Day 31

In the early morning I finally heard back from Captain Kanelstrand. It was a relief to say the least. From the message, it appeared that communications on the ship has been temporarily down but now that it had been restored, we learned that their plan for getting us to the cruise ship involved using the life boats. Immediately, I wrote back telling him of the existence of the motor boats and of the impending army of the Undead. My intent was to hopefully impress upon him the need for speed in the execution of the rescue.

Within minutes of sending my email one of the survivors, who had been monitoring the cruise ship for any activity, sounded word that movement could be seen. The decks were alive with the crew lowering life boats into the water. At this point, I didn’t know how they planned to get us back onto the ship but as long as I was off land, I would cross that particular bridge when I came to it. Besides I was sure that the crew of the cruise ship had a plan.

Knowing that we had to have a plan for evacuation, I chose a few of the more outspoken survivors along with Ben and Max for a meeting of the minds. Now we all know that letting even one infected person get on that cruise ship could mean death, or even undeath, for all of us. It was just a matter of leading each of them to that final thought that may take some finesse. If any of them happened to be infected or they were harbouring anyone who was infected our plan would go south very quickly. It was also apparent that in order to get full compliance from everyone that Max, Ben and I would need to be among the last to be rescued. The main thing would be to make sure that all the children were rescued first, no exceptions.

The small group was very receptive to the idea that we screen the survivors for possible infection. After all, it was the only way to be sure. I left them in charge to spread the word among the rest of the group, with instructions that anyone that was against the idea likely had something or someone to hide. Max went back to check on the defence system that he had helped to put into place last night. Everyone that had a firearm had signed up for shifts knowing that if we let the Undead get into town, it would be the end of us. No one knew how accurate a shot anyone else really was but the fact that they had survived this long was a good sign.

I knew we had a while before the 10 rescue boats reached Waskaganish and as all of the children had been gathered into one central location for safety, I went with Ben and Mary, another surviving doctor to check them all over. Technically, this should have been done sooner but at the time no one was really thinking much about safety. We were all too happy to have just met other living people. The good thing was that the children were guarded at all times so if any one of them had begun to show any signs of infection, it would not have gone unnoticed for very long.

One of the survivors came running into the Quonset hut; I think his name was Kuthrapali, to tell us that one of the survivors was flatly refusing to submit himself and his family for inspection. Not good news. I sent him off to find Max, as Ben and I followed the angry raised voices to an RV parked on the edge of town.

Upon seeing us approach, all of the other survivors immediately stopped arguing. I spoke directly to the man standing in front of the door of the RV, barring entrance to those demanding it. I asked him why he was refusing to be checked for infection. Why couldn’t we assess the state of his family members? As soon as the words were out of my mouth a noise came from inside the vehicle and a face appeared in the window over his right shoulder. A greyish bloated face of one of the Undead. We had our answer.

The man jumped back, afraid; obviously the last time he had seen his loved one they had been alive and not Undead. Getting a nod from me, Ben opened the door to the RV and stepped back, his gun up and ready to fire at all times. With a clumsy misstep, the undead teenager was in the doorway. A single shot propelled her back into the vehicle and Ben closed the door. After that, the man freely allowed us to check him for any signs of infection.

The process went pretty quickly. In total, we only had seven incidents like the one in the RV. Like the one with Bob. In some cases, parents were harbouring infected teenage offspring. In others, infected survivors were hiding bites from friends or travelling companions. When it all came down to it, everyone had a choice; you could end it yourself and die on your own terms or we could wait and then once you succumbed to the infection, becoming one of the Undead, we would do it for you. Keeping in mind of course that if you hadn’t died before the rescue was over; you’d end up as one of the Undead for eternity.

As painful as it was, the parents chose to end the suffering of their children, not wanting them to become something so horrible. Most of the rest opted to take matters into their own hands and each of them disappeared into the woods with their firearm. The singular shots were our only indications of their lives ending. We only had one hold out. One single person that wanted someone else to do the dirty work for him. We locked him in one of the Quonset huts and waited. I’m not sorry to say that we forgot about him…

By this point the first of the life boats had reached the shore. Amazingly Captain Sven Kanelstrand was among the crew manning them. He shook my hand firmly and told me what an honour it was to meet me. Meet me? This man was saving my life and HE was honoured to meet ME? Strange. I filled him in on our precautions and told him of our plan to get the children to safety first. He agreed and thanked me for my foresight in thinking; a lesson they had learned the hard way in picking up survivors in Newfoundland earlier in the month.

The lifeboats could only carry 12 people in total. Each one of them was manned by 2 crew members from the cruise ship, but there were extra oars in the bottom of each of the boats. My guess was that they had been taken from the other life boats to assist in today’s rescue mission. In total, we had 64 children to get to the ship first so we could send a few of the other survivors along to help row and get them across faster. Anything to shorten the time it took to get back across to the ship.

With our first 100 survivors finally on their way, I breathed a little bit easier. This was actually going to happen. We were actually going to be free and have a decent chance at survival.

They made good time returning to the ship. I watched with my binoculars once they got closer so that I could see how they actually planned to get us all on the cruise ship. As they got closer, a door in the hull about 5 feet above the water line opened. It must have been the door through which they had accepted deliveries in the past. A rope netting was lowered down and one by one each of the survivors was helped into the belly of the ship. Once aboard, Liam and Lily turned back and waved as if knowing that I would be there watching them.

Within minutes the life boats were on their way back to us. I started to gather up the next 100 survivors, trying to leave who I thought were the strongest and most accurate shots within the last group to go. Max, Ben and I were obviously going to be among the last to leave. By our count we were now 298 living people. It would take three trips of all 10 life boats to get all of us to safety.

Coming back to the shore at Waskaganish, the life boats took a little bit longer than they had the first time. Fatigue must be setting in for the men piloting them. I knew that if they kept doing all of the rowing that we would end up having to stay on the island longer than any of us wanted to. Especially now that rescue was so near at hand.

Once they were back on shore, I spoke to Sven and asked if he had any other crew that could pilot and row the boats back a third time. His answer was a decisive no. The crew he had left on his ship was able-bodied but wouldn’t be of any use in a task such as this. As a precaution I asked the Captain and his men to save their strength on this return trip and allow only the survivors to row themselves back. Hopefully giving them a bit of a rest would be enough at this point. The crew thought the plan was sound but made the concession to help out only to steer the boats, not to power them forward.

Once the boats were loaded, they set off, leaving the rest of us to watch our backs and their progress. They made fairly good time crossing but there seemed to be an issue with the door in the hull not wanting to open. We really hoped that it was not going to take too long since no one really knew how much more time we had left to wait. Surely the Undead would be coming into Waskaganish at any moment.

The sound of a motorbike in the distance broke the silence around us. Looking up through the centre of the town, we could see it speeding towards us, carried a pair of young women. They stopped short, maybe 25 metres from us and hurriedly got off of the bike. Looking relieved to see they hadn’t missed the boat, they introduced themselves. Kate and Debra, both from New Brunswick. They let us know that they Undead were maybe 30 minutes outside of town, maybe even less. Not the best of news considering that the ship had hit a bit of a snag.

