Day 46

It has been an exhausting 2 days. And that is a colossal understatement. We found Henry and Zoe in the bilge compartment of the ship just in a different section of it. During the course of autopsies, we determined that the monster, Double Dutch, whatever you want to call him, drowned both of the children in the filthy, contaminated water. In order to prevent either of the children from returning, Ben removed their brains from their skulls.  We then locked the bodies in one of the luxury staterooms and kept guard. It would have been easier to just toss the bodies over the side of the ship of course but we needed a clue as to what it was that was bringing them back. If  we’re dealing with a virus or pathogen that has gained the ability to be airborne, there was no telling how many people who had died from natural causes over the course of the last few weeks or even months that could be affected. The Undead army could grow by staggering numbers if this were the case. The ramifications were disquieting to ponder.

We knew that a shot to the brain killed them so essentially we wanted to know if disconnecting the brain from the body after death would prevent a reawakening. With Jess and Kalla, it took them quite some time to come back. And the scary thing was they could have come back while we were performing the autopsies on them. There was so much that we didn’t understand that taking the chance to do a little bit of experimentation when we could was worth it. Some might cringe at the thought of using the children but the truth of the matter is that they were already dead and we didn’t want their deaths to be in vain. They had already died in such a horrible way; why not have their deaths to help humanity?

In the end, they never reanimated so we can’t exactly draw a conclusion that what Ben did worked. All we can say is that it might have worked. We can’t say with 100% certainty that Jess and Kalla hadn’t been contaminated in some way though the chances of that were so slim that it bordered on being next to impossible. It would have been smarter if we had left one brain intact and removed the other. Hindsight is 20/20 but I think the thought of more Undead on the ship had us all a little petrified so we really didn’t take any chances.

The main thing that we’ve decided on as a group, well as a smaller group because not everyone was involved in the decision was that we need to get our hands on the FBI Double Dutch profile. We can’t afford to let anymore of our children to go missing. What if he were to take Lily and Liam next? The two of them are just coming back to us after Julie’s death. I don’t think that Ben or I could bear to lose them. I know they’re not our children by blood but since we found them the bond that we’ve formed with the two little imps has grown just as strong. Ben and I might not talk about them all that much but we’ve just been so worried for them that we couldn’t talk about them. I hope you understand.

So our plan is simple. We’ve already got the ship into position off the coast of Brooklyn but not too close. We don’t want to alert any of the Undead to our presence out here. We’re going to have some of the crew row us to shore in one of the lifeboats so that we can be fairly silent the closer we get. The idea is for us to get into the city in a small team of 3 people, Doug, Phillip, and myself (Max, just in case you were wondering) and then make our way to the closest NYPD Precinct.

We chose Brooklyn because it has access to the ocean and an abundance of Precincts located within it. We’re obviously hoping that when we hit the 60th Precinct on West 8th Street that everything is in order and we can just get in and out and back to the ship with no problems. Something tells me that it’s not going to be the case though. The information that leaked out of NYC during the spread of the infection wasn’t good. All of those people in such close proximity with limited avenues of escape was not the equivalent of fun times for most.

We have no idea what to expect. We have no idea what shape the Precincts will be in. We’re going to bring the laptop with us just in case the hardware at the stations have been trashed or looted. We are going in 100% blind and hoping that we don’t end up dead, or worse Undead. We have a map of all the stations and a plan. That’s about it.

If you happen to be reading this and you’re in NYC and want to get out, the life boat will be returning to Coney Island every night at 6pm starting tomorrow night for 5 days until my team returns. If we’re not back in 5 days, they’re going to move on without us. Just try to be as discreet as you can if you make for the life boat. If hordes of the Undead are following you, they won’t be able to help you. And you could end up putting all of us in jeopardy.

So we row ashore at first light, carrying only essentials: guns, ammunition, limited water, and the laptop. If you’re of the persuasion that prays, could you say one for us? We could be walking into hell to save our sanctuary from another.

The Next Day

Advertisements

Day 44

It’s going to be another short update tonight. Big plans are in the works. I’m not sure what we were thinking when any of us agreed to this but the bad news is that we have a huge, huge problem on our hands. It all started some time after Ben made the last post. Man, were we ever stupid. So stupid! One of us should have seen it coming…

Jess and Kalla reanimated. Neither of them were infected nor had they been close to anyone that had been contaminated since Waskaganish. There was no way that they could have been contaminated in any way. This meant that the dead would come back no matter what. You die, you become one of them. It was completely terrifying and it certainly changed the rules.

