Day 4

For those of you out there that have no idea what is going on or those dealing with little information, I’m going to fill you in with what we know. Ben managed to survive being at the epicentre when patient zero went from being medically dead to Undead. Forgive me if the language I use is technical or scientific, being a pathologist it’s how my brain is programmed to work and right now it’s on autopilot.

Four days ago my world, the world, went to hell and I don’t think it’s coming back. From what I’ve been able to gather from Ben, Brooks VanReit (now known as patient zero) came into the ER of St. Michael’s Hospital with practically non-existent vital signs. The staff assigned to treat him tried to resuscitate him but their efforts failed. Sometime between 7:30 and 7:45AM, he was pronounced dead and as quickly as he died, he came back to life. From what I understand, the doctors and nurses first thought they were witnessing a miracle. Almost immediately they found out how wrong they were. Ben was tucked away in the nearby nurse’s station completing a few charts before going home and he said he had a fairly good view of what transpired. His description of the carnage left in the wake of the reawakening was brutal. Blood everywhere, many of his colleagues succumbing to death and then entering a second life of sorts. He said the worst moment he witnessed was an attack on an elderly invalid woman left in the hallway on a gurney. She had nowhere to go when it all started and the fear present on her face and in her frail body made Ben wish he could go to her rescue. Since she wasn’t mobile Ben said that it seemed to take them a little longer to find her. But when they did they tore her apart, leaving only the bloody mass of a skeleton behind. Realizing that most people were beyond help, he knew he had to leave. What good was he dead? Or worse? His best bet was to escape the hospital and prepare to leave the city ASAP. He said getting out was difficult by that point but that he was lucky enough to find a way. Before leaving though he managed to call 911 and notify them of the situation. He’s not 100% sure that the operator took him completely seriously, who would have when the caller is stating emphatically that the dead are coming back to life? In the end, we know that the police responded and became fast believers.

I was a few blocks away working at the CFS (Centre for Forensic Sciences) and I was just beginning to hear the grumblings of some sort of strange occurrence at the hospital. Steve, my husband and 13 year veteran of the Toronto Police Service called to let me know that some sort of riot (as it had been reported at first) had erupted at St. Mike’s and to stay inside until further notice. Realizing that something serious was going down, I called Ben. I knew he worked at St. Mike’s and any information I could obtain from him to pass along to Steve, the better in my books. When I didn’t get a hold of him, I hoped for the best, thinking he was probably just busy treating anyone hurt in the riot. I didn’t want to think that anything terribly serious had happened to Ben; no one wants to lose a friend, especially under violent circumstances.

At around 12pm they started bringing the bodies to us. But they weren’t really even bodies. I mean they were clinically dead but certainly not acting like it. It was readily apparent from the faces and demeanour of the officers bringing in the highly restrained individuals that they just needed to get as many of them off the streets as possible. The official consensus was that it was an absolute mess out there and even though they had been authorized to use lethal force, it was a battle that they weren’t winning. No one in the lab wanted to touch them but my clinical curiosity got the better of me. What I was looking at seemed so utterly impossible; corpses of all races, ages, and gender were in front of me acting as if they were having a psychotic break. The blood on them was horrific, and I’m used to blood. Some were missing limbs or parts of limbs where they had been ripped or chewed off. One woman, and the only way I could tell that was from the tattered and bloody clothing she still had hanging from her body, was missing her face. I mean literally the skin and underlying tissue was gone, gnawed off. You could still see the teeth marks along her hairline. All that was left was the crimson stained surface of bone. It was at that point that I realized I had to leave. It was hard to believe then and still just has hard to believe, the Undead were fighting to assimilate the living in a battle that I wasn’t sure we could win. Not after seeing the after-effects firsthand.

One might ask when the first person realized that the “rioters” were really and truly the “undead”. I’m not sure myself but it must have been fairly quickly that morning or else why would they have brought them to me? I know all of it seems so strange, so unbelievable that the police were even able to restrain any of them. And the state of the bodies that I saw that day could make even the most sceptical believe in life after death. OK, maybe that’s not an entirely accurate statement since they aren’t technically alive, but it’s the closest explanation I’ve got.

In my heart I would love to believe that the situation in Toronto and the surrounding areas will be brought under control. But I’m not going to stick around in the thick of it waiting complacently to see if that’s the case. I’m a realist and right now I’m choosing to fight for survival.

