Explained: A story about an apocalypse.
- The protagonist is or attempts to be a leader of a large group of some kind (ie: survivors, soldiers, refugees, etc).
- The story tells of the aftermath and/or survivors of an apocalypse.
- The story tells of a perceived apocalypse of the past, such as the extinction of the dinosaurs or the near eradication of the Native Americans.
- The method of apocalypse is a common media trope such as a zombie outbreak or an alien invasion.
- The apocalypse is somehow averted.
- The entry is written in journal/diary entry format.
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June 30th 2017
Base Camp code named Safe Haven
Outside of Saginaw, Michigan
My name is Henry Pierce as of two hours ago I am now 19 years old. I am writing this Journal now because my time is very short. Even now I can feel my hand shaking as I write, but I feel that before I move on I must write this. The reason is unknown to me or why I feel the need to do it, but I guess if I had to name one it would be that someone would find this one day and remember me. Seems frivolous to be honest, but I guess I just don’t want leave and no one ever know my name. So with that said I will begin. If you are reading this then hopefully the infection that ravaged this world is over, and humanity has once again found a chance to flourish. The next pages in this journal will be my personal experience and the events which lead me up until this point. It is my hopes that maybe one day if this has ended that someone will read this, and from it take precautions so something like this never happens again.
They said it was a new strain of the flu, they said that it was not dangerous and that with rest and medication that it would go away on its own. I guess when you look at it the Government said a lot of things that ended up being farthest from the truth. Three years… it was damn near three years ago now and the events that preceded the outbreak on June 30th of 2014 were devastating. It started out with a high fever and a bad cough, I remember the local hospitals had people lining up on the streets trying to get help for an ailment that was suppose to just be what was consider a super flu. It spread like wild fire around the United States; no one knew exactly where it came from. The so called experts at the Center for Disease Control said that it was being transmitted through animals, and that there was no need for panic. Looking back on it now I would say they were wrong on more than one account. The first account was that there was more to worry about than anyone knew. When the deaths started to rise… I guess you could say that is when the true hell began. It was like a horror movie that I had watched too many times, the dead were coming back to life they were like rabid animals. I can remember the shrill alarm going off in my city and the fear I felt when I saw people running in the streets… friends and neighbors running for their lives from… well I call them infected because I do not believe in zombies. Seeing the hell outside was almost too much for me to bare, I was only seventeen then, my only relatives were was my paternal grandfather and grandmother. They both had come down with the sickness themselves and like so many others they went to seek treatment at the hospital. I never saw them again after they left, at least not the people I knew.
I felt so alone as I sat under my upstairs bedroom window, sometimes too scared to look out the window, fearing that I would be seen. It was like that for days, I barely moved from my room, going to the bathroom was nerve racking because every time I did I would see that razor on the sink. Every time it would look better and better, the screams alone were enough for me to pick it up more than once. When I think about it now I wonder how I survived that first week, I was lucky I guess, or maybe there was a reason for me to live. Out of all the houses that had been destroyed in the initial outbreak mine was one of the few that had not been tampered with. That became apparent on the sixth night of the outbreak when the power suddenly went out, and I decided that it was time to leave. If I was scared before, I definitively was even more now knowing that I would not have these walls to conceal me from the hell that had destroyed my town. I had packed some extra clothing in a black old duffel bag, and some food and water that was around the house. The only other things I took was my baseball bat, and the Colt forty five my grandfather kept in his gun safe. That evening when I left the house I could not describe to you what I saw, and to be honest I don’t think I would want to, but it was enough to make me question if living anymore was such a good idea. I guess the only real reason I had for living back then was a fool’s hope that maybe my grandparents somehow were not dead already. I knew that if they were alive they would look for me, and I wanted so bad to know if they were still alive somewhere.
You can probably guess what happened and if you can’t then I will… recount it for you. The one reading this might ask how a scared seventeen old boy seems so brave now. I know as I write this that the fear I had is gone, and death is more like an old friend to me now. An in this next page I will tell you the reason why, a reason that I am sure many shared within the years this took place. When I left home that night my only objective in my mind was to make it to the hospital where I knew my grandparents had been. I had no real plan to be honest or even if I would make it. But I learned later on that the infected had moved out of the city not long before the power failed the reason… I still don’t know even as I am writing this now. I guess you could say I lucked out, but I wished they would have killed me that night before when I got to the hospital. It was as you might expect, the entire place was torn, even worse than most parts of the town. I can remember the Machine gun nests surrounded by bodies piled on bodies, the place the military had failed to keep the infection contained. The smell alone… it was nauseating even from a distance. It was a smell even today I cannot erase from my mind or my nose, the smell of death.
When I walked through the smashed glass doors of the entrance it looked war torn in the lobby, many of the doors had been ripped away and bullet casings littered the floor. As I walked through the building all I could see was the bloody hands prints everywhere, like an old horror flick, blood trails on the ground leading into rooms. I had asked myself what I was doing there, but it all seemed too unreal... like a nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. Soon enough I found the room where my grandparents had been, the same room I visited just a couple times before the outbreak. The door was closed; my hand was almost shaking as I put it on the door knob of the door. Not knowing what I might find was the worst thing I could ever imagine. Opening the door it creaked loud enough it about made me jump to the ceiling, it was in that moment that everything in my life had changed, my view on life, my fear, everything. In that room my two grandparents lay strapped into a bed, and there in that room was a man drenched in blood. It appeared to be a doctor from his white coat, but all I seemed to notice at that moment was he was eating out my grandmother stomach, ripping and tearing flesh away from her now grayed corpse. I don’t know what happened to me that night, but something in me snapped and I exploded with an anger I never knew I had. I charged the man and swung my bat like a mad man, the infected man never had a chance as it cracked his skull open. I can remember I stood above his body slamming the bat into his head until the wood splintered and there was nothing but a bloody stump of neck and barely any face left to recognize. Even when the bat broke I still hit, the blood covering me, I couldn’t stop. Before long my arms were heavy with exhaustion, I dropped the broken hilt of the bat as it clanked on the ground. I fell to my knees in a puddle of dark maroon red blood and leaned on the bed where my grandmother laid and felt the tears streaming down my cheeks. My life at that moment… had truly ended.
