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**I wrote this all in one sitting, from about 11pm to 4am last night. You could say I was a little inspired by 28 Days Later, but I tried to put my own twist on things. Enjoy!**
Bluestone Army Base
PFC Graham Daniels
As of this date, there are 19 of us left here. We’ve been pushed back to an empty hangar at the edge of the base. Sergeant Kowalski assumed command three days ago, after the Major became one of “them” in a brief skirmish. Their numbers are growing, ours are shrinking, and hope has become about as slim as our rations. We only have a small stock of K rations left, probably enough to get us through the rest of the fall. If we’re lucky. We’re limited to one meal a day. The Major was discussing organizing hunting parties, and I have a feeling we will have to depend on that if make it to the winter.
Nothing is definite anymore. Life...death...the lines are blurred. The probability of surviving another day, of making it through another patrol—It’s all up in the air.
I ask myself often if I am really living, or just drifting from one day to the next in a state of minimal consciousness.
We switch duties day to day. The worst job to get is, of course, perimeter patrol. Just one time around the hangar is incredibly intense. On patrol, you have to circle it for six hours. I’m assigned Wednesdays and Sundays. Tuesday nights and Saturday nights, I am always sick to my stomach with worry.
I’ve heard that Kowalski is planning on doing a supply run sometime soon. I can only pray they are just rumors. Leaving the proximity of the hangar is a fear-inducing thought for me. The entire base is crawling with the infected. A mission more than a hundred feet from the hangar would be disastrous.
Those things...you can’t even call them people anymore. They defy the limits of that which defines a man. They are relentless and fast as cheetahs. It takes at least four or five rounds to put one down, unless you can sever the nerve connection with the brain and spinal cord. Their strength is inhuman. I once saw just one of those fuckers tear a man in half with its hands. And the things they do to their victims...devouring their raw muscle tissue with a vigor like that of no earthly predator. They eat like they have been long starved, but I know they have feasted well upon the flesh of America.
The infected are the things of nightmares. From a distance they look like normal people. Survivors, innocents. But then they smell your blood, your flesh, and they turn. And you see the gore of their victims spattered on their face and clothes. And you hear their primal roars, and can only watch in terror as they charge. There is never only one. They travel in groups, using hunting tactics. And all the while, as they kill your friends and tear them to shreds, and scream their ungodly scream, all you can see is their face. A human face. The faces of your family or your friends.
Who in God’s name would create such a disease? Who could hate this country so much as to spring it upon an unsuspecting population in such a massive and coordinated attack that the world is shocked into passiveness? Who would do such a thing?
We lost contact with sixty-five percent of the other bases the day it happened. It came so quick and infected so many that the military had no time to react. Estimates say that about 70 to 75 percent of the population was hit that first mortifying day, and within two days afterward nearly 85% of the country had the disease. That left the remaining percent, the survivors, to fend themselves off against their cannibalistic countrymen. The disease could not spread any further; it only survived in the air for a few days and then died. All remaining traces of it lay within the infected. It is unknown if the disease can be transmitted by human contact, for the infected kill anyone they can get their hands on.
In the weeks after the attack, we realized international efforts to salvage the nation would be nonexistent. Judging by vague radio reports and rumors, the rest of the world had been so horrified, so fearful of the disease that the borders to Canada and Mexico were completely walled off in a vast multinational cooperation. Anyone or anything approaching the walls was shot on site. Nearly all ports had been closed in the Western Hemisphere, and trade was conducted by airlift. That was all that had been done thus far.
I guess we’ve all grown numb to the fact that the rest of the world isn’t going to help us. That happens, I’ve heard, to soldiers in times of war. They grow numb to the basic idea that any minute they could be shot or blown up. No use fearing something so probable.
In a sense, we are fighting a war. A war for our day-to-day survival.
Somewhere in Nevada
I laid back in the cozy seat of our trusty old sedan, feeling sleep crawl its way over my body. It was Samantha’s turn to drive that day, and my turn to rest.
The sun was out, shining cheeringly over the quiet countryside around us. It was a welcome change. The past couple days it had been raining, casting a gray gloom over the empty world. We had been lucky enough not to spot any infected since we had left Denver.