Ben took Kate and Debra to the shoreline while everyone else went into battle mode. Vehicles were moved and put into fallback lines. All the firearms that we had were checked to make sure that they were loaded and that spare ammunition was handy. Hand to hand combat weapons were collected and distributed, just in case the ammo didn’t last. We were either going to get off this shoreline or we would die trying.

A grinding noise across the water signalled that the door in the hull was finally opening. Thank God! Not a moment too soon. Maybe there would be enough time to get everyone offloaded from the life boats and then get the life boats back to shore. Once the rest of us were on the water, it wouldn’t matter. We would be safe. Ben came back to say that both Debra and Kate had been checked out and were free from infection. Excellent, one more thing we didn’t have to deal with.

It took 15 long minutes to get all 100 survivors onto the cruise ship and another long 10 minutes for them to get back to shore. Our minds were so focused at that point in getting off of land that we all seemed to forget about the real threat. The Undead. Within minutes they had worked their way silently through the maze of vehicles and now they were only a few tens of feet from us. There was no way that we could all get into the life boats and get safely into the water now. Then the panic set in. Suddenly people were just shooting wildly at them, not lining up shots and wasting ammo. They were also not making sure that no one else was standing in front of them. We lost 4 living people in that manner in the space of a minute and a half.

I just wanted to scream some sense into these people. Tell them to remember all of the things they had learned along the way. Instead, the three of us just formed a line and we started to systematically take them down one by one. Pretty soon, order started to return as the others joined our line. The shooting must have continued for 20 minutes or more, not continuous of course, but we stood there just taking them out as they kept faltering towards us. Once we were convinced that there was a break in the Undead assault, we put our minds back to getting into the life boats and setting sail.

Everyone had just about made it into the life boats and there was only one that had yet to shove off from shore. A laptop bag hit the floor of the boat with strict instructions that everyone out there has to know. Her final act of saving us all was to push the life boat into the water and wave good-bye. My name is Max, and this is her story…

Julie grew up in a small town in rural Ontario and had dreams of becoming someone, someday. She studied hard in school and as a result she was one of the youngest women to ever be employed by the Centre of Forensic Sciences as a Pathologist. This was where she happened to meet the man of her dreams, a police Detective by the name of Steve who also just happened to be my brother-in-law. They married within a year after meeting and their life together was idyllic.

Thirty one days ago, the day that Patient Zero came back from the dead, Steve was dispatched along with all other police personnel to try to help detain the growing number of Undead in the city. As a result, he has attacked and bitten. His commander sent him home for the day where he ended up dying, as the infected tend to do and then came back to unlife.

Unknowingly, Julie had returned from a morgue full of restrained undead corpses to a house containing a single unrestrained Undead Steve. She had no weapon to protect herself and no warning that he was even there.

We found her on Day 2, sitting in her living room next to Steve’s body, the bar from a towel rack through where his left eye socket should have been. She was a mess but she was alive. We got her changed and set off on the journey you’ve all been reading about. You all know the kind of woman that she is. Well that she was. Once we got to Waskaganish, everyone seemed to accept instantly that she was in charge. Whether or not she realized it, people just instinctively followed her.

In the end, we all should have been more careful. We should have watched more closely. Had we paid more attention she would have still been here with us. She was attacked from behind, a member of the Undead army sinking its teeth into her shoulder. Julie had been infected and there was nothing that we could do. She took her gun and tossed her laptop to me, making me promise to tell you all what happened. She saved us all and we all want you to remember her.

The Next Day

Day 30

When the sun rose this morning we were so close to reaching the goal we’d been striving for. Mere hours from Waskaganish. Short, short hours away from Sven Kanelstrand and the freedom the cruise ship promised. We were all in good spirits, thinking about the possibility. While we might have been somewhat preoccupied with those thoughts, we were still ever vigilant in our guard against the Undead. There was no reason to come this far only to lose the battle at the very end.

The road to Waskaganish seemed somewhat more alive. The Undead were far more prevalent and appeared to be moving in the same direction as us. At times, they would reach out their putrid arms for our moving SUV, perhaps hoping that their paltry strength was enough to stop our forward motion. The fact that the Undead were moving in our same direction was both promising and frightening. Promising in that it meant that other survivors had been through here previously, leading the Undead along with them. Frightening because it meant that Waskaganish could be teeming with the Undead.

With a fair amount of driving, we finally got to a point where we couldn’t see any Undead figures shambling ahead of us and the major mass of the horde was behind us. Maybe, just maybe we would beat them all to the port. Beat them to freedom.

Arriving in Waskaganish was somewhat anticlimactic. There wasn’t much of a town to speak of. More of a collection of Quonset huts. There was one thing that the port had going for it at this point though; it was free of the Undead. It was also full of other survivors. There must have been about three hundred or more other people, living people, all waiting for their chance at freedom.

The only problem was that freedom was sitting in the water, long kilometres off shore in Hudson Bay. The captain still hadn’t returned my email from the other day so we had no way of knowing if and when the ship would come into the harbour. In all honesty, we didn’t even know if the ship could come into the harbour. It was entirely possible that the water was too shallow in the port. Perhaps there was a ferry system that was taking the survivors a group at a time. Whatever system they had in place I just hoped that someone was taking the time to check each and every survivor for possible infection. No use getting ourselves on a floating sanctuary only to be confined on it with a growing army of mindless Undead.

We parked the Escalade on the side of the main street, and got out. It was the first time that we felt somewhat safe in leaving our vehicle for a few moments. We still brought our guns of course, no need to be stupid about things. There was a definite feeling of camaraderie among the survivors. The unity of the shared experience. Nothing needed to be explained. Some of us may have had to endure more but it didn’t take away from the fact that we all had a common enemy. The Undead.

We asked around to learn the procedure for getting to the cruise ship, assuming that something was already in place. No one really seemed to have any idea. One man had made it all the way from Columbia (that’s South America) and had been in Waskaganish for 2 days. He relayed that he had yet to see any action from the ship since getting here. While the news was startling and didn’t sit well, I chose to believe there was a reason for it. Perhaps, they had run into some trouble with their navigation system, or their engines. Even their communications could be out. One thing was for certain, if the gentleman from Columbia had not seen any action on the outer decks trough his binoculars in 2 days it meant that at least the ship wasn’t inhabited by the Undead.

In the small amount of time that we were able to gather information from people, it looked like no one else had any kind of communication devices that were serviceable. No laptops with mobile internet, no cell phones with Wi-Fi or internet access, nothing. They had all come to this place with no way to communicate with the ship once they got here. There was one transport truck that had a CB radio but so far no one knew how to use it. Max offered to give it try and he was lead off to the truck.

I reveal to any of the other survivors that I was able to keep in touch with the outside world. I did this because I was afraid that I would be inundated with requests to check Facebook or email accounts. That was the last thing I needed at this point; to have someone accidentally break my lifeline because they needed to harvest some crops or check to see if their on again, off again boyfriend is still out there. I had already stopped checking my personal accounts weeks ago knowing that my parents are probably dead. Likely Undead too. My husband is dead. My friends are pretty much all dead, likely drafted into the army of the Undead… The only email address I use is the one attached to this blog. So if one of you is out there in the crowd and keeping a lifeline secret, I understand. I won’t tell, if you don’t tell.