The days to pass after that moment still seem like a blur to me now; I walked aimlessly around a destroyed city looking for death. Many times I had put that gun to my mouth and I wanted so bad to pull the trigger, but I just couldn’t do it. I wanted so bad to die but in the end I just couldn’t bare to take my own life from myself. I should have died, but fate came to me three nights after I discovered the fate of my grandparents, it appeared to me in the form of a young girl my age named Jenny Paige. It would be safe to say she found me, huddled in a corner once again with the gun in my mouth. Jenny was stronger, stronger then I could ever be, that night she stopped me. It was safe say that after night that perhaps maybe I had found some hope in a hopeless world. As it turned out Jenny was the daughter of a man who was a survival expert or rather was in most respects. Her father had taught her many things and one of them was surviving in wild. She took me away from the city and into the woods surrounding it, out in the country side where she had set up a small camp with other survivors, most of them friends of her fathers, all hunters and woodsman on their own. Their camp was called Safe Haven.
I spent a whole year there with Jenny and the many other survivors of the outbreak. They all taught me many things about survival, and Jenny taught me many things to in her own ways. Looking back on it now Jenny was my one and only true love, and even now I wish that we could have meant each other long before and lived to be old together. But fate… has a way of giving you just what you need to make it through and then taking it away at the same time. The night I lost Jenny it was suppose to just be a routine scavenge for food and supplies in town. Everyone in the camp went on these scavenge assignments and me and Jenny we were the best; we just had a talent for slipping in and out without being noticed. But as you might find the infected were not the only things you had to fear, the other thing was other survivors as well. That night when we entered an old supermarket, we were ambushed by a group of what you would probably call looters or marauders. We didn’t stand any kind of a chance, they strong handed us quickly… I don’t… want to remember what they did. That night… they… raped her all of them, and they did it with me watching. I was bound and gagged and I could see the tears from her blue eyes and her muffled cries… and the grunts and groans… they are like shrill sirens in my head. Even now I try to erase the memory but I cannot. Jenny died shortly… shortly after they finished, they cut her throat when she tried to scream. After I watched the love of my life die, the men rounded on me and started to beat me, and I was sure I was going to die that night but fate reared its head again and a couple of the survivors from Safe Have came looking for us. The men who had ambushed us had long since left after killing Jenny and beating me, maybe they thought I was dead I don’t know. I can hardly remember what happened as I drifted in and out of consciousness. All I could see every time my eyes went black was Jenny’s beautiful blue eyes, and he long auburn brown hair, and I could hear her voice so sweet in my head. I awoke maybe five days later, I could hardly remember what happened and most of my body had been pretty banged up. It took some time but the events came back to me and the nightmare of that night hit me hard, as I lay there in that tent, for many days and nights my thoughts were so… diluted with hopelessness and the empty spot beside me only sealed those thoughts in my head.
After Jenny was killed I guess you could say that I didn’t care anymore, I just couldn’t bring myself to accept it. The coldness in my heart was like a vice and it was tightening every second I breathed without Jenny by my side. As time went on my body healed, but my heart and my soul were torn and I was broken, I was filled with hatred and I wanted revenge. I could see the faces of those men in my eyes, all of them as clear as day. When I was well enough I went back into the field on scavenge missions, but I went alone, a part of me just wanted to die and another part of me wanted to live long enough to see those bastards pay for what they did. I lived what you might call a half life, zoning in and out of my depression and my anger. For one whole year I took on scavenging, anything that would involve me going back into that city so I might chance upon those men again. But it seemed that they had disappeared or left the city and I was left with the memory of it all. It seemed however that the old adage that says one who wrongs another shall receive it back tenfold was just a load of bullshit, or it was until one such night I found those men again. It seemed that they had taken refuge in the sewers, and came out at night to pillage and find other to torture for their own pleasure.
That night was the night I say I sealed my fate with the gates of hell, that night when they came out I followed them for hours around the city. I was waiting and planning and seeing their bloody dead bodies in my head. A few hours passed before the ball finally dropped, the four men had taken back to the sewers and I followed behind them. I was unsure what I would do but I knew that someone was going to die and if it was I then they would go with me. We came to a medium size hole towards the end of one of the sewers where the men had made a camp, and I waited and I watched, I wanted that one opportunity to exact my revenge and like a large rock falling from the sky it hit hard. Three of the men fell asleep and one remained guard, but he too fell asleep. Removing my grandfathers Colt from my pants I clicked off the safety and crept forward. As I walked up to the guard who had dozed I took the gun and smashed it into his face. The blow itself had awoken him but it was too late I smashed the gun into his throat and the last thing he did before he died was gag as his air couldn’t reach his brain. As I walked forward to the last three they still slept oblivious to what was about to happen to them. Pointing the gun I felt only coldness and not an ounce of remorse as I pulled the trigger on the man’s head. The shot rang out loudly as blood spattered my face. I remember it felt so good and satisfying, when the other men awoke, startled by the gun shot I turned on them. The blood was dripping down my face as I just smiled at them. The one tried to rush me but I raised the pistol and he took a bullet right to his chest, he fell down clawing at his flesh as the bullet slowly stopped his heard from ever beating again. The last man, the one who had order the rest to tie me up and make me watched he quivered in the corner now; there was nowhere to go or run. There were no words just a man beginning for his pathetic life. As I raised the gun in the air I remember the only thoughts in my head were the cold revenge and the hatred I had for these men. An as he begged to live I shot him between the eye’s as his brains splattered the back of the wall.
After night I was no longer the man I used to be, I had no better than the men who killed Jenny and in some ways I could live with it and others I couldn’t. It’s been almost a whole year now since that night, and not a day has gone by that I don’t think about the events that have brought me up to this point. And now I sit here and I write these thoughts down in this journal because I know that soon I will be dead. There was an old saying one who lives by the sword, will die by the sword and I am no different. I can feel the fever already, and the sweat is pouring down my head now as I try to hold it off until I can finish this. My grandfather’s gun lay beside me and I think deeply about what I have done, and now facing certain death I realize that the deeds in which I committed are the noose around my neck. My grandfather once said that everything comes to a full circle one day, and I find the irony in those words that my death is not only on my birthday but also the same day the outbreak began.
Now as I write this final page I am praying to God, if there is a God that he can forgive me for what I did to those men. I hope so much that where ever I might go after this life ends will be a place, a place that is beautiful and serene. I hope to see Jenny again, and my grandparents, to see them smile and to hear their voices again. I hope that if I can make it to heaven it’s as beautiful as my grandparents use to tell me it was. As I pick up my grandfathers gun and pull back the hammer I think back to before I meant Jenny and the fear I felt back then. And I think about what I feel now, I no longer fear dying, if it be because of the events in my life, or because I believe that I will see my loved ones again. I guess as I finish writing these words, the only thing I can is hope. If there is but one thing I can tell you if you are reading this now.
There is always hope even in the darkest of days, even when you feel there is nothing left you. I want to know there will always be hope. You just have to be strong enough to believe that there can be something better. I don’t know what lay beyond deaths door, but I go to meet it with no regret and hope in my heart that I will see the ones I love once again.