Samantha and I had tried to hold out as long as we could on the outskirts of the town, hording supplies in quick, panicked drives to supermarkets. We had done everything not to let them smell us, for they were branching out of the city. Then, one day I had accidentally cut my hand. One drop of blood was all it took. They were all over our apartment in seconds. In a mad dash we had escaped, managing only to take my handgun and some food.
From that point on we had been heading towards the Western coast. Our plan was to nab a boat in the first port we found and sail towards Mexico. Along the way, we had stopped wherever we could to gather supplies. Sadly, we had found no other survivors.
I sighed and closed my eyes, the sun warming my face through the window. I needed sleep, badly. But whenever I closed my eyes...
I saw them. Jack and Rob, my best friends, running through the streets of Denver. Screaming that ghoulish howl, in chase of an unfortunate toddler. Blood and saliva dribbled from their chins, and bits of human flesh were stuck in their insane smiles. I had witnessed things that in-themselves proved the inexistence of any kind god.
“ Can’t sleep?” Samantha asked.
I opened my eyes. “ Yeah...I still see them. I can’t get it out of my head...”
“ I’m sorry, Reese. I wish there was something I could do.”
“ You’re doing fine. Just being here, staying alive, is everything I could ask for from you.”
“ Aww, thanks love.”
I smiled wearily. Samantha and I had been through a lot together. Not just this...apocalypse. We had been in love since we were in high school. When we graduated, we moved away from our parents and lived together, instead of going to college. Neither of us had spoken to our parents since.
Things were rough for the first year, but we managed to make it. Just as stability had even become a part of our vocabulary, the world fell apart.
The first day of the End was probably the most terrifying day of my life. I remember looking out at the city, and seeing this sickly green cloud just sitting on top of it. People were flooding away from it in their overloaded cars, some of them coughing and hacking as they sat in the dead traffic. News reports told us nothing, except to stay in our homes. The government was in chaos, for most of Washington DC had fallen victim to this green cloud.
At night, the screams came. Samantha and I had been sitting in front of the TV, waiting for any updates. Then, we heard a noise so frightening that I had broken into a cold sweat the moment I noticed it. It was if the entire city was howling, screaming in fury and despair. Like a chorus of damned souls. And almost as soon as the screams started, the TV cut off. The radio cut off as well. We had no link with the rest of the world.
Unsure of what to do, we holed up in the apartment for as long as we could. But, that obviously did not last. Three days later, we have reached Nevada. Escape is not far.
Bluestone Army Base
PFC Graham Daniels
Corporal Johansen killed himself today. His note said he had lost everything worth living for. Which made me wonder, why do we go on surviving? There are 16 men here, 16 grunts that cannot further the species, cannot escape their hopeless situation. There is no point to us. We have no country left to defend, no civilians to protect. No prayers that have been answered. We kill the civilians now. Is that a sin? Will we go to hell, or has it come to us already?
I haven’t slept in days. And I imagine I won’t be for some time. Johansen shot himself in the face, and like that they smelled the blood. Fredrick and Smith, on patrol, were attacked immediately. We heard their tortured cries as they pounded on the walls of the hangar. They weren’t begging to get in or for us to save them. They were begging for us to kill them. It must’ve taken at least half an hour before they stopped making noise.
Once the infected finished feeding, they began trying to smash their way into the hangar. They started screaming when they reached us and haven’t stopped in the ten hours that’s passed since. We have to shout to talk to each other over those god-awful demons.
It’s like someone took all the bad things in the world and made it into their voices.
Kowalski canceled all patrols and his idea for a supply raid. I suppose now our days are really numbered. I’m not sure if they will be able to make their way inside here or not. Hopefully, they will starve or freeze to death by the winter.
Pacific Cliffs, California
I couldn’t help but smile as we passed by the sign at the front of town. It read: “ WELCOME AND ENJOY YOUR STAY AT PACIFIC CLIFFS, CALIFORNIA!”
We stopped at the top of the hill overlooking the little fishing village. Several unattended boats were floating on a long doc running off from a serene beach. A gorgeous sun was setting into a crystalline ocean, leaving a trail of pinks and reds and oranges in the clouds above it. Samantha and I looked into each other’s eyes.
After all these stressful days, she was still gorgeous as ever. Her golden hair, falling in waves to her shoulders, was still soft as I ran my hand through it. Her eyes, though tired, were still like shining emeralds. And her lips still tasted like sugar as I kissed her.
