Thank you to all who have been keeping up with this blog. If you are interested in seeing more of the world that Barnett Jane lives in, check out my novel, The Immortal And The Dead, at the link provided above. You can also find information about the novel, and my other work, on my website: http://www.scottamehlman.com.
Monthly Archives: October 2013
It rained pretty much all day today. Since I couldn’t do any burning, I started searching the apartments I had already cleared more thoroughly. At first it felt odd going through other people’s belongings, even though I knew they were dead. But then my feelings morphed, wavering from simple curiosity, to a kind of excited delinquency, on to an outright voyeuristic iniquity, and then back again depending on what I happened to be picking through at the time. The fact that no one would be showing up to catch me in the act probably provided me with a sense of safety and freedom that made the whole experience more entertaining than it would have been had I thought someone could walk in at any moment.
The only items that I found so far of real value (“real value” now taking on a whole new meaning in this new world I’m living in) were another pistol and two boxes of ammunition. There was also a cleaning kit with the gun, but I have no idea how to clean a gun. I’m really going to have to find some books on… well, pretty much everything. It seems that very little I have learned in school has prepared me for truly living on my own. I had always thought that, “living on my own,” meant having my own apartment, job, life away from my parents; but it turns out that isn’t even close.
Shit, I’ve been trying very hard not to think about my parents. I’m originally from Lincoln, Nebraska. My parents, of course, called me shortly after word of the pandemic came out. But then the virus spread quickly up either coast before moving inland, and cell service became pretty sketchy by the second day. They were okay the last time I talked to them, but then I became sick, and sort of assumed they would too. I don’t know now if either of them survived. I really don’t believe they would want me to risk myself trying to get to Lincoln, even if one of them is still alive, though the odds really seem to be against that. Damn it…
(To read more about this world, and to find out how the pandemic began, check out my novel, The Immortal And The Dead on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/The-Immortal-And-Dead-Virus-ebook/dp/B00F1JD49O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383157438&sr=8-1&keywords=the+immortal+and+the+dead)
I got the water barrels up to the roof just as it was starting to rain. They are the blue plastic kind that hold 55 gallons, and have a spigot near the bottom that a hose can be attached to. I only have the six at the moment, but probably should get more. Watching them fill slowly, I recognized that I needed a way to collect more than just the rain that fell straight down into them. On my trip out yesterday, I had grabbed a few tarps from the Army surplus store. It took a little work, but I got the tarps hung so that rain would collect on them and run down into the barrels.
I had been up on the roof many times before the pandemic hit, but it was so different this time. Standing up there, looking over the city through the curtain of rain, with only the sound of the monotonous patter of it falling around me to be heard, I was filled with a sort of eerie dread. Seattle had been one of the arguably nicest cities in the country, and now it was both figuratively, and literally, dead. It had been so easy to take for granted what life had been like living, not only in this city, but in this country, and even in this day and age. Prior to the pandemic, everything one needed to sustain life was relatively easy to attain, and now, I am completely dependent on myself for everything: shelter, food, water, security; the life ahead of me is quite daunting.
Before I got too melancholy, I tipped my head back and let the cold rain wash over my face. As I opened my mouth to catch some of it, I suddenly wondered how the rain was affecting the zombies. I rushed down to the lobby, and looked out into the street. The rain was falling a little harder, and it was running fairly heavily along the curbs. It makes sense in retrospect, but I really hadn’t been expecting what I saw; I certainly don’t recall seeing anything like it in the movies. The few zombies I could see were all on their hands and knees, one was right in front of my doors with it’s bare ass pointed right at me, and they had their faces in the flowing water. They were drinking.
While they may no longer be entirely human, there is no question that they require food to function “normally.” So it also stands to reason that they would need fluids as well. Though I’m fairly sure at this point that the zombies can’t starve to death, they definitely operate better on a full stomach. Whatever this virus is, it appears to operate under a definite set of rules, and so far as I can tell, with maybe a couple minor exceptions, the zombies and I are playing by those same rules. It just sucks that I have to figure out the rules as I go.
Today I found some weapons and other gear that might come in handy, got half a dozen water barrels for the roof, and was in my first car chase, albeit a short one; all in all a rather full day. I thought it prudent to look for weapons first, and headed over to the Army/Navy surplus store that’s about three blocks down from my building. Besides the standard military surplus, the store also carries a lot of camping and survival gear, and I believe I found just the thing for my zombie killing activities.