What made it even more terrifying was that we had a mini-horde of the Undead loose on the ship at one point. None of us had thought to watch their bodies. Why would we? We thought we were safe. But that was not the case. It was such a surprise. Poor Carlos, we think he was the first person to encounter them. And then it just sort of snowballed from there.

No one was carrying firearms on the ship by this point. There was just no need. No reason to have our guns at the ready to shoot the Undead that just weren’t there. It was an oversight that probably won’t happen again.

Thankfully the communications were working on the ship and we could broadcast a message once we realized what was going on. The panic of course set in but most people were able to get to safe places and shut themselves in. It was not the best of situations but it was the best of what we had to work with.

Then the hunt began. Two small groups of about 5 or 6 of us went in opposite directions down the corridors looking for them. We started at the top of the ship and worked our way down. Chances are they wouldn’t go up unless they had followed someone but it was still best to start there. We really didn’t need any more surprises, or to lose anyone else. We carried radios as well to communicate the position of each body so that we could go back and dispose of them later.

There were many a scary moment in those narrow, cramped passageways. The Undead have a way of stealing your breath and concentration for even the briefest of moments. All you want to do is run as you look into the vacant eyes of pure terror. Once you gain control, you can get the job done but it’s like each and every time you wonder if you can do it again.

Some say that autopilot takes over and you do what needs to be done but that has yet to happen to me. When I was in Afghanistan it happened to an extent which is terrible for me to admit but not now. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do and each moment wears heavily on me.

It took us most of the day to kill and dispose of the bodies of the 49 survivors that had turned into the Undead. It was heartbreaking. We were supposed to be safe. Not only did we have a monster on board, we’d just had to deal with an uprising of the Undead because of the monster. When was our freaking luck going to change?

The worst of the news is yet to come. In the midst of the confusion with the mini-horde, the monster had the time and the inclination to snatch 2 more children. A boy of about 11 named Henry and Zoe, a girl who was only 8. The community on the ship couldn’t handle much more. At first we all thought that maybe they were just hiding from the Undead but when we found the note we knew for sure. That’s right the monster left us a note.

The note was short, simple and to the point. It simply stated that there was no chance in hell that we were going to catch him. And he signed the note Double Dutch. Once the note was shared with Doug, something in him stirred, like a long-lost memory or the name of a movie title that you can’t quite remember. There was something familiar to him about the name that bothered him but he just couldn’t put his finger on it. He had tried to log into the police servers from the ship already but for some reason the connection kept getting dropped.

In the end, he remembered that the name came from an open FBI case of a serial killer that had been operating all over the US. His MO (modus operandi) always included 2 children though the sexes and ages varied. He always killed them. One of the FBI agents working the case had stupidly dubbed him Double Dutch after the jump-rope game at a crime scene within earshot of the press and since then he’s left a note at each crime scene. And signed them Double Dutch.

If only we could have gotten connected to the NYPD servers. The FBI had a profile of the killer and if Doug could get, we’d be closer to potentially figuring out who the monster was. Providing of course the FBI profile was accurate.

The decision was made, in the face of everything else that we couldn’t deal with happening on the ship, to make a trip into the closest NYPD precinct and hopefully recover that profile. We’ll be heading off to do that in the next few days. Just need to do a little recon and get the ship into position. It’s going to be difficult. We have no idea what we’re going to encounter when we get into the city. Hopefully you’re not going to have to go too far but there’s no telling what condition we’ll fine the precincts in as we come across them. The idea is a little scary but we need to figure this out. We can’t let the monster take any more of our children.

The Next Day

Day 42

Hey, it’s Ben again. Max thought it was best that I send the update today since, well, he didn’t want to have to re-live the autopsy of the girls all over again. With all of my medical training I can detach myself to a point but I can appreciate and understand what it must have been like for him in that room today.

Once we were all assembled in the spa (I know it seems like it’s the last place one might want to perform such a task but we needed tables and drainage and well it was the only places that had both in easy reach and it was on the same circuit as the dining room so it had light), Captain Kanelstrand looked at the group and made sure that each one of us knew that none of us had any responsibility to be there. Besides the captain, Caroline and myself, the group also included Max, Doug (the NYPD Detective), and Haley. Haley’s family had run a mortuary since she was a child so she’d grown up around corpses all of her life and had gone into the business after high school. At this point, any expertise with the ‘normal’ dead was welcome. Silence was our acceptance to the task at hand.