I don’t know how long any of the technological infrastructures will remain intact or if anybody out there is even able to read this. All I know is that I will keep posting as long as I am able to. I think people in the world need to know what is going on. We’re afraid that even if the situation is brought under control that the amount of information (read: truth) that will accurately surface and be reported may be slim to none. For the sake of everyone left alive in the world, we need to collectively band together in order to keep our humanity alive.

After our night in the cabin in the woods we are starting to encounter more people travelling out of the urban sprawl and smaller towns in Southwestern Ontario. There are some that want to join up with us but we’ve already decided as a group that we would try to stay small. Stay mobile. Besides we figured it would be easier to survive knowing the particular strengths of each of the persons in our group. So far we’ve been moving mainly on foot because the roads have been partially gridlocked with cars making them the ideal feeding grounds for the Undead.

It’s sickening really; you can sometimes hear the honking of trapped vehicles. Their horns like the Siren’s call just leading more of the Undead to them…

The day has been pretty uneventful by comparison to recent events. We managed to make good time and put a little more distance between us and them. We did encounter the odd walking corpse but thankfully the Undead have been less prevalent today than yesterday. We felt a little safer sleeping outside tonight as there is a full moon out to help illuminate the woods around us. Obviously not the best of circumstances but we need the sleep when we can get it. It helps of course that we’ve strung an alarm system of sorts around the perimeter of the camp. Just some rope and a few bells can work wonders if you set them up properly. If anything it will at least give us some time to get our weapons ready if the perimeter is breached.

While we’re in the thick of this, I’m not sure how often I will have the chance to update you. Last night, I found the act of recording our journey extremely cathartic and a means of processing the day. It’s also given me a purpose. I know that I’ll be able to continue posting as long as I have access through my mobile internet or some unsecured Wi-Fi signal to leech off of. I’m just a little worried that at some point there will be no one to read these posts. Regardless, they will be immortalized on the World Wide Web for future generations to read. If there are any future generations… God, I have to stop thinking like this! My words may sound an alarm deep in your soul that you’ll hear and subsequently heed.

It is a little early to start being pessimistic but after everything I’ve seen in the past few days and the fact that I’m running for my life, I have to wonder if we, as a global whole, can bounce back. I don’t pretend to know what happened to Brooks VanReit before any of this. Did he pick up a bacterial contagion, a virus, or touch some piece of fallen space junk? No one knows. All I know is that he appears to be at the centre of all of this and that whatever he had, viral, bacterial or alien; at least it’s not airborne. Yet.

Think about it, our bodies are marvels at mutating things. Think of all we know about cancer; think of all we have yet to learn about it still. Why do the cells in one person decide to mutate but others do not? Why does one person have to experience the devastation of cancer but not others? It’s like the lottery, some win but most don’t. That may sound a little callous comparing getting cancer to winning the lottery but it’s the best analogy I can come up with at the moment.

Even though I’m digressing from the matter at hand, I guess what I am trying to say is that we really don’t have any idea what we are dealing with. It could have been one thing to start but now it could be something different; something mutated. The questions that I have are endless but the answers are insufficient and scarce. What it boils down to is the desire, the need to find someone or something to blame. A faceless, nameless entity is chasing us, using the Undead as its host. It’s eating us alive and we are helpless it would seem to stop it. It’s multiplying faster than we can kill it and to be honest, we don’t even have the means to eradicate it.

A terrifying aspect to all of this is that during our escape we have not witnessed any concentrated effort to contain the epidemic thus far. The Toronto Police made a gallant effort but in the end they failed and most of the officers joined the ranks of the growing Undead army. Even though we’ve been trying to travel off the radar, it’s apparent from our encounters with the Undead and the lack of military or police presence anywhere that nothing has been organized. I keep scouring the web looking for any signs but it seems like there has been a blackout on the whole thing. Viral videos on YouTube have disappeared, and there are no recent news reports. It’s almost like the net has been sanitized but I don’t understand to what end that serves. My sincere hope is that our government is not trying to cover this up. People out there need to know what’s going on, if only for the sole purpose to protect themselves.

Holy shit! The perimeter alarm just went off. Hopefully we live to see another day. Pray, NOW!

