Authors: Samie Sands
I’m very nervous out on the streets now. The infected seem far more active and in higher numbers. I keep thinking this must be because we’ve all stopped hiding away and we’re now out in the open, trying to get to the airport. I’m bound to stumble across someone soon, surely—we’re all heading the same way, after all. I hope I do, I would feel a
more comfortable with someone to watch my back. I keep sporadically spinning around, panicking, certain that I hear noises behind me, even though no one’s there. It’s daft really. If an infected has managed to get that close to me, it’ll kill me. And if it doesn’t, the shock will more than likely finish me off. I’m really not the sort of person who can do well in this sort of stressful situation. In fact, it’s a surprise that I have managed to keep myself hidden and alive for this long.
better being out here with a purpose, wandering around aimlessly was actually really hard work. I’ve always lived my life by to-do lists, so having no plan was a real challenge for me. Luckily my destination isn’t too far out of town, so hopefully it shouldn’t take me too much longer to get there. I’m uneasy and eager to meet up with all the remaining survivors—which is unusual, because I’m normally such an introverted person. I have to keep telling myself that being with a big group gives me a much better chance at surviving than being by myself. I can hide amongst others, I can rely on people. I’m not a fighter so there’s no way they’ll make me battle.
I’m trying desperately to ignore the little voice in my head, the sensation in my stomach that’s telling me this is all a mistake. That it’ll never work. That I somehow misheard the plan, or that the airport will be full to the brim of infected. That once I’m in, I’ll never escape. I can’t stop these thoughts from spinning around my brain, however much I try. I can’t stop seeing images of the virus worming its way past my skin and into my organs. I can’t bear it. It’s making my skin clammy. I can almost feel it. I can almost taste it.
I can’t do this right now; I’ve got to ignore it all. I need to focus. One task at a time. If I just concentrate on each step individually, it isn’t so taxing. Don’t think about the bigger picture.
hear them, I’m constantly aware of the sounds around me. The moaning, the growling. But as long as it stays in the distance, I’ll be fine. As long as I push it to the back of my brain, I won’t start panicking. I still can’t get my head around the fact that a disease has affected people in this way. It’s so strange, it isn’t right at all. I think there must be a lot more to it than meets the eye, things like this don’t just
. I wish I knew why, what has caused it. It’s driving me nuts not being in the know. I realise I can get fixated with germs and things, but surely
is obsessed with finding out about this one. I can’t be the only person feeling this way.
I want to know what killed my family. I try not to think about them too much, for fear of sending myself into a tailspin, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss them. I deserve to know why they’re all dead. Actually we might be told something substantial at the airport. The government must have some answers for us, surely? They’ve had plenty of time to figure things out. This thought fills me with the determination to continue. If I get there, I’ll again be rewarded for my bravery.
I wasn’t listening at first; I was too wrapped up in my own thoughts. It took a while for my brain to latch on to the fact that the rolling news report wasn’t one I’d heard before. There was actually something different being reported, a new plan.
“Everyone, please get to your local airport as quickly as possible. There you will be given further instructions and be taken to a safe destination. I repeat, everyone…”
So, of course, my desire to leave has become even more desperate. Now I actually
to go. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on. I guess in the days the radio was switched off, I must have missed something. To be honest I don’t really care about that, I finally have a mission. It’s better than just heading outside to kill everyone and anyone in sight. I can only assume the government is setting up refugee camps somewhere, that’s the next logical step, after all. At any rate, I’m absolutely fed up with staring at the same four walls and I’m looking forward to whatever is to come. It’ll be an adventure. It also makes me feel a lot better, knowing I’ll be meeting up with others. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of people have made it this far. Who else has got the brains and the guts to survive this much.
I check through my rucksack again, ensuring I have enough supplies to last me the few days it’ll take me to get to the airport. I can’t take too much because I don’t want to have a really heavy bag. I’m sure we’ll all be looked after in the camp anyway, so I’m not too worried. As long as I keep in mind the ‘three rule’ I’ll be sure to have everything I need.