We started with Jess, the younger of the two girls. No real reason. We just had to start somewhere. We did a thorough examination of her body in the clothes that she was found in looking for any evidence knowing of course that she could have been contaminated from the bilge water, from the people who had found her, and from the monster. We’d only spent about half an hour examining her body and already we were exhausted. It was going to be a long day.

The time had come to remove her clothing and again the captain reminded everyone that no one needed to be here if they didn’t think they could handle the situation. Our need to find answers for these young girls outweighed any squeamishness that any of us might have been feeling at this point. We needed to stop the monster as soon as possible. Once we got down to her skin, we looked for more evidence. It was obvious though (well from what Doug said) that she hadn’t been redressed or anything so we didn’t think there would be any evidence but we still looked. The positive thing was that there was no evidence of sexual assault of any kind. At least Georgia’s mind could be put at ease at least a small amount. Once the body had been washed, deep purple marks around Jess’ neck became very apparent. They had been somewhat hidden under the filth of the oil and fluids from the bilge water and we hadn’t been able to clearly see them before. From the size and shape, the only conclusion that we could draw was that the monster had used his hands to likely kill her prior to putting her into the bilge compartment. There was only one way to be certain of that fact. We had to see if she had any water in her lungs. Water in her lungs would mean that she drowned. No water means she was dead prior to being placed in the bilge compartment. The autopsy showed the absence of water in the lungs. Young Jess had met her fate before the darkness of that dirty, fetid water.

After covering the reassembled Jess with a sheet, we moved onto Kalla and repeated the painstaking routine all over again. We scoured her body for evidence just as we had with Jess and found nothing out of the ordinary. Once we removed her clothing and had washed her body, we could see some evidence that she had sustained some serious blows around the time of her death. It was hard to tell if they were from the struggle in their room or delivered at some point after. The main difference between the two girls at this point was that Kalla did not have the same deep purple marks around her neck. Instead she had a huge goose egg sized bump on her left temple. During the autopsy, we found her lungs full of the contaminated water of the bilge. It was horrible to know that such a sweet young girl had to die in such a cruel way.

With the autopsies finished, the six of us gathered in one of the outer spa rooms to go over what we had found. Both girls had died in different ways so it could either mean that there were two monsters aboard the ship working together or one girl had been knocked out while the other was strangled. It was terrible either way. We should not have to deal with this kind of horror while the Undead walked the Earth.

But evil will exist no matter what is going on in the world. That is just fact.

Captain Kanelstrand had decided to make the results of the autopsies public to an extent. His thoughts on the matter were sound. While he wanted to give Georgia some privacy, he also didn’t want the gossip to get too out of hand. There are always going to be nosey parkers in any group of people and by getting everyone together all at the same time, you control the information that is out there. Hopefully that would control the rumour mill as well. Personally I don’t have that much hope in what is left of humanity but I know what the captain is trying to do.

At the meeting, the issue was raised about leaving. Captain Kanelstrand listened to the fears of those expressing them and told them that they had every right to be afraid and every right to leave if that was what they wanted. The only thing that he asked for was some time to find the person responsible for the murders.

In the end, the decision belongs to the individual. People will make their choices; I just hope that no one else goes missing in the meantime. That would only fracture our group even more.

The Next Day

Day 41

Hey, Ben here. Max is exhausted after spending the last few days dealing with the communications issue and now the issue with the girls and the fuses. I’ve sent him off to his room to get some much needed rest before he burns out. As a result you’re stuck with me for the night. That also means that this is going to be short and sweet because I have to get back to the Infirmary soon to check on a few patients.

We found the girls today. There is no easy way to break the news either. We found them both dead, drowned in one of the bilge compartment of the ship’s engine room. Weighted down by the missing fuses. How the girl’s got down there, no one knows but the consensus is that whoever did this had to have an intimate knowledge of how a ship is laid out in order to carry out such a feat.

Georgia is obviously distraught of course. So are quite a few of the other survivors and a number of the crew. We all realize that we’re living with someone evil and there’s not a whole lot that we can really do about it all.

Caroline and I will be doing an autopsy on each girl in the morning. We’re not sure what we’re going to find but Doug (the former NYPD Detective) will be present to hopefully help us find things that we might miss. It’s been years since both Caroline and I did our rotations in the pathology department. As an ER Doctor, I’ve had some experience with gathering evidence and Caroline was a surgeon so she had the added expertise with the scalpel. I pray that everything will go well and that we’ll be able to find some evidence on them, something that will lead us to the monster living among us.

