If you’re reading this, well, maybe I gave it to you. Probably not, though. I’m in a pretty bad fix at the moment, so. . .you probably found this near my body, or at least what’s left of it.
I found this journal in a house I took shelter in a few nights ago. It’s a nice book. I don’t know what made me think of taking it, or what put the idea into my head to write anything in it. I guess, in a way, it’s to help me preserve what’s left of my sanity.
Maybe if I put into words what I’ve seen, what I’ve lived through, then it will help me make sense of it all. I seriously doubt it, though. I mean, if I hadn’t seen it, then I wouldn’t believe it, either. Someone, somewhere, may be doing something just like this, and know what happened. I mean, what caused it all to happen. If you’re looking for information like that, might as well put this down and move on. No sense wasting your time, because I flat don’t know what happened.
I mean, I know what happened to me, and to those around me, but. . .how it started? Not a clue. I do know it wasn’t like the movies. Things happened slowly, and most of us just didn’t care enough to pay attention. We were too busy worrying about other things. You know, like how many ‘likes’ our selfie got on Facebook. Important shit like that. No one had time to worry about the end of the world.
If it is the end. I don’t even know that. From where I sit right now, cold, damp, hungry, and scared, it sure looks like it, I’ll admit. I didn’t start out alone, mind you. There was a small group of us, hanging together trying to survive. We’d lose one here, pick up another there, the group was always changing.
Now, though, it’s just me. I don’t know where the others are, or if they’re alive. We got separated by a group of them, and. . .well, it just all went to hell in a handbasket. I haven’t seen another living soul in two weeks, let alone anyone from my old group.
If you survived long enough to read this then you know about the Zombies. There was another name for them on the news, Re-animated something or other, but I can’t remember it, just now. And Zombies stuck pretty fast. I guess it’s a fair description.
It wasn’t like the movies, though, like I said. No raised from the grave or morgue bodies wandering around saying ‘brains’ over and over, nothing like that. They don’t wander. They move in groups, and they’re smart. Maybe not human level intelligent anymore, but they’re smart, none-the-less. They hunt in groups, or even in teams of groups. Maybe groups of teams? Anyway, they use some groups to ‘beat’ with, chasing victims right into the waiting arms of another group. The waiting teeth, I should say.
Zombies. No way when I woke up that last normal day did I see that coming. At that point, my greatest worry was passing an Algebra test, and trying to get Penny Worthington’s attention. Penny was a beautiful girl. Not the prettiest in school maybe, and not quite the smartest, but very close. A nerd’s dream girl.
Who didn’t seem to know that I existed. I mean, I can understand that. I never was much to look at. Nerd might be generous, even, as I think back. I didn’t need glasses, for which I have been thankful every night since this started. But, I was awkward at best. Gangly, my arms and legs too long for a body that hadn’t, or couldn’t, catch up to them in growth.
Hair that absolutely refused to lay down on my head. What my mother called a ‘cow-lick’. I don’t know where that term came from, and now I likely never will. Pimply faced, clumsy, and so socially inept that I cringe even now thinking about it, even though there’s much worse things to fear nowdays than social ineptitude.
I woke up that morning to my mom’s call, the smell of bacon and toast drifting to me in my bed room. I climbed out of bed and headed for the shower. Once done and dressed, it was down stairs to the table, where my dad was already eating, and my sister was busy picking at her food. To call her finicky was an insult to cats everywhere.
It was the same old thing, just like every morning. If I had known it would be the last time I’d see them, though, well. . .I would probably have took more time talking to them. Saying nice things to my sister, thanking my mom and dad for all they do, did, for me. Appreciating that my mom would get up early to fix breakfast before she went to work herself.
But I didn’t know. I’m sure there were some people, somewhere, who knew. People in the government, or whatever, that knew things were already out of control. But they never told anyone. Don’t know why. In the movies it was always to ‘avoid a panic’ or to cover something up. Was it like that here? I don’t know. I just don’t. Somebody, somewhere might, but not me.
My ride to school was the MTA bus, and I managed to catch it on time. First, and last, time for everything, I guess. As I sat down, I noticed that several people were listening to the radio, and looking around nervously. I should have paid more attention to that, I guess. But I was too busy thinking about how I would try again today to talk to Penny.
The bus stop was two blocks from school. As I got off the bus, the driver said ‘be careful, kid’, just like he always did. I waved my thanks, and jumped to the sidewalk. He waited for me to cross the road before moving off down the street. He was a good guy. Name tag said ‘Hank’. I hope Hank made it somewhere safe.