You have to keep in mind that though I’m fairly athletic, I’ve never really been an outdoorsman; I generally prefer activities of the indoor variety. Most of the equipment in the store was unfamiliar to me, and I took my time looking it all over. The item that really caught my attention though was a small axe; the packaging said it was a SOG Tactical Tomahawk. The tomahawk is all black, about 16 inches long and weighs about a pound and a half. One end of the tomahawk’s head is a blade just under three inches long, the opposite end is a four inch long by one inch wide pointed spike. I believe that this will be ideal for use against the zombies; I took all six they had.
I immediately removed two of the tomahawks from the packaging, and hooked their sheaths to an army-style belt along with a holster that my pistol fits into. I have to admit, I feel pretty cool with a tomahawk hanging on either hip. The sheaths weren’t designed for quick drawing the tomahawks, even though they are called a “tactical tomahawk,” so I’ll have to figure out something better later, but for the time being they’ll get the job done. I took a bunch other gear that may or may not be useful to me; like everything else, I’ll figure out what I can use by trial and error. The only other thing I found that I knew for sure I could use was several cases of MREs.
My next stop was a lawn and garden supply store. I certainly felt more comfortable moving around outside while seated in a big pick-up truck. It was still a little unnerving having to dodge zombies walking down the middle of the street, I wasn’t going out of my way to run them down for fear of damaging the vehicle and getting stuck, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as being out on the bike. I loaded six plastic rain barrels into the bed of the truck along with several hoses, a few planting boxes, bags of soil and every package of fruit and vegetable seeds I could find. I don’t plan on going all out with the gardening just yet, but I want to at least see what’s possible, and I figured it’s better to take all the seeds now rather than go back later and find them gone.
I was almost back to my place when I saw the car turn onto the street two blocks ahead of me. It was the same one the assholes showed up in a few days ago. I hit my brakes and just sat there for a second. It looked like they were finally coming back to check out my building. I was in the middle of the block and I started backing up slowly, hoping they wouldn’t notice me. There were about two dozen zombies spread out in front of my building; I had sent the monkey out just long enough to pull the zombies to the front, and assumed that since I wasn’t dumping any bodies, they wouldn’t wander back to the alley. Unfortunately, the assholes stopped short of my building, probably not wanting to try to drive through the crowd.
The car, a red BMW of some sort (I’m not a car guy either), did a u-turn just as I was backing into the intersection. The BMW stopped as I swung the wheel to turn up Clay Street. I waited to see what they were going to do, and stomped on the gas pedal as I saw smoke erupt from the tires of their car. Just ahead of me, and to the left, was a parking garage. I whipped the Tacoma into it, and quickly swung the truck to the right and, hopefully, out of sight. Hesitating for a second, I shut the ignition off in case they stopped nearby to listen for engine sounds.
I heard their tires squeal as they turned up Clay. The BMW roared past my hiding spot, and I held my breath as the sound of their engine began to fade. But it didn’t fade away completely. I could still hear it in the distance, and knew that they had stopped. I figured they had probably gone another two streets up, checking either way for me as they crossed through intersections, and knowing they had a much faster vehicle than I did. The question for me then was; would they believe they had lost me and just drive away, or would they backtrack to see if I pulled off somewhere? I didn’t think they would know I was the same person they had shot several days earlier, but I had no idea how hard they would look for me.
The sound of the car engine started getting louder, and I pulled my pistol out. I hadn’t brought the shotgun with me, thinking it would be too cumbersome to carry while I worked; someday I was going to learn a lesson without my life being in peril. I was debating the wisdom of just jumping out and shooting at them when their car rolled past the garage entrance. The BMW stopped, and then turned down the alley next to the parking structure. As it happens, it is the same alley that runs behind my apartment building, but they were going in the opposite direction. I sat in the dark of the parking garage for another 15 minutes before I decided it was safe to leave.
I guess it was more of a game of hide and seek than a car chase; either way, I count myself as the winner, and a very lucky one at that. But I’m pretty sure they’ll be back to play again. I may have to take my chances in a firefight with them; I already know the woman isn’t a very good shot, but I’m going to have to find more ammunition and figure out if I’m any good.
I spent the morning finishing off the building’s top floor. I had one close call when I entered an apartment with two zombies in it, but they were moving pretty slow and I was able to knock them down and finish them of with the axe. I’m trying to conserve what little ammo I have, and the axe has worked fairly well since I’ve only had to take on one zombie at a time. The problem with the axe is that you need room to swing it, and it usually takes at least two swings to kill. It also works better when the zombies are already on the ground; if you swing it like a bat into the side of a zombie’s head, it does some damage and will often knock the things down, but there’s too much give and the axe won’t sink in deep. When you swing the axe over your head, bringing it down into the top of the zombie’s skull (you have to be careful not to hit the ceiling or any hanging light fixtures, yes I’ve done both things) the axe will sink deeper, but not always deep enough to kill the first time, and the axe head will often get stuck, requiring some effort to get it back out.