My expectations are very low however since their bodies are so contaminated from being in the bilge water. With all of the sea water, fresh water, oil, sludge, chemicals, and other fluids that can be found on a ship, I’m not sure what we’ll be able to find.

There’s so much pressure riding on us. Everyone living on the ship is seriously freaked out. They don’t know who they can trust anymore. The situation is stressful and people are reaching their breaking points. There is a lot of talk of leaving. I guess people feel that they’d rather fight an enemy that they can see in the Undead than one that is hidden and working in secret.

Tempers are getting shorter as well. When the idea of a saboteur was floating about, the tensions were high. Now they’re astronomical. It’s understandable of course but so sad all at the same time. In time we can only hope to get back to some semblance of normalcy. We just need to flush out the monster first.

I’m sorry that I’ve gotta go. I need to check on my patients. I’ll keep you updated as best I can. Until then, stay safe.

The Next Day

Day 40

There is not simple way to start. No real place to even begin to tell y’all what’s happened since I last updated everyone. Well technically that’s not entirely true, there is a good place to start but every last nerve is raw at the moment so I’m finding it hard to focus.

Shortly after I posted the last communication, we came across a port town. Looking on the map the town wasn’t really a town at all, to be frank. More of a settlement along the coast of Northern Labrador called Hebron. The location was going to be desolate and if the infection had reached the remote location, there would be no place for Rosenberg to go. On the map there were no roads leading in or out of the settlement. No one knew what his plan was and all that he was allowed to take with him were a few food rations, a gun and some ammunition and the clothes on his back. And his ivory cane, of course. He never went anywhere without the ivory cane. It was like a talisman to him, a reminder of his wealth and power.

Captain Kanelstrand gave Rosenberg one last final chance to reconsider his decision to leave. Honestly, what was a little work, in the grander scheme of safety and security? In the end, Rosenberg had no interest in taking the captain up on his offer. His stubborn mind was set and there would be no changing it. If I had been the captain, I would have made him swim to shore. Not Captain Kanelstrand: he was the consummate gentleman and personally accompanied the pig-headed man along with a few of his other crew to the shore long Hebron. I’m sure that he thought that Rosenberg would see the state of Hebron or perhaps some of the Undead would come out to greet them and help to change his mind.

In the end, nothing came to greet them and the town looked more than deserted even though it was somewhat intact. A monument erected in the town stated that it was essentially deserted and had been since 1959 when the mission closed. According to one of the crew, Rosenberg’s final words to the captain included a few choice curse words but also a statement that this outpost would be a great place for him to start rebuilding his empire. Did he not realize that with no else around he’d have to do all of the work for himself? And it’s not like the captain didn’t give him plenty of opportunity to stay.

So with Rosenberg gone, I think we all thought that everything would just fall into place. That we’d start to happily co-exist, getting the work done that needed to be done. Working towards the greater good (knowing of course that you’d be bound to hit little snags in the road here and there that you’d have to do your best to take care of as they arose). We didn’t hit a little snag however. Someone ripped giant hole in the fabric of our community.

Not so soon after we dropped off Rosenberg, we lost all communications on the ship. It’s part of the reason that I haven’t been able to update y’all on any of this until now. That was 3 days ago. At first we all thought that Rosenberg had been involved in some way seeing as it had happened so soon after his departure. But when all of the Communications Officers swore that there was no way that he could have had access to the equipment that had been damaged, he was dismissed as a suspect.

The implications of what I just said shouldn’t be missed. We have a saboteur on board. Someone that doesn’t want us communicating with the outside world that has dwindling numbers of the living left in it. It was a sobering thought: were they trying to keep the ship a secret or prevent us from helping others in need?

And to make matters worse, Captain Kanelstrand now suspected one of his own crew because they were the only ones with access to the equipment. I’m not a cop but if one of them had done it and they didn’t want to get caught, why not lie and say that Rosenberg could have had access? He would have made the perfect scapegoat. Something just wasn’t adding up.

Everyone went back to their scheduled work duties while two of the more senior Communications Officers attempted to restore communications. Gossip was rampant around the ship by this point. Who would want to do something so sinister at a time like this? It made people really suspicious of each other and with tensions running as high as they were, fights were only inevitable.