Henry Collins Pierce
Once upon a time,
In a land not so far away…
“White Rabbit! White Rabbit!” shouted the Red Queen as she brushed a thick layer of dust from her shoulder, “Report your findings to the court at once.”
“Y-y-yes my Queen” replied the poor bunny. He was fearful, because he bore terrible news. He gazed up into the brown sky as dust fell like snow regretting the words he was about to say. “It is the same in all of the stories, I fear.” His body began to tremble as his thoughts drifted to their impending fate.
“On with it, you twit!” commanded the Queen with her infamous impatience showing through.
“Th-th-the lost boys slumber, and The Hook along with his pirate crew have fallen to the sleep as well...” he said solemnly as the falling dust fell to his nose and triggered a sneeze, “Neverland rests below a blanket of dust. The others aren’t quite as terrible, but same fate lays in wait for them too I fear. I found the Pooh stuck in the knothole of a honeytree and brought him here with me.”
The entire Red Court’s attention shifted towards the yellow bear in the red shirt. “Hmm, oh… me?” Pooh said when he heard his name. “Yes yes my Dears, it is the sleep I fear, may I bother you for some honey hmmm?”
“Pooh has been in the sleep before, he can tell us what is to happen.” The White Rabbit reported.
Awkward moments passed while Pooh rocked and swayed back and forth waiting patiently for his honey. When it became apparent to him that his request would not be answered he said, “Oh bother, I suppose the Cat in the Hat would be better to say. It is time for a nap anyway.” The Pooh said, “Farewell.” And he vanished from Wonderland with a wave of his paw.
“Cats don’t wear hats! That’s absurd!” cried the Mad Hatter with a look of panic upon his face.
“I beg to differ Sir,” replied the Chesshire cat as he appeared atop the Hatters head, wearing his hat and adjusting it to fit. “Is the thought of a hat with a cat so preposterous I wonder...?” The feline said with a toothy grin.
“Enough!” the Queen blurted out. “White Rabbit, you are to go to The Cat in the Hat in the book by Seuss. Bring him to us at once. Perhaps it is he who can tell us how to save ourselves from this doom.” The Queen said desperately looking for a way to escape the sleep.
“It shall be so Your Majesty.” The White Rabbit bowed graciously and scampered away to the rabbit hole.
Somewhere in a dusty attic, a beam of afternoon sunshine flooded in through a circular window, bits of dust floated lazily in the almost perfectly still air. From within a plain large brown box labeled “Joey’s books” began a rustle. The box lid burst open as the cover of a large print fully illustrated copy of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ flipped open. The pages turned seemingly by themselves. Several pages turned until they stopped and a white paw reached out from the open book and grasped the edge of the cardboard box. The White Rabbit pulled himself out of the glorious copy of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and surveyed his surroundings from atop his perch on the cardboard box full of books.
It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the darkness of the dusty attic, the beam of light through the window slowly moved upwards as the sun sank downwards. It was almost sunset and the light would be gone soon, ‘time is precious’ the White Rabbit through to himself. Without any further hesitation, the Rabbit began to shuffle through the box of children’s books. He would pick one up examine its cover and place it delicately back as if it were very precious and very fragile. A faint scurrying sound reached his large ears and with a jerk he snapped his attention to the origin of the sound. He caught a fleeting glimpse of a rodent and shooed what he thought to be a common house mouse away.
After several attempts, he found the blue-green cover with a feline cartoon wearing a hat on it. “There you are, silly Cat!” The white Rabbit said with relief as he stared at the cover with satisfaction on his face. The White Rabbit placed the book down and began to turn the pages. Once he found the page he was looking for he rubbed his paws together, leapt into the air and dove straight into the book.
It was a strange place. The atmosphere was a bit disorienting to him. It took a few moments to adjust. “Cat… Cat in a hat where are you?” the White Rabbit called out. ‘Oh dear!’ the Rabbit thought as it occurred to him that the Cat in the Hat may already be slumbering. Frantically the rabbit began to search through the pages creating dust clouds very similar to the ones found on the Looney Tunes coyote and roadrunner shorts.
“Ah finally” the White Rabbit said with relief when he found the Cat in the Hat, feather duster in hand dusting anything and everything and a little bit of nothing all at once. Without hesitation, the White Rabbit grabbed the Cat in the Hat and tossed him straight out of page seventeen.
Atop the box of books a very large rat investigated a new nesting site and was startled as a ridiculous looking cat wearing an even more ridiculous looking hat erupted from within the box followed shortly by a white rabbit. Out of one book and directly into another, the poor Cat in the Hat was accustomed to chaotic whirlwinds but his new surroundings of the Red Court took some getting used to. He was acclimated to simple drawn and lots of empty space on the pages. It gave him room for his eccentricities. The immaculately illustrated world of Wonderland was a marvel to behold. The richness of colors still shown through a thick layer of dust and the cat in the Hat was awestruck.
“Your Majesty, I present to you The Cat in the Hat.” The White Rabbit said to the snoring Red Queen. The court began to murmur with fear. If the Queen was asleep surely they would be next. The Hatter could sense the murmuring growing to outright panic and resolved to rectify the situation. He discreetly sidestepped over to the throne, pulled a pin from his hat and gave the Queen a prick.
“OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!” the Queen shouted as she was startled awake by the pain of a pinprick.
“Y-y-your Majesty,” The White Rabbit repeated, “I present to you the Cat in the Hat.”
“Cat, tell me… CAT! CAT!!!” The Queen failed to command the attention of the frivolous feline and found him riveted in a conversation with the Chesshire cat and the Mad Hatter. They were discussing the intricacies of hairballs while the Hatter was examining the Cat’s marvelous hat.
“CAAAAAAT!!!” the Queen roared from her standing position on the throne as she shot him the most heinous glare that conveyed he was about to lose his head. “Tell us, you have been in the sleep before. How did you come to wake?”
“It’s quite simple Red Queen,” the Cat said, “my book was handed down to a child. The children grow older and lose interest with us…. It is quite sad I say. Until another child comes along, we will be put away. So sleep my friends, the time will pass, hopefully sooner rather than late, you will see, there will be another lad or lass!”
It was not much longer after that, the sleep overtook all of Wonderland along with the rest of the storybooks boxed up in the dusty old attic where they remained for a number of years. Eventually, the original owner of the books grew old enough to marry and have a child of their own. And once again The Cat in the Hat was dusted off and read aloud. Well rested, the characters were brought back to life one by one inside the imagination of a little child and all was right with the world once again.