I never made it to class that day. I got to the school grounds, and was about to head for the main building when a car came screeching around the corner, wiping out the crossing guard and three students before slamming into an oak tree near the intersection. The oak tree didn’t have any give in it, and the car, a white Caddy, wrapped around it like a bread tie.
For a minute, I just stood there, stunned. People were screaming and running all around, and I saw at least one teacher on her cell phone, probably trying to call for help. I don’t know if it ever came or not. The driver of the Caddy was moving, screaming at the top of her lungs. By rights she should have been dead. Turned out, she was, well, more or less. We just didn’t know it at the time.
I recognized another teacher, Mister Tomlinson, who taught history, moving toward the car. I watched as he tried to calm the woman. The door was already most of the way open, so he took hold and pulled it the rest of the way open, at least as far as he could with the damage to the car. He reached inside, I guess to check on the driver, and suddenly I hear him screaming. I moved to where I could see, and realized the woman in the car had bitten Mister Tomlinson right in the neck. She had him good, too, it looked like, because he couldn’t get away.
I debated for about three seconds going to try and help. Before I could make a decision, it was made for me when a horn sounded almost in my ear. I jumped back onto the sidewalk as the car zoomed past me, horn still blowing. As I followed the car with my eyes, I saw the others lying on the street. The students and the guard that the woman biting Mister Tomlinson had run over. I ran that way instead, where two teachers were trying to help.
One of the teachers, Miss Holden, held her hand up at me, and ordered me to stay back. I halted in my tracks, always the good student. Obeying the teachers. I was glad I did, though, because the crossing guard, Mrs. Brown, was an old favorite of most all the kids, and she. . .well, she’d been hit by a speeding car. That should tell you all you need to know about that. The students that had been hit were in no better shape, either. I didn’t know any of them, at least I didn’t think I did, so I stayed back.
I didn’t know how to be of any help, anyway, so I would just have been in the way. A loud voice to my right drew my attention to Miss Jamieson, who was screaming into her cell phone for an ambulance. Judging by her tone, and what I could hear of her conversation, she wasn’t getting action fast enough to suit her. From the corner of my eyes, I saw a moving car on a side street. A police car.
I ran toward it, arms waving. The guy in the car looked right at me, and kept driving. I know he saw me. His eyes met mine, and I know he saw me waving back to the wreck. And he kept driving. I should have known something was wrong right then, I guess. Hindsight is always a great benefit to have, isn’t it? At the time, though, I just cursed what I thought was a lazy cop, on his way home. Or to the doughnut shop. Either one might seem more important to him than helping a kid in the street.
I turned back to the scene after that. A lot had happened in those few seconds. The woman was out of the car now, I could see, and Mister Tomlinson was on the ground, bleeding heavily from his neck. He wasn’t moving any, and I figured he might be dead.
The woman was moving, which was surprising. Her left ankle was broken. I mean so broken that she was walking on the side of her foot. But she didn’t seem to notice it, for some reason. Blood was running down her chin, and the dress she was wearing was soaked through with blood. Mister Tomlinson’s blood, I guess. I never will know, I guess, but I’m pretty sure it was.
By now other teachers were around, shouting orders and instructions, trying to help Mrs. Brown, though how I don’t know. She was long gone by then, even I could see that from where I was standing. The three students, none of whom I knew, weren’t going anywhere either.
I stood there, taking it all in, until I heard, somewhere far away, my name being called. I turned to see a teacher, Miss Bolen, pointing past me. Turning, I saw the woman from the Caddy stumbling toward me. She was almost on me, too. I took off running, grateful for her broken ankle. Foot. Whatever. It slowed her down.
I noticed at the time that she was, well, weird. Okay, she was weird anyway, walking around with Mister Tomlinson’s blood on her face and dress, and walking on that awful looking foot, but. . .this was different. Her eyes were glassed over like. Not blank. No, not blank. She was looking at me like she wanted nothing more than to tear me limb from limb. She was mad, and you could see it. I could see it.
I got to the sidewalk and stopped to see what else was happening. Car Lady was still staggering after me, but I figured I had a minute or two before she could catch me. But as I looked at her, movement behind her caught my eye, and I looked passed her to see Mister Tomlinson getting to his feet. He was twitching and jerking like Frankenstein’s monster when the electricity hit him. But there was no electricity.