The first one broke out over a simple misunderstanding in the chow line. A man named Mark thought that he was lining up at the end of the line but he inadvertently butt in front of Cathy and Earl just as they got there. Technically no one really butted at all but Earl took the slight too far and put Mark into the Infirmary with a seriously smashed face and a probable concussion. It was the first time that we’d been forced to use the brig on the ship. Earl was apologetic of course but Captain Kanelstrand felt that he deserved some sort of punishment. It also served as a warning to those people who were beginning to find it hard to hold their tempers. In the end, Earl understood and took the 2 days in the brig like a man. It would have been more but in the end, it turned out we needed his help to search.

Soon after the fight between Mark and Earl, the lights went out. And I mean completely. Pitch black. Not even the emergency lighting came on to help us find our way around. On a ship where spaces are very much enclosed it can be very frightening. Had it happened during the day, it might not have been so bad, but as it happened just after the sun had set it was quite terrifying. Most of the survivors had already retired to their cabins for the night so many of them just stayed there, knowing that they would get lost in the dark if they tried to navigate around. I can only imagine the panic that they must have been feeling because I was feeling the same way. Here we are sitting in the dark with no communications on board whatsoever. If the ship were to start sinking, how would any of us know where to go to get off?

Luckily I always keep a flashlight handy so I went in search of the captain. I wanted to know was going on. Was this a malfunction and could it be fixed? In the back of my mind, I hoped it wasn’t the work of the saboteur. The survivors were already on edge and we really didn’t need to be adding any more fuel to the fire.

I knew where the Electrical Room was located from my many shifts in the laundry room so I made my way there as quickly as I could. Along the way, I came across 2 other survivors, Beth and Marta, fumbling around in the dark. Not wanting to be left in the dark again, the ladies both opted to come with me.

At the Electrical Room we met Captain Kanelstrand and 2 of his crew members. Also in the room were a few other survivors who apparently had the same idea as myself. The scene that greeted us was grim. And obviously deliberate.

The lighting on the ship was powered by a series of fuses. Fuses that should be plugged into their receptacles. All of those fuses were missing. They could be anywhere. And we’re not talking about the small fuses like you would find in a house. These fuses are hefty and there are quite a few of them. So it begs the question: is this the work of one person or a group?

And where are the fuses? Did they get thrown overboard or are they just hidden somewhere for us to eventually find? What was the purpose of all of this mischief and sabotage?

One of the crew members knew where there were some spare fuses (not enough to light the entire ship but enough to give us some light at least) so I set off with him to search them out. Once we had retrieved them and returned to the Electrical Room, we decided on which lights were the most important. Knowing that the Emergency lights would light the hallways and stairwells, we opted for those. And the bridge and crew areas, of course. The dining hall was a must because the doctors would need lights to work by. That left one fuse. We decided to light the galley kitchen and mess hall so that people would still be able to eat. Laundry could wait until we could find the rest of the fuses. And technically the garbage could wait too though we’d have to check through it thoroughly to make sure that no one had hidden them there. It was going to be a huge undertaking to find those fuses but we really had no other choice.

Captain Kanelstrand posted two guards in the Electrical Room before leaving. These were the last fuses that we had. Without them, most of the ship would be plunged into inky blackness: rendering it unusable until we managed to get our hands on more fuses.

The events of the night were sadly not over yet. Once the lights had come partially back on, all of the survivors that could have gathered in the mess hall for a status report. They wanted to know what was going on and rightly so. Since the captain had gone back to the bridge, the survivors present in the Electrical Room deferred to me.

The synopsis of the situation was short and to the point. The fuses had been pulled and we needed volunteers to help look for them immediately. The longer that we waited, the more time the person responsible had to hide them or dispose of them (if they hadn’t done so already).

At that moment, Georgia (a mother of 3 who had managed to get herself along with her two teen-aged daughters and ten-year old autistic son from California to Waskaganish without a weapon) came bursting into the room looking for Jess and Kalla. They weren’t in their assigned cabin and their room was an utter mess. Georgia’s only hope was that the girls had been frightened in the dark and had left the room, leaving the outer door open in their panic. They weren’t in the mess hall. And the lights had been partially on for at least 20 minutes, if not more. The girls certainly would have been able to find their way back to their room by now if they had been able to.

Finding the fuses took a backseat to finding the girls. Keeping an eye open for both was optimal but the in-depth search for the fuses would have to begin after the girls were located.