Those Who Came
Once upon a time, there was a peaceful little planet called Earth in orbit around a star known as Sun. It was a relatively happy little place where a race called humans lived happily, letting their technology and world-peace grow fluently. In their calculations of time the year was 2411, and many of their worldly problems had been solved. Everything was driven on environmentally friendly energy, national conflict was all but forgotten and world hunger had been vanquished. They were building their way into space slowly but surely, science doing steady progress to slowly proceed to make humankind a category 2 civilization, one which spreads across several systems. They were not quite there yet, but the future looked bright for the civilized and well-performed humans and everything seemed to point towards them becoming a successful interstellar species. It all looked so well, but oh, I can already see it in your smiling wicked little faces, you already know what is coming next, right? Won’t you tell dear teacher Gznatcheqwertozhs what happened?
That’s right, that’s right! Oh, I am so happy to have such well-educated and knowledgeable children studying under me! Now then, yes. Yes, that is exactly the case. In detail, I’d like to remind you all that we were at war with the Nafigdenos at the time. Sneaky little interstellar rascals, but we’ll cover them in due time. For now we focus on the facts. We were fighting the Nafigdenos, who were putting up more fight than we thought they would. As such, we lost more materials then we had expected to, and we needed more resources. As such, our scourging teams went to the Milky Way to mine out all the metals and iron out of every planet they came across. They destroyed entire star-clusters to earn us the minerals needed to continue our war. Mostly it went by without error. Minerals were streaming in the way we know them to do when we take desperate measures. We eliminated a few primitive life-forms on some planets in the way. You know how much we treasure the cores of planets for our war-ships. But we were surprised to hear it… when one of the planets struck back.
Since we always work from the outer systems and inward, the people of Earth must have seen our giant metal machines that grabbed their outer planets with our Tilechtros and physically dragged them out of their orbits. It appears that humans called them “galactic spiders”, because they resembled very much the tiny species called spiders which the inhabitants of Earth saw often. Only like this big! Ho-ho-ho-ho! … They had seen us take away all planets outside of their asteroid-belt. Those delicious gas-giants they had and all. They had time to prepare. We hadn’t even examined if there was any intelligent life on that planet, we just knew they’d all be wiped out when we picked the planets from their orbits. But these… humans… they struck back. A species that hadn’t even left their solar system struck back. The cheeks of those little things! They had explosive weaponry capable of bursting through our armor! A machine larger than their planet, and they managed to shoot it through!? Who would have thought…
It wasn’t only the weapons. They had scientists. Clever ones, in fact. They already knew we’d kill them all given the chance. They already knew where to aim at our Tilechtros to do maximum damage, felling the galactic spiders that came to claim their planet one by one. Since they were running on auto and we didn’t even realize something was going on, the planet-sized machines just kept coming. But in the end, they were all destroyed. We did not expect force of that magnitude. There was now debris in their solar system larger than many planets, many of them dropping down into their sun and joining their materials to it. The message from the Earthling humans was clear. “Try destroying us, we’ll destroy you.” How cute they were. They must have been so very proud of themselves to have been able to fend off our workers. I can just imagine the parties and celebrations taking place after that particular “battle”. So, what do you all think we did then?
BLEW THEM UP WITH A SOLAR-CANNON!
Dear Gnevreshgano, that would indeed have been an amusing sight, but we still needed to get the minerals from their planet, right? Oh, and just blasting them to smithereens like nothing wouldn’t be as fun either. Not to mention the energy to transport a Solar-Cannon into range of that seriously out-of-place planet… it would be highly inefficient. No, that wasn’t what we did. So, someone else?
SEND IN THE SOLDIERS!
That’s right. We got some smaller group of Gnatekxnevoes stationed just in the neighborhood galaxy of the Milky Way to go check on them. As you all know, they’re a lot smaller than Tilechtros. You do not require size to bear enough firepower to completely wipe out a race from the surface of a planet, after all. So we sent in the space-ships. Their sizes were roughly the size of one of their rockets, roughly three guenagavons in volume. Not very large, eh? Still, each one has the power to destroy an entire planet ready in their cargo. Our crews zoomed in, ready to bring the battle to the humans and teach them just what kind of beings they had riled up. They appeared to be sending us signals of some kind as an attempt at communication and trying to gain peace, but they were far too amusing to merely leave alone. They did not have the firepower to destroy our spaceships, our shields were far too powerful for that, but they had caused so much trouble for us that we were going to take them out slowly and inevitably… on their level. We proceeded to land and wipe them out, one city at a time, before our shielded legions wielding weapons powerful enough to wipe out a city with just one of them…
Do you know how big a human is? Yes, you’re right, Knivigitiniyionrgtz, they’re roughly a fifth of our height. So we must have seemed like quite the monsters to the humans. We tore down, we killed, we destroyed their buildings… We have images from the time showing the fear in the human soldier’s eyes when their bullets did nothing to help them. See this image here on the projector? Yeees… Delicious, aren’t they? Such beautiful expressions… But we may have been a bit slow. See, it isn’t a good idea to be too overconfident at some times. The human scientists had excavated the remnants of the Tilechtros they had previously destroyed and examined their contents. By examining our technology, some bright mind of theirs managed to find parts of our shield technology. It was somewhere deep inside, protecting the engine inside from internal damage… And they managed to find a weakness! That’s when the battle got REALLY exciting! We had destroyed large parts of the planet’s surface, and in their last throes humankind was learning to fight back…
… So, yeah, they annihilated our forces on the planet. They shot down the shielded ships in orbit and got rid of the forces abilities to resupply. If there is anything we cannot deny, it is the intelligence of the humans. They had won that minor battle… and yet almost half their planet lay in ruins, and we had but lost a patrol of all our forces. They did well to defend themselves. But now… now they had awoken the interest of our nation. The puny little humans had successfully fended us off, TWICE, and now our common citizens were getting wind of it. Generals heard about it, our leaders got the reports. Our black blood was pumping at the thought of squashing these tiny slightly successful creatures who were no doubt celebrating their survival by now, thinking themselves safe. But of course, we had no intention of letting such a celebration take place. So, what do you think we-
Gnevreshgano, we needed all our Solar Cannons against the Nafigdenos at the time. Really, do you truly think we need to bring a weapon like that against a puny one-planet civilization like that of the humans? No, dear, we needed something a bit more… cruel. Something that wouldn’t kill them all instantly. Something to make them realize… just what kind of people they got the attention of… tell me, what could we possibly target that would make them slowly but surely realize the error of their ways while we remove what is keeping them alive…?
