In which a young woman writes to her unborn child in the hope that he or she will have a better life.
The apocalypse isn't fun, or romantic or gory but 'in the right way'. It's terrifying. It's hard, and I've almost died about five times today. This might be my last day alive. I can hear them waiting outside, waiting for us to open up the doors or for us to fall asleep so they can crawl through the vents or something and eat us alive. I can feel my hunting knife, the handle still slick with sweat, waiting under my makeshift coat pillow. I can hear the uneven breathing of the other survivors who can't go to sleep. I can almost feel the vaccine the scientist gave me coursing through my veins. I don't deserve it anymore than she does. I can hear the whispers of the dead that once lived in this town. They say to lay down our arms and succumb to the darkness. They say to let go and give up. The one thing keeping me from doing just that is you. My hope. My little light. If I survive this, if you survive this, maybe you'll read this one day when everything is better. When the zombies all die and humanity starts to rebuild. No one knows you exist yet, not even your father. I'll tell them soon. When we get up north, to safety.
1- The Beginning of the End
It was a nice day when we found out the apocalypse had started. Hell, we didn't even know it was the apocalypse. Everything was pretty much normal other than the fact that a few news outlets were talking about a couple insane people eating their relatives spontaneously. Shit didn't really hit the fan until about a week or two later, but that's not where we are right now. Right now we're at the start. Where everything was pretty much fine. Right before my life came crumbling down.
I woke up sometime around 2am that day. I didn't know why, couldn't pin point a reason, but I just had a bad feeling. I'd always been a bit of a paranoid person, so it didn't exactly alarm me anymore than usual. My instincts were only right half the time at best, and I'd been right about quite a few things lately, so I figured this was the start of my paranoia phase for the month. Still, I paced back and forth in my apartment for about an hour before I sat down at my computer and ordered a few things I thought would ease the panic before it set in. I'd cancel the order when I felt normal again. Or maybe I wouldn't. Then I wouldn't have to do this again next month like I did last month and the month before that and the month before that. Something about this particular episode made me press two day delivery, even though it cost extra. I'm pretty sure now that the order I made that day saved my life countless times in the following weeks, months even. Not that it will do you much good now, but here's what off the top of my head I can remember that I ordered around 3am on the dawn of the end of the world.
Walkie Talkies and batteries
packets of sterile water
Tablets for purifying water
A book on herbs and edible plants
A first aid kit
Pain meds and assorted over the counter meds
A journal and a mechanical pencil along with led, which I now use to write to you in the hope that one day you will surpass this horrible horrible world I'm bringing you into. (Crossed out; God, I should have packed condoms.) After I ordered what I thought at the time to be something I might end up using for a camping trip or something, I started packing the bag it all would go in. I didn't realize at the time how heavy everything was, which is something I would later regret but only shortly. I packed three sweaters and three tank tops to go under. Two pairs of cargo pants. I put a few pocket knives and various other tools in the pockets of the pants along with small hand crank flashlights. I place a few tubes of toothpaste and a toothbrush in the bag along with a few bars of soap. By the time I was done running around the house stuffing things in my bag, it was 6am. With work at 8, there was no use going to sleep then.
Instead, I dropped the bag on the kitchen table in my small apartment and took a shower, changing into a formal dress for work. With nothing better to do, I set off to work, figuring I'd hang out at the cafe across from my workplace until my shift. I was a bartender at Buzzed, a club that offered a noticeably strange array of alcohol, from stuff you'd only find half way across the world to shitty half water beer. It was a good job, payed minimum wage plus tips.
No shady stealing tips shit that a lot of my waitress friends had to deal with. I'd never really met the owner, just knew he was some bloke with a crap ton of cash. Didn't really need to know much more as long as he wasn't a bad boss, which he wasn't. Once I got to the cafe I sat down at one of the empty tables and ordered a coffee. By the time it was 8 I'd had two coffees, a brownie and a muffin. Not my proudest of moments at the time. I would, however, literally kill to have that meal again now. After I cleaned up, I headed across the street for work.
It was the same as usual. Slow. It was a Monday (go figured that the beginning of the end would be on a Monday. I always fucking despised Mondays) and I know that probably won't mean much to you, since we don't really keep track of that type of stuff anymore, but if I ever get the chance to sit down and reread this, I know at least I'll get it. Who knows, maybe I can even explain it to you if I'm still alive. Sorry, that was probably insensitive if I died recently, which is quite possible in todays world. Anyway, it was slow that day, the only people who came in to drink didn't stay long. There was a couple coming to check out the club to see if it would work as a venue for their kids big one six. Again, you won't get that, but just ask one of the people who came before you. The ones who would remember before.