When Max returned, he let us know that the CB in the truck was useless. He couldn’t reach the ship and wondered if the unit on the ship had either been destroyed or turned off completely. There was also the distinct possibility that it didn’t even have one. CB radios aren’t exactly high end communications equipment. Our only way to get a hold of possible salvation was to contact them through the address that the captain had used. And the sooner the better. It wouldn’t take the Undead all that long to get here. In the meantime, Max and a few of the other men and women started to plan a strategy for the moment the Undead came shuffling into town.

I snuck away to work on my computer in the privacy of one of the Quonset huts. I needed to get through to Captain Kanelstand. To find out what we were supposed to do. I already knew that the port had three motor boats that could act as ferrying vessels but did anyone else know how to pilot a motor boat? Was there enough fuel and enough time to get all of the survivors across to the cruise ship? We had to consider that without knowing what situation we would encounter on the ship, it was foolhardy to send survivors to their potential demise.

I knew from the map that there were 3 other ports towns along the coast of Hudson Bay: Eastmain, Wemindji, and Chisasibi. It was entirely possible that each of those ports could be free of the Undead. Would it buy us some time if we diverted many of the survivors to those little settlements?

God Sven, where are you?

The Next Day

Day 29

Our day has been fairly uneventful, for the most part anyways. We’ve just been moving steady towards our goal: the cruise ship in Hudson Bay. I’ve sent an email Sven Kanelstrand but so far I have received no response. I feel like we are in a race against time. While I know the letter said that they would be waiting in Waskaganish, I’m afraid that once we get there, they will have left. I’m sure that they have contacted others. Perhaps some of you that are still reading this. I know you have mentioned trying to head north but since leaving the safety of your homes, I have not heard from you. I guess I am lucky in a way to have the outlet, the contact with the rest of the living world as limited as that is. I know that if I were to lose you all, I would find it hard to stop writing… I think someone needs to know what happened to us.

How silly that sounds. If the end of the living world is about to draw its final breath, there will be no one left to read this. No one left to transcribe our struggles into the history books. Every freedom that we have ever fought for forgotten. All of our wars now seem pointless. There was only one war that we should have been preparing for; the one against the foe we assumed would never arise. We were stupid but one can only see that in hindsight…

Everything that has happened over the past few days shouldn’t put us to far off our estimated arrival time, but we’ll likely arrive sometime in the middle of the night. Not optimal but at least we’ll be there. I just wish that I could get a hold of the captain, just to be able to have a better grasp at what to expect once we get there. In situations where the Undead can make unexpected appearances it’s always best to have a plan.

Of course there is always the unexpected that you can never plan for and that is exactly what happened to us early today…

As we were driving through Blind River in Northern Ontario, Ben pulled the SUV to a complete and sudden stop. Ahead of us, hundreds of deer and moose were running down the roadway towards us. It was terrifying. For those of you not from a place where deer and moose are plentiful, they are absolutely gorgeous in the wild. A beautiful sight to behold as they graze in a field on a misty morning. They however do not look gorgeous or beautiful, melded together with your car. I have seen many individuals pass over my table at work as a result of accidents with these guys. Not a pretty sight at all. I prayed that none of them would smash into us, prayed that none of them would try to go over us. I prayed that they weren’t running from something terrible…

Two of my prayers were answered. All of the large animals missed us, but what was behind them was even worse. A seething mass of fast moving bloody gore was headed our way. I got out my binoculars and tried to focus on the moving carpet but it was difficult; they were just going too fast. Without the time to think, I started to close all of the vents in the car and ordered Ben to turn the engine off. Ben and I braced the soles of our feet against the vents just in case. I told everyone that when the swarm covered the car we would have to be completely still or else. I didn’t know at the time if they could get in. I didn’t want think that far ahead. I just knew that there was no way that we would be able to drive through them and survive. Once we got into them, they could have gotten up into the engine and caused the belts to seize, stranding us there with them. This was the only way that I could think to save us.

Within seconds, they had reached us. It was like someone turned off the lights as they covered the car, sensing the warmth and perhaps initially confusing it with the warmth of a living body. Ben and I were like stone in the front seats but I could not tell what was going in the back with Max and the twins. I felt Lily move as I heard her cry out in fear, knowing that she had peeked through her hands. The sound and subtle movement was like a beacon to the Undead rodents covering us. I don’t think a metronome could have kept better time, as the different species began to bang their little undead skulls on the surfaces of the Escalade. Within minutes I could hear the tiny fractures, see the faint webbing of cracks in the glass. Crack, crack, crack… I started to cry. I didn’t want to die like this. Heck, I didn’t want to die at all… Ben grabbed my hand, needing some comfort of his own, knowing that this might very well be the end for us.

Crack, crack, crack…

Liam and Lily were openly sobbing, the stress of the situation too much for them. Max seemed oblivious to it all. He just sat back there and held the twins and tried to comfort them as best as he could. With a tiny ping, the first piece if the windshield popped inward. I was stunned, to say the least. I had always thought that windshields were treated with a layer of plastic to prevent them from shattering. I guess no one had ever tested them against an army of Undead rodents.

A tiny Undead paw snaked through the hole, trying with all its undead might to grab us. It might have been comical had it not been terrifying. I remember praying at that point and asking for a way out. I was amazed at how quickly I was answered.

For some reason, as quickly as the swarm had come, it was gone. Looking in relief behind us, we saw the reason for their quick departure. A small group of cows, unaware of the danger had meandered into one of the neighbouring fields and had stopped for something to eat. We didn’t wait around long enough to find out how they got on. Once the swarm was far enough away and their attention focused on the doomed bovids, we turned on the car and high-tailed it out of there. There have been times when I thought I was going to die. Never have I actually come that close.

The Next Day

Day 28

Max and Ben felt that I should tell you all what happened in the Escalade the evening that Bob turned into one of the Undead. I was hesitant to share the story mainly because as the person sitting in the backseat with him, I bore the brunt of the shock, the confusion, the fear, the revulsion, and the heart pounding terror. It brought back all those same emotions I had felt on Day 1 of the outbreak; of being trapped in my home, pursued by one of the Undead, with nowhere to go…

That’s a story you’ll likely never hear though, its pain is too private. But sitting in the back of that Escalade with Max and Ben ahead of me, Liam and Lily asleep in the space behind me and a freshly Undead Bob with milky eyes fixed on me, I found I could not move. I could not speak. I could not think. I could not even breathe. It seemed like hours went by, our eyes strangely locked in each others, while I’m sure it was mere seconds though. I knew at any point that Bob would lunge for me, grab a hold of me and sink his teeth into my living flesh, infecting me. Killing me. Turning me into one of the Undead.

My biggest fear was about to come true and suddenly I was powerless to stop it. I was frozen in place and in time. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that what was once Bob was going to cause me to join the ranks of the Undead. My mind was blank, numbingly blank. Had you asked my name, I don’t think I could have told you…

Liam stirred in the back and Undead Bob broke eye contact with me. His intent changed in a heartbreaking beat. No longer was he interested in the unmoving lump of flesh before him, now he wanted the warm, soft, young flesh of little Liam. Sweet, innocent Liam. He should never have had to awoken to such a sight a few inches from his chubby face. His scream of fright broke me from my stupor and suddenly I was alive again.

