I grew up on the East Coast, living a fairly quiet life. I was on the track team at high school and somehow fell into an urban courier job to try to put myself through college. I felt a bit aimless, but running kept me sane. Under the suggestion of my then-girlfriend, I took up orienteering. When we broke up, I fell out of orienteering, but into urban exploration. Running through abandoned buildings and through drainage systems was my life. Not a particularly glamorous or worthwhile life, but it was all I had.
Then the outbreak occurred. My father, an old Vietnam Vet, pressured me to join the forces "to get some direction and to help those poor bastards". It seemed appealing, and I had no better plans for my life. As if in a dream, I signed up as a reserve, solely to help in "The Malton Incident". The reality of it all only caught up with me at about 5,000 ft as I parachuted into Malton with the rest of my division. From up there, I could see the burning rubble, the mindless sweep of zombies through the smoke haze and the desperate eastward escape of survivors. I panicked. I split from my division, and tried to guide my chute towards the quarantine line. Cruel fate then intervened. Survivors had seen our drop and had fired flares wildly into the sky, trying to get our attention. The flares tore through my comrades, setting them and their chutes ablaze. They plummeted to the streets below, screaming for a short while, and then stopping.
My chute had been torn through, and I descended rapidly. I tossed gear aside, trying to gain buoyancy so I didn't turn into a smear on the blighted landscape. As the quarantine line disappeared behind looming buildings, I tried to guide myself to safety. While still 50 feet in the air, my chute completely disintegrated and I fell, crashing through some roof. Miraculously, I had survived. Most of my gear had been lost, but I still had my trusty set of binoculars. My radio was busted and I was defenceless. But I had my feet. Instinct took over and I bolted through the streets, snatching up whatever I could find, and moving on. In the panic to find my bearings, I had even run headlong into a pair of wandering zombies, bouncing off their pallid, cold flesh. Before they had realised what had happened, I was gone.
I've spent the last few weeks scavenging for supplies and building up my confidence. I've run into the Pescodside Defense Alliance a few times. I think once I feel confident, I might apply to join their ranks. At the moment, however, I skim from building to building, attempting quick strike attacks on lost zombies. I've killed one so far. I'm still trying to shake that look it gave me - that cold, soulless look that nevertheless had that sparkle of civilization and intelligence. I've heard radio chatter suggesting there are swarms, no, waves of zombies to the west, smashing through everything in their path. I fear the day they find Pescodside. I hope I'll be ready.
It never fails to surprise me how fear brings experience. The last few weeks have been a blur of buildings zipping by, snap attacks on zombies, fear, panic and destruction. My scavenging runs have yielded small successes. I've found firearms, but when I've tried to use them, the fear takes over, my hands shake and I become as useless as a just-off-the-streets green. But it was different when I found my fireaxe... I had stumbled into a darkened fire station and flailed around, still instinctively searching for a light switch despite the fact that there was still no power. My hand found the smooth, steady handle and I hefted the fireaxe in my hand. The weight and viciousness was what my fear-addled mind had been looking for in security. I now bounded through the streets with a raw and angry purpose. True, the first few swings of the axe struck clumsily on roaming zombies, but I had that burning rage instead of the nervous fear I had before.
But my confidence isn't total. On the 11th of March 2008, a team of four zombies had somehow brought down the barricades and streamed into our safehouse. I panicked and struck out at one of the zombies. Another had slipped behind me and bit down on my shoulder, the wound immediately frothing with their virulent sickness. I swung and hit it with my axe and fled down the hallway, leaping out the window at the end. I ducked, fell through a window next door and rolled to a stop. I found another group of survivors and burst in, panting, "Zeds next door! Help us!" I spat out blood. "Help me! I'm infected." I passed out. I remember two blurry survivors patching me up, injecting me with serums and generally looking after me. When I had got my strength back, I made my way back to my safe house. The survivors there (toughened by months, maybe years, of zombie experience) had cleaned up the attackers and rebuilt the barricades. That quiet confidence and indefatigable intent has awed me.
Since then I've been quietly scouting the area, making my way into parts of Rolt Heights and Dunningwood on occasions. My proficiency with the fireaxe has grown, although I've been watching the other survivors, getting tips on barricade construction and how to effectively revive zombies back into human form. I don't feel comfortable attempting that at the moment, but I'm endeavouring to learn all I can to help out my fellow man. Rumours of vast, hungry armies of zombies to the south haunt my dreams. They sweep through south Malton, but not cleansing like a fire, but infecting, ruining, hungering. Quietly, I don't know if I'll survive. I'll do all I can, but what is one determined but fearful mind against a thousand rotten ones?