That’s right. From the other side of their sun, we dropped in a certain amount of ingredients into their boiling sun to just… increase its size a bit. We held the largest amount of resources out of any civilization in the galaxy, we could waste some. We were winning the war against the Nafigdenos anyway. So, as punishment for taking the lives of our soldiers, we spent an outrageous amount of science and resources… just to play with them. We increased the size and temperature of their sun, meaning their planet would be slowly cooked. With our magnifying-scopes, we could clearly see the suffering of the people of their world. Oh, seeing their apocalypse come to pass, knowing it is over and that there was no enemy they could simply beat down to survive and… So glorious! … Ah, but… but I am getting ahead of myself. So, now, can anyone tell me what happened next?
WE BLASTED THEM WITH A SOLAR CANNON!
Gnevreshgano, that’s quite enough. There is no Solar Cannon fired in this story. Sit down, and stay calm. … Ah, yes. Nobody of you would know what happened next. You see… humanity was a little bit too smart for its own good. Instead of just lying down to die like good little creatures… they harnessed the technology of our downed Gnatekxnevoes to build their own interstellar space-ships and left their doomed planet behind. They sacrificed all they knew for their race’s survival and fled for the stars using our technology! The NERVE of the little rascals! As soon as we realized what was happening, we mounted a galaxy-wide search for the pesky little things, just to find that they had colonized practically every planetary body that could even remotely support their lives! Do you all understand how difficult it is to hunt down a race to extinction when they’re spread around the universe like that!? It is absolutely… infuriating! So we had to have ample revenge on their former home planet through the use of a…
NO! NO SOLAR CANNON!
B-but, they’re so cool…
QUIET! Uh-humpgh. Argh. Kugh. As I was saying, we stopped with the mercy altogether. We bound the entire planet to a galactic electro-magnetic weapon and blasted the iron-core of the planet as a projectile at the home-planet of the Nafigdenos. It was what finally won us the war. Of course, anything on that planet was already dead by then. The end of Earth. … But the rotten humankind had spread far across the galaxy, biding their time. They now wielded our technology, so it was an endless chase to destroy every single one of them while they could as easily flee or fire back. We outnumbered them, but they were intelligent. Very intelligent. We lived in a stasis like this as rulers of the galaxy hunting measly humans for beyond two thousand years. Like small bugs pestering us for all eternity, launching tiny attacks we could barely feel but we still felt the compulsory to strike them down, but they just wouldn’t finally die. And… and then… uh… er… and then…
And then we lost?
Er, yes. Quite right, miss Kvegquerxpear. They, um, had amassed their forces for millennia waiting for the time to finally strike us down from our throne, and succeeded… They managed to blow all our major city-planets into dust in one fell stroke, not to mention how they managed to reroute that rogue black hole to go straight through our strongest fleet, which they had tricked there… They, um, chased us down with as great ferocity as we had once hunted them, and the humans were a lot more efficient hunters than we were… or maybe we were just worse at hiding… I-in any case! That will be all for today! Just you all be happy that we can all take refuge in this little corner of the galaxy and that even if we’re facing extinction and the apocalypse of our species; we still haven’t been found just yet! So, what can we all learn from what I have told you today?
BLAST THEM WITH SOLAR CANNONS!
… Yes, quite right, mister Gnevreshgano, if we had just blasted them with a Solar Cannon when we had the chance and they were just bundled together on one planet, all of this could have been avoided. I will give you extra credits for realizing our error. Now then, who’s hungry? Given that we’re still alive after all that’s happened and not extinct quite yet, there’s cause for joy, right? We should celebrate the fact we’re alive! Today’s my treat…
[Everything above was translated into English for convenience.]
17 Jan. 43
Today a woman broke into the apartment saved my life.
Alex wakes when the daylight first begins to fade. Stars that should have been invisible behind a screen of light pollution spread themselves out, daring the world below to ignore them. Eyes moving back and forth, she idly searches for satellites. Satellites that were indistinguishable from the stars, save for their movement. That unnaturally fast past of humanity, still leaving its glowing mark on the sky. With each breath, the thin cloth covering her lower face rises and falls, its movements reminding Alex of those of a large moth barely glimpsed at the edge of her vision.
With slow movements, she begins to gather her meager possessions. A winter jacket used as a pillow, a piece of tarp used as a blanket, a ring of tin cans used as a warning, and a solar powered flashlight, now fully charged. Each is picked up in turn, and is stuffed into her large rucksack. She is careful to avoid making too much noise. Even at night, the occasional burst of laughter or screaming - the difference between the two grows blurred - can be heard. Her gas mask lies within of a few feet of where she had slept; she shakes any bugs loose, and puts it on. The thin white cloth that she had been wearing previousy is also shoved into the rucksack.
In a vain attempt to delay action, she starts to stretch, taking painful satisfaction from the numerous popping noises her joints give in response. After a few minutes of this, her blood begins to flow, and her body fights off the encroaching cold of night. Making her way to the edge of the roof, she squats, and lets a very yellow stream of piss fall the twenty stories to the street. "Enjoy your morning cuppa," she says to the empty air as she finishes up and moves away from the edge. For a moment, she feels the urge to throw herself forward, but - like every morning before - she ignores the call of the void, grabs her rucksack, and makes her way off of the roof and into the building proper.
Because of her arrival that morning being later than she would have hoped, the majority of the building still remained unexplored. She begins trying door after door, empty stomach urging her on. They were locked, understandably. People staying home, trying to avoid the quickly spreading riots and disease, only to succumb to the sudden illness themselves. Dead within their own homes. It is because of this likely outcome that Alex never tries to force open the doors. Knowing as little about the disease as she does, she is unwilling to risk more exposure than necessary. Whether or not it's even airborne is a mystery to her, though she wears the mask anyway. Stay on the safe side, some dead voice advises her cheerily. She ignores it. The dead of the past have been becoming too talkative for her tastes lately. They had their time, she thinks. They need to let go. I need to let go.
As she travels further into the building, trying a door here and there, the last light of the old day begins to fall away, and Alex is forced to switch on her flashlight. The pale circle of luminosity reveals glimpses of the surroundings, but never the whole. A school girl always dropping hints of a secret, but congratulating herself for never telling it outright. Leaving the listener to solve the puzzle on their own.
Eventually she finds an open door, tucked away at the end of a hallway, two floors down from the roof. The apartment inside is full of dust tossed up by the shifting air currents, but the furniture all seems to be in place with no signs of a struggle, so Alex closes the door behind her and begins setting up glow sticks. When there are enough to cover the entire room in their dim green and orange glow, she switches her flashlight off and begins searching the cupboards. Most of the food she finds is coated in mold and mildew, but the pantries for the most part were fully stocked, and several days worth of edible food finds its way into the rucksack.