Alive and fighting.

I didn’t have a firearm close at hand nor did I have a knife or anything useful really. All that I had were my bare hands. With Undead Bob trying to claw his way over the seat to get to the twins and now Max and Ben alerted to the problem and trying to help, I did the only thing I could think to do. I took my hands, placed them on either side of his head and twisted sharply. I twisted so sharply that I rung Undead Bob’s neck. The feat like it took hours. In the slow-paced action sequence of my mind, nothing moved at normal speed.

The unfortunate thing was that it didn’t kill him… I think I knew it wouldn’t, but it did slow him down. It made his arms and legs useless to him but his mouth was still a problem. His striving, gnashing, infected mouth.

In the dark of the early night and with the commotion behind him, Ben had overestimated the shoulder of the road and ended up running us into the ditch. With the bumpy ascent down the embankment, I was thrown very close to the one thing I had wanted to avoid. The supplies in the back were toppled all over the twins and you could hear them crying out in pain as cans and boxes jostled around with them. Coming to rest at the bottom, Max got out and immediately opened the door in order to dispose of what had once been Bob. He took him a short distance away and gave him one final shot to the head. Then he carried the body further away in case of scavengers or anything else that might come along.

Still in the car, I will admit that I was shaken. I could hear the twins whimpering in the back, scared and probably hurt but at that moment there was nothing that I could have done about it. I was scared and I was emotionally hurt. Max came back to the car absolutely livid, demanding to know what had happened. All I could tell him at that point was that the kids needed him. I still have no idea what Ben was doing just then.

Once he had extracted the twins from the back and made sure that they were somewhat okay, he put them in the front seat and then got in the back with me. I could tell that he wanted to know what had transpired so I quickly brought him up to speed. He was shaken by what I told him; knowing that everyone besides Ben could have been asleep when Bob had turned.

Sitting in that ditch, one man down in the pitch black of night, the graveness of our situation started to sink in. And to make matters worse, the moon broke through the clouds illuminating the landscape for us. The ditch was shallow and ended at the edge of a large unfenced field. We would certainly be able to drive out of it, but in the distance heading our way were a large collection of the Undead. Probably drawn in by the light of our headlamps. In minutes they would be all over the Escalade but in the dim light, we couldn’t see how to best navigate ourselves out of the ditch.

We decided our best option was to wait them out and hope that in the dwindling light, they wouldn’t be able to see us in the car.

Ben turned off the headlights, masking us as best as he could and drove a little further up the ditch hoping that a new position might confuse them. With the way that they moonlight was shining down and the fact that we had moved into the shadows perhaps we might have become invisible for a moment or two. Lily and Liam joined Max and I in the backseat and we explained to them that we would have to remain completely still and silent (just in case). It was going to be a harrowing night and not one that I would want to readily endure again. I was just thankful that the SUV was still working. I reached back and got blankets for everyone, knowing that with the Undead approaching we could all get chilled from the fear.

The Undead were getting closer. In the moonlight, you could make out the individuals that they used to be. One used to be a woman, you could tell by the long hair and the physique, though it was marred by a missing arm and a huge gaping hole in her midsection. Another looked like he belonged to a biker gang. Still wearing the jacket and leather chaps, the flesh on his face was drooping and looked like it was about to fall off. Each one was in a different state of decomposition, some freshly dead, some with the skin and muscle starting to fall off the bone. There were waitresses, men in business suits, a clown, some cowboys and cowgirls, a woman wearing yoga clothes, a man dressed only in a Speedo, even some children of various ages. There was even a guy dressed up like a giant taco. The collection goes on…

It didn’t take them long to find Bob’s corpse. And it also didn’t take them long to begin to fight over it. I had no idea that they would consume the flesh of each other if given the opportunity. I prayed that they wouldn’t be able to smell the stench of death on the car. Or be able to follow it right to us. Would they be able to get in? Could they overturn us? Break the windows? Anything was possible.

It didn’t take them long to find the car either. It transpired quite by accident though which was great for us. The giant taco happened to bump into us and as a result, fell over. Once he was down and then unable to get back up, the remaining Undead sensed their chance at another meal. They swarmed the giant taco, ripping apart the costume. They tore his undead flesh to shreds and devoured him next to our car. We silently prayed that the moonlight wouldn’t shift and reveal us.

Their behaviour was very odd to us. It was the first time that we have seen them consume the flesh of one of their own. We could almost understand them eating a dead Undead. But eating an animate one just seemed so uncharacteristic. In truth, what was characteristic about them aside from the fact that they attack the living if given a chance and assimilate them through contamination? These encounters would stay with us for a long while I’m sure; each of us trying to figure out a way to use our observations to come up with way to defeat them.

Luckily for us, two meals in one night seemed to satisfy the Undead and after finishing the giant taco they moved on. In the light of day it was easy to manoeuvre out of the shallow ditch and get back on the road. The road towards Waskaganish and freedom from the Undead.

The Next Day

Day 27

More and more heartbreaking stories are finding their way to the internet. Accounts of other survivors trying to survive. Chronicles of dwindling numbers and of people making their last stands. It’s just so hard to look into that mirror and see what you’re living reflected back at you. The reality of it all was just too much to bear at times and I find myself looking less at the internet these days.

I did receive a message that gave us some much needed hope. I’ve included the letter as I received it so that you can fully understand the ramifications of what it was…

Ahoy! My name is Sven Kanelstrand and I am a captain with Regal Caribbean Cruises, well I was a captain for them prior to the outbreak. We were docked in Miami, waiting for a new group of guests to board the ship when the infection started to become a global phenomenon. As soon as we got word that Miami had been overrun and that the infected were moving towards the harbour, we set off and kept a safe distance from shore. With the number of infected growing and the number of survivors dwindling we’ve made it our personal mission to rescue as many as we can. We have travelled to Hudson Bay in the hopes that survivors can make all the way north to us. I know the journey might be long and arduous for you but I promise that we are free from the Undead. All that you need to do is make your way to the port of Waskaganish in the Canadian province of Quebec. We hope to see you there soon. We pray that you are able to stay strong and stay alive.

With the news that there was a cruise ship waiting in Hudson Bay for us, for anyone that could get to it, we were elated. While we were happy and hopeful, we also wondered if this was somehow a trick. Some cruel joke that a sick and twisted survivor was playing on the rest of the living world. We figured that it would take us approximately 3 days to get to Waskaganish from where we currently were. Were we going to take the chance and head there? Of course! It was the closest thing we had to a plan at this point. The closest thing we had to a chance at survival.

Feeling as good and as jubilant as we did, it didn’t take away from the fact that we still had to get there. We had no way of knowing what we would encounter along the way. And to make matters worse it looked as if Bob was coming down with a cold. He had started to get feverish about 6 hours after stopping at the Rocky Mountain House Co-Op. Ben seemed to think it was nothing more than a flu and that it would pass in time but we were all worried that the twins would pick something up being in such close quarters.