Georgia was sent back to Tommy, her autistic son. No point in having 3 missing children at this point. The girls were likely okay, just scared and lost. At 14 and almost 16 they’d been through a lot and knew how to handle themselves in a few unconventional situations.

All night we searched for those girls and found nothing. At dawn, I went and woke the captain because I didn’t know what else to do. It was like the girls had vanished.

The captain and I approached Doug who had been a 16 year veteran with the New York Police Department before all of the business with the Undead. He’d been lucky enough to be on vacation in Miami when the dead began to rise again, otherwise he might not have been able to escape NYC. Knowing that what we wanted him to investigate was a long shot, we really needed to know for certain. What if the lights going out was a diversion to allow someone(s) to snatch Jess and Kalla? We hoped that Doug might be able to give us a clue or two based on the state of the girl’s room.

Doug was happy to help us out. If there was someone on board with malicious intent in their heads, he’d rather we catch them ASAP. As we approached the room, you could already feel the change in him. The detective had switched on. Before we had even gotten to the door, Doug looked at us and told us that things did not look good. The bloody scratches down both sides of the narrow hallway certainly did not appear to be good news at all.

Inside the girl’s cabin, the turmoil was evident. Clothes and belongings were tossed and thrown around. The mattress from the lower bunk appeared as if it had been pitched at someone in an attempt to slow them down. And then there was the blood. Not a lot of it, but enough to let you know that someone had likely been struck in the face. It could have been from one of the girls or it could have been from their attacker(s). Good news was that we didn’t find a body or enough blood to believe that either girl was in serious peril from wounds sustained in the room. Bad news was that they were still missing and we needed to find them fast.

We organized more search teams and set off to thoroughly scour every last nook and cranny of the ship. That was this morning. We’ve still had no luck finding them or the fuses. They have to be somewhere though.

And the worst thing is that we now know we have a monster on board that we have to deal with.

The Next Day

Day 35

The laundry room is beginning to be the least pleasant place on the ship. It’s so extremely hot and humid when all of the machines are running! Don’t get me wrong, we’re incredibly blessed to have one. It’s a necessary evil but how did people do it before the Zombie Apocalypse? There is a new-found respect among everyone working in the laundry for those people who worked at this type of job for days, weeks and years.

And there were a few reluctant new additions to the laundry work crew this morning. The captain had been promptly informed of the 18 individuals who felt that the shared work duties were beneath them. The captain is obviously not a stupid man, nor was he going to allow anyone that can work to be treated any differently than anyone else.

In the interest of fairness, he had asked the 18 members of the dissenting survivor population to meet with him along with a few of the other survivors that had been delegated into more authoritative  roles. That happened to include Ben and myself. The captain asked them the reasoning behind why they felt that they should not have to participate in the work schedule. Were there any health issues that made the proposed work hard for them? Something that they had not yet disclosed?

The man with the ivory cane spoke first. His response shocked (and disgusted) the room; with the exception of his wealthy and privileged friends of course.

His name, we learned was Thomas Rosenberg and according to himself, he was worth billions. And he didn’t make billions of dollars over the course of his life to have to turn around and wash someone else’s clothes, make someone else’s dinner, or clean up after anybody else.. His face got very red as he told us these little nuggets of knowledge, each fact punctuated by the staccato tap of ivory on oak.

The rest of the non-compliant group all nodded their heads in agreement, allowing Rosenberg to speak for them. It was obvious that they had no intention of taking themselves down off of their high horses.

Captain Kanelstrand sat back a moment just staring at them. From the look on his face, it was clear that he didn’t quite know what to make of the ultimatum that had been presented to him.

When the captain finally spoke he started off with such a defeated attitude that even I had first assumed he was going to cave to wealthy. In the very recent past he had worked for a company that had catered to bridging the gap between the wealthy and a luxurious sailing experience. Would he kowtow to these people now like he would have kowtowed to his patrons in the past?

The next words out of his mouth were remarkable. Remarkable and unforgettable.

“If you choose to abstain from work duty, I’ll consider that your decision to leave the ship the next time that we stop. Anyone that wishes to lodge a complaint with Regal Caribbean is certainly welcome to do so. In fact I’m sure they’ll be all to happy to arrange to have you for lunch to discuss the issue. I expect your answers by morning. Either be at your posts ready to work or expect to be dropped off as soon as possible.”