And Mister Tomlinson shouldn’t have been twitching. He shouldn’t have been moving at all. He should have still been laying in the road, his throat ripped out by Car Lady. That made me look back to Car Lady, thinking about her. She was getting closer. For some reason, she had her eye on me and wasn’t going to let go.
With all this going on, it was about that time that I decided I needed to make a plan. A plan that started with me getting the hell out of where I was, and somewhere that Car Lady, and now Mister Tomlinson wasn’t. Realizing that the school was the closest place of any relative safety, I started that way. I tried to tell Miss Bolen that it wasn’t safe, that she should get inside, that Car Lady and Mister Tomlinson were dangerous.
But what teacher listens to a student? She just pointed to the school and told me to run inside. I did, looking back as I went. I noticed that Car Lady was now headed for Miss Bolen, and yelled to her one more time to get away. I shouldn’t have. Yelling got her attention, and getting her attention allowed Car Lady to get Miss Bolen.
I watched as Miss Bolen was dragged to the ground by Car Lady, being bitten even as she was forced to the ground. Soon Mister Tomlinson had twitched and staggered over to her, and he and Car Lady started. . .well, eating, Miss Bolen.
When I saw that, I stopped watching. I knew then what was happening, but I didn’t believe it. Not yet. It would take a little while longer, and a whole lot more carnage for me to finally accept that the world, at least as I knew it, was over.
We just didn’t any of us know that. Yet.
What nerd boy doesn’t dream of being a hero? Slaying a dragon, beating a bully, stopping a robbery, saving the girl of his dreams? Whatever it takes, right? So, I started looking for Penny. Why? No idea, other than, like I said, every nerd boy dreams of being a hero. I wanted to be her hero.
At this point in time, I was still convinced that, as bad as things looked at the moment, it would still be okay. Sure, there were people dead, or dying, but. . .it would eventually be okay. Cops would show up, ambulances right behind them, and things would be fine. But until they did, I would find Penny and protect her. Be her hero. She would swoon over my bravery, and then later, once the mess was cleaned up, we’d share an ice cream float at Rhonda’s Dairy Bar.
Ever try finding one person in a crowd of screaming, panicking students? Some crying, some yelling, everyone wanting to know what was happening. Well, if you haven’t, take it from me. It’s not easy to do. In fact, it’s pretty impossible. Armstrong High had over a thousand students. I was looking for just one.
I never did find her. Even to this minute I don’t know if she’s alive or not. Maybe she wasn’t even at school that day, I don’t know. That wouldn’t make her safe, of course, not necessarily. But it might. Right? Penny, if you’re the one reading this, then I tried to find you. I really did.
You know the funny thing, as I look back on that morning? I didn’t spare a single thought for my parents, or my sister. My sister went to daycare at the office where my mom worked, so they were probably together. My dad worked closer to the city as an engineer. I remember, later on, trying to call them on my cell phone, but there was never an answer. Finally, the phones quit working.
I miss my family. I miss them more now that I’m alone. When I was still with a group, it wasn’t as bad. We were all missing someone, so we stuck together, and we helped each other. We supported each other. When one of us was weak, the rest took up the slack. I miss that, too.
I miss my i-Phone, too. Being able to get on the web and see what was going on. See on a map where I am. Listening to music when I’m resting. None of that works anymore. I’d give most anything for that music right now, earphones in my ears, drowning out the sounds of the zombies howling for blood outside. It would be nice to have that drowned out for a night, and sleep.
I’m tired. I don’t know when I slept last, other than little naps here and there. I’m cold, too. Damp. Caught in the rain, and it’s not exactly summer. No way to warm myself, or dry my clothes, either. I wouldn’t dare start a fire, even if I had a way to. I had some matches early on, but we used the last of them a week or two before I got separated from my group.
I’m hungry. I didn’t know what hunger was until all this happened. Now, after. . .well, I don’t know how long, exactly, but probably two months or so. After all this time of eating whatever I could get, when and wherever I could get it, I know what hunger is. I know what it is to eat cold food that was meant to be cooked, or at least heated. I know what it is to be so thirsty that I’d hold a water bottle out a window to catch rain running off the roof.
I’ve done all those things, more than once, trying to survive. I’ll do them again, if I get the chance. I don’t know that I will, of course, seeing as how I’m surrounded by walking dead people.