Among the food found is a box of sugary cereal, three quarters full and with no signs of rot. Setting herself down on the floor, Alex crosses her legs and begins to eat the processed delight. Her dirt-stained hand goes in and out of the box, each time emerging with a new mouthful of the cereal. Once the vague void in her stomach is satisfied, Alex leans back against the kitchen drawers and begins creating a possible story for the apartments missing inhabitants. It's a game she's begun playing more as time goes on, a way to fight the constant isolation and its steady toll upon her humanity. The imaginings of these hypothetical others lets her convince herself that she still has a solid grasp of what it means to have motivations and moralities, to be filled with persuasions and personalities. The gilded rewards of society and community, so easily forgotten in this new, barren world.
As the door was found open, it stands to reason that whoever had lived here - Alex decides a family of four based on the size of the apartment - had been home when one of them began to fall ill. They had been a trusting family, and didn't have enough paranoia to lock their doors when they were home. Perhaps the father had been ill, Alex decides on a whim, and the mother tried to take him to the hospital when he first started showing signs. The signs varied, of course, depending on what particular strand of the virus you were infected with. Or perhaps the symptoms were simply randomized within a single strand. Or even were dictated by the genetics of the infected. There were simply too many unknowns. The symptoms, however, had shown themselves often enough in the first few days.
The most common was the laughter. It began with a simple feeling of giddiness, which quickly turned into constant bellows of joy over the course of the next several hours. The Clowns, as Alex had taken to calling them, seemed to find great amusement in the smallest of things. More than one had been witnessed laughing while engulfed in flames, chuckling until their last breath. While the Clowns weren't particularly dangerous - barring their tendency to try and come into contact with people and thus spread the disease - the never ending sound of their mirth was slowly wearing away at Alex's sanity. She had never been afraid of clowns before, but now she found herself having nightmares focused around them whenever she fell asleep.
The second group were the ones Alex thought of as the Sloths. They were the most benign of the infected, as their symptoms were composed solely of losing interest and motivation, seemingly content with the world no matter how bad it was, until they starved away. Once, in the earlier days, Alex had offered one a granola bar, letting curiosity overcome caution. The woman, sitting serenely on the sidewalk, had simply given her a small smile and looked away. In the end, the Sloths were quiet, unobtrusive, and easy to avoid.
Finally, there were the Sleepers. Of all of the infected, it was the Sleepers that Alex most feared. They were the only ones who seemed to retain their basic survival instincts, and they did so with complete emotional detachment. They never smiled, cried, frowned, or yelled. They followed a rigid form of logical thinking in their search for food and water. They resembled other survivors, if other survivors were cold, relentless, and bereft of any sense of morality. They reminded Alex of robots. The kinds found in dystopic sci-fi novels promoting technophobia.
Filled with a sudden chill, Alex abandons thoughts of the hypothetical family and continues searching the cupboards.
"Hello," a mans voice says from behind.
Having finished looking through the kitchen and packing away all the edible food, Alex had moved on to the master bedroom in search of other helpful supplies. Barring a box of tampons, the scavenging had been unsuccessful. Now, she found herself frozen, unwilling to turn and see who had followed her in. For several days she had avoided any form of human contact, and it had been even longer since a face to face encounter. For a brief moment, her mind shouted Sleeper, but as far as she knew, they didn't talk. Words were a social construct they seemed to do without. Whoever was behind her, it was almost certainly an uninfected. With that slightly reassuring thought, Alex stands and turns to face the stranger.
Tall, dirty, and stringy, he is what Alex expects to see in a fellow survivor. The right sleeve of his thick jacket is pinned up to his shoulder, like a war amputee at the turn of the century. A duffle bag hangs by his side, mostly empty from the looks of it.
"Been awhile," the man continues. "Since I've seen anyone, that is." Alex makes an noncommittal noise. She can feel her confidence and stability coming back, but trust has been a rare commodity for a long time. A few moments of silence pass by as the man waits for her to respond, only to be met by her stubborn refusal to comply. "Name's Jonathan."
"Hello," Alex finally allows. Something about the man warns Alex off, fills her with a sense of unease. She can't place her finger on what it is, but the feeling reminds her of dogs who instinctively know what people could and couldn't be trusted. A sense beyond the normally attributed five. Don't be turning superstitious on me now, darling.
"I'm from a group-" he begins.
"Leave," Alex demands, cutting the man off. The faint gnawing voice in the back of her mind grows stronger. At the mans confused look, Alex repeats herself. "Leave. I found this place first, I get the supplies."
The stranger offers a quizzical smile, "I don't think you understand. I'm not here for your supplies. I'm inviting you to join me. Us. The group."
Alex takes a step back towards the bed, where her rucksack lies open. "Doesn't matter-" She stops, struck with a sudden realization. "You're not wearing a mask."
The man glances down, then looks back up with a bashful look. Innocently embarrassed at attempting to see his own face. Alex feels her hands clench. "No, I'm not." He admits, "Haven't since the beginning. Whatever this is, I don't think it's airborne."
"I don't believe you."
His hands raise in supplication. "Why would I lie to you? You can trust me, I swear."
Reaching out, Alex pulls her rucksack closer to her, comforted by its presence. "I don't trust you because the world is shit. I don't trust you because I don't believe a group can survive in this. I don't trust you because you're male and I'm not. I don't trust you," Alex reaches into the rucksack, "because you're pretending that you lost an arm."
The strangers genial and open face seems to collapse in upon itself, a visage of anger breaking through. The right side of his jacket bulges out, as though some long lost Siamese twin is making a bid for freedom, before a fake seam bursts open to reveal the hidden arm and the gun it holds. Alex whips her own hand out of the rucksack, pistol in its grasp. The two quickly take aim, and twin gunshots echo forth.
In the resulting moment of thunderous sound and ringing ears, Alex is blessed with the brief sight of her assailant falling backwards with a comet trail of red marking his passage before a spray of white pain tears across her face. Shouting profanities she can barely hear, Alex clutches at her face and stumbles forward. She finds the man - Name's Jonathan - sprawled out on the ground by the door, one hand clutching his chest, the other raised in a vain attempt to ward her off. Raising her pistol once more and aiming through the pain, she fires.
Been awhile. Since I've seen anybody, that is.
After locking the front door to prevent any more intruders, Alex pulls out a water bottle she found earlier and heads into the washroom to deal with her face. The mans wild shot had struck the wall next to her, sending shards of wood spraying into the right side of her face. Carefully rinsing away the blood and removing the worst of the remaining shards, Alex forces away thoughts of infection. It's only been a few minutes, she tells herself. Household medical supplies found behind the mirror provide her with enough bandages to plaster a solid third of her face, vaguely resembling some form of botched skin graft. I am not a physician, she thinks.
