Johan Dietrich Stahl was born on April 2nd, 1975 in Tarasius General Hospital in the Malton suburb of Spicer Hills, a few weeks after his Dutch-English mother Apollonia Kruysveldt van Geverick (nicknamed Polly) was committed there after having been diagnosed with schizophrenia. After his birth, he was taken to the family's home in Rollings Road by his heart-broken father Wolfram Nepomuk Stahl, a German immigrant who was born and bred in the small rural village of Kraudorf in the west of Germany. Wolfram found himself unable to care for his infant son by himself, since he always had to work long hours to support his family. Although his wife was descended from an old Dutch noble family, Wolfram could not rely on his wife's funds to help him out, as the family had lost its fortune over the centuries, primarily by gambling and poor money management - but the last straw had been the rather costly divorce of Polly's grandfather Grimbert Kruysveldt van Geverick from his first wife Cunera Breyvensroth (his second wife, Odilia van Annendael, would become Polly's grandmother). Therefore, shortly after his baptism in St. Onuphrius's Church on April 4th, 1975, baby Johan was temporarily sent to live with his maternal aunt, her husband and two children in Baston Street in the suburb of Hollomstown. He would live there for two years, during which time Johan never saw his mother: she remained institutionalised until she took her own life not long after Johan's first birthday. A little over a year after that tragic event, Johan's father - who had visited his young son every Sunday - remarried with Irishwoman Florentina McTeer and was then finally able to take his son to live with him. Johan's stepmother, who had been divorced by her previous husband after it was discovered that she was unable to have any children of her own, became the doting mother Johan had never had - while he became the son she had always longed for.
Johan, nicknamed Jonathan by his stepmother only, spent the first part of his formative years in Spicer Hills, where he attended the local primary school called Slocombe Plaza School. The financial situation of the family began to improve in those years, because Wolfram had founded the steel company Stahl Industries, which turned out to be a good move: from the start, it had been a well-functioning enterprise, slowly flourishing more and more each year. In the summer after Johan had finished primary school, the Stahl family relocated to Kerby Street in the suburb of Crowbank. There, Johan would attend a secondary school named Brogan Boulevard School, where he acquired the nickname J.D. By the time Johan was about to graduate from Brogan Boulevard, the Stahl family had become one of the most affluent in Malton. After graduation, Johan moved to Dublin in Ireland in order to attend University College Dublin, where he majored in Engineering.
After completing university, Johan moved back to Malton, bringing with him his fiancée Luciliana Demyanovna Christova, whom he had met at university. Born in Saint Petersburg (in what was then Soviet Russia) to Demyan Naumovich Christov and Nikodima Alekseyevna Prokhorova, she was a talented foreign exchange student, who had majored in History with English as a minor. The young couple settled in an apartment on Oakley Drive in the suburb of Penny Heights. They eventually married on August 8th, 2000 in St. Jude's Cathedral in the suburb of Molebank, which Luciliana thought was the most beautiful place of Malton to marry in. Their family was soon expanded with the birth of their son Rupert Wolfram Stahl on December 13th, 2001 in Odo General Hospital. Later, in 2003, after it was discovered that Luciliana was expecting twins, the young family relocated to a house in Atkinson Street in Starlingtown, because they figured that their apartment was going to be too small for three young children and a dog (a pug, Rocco). Ultimately, on November 20th, 2003, fraternal twins Henry Christopher Stahl and Florentina Nikodima Stahl (nicknamed Flora) were born in St. Alban's Hospital. Luciliana soon found that it was too difficult to keep working as a History teacher now that the twins were there, so she decided to quit working until they were old enough to attend primary school. She was quite happy to be able to give her children her full attention now that she was a stay-at-home-mum, not missing a second of their development - and when she had a minute to spare, she would devote herself to her guilty pleasure, which was writing poetry.
Meanwhile, Johan held a respectable job - which was more than adequate to support his young family - at the headquarters of his father's company, which was the Blacker Building in Spicer Hills. He had won the job because of his talent and capabilities, not because he happened to be the son of the owner of Stahl Industries. His father Wolfram, who had never forgotten his humble roots, made certain that his only son had to work hard for everything in his life, in order to keep him grounded. And so Johan enjoyed a slow, stable career instead of a lightning career, enabling him to learn all the ropes, so that he would be more than prepared when someday it was time for him to take over the company. In the meantime, though, he enjoyed life as much as he could with his family, because of all the things on earth, that was the most important to him.
