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.