“ We made it!” I exclaimed, and we kissed again.
To our right, an unpaved road led up a narrow cliff to a lighthouse that was sitting at least two hundred feet up. For a town named Pacific Cliffs, that appeared to be the only cliff.
“ That would probably be the safest place to stay for the night, don’t you think? It’s furthest from the town, so there’s less of a chance that any of the infected could get to us. Plus there’s only one road leading up to it, so we’d see anything coming.” Samantha suggested.
“ Good point.” I said, and turned the car towards the road.
I recklessly sped up to the lighthouse, fearful of being in the open past sunset. The sun was almost completely dissolved into the ocean, leaving only a creepy, dim orange glow over everything. It would be dark in a matter of minutes.
I brought the sedan to a halt a few feet from the closed doors to the lighthouse.
“ Stay here for a minute.” I said to Samantha, grabbing my .45 caliber handgun out of the glove box.
My heartbeat rose almost exponentially as I approached the rotten doors of the brick structure. My vision was all in orange, as if someone had placed goggles over my eyes. The world suddenly seemed unnatural. Something wasn’t right.
I took a breath, holding my gun up for easy aiming.
Nothing will be behind that door. Just an empty building. I repeated that to myself.
Better yet, how about a huge stash of marijuana and keys to an airplane.
I placed my hand on the door handle and counted down in my head.
I will go inside in...
The door exploded in a cloud of splinters.
That haunting noise, the sound of Death, pierced my ears as something snatched hold of me with such might I felt like I would implode under the pressure.
Screaming. All I could hear was that horrible screaming.
A stench filled my nostrils. It smelled like rotten fruit. Decay.
Hot breath sprayed into my nose, and I wanted to vomit.
I opened my eyes and saw the roaring mouth of an infected. A long drop of pinkish saliva dripped onto my cheek.
I yelled in despair and stuck my gun into the abomination’s heart.
Still gazing into the snarling mouth that was about to descend on my face, I pulled the trigger.
The sound was deafening.
The force of the shot launched the infected off of me. I had six rounds left. Quickly I got to my feet, just as it was up and preparing to lunge at me again.
I fired another round into the chest, but it didn’t appear to phase the monster.
It leapt forward, hands stretched outward.
I shot once again, this time aiming for the forehead. I was no marksman, but this was close range and my bullet hit its mark.
With a wet splattering noise, the creature abruptly stopped howling and fell into me.
I threw the dead weight off of me and wiped its drool off my face. Then I vomited.
“ Oh God, Reese, are you okay?” Samantha cried. She was out of the car, rushing towards me.
“ Yeah,” I said weakly, “ I’ll be alright.”
I wiped my mouth and face once again. If there was anything else in the lighthouse, it would’ve come out by now.
“ Come on, let’s get inside before it’s completely dark.” I took Samantha’s hand and walked back to the car to begin unloading.
Bluestone Army Base
PFC Graham Daniels
Night has almost set upon the base, and for the second day since Johansen’s death the demons have not stopped their howling. I feel like my sanity is ticking away with every hour that passes. I haven’t slept in who knows how long.
I don’t even feel conscious. I feel empty, dead. Like my whole life as of late is dream. Or a nightmare. I can’t get their screaming out of my brain. I can’t tune it out.
Kowalski and Private Madison got into a fistfight today. Tensions are rising. There is only so much more time before we all go insane, locked up in this place.
Corporal O’Neil seems to find it amusing to cut his hand open and hold it near the walls. He giggles like a little girl when he hears the angry reply of the infected. That really irritates me. Is he just trying to bring them in here?
What’s the use to stop him, though, I guess. They’ll break in here eventually. And we’ll all die brutal, violent deaths. Like Frederick. Like Smith. Like the rest of the people on this base, and in this country.
I envy Johansen.
Pacific Cliffs, California
I awoke on the dusty floor of the lighthouse, next to Samantha. I realized at once I had actually slept. My watch read 11:44 AM. I had slept pretty long, too!
I sat up, checking our barricaded doorway. We had blocked it with several supply crates. I heard no screaming. The morning sounded calm and quiet from where I was. Unusually quiet by normal standards, but it was the kind of creepy silence I had grown accustomed to since the End.
I smiled, thinking to myself how in just a short amount of time, I would be in bustling Mexico. In civilization.