Since the Rocky Mountain House Co-Op did not have a large pharmacy section and therefore a limited supply of antibiotics and such, we decided to make an unscheduled stop at a little pharmacy in Jansen, Saskatchewan. Ben wanted to pick up some more antibiotics and over the counter medications that he could use to treat just about anything that could come up in the course of the next few months. Our shopping trip went off without a hitch and we were in and out in less than 30 minutes. Ben immediately gave Bob some medication to help relieve his fever and some antibiotics just in case he had picked up some sort of bacterium along the way.

By nightfall, it was apparent that whatever had befallen Bob was much worse than we could handle while driving across country. He was pale and sweaty. His heartbeat was slow and irregular and he complained of feeling achy and extremely cold. When you touched him though, it felt like his skin was on fire. His skin was gauntly drawn over this face and there was nothing we could do to keep fluids in him. He needed a hospital and there wasn’t one that we could take him to.

To be perfectly honest, when I look back on it now, things would have been easier had we just done what we knew we had to do. Bob was probably going to die and we really had no idea what it was that was killing him. And we couldn’t take the risk that he would die in the car with us and then come back as one of the Undead. We still didn’t know what would happen to anyone that died of natural causes and to be honest, we weren’t interested in testing any theories on the matter at this point. It was all too much to think about… More than we really wanted to think about at this point when we had a plan and a safe place to go. Why did things like this have to happen when you finally got good news?

Knowing that Bob had been sweating and had probably soaked right through the long sleeved shirt that he had put on in the store, I decided to change it for him while he was resting. Bob was really out of it by that time. He didn’t even wake up as I unbuttoned the shirt and started to take it off of his now gaunt frame. It was amazing how quickly his muscular physique had been transformed by this illness he was suffering from. It wasn’t until I had gotten the shirt off of his right arm that I got the shock of my life.

Plain as day, on Bob’s right forearm was the distinctive bite mark pattern that only human dentition can make. He had been bitten in that washroom and then hidden it from us. He had sacrificed all of our lives and put each one of us in danger. I was outraged and saddened. Outraged that he would put us in this position. Saddened to be losing a true friend.

I can’t talk about what happened after that just yet. The pain is just too fresh and too shattering. Just know that Bob will forever be remembered in our hearts and in our prayers. Good bye my friend, I will miss you.

The Next Day

Day 26

We needed to stop for supplies. Everything that we used was getting low and we badly needed something to occupy the kids with. After doing a little research on the internet, it looked like the best place in Alberta for us to head to get supplies was the Rocky Mountain House Co-op in Rocky Mountain House. It would take us a little more south than we wanted to travel but at least we wouldn’t have to go into the urban sprawl around Edmonton or Calgary.

Traversing the Rocky Mountains, I wondered if perhaps we could find refuge among them. Maybe a cabin or home built high enough up the side of the mountain would be a possibility. In the end, I discarded the idea, knowing that it was only a matter of time before the Undead would follow the road to us. Our only hope was to get completely off the beaten track and remain off their radar as best we could.

Liam and Lily were steadily returning to the rambunctious toddlers they had once been and the news of another stop had them giddy with delight. I think it was mainly just the whisper of some real toys that was making them so happy. Just something other than the makeshift toys made of water bottles would likely turn their worlds upside down. What I wouldn’t give to be a kid again. To feel the joy of anticipation at a new toy!

Driving into the parking lot at the Rocky Mountain House Co-op, we could see that there were a fair number of cars left abandoned in the parking lot. There did not appear to be any Undead milling about but one can never be too careful. We’d learned that the hard way. The doors to the store were closed which was potentially a good sign but they were the automatic kind where you step up to them and they open.

We decided not to attract any unwanted attention to ourselves in the parking lot by honking the horn. Instead, Max, Bob, and I were going to head inside while Ben stayed with the twins in the Escalade. We all got out and were making our way to the door with our guns handy, when the automatic doors opened unexpectedly.

Immediately, our guns came up. Our hearts thumping furiously in our chests. I remember thinking, please don’t let it be any of the Undead.

Into the brisk sunshine walked 3 other survivors loaded with supplies, all as surprised to see us as we were to see them. Warily, we all exchanged curt pleasantries, not knowing who we could trust. Given our last encounters with groups of survivors, we weren’t going to trust anyone too easily now. It wasn’t until the young pregnant woman spoke up and said that there was enough for everyone that I realized they were just as nervous of us stealing from them as we were of them stealing from us. I laughed and told them that we were the least of their worries at this point; with the Undead walking around, we shouldn’t be working against each other.

A silent truce formed, we were told that the store was clear of the Undead and that while most of the fresh food had been cleared out already but that quite a lot of canned goods were still available. We thanked them for the information and made our way inside, still somewhat cautious of what we might discover.

Our plan was to hit all of the areas together in order to get what we needed and then get out quickly. We headed off to gather clothing first. Having memorized the sizes of all of the men I picked out lightweight pants and new (and clean) underwear for them quickly. Max and Bob were in charge of the shoes, boots and socks for everyone including the twins; hopefully they didn’t screw it up… Next I got shirts and t-shirts for the men and moved on to the clothing for the kids. Once I was finished outfitting the children with everything I thought they might need, I got myself some lightweight pants, new underwear and a three pack of sports bras, t-shirts as well as a few shirts. Upon consideration, I grabbed enough cold weather gear for each of us in the event that we needed it. In the future, these items might not be as readily accessible. Seeing coats and accessories I grabbed those as well, making sure to get bigger sizes for the twins in case they grew. Thank goodness they had these items in stock.

Once I’d put everything into the cart, off I went to the toy section to grab a few things for the twins. Max and Bob joined me a few moments later with a full cart of footwear and some ammunition they had found in the adjoining sporting goods section. With the toys and games taken care of, off we went to find some canned foods that were easy to eat and didn’t require heating. Thankfully, there were lots of choices and many still in full cases. Forks, spoons and a requisite can opener were next. Max grabbed a few cases of water and some juice and soy milk tetra packs for the twins while Bob loaded up on boxed goods like crackers and cookies and dry cereals. I found a supply of protein bars and transferred the remaining stock to my overflowing cart.

The next stop was the bath and body/pharmacy section. We had decided that over the counter medications could be useful at some point. We had planned to stock up on anything we could get our hands on; allergy medications, cold medications, pain relievers, sunscreen, bandages, peroxide. We had hoped to find stronger pharmaceuticals as well: we wanted to have antibiotics on hand if we ended up needing them as well as a supply of heavier pain medications. It was much better to be safe than sorry if you needed these items in a pinch and the closest source happened to be deep behind enemy lines.

Having gathered all the supplies that we needed, we headed back out to the SUV with three carts, not knowing if all of what we had gotten would fit in the back.

On the way out, Bob spied a public washroom and the urge to use it hit him. He waved us forward, telling us that he would join us in a moment. Max and I left the store, pushing our carts and dragging Bob’s, intent on getting to the Escalade and loading it as quickly as we could. To our amazement, everything fit in the back of the SUV with room to spare; you have to love the spaciousness of luxury automobiles these days…

Returning our carts to the side of the building, we got into the car to wait for Bob. Minutes went by. Long minutes. Thinking the worst, Max and I got out of the car to go back into to the store to see what was keeping him, hoping that he hadn’t walked in on one of the Undead in the washroom. Just as we were about to activate the automatic doors, they opened and Bob walked out. He was doing up the buttons to a long-sleeved shirt and gave the excuse that once he had gotten a look at himself in the mirror he couldn’t stand to wear his favourite shirt that said ‘You’re a great friend but if Zombies are chasing us, I might trip you’. We laughed and then didn’t want to hazard a guess at what we looked like as we got into the car and drove away.

