Authors: Samie Sands
I’m frozen to the spot, staring at the wet paint on my fingers. E wrote this recently. Very recently, meaning they are still somewhere around here. I wonder if it’s one of the people inside the church. It would make a lot of sense, I suppose. I glance around fervently, wondering if E can see me. I wonder if whoever it is, is out there watching me, waiting patiently for my next move. I wave and say a quiet “hello?” hoping for some sort of reaction. If I look friendly enough, I might persuade E to come and get me. I can’t speak any louder because it may attract a bunch of zombies. This day hasn’t gone too badly yet, I don’t really want to change that.
No response. Now what?
I decide to stop acting so carefully, to start taking some serious action. I’m going to ignore the dizzying drowsiness and take this as the kick up the ass that I need. I’m going to use this determination to find someone, anyone today. As E isn’t making a magical appearance, I’m going to focus all of my efforts on the church. I force myself to picture the cameras rolling and imagine this as the scene that turns the entire film around. This day is important, probably the most significant so far and I need to be ready for whatever is about to come.
I take a deep breath in, preparing myself for a fight, and start running, faster than I’ve gone in a very long time. If I can just get myself within sight of the church, I’ll be able to get inside. Whoever’s there may even help me.
It isn’t long before I’m grunting and panting, and sweat is pouring down my forehead, but I’m killing off zombies left, right, and centre without too much trouble. I start to feel badass again, I’m back to feeling like a heroine and I’m relishing this newfound power trip. I start to think that maybe I was designed to survive the zombie apocalypse. That this has been my purpose all along. I certainly feel more suited to this lifestyle. Before, no matter what, I always felt a bit lost and detached from life. I never really cared about anything particularly, I never felt whole. But as I swipe my axe at every undead, disgusting bastard that comes my way, I feel like I matter.
I’m covering myself in blood and grime, I must look disgusting by now, but I don’t stop. I can’t. The noise my axe makes as it pierces flesh makes my stomach turn, but at the same time, it’s oddly satisfying. I pull a piece of intestine from my hair as I watch the head of a young boy roll off and hit me in the feet. I look at his eyes for a second too long and a chill runs up and down my spine. This is worse than any horror film I’ve ever seen. There’s far more gore in real life, it’s much more terrifying. Words can’t describe the effect undead monsters can have on your mental state. It’s rough.
After I’ve been winding down twisting streets for hours, taking out anything that crosses my path, I finally come face to face with the building I’ve been aiming for all this time. The church. My heart lifts at the sight and I feel a new wave of energy hit. I’ve done it; I’ve succeeded in reaching my goal. After so many days creeping around, missing out on opportune chances, I’m finally here. I can’t believe how easy I’ve found it today, where have I been going so wrong?
Now there’s just the matter of the army of hungry zombies hammering away on the door to deal with. I pin my back to a wall while I catch my breath and think. I need to keep out of sight while I plan. I’ve got to pull them away from the doors while I get inside, without putting myself in too much danger. Maybe the best way to do that is attract their attention, force them to chase me, and then use my speed to circle back around and get inside before they return. So much could go wrong, but no idea will be foolproof.
At the thought of this plan, my heart starts hammering against my chest and my breaths get shorter and louder. It’s a risk, of course it is, but I think I’ll be able to pull it off. I psyche myself up by imagining how good this would look on the big screen, which goes a way to calming my nerves. I run with my instinct before I can change my mind.
“Hey,” I call out, nowhere near loud enough. I let out an awkward cough and try again. “Hey, you lot, look at me!”
With that, a few of them turn around to face me. I have their attention. I wave my arms above my head, laughing loudly, trying to keep a confident expression on my face. I push the nerves away, focusing on the task at hand. I
this to happen, this was my aim, I mustn’t let fear get in the way of that. “Come on then, come and get me!”
Suddenly something catches my attention in the corner of my eye. A lightning quick movement behind one of the stained glass windows, a glimpse of a person. I was right, there
others inside there. Relief floods through me and I realise that everything is going to be all right. I’m not going to be alone any longer. In this moment I can finally admit to myself how terrified I was that I was going to find the building empty. As much as I tried to ignore the negative thoughts, they were always there. Another surge of adrenaline rushes through me, wanting me to speed things up.
“Come on then, you ugly bastards, follow me!” I yell this much louder and with a lot more confidence.
The stench of rot wafts towards me as the zombies begin to shuffle. Finally, my plan is getting into action. I wait, tension filling every pore. I need to let them get close enough to me that their interest is piqued. I don’t want them to turn back again as soon as I sprint off.
“Come on, come on,” I murmur, tapping my foot anxiously. Where my body is screaming at me to run, my brain knows I need to stay put for just a little while longer. I suck in a deep breath, unsure of how much more of this tension I can stand.
Come on. That’s right, just a little closer. And go.
I pump my legs as fast as they can move; running around the building, shouting sporadically, just to keep the zombies coming. I’m scared that without the visual, they might forget all about me. For the first time since this all began, I hope my scent is still wafting under their noses. I zigzag through streets, not entirely convinced that I’m going the right way. My breaths are getting shorter and harder to take, how many corners do I have to turn before I find this damn church?
Before I know it, I’m there. The door is open, keeping me pushing on. I fly through the entrance, collapsing to the ground, but not without noticing that my welcoming committee is the barrel of a cold, metallic gun.