” Good morning, my love.” I whispered softly into Samantha’s ear, and kissed her on the cheek. She opened her eyes, smiling sleepily.
” Good morning. What time is it?”
“ It’s almost noon, actually.”
“ Oh wow. Did you sleep last night?”
“ That’s good.”
“ Yeah it is.” I stretched and yawned. “ We should probably get moving, eh?”
She nodded, yawning too.
We quickly took down our barricade and I stepped outside, scouting around to make sure everything was safe. Once the coast was clear, I motioned for Samantha to come out.
We walked around the lighthouse to the cliff side to take a look at the ocean. Under the bright sunlight, it appeared to be littered with diamonds, bobbing and shimmering. I held Samantha’s hand for a moment as we enjoyed the view.
Then we went back to work. We climbed into the car and took the narrow road back to the sign. Following a paved road this time, we were led down the hill into the unmoving town.
I was grinning excitedly the whole time. We were actually leaving this bad dream.
I took the car straight through town. We didn’t need any more supplies, except for maybe gasoline for a boat. I didn’t want to slow down at all, because I knew that the town couldn’t be completely empty. There were other infected, somewhere. And the less time we spent there, the less chance they had of discovering us.
We reached the dock and I stopped the car on the soft beach. The two of us stepped out, walking unsteadily on the shifting sand.
“ Pick a boat, any boat.” I waved my hand across the dock, at a line of at least twenty different boats.
Samantha giggled and began strolling down the dock. “ Let’s pick out a nice one.”
“ Of course.”
“ With a big engine. And a mini-bar. And a mini-refrigerator.”
She paused, looking at me a little seductively.
“ And a bed.”
I raised my eyebrow and grinned.
She laughed and continued towards the end of the dock. About fifteen rows in, she found the perfect boat. It was pretty big, with a nice looking engine. And most importantly, a cabin with a bed.
“ What are we gonna do about keys?” Samantha asked.
“ Hotwiring a boat can’t be too different from hotwiring a car, can it?”
“ I wouldn’t imagine so.”
“ How about you start getting the supplies and I’ll see about getting this thing started and how much gas we’ll need. It’s not that far to Mexico...I think.”
Samantha turned and started to walk away.
“ Wait, Samantha.”
“ Take this.” I held out my gun.
She nodded, taking the weapon from me and tucking it into the waistband of her skirt. We kissed once, and she headed back towards the car.
I hopped into the boat and knelt down by the wheel to see what it would take to hotwire it. I really hoped it wouldn’t be too hard. We were so close to escaping.
Samantha made three trips, loading gasoline, food, and some extra clothes we had picked up. We really didn’t have a whole lot. I imagined our boat ride wouldn’t be that long, so we wouldn’t need to stock up on tons of stuff. I hoped, at least.
Samantha made one more trip as I grew increasingly frustrated with the mechanics of the boat. I was crouched down, prying away at panels with a screwdriver she had brought me.
Then I heard a scream. It belonged to Samantha.
I jumped to my feet immediately, the boat rocking. I heard another scream, one that no human should ever make.
I saw my girlfriend on the beach, preparing to draw the pistol. An infected was closing in on her fast. Others would be coming soon.
By the time I had made it out of the boat and onto the dock, it had already tackled her.
I ran so hard my legs felt like they would turn to mush and my heart would explode. And I kept running that hard. I would not let my gorgeous Samantha fall victim to one of those things.
She was wailing now, crying out in utter pain. Her assailant had stopped screaming. I fearfully realized that was because it was eating her.
My clattering footsteps roared down the dock and soon I was onto the uneven sand. Samantha was laying not far from the car, and already blood was staining the white beach. The infected was still tearing at her ruthlessly.
My rage boiled up inside me, becoming a fury like I had never felt. I roared like one of them. For that moment, I had become a monster.
With all my might I punched the thing across its disgusting, blood-caked face. It fell off of Samantha, temporarily stunned.
I jumped over to the creature and straddled it. Screaming with pure, unadulterated hatred I began pounding down on the thing. I smashed my fists into its ugly, howling countenance over and over.
Blood and bone fragments flung up and sprayed across my shirt. I kept beating against the fucker, again and again and again.
Then I stopped and looked down. All that was left of its head was a pulpy, crushed in shell.
I looked over at my Samantha. She wasn’t moving. Her throat was torn open.