Thinking back now, we should have asked those other survivors where they were headed or if they had a safe place to stay. Hindsight is always 20/20…

The Next Day

Day 25

When we got to Prince George we decided to go west towards Prince Rupert and the coast. After the incident at the playground, we concluded it was still best for us to get off land and find ourselves an island or a highly isolated town free from the infection. It was just proving too dangerous to stay on the road.

Thankfully, Lily and Liam were silent in the SUV. The events of yesterday had branded them with a new found respect for the outside world. It was a shame but even at 4 and a half years old, they had grown up right before our eyes. Lily had bounced back faster than Liam to a degree; she was able to laugh and smile at the silly little jokes that we told them, though not with the same abandon that we had once witnessed. Liam was only just coming around now, having spent the majority of the night locked in a catatonic state. No amount of talking or bodily reassurance could get through to him in the beginning and Ben thought that it was best for us to just let him be for the moment. No use in trying to snap him out of something that he might not have been ready to snap out of. It was just better to let him come around on his own once his young mind had dealt with what he had seen… If he dealt with it. We were all so worried and so relieved when it looked like he was coming back to us.

We got to Prince Rupert and immediately wished that we had not wasted our time. The entire city had been burnt to the ground. Everywhere you looked there were the remnants of buildings and cars. All that was left were the foundations and ashes. Even the harbour was destroyed. Nothing was left but a few burned out hulls of boats floating in the surf. To see the destruction and the desolation was depressing. You just felt like giving up, like throwing in the proverbial towel. How much more of this could we handle?

We turned around and headed back towards Prince George. We had no other option as there was only one road that came into and went out of Prince Rupert. In our minds we thought that getting to Prince George would somehow give us a new option. That somehow, once there, we would know what to do. The obvious plan was to keep going but at this point we just didn’t know where to go anymore… We knew going to Alaska would be a mistake because once there, you were out of options and it would be very, very cold. And we didn’t have the gear to survive the weather even the summer.

I know a lot of people out there believe that the Undead are affected by the cold and that they cannot survive in those temperatures. I have seen the footage on YouTube in northern Russia and Mongolia and I don’t for one second believe that the cold slows them in any way. Heck, I’ve been to my own lab in the early days after the outbreak and I know the cooler and the even the deep freeze did nothing to help restrain the Undead that the police had managed to capture and bring to us. What they thought we were going to do with them, I have no idea… It was useful to be able to observe the Undead in the very beginning. To see what they could endure, what conditions they would be able to withstand. I remember a colleague that got too close and learned the hard way what the Undead were willing to do. At least I got out with my life.

I’ve thought a lot about why the cold doesn’t affect them. The only conclusion I can come to is the fact that they are not freezing up because they constantly move. Always pursuing the living. In nature, if you get stuck out in the extreme cold, your body will start to shut down. Stop supplying blood to the extremities, keeping just the vital functions alive. The Undead don’t have blood circulating through their decomposing bodies. They don’t have the need to keep vital functions alive because there are none. So as long as they stay on the move, the muscles that are slowly breaking down in their bodies will still respond. The cold may help us in the long run because any crystals that form in their tissues may help to break them down faster but in the end, I believe it will take them a long time to freeze completely solid and stop moving altogether. A truly scary thought is this: if cold temperatures delay decomposition does that mean that some of the Undead will never rot away?

On the road back to Prince George our plans changed drastically.

Coming around a blind curve before the town of Houston, we met with a fear from our not too distant past. The Hummer that had been following us had somehow managed to track us down and now they were barrelling down on us, playing a sick and twisted game of chicken. I had the misfortune of driving at that exact moment and I didn’t quite know what to do. All I knew at that point was that I wasn’t going to be run off that particular stretch of road and definitely not by this SUV.

I didn’t care that the Hummer was bigger than us or that whoever had followed us must really want us dead.   All I cared about was the fact that I was tired of being on the run. Tired of being chased by the Undead. Tired of being pursued by unknown around every bend. These jerks had picked the wrong survivor to mess with… I gritted my teeth, placed my hands at ten and two, and accelerated.

I could hear the voices of my group around me but I was so locked on the task at hand that couldn’t make out what it was that they were saying. I knew Lily and Liam were there and I prayed to God to forgive me if they got hurt. My anger and frustration were fixated on the road ahead of me. On that Hummer. We were now on a straight stretch clear of abandoned cars, both cars speeding towards each other, centred over the yellow line. No turning back now, I accelerated more. It was better for all of us to die on impact than to potentially live and die at the hands of the animals pursuing us. In a moment, it would all be over…

And at just the last second, the driver of the other car pulled to the right. The jerkiness of the motion causing the Hummer to roll completely over a number of times down the embankment and into the ditch. It came to rest on its roof and in the rear view mirror I didn’t see any signs of life as we speed away.

Do I feel bad for risking the lives of the group? In a way I do but for the most part, I don’t. We risk our lives each and every day. We needed to deal with the situation and in the moment I picked the path of least resistance. Well, they might have resisted had they been given an option but in the end, it turned out for the best. We survived.

For now.

The Next Day

Day 24

Lily and Liam have been doing well but they’ve been getting restless cooped up in a car for this long. Add to that their stay in the washroom and these kids were crawling the walls, practically screaming to get out. Four and a half year olds are apt to play and we have no toys. Our game playing skills were being sorely tested as well. Admittedly, we were finding it difficult to keep up with them.

Once back in Canada we started to see that things were different, more normal… Well normal-ish. We avoided Vancouver even though I desperately wanted to see if my parents had somehow managed to survive by staying indoors. The chance was slim knowing my father but there was still a chance. We took the TransCanada Highway north from Choate, thinking that we would then get onto Highway 97 and continue north to Prince George. Depending on what we encountered in Prince George and what kind of plan we had decided upon, we could go either west to Prince Rupert on Highway 16 or head east. Our main objective was to get free of the Undead and to find a place where we didn’t have to always be constantly on the move.

We did find it very odd that while we did not see any of the Undead, we didn’t see any living people either. But it still felt weird. There was no evidence that the Undead had even been here, that the area we were travelling through had even been touched by the infection. No cars clogging the roads, no evidence of any fighting. It was like everyone had just simply vanished.

It’s amazing how your priorities change when you’ve got young ones to think about. It’s possible that we will still need to try to get on the water and travel to a remote town in the hopes of finding a place highly isolated and untouched by all of this. But then a town only accessible by water or air may not provide complete isolation from the Undead. And it’s also going to need to be resupplied which makes every trip into a larger area more dangerous. Is there any place besides Seattle that is still safe out there?

Lily and Liam had definitely had enough of their forced confinement and since we hadn’t passed a single Undead since leaving the U.S., we decided to throw caution to the wind and make an unscheduled stop. We chose a quiet little town called Lac la Hache on Highway 97. Old habits die hard and still being our cautious selves, we pulled over to the side of the road beside a park and waited for a long length of time, blowing the car’s horn just to see if we could entice any Undead to send us on our merry way. Not a single one showed up after 45 minutes. It was just so strange that there didn’t seem to be anyone or anything about.