“So you can survive three hours without shelter, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Okay, so matches, tarpaulin, clothes, my water bottle…” I sift through the items, all the time talking to myself. It might be silly, but I’m still picturing myself as the heroine in a film, and I don’t want to come across as stupid. I know what I need to do and I want that to be obvious.
I’ll also need something to fight with. That’s the one item I’m having trouble finding. I try to think of the resourceful things people use in films, but they all tend to be set in America, where they have access to guns. I don’t particularly want to rely on a knife. I’ll have one with me, of course, but I learned from the fight with my sister that it allows the zombies to get far too close. Obviously I know I
fight well that close, but I want to give myself every chance of survival.
I half-heartedly pick up a hammer. Breaking through a human skull is seriously hard and I’m unconvinced that this is up to the task. I spot some piping and wonder if that could work. It might not be hard enough, but if I could rip off a long enough part, I could use it as a stunning tactic. I could push them further away while I escape. It isn’t ideal. I actually want something deadly, I want to be able to make a difference, but right now I think I should just focus on meeting up with everyone else. Anything else can come later.
I roughly tug at the piping and quickly realise that it isn’t going anywhere. Frustrated, I kick it hard and instantly regret it. Hopping around on my throbbing toe, I suddenly notice a golf club tucked away in the corner of the room which must have belonged to my dad. I tentatively pick it up and examine it. It’s solid, I’ll give it that much, and I could use it in the same way as the piping, just to push the zombies further away. If I encounter them in small numbers, this will suffice. Of course, I’m a lot faster than any zombies, so if it comes down to it, I can run like the wind. It might not be perfect, but I’m pushed for time, so I’ll just have to use what’s available to me.
I shove on my warmest jacket and grab my rucksack. When I’m ready, I stare at myself in the full length mirror by the front door. I look into my dark brown eyes, trying to spot a flicker of fear. I know it’s there inside of me, but I don’t want it to show. Pouting as I swing the golf club over my shoulder, and posing in different positions, I mentally prepare myself for what I’m going to have to do.
“Come on, Alyssa, it’s time to kick some ass!” Even as I say these words, they sound hollow and stupid. The small amount of terror is burning away in the pit of my stomach, but I’m ignoring it. I’ve already proved to myself that I
kill the zombies; I just need to go out there and get myself to the airport. It’s simple really, so why I am paused? “Okay, Alyssa, let’s just get this done. You may not even need to fight, so try not to think about that. Just get to the airport and all will be fine. There’ll be people there, and food. It’s got to be better than this, anyway!” This pep talk works a little better. I force the burning rage to fill me up again. With that on my side, I know I can do anything.
I swing the door open, ignoring my pounding heart. I’m angry, I’m furious; I’m seriously pissed off about AM13. Fuck these zombies, they’re nothing compared to me. I’m human, I’m not infected, which gives me one hell of an advantage over these undead, shuffling bastards.
I whisper the words “Goodbye, Lexi,” and let one more thought of my little sister cross my mind. Not the zombie version, the living version. The one I loved, the one I wanted to protect.
I feel a lot better gripping tightly onto this crowbar. Of course, I have no idea what to do with it, but it’s like a comfort blanket all the same. I found it lying on the street, abandoned. I examined it closely for a long time, deliberating over the decision to pick it up. On the one hand, it
covered in blood, so I know someone else relied on it as a weapon, which must mean it’s a good choice. On the other, it’s covered in blood that’s tainted with AM13, the one thing I’m trying desperately to avoid. Also, as no one was in the vicinity, I have no idea how useful it actually
as a defensive mechanism.