She makes it into the hallway before collapsing, sliding down the wall and onto the carpeted floor, knees tucked up to her chin. She can feel her hearts erratic beating, providing her with a late and unwanted surge of adrenaline. Without a situation to react to, the fight or flight response simply leaves her mind blank, breaths shuddering through the stifling filters of the gas mask. Whatever stub remains of her logical thought tells her that she has to leave. There's too high a chance that other human predators - or worse, Sleepers - heard the gunshot and are coming to investigate. Noises like that could only mean sentience, and chances were that where there's sentience, there's easy supplies.
Instead she stays sitting against the reassuring solidity of the wall until the stubborn ringing in her ears clears away and her breathing returns to normal.
In the following silence, she hears harsh breathing. It takes her a few moments to realize that it's not her own, and that it's coming from another room in the apartment. A smaller bedroom at the end of the hall. Using the wall as a crutch, she climbs to her feet and goes to investigate, pistol held firmly in clammy hands. With a small nudge, she opens the door to reveal a room plastered with posters, pictures, drawings, and other decorative paraphernalia. And on the bed, a kid, staring at her with wide eyes above a doctors surgical mask.
He couldn't be more than fourteen, short, stout. He had the look of someone who had recently shed a few pounds, and Alex judges that he probably would've been described as borderline chubby before the events of the disease. Most likely high amounts of stress had resulted in the assumed weight loss, as the amount of food Alex had found disproved starvation as a theory.
"Is this your place?" Alex asks. The kid blinks, fear evident in his expression. Alex looks down at the pistol still held in her hands, then back up. She doesn't put it away. "Is this your place?" She asks again.
The kid nods, sharply. As though he could only muster enough courage for that single, sudden movement.
Alex looks around the room, noting a journal laying open on a desk next to the door. Today a woman broke into my apartment, it reads, the letters rough and uneven. It's dated January 17th. Alex assumes this is the current date, and gives a silent thanks for the momentary grounding of time. "Parents?" She asks, looking back to the kid.
"Gone," is the short reply.
Alex looks back down the hallway. At the far end, across the living room, she can see the front door. "You can't stay here," she says, "someone is going to follow the noise." Running a hand over her face, she lets loose a quiet curse. "Grab a bag - the largest you have - and pack quickly. We're leaving."
"I'm not going with you!" The kid exclaims, shock overcoming fear. "You're a murderer," He continues, quieter.
Putting the pistol back in her rucksack, Alex turns and begins heading for the bathroom. "I'm not going to hurt you," she says over her shoulder. She sounds unconvincing even to herself. Returning to the medical cabinet, she begins stuffing as many bandages and medications into her bag as possible. Her hand briefly hovers over a bottle of Blissful Heart 'Calm', guaranteed to remove stress, anger, and other such disabling emotions quickly and without side effects, but decides against it. Some distant remnant of her previous activist lifestyle, where she wielded posters declaring emotions as sacred and cursed those who sold them in pill form, resurfaces briefly in her mind.
By the time she's done rummaging, the kid is waiting by the front door, a blue school backpack slung over his shoulder. As she comes up, he tucks away the journal he had been writing in, and steps to the side. "I'll go with you," he says, as though he's graciously deciding to accept her offer. Behind the voice though, his eyes are still wide.
"No kidding," Alex replies, and opens the door.
___I can hear them out there. Moaning. Stumbling. Crunching on their prey. On people.
___People like me, who weren't smart enough—or lucky enough—to hide afore their onslaught.
___None of this makes any sense. Is it a disease? A toxin? Something supernatural? And whichever it is, a more pressing question—can it be stopped?
___We're only three now. Everyone else scattered, looking for their families. Ours aren't around; my parents are on vacation in Toronto, Mikey's been alone since his mom died back in September, and Nachi's a boarding student.
___The others left back when
"María. Where the hell are you?"
María swung down from her perch amongst the branches of an oak tree, landing firmly behind Harrison. She stuck a finger back towards the foliage from whence she'd descended. "Up there."
"God, girl, can you not make yourself scarce at every moment of the day?" He sighed. "C'mon. Holly's made dinner."
The two survivors casually made their way across the field towards the campsite. A small truck, a moving van, and a motor home tightly nestled in a triangle, from which emitted a thin wisp of smoke.
"What were you doing up there?" asked Harrison, calmly.
María gave him a sideways glance. "A diary. From after the Purge."
Harrison remained silent for a long moment. "Oh," was all he replied with.
With a snort of derision, María turned back towards the camp. She was a youthful woman of eighteen years, with sleek, dark hair tied back into a short ponytail and two brown eyes. Her hispanic face was a little short and round, but the rest of her was lean and lithe.
Strolling along beside her, Harrison was thickset man in his early thirties. Years in the construction industry left him with two powerful arms and a strong core. His hair russet, his eyes black, Harrison was an imposing—but jovial—individual.
With a brusque call to announce their approach, the two slipped between the vehicles into the small encampment.
Three others were huddled within: Joe, a grizzled man—once homeless—with a kind heart and a fierce disposition, covered in rags; Cory, a giant of a man thick as two, who ate almost more than they could handle; and Holly, a dishwasher-turned-cook brunette of seventeen.
With a couple casual greetings, they pulled out a couple chairs and sat with the others. Holly ladled out some stew to each of them.
"So, where're we headed next?" asked María, before even glancing at the stew she'd received.
"There's a city near here. We could scavenge for some food," offered Harrison.
Joe bore a grim smirk. "And risk the hordes?"
"We've fought them off so far," commented Harrison.
Holly loosed a despondent sigh. "Not without loss."
Silence permeated the group. In the month since the Purge, they had seen many, many die.
Harrison broke off the pensive hush. "The overall plan remains the same. We move West, to the prairies. They were less densely populated, and if we can find a farm, we might be able to build ourselves some real safety. Until then, I say we head towards the city. We're running out of supplies, and the game here's almost run dry."
Joe gulped down the rest of his stew. "So be it."
October 7th, 2013.
___The food's run out, so we're getting ready to leave. Mikey's been scouring the house for anything that might be useful out on the street, and Nachi's been keeping lookout.
___Things have calmed down, kinda. The dead have mostly taken over the streets, so the living have all found places to hide by now. You can still hear the screams, the gunshots, sometimes the explosions, but they're all far off, away from us. It's been days since we last saw anything other than the dead out this way.
___I have no idea where we think we're going to be able to go. We can't just keep house hopping forever. And we're just three kids—how're we supposed to fight off bloodthirsty lunatics twice our size and in groups four times our number, no matter how slow they may be? Mikey found a rifle and some ammunition, and we gathered some knives and stuff, but we're no killers. We walk out there, we're dead.
___Not that that's going to stop us, I guess.
"María? Are you reading?" asked Holly, incredulous.