We warned the twins that they would have to stay very, very close to us at all times. That even while at play there could be danger. They seemed to inherently understand this and were buzzing with nervous energy. We drove up on the lawn of the park (I dare a police officer to give me a ticket), and got out of the Escalade. We made Lily and Liam stay back with Max at the wheel while we checked out all the outbuildings and surrounding areas. We’ve learned that you never could be too careful.

Once the coast was clear, the twins burst from the car and ran to the playground equipment. Their laughter filled the air and it was the sweetest sound to hear. Their joy was infectious and the rest of us couldn’t help but laugh along with them. Soon we forgot about everything but the kids and the sounds of their laughter, the way that they would chase each other up and down the slide. The crunching sounds their shoes made on the pebbles covering the playground area as they came down the slide and turned to run around to go right back up to the top. We were suddenly like 4 proud parents all vying for the right to say “Look at my kid”… We were stupid. We should have been watching.

We had no idea they were there until they were right upon us. Thank God that Liam happened to notice the man coming up behind Bob. It was by the grace of God alone that he managed to move just as the Undead was about to lay his greasy, putrefying hands on him. And suddenly it was like we were surrounded. The car seemed like it was kilometres away, with too many of them between us and it. The really stupid thing was that none of us had opted to stay with the car, thinking we were safe. Have I mentioned the word stupid yet? Lily and Liam were screaming at the top of the jungle gym, afraid to come down. I don’t blame them one bit, I was afraid to be on the ground and I had a gun! We started to line up our shots, hoping that we had enough ammunition for all of the Undead steadily streaming towards us. One by one, they started to go down. The diminishing number was motivating; we began to believe that we could and would get through this.

I happened to turn around at one point, realizing that we could be setting ourselves up for an ambush from behind. We were all so consumed with fighting those in front of us that we had forgotten to cover our backs. There were some Undead coming at us from behind our position but they were so far back that they were not as imposing an issue as the ones in front of us. Glancing at the playground equipment to make sure that Lily and Liam were still safe, I was terrified and angry to see an old woman, her clothes hanging off her bloody and decomposing body, trying to pull itself up the slide. The twins had not yet noticed her. Their attention was fixed on the horde in front of us. A quick shot to the head dropped the corpse on the slide, her body making that unforgettable squeal as it came to rest at the bottom. Too close.

Soon, those closest to us were all dead but in the distance we could see more of them finding their way towards us. Time to get to the Escalade and get the heck out of dodge.

Lily and Liam were an entirely different kettle of fish to deal with. The stress of the Undead and the subsequent shootout had them frozen at the topmost part of the jungle gym. And by now they had noticed the crumpled form of the old woman at the base of the slide. Minimal coaxing wasn’t getting them down and we didn’t have the time to wait for them to let go of their white knuckled grip on the wooden structure. Max had pulled the SUV closer while Ben and I had gone up to bodily pass them down to Bob who was waiting to put them into the Escalade.

Lily readily dissolved into my arms and was quite easy to pass down to Bob. Once in the car, she crawled into the back and hid under one of the blankets. Liam was proving to be a bit more difficult. His fear had made him almost catatonic and as a result his grip was vice-like. Ben and I couldn’t get his poor little fingers unclenched. He was going to be in some serious pain from this but before we could worry about that we needed to get him off that structure and into the safety of the car. After what seemed like hours but was surely only seconds, we finally freed his fingers and passed him down to Bob, his body still as rigid as a board.

Ben and I were making our way back down the jungle gym when we heard Bob call out. Looking over the side at the car, we could see Bob trying to shake something off of his leg. Liam was standing on the ground staring in horror and Max was exiting the car with his gun drawn. One of the Undead had managed to survive a head shot and had crawled across the lawn and under the car where it was presently biting down on Bob’s leg. Max helped pry it off and then gave it one final bullet, its permanent second death. Bob scooped up Liam and put him awkwardly into the car. The rest of us all got in and Max drove the Escalade quickly out of Lac la Hache.

Turning to Bob, I pulled out my gun and asked him how he wanted it done. Would he rather do it himself before he became one of the Undead? Or did he want one of us to wait until after he was one of them? The choice was his. Bob just looked at me and smiled… Then he tapped his prosthetic leg and said that the Undead hadn’t gotten him just yet.

It was our laughter that filled the SUV at that moment. And relief…

The Next Day

Day 23

They slept like the dead. It was amazing to witness such resiliency in the twins. They had no fear in shutting their eyes and drifting off to the land of nod. We all envied them for that. How nice would it be just to be able to close our eyes for a moment and not remember the things that we have seen, the abominations we’ve had to put down. Their innocence, while subtly changed by what they had seen, seems to have restored itself to a degree; like the way a child can believe in the Boogeyman but still feel safe knowing that when an adult is around, it doesn’t really exist. We all know we did the right thing in bringing Lily and Liam with us, but it’s made our flight that much harder. We have two additional lives to consider and any plan we undertake must be worked in such a way that it provides for the safety of the two little imps soundly asleep in the back seat.

As we moved further up the Oregon coast, and into Washington State, it became obvious that the vehicle behind us was tracking us. There was no other reason for its behaviour. It stopped to get gas at every station that we went into and stayed just far enough behind us to be completely out of range of our binoculars. So far all we knew at this point was that it was a black Hummer. We had no idea if they meant us any harm but the fact that they were keeping pace so far behind us didn’t sit well with any of us. Besides, with the vehicle so close behind us and no way to really tell what was ahead of us, we couldn’t work out an acceptable spot for an ambush. And once we were in Washington, we had a huge decision to make: going around the whole coastline would take us forever especially if we weren’t going to be able to get on a boat and sail off shore. If we were going to try to lose our tail, our best bet was to head inland, and go straight through Seattle and then make our way back into Canada.

The scariest moments might well lie before us. We were going to drive through the suburbs. And the suburbs could be full of the Undead.  It seems crazy, I know… We’d been doing just fine by avoiding the major urban areas but unfortunately this time we just couldn’t avoid it. But at this point in time, we were trying to outrun and confuse someone following us and the roads we had been taking just weren’t giving us the options for escape that we needed. It was time for us to think outside the box.

It was all that we could do to try to prepare ourselves for the number of the Undead that we might encounter. It had been such a long time since we’d really seen any of them. None, in fact, but the odd one or two since Eureka and that was three days ago. We worried how the children would react in a situation where the Undead were plentiful and in our faces. Would they become a liability to our survival? Was it possible that their potential panic could spread to us?

These were all valid questions that we discussed out loud. It’s better to know what you could be dealing with then to find out in the heat of the moment that someone you need to rely on has frozen. Part of us hoped that the children would sleep through our passage through Seattle. However, chances are we wouldn’t be that lucky, they had already been asleep for 13 hours…

The approach to Seattle was unnervingly quiet. No Undead on the roads. No cars or trucks or vehicles of any kind clogging the arteries into the city, or even out of the city. The landscape was just too pristine for my liking… It was almost as if the Undead hadn’t touched this area, which was impossible. The absence of any debris or walking corpses could only mean one of two things had happened: the entire city was Undead and waiting around the next bend in the road for us, or perhaps Seattle was completely devoid of the Undead.

In the end, the city was an all-together different site to behold.

Seattle had been fortified like something you would see in a Hollywood blockbuster. Something set in medieval times. In the early days after the outbreak, some government official or enterprising individual with some political clout must have had concrete barriers erected 20 feet tall all around the city limits. Where they had gotten the barriers, I couldn’t even imagine. How had they managed to get the walls up so quickly? It was like the last bastion of humanity in a dying world, and it was amazing. Someone had gotten the message. The city could be alive and well on the inside of those walls. People could be alive and thriving, lots of people. Our prayers had been answered. We were excited and relieved at the thought that we might be able to stop running. There was just one really big problem… There didn’t seem to be any way in or out. We crisscrossed the roadways looking for an entrance or anything but all we found were concrete walls blocking our way at every avenue.

Looking for a way in was dangerous. We were losing precious moments on each thoroughfare and side street that we tried. And with each passing moment the mysterious black Hummer could be gaining on us, easily finding a way to box us in with all of these blocked streets. An entrance into the city could end that hunt altogether so we felt the search was worth the risk. It was also potentially a stupid endeavour. The Hummer could have exited from that entrance we were searching for. For all we knew, the people behind the barricade could be bad, for lack of a better word. Not able to find an entrance, our only choice was to keep moving forward.

Maybe it’s best that we didn’t find an entry point. I assume that people were alive and thriving inside those walls. There really is no way of knowing. On the other side of those concrete walls could be approximately 617,000 Undead just waiting for someone to let them out. Or there could be just as many living people waiting for the Undead to starve and die a pitiful second death. Anything at this point is possible. Having made our way completely around the city’s limits, it was apparent that the new Seattle was meant to impenetrable. Driving away from the wall on Interstate 5, you could just barely make out the figures standing on the top of the wall. Proof that the city was alive. The only question was for how long… How long could a city survive without the ability to come and go for needed supplies?

At this point, we know one thing for certain; coming inland has benefited us. We have lost our tail for the moment but in this unpredictable climate of constant change, we could pick them up again at any point. The unknown factor of that cannot be avoided and as a result we’re just going to have to push towards British Columbia and hope for the best.

The Next Day

Day 22

On a normal day with the Undead, getting fuel is a highly choreographed dance of precision with lots of guns. The urgency of being pursued by the unknown and the Undead didn’t alter that dance but it certainly put the choreography off just a bit. When we pulled into the Shell station in Kernville we were relieved to see that there were no Undead milling about. The disadvantage to not being able to take things slowly and cautiously observe any given gas station from afar could mean that we might drive right into a situation rife with walking corpses. And when you’re fuelling up, that’s the last thing you want popping up behind you.

We took the outside pump as usual and waited a few moments to see if any of the Undead would put in an appearance. Knowing that we couldn’t spare much time, Ben, Max and I got out with our guns cocked and ready. Bob blew the horn to the car, a few moments too late if you ask me. He could have done this while we were still in the safety of the car! Even the resonating sound of the Escalade’s horn made us all jump and look back up the road, thinking that the other vehicle had already caught up with us. Looking back at the attached store we were relieved to see that it was empty. None of the Undead had stumbled or crawled their way out to greet us.

Cautiously I went inside with Ben to turn on the pump. After flicking the switch, we gathered up a few needed supplies, mainly protein bars and water and turned to head back out to the car. That’s when I heard the noise. It was a small whimper, like a puppy or a small animal, and it was coming from the back of the store. I motioned to Ben to follow me for a moment. I felt relatively safe in my knowledge that the Undead did not make sounds like that.

On the back wall of the store was a single restroom; the door covered in the bloody hand print slime you can only attribute to the Undead. The whimpering was coming from the other side of that door. I tentatively tried the door handle, hoping that it wasn’t unlocked. That whoever had gotten into that little room had enough sense to lock it behind them. The door was locked and with the quiet noise the turning of the door handle had made, the whimpering went silent.

Not wanting to seem like heartless, I did have a moment where I almost turned around and left what I assumed was a small child locked in that bathroom. In the end, I couldn’t leave. I called out softly through the door, stating that we were there to help and that if they wanted to come out, they were welcome to come with us. I know we didn’t have a lot of time, and I could hear the engine of the Escalade already as it had pulled in to the closest pump after filling the tank.

Tentatively the door to the washroom opened and two pairs of innocent little eyes looked up at me. The must have been fraternal twins: one boy, one girl, maybe 4 or 5 years old with reddish curls and the most adorable freckles. They were filthy and looked hungry. The humanity in me couldn’t leave them here, not after finding them alive in a washroom after God knows how many days. I scooped up the children and started back towards the SUV and Ben disappeared back into the store. He returned moments later with a few cartons of milk, still cold thankfully, and some Lunchables he’d found in the refrigerated section. Bob and Max just looked at the kids and then looked at us, accepting the fact that we now had two charges to care for.

After buckling the children in between Max and Ben, we got back out on the road and hurried north again. The children devoured the cheese, luncheon meat, and crackers as if they had never had anything to eat before and drank the milk like they were dying of thirst. We didn’t want to give them too much too fast for fear that we would cause them to vomit or give them stomach pain. Thank God for Ben; being a doctor, he seemed to know just how much to give them without it being too much. And he was able to check them over for bites while they ate something I should have done before bringing them along with us.

Once fed the little girl, whose name we learned was Lily, started to talk non-stop. All about how her mommy and sister had chased her and her brother Liam away from their house all the way to the store. At first they had thought their mommy was playing a game, until their older sister Sara had come running home and right into their mother’s path. They watched in horror as their mother attacked and killed their older sister, and then watched as she came back to life. So off they ran, dodging their undead neighbours and the undead mailman. All to end up locked in a public washroom in small convenience store off of Oregon State Highway 101. Lily recounted that it felt like their mommy had been outside that door forever, hammering on it for them to come out. But they knew. Somehow these two small children knew that opening up that door was death. When asked, they couldn’t tell us how long they thought they might have been in there. For kids, 10 minutes can seem like an eternity.

For all the horror they’ve witnessed, they’re remarkably well-adjusted and quite friendly. At 4 and a half, these two kids were more intelligent than most of the population of the US…

Looking behind us, we could see that the other vehicle, a black Hummer, had also stopped at the station for gas. It was going to be a long drive up the coast. We all prayed that the tank in their car held less fuel or that their SUV burned more gas than ours. Anything to give us an edge!

Ben scanned his maps looking for way to get off this road quickly but onto another and then another in the hopes of losing them. The only way we were going to be able to find a network of roads like that was to head a fair ways inland again and we weren’t sure that we were willing to do that quite yet.

We have another plan, something potentially safer, especially now that we had the children to consider. We just need the right place to put that plan into action.

The time will come. And it will come soon. The inhabitants of that vehicle are not going to know what hit them. We need to remember that this ultimately is a war of survival and in the end, the last person standing inherits the earth. That might have been a little dramatic but you get what I mean. We need to annihilate anyone that intends to disrupt our chances of surviving… And I mean anyone.

The Next Day