“ Oh God...” I murmured. “ Oh God!”
I crawled over to my beautiful, beautiful Samantha. She had made it so far. She couldn’t die now. She couldn’t be dead. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair.
“ Samantha...Why?!” I crumpled over her, sobbing, repeating to myself, “ Oh God!”
Another unearthly scream ripped through the town. There was fresh human blood exposed. They would be swarming in a second.
I composed myself a little and stood. “ You fuckers aren’t taking this one. You can’t have her!”
I tucked my handgun in my waistband and began dragging her towards the dock. As I passed by the dead infected, I saw something glint in the sun.
It was a key to a boat.
I picked up Samantha and carried her on my shoulder, taking the key with me.
More infected howled across the city.
Once I reached the boat, I laid Samantha down gently in the cabin and tested the key.
The engine whirred to life. It had ¾ of a tank of gas to run on. Good enough.
I pulled away from the town and headed south. I didn’t look back.
Bluestone Army Base
PFC Graham Daniels
I couldn’t take it anymore. Corporal O’Neil had driven those things into frenzy, oozing his blood all over the place. They were going to break in.
So I killed him. I shot him right in the back of the head. I saved him from a horrible death and gave him a quick, painless one.
The others weren’t really sure what to do. They were equally annoyed with O’Neil’s playing. But they felt they had to do something, so they locked me in Sergeant Kowalski’s office.
I actually kind of like it in here. The endless screaming is a little subdued. But today, after I killed O’Neil and after he had bled all over the place, they have been louder and more violent than ever. I can’t imagine what it must be like outside.
Johansen’s body is in here, because we couldn’t take it outside. I can smell him rotting away. The lucky bastard died before things even began to get that bad.
I wonder now whether I should kill myself and save myself from being torn apart by one of those hell spawn, or wait to see what happens. I believe it is only a matter of hours before they will get inside our hangar. And all because of O’Neil.
Or maybe it is my fault because I killed him. He did get blood everywhere when I shot him. More blood than he had been letting out of his palm. Maybe I deserve to be torn apart.
The line between the real world and what is a dream is completely blurred to me. I am seeing things. Dead people, people who were ripped to pieces by those things long ago. What is happening to me? I lost count of how many days it’s been since I have slept.
Something’s happening outside the office. Everyone is getting stirred up about something. I have a perfect view of the hangar doors from here.
They’re all gathered around the doors, pointing at them with their guns. The doors are pulsating like there is some giant heart behind them.
This is it. The infected are coming in.
I hear Kowalski shout, “ They’ve broken through!”
There’s a crash and the portal is open. The infected are flooding through faster than we can put them down. Their screams are much louder now.
I don’t wanna die like this.
Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean near Mexico
Mexico was within sight when I woke up, after about three hours of sleep. The past couple days had been smudged together, separated only by minimal or no sleep.
I felt empty by the time I saw the Mexican port. My escape was nothing without Samantha. I wasn’t even excited. I might as well have died back in Pacific Cliffs.
The boat drifted closer and closer to the dock, bobbing ever so gently on the waves of the Pacific. The sun was bright, almost blinding over the blue sea and white shanties of the town I was approaching.
I saw several people gathering on the dock. A welcome party for survivors?
I would probably be quarantined and poked and prodded. But I didn’t care. I was nothing without the one I loved.
I was about twenty yards from the nearest dock. I stood up in the boat, so the welcome party could see me.
They shouted something at me in Spanish, pointing at me.
Then I saw guns being raised. Rifles.
The welcome party was dressed in uniforms. Military or police, probably. I held up my hands, but they continued pointing fingers and rifles.
I looked at what they were pointing at. My shirt. It was still covered in the dry blood of the infected I had killed.
The boat was less than thirty feet from the dock. The men appeared a bit alarmed and were arguing amongst each other about something. Several still had their rifles trained on me.
One, apparently an authority, jabbed another accusing finger at me and shouted a single command order.
Before I could realize what he had said, the men opened fire. Bullets zipped and crackled past me, tearing holes in the boat.
And then, I was hit.
The force, terribly painful in my chest, knocked me to the floor. Breathing suddenly became a chore, and I took deep, quick, gasps. I coughed blood. A patch of red was growing on my t-shirt.
Before I faded away, I had one last thought.
I had escaped the nightmare, and so had Samantha.