Day 103

The story out of Hong Kong really shook us all to the core. To know that a group of people had survived for so long in a situation that while it wasn’t optimal it was still better than most likely had. It was just heartbreaking that it had to end the way that it did; with Paul locked in a closet with the Undead shambling around on the other side of it.

The only positive thing that has happened to us in the last 5 days is that we finally made it to Seattle. It was a long journey and one that was filled with many pitfalls. In the end, we walked the last 100 miles. That wasn’t the brightest of ideas but all we had left were our feet. The bus that we had been travelling in finally quit on us. It was already down a tire from having run over something that was in the roadway and the strain on the engine was just too much for it. We did try to make a few other vehicles serviceable but none of their batteries were interested in recharging.

We had to keep moving. Anytime that we stopped we ran the risk of attracting the Undead. There were already some following us. When you looked back you could see them on the horizon, moving toward us in a never-ending shuffle. While they were likely a long way back, it meant that we had to keep moving. To stop for any length of time would only give them the advantage; they don’t stop to recuperate like we needed to.

It took us 49 straight hours of walking to complete that 100 kilometres. By the end, we were all so exhausted and so utterly terrified from having to traverse the landscape in the complete darkness. Both of the nights that we had to stay on the move were overcast and there was no celestial illumination for us to see by.

There were moments of heart stopping terror every time we came upon a car or truck positioned haphazardly on the road. Each stumble or touch of the foot against something that was suspiciously soft and smelled terrible elicited a tiny scream. It was slow going and at any point in time, our movements could have attracted the Undead. We never would have known that they were there until we heard the whisper silent shuffling of their feet on the asphalt or the sound of them bumping into one of the many obstacles. Or perhaps the brushing of Undead finger tips across our faces and bodies. They could have come out of the dark at us at any moment and we would have been powerless to avoid them.

Having to walk under those conditions actually slowed us down more than quicken our step. It was the fear of the unknown that practically paralyzed us. There were many times that each of us stopped and declared that it would be better just to let the Undead claim us. To sit down and wait in the dark for undeath. And each time, the collective power of the group continued to propel us forward.

At one point, we came across a mother cat with a litter of kittens that were likely no more than a few days old. It happened to be in the dark (of course!) and as we got closer she let out the loudest growl that we had heard. In the dark, the sound was magnified tenfold. It instantly brought back memories of the pride of Undead lions that we had encountered at the gas station. If I’d have had any food in my stomach at that moment, I would have lost it.

There have been times where I’ve been scared, I will admit that. Many a time in Afghanistan; so very often in the world that we currently live in. But this was different, my heart and stomach actually relocated into my throat and the noise utterly paralyzed me. Once we figured out that it wasn’t a real threat, it took me long minutes before I was able to keep moving.

While there was a desire for us to try to save the mother cat and her kittens, to bring them with us, we knew that we couldn’t. She was going to have to sort out a life for herself and her offspring, just like we trying to do. I didn’t hold out much hope that she would survive. If the Undead happened to pass her and she let out a growl, her kittens and likely herself would make a tasty meal. It was good to see that the cycle of life was continuing unchecked however. Maybe, just maybe some part of the world could rebuild.

Dawn was just breaking this morning when we saw our destination. The walled city of Seattle. It looked just like it had when we had passed it so many days ago. We had made it to our Mecca; now we just had to figure out how to get inside. It wasn’t going to be easy. We knew from driving all of the way around it that there was no discernible door. And to make matters worse, you could just make out the rotting bodies of the Undead shuffling around the concrete barriers.

We were going to need to be crafty. With the Undead ahead of us and behind us, and surely to our sides as well, it was a hard decision on what direction to take. Forward was really our only option and we could only hope for the best.

Once we had gotten closer, almost within a kilometre of the Undead, a truck came around the side of the walled city and drove right by the Undead that were lingering there. The Undead, seeing something mobile, immediately started to follow the truck. Could luck actually be on our side?

Once the Undead were clear around the other side of the building, we moved slightly faster than we had been (we were exhausted and really could only move so fast). We knew that we had very little time to cover all of that ground and disappear around the side of city that the truck had come from. We were hoping that the truck was a good omen; that there was a door or something on that side.