The point is, I need to find a weapon that will work better; something that is a bit smaller, easier to use and that will kill more often on the first hit. Look at me, sounding all badass like I’m some kind of killing machine. The truth is, I still barely keep my bladder in check when I walk into a room and a zombie is standing there, and I still get kind of queasy every time I kill one of these things. And I still haven’t ventured more than a few steps outside of the building. But that changed today.
In order to acquire some of the supplies I need, I was going to have to get a vehicle. The only transportation I owned before the pandemic was a bicycle. I know how to drive, but never really needed a car until now. Going through apartments trying to find car keys, and then trying to find the car they go to, would be way too time consuming. I could just find a car with somebody behind the wheel, like the police car that’s still out there, but at this point the bodies are pretty gross, and I’m not sure I want to sit in that mess. I know there may come a point when I have to do it in an emergency, but it’s not absolutely necessary at the moment.
There is a Toyota dealership about half a mile from here. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t even break a sweat riding my bike that far, but these are no longer normal circumstances. I threw on a backpack containing a few tools I thought I might need, did my little trick with the R/C truck and monkey to clear the alley behind the building, and then I peddled my ass off for the dealership. I shot right up the middle of Battery Street, dodging easily around the scattering of zombies. When I passed, they would begin moving in pursuit, but their shuffling gate wasn’t enough to even come close to keeping up with me, until I hit 5th Avenue.
After I swerved around one in the middle of the intersection, I heard the slapping of feet on pavement behind me. When I looked back, it was running after me. I wasn’t too concerned until I turned back around, and spotted another about a block and a half ahead and running towards me. I immediately whipped the bike to the right and cut through an empty parking lot to 6th Avenue. I looked back as I was crossing Bell Street and saw both zombies were still running after me, but they were falling behind. I then turned onto Blanchard Street and could see the Toyota lot ahead.
I looked back again when I crossed 7th at the back of the lot; the two zombies that had been running after me weren’t in sight yet, but there was a small group of slower moving ones coming in my direction. I raced up to 8th, hopped off my bike at the front of the dealership, and tried the doors. The doors were locked and I shrugged off my backpack, pulled out a hammer, and without hesitating, or thinking, smashed the glass door. I knew I wanted a pick-up truck; it would just be a matter of finding the keys for all their vehicles.
As I jogged across the showroom floor to the main counter, I traded the hammer for my flashlight. I climbed over the counter, hoping the keys would be right there, and worked my way down the length of the counter with no luck. There was a dark doorway at the end of the counter, and when I shined my light into it, found what I was looking for. On one wall was a pegboard full of keys. Each set of keys had a tag attached to it with the model, color and price of the vehicle it belonged to; there was also a number that probably meant something to the people who worked at the dealership, but meant nothing to me. I scanned quickly through the tags, looking for any that said Tundra, and grabbed the set of keys with the highest price figuring that it would have all the options that beefed the truck up.
When I turned around, I caught sight of a battery jump starter on the floor next to the door. I grabbed it just in case, hoping it still held a charge if I needed it, and stepped out of the small office. Two zombies were stepping through the door I had smashed, and I pushed through the gate that allowed access behind the counter, looking for the rear exit. I ducked down a short hallway, yanked open the door at the end of it, and found myself in the maintenance area. Swinging the flashlight around, I spotted a fire exit directly across the garage from where I entered.
At the fire exit, I checked the tag on my keys, and found that I would be looking for a silver Tundra. I carefully pushed the door open, attempting to be as quiet as possible, and scanned the area. There were no zombies in view, so I stepped out and eased the door closed behind me. I guessed that the group of zombies that had followed me down Blanchard must have already passed down the side of the building, so I headed into the lot. As I moved towards the line of pick-up trucks, I tried to stay low so that if any of the zombies had wandered onto the lot, they wouldn’t see me. I saw that several of the pick-ups were silver, so I hit the unlock button on the key fob.
I saw the headlights on one of the trucks flash weakly and heard a rather sickly sounding double beep. After the truck beeped, I realized my mistake and ran to the vehicle. I dropped the charger, climbed into the Tundra, and tried to start it. All I got when I turned the key was the dead battery clicking sound, so I found the hood release and jumped back out. I got the hood open, hooked up the jump starter, and ran back to the cab. Luck seemed to be on my side and the truck fired right up. When I got back out of the cab, I spotted the two fast zombies from earlier running at me through the lot.