The faces of the 18 paled and there was some outrage expressed as one would expect. They had a choice to make: swallow their prides or face the Undead on land again. The decision seemed so simple but at the time no one knew what they would choose.

In the end, 17 showed up for work duty the next morning. The only hold out was Thomas Rosenberg. His cane, billions, and pride must be very important to him.

The Next Day

Day 34

Yesterday morning brought no sightings of Julie along the shores of Waskaganish, Undead or otherwise. It was both good news and bad news for us. Inevitably she was going to die but in not seeing her among the horde, there was the chance that she had been able to end her life before the infection turned her into something horrible.

The Undead throng seemed to grow overnight and were now pressed so tightly against the edge of the water. Any wrong move would likely have toppled them all into the drink. Captain Kanelstrand had made the decision to leave the bay today. The horde was just to close and while they couldn’t physically walk across the water to us, there was no way of knowing if they could walk across the bottom of the bay and ascend the anchor chain. No need to take any chances at this point.

Once the decision was made the crew of the ship morphed into a totally different entity. They became the crew of a fully functioning cruise vessel once again and it became their purpose to see to the safety and comfort of their guests on board. It really was an amazing site to behold. If there had been time to crack open a few cases of Dom Perignon, there likely would have been a few toasts.

The ship itself was a bit jerky when it first started moving. Perhaps it was from sitting idle for so long. Hopefully not from an engine issue. That would be the worst of luck now to be stuck out here in the middle of the ocean, especially when the Mechanical Engineers have all been lost along the way to the outbreak. Regardless, we still managed to get going and get moving. And not a moment too soon.

It might have been the movement of the ship or perhaps just a moment in the collective mind of the Undead but it seemed that as we started to retreat, they started to advance. En mass they moved forward into the water, almost as if they were marching in formation. Did they think to follow us? It would have been comical if it hadn’t been scary. What if they had done that while no one was watching them? We might have mistaken their absence as disinterest and not pursuit. We never would have seen them under the water, especially because they weren’t floating to the surface.

Knowing that there was going to be time to spare where the survivors couldn’t help the crew, Ben and I called a Town Meeting with the help of a few other outspoken survivors from Waskaganish. Captain Kanelstrand had already given us his permission to discuss implementing some sort of work schedule so that the ship remained clean and free from pests and garbage. Plus it guaranteed that everyone would get clean clothes and food on a daily basis.

Many of the survivors were happy enough to go along with the proposed schedule. They were happy to have found a place that was safe and they were not about to complain about a little work that might need to be done.

Then you encountered a few of the other survivors. They would have been what you would have called wealthy and privileged before the Undead. One woman swore up and down that there was no way that she would be “forced” to pick up garbage, wash clothes, or cook meals for anyone. Out of the 650+ survivors on the ship, there were 17 people who felt the same way as that woman. Most of them were older, probably in their early 60s but still very healthy. Heck, they had made it this far hadn’t they?

Preferential treatment will not be given, of that much I’m certain but the ship is not mine. It will be up to Captain Kanelstrand to deal with them and I’ll let you know how that goes. I’m sorry that this is short tonight but it was a long day in the laundry for me.

The Next Day

Day 32

Hey guys, Max here. I’ve finally gotten a few moments to sit down and spend some time telling y’all what like has been like for us the past 24 hours or so.

At first Ben and I weren’t all that sure we wanted to continue these posts. At some points they seemed to consume Julie’s life. She got so angry at the people out there asking for her help, begging her to come and save them when they knew that they’d had plenty of time help themselves. And her sadness was the worst. She tried so hard to hide that from us, especially from the twins when they came into our lives. The things that she witnessed on the internet (the things that I’m not too ashamed to say I won’t go searching for) were hard but she did all of that for y’all and for us. And she carried all of that pain and distress deep in her heart, hoping that it was not in vain. That one day the world would be whole and right again.

So y’all may wonder why I’m telling you that. It’s part of the reason that Ben and I decided that we had to keep writing. Julie worked so hard to y’all informed and alive as best she could. And we know that her writing was a way of leaving behind a legacy of sorts for future generations (God willing that there is one). Well maybe legacy isn’t the right word but someone has to leave behind an account of what happened to us.

So please bear with us while we (Ben and I) figure this out. Neither one of us is very good with words but we’re going to do our best to make Julie proud of us. So I guess I’ll start at the beginning.