They were driving their little convoy down a highway towards the town. Holly led the way driving the truck, with María in the passenger seat and Joe sitting in the cargo bed wielding a shotgun. Harrison was in the back, with the trailer. And between them, Cory drove the moving van. Each reinforced with barred windows and plows attached to the front in case of attack.
Trees stretched out on either side of the highway, and the dead walked out from between them as they passed by, but they were easily avoided.
"Yeah. So what?"
Holly's lips twitched into a grin. "Didn't think you the type."
María grimaced. "I'm not."
"Shut up." She went back to reading.
___We were ready and armed. We left the house shortly after lunch, so we'd have lots of time to find a new place before dark. Some supplies and tools stuffed in a couple backpacks, we thought we were ready.
Holly spoke up. "We don't talk much, y'know? Girl time?"
___So, we left. Looking for some other place to lie in wait and stock up resources. Somewhere where we could be safe. Our spirits were high, because no matter what adversity we would find out there, we were together.
"I dunno. Cuz I don't care."
Holly spun the wheel for a turn in the road. They were approaching a larger concentration of the dead, so she sped up a little to avoid them. "Oh, that's nice—" A motorcycle sped out from the turn, swerved to avoid crashing into them, and skidded onto its side. Holly swerved to the right and stopped. "Well, damn."
The dead, alerted to the ruckus, began to shuffle their way over towards the prone motorcyclist.
___But we were oh so mistaken.
"Stay in the car," said María, firmly. "Be ready for a quick getaway." She grabbed a pistol from the glove compartment and pulled herself out of the truck.
___There were so many of them. Dozens. Scores. Maybe even hundreds, prowling the streets. Not all in one place, of course, but at every corner of the street, hiding amidst the houses, the dead came at us. They would chase us in swarms, slow, but unfaltering. Unrelenting.
As the other two vehicles stopped near the motorcycle, Joe had already leapt out of the cargo bed and was running towards the figure on the road. Leveling his shotgun to his shoulder, he took down a couple dead approaching with well-aimed shots to the head. He quickly made it to the motorcyclist, and María rushed over to cover him.
"He's alive. Let's get him out of here." Looking up, Joe motioned Cory over. Harrison, having already jumped out of the motor home, was now protecting their means of escape. Holly pulled the truck up beside them.
___We were just three kids. How were we supposed to fight them? Mikey had a gun, but he was no good at aiming. We had other weapons, but we weren't strong enough to fight them.
___We were just three kids. So all we could do was run.
María leaned against the truck, firing at the approaching dead with well-aimed shots as Cory rushed towards them, throwing any that came close to him aside with a swing of his mining pick he'd scavenged some time back.
___And run we did.
When he arrived at the prone figure, he lifted and dumped both man and bike into the truck bed, and made his way back to his van, followed by María, covering him as they went.
Once Cory was close enough to Harrison for him to take over, she turned back towards Holly—still waiting in the driver's seat—and Joe, who had just climbed into the back. With a nod from the latter, she sprinted towards them as Joe fired shots at the dead around her.
Reaching the truck, she swung into the back, and Holly hit the accelerator, jolting them forward. Harrison and Cory followed behind them.
"Well fuck," muttered María, as Joe planted his shotgun on the hood of the vehicle to shoot anything that got in their way.
"Seems to me that went quite well," he threw back, still facing ahead. "Could you check on our patient? Took a pretty nasty fall."
Delicately, she pried the helmet off of his head. He was a youngish man, likely in his mid-twenties. Dark, curly-brown hair cascaded in thick locks from his head, shaggy and neither short nor long. As she began to fiddle with his leather jack, he gave a deep groan. "He seems fine," María announced.
"Then let him rest." He fired off a slug. "I've got it handled up here."
"How's the reading been going?" asked Harrison, strolling through the aisle. They'd found a supermarket with its doors broken open. Most of the food had already been pilfered, but it looked as though the scavengers had been attacked before they could take it all, and there was still a fair amount of supplies back in the storage.
"Fine, I guess," said María, palming a bottle of water. "It's odd; as I've been reading the diary, the days have been passing, and she's almost caught up with us. Makes me wonder if she might still be alive."
"Where'd you find it, anyway?"
"In the field, by that tree." She stuffed a row of bottles into a canvas bag she had handy, and lugged it over her shoulder. "She's had it pretty rough—separated from her family, lost a couple friends she was hangin' with, then alone for a couple weeks, trying to survive in the big city. For a thirteen-year-old girl, she's survived pretty good, really."
Harrison laughed. "Getting attached, are ya?"
"Oh, whatever. Let's see what the others got."
They met up with Joe and Cory near the entrance, both laden with boxes and supplies. Holly had stayed back with the vehicles, looking after the motorcyclist and holding off any dead—or living—that might come after their stuff. She'd parked a short distance from the supermarket, on some elevated parking structure, so she could watch over the others without being in sight herself.
Pulling out a walkie-talkie, Joe called Holly in. "We're ready," he said. They heard the rumble of the truck as she set it off towards them.
Soon thereafter, she'd pulled up nearby, and they all hopped in the back. "Jake's looking after the rest," she informed them, "but I have the keys. He won't go anywhere."
October 25th, 2013.
___I've left the city. It's too dangerous looking for food back there, and there's too many dead and lunatics lurking for me to find safe shelter.
___My family owned a house, out in the woods, where we used to spend the winter. We've always had a lot of food in storage under there, so we wouldn't have to worry about being snowed in. It's the only place left I have to try, the only place I can go.
___I know I have no protection out there, and it'll take me a couple days to get there from here, but if I sleep up in the trees and travel quietly by day, I think I might be okay.
___I hope I'll be okay.
___I'm leaving this diary behind, now, out of hope. If you are reading this, that hope has been fulfilled—that there are other survivors out there, that took the time to read the diary of some poor soul like me. And who, maybe, will have enough compassion to find me.
___I beg of you—don't let me die alone.
___If you're reading this diary, please, please, help me. I don't want to be alone anymore.
___I'll be at the cabin, out by
"Holly. What day is it?"
"What? I don't know, why—"
"What is the fucking date."
"God, I think it's the 27th or something. Why?"
"Stop the car."
"Stop the car. We need to turn around."
She'd hid in the loft since shortly after she'd arrived, the dead following close behind her. If she hadn't knocked the ladder away as fast as she had, they'd have caught her.
She could hear fighting down below. Gunshots. Thumps. The violent rending of human flesh. Then silence.
The top of the ladder knocked itself in front of her, and a hispanic face came into view.
"Who are you?" asked the girl, cowering in the corner, tears in her eyes.
María slid the diary across the floor towards her. "Friends."
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