I ripped the leads from the jump starter off of the battery, slammed the hood down, and bolted for the driver’s seat. I could hear the zombies growling behind me and I screamed as I leaped into the Tundra. Leaning back out of the cab, I seized the door and began tugging it closed as one of the zombies smacked into it, effectively helping me get it closed in time. I almost started sobbing in relief as the second zombie banged into the truck’s door. Once I caught my breath, I flipped my middle finger at the two zombies, pulled out of the parking spot, and almost plowed into six more zombies.
Obviously I didn’t actually need to slam on the brakes, but when you’re driving and something suddenly appears in front of you, you hit the brakes. After mentally berating myself and wondering where I could find a bumper sticker that said, “I brake for zombies,” I stepped on the gas and pushed through and over them. I momentarily considered trying to get my bicycle, decided I probably wouldn’t need it again, and headed home.
I left my new truck in the alley, noting that it had about half a tank of gas, and retrieved my toys from the slightly larger band of zombies out front. Tomorrow I’m going to see about some new weapons and look for something to collect rain in for the roof. I should probably also think about thinning out the horde in front of the building somehow; I’m not too concerned about them getting in, but if there’s too many out there, getting out could become problematic.
Man, I must have gotten lucky clearing out my floor, because about a quarter of the top floor apartments had zombies in them. And I’m pretty sure that one of the people living upstairs had been immune, but the person they had been living with had turned. That apartment was a mess. And my God, what an awful way to go, eaten alive by another person. I can, unfortunately, imagine what that is like since I’ve had a couple people attempt to do it to me. It freaks me out just thinking about it.
As I was working today, I’ve thought about some of the other things I’m going to have to do to survive here. If I’m going to stay here in this building, and that is the plan, there are a few things I’m going to need, besides more ammo and weapons. The water has tapered off to a trickle. I was worried that was going to happen, but I haven’t done anything yet to deal with it. I think my best bet is going to be to get some barrels to place on the roof to collect rainwater. I should be able to run a hose from the roof, down into my apartment.
I’m going to have to set up some kind of garden on the roof as well. Sooner or later the food is going to run out in this building, and then the other buildings nearby will too. And even canned and dry food will go bad eventually, so I’m going to need other sources. I’m thinking about setting up some pigeon coops, I don’t know anything about taking care of them, but it seems like a good idea and I should be able to find a book on it somewhere. I don’t know what other kind of livestock I can keep, or even find, to raise here in the building.
I know there are a lot of things I need to consider for long-term survival. I should probably go look for a book on that as well. I can’t remember the last time I looked something up in an actual book, or even purchased one for that matter. Hell, it was probably college, and even then half of my books were in electronic format. Saving trees seemed like a good idea, but it looks like they weren’t the ones in real trouble. I still need to make this building more secure. So much to do…
Had a rather exciting day today. The zombies had spread out from the alley again, I have no idea why they don’t attack each other, but there must be some reason. I needed a way to get them out of the alley so I could shift the dumpsters around after I loaded one. The first apartment I hit contained a family of four; shit, more kids. Both of the children were boys, but it was hard to tell how old they were because their features were pretty distorted by the decomposition. But as I was loading them onto the dollies, I spotted the items that would help me lure the zombies out of the alley when the time came.
Dropping the family into the dumpster attracted the zombies, but I wanted to fill it before putting my plan into action. I was fairly certain it would work, but I was going over it in my head as I entered the next apartment. I can’t reiterate often enough how poor I am at this whole survival thing. But I do have to point out that if Darwin was right about his “survival of the fittest” theory, I should have died on day 1, or surely by day 3 at the outside. I can only assume that Darwin made no allowances for dumb luck, because I seem to be one lucky dumbass.
I had the axe in my right hand, resting on my shoulder. I unlocked the door and pushed it open. As it was swinging open, I turned away and bent down to grab the tarp so that I could pull the dollies in behind me. As I stood up and started into the apartment, a shadow detached itself from a corner to my right, moaned, and staggered towards me. My heart leapt into my throat, blocking the scream that was building in my chest. The shadow took two more steps before my brain overcame the fear that had frozen me in place. Before I knew it was happening, the axe was swinging up off of my shoulder, and then down into what I could barely make out as the head of the shadow. I still hadn’t fully registered the fact that it was a zombie coming at me.