Despite everything inside me screaming against my choice, I picked it up. I didn’t want to be left completely vulnerable and if I can just ignore the negative voices inside me, telling me that the virus is dripping off the crowbar, that by simply holding it, I’m turning into one of the infected, I know I’m a lot better off with it. The end I’m actually holding is clean, but my eyes keep drifting up to the top. My chest gets tight and my legs start to feel numb. Then I have to retrain my brain to focus back on one step at a time. I can’t get tangled up in fear right now; I’m trying to keep my breaths to a minimum, finding that the more aware I am of my breathing, the more difficult it becomes to do it quietly.
I’m positive the infected are severely increasing in numbers by the minute, unnaturally so. I keep telling myself that they’re just attracted to the noise and smell of people outside, but my brain is becoming more and more fixated on the idea that the virus is airborne, and that the decision to bring us all out here has effectively wiped us all out. It feels like simply breathing in the air is sucking in AM13. It’s a possibility, isn’t it? This virus must have come from somewhere, and for it to spread as rapidly as it has, there must be something unusual about it.
My brain is constantly whirring, trying to find some logical solution, a reasonable answer. I’ve never been one to just accept things; I need to know all the details behind it. It’s why I struggled so much in education. I would become so obsessed with something that I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on other lessons. It’s also why I always found working such a challenge, I tried monotonous jobs, such as factory line work, I tried jobs that would force me to use my brain. I couldn’t succeed in any of them. In the end, I managed to find a job as a personal assistant, which weirdly suited me better than anything else. Focusing on someone else’s diary and problems allowed my brain to switch off from myself. In fact, it’s that job that changed my life…
It’s almost as if my brain was preparing me to re-open and think about the people I’d forced myself to lock away in a box inside my head. My job as a PA for a CEO of a large IT business led to me meeting Clare, who would go on to become my fiancée—for a short time, anyway. My boss was her father, which meant she was often coming in to visit. Although she obviously came from a very wealthy family, she didn’t seem like a rich, spoiled brat. She worked very hard at her own job, she didn’t swan around in designer clothing, and she was lovely to everyone all the time.
I fell in love immediately, but never thought she would look twice at someone like me, an OCD ridden, uneducated, desperately shy fool. She could’ve had anyone in the world, so when she asked me out on a date I was crippled with self-doubt and insecurities. In fact, the first two times I didn’t even show up. Nerves got the better of me and I spent those evenings stood in my suit in front of the mirror, watching the sweat pour down my forehead and willing my legs to move. Imagine, standing up such a gorgeous girl who was actually interested in me.
Luckily, for some strange reason, she never gave up on me and our romance blossomed. It was never easy and straight forward. I struggled in this brand new realm of which I knew nothing. I found it hard compromising with another person; it forced me to come out of my shell a bit. After I proposed, she moved into my flat, which presented even more challenges. She didn’t understand how I ran things—how could she? I can see now how I resented her taking up room in my precious, perfectly organised space. I also knew she could do better than me, and hated living under her shadow. She was a much larger character than I could ever be. Niggles led to arguments, which led to an inevitable split.
This happened only a couple of days before the Lockdown. We were so preoccupied with our own issues that we barely paid any attention to the virus or the news, so as soon as I finally caught wind of it, I become crazed. I only cared about AM13 and the quarantine, which allowed Clare to be forced out of my thoughts. If I didn’t think about her, none of what had happened could hurt me. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t even call her.
But now, I’m standing in front of her parents’ town house, which I know for a fact she always retires to when she needs space, and all the emotions I’ve blocked out are flooding back. I’m overwhelmed with sadness; I’m desperate to see her face again. She could be here; she may not have left yet. I could find her and we could muddle through this together. With a task to focus on, our insignificant problems will fade into non-existence. When we get some sort of life back, we can make another go of it. A proper go. I’ll never take her for granted or fall out over silly things again. I’ve already changed so much, I’m sure she’ll be able to see that.
I step quietly to the door, my heartbeat in my ears. I push the door without knocking. It cracks open and her arms fling around my neck.