We were met by another car and some men on foot. They made us stop and strip down to nothing. I knew it was necessary that they look for bites but it was dehumanizing all the same. This was what we had become; a new society where you didn’t take a chance in trusting anyone.

Once they had sufficiently checked all of us over, we were led to a door built into the wall. It was cleverly painted to look like the rest of the concrete. No wonder we didn’t notice it at the time. Being in a car and driving somewhat quickly would have made it impossible to distinguish.

We were led through the door and into a world that looked and felt like it had never stopped. People were cutting their lawns and going about their business as if the death on the outside of their wall didn’t even exist. The word utopia came to mind; that mythical place that was meant to be perfection…

The tears could not be stopped. Each of us, with the exception of the children, had ourselves a mini-breakdown. To know that life still existed was so hard to process. While we were thankful, it reminded us of all of the people we had loved and lost. Of the way the world used to be. Of the months staring into the face of undeath.

And here in this idyllic place, life went on. Practically undisturbed.

It’s going to take some getting used to; living again. We’ve spent so much time surviving, we’d forgotten to live our days as well. Such a pitiful existence but it was over. At least for the moment. You can never get too comfortable in an Undead world.

The Next Day

Day 98

Life has been hard. I know it sounds so weird for me to say that considering the world has effectively ended. As you can see it’s been hard keeping in touch. The internet signals appear to be slowly dying. It was inevitable of course and I’m surprised that they lasted this long.

As for what we’ve been up to; just moving toward Seattle. Our intent is to put as many miles behind us every day so it’s slow going because we are doing our best to avoid the major cities. And it doesn’t help that the roads are congested with vehicles. It’s funny to me actually when I think about it; you never would have thought that there were so many cars and trucks in North America. Everywhere you look is a stationary car; maybe burned out or a twisted metallic mass. In each case, you knew that someone had likely lost their lives, either at the hands of the Undead or as a direct result of their presence.

It’s beginning to seem like the number of survivors is just a fraction of the population. It makes sense, when you think of all of the Undead that you encounter in the space of a few hours. We are definitely the minority now.

Actually I wanted to share with you something that Julie found on the internet. She’s been searching more and more for any other stories of survival; of people desperate to stay alive. The story comes to us out of Hong Kong.

I wish that I could supply you with the link so that you could go and read for yourselves but as soon as Julie had finished reading it, the site disappeared. We don’t know if it’s because the server has gone down or if someone removed the site altogether. All we know is this…

A moderate sized group of people had managed to barricade themselves inside an English school in the heart of Hong Kong. They were a multi-generational group and mainly made up of either students or school employees. The Undead has found the school as the students were outside for recess. Many of the children froze on the spot and as a result they succumbed to the growing tide of death as it washed toward them.

A few of the students closer to the building as well as a few teachers had managed to get inside and lock the doors before the Undead could breach the entrance. The scene was one of utter panic. No one really knew what was happening, the news had not warned them of anything despite the fact that the airport had been compromised when a plane from New York had landed full of the Undead, ready and willing to unleash hell on earth. The pilots had lost contact with the passenger section but really had no idea why. All they knew was that there was constant noise from the first class and beyond. They were terrified that they had been hijacked and had refused to go out to have a look at what was transpiring beyond the cockpit door.

As a result all of the emergency vehicles and first responders had met the plane on the tarmac and were unprepared for the walking death that assaulted them once the plane door was opened. At first they thought that the passengers were in a daze from some sort of contagion or poison that was released on board the plane. Once the former passengers started attacking the emergency personnel, the situation drastically changed. There were limited police on the scene despite the possibility of terrorism. The ones that were present opened fire but their bullets did nothing to deflect the coming undead flesh.

From there the infection spread like wildfire through the crowded streets of Hong Kong. News outlets chose not to broadcast the situation, thinking it best not to fight the government’s constant propaganda. So the tide of death moved deeper and deeper into the city, fanning out until there was nowhere else for them to go but follow the roads out of town. And that brings us back to the Hong Kong School for English Studies.