I felt more than heard the head of the axe sink into the zombie’s head. My hand came off the axe handle, and the axe remained imbedded in the top of the zombie’s skull. I sidestepped to the left as the zombie continued moving forward until it stepped on a dolly. The dolly shot into the apartment and the zombie tumbled forward into the hallway. The axe handle hit the ground first, dislodging it, followed by the zombie’s face. My brain finally started firing on all cylinders again, and I jumped over the zombie as it struggled to right itself, quickly picked up the axe, and swung it down into the zombie’s head with every ounce of strength I could muster. I had to put my foot on the zombie’s back, I could see now that it was a woman in a nightgown, in order to yank the axe out so I could take another swing and finally kill the thing. I remained much more alert as I collected the next few bodies for the dumpster.
The two items I took from the boys’ rooms were a remote control monster pick-up truck, and one of those battery-operated stuffed monkeys that bang the cymbals together. I duct-taped the monkey to the bed of the truck and took it down to the lobby. After unlocking the door, I stood in the doorway holding the door open with my shoulder. I then turned both the R/C truck and the monkey on, set the truck down on the sidewalk and drove it away. With the monkey screeching and smashing its cymbals together, the truck bounced down over the curb between two parked cars, raced across all four traffic lanes, and then in between two cars parked on the opposite side of the street.
As I waited tensely, head swinging back and forth to watch both ends of the building, I could clearly hear the monkey making its ear piercing music. Within a few moments, zombies were shuffling around either end of the building aiming towards the monkey’s racket, and completely ignoring me. I eased the door closed, locked it, and set the remote down. After dashing through the lobby and to the back door, I unlocked it and was just about to push it open when an actual survival instinct struck me and I hesitated. Maybe I was finally getting the hang of this. I jogged up the stairs to the second floor window, leaned out to check if the alley was in fact clear, and then went out and swapped the dumpsters around. I set the contents of the loaded dumpster ablaze, and headed back to the front of the building.
Flush with the success of my plan and the fact that I appeared to be learning, I prepared to bring the truck and monkey back to the front door. There were maybe two dozen zombies gathered around the cars my R/C truck was parked between; a few extra had joined while I was in the alley. I opened the front door, and then backed the truck up from in between the cars and through a zombie’s legs. Playing with the controls, I spun the truck around, much to the confusion of the zombies, and drove it back towards my side of the street. Just as the truck jumped back up and over the curb (its wheels were large enough for this maneuver), two of the zombies broke away from the pack and began running towards the still noisy toy monkey and myself; running at a normal human speed.
Every time I think I’m getting a handle on this whole zombie apocalypse thing, reality comes to give me another kick in the balls. This time though, a little luck and a little rational thinking under pressure (there’s a first time for everything) saved my ass. Instead of bending down to grab the truck as the zombies rushed at me, I allowed the truck to drive between my legs and into the lobby. As it was passing underneath me, the two zombies tried to follow the truck between the two parked cars and ended up smacking into each other, effectively stopping them long enough for me to pull the door closed and get it locked. I suppose I could have just left the truck and monkey outside and closed the door immediately, but I wouldn’t have been able to shut the monkey off, and it would have attracted even more zombies. Plus, it would have just kept making that racket until the batteries died. I can’t honestly say that that was what went through my mind when I drove the truck into the lobby, but it made sense after the fact.
The two faster zombies managed to disentangle themselves and made it to the doors where they began slapping and scratching at the heavy glass. This was the first time I’ve gotten a good look at one of them up close while they were still, I’m not sure if “alive” is the right word but I guess it’ll do. As I stared, the slower ones joined them at the windows. I took a few steps backwards and took them all in. The first thing I noticed was that very few of them had pants on, or skirts, or any underwear; there were a lot of dead people private parts flapping in the breeze. With the exception of the two faster ones, both men who did still have pants on, they all looked downright anorexic. The two faster ones were both covered in gore, dried blood, bits of meat and hair; it was all over the front of their shirts and the lower half of their faces; I’m not sure what all was staining their pants, but I have a pretty good guess. These two were healthier, physically more normal looking. Their eyes were the same, all blood red and full black pupils, though the red seemed a bit brighter in the healthy ones.
All the rest of the zombies were thin and frail looking. They were dirty, really downright filthy, but only a couple looked as if some of the filth on them might be blood, though it was quite old. None were scratching at the glass the way the two fast ones were, they were much more lethargic. There were two of the slower ones that had skin hanging off of them as if they had once been obese, but had lost a great deal of weight in a very short amount of time, which, as I think about it now, is what must be happening. The slower ones were starving, and the two fast ones had been feeding regularly; on what, I’d rather not think about. But, starving or not, they weren’t feeding on each other.
I don’t know if that’s important or not. I’m also not sure if what I saw means that they can starve to death, though I sort of doubt it. I’ll have to think about it some more, or just survive another two weeks or so and see what happens, but at least I can continue getting rid of the bodies. My floor is done now. I’ll start on the top floor tomorrow. Hopefully keeping the zombies around the building will keep the assholes away.
I guess the bullets are still inside of me, and I’m not sure if there’s anything I really need to, or want to, do about it. Maybe they’ll just work their way out naturally; not that any of this is strictly “natural.” My leg was fine when I got up, and the lingering pain in my abdomen faded throughout the day. There were still a dozen or so zombies shuffling around the building, but I didn’t really need to go outside to continue clearing out apartments, though the sound of bodies dropping into the dumpster brought most of them to the alley.
This time, I added books, old clothes, and broken up furniture (I had to get an axe from another floor, my first one is still lying outside) to the dumpster with each load to help the bodies burn better. Since I couldn’t go outside for more gasoline, I used lighter fluid, high proof alcohol, and rubbing alcohol that I found in apartments to help ignite the fire. Not being able to go outside because of the zombies slowed the process down somewhat since I couldn’t swap out dumpsters. If they’re still hanging around tomorrow, I’m going to have to find a way to lure them out of the alley so I can run out and move the dumpsters around.
As I was clearing the apartments on my floor, I came across my first dead child. I never knew her name, but I do remember seeing her running through the hall. She was probably around six years old. It’s one thing to drag an adult out of their apartment and dump them out the window, I’m sorry to say that I’m getting used to it, but the little girl was hard. It just felt wrong. I did my best to be gentle with her; I wrapped her up in a clean sheet, made sure her parents were nearby the whole time, and said a special prayer for her in the hall in front of the window. When the time came, I carefully lifted her out the window and tried to drop her as gently as I was able to. God, that really sucked. I don’t know what I’m going to do if I come across a child zombie.
I haven’t figured out how I’m going to deal with those three assholes yet if they come back. I need to be careful, I may not be easy to kill, but I’m certainly not invincible.
I believe I mentioned that I like to play video games. I’m sure that if I did, I also said that I’m not very good at them. I tend to die, a lot. But that’s the nice thing about video games; if you get killed, you can always start over. I prefer the games that let you start over at the place you died, or at least from wherever you last saved the game. I bring this up because you may have noticed that I skipped day 16. Well, I didn’t so much skip it, as I spent most of it technically dead.
For the record, though this virus seems to have given me unlimited game play, unlike the games, I still feel pain. I’ve heard people say that they have a “high tolerance for pain;” I don’t know exactly what that means, but I guess my threshold is quite low. Or maybe it just depends on what it is that’s inflicting the pain. For example (and now, speaking from experience): getting cut with a knife hurts more than with a piece of paper, getting bit by person hurts way more than getting stung by a wasp, and getting shot hurts a shit-ton more than all of the previous examples combined (the jury is still out on where a blow to the balls comes in at, that can be a pain on an entirely different scale).
So the smell from the rest of the building was seeping into my apartment, and I decided it would be a good idea to start getting rid of some of the bodies; at least the ones on my floor, and the floors above and below mine. I did consider just getting out of the city and finding someplace more remote to live, but this place is familiar, I have electricity, and there’s no guarantee that anywhere else would be any better/safer/fresher smelling. My plan was to put the bodies into the dumpsters in the alley behind the building and burn them. I’m still relatively certain it’s a solid plan, once I tweak it a bit.
I started out yesterday morning by going down to the basement. I found some plastic tarps that the super used when painting, and a couple dollies he let people use to move heavy furniture. I also spotted the respirator he used when painting, and thought it would come in handy. Back inside Mrs. Olmstead’s apartment, I was a little afraid that she wouldn’t still be there and only marginally relieved that she still was, I placed a tarp on top of the dollies, and then set Mrs. Olmstead onto the tarp. Grabbing one end of the tarp, I pulled Mrs. Olmstead out of her apartment and into the elevator. This system of getting a body to the dumpsters seemed to work well, but getting the larger bodies into the dumpster would prove to be a challenge.
I felt bad as I dropped Mrs. Olmstead into the dumpster, biting me wasn’t her fault; it was the virus that made her do that. After a quick prayer, I went back up to my floor. The couple that lived next door to me was dead, and the respirator did little to mask the stench. They had died in bed, so I wrapped the sheet they were on around them, and pulled them onto the dolly. The woman was relatively small, and I was able to get her into the dumpster without too much difficulty, but the man was just too big. There was a fire axe in a case just inside of the rear entrance, but I just couldn’t bring myself to use it.