Immediately after getting on-board, it felt like everyone was trying to pull Ben and myself in about a million different directions. The only thing that we wanted to do was get to the deck and find Julie on shore with the binoculars if we could. We didn’t know if she had been able to get to a safe spot to collect herself. All we really knew was that she had been bitten and had chosen to stay on shore with an advancing horde of the Undead so as not to potentially infect the remaining survivors.

Thankfully Captain Kanelstrand stepped in and allowed us the privacy and the relief we needed to go and search for our friend. Not many people were out on the deck level that we happened to choose; just one older man who sported an actual ivory cane. His eyes were transfixed on the growing numbers of the Undead gathering along the banks of Waskaganish.

Looking through the binoculars didn’t make the scene any easier to assess. The Undead were everywhere. The strange thing was that their attention was solely fixed on the cruise ship sitting off shore. All of those milky white eyes staring intently out to sea as if trying to figure out how to walk on water was a little unnerving. Good news was that none of those milky eyed faces belonged to Julie.

After searching for about an hour we didn’t find her. We thought that maybe she had slipped into one of the buildings but we really had no way of knowing that. Our only clue would have been if one of the Undead had seen her go in or had been following her and was still trying to get inside to its tasty tidbit.

The main reason that we wanted to keep an eye out for her was to ensure that she have some dignity in death. No one deserves to shamble the earth as a member of the Undead army, least of all Julie. Unfortunately for all of our looking over the past 24 hours, we never saw her.

Lily and Liam did not handle the news of Julie’s passing very well. She had become like a second mother to them since she had found them in that bathroom in Kernville, Oregon. Neither of them has spoken much but it’s still early days. Ben seems to think that they’ll be fine, citing that they’ve bounced back from everything else that’s happened so far: their mother and sister trying to kill them, the horde of the Undead at the playground, Bob’s turning in the Escalade and the night in the ditch. He keeps telling me that kids are resilient but at some point something has to give right? I just hope it’s not their fragile little psyches.

The ship itself has seen better days. At one point in the not too distant past you could tell that it was something grand and luxurious. My parents had been on a cruise once and the one thing that they had continually remarked about when getting back was that everywhere they looked someone was cleaning something. They figured that they entire boat must get cleaned at least once a week with some of the more heavily used areas getting cleaned more frequently. As expected it looked the ship hadn’t been deeply cleaned since it had left Miami. It’s understandable given the situation but you would think that people, other survivors, would want to do the right thing and help pick up after themselves. Garbage cans were far from overflowing so there was no need for the widespread disrespect of some that was readily apparent.

It certainly wasn’t going to take long for the situation to come to a head and if Captain Kanelstrand had too much on his plate to deal with, I’m sure that among the survivors we can come up with a fair and equitable work schedule. Actually it’s not a bad idea at all. If we rotate jobs and duties, no one can say that anyone else is getting preferential treatment. Plus it gives us time to make sure that everyone is trained in necessary skills like marksmanship. Someone with skills like Ben’s of course will be assigned to the Infirmary. And with all the people in there, I’m not sure they’ll have time for garbage or laundry or galley duty.

To be honest, I’m glad I’ll never be on Infirmary duty. I was a little surprised when Captain Kanelstrand first showed us the dining room that he had converted into a makeshift medical unit. The Infirmary located on the ship only had 2 beds and just couldn’t support the volume of injuries and illness that they were encountering.

In the early days of the outbreak, the captain and his crew had answered a distress call from a coastal hospital in Nassawadox, Virginia. They’d managed to evacuate a number of the patients at the Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital before it was overrun by the Undead. Most of the patients were post op and on the road to recovery now but some were cancer patients at the end stages of the disease and there was little help for them. Other survivors that they had encountered along the way had broken bones or were suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, or stress. There were limited resources, limited medications but limitless possibilities for what could be wrong with someone without the benefit of modern diagnostic tools. The doctors are forced to work from highly educated blind guesses. The lucky thing was that we had a total of 13 doctors on board, all of them working in different departments of medicine at the moment that patient zero rose from the dead. Essentially this means that there were 13 different specialities in the room at any given time. Sometimes it helped, sometimes it didn’t. The main thing was that we could help people.

Tomorrow morning we’re leaving Hudson’s Bay. Captain Kanelstrand is a little uneasy with the Undead so close and so intently fixated on us. If anybody out there is reading this and heading towards Waskaganish, turn around now. It’s not safe anymore. We’ll keep you posted on where we can hook up next with you. Head east because that’s the direction you’re likely going to go. Stay safe and stay strong.

The Next Day