It's funny. One of the guys who came to drink that day got so drunk he started raving on about how the end of the world was coming. You know, usual drunk stupid guy shit. Maybe he wasn't so stupid or drunk after all. There were so many maybes after civilization fell. Maybe if we'd done that maybe if we'd done this. In the end none of it matters because by sun down of that first day, I'd already seen a zombie and I hadn't even realized it. See, you won't understand this, but before the apocalypse, zombies didn't exist outside of books and fairytales.
By the time we realized that they had jumped out of the TV, it was too late. No matter what we would have done back then there's really no reasonable way to have saved any more people. We didn't expect it. Not really, and we locked up those who did because we thought they were insane. It's a shame, really. Maybe there would be more survivors if we hadn't been so quick to press the kooky button. See? Another maybe. I hope your life will be more sure than mine is right now. I hope you never have to see a zombie. My last maybe for this entry is maybe things will get better. As I sit here writing in the dark as the zombies shuffle outside, you're the one maybe I have that brings hope to these dark times. Goodnight, my little light.
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2- Slow Burn
We’re on the move again. It’s difficult to avoid the zombies, but it’s safer than trying to get through the hordes even if it costs us precious days. I’m not entirely sure where we are at the moment, we lost our map last night along with Claire, a girl only a few years older than me that we picked up back in the U.S. We’re in Canada now, uncharted territory. We’re down to five people now. It’s safer this way, I guess. But we’ll get to this part of the trip in a little bit. Right now you probably want to hear about before. When it was still okay. Well, the second day of the Apocalypse wasn’t much different from the first.
There only thing I can really remember about it was a reporter who ran a story about this man, Garry or maybe Fred, something boring like that, who’d gone berserk on his family and killed them all. Ate them. There was blood, more than I’d ever seen before. When they showed the outside of the house you could see blood soaking the curtains and furniture turned over. Windows were broken and the chandelier was hanging by a thread, flickering on and off. The news interviewed a few people who knew them. Neighbors, teachers, friends. Most said they couldn’t believe the guy had done that, that he was a good guy. He’d been sick recently, one of the family friends said. Maybe it was some sort of disease.
After they were done with the interviews they played the 911 call with the text displayed. The eldest son had been hiding in the closet with the two youngest when he made the call, I don’t remember it too well anymore, but I can definitely remember the feeling. The noises. His voice was scratchy, probably from screaming. He sounded panicked, scared. I don’t blame him. You could hear shouting and screaming in the background and things being thrown. The police didn’t get there in time and the children were dead. The father just sat there in a pool of their blood rocking back and forth making grunting noises, according to an anonymous source. The reporter didn’t get a chance to interview the father, he’d been killed by the swat team after he’d bit one of the officers.
That officer ended up in the hospital and was in stable condition for the following day. I remember they ran that story about five times until I finally marched into the manager's office at Buzzed and demanded they change the channel. It’s scaring the customers, I had said. Truth was, it was scaring me. If I had known I’d probably be seeing things worse than that in only a week and a half, I’d have turned off the TV completely after the first run. Maybe before that.
The third day was more memorable than the last. The officer from the story the day before had made an amazing recovery. He made such an amazing recovery, in fact, that he managed to kill a grand total of 6 people and injure another 4 before he was put down. Unfortunately for humanity, nobody quarantined those bitten by the officer and you can guess how things went from there.
In the next five days the number of attacks rose and rose and there seemed to be no common trend on who was being targeted or who fell ill. Some of them had bite marks or scratches, but just as many didn’t. They figured out it was a disease on the seventh day. Things were still pretty normal for me. This was happening all the way over in LA, there’s no way it could reach me. Or so I thought. Oh how wrong I was.
On the ninth day the first attack happened in New York. It was a young girl this time. A tween who’d been sent on an airplane from LA. This time anyone who came in contact with her was quarantined. Things might not have been quite as bad if they hadn’t missed something. Her finger. It got bit off by one of the victims in an effort to get free but the only thing it did was land that finger in the coffee at starbucks.
The next day that Starbucks in the airport served upwards of twenty people going in twenty different directions before they realized. The disease spread and things got more tense. The news and media went nuts. People were starting to panic, moving out of the city. Going to other cities or towns that had relatives. Most people stayed. New Yorkers were stubborn. Nobody thought they would get them. Spoiler alert; they did. I myself didn’t leave until two weeks in, after all this.
I probably wouldn’t have left if I hadn’t gotten a call from my cousin who lived down in Delaware. Her husband was stocking up on food and they were preparing to hunker down. She wanted me to join them. I don’t know whether that decision saved me or made it harder for me to survive later. I left the night she called me on a plane headed straight to Delaware. I arrived the same night along with my paranoia bag and not much else. They hadn’t been joking about stocking up. They had a whole room full of non perishables and another of water. I was the one to suggest we board up the windows and reinforce the door. Not much good it did. The slow burn was on, and we were all slowly boiling to death.