There were 23 survivors, locked in the school with a growing horde of the Undead on the other of the walls.

And they were pretty well off inside the walls of the school. It was powered by a generator that was replenished by solar panels on the roof. And the school’s freezer was full of food as well as the pantry being fully stocked with canned goods. If you had to choose a place to hunker down during an apocalypse this was an ideal place to do it.

It was great (in relative terms of course) in the beginning. There was no need to go outside in order to search for supplies. Each of the survivors was content to sit in relative safety and wait for the Chinese Military to straighten out the situation.

The only person that didn’t have much faith in the military was Paul Holmes, an English as a Second Language teacher that hailed from London, England. This was supposed to be his first year in Hong Kong as he’s already decided it was going to be his last. The experience of being an ESL teacher had been great but living in Hong Kong with the language barrier was just wearing too hard on him. He had longed for the comforts that he could find in his neighbourhood in London as well as the companionship of some English-speaking people.

After looking at the carnage all over the internet, he had decided to write a journal of what was happening in his part of the world; much like we had decided to do. Even if no one read it, it would be there for history’s sake.

Within a week or so, some of the other survivors started to get restless. They wanted to venture out to look for family or just make a break to get out of the city altogether. It was becoming quite clear that the military was not coming for them. The feeling of being trapped was just too much for some of them to handle. It was the desperation that eventually drove them outside.

The first group that decided to leave didn’t make it very far. They only got a few feet from the door before the Undead were upon them. And it’s not like the weaponry they had was very sophisticated; just a few long knives from the kitchen and gym equipment.

After that incident the morale of the group started to break down. They were running out of food and other supplies without any way of replenishing them. That’s when the fighting started. It kept escalating and getting more intense until the group fractured and the different factions set up camp in opposite parts of the school. And all the while the Undead continued to collect outside the school.

Fairly soon the different factions of people decided to leave the school, waiting until they thought it was safe. No one really knew of the movements of the others. It just became apparent that they were gone when they stopped coming to collect the daily rations. By the end, it was just Paul and another man, one of the janitors, who name was Jian.

Paul and Jian stayed in the school, living off the little food that they had left until the moment that Jian went crazy. The stress of the situation had finally worn through his fragile resolve. Jian’s final act was to run out of the doors of the school into the arms of the Undead. Seeing the open door, the Undead swarmed into the building searching out every nook and cranny that they could. Our last update from Paul had him holed up in a janitor’s closet, frantically typing out his last words to the word.

God help us all.

The Next Day

Day 92

We all knew that today was going to be a hard day. After yesterday’s chance meeting with Holly and the incredible story that she told us, we knew that we couldn’t just drive away. As much as we might have liked to have turned a blind eye to what was going on, we all knew that if were us in those cages that we would want someone to attempt to help us.

It took some convincing but eventually Holly conceded to take us back to the farm. She really was the only person that knew of its location or its layout and we wanted to have her close at hand in case we needed her. She wouldn’t have to do anything except give us intelligence information on the off-chance that we needed it. And it turned out that what she provided us was information saved our lives.

We left the morning after finding Holly. Our group consisted of Ben, Harvey, Lt. Lafferty and I along with Holly as a guide of sorts. The farm itself was set back off of the road and surrounded by rolling hills and a lot of trees. It was relatively easy to sneak up and take a look around without being noticed. At first we were a little hesitant on getting too close, believing that the group of men had rigged the perimeter with some sort of alarm or monitoring system. Holly dissuaded us of that idea, reminding us that she had gotten away without them really knowing.

It was interesting actually that she had managed to get away. You would have thought that the man who had essentially let her walk away would have done his best to try to recapture her. Especially after she had injured him prior to him being able to rape her. Perhaps he had decided that letting her go was better than having to admit that she had gotten away from him. Some men can be funny that way; they would rather not admit that a woman had gotten the best of them.