The Next Day

Advertisements

Day 3

Added August 27th, 2012: I have decided to put the saga of Days with the Undead back onto the internet because I have had so many requests to do so. In light of this, I will say that Days with the Undead: Book One (see sidebar for purchase portals) is currently in print and covers the first 31 days of the Zombie Apocalypse. There has been much added to the story, so whether you decide to read for free or buy the book, the choice is yours…

*****

It was a close call today. We have been travelling west, trying to get in front of and then outrun the Undead for almost three days. Trying to stay off the roads but close enough to use them if the need arose was getting more and more difficult. And then the inevitable happened.

We came upon a horde of the Undead just mulling, well not even mulling, just standing in a clearing early this morning. As far from them as we were and as silent as we were being, something or someone in our group caught their global attention and the collective of milky white eyes that turned in our direction was positively chilling. As we stared dumbstruck in horror, drawn to the sight as one becomes to a horrific accident, we soon realized that we would need to move. Our frozen tableau continued though as the ballerina-like synchronicity of decomposing limbs turned and started to move in our direction. I don’t remember quite when we started to run or what broke the reverie we were all experiencing. I just know that we ran and were thankful that we had a path to travel. The Undead are unconcerned with such things, and the foliage and uneven ground would help to slow them down. Our escape was narrow but our lesson important – never stop to stare.

The truly scary thing about the Undead, besides of course the fact that they are what they are, is their unwavering ability to pursue you. They don’t get tired, they don’t stop to rest and the only thing that stops them is a swift second death. The trouble with trying to put them all down is that fairly soon you can end up being overrun by their masses, or too tired to fight the ones in front of you. All you can do is keep moving and hope that something catches their attention and diverts their ravenous intentions.

To be perfectly honest we had assumed that we had left most of the Undead behind us in Toronto and the surrounding GTA. In the past few days however it’s become increasingly apparent that anyone fleeing the city and suburbs has spread things farther afield than we had dared to anticipate. Stupid I know, in any situation one should always prepare for the worst possible outcome; it has the tendency to keep you alive. Planning for the worst, in fact planning for any contingency has a way of keeping you on your toes.

Unfortunately we were all still a little shell-shocked. Shocked that the world appeared to be disintegrating behind us. While we had tried our best to prepare for this possible yet improbable eventuality it was still something that none of us had actually thought would happen. The events of the past two and a half days has let us all a little frazzled, lost, and feeling alone even though we are together.

Putting some distance between us and the horde from the field felt good. In an instant that feeling was robbed from us as we came to the crest of a steep ridge. We were now face to decomposing face with a group of our Undead pursuers. The surprise elicited a shocked, scared little cry from Barbara, one of our group but it was quickly squashed as we reacted. And there wasn’t much time to do anything but react; our primal, instinctual selves taking over.

The sound of the first shot ricocheted off the surrounding foliage in the relative silence of the early morning. Before my eyes the pimpled face of an adolescent boy exploded, shards of bone along with infected brain tissue flying out like they were searching for their next victim even in death. I quickly turned my face, hoping to shield it from the spray of grey matter and connective tissues. Thank heavens I was just out of splatter range as the Undead kept coming at us in what felt like increasing numbers. In all truthfulness there were only twenty-five to thirty of them and they were spaced out and slow-moving. Unknowingly they had made themselves easy targets; having to come up the opposite side of the ridge made our task of their death relatively uncomplicated.

From our vantage point, we could see that the Undead from the field had gained a little ground on us. The way that we had previously come also had a few stragglers shuffling in our general direction. Our only option was to divert our journey along the ridge and hope that we didn’t meet any other unwanted travellers along the way. Ben, our map expert let us know that in a few kilometres another trail heading in the right direction would present itself.

The trouble with staying out of any major urban area or even minor ones for that matter, you end up travelling in less than optimal conditions. We would have loved to get into a car and travel farther faster but the roads were already treacherous. With the sheer number of people fleeing from Toronto and the surrounding cities and towns, the roads in some areas were clogged with accidents, cars with empty gas tanks and the Undead. It frightens me to think of the number of people who left the town harbouring family members or friends that had been infected in recent attacks. One would think that they would have gained some knowledge from the Hollywood blockbusters. But no… It’s like the panic that they felt in needing to put distance between themselves and the situation had prevented their brains from assessing sound logic. Now as a result, the Undead have more of a chance to gain a foothold on our civilization, our humanity. Anyone watching the news can see that Toronto is quickly becoming the antithesis of a tourism hot spot. And the closer you happen to be to Toronto, the more risk you can expect to encounter.

If one could look at a map of Southern Ontario and see the vectors of transmission illustrated, it would look like a bomb had gone off. The damage, in this case the infection, was spreading outward at an alarming rate. The northern shore of Lake Ontario, with all of its urban sprawl, had become a sea of red. And all we want to do is stay as far in front of that sea as possible.

We have been fairly lucky so far by staying off the roads but inevitably we seem to manage to pick up followers when we can’t avoid them altogether. While we are careful as anyone can be, you cannot avoid the Undead completely. We were fortunate enough to spot an isolated and abandoned cabin in the woods to spend tonight in. It’s small but that made it all the more attractive to us. I assume it’s a hunting lodge of some sort, being that it’s so far from any major access road. Its construction is simple, 2 heavy doors and 4 double paned windows. Lots of egress points if needed, and not too many points of weakness to safeguard.

I guess at some point I should let you all know who WE are. Just a small group of 6, well 5 now, that came together a few years ago. We like to think of ourselves as like-minded individuals and having typed that I can’t help but smile. If you knew us outside of this moment you might wonder how in the world we ever came together… Of course we have some similarities and connections between us. Bob and Max served together in the Canadian military and Ben and I both have medical degrees. That’s pretty much where it ends though. Ben is a doctor in the Emergency Room of St. Micheal’s Hospital where all of this started and I work as a pathologist for the Center for Forensic Sciences. And even though Bob and Max served together they each had different roles. Max was trained as a sniper so he did a lot of work that is classified and can’t really be discussed. Bob, on the other hand became an Intelligence Officer after basic training, mainly because of the education and penchant for languages that he has. His work is most definitely classified but sometimes he talks about things in bits and pieces from the need to get them out. Barbara is an Environment Scientist and she works at an Outdoor Education Centre for school children to the northeast of Toronto. The last member of our group is only with us in spirit now. My husband Steve. I don’t really want to talk about him though so we’ll just skip over that for the moment…

So how did we all come to meet you might wonder. Well, Bob and Max already knew each other, that part is fairly simple to infer. Max’s wife, Miranda is, well was, my husband’s sister. Barbara and Bob used to date in university but managed to stay in touch after they split (they say amicably but there’s still tension so I think there are unresolved issues). And Ben treated Steve when he came into the ER about 3 years ago after getting shot in the line of duty. Oh, I may have forgotten to mention that my husband was an officer with the Toronto Police Service. And through the wonder of absent conversations in an otherwise ordinary world, we discovered that we shared something fairly special in common. A love for Zombie media and the willingness and desire to “prepare” ourselves just in case. I think we all felt a little silly at the time; I’m sure none of us actually believed that we would come to experience hell on earth. But our discussions and time spent training has gotten us this far so we have to believe that we’re better off somehow. We can all handle different kinds of firearms; Max and Bob having more experience and better aim. Barbara has schooled us all in edible plants and the types of materials that can be found in the woods with which to make the most durable melee weapons if our ammo runs dry before we can stock up. It’s amazing actually the types of woods that can really skewer someone in a pinch! Ben, a child of the foster care system grew up trying to find ways to escape his life and as a result, he has collected a wealth of maps. Maps you probably didn’t even know existed; heck, I didn’t know they existed but they are a godsend to us now. And I’m a mechanical and technological junkie. I’ve spent years learning how things work and I can thank my dad for that. Those skills may be the difference between life and death for us out here. So that’s us in a nutshell, just a group of people trying to stay alive.

Tonight we’ve decided not to light a fire or use any of our camping lights. We don’t understand everything about the Undead at this point and we are all tired enough not to want to draw any unwanted attention. The only light we really have is from my laptop screen but that’s turned as low as I can get it and still see what I am typing to you. Our hope is that we will be safe tonight and many more nights to come. Some of you out there, those untouched by the reality that we are living first hand, might think this is a joke, a prank or some sick and twisted hoax. I can certainly attest that it is not. What’s happening is real and this is our record of it. I do hope that my frantic typing isn’t garbled and that I don’t repeat myself too often. PLEASE forgive me if I do. My intent is only to give the world a glimpse into our survival until the very last possible moment.

I hope this communication finds you in a safe place where the Undead have yet to proliferate. Pray for us. Pray for life. Just pray… Please.

The Next Day