There was a window on the second floor almost directly above the dumpsters. I pushed the dumpster over a bit, and then pulled the man back to the elevators. After opening the window, I was able to lift the man up to the windowsill, which was much lower than the lip up the dumpster, and push him out. I was starting to get used to the smell, but the sound of the wet thud when the man landed in the dumpster was more than a little disturbing. I hit three more apartments, added five more bodies to the dumpster, and decided it was time to start burning them.
I pushed the dumpster with the bodies in it across the alley, and placed an empty one underneath the window. Siphoning gasoline from a car isn’t nearly as easy as it looks on TV, and I’m becoming increasingly disillusioned with the way a lot of things have been depicted on TV and in movies since the pandemic. After drawing in a lungful of gas fumes when I sucked on the hose I had placed into a car’s gas tank, I came very close to puking. When the gasoline hit the back of my throat on my third attempt, I did an excellent impression of Linda Blair in the Exorcist.
Back in the alley, I poured all five gallons over the bodies in the dumpster, took a couple steps away from it, and then tossed in a lit match. The fumes from the gas erupted in a rather impressive fireball, blackening the bricks of the building behind mine up to the second story. Flames and black smoke rose out of the dumpster, but it didn’t appear that there was any danger of setting fire to anything else, so I went back into my building to start filling the next dumpster. When I returned to the second story window with another pair of bodies, I was disappointed to see that the fire was almost out.
I hadn’t realized how difficult it was to burn a body, but I guess that it makes sense since over half of our body weight is water. Making use of the fire axe, I broke up some pallets and old furniture from the basement, and added that to the dumpster. I made a mental note to start bringing flammable items down with the bodies, and got the fire going again. Before going back upstairs, I waited to make sure the fire was going to burn for more than five minutes, and that’s when things went bad for me.
It may have been the black smoke that first got their attention, and it was likely the racket I made breaking up the pallets and furniture in the alley that allowed them to find me. The car turned into the alley, which is a little over 200 feet long and stopped about 50 feet from me. There were three of them, two men and a woman. They got out of their car, and they were all armed. I was actually happy at first to see other survivors, and it didn’t even occur to me to be scared. I don’t know if it was because I was holding the axe, or if these guys were just assholes (it turns out it was the latter), but when I took a step towards them and started raising my hand to wave, the woman raised her gun and shot at me.
Her first two shots missed, but the third hit me in the leg. It was like someone had just kicked it out from under me, and I fell down. I’ve heard people say, though this may have been something else from a movie or TV, that when they got shot, they didn’t even feel it at first. Well, I definitely felt it; when a hunk of metal rips through your skin, and muscle, and slams into a bone, it hurts like a son-of-a-bitch.
So there I am, lying on the ground, leg in agony, and I heard one of the guys ask, “You think he has anything worth taking?”
“Probably should have asked him first,” the second guy replies when they’re almost to me.
Then the woman says, “Screw you, he can still talk. And I bet you he’ll be much more willing to now.” Then she kicks me in the leg she just shot. Needless to say, I screamed.
“You living in this building?” the first guy asks me.
“Yes,” I replied through gritted teeth, “what do you want? Why did you shoot me?”
“We want anything you might have that’s worth taking. Particularly guns or ammo, if you have them. And she shot you because she’s a bitch.” The second guy laughed at that.
“I could be a whole lot worse,” the woman replied. Then she looks down at me and says, “Just give us what we want, and maybe you’ll get out of this alive.”
“The whole fucking city is free for the taking,” I shouted, “why are you doing this to me?”
She shrugged and said, “Because I can.” Then she shot me in the stomach. The pain was excruciating. I wasn’t even able to scream, though I wanted to; it wasn’t like getting punched and having the breath knocked out of you, it was more like my brain was so overwhelmed by pain signals that it couldn’t operate any of my other bodily functions at the moment.
“Jesus, Wendy, how about we find out where he keeps his shit before you kill him.”
“He ain’t dead yet.”
For a second, right after they stopped talking, everything got perfectly quiet; there was no wind, no birds were singing, even the fire in the dumpster stopped crackling. And then there was a scraping sound, like rocks rubbing together. It multiplied and grew louder. I saw the second man’s eyes go wide, and he pointed towards the opposite end of the alley.
One whispered word came out of the second man’s mouth, “Horde.”
The other two looked to where the man was pointing, spun on their heels, and sprinted for their car. The second man looked down at me, and for a second it looked like he was going to try to help me up, but then he looked back down the alley and took off after his friends. I managed to rise up onto an elbow and look back down the alley to see what had scared them so badly. An engine roared, tires squealed and I tried my best not to piss myself.
I don’t know how may zombies were coming towards me, from my vantage point, lying almost prone in the alley, I could only see about three deep into the horde, but I wasn’t really up to counting anyway. Fear temporarily overcame the pain, and I began dragging myself to the back door, which fortunately wasn’t far away. I got through it when the horde was still about 30 feet away, closed it and managed to get it locked before my strength gave out. The back door is heavy steel and the zombies obviously weren’t able to get through it. I never even heard them trying because I passed out shortly after getting it locked.
I woke up about 30 hours later, covered in dried blood and, again, other bodily fluids. My leg was still sore, but I was able to walk on it, and I still have quite a bit of pain in my stomach, though that hasn’t ruined my appetite. Those three people haven’t come back yet, there are still a lot of zombies around the building, though they’re slowly wandering off. I’m sure they assume I’m dead, but I’m also guessing they’ll come back at some point to check out the building. I’ll have to come up with a nice welcome back for them.
I spent the day yesterday either lying in bed staring up at the ceiling, or eating and staring out the window. I don’t believe I solved any of life’s great mysteries. If I did, whom would I share the answers with anyway? It’s one thing to be alone in your apartment with neighbors on every side and a world full of people just outside the windows, it’s quite another to be alone and the only obvious living being for miles around. I’m not sure if the zombies can be counted as living beings; maybe I should elaborate and say I’m the only living, and thinking, being.
Though I don’t have the mind for solving great mysteries, I think I have come up with solutions to some of the lesser mysteries I’m currently facing. It occurred to me that both wounds that had healed overnight were bites from zombies; the twisted ankle might not have been as bad as I originally thought. Sure, in the movies a zombie bite turns you into a zombie, but we’re hardly dealing with actual science in your average (or below average) zombie movie; most of them don’t even explain where the zombies came from. So I thought that it might be something these zombies were carrying that healed the bites. It wasn’t easy, but I worked up the nerve to cut myself this morning.
Since I have electricity, I used some ice to numb up the fatty part of my hand below my thumb, and cut it with a carving knife. I went deeper than I had meant to, and nearly passed out when I saw my hand flayed open like that. Within an hour, it began itching, like injuries sometimes do when they’re healing. I felt a little feverish as well, so I took my temperature, and it was just over 100°. Now I have a new, bright pink scar on my hand, and my temperature is back to normal. So, whatever is healing me, is in me.
When I shot Mrs. Olmstead in the chest, it didn’t kill her; at least not completely. She didn’t stay dead until I shot her in the head, same as the guy who attacked me outside. It seems the movies got that part right. So whatever wounds you inflict on the zombies will heal, except for headshots. All the wounds I have received have healed. I don’t think I’ll try shooting myself in the head just yet; I’ve gotten past that little self-destructive streak. But it seems the zombies and I have some things in common; I just seem to be marginally smarter than they are.
I’m assuming that I don’t necessarily have to shoot them in the head to kill them, but I’m not quite prepared to try taking a bat to one of them at the moment. I don’t think I’ve yet fully dealt with the fact that I’ve killed at least two other human beings, or former human beings anyway. So the only thing that has happened to both the zombies and myself is that we got sick. Anyone who is now a zombie, contracted whatever this virus is, appeared to have died, and then came back. I caught the virus, got sick, but not quite as sick as the zombie people. For whatever reason, the virus didn’t kill me first, but it’s still working to heal me, same as the zombies.
Maybe that explains the hunger that never seems to go away. It must take a lot of energy to keep the virus going and healing me. The zombies must be feeling the same hunger, and that’s why they bit me; they were actually going to eat me if they could. I wonder…
If the virus is still in me, and it’s healing any damage I receive, will it heal damage caused by aging? I’ve looked at myself in the mirror, but I don’t see any difference; I’m only 27, so I guess there’s no real age damage to heal yet. I’m going to have to survive for another 10-15 years before I can answer that question I guess. There have to be others like me out there somewhere. Before everything went to complete shit, there were some reports of people being immune. A certain percentage of people died outright, and some turned into zombies. There must be a small percentage that survived the virus intact, like me.
Well, I’m not about to start walking the Earth seeking them out. There must be an easier way to find people, even without Facebook. I guess I’ll be around a while to figure it out, assuming I don’t get shot in the head…