The closer that we got, the worse the smell became. Having the Undead so close at hand, all crammed together into a pen would have accentuated the smell of decomposition. It must be hell for the survivors forced to live alongside them; no respite from the overwhelming stench coupled with the knowledge that at any point you could be sacrificed to them in order to keep them fed.

We found our vantage point and scouted out the area. The farm was large and had most likely been a horse farm in more recent times. The horses were long gone and in their place were two large corrals of people: one Undead and the other living. There was an assortment of vehicles parked at different angles to the outbuildings. It looked like things were still running at the farm, making us believe that they had a generator.

It was a great setup if you subtracted the Undead and the captives from the equation. The boundary of the farm could be easily secured and with power, it would have been quite the haven for a group of survivors to knuckle down in.

Within a few minutes we got our first look at the captors. All 10 of them came out of the house one after another and headed towards the corrals. They were talking about who they were going to choose to feed to the Undead today. Their voices were quite loud and equally brash, probably meant to instill fear and terror to the group of survivors.

All of the survivors crowded to the back of their corral. You could feel the tension in the air, the fear. Looking at the group that was composed of all ages and races your heart immediately fell. None of us came here to be a witness to murder, especially at the hands of other survivors. We knew that we needed to do something but our timing had to be just right.

Formulating a plan was easy. Take out all of the a$$holes that were perpetrating the violence. It was just putting that plan into action that was going to be a little bit more difficult. We did have the element of surprise on our side as they had no reason to expect us.

We decided it was best to come at them from multiple angles. And we were going to shoot to kill. These men did carry guns but they didn’t walk around with them drawn or even at the ready. We hoped that it would be easy for the 4 of us to down them all without taking too much fire in return.

We separated and took positions all around the farm. From where we had set ourselves up, we had line of sight on each and every one of the sick bastards that had chosen to do the wrong thing. We also made sure that if any of our shots missed the intended target, that none of the survivors would be injured as a result. It was a risky but we had to do it.

The plan was to wait a few minutes and then I would fire first, signalling the others to fire as well. We each had our targets; it was just a matter of time before they would hopefully all be dead. And the great thing was that the men actually cooperated with us without even knowing it; they kept themselves in a relatively tight grouping, in the middle of the barnyard. It was almost too easy.

I lined up my first shot and I took it, almost experiencing a feeling of relief in pulling the trigger and watching him go down. With the first shot out there in the still of the morning air, the other shots began to ring out. The survivors screamed in terror and hunkered down as best they could as each of their captives fell. It was a bittersweet moment. The ordeal for some was over but it gave rise to the thought that there could be more people out there like this.

Once all of the men were down, we waited to see if there were any more that might make an appearance. After 10 minutes there was no movement side from the Undead reaching their arms out of their corral in the hopes of grabbing at the flesh just a few feet away from them. Deciding that there was no longer a threat, we came out of our hiding places and into the barnyard, still somewhat wary of what might be hidden from our view.

The only thing that came out to greet us was a badly abused dog who must have realized that we were friend and not foe.

We quickly let the survivors out of the captivity and did what we could to deflect their gratitude. In our minds, what we did was just and you’d never get us to believe otherwise. Of the 30 some people who had been held captive, we knew that there was no way that we could fit them onto our little bus. The great thing was that the men had managed to keep some vehicles serviceable. The survivors all piled into the vehicles, desperate to get away from the farm.

We offered to let them come with us to Seattle but they all had other plans. Some wanted to go and see about loved ones and others just wanted to put as much distance between the farm and themselves as possible. Holly elected to come with us. She said that she didn’t want any reminders of the hell that she had once lived. It was understandable in a way and we were happy enough to have her along. The more the merrier in our minds. Plus we now had a dog attached to us. Wherever we went, she had made up her mind that she was coming with us.

Making our way back to the bus and the rest of our group felt good. We had saved people today and it gave us hope that there could be a way for us to all connect again. Today our victory felt good, it felt decent and it was something that we would likely do again if faced with a similar situation. If you had the choice, what would you have done?

The Next Day

Day 91

The little school bus that we’ve been travelling in is cramped. There are more people than seats but we’re doing what we can in an effort to ward off fatigue and stress on our joints. