up running from these things?  There is no sign of my dad.  I was going to check the answering machine, but there is no power.  I lock the door behind me, and head back towards the highway.  Is heading to the highway even a good idea, I don’t know.  I go south, because I don’t know what else to do.

I drive for almost three hours, dodging cars and these…things.  I am lost in my task.  I had been listening to a CD before all of this started, and I listen to it over and over.  I am too afraid I will find silence on the car’s radio to turn it on.  I begin to hear noises, as the sun sets.  I only have a quarter of a tank of gas left, and I really don’t want to get off the highway yet.  Instead, I pull over, under a light, and switch on my portable radio.  Maybe I’ll hear something.  I scan the frequencies and hear mostly static, I’m about to give up when I hear a voice.

If you can hear this, the closest secure location is located in Reston, VA.  If you can hear this, the closest secure location is located in Reston, VA.  If you can hear this…

Reston is only another hour away, but now it is dark out.  I see more of the things wandering around, and they make a horrible, horrible noise.  I see them  banging on some of the other cars, they don’t seem to like the light, so I made a good choice.  I am afraid to breathe.  I don’t have enough gas to get there.  Do I ditch the car, and hope one of the many around here has the keys?  I don’t see anything old enough to hotwire in the immediate vicinity.  Should I stay in the car until the morning?  I should be safe here, right?  I turn off the engine, and put the lights on.  I’ll start it through the night so I don’t have a dead battery in the morning.

Where is everyone?  Have things really changed that much in two days?  What happened?  I don’t close my eyes.  The sounds I hear are much scarier with my eyes closed.  I sit there for two long hours, before I hear the sound of another car in the distance.  It is approaching me.  I’m tempted to run to the middle of the highway, but I don’t think that would be a good idea.  Will they stop?  Will they keep going?  Is it some sort of serial killer?  It is a large black SUV.  It pulls up next to me and rolls the window down.  I do the same.

“It isn’t safe here.  Are you going to Reston?”  I nod.

“Yeah, but I don’t have enough gas to get there.”  The man nods.

“I’m Bruce, let me help you with your stuff.  I’ll take you there.”  I nod, and Bruce looks around before getting out of his car to help me with my stuff.  I don’t have many options here, so I go with Bruce.  Even death by his hand would probably be better than being ripped apart by one of these things.  Soon, I’m in the passenger seat of the large black SUV.  Before I can ask Bruce what exactly happened, he is already speaking to me.

“So, what’s your name?”

“Melissa…what happened?”  He looks at me quizzically.

“You don’t know?”  I shrug my shoulders.

“I’ve spent the last two days in a data center.  We came out, and it was like this.”  Bruce nods.

“The news broke Thursday night at 11.”  I pause, and nod slowly.

“I went in at eight.”  Bruce shrugs.

“Well that explains it.  There’s a virus, we think.  It’s killing people left and right, and turning them.”  I look at Bruce.

“Turning them into what, exactly?”

“Well, what do they look like to you?”  I pause before answering.

“Zombies.  They look like zombies, but Bruce, zombies aren’t real.  That’s impossible!”  Bruce laughs.

“That’s what I thought too.  But I’m a scientist, and I assure you, it is very real.”

“So how many people died, or became zombies, or are left?”  Bruce shrugs.

“We’re not sure yet.  We’re still trying to figure that all out.  What were you doing in a data center?”

“Working.  One of my customers was doing a disaster recovery test.  Ironic, isn’t it?”  Bruce chuckles.

“Just a little.  So you’re good with computers then?”  I nod.

“Yeah.  Computers, servers, storage…technology stuff.”

“That will be useful.  Once things stabilize, we’re going to have to figure out how to re-establish communications, and some sort of infrastructure.  Radio works, but that’s about it.  We were the last to get hit, the rest of the world is a mess, especially compared to things here.”

“So what’s in Reston?”

“One of my friends has far too much money on his hands, and the government hasn’t done anything.  He’s stepping in and trying to build a new organization himself, since no one else is doing it.  We’ve got people dispersed across the country, and we’re trying to go worldwide.  Right now, we’re focusing on providing a safe place for survivors.  Our goal is to re-establish some sort of order, and try to figure out how to beat this thing.”  I pause for a moment.

“Is it really that bad?  I mean other then…well, bodies all over and zombies…yeah.  It is that bad, isn’t it?”  Bruce nods.

“It is.  You’re lucky I found you.  You wouldn’t have survived the night.”  Chills run down my spine.  He’s probably right.

Reston now looks like something out of a science fiction novel.  Metallic structures have been erected around it from St. Frances Street to Reston Parkway.  I had been to Reston before, and I found it to be cheery, and welcoming.  I suppose it still was in a way, if it was safe from the zombies.  Zombies.  The world is full of zombies.  This is the first time I have used the word in my head, and I feel sick.  We pull up to the new gates of the city on Market Street and slowly drive in.  I turn to Bruce,

“How on Earth did you get this done in two days?”  Bruce smiles.

“Most of it was in the Reston tunnels underground.  My friend has multiple locations through out the country ready for some sort of event like this.”

“Reston tunnels?”  Bruce smiles and nods, and I don’t press him for more information, my mind is already overloaded.  We drive into the garage of an apartment building, and Bruce turns to me.

“I think I’ll have you stay here, with most of us.  We’re using this building as our temporary headquarters.  I have a feeling your skills will come in handy.  I think we’re going to have to virtualize everything going forward, we don’t even know what kind of hardware we’re going to be able to get ourselves.”  I pause, for a moment, before speaking.

“I didn’t say anything about virtualization.”  Bruce smiled.

“You didn’t have to.  Come on now, you don’t think I was randomly driving down the highway at this time of night, did you?”  I paused, slightly uncomfortable.

“I guess not?  That’s sort of…”

“Stalker like?”  I nodded.

“Yeah.  Kind of.”  Bruce sighed.

“Sorry.  When you left the data center, your cellphone hitting the tower triggered an alert, we’ve got just enough power in the cellular network to track people.  You were in our database as a key infrastructure architect, so we needed to get to you before something else did.  We’re forming a team that’s going to be in charge of rebuilding the information technology infrastructure worldwide, and you’re on it.”  I paused, shocked.

“Oh, wow, that’s…unexpected?”  Bruce shrugged.

“My friend likes to be prepared.”  He opened the door to the SUV, and I followed suit.

“Let’s get you settled in, then you can meet the others.”

I grabbed my backpack while Bruce grabbed my duffel bag.  We walked through the barely lit garage, to the stairwell.

“We don’t run the elevator unless we really need too, takes up too much power.”  I nodded.  It is a very nice apartment building.  I would consider living here, even if the apocalypse wasn’t looming outside.

“Makes sense.  So how many people are here?”

“In Reston?  A couple thousand, but we’re constantly taking more and more survivors.  This building has about a hundred of us.  It is where we’re running East Coast operations for now.”  We walk up to the fifth floor, and walk down the hallway.  There are abstract looking pictures on the wall, all with warm and inviting colors.  The walls aren’t white, they are a dark peach color.  Bruce pauses in front of a door to an apartment, the door is black.  I like the way it contrasts with the walls.

“Let me introduce you to the others we’ve gathered to tackle the information technology infrastructure project.  We’ve got a nickname for you guys already.”  I paused.

“Okay, how bad is it?”  Bruce shrugs, and laughs.

“I don’t think it is that bad, I came up with it after all.”  I cringe.

“Sorry, Bruce…I’m sure it is wonderful.  So, what are we called?”

“The Virtual Design Masters.”  Bruce opens the door, and gestures for me to enter the apartment.  I slowly walk inside.