Day 18

So here we are stuck in a bank with a group of 67 other people, all survivors of the town of Minden. The situation is less than optimal for us. In fact, it stinks. All we had wanted was a place to buckle down for a bit, to collect our thoughts and devise a plan to execute. And now it appears that we’ve become the saviours of Minden. At least that’s what they’re calling us…

The Mayor was the first to introduce himself, once the shock of our arrival had worn off. He was a large man, the kind you could tell was very boisterous under normal circumstances but at that moment he was subdued and strangely detached. In fact, all of the townspeople were a little detached… Must be the Traumatic Distress Disorder. Their eyes were riveted to the modest 26″ screen, all the children sitting down in front. My guess is that they had nothing else to do so in went the DVD, most likely supplied for the children of bank patrons who had appointments with bank personnel on any given day. At least they were smart enough to turn off the volume, no need to attract the Undead to an unlocked door.

When questioned about the door, we were told that it was unlocked because many of the survivors of the town had seen fit to leave in order to search out other survivors or to get supplies. (Perhaps a new DVD? Might I suggest Night of the Living Dead? These people need a serious f@&king clue!) They had decided as a group to leave the door unlocked so that anyone needing to get inside quickly could do just that. I asked when the last person had left the bank to search the town and the reply I received was three days ago. I knew no one was likely to be coming back but I wasn’t sure that this town could handle that news just yet.

We asked for the grand tour, wanting to familiarize ourselves with the bank’s layout. We were politely refused, which we found more than a little odd. Instead of arguing, Bob stayed behind with the townsfolk and the now locked door while the rest of us took a look around for ourselves. The main floor was fairly open concept; a few windowed offices and the main banking area. The stairwell was dim with one staircase leading up and one leading down. We opted to travel up first, wanting to find access to the roof to check out the lookout station that was up top. The second floor was all offices, none of them locked and none of them even disturbed. The impression these people are giving off is just so odd. My main concern would be to get away from the windows; at least upstairs they could monitor the streets outside the windows without the fear of coming eye to eye with the Undead.

The one thing I need to remember is that these people don’t think like us. To them, all of this is like a really bad dream they never awoke from. Right now you can see them barely hanging on downstairs and in the end that could be a huge liability for us…

A small staircase on the northwest corner of the building gave us access to the roof. Outside the air smelled a little fresher than the rank air of the bank. The lookout tower provided us with an excellent 360 degree view of the area for miles. It must have been used as an alert station for forest fires in the days before satellites. At this point it would give us the ability to monitor any large groups of the Undead headed in our direction. It also gave us a bird’s eye view to any possible vehicles to steal. Just being able to look out over the side of the roof gave us an advantage for scoping out vehicles and for keeping an eye on the movements of the Undead.

Off in the distance, maybe a few streets away we saw someone headed towards us. They were moving slowly and with the distance it was hard to tell if they were alive or Undead. With the amount of blood on their clothing, it could have gone either way, but this body moved with a purpose. It was heading straight toward us.

Ben and I headed quickly down the stairs to alert Bob that someone was coming and to be on the ready with the door. Max stayed up top to monitor his progress and to clearly ascertain the actual animate status of the individual. It’s just better to be sure in this world. Had Ben and I stayed up a moment or two longer, we would have seen the throng of the Undead following him down the road. Max came back to the second floor landing and yelled for me to keep the door closed at all costs. I left Ben and Bob in charge of that door as I sprinted back up to the roof.

There must have been 50 of the Undead following him. And they would continue to follow him right to our door. If the Undead knew that we were inside they would become relentless in trying to get in and there’s just no way of knowing how long the glass on the first floor would hold. There was also no way of knowing how long we could keep the townspeople calm and quiet with a cacophony of death just outside the walls. Max and I shared a look, knowing that the only way to secure our safety for the moment, and the safety of all of these people, was to sacrifice the safety of another. It’s not a choice we made easily but everyone needs to remember that this is war. Even as I type, I’m plagued with guilt. Chances are he never would have made it to us, so our choice was a veiled mercy. But there is always that what if… What if he had made it? What if we had gotten him inside without alerting the Undead to our presence? What if he had been bitten? What if once we got him inside and “safe”, he became one of the Undead? What if…

After the moment on the roof, Max and I went back downstairs to let Bob and Ben know that the man didn’t make it. Bob and Ben knew of course what we had done, their ears trained for the sound of gunfire. The rest of the townsfolk were oblivious to the fact that there had ever been someone making their way toward us. And as a result, they had no idea that he didn’t make it as a result of our hands and not those of the Undead.

Knowing that we had to check out the basement level, Max and I returned to the stairwell and headed down. The basement was small and dimly lit, containing only a few small storage rooms and the bank’s vault. The strange thing was that you could hear something in the basement. It was a hollow banging, almost rhythmic in its tempo. It took a moment for us to realize that the noise was coming from inside the vault.

Back on the main floor, I approached the Mayor and asked him point-blank what was in the vault. His answer was more than a little disquieting. It seems that the last person that came back to the bank had been infected, bitten by one of the Undead at some point. Instead of tying that person up and then waiting for them to die and then killing them, it had been decided to put them into the vault and let nature take its course. They thought that the lack of air would prevent the person, incidentally the Mayor’s own son, from coming back to life but after 10 days in an air-tight vault, it’s now been proven that the Undead can survive without air… It makes perfect sense since they’re no longer alive but good God, why can’t we catch a break!

As we tried to settle in for what we hoped wasn’t going to be an extended stay, it became disturbingly apparent that the people of Minden were experiencing a profound state of collective shock. It was nothing like any of us had ever seen. Keep in mind that we have had limited exposure to other survivors, mainly by choice, but the whole situation inside that bank just didn’t seem right. They hadn’t given up completely but the consensus among us is that they’re close.

F@&k, they have been sitting inside an UNLOCKED bank with hardly any weapons to protect themselves is something had happened to find its way inside. And when I say hardly any weapons, I mean it. They had no firearms whatsoever. Just a few baseball bats and some assorted gardening tools; 2 shovels, a long-handled cultivator, and a hoe.

Fearing the answer as soon as the question was out of my mouth, I asked how many people had initially been using the bank as a safe haven. Their reluctance to answer was astounding. It was like they wanted their story, their recent past to be completely erased from history. What had happened to them to make them want to forget so badly? What had they done that warranted such a detachment from survival, from life? They had gotten themselves this far but for some strange reason it felt like this was all they thought they deserved. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad that we don’t know the whole truth of what went on here.

This whole freaking town is giving me the creeps. I don’t know what else I can say to convey that feeling to you. If you’re on the move yourself, I suggest avoiding Minden like the plague. I’m not sure if I can take another day of this. Max thinks he may have spotted a vehicle for us. If it looks good, and it works, we may be on the road sometime tomorrow. We need to get out of here… Minden is creeping the heck out of me!

The Next Day

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