I’d love to have a nice hot shower, put on clean clothes, and crawl into my bed at home. I’m so filthy that it’s a good thing Zombies can’t seem to smell anything, or they’d be all over me. I never knew how bad someone could smell. I do now, and then some. If I had soap, I’d just stand in the cold rain and scrub myself and my clothes, and take the chance that I’d catch pneumonia. But I don’t have any. I guess I could look around this house, but that might make noise, so I’ll just sit here and stink, I guess.
When I was still at the school, that day it all started, I never imagined I’d be sitting here like this. Like I said before, I was still expecting the police to show up, take care of things, and then we’d go back to school. We’d probably all have to see a shrink, like when there was a school shooting, and we’d probably be out of school a few days, but then we’d be back in class, and that whole day would just be whispers in the back of class, or in the dark areas of the hallways.
Of course, if you’re reading this, then you know that didn’t happen. What happened was that the whole world went crazy. This disease, virus, whatever it is that caused all this traveled all over the world, and did it in a hurry. Whole cities of people were ‘turned’, that’s the word everyone used for it, turned, into Zombies.
They didn’t call them Zombies at first, of course. That would be too much. So they called them ‘infected’. Yeah. Infected with a Zombie making virus. Calling them infected made people, well dumb people anyway, think that meant they were sick. Which they were, I admit, in a never-going-to-get-better kind of way. Thinking that the ‘infected’ were sick, dumb people kept trying to ‘help’ them. Make them better. Get treatment for them. All they managed to do was get ‘turned’ themselves, adding to the carnage.
Well meaning, the dumb people, but. . .still dumb. And still dead, now. Walking dead. Stumbling around outside, screeching at each other, pieces dropping off of them all over the street. I mean, who’s gonna clean that up? Assuming we ever get to the clean up stage, of course.
I try to avoid thinking about that, but. . .I’ve been alone now for two weeks, I guess, give or take. What if I’m alone, now? What if there’s no one else left? Am I all there is? All alone? Is all that shambling screeching freak show out there what I have to look forward to the rest of my life? And how long will that be, anyway? For all I know, I won’t see the sunrise. Since my watch got broken I don’t even know what time it is.
Daylight is your friend. If you don’t learn anything else in this horror fest, learn that quick. In daylight, you can see Them. You know where They are, and what They’re doing. See how I make that a proper noun? It’s better than writing Zombie, right? Well, maybe it’s not.
Once the sun is gone, it’s dark. I don’t mean it’s after sunset, either. It’s dark. Completely, ink-black, can’t see your hand in front of your face dark. There’s no street lights anymore, no lights from houses, or from car head lights. Nothing. It’s just. . .dark. You can’t see to move. You can’t see where you are, or what’s coming at you.
How am I writing this, then? Is that what you want to know? A candle. A simple little emergency candle. I get it lit with a spark thingy from a welder. Takes a while, but what else do I have to do? I keep the candle in a old coffee can, so it generates a little heat. And I do mean a little, but it’s better than nothing. Right now I’m hunched over it, with a ratty old quilt over me like a poncho, trying to keep the heat, and the light, inside.
I don’t think They react to light, but I’m not sure. I don’t have any way to test it that won’t result in me getting eaten, and I don’t care that much about knowing. I’ve got five more candles, and then. . .well, then. I don’t know what, then. I’ll have to see, I guess.
I’m tired, but afraid to sleep. It was almost dark when I scrambled in here, into this house, and I wasn’t able to make any kind of barricade to keep Them out. It’s a two story place, so I’m upstairs. They don’t have to be attracted to noise, you know. Sometimes, they just do things. I don’t know why. Maybe because they’re familiar things. Like coming home from work or school, and going into the house.
I’ve seen Them go into houses for no reason. There was no noise, nothing to attract attention, but still, They went inside.
So tonight, I don’t sleep. I sit here, huddled around my candle, praying that none of Them decide to wander in here. Hoping my little candle can dry me out enough, warm me up enough, that I don’t end up sick.
Sometimes I wonder why I bother, though. What difference does it make if I get sick or not. Sooner or later, They are going to get me. I mean, they’ve got everybody else. I’m not special. I don’t have any special powers or abilities that could keep Them from getting me if they get a chance. It’s just pure, blind luck they haven’t got me already.
And still, I try to survive. There must be something inside us that want’s to live no matter what. That keeps us from giving up. I don’t know what it is. Too high thinking for me. But I can feel it inside me.