Today I received five new specimens, all from inside the camp and in currently stage one.
8. Kain Curtis, 14, School Student.
5”1’, 68kg, green eyes, brown hair.
He’s had his appendix removed.
His mother and sister are in the camp.
He is displaying very severe flu symptoms and appears to be in a lot of pain. I’ve tried communicating with him but haven’t had any response as yet. According to the notes that were brought in with him, he has been in this condition for a few days now.
9. Toby Pickering, 47, Driver.
6”4’, 72kg, blue eyes, light brown hair.
No existing medical conditions.
His father is still in the camp.
According to everything I’ve seen up until this point, he will be in stage two very soon. He’s delirious, but I’ve still succeeded in having the odd conversation with him. During the times when he is coherent, he doesn’t sound ill at all. If it wasn’t for his pale, sweaty exterior, I may suspect that he’s recovering.
10. Rhys Thomson, 26, Graphic Designer.
5”7’, 59kg, pale blue eyes, blonde hair.
Has an existing medical condition—asthma.
No family left in camp.
He describes his own condition as ‘the sniffles.’ He keeps telling me that he’s heard rumours about what’s happening down here. I don’t know what he means by that, but I can summarise that it isn’t positive. I haven’t considered life outside these four walls since I’ve been here, apart from my family, but his comments have got me thinking. I’ve tried questioning, but it’s clear that he doesn’t trust me, so he isn’t telling me anything. I’m haven’t determined yet if this specimen is actually infected with AM13. But then, I did think the same about specimen five and she has now fully succumbed to stage three.
11. Alex Hodgkins, 19, University Student.
5”7’, 61kg, blue eyes, blonde hair.
No existing medical conditions.
is his twin, their parents are both still in camp.
These twins are both clearly infected with AM13. It’s affecting their appearance already and they’re only in stage one. By just looking at them you’d assume that they’re well within stage three: pale, greying skin, pus filled spots around their mouths. Despite this, they’re both fully coherent, talking only to each other, offering comfort and discussing their parents and past lives. Neither have been responsive to me.
12. Eden Hodgkins, 19, Singer.
5”7’, 60kg, blue eyes, blonde hair.
No existing medical conditions.
is her twin, their parents are both still in camp.
*See notes for specimen 11.
Three of the specimens
two, three, and six
were taken away as the new ones were brought in. They had been in the third stage for quite a while now so were no longer deemed ‘necessary’…I guess that’s a fair assessment. I’ve realised that once they reach stage three, there isn’t a lot else the specimens can teach me. I can only assume that as soon as they leave the laboratory, someone will put a bullet in their brains. Even though I know this is the best way, the only way, I can’t help feeling a little sad about this.
I know this is illogical, after all they’re probably better off dead than in the condition they’re in, but I can’t stop thinking about their families out there, probably waiting for them to return cured. Instead, I’ve chosen to sentence them to death. I’ve selected to work on an antidote, rather than a cure. Although my reasons for this are solid, I can’t control my emotions. I’ve never worked with human specimens before and it’s much harder than I ever thought it would be. It’s difficult not to get attached at all. In fact, in these lonely conditions, it’s impossible. They’re the closest thing to company I have.
I’m finding it a struggle with the new specimens, because they’re all in stage one, they’re in the position to ask me some very difficult questions. Especially number ten, Rhys Thompson. He’s convinced that he isn’t infected and he’s continually asking me when I’m going to release him. He won’t accept that it isn’t my decision, but I really don’t have any control around here. I wouldn’t be doing things this way if I did.
I don’t know what I would be doing, I haven’t thought that far
but this isn’t it.
At lunch time, the derision became much more intense. I can understand, of course. The specimens are seen as wasted mouths to feed, so their portions are much smaller than mine. In fact, I always get far more than I can possibly eat
a small part of me is concerned I may actually be putting on weight! I tried to clear the tension by sharing out my food, but I’m still quite obviously immensely disliked.
I’m going to run all of the standard tests on my new specimens; MRI, blood tests, saliva, and urine tests, just to see if I can gain any new information. I don’t think I will, except maybe from the twins. There may be something genetic I can pick up on. It’s the only hope I have at the moment.
Specimens eight, ten, eleven, and twelve have shown me through the blood tests, that the white blood cells are already being targeted by the AM13 virus, so no antibodies can be produced quick enough to react. Some of their organs are already starting to deteriorate, for example the kidney function is already very low. The blood is starting to thicken. I did notice this in the previous tests, but assumed it was due to the coagulation process.
I didn’t pick up anything new from the other tests
just a repetition of information I’ve already noted. Also, unfortunately, the twins didn’t provide anything new, so I can officially rule out genetics as any sort of input. I did suspect as much.
Specimen nine had already reached stage two by the time I ran the tests. I could see from the MRI that all his muscles had tightened considerably as an attempt to protect the body from the pain. This is often seen in victims with, for instance, slipped discs. This has caused his skin to be extremely sensitive to even the slightest touch, so pushing a needle into his veins for the blood tests was pure agony.
This process today has raised more questions in my mind than it has answered. I want to find out why some people progress through the three stages quicker than others, and why some seem to deteriorate much faster
like the twins. I don’t think that the two are linked, i.e. the ones that develop quicker, aren’t the ones that deteriorate quicker. This may go some way to finding out how to stop it. There has to be way, I just need to figure out what it is.