That is, in general, how life was for the Stahl family until the zombie outbreak in Malton (commonly known as the Malton Incident) on Sunday, July 3rd, 2005. On that fateful day, the weather had been so agreeable that the family had gone out to picnic in Goodday Park, but after about an hour, the picnic was rudely interrupted by a few zombies entering the park and killing people, which sent every human in the park into a complete panic. After Johan had gathered the twins in his strong arms while Luciliana held on tightly to little Rupert, the family ran like madmen to their car, which was fortunately parked nearby. They then raced to their home, but when they found that zombies were wandering around in Atkinson Street as well (just like in nearly all of the other streets that they had driven through), Johan realised that the situation was very grave. He ordered his wife to take herself and the children to safety by going to his maternal aunt who lived just outside of Scarborough, because Johan wanted to take his motorbike out of his garage and go to his parents' place in order to help to bring them to safety. Luciliana strongly protested to this, as she did not want to leave her husband alone in Malton, and neither did she fancy to drive through the zombie-infested streets all by herself. But he managed to convince her, and after a quick but tearful goodbye, Luciliana sped off to Scarborough.
Wasting no time, Johan took his motorbike and raced to Kerby Street in Crowbank. When he finally arrived in the street, his heart skipped a beat out of fright because there were a lot of zombies there already as well. Once he had reached his parental house, Johan became even more scared when he saw that his father's expensive Mercedes was still parked in the driveway. He hastily parked his motorbike and rushed inside after finding the front door ajar, only to be met with the most horrible, unimaginable sight that he had ever had the misfortune to encounter: there his father was, munching on his beloved stepmother's brains. Her face severely mutilated, she appeared dead to Johan, even though her fingers jerkily twitched every now and then. There was blood everywhere on the expensive Persian carpet that Johan had given his stepmother for last year's Christmas. Finding his delicious meal disturbed by the noise of Johan's entering the house, Wolfram - whose back had been facing Johan - turned his head to look at his son and let out an inhuman growl. His eyes were a misty white, as if he had suddenly contracted glaucoma, and his pale face was covered in the blood of his wife. Trembling heavily and feeling very weak in his knees, Johan could no longer think and reacted on pure instinct: he scrambled out of the house, got on his motorbike and drove like the devil was on his heels (and in a way, it was). Fending off zombies while driving here and there, he managed to reach the borders of Malton, only to find that giant walls had been put up by the British military in no time. Helicopters were flying everywhere, and it soon became very clear that Malton was going to be quarantained and that no one was allowed to get in or leave. Of course many Maltonians were protesting at this and were throwing profanities and hard objects at the military, but the army did not budge and did not hesitate to shoot civilians if they came too close.
Being smart enough to realise that there was no way that he could pass through the cordon set up by the military and that the zombies would soon be among the angry Maltonians, Johan hastily turned around and drove back into the city, finding himself a safehouse to survive in. He would soon find that since zombies could quite efficiently break down the barricades surrounding safehouses, his daily routine was going to be as follows: always having to be on the move in order to stay alive. Like many Maltonians, he was initially hopeful that this dangerous situation was going to be quickly dealt with by the military, that he would soon be brought to safety and be reunited with his beloved family. But as the days wore on, he was forced to come to the realisation that the outside world had left every Maltonian to die, for the greater good. Rationally, Johan could understand this very well - but emotionally, it was an extremely bitter pill to swallow. But at least it was bearable, in the beginning, because he was able to maintain contact with his very concerned family through his mobile phone. But it didn't take all that long before it got smashed by a zombie while Johan was on the run for it, thus leaving him completely cut off from his family. That felt like he had been stabbed in his heart, leaving Johan feeling quite suicidal. But one day, before he had had the chance to gather enough courage to off himself, Johan found a working mobile phone in a building, as if The Powers That Be had other things for him in mind. For the first time in days, he was able to talk to his wife again, and they both cried like a baby when that happened. He was sent pictures of her and the children through the mobile phone, so that he had extra moral support and something to hold on to in the hellhole that was now Malton. If he hadn't had to mind the phone's batteries, he would have talked with his wife endlessly or looked at his family's pictures forever, but he could not. He could only be very economical with his phone and make sure to search for other ones and keep a stash of them, and so he did.