Back at school, that Day, when it became obvious that things were not, in fact, going to get better, several of us decided to take off. It seemed like staying at the school was a bad deal. On some levels, maybe it was a good place. I mean, it was protection from the elements, there was food, and water, at least for a while. Safety in numbers.
Yeah, about that. Safety in numbers isn’t real. Sound good, I know. Even looks good on paper I imagine. But it’s not. Not in a case like this. Not when you’re under attack by a relentless enemy that won’t stop no matter what, and you have no weapons to defend yourself with. In times like those, the numbers become a crushing weight that someone is going to get trampled under. It’s going to happen. Just a matter of when.
For us, it was about thirty minutes after Car Lady came on the scene, or that’s my guess. It’s hard to remember. A lot of the students had gone into the building, including a friend of mine, a guy named Phil. I tried to get him to stay outside, where our choices were better, but he was scared, and ran into the building when some of the teachers started rounding up kids ‘for their safety’.
And they were bringing in the injured with them. I tried to tell Mister Mason what had happened to Mister Tomlinson, but why would he listen to me, right? I’m just another fifteen year old kid he has to be responsible for. He grabbed my arm and tried to pull me inside, but I had already seen three bitten people be taken inside, and there was no way I was going to be inside the school when they. . .well, you know.
Knowing there was no use staying any longer, I struck out on my own. I took one last look around at the carnage and chaos behind me as I ran down the street, but after that, I never looked back. I have no idea what happened after that. Maybe some of them got away. I hope so.
Of course, if they did get away, then I hope they are better off than I am at the moment. Odds are they’re not, but I don’t know. I do know that there just aren’t many safe places left in the city. In fact, I don’t know of a single one. For a while, maybe two days, I heard gunfire all around, so I know that people were fighting back. But after three days at most, there wasn’t much more. Every now and then you’d hear a shot. Just one. I still wonder if those lone shots are people taking their own lives.
I can’t promise that if I had a gun I wouldn’t do it myself. At this point there doesn’t seem to be a lot to lose. I’m alone, I’m hungry, and I’m scared. I’m tired. . .no, I’m exhausted. I don’t remember what it’s like to be clean, rested, or comfortable. I can’t remember the last hot meal I had, unless I go back to That Morning, when my mom cooked breakfast.
Would I do it? Would I take my own life? Brother Jacobs, our preacher, would probably say that it would be a sin, and maybe one I wouldn’t get forgiven for, so I don’t know. It doesn’t matter anyway, since I don’t have a gun. Even if I had one, I wouldn’t know how to use it. My mom and dad didn’t believe in guns. I bet that would change, if they were still alive. And maybe they are. Maybe they’re looking for me right now.
But they’re not going to find me. I’m too far into the city, I think, for anyone to find me. I’m cut-off. Surrounded. Like one of those war stories I used to read, where I’m behind enemy lines, alone, unarmed, no chance of rescue. Almost like a movie.
I’m in my own movie! I could pretend that I’m in a movie, all about me. Me against the zombie horde! Yeah, me against all those walking dead.
My movie sucks.
I can hear them outside, now, scruffing and scratching around the edge of the house. Do they smell me? Did I make a noise? I don’t know. I don’t think they can see the light from my candle but can they smell it burning? I don’t know.
I just heard glass break. Probably a window. I told you they were smart. It’s not like the movies, where they can hear but not see, or where they just walk around bumping into each other. I’m telling you, these guys, they work together.
I can hear steps now, inside the house. I should put my candle out, but, it’s dark now. And why prolong the inevitable. Right? I mean, I was just talking about suicide a few minutes ago. Why not suicide by Zombie? There’s no one left but me. Even if there are others out there, I’m not going to find them, and they aren’t going to find me either, at least not alive.
There’s definitely at least one inside now. I can hear him, her, it, stumbling around downstairs. I’ll know if he starts up the stairs because they creak about half-way up.
Please go away. Please go away. I don’t want to be like you. If you killed me that would be okay except I would be like you, and I don’t know what that’s like so I don’t want to be like you, so please go away.
Please. Go. Awa. . .I hear the creak on the stairs. It’s coming. Oh, God, if you can hear me, please, don’t let me be one of Them. I don’t want to be one of Them, I can’t imagine. . . .
It’s here. I don’t what’s going to happen, but there’s nowhere to run to. They’re all around the house. How did they know I was here? What did I do wrong? What did I forge. . . . .