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.