For months, he was able to keep in touch with his family, but mobile phones grew increasingly harder to find and after Johan had died and been revivified for the very first time, he decided that it was best to cut off all contact with his family. He was certain that he was not going to come out of the quarantaine alive, that one day he was going to stay dead for good, and he didn't want to keep his family waiting for his return, because there was no hope left. He knew that they all suffered out of worry for him and that they could not move on as long as he kept them waiting for him. It was not right to keep putting them through this. So, one day, he called Luciliana to tell her tearfully that this was going to be his last phone call, that he wanted her to move on and find a new man to make her happy. He desired for the children to not have to grow up without a father, convinced that Luciliana would find a man who would be as good to them as his own stepmother had been to him. It was a heart-breaking phone call, with Luciliana tearfully begging him not to do this, but Johan persisted, telling her that he wanted to be able to say goodbye in a dignified manner while he still could. He requested that she put the mobile phone on speaker so that he could talk to all three of his children at the same time, which Luciliana obliged. It cost Johan great effort not to break down while talking to his children, who were far too young to fully realise the gravity of the situation and didn't know that they were never going to see their father again. But he managed it alright, after which Luciliana turned the speaker function off and exchanged very emotional 'I love you's' with Johan, after which he finally hung up the phone. He cried for the longest time after that, finally falling asleep in his safehouse.
He remained depressed and suicidal for quite some time after that, but eventually he found that he did not have it in himself to catch the bus to the great beyond. So, he kept on living (occasionally dying and getting revivified), becoming increasingly more traumatised by everything that he had seen and experienced in Malton, eventually losing most - if not all - capacity for feel. He became nothing but a shell of his former self. While torturous in itself, the thought of his family kept him sane somehow: daydreaming about them allowed him to pretend that this harsh reality was not real, even if it was for just a moment. Apart from that, he tried to think as little as possible, focusing solely on the struggle to survive - if he thought too much about everything, he surely would become insane.
To this day, that is what Johan's life is like. After having moved all over Malton during all these years, he recently settled in the suburb of Starlingtown permanently and joined (on November 24th, 2008, to be precise) the South Paynterton Aces. His quality of life has improved a little bit since, but not all that much. Like a lone wolf, he had kept a lot to himself and had little human interaction during all those years, so he kind of needs to relearn to function in a group with humans. He is quiet and mostly speaks only when spoken to, therefore remaining quite a mystery to his fellow group members, to whom he is known as only Stahl. But they respect his privacy, knowing that he at least has to be as traumatised as them. As long as he contributes to their group in a positive manner, they don't mind his brooding silence and generally leave him be. And that's just how Johan likes it.
Johan has a heart-shaped, slightly feminine (or boyish, if you will) face with steely blue eyes, which unfortunately does not reflect his gentle nature very well: everything is so shaped that he often appears as cold and distant without actually intending to. His hair is short, dark brown and rather curly, and he is of average height.
He has always liked to dress modestly yet stylishly, which never failed to get him noticed by the opposite sex. After the zombie outbreak in Malton, one will nearly always encounter him in black attire, which is not only meant to be a kind of symbol of mourning for what he has lost; it has also proved quite helpful in the struggle to survive.
Before the zombie outbreak, when life was mostly pleasant and stable for Johan, one would describe him as a gentle, sensitive yet relatively quiet man with a studious nature and a slight tendency for perfectionism. He had a natural ability for astuteness, which often proved to be very useful both at work and at home, helping him to maintain a healthy relationship with both. He was a loving and loyal husband to his wife and a doting father to his children, often sacrificing himself for them in both small and great ways.
He did not have many friends, as he preferred to have a handful of close friends instead of a large circle of superficial friends - he was a rather private man who could *appear* open while really remaining quite guarded, which often led people to mistakenly think that they were genuine friends with him.
One could say that Johan changed for the worst after the zombie outbreak, like many Maltonians with him: cut off from his family and completely on his own in a city infested with zombies, Johan quickly became a hardened man. He has become even more quiet than he already was and is hardly able to feel anything at all, which is probably his mind's defense mechanism for coping with these extraordinary circumstances. One is more likely to catch him dead than to catch him smiling genuinely. Like a human robot, he now only focuses on staying alive and nothing else, allowing little room for anything else. It is severely doubtful that, should he ever be rescued from this hell on earth and be reunited with his family again, he will ever be the same again: there are some wounds that can never be quite healed again. Maybe it is he himself, and not the zombies, that will someday cause his (permanent) death.
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