This month, The Dead came to Pescodside. Perched atop the Inman Building, I could see an advancing wave of chaos, dust and ruin. Men and women abandoning their safe havens, fighting through the thick masses of undead. Too many were swallowed up in a tangle of claws and teeth. I saw groups holding firm in buildings, determined to fight off the invasion. A scout and I exchanged intel, sitting out of our respective windows, signalling via binoculars. I asked about the south. He said, "Too many." I told him to come north, safety in numbers and all that. He just shook his head. Dunningwood lay between us, and he motioned, "Sniper". I thought that was good - some covering fire for the fleeing masses. Again he shook his head. "Crazy sniper. Kill us." I froze. Surely not. Had someone snapped under the pressure and just shot indiscriminantly? I had heard rumours of killers out to the west stabbing survivors in their sleep, tearing down barricades and running as zombies poured in. I motioned to my scout friend, "Take him out?" I looked at my supplies. A pistol, a few flare guns, and an assortment of ammunition. I couldn't do it myself - my hand was still too shaky to take a bead on anything but the easiest of targets. The other scout shook his head. They were dedicated to staying, rolling swarm of zombies or not.
The next morning, he was gone. The windows were shattered and traced with blood. One floor had collapsed under the pressing weight of undead. Bodies lay strewn in the street. Later, they stirred. They joined the ranks shambling north, towards us. That grey-green crush. It sickened me. It terrified me. Some stopped in the streets and seemed to laugh. Workers, businessmen, mothers, teachers, firemen, policemen, priests. All dead but moving. Moving north. I abandoned my post and quietly gathered supplies.
"We've got to get the fuck out!" screamed someone. "People are saying there's a bunch of survivors in Rolt Heights. Everyone has to go there!" Twenty, maybe thirty of us survivors stood in a laboratory in Inman. Many stood looking at their feet, their eyes heavy from lack of sleep. I stood in the back, leaning on some disused piece of equipment. In the middle, sat members of the Pescodside Defence Alliance. "After they come to Pesco, Rolt is next. There's no point in moving." "Can we hold them off?" "There's thousands of them. We just have to do our best." The guy was shocked. "Go to Rolt, then! We can fight back!" The PDA just shook their heads. Others joined, their shoulders slumped in lost hope. "Fuck you all then! I'm off!" He stormed out, slamming the glass door behind him. One or two others followed him, quietly. I resumed my post upstairs.
They were already here. But, it seemed, they weren't here to feed. They were refugees seeking revival. Some of those fleeing to Rolt Heights ran into this first wave. One man panicked, swinging a crowbar wildly. In hungry anger, they closed in on him. The last thing I saw of him was an arm outstretched above the green flesh, holding aloft a flare gun. The flare shot off into the sky but it was too late. The arm soon sunk under the writhing limbs and his scream joined the horrible choir of the city.
I decided to stay. Deep down, I knew I would die. Only by the greatest of luck could I manage to avoid the hordes. I had used up all my luck in not dying in the air drop. This was the end of the line for me. I said goodbye to my family and all the people I had loved. I sighed.
I was in the laboratory at the time. We could hear the moans downstairs. That flat, packing sound of dead limbs battering against the barricades. Then, all of a sudden, there was the sound of a building being torn in two and they rushed in. One caught sight of me in the hallway. It grinned a mouth of broken teeth. I took its nasty jaw off with one desperate swing of my axe. Another grabbed onto my arm and raked its claws along my shoulder. I kicked them back and fled. I bolted through hallways, dragging my bloody axe behind me. My body pumped pure adrenaline. I leapt out of the third floor window, out into the cool night air. I hit the roof of the factory next door and rolled. I lay flat on my back, grimacing in pain. I had fallen onto my axe and gouged the flesh of my other shoulder. As I lay panting, I could hear Pescodside falling. Someone jumped out of the top floor of Inman, screaming as he fell, and stopping with a grotesque crack. Safety I thought. Where to? My mind went back to a conversation I had overheard. Three guys, quietly panicking, discussed the best place to go "when they came". "Junkyards. They never go to junkyards. And there's supplies if you just know where to look." "Nah, the cops. They've got guns." I rolled to my knees. Over the parapet, I could see Groser PD on fire. My brain was still sodden with adrenaline, so I got to my feet and aimed myself towards the junkyard near Foulkes Street. Breathing pure pain, I slid down a ladder to the street. A zombie shambled along Sands Road, moaning in hunger. I fled to the park, hoping to use the trees as cover. I flicked through the shadows, running as fast as I could without stumbling. The trees cleared and I could see the junkyard through the fence. Two zombies shook the fences to the junkyard. I stopped dead. My plan to stay there was shattered. Out of the darkness, a zombie lunged at me and I spun, dropping the axe blade deep into its thigh. Over its shoulder I could see the pale white lights of St Bartholomew's hospital. I ran towards them, everything turning to shadows and blurs.
Thirty odd survivors were inside. I scrambled to find a first aid kit. Wracked with pain, I collapsed on a bed. The last thing I saw was a room full of nervous survivors staring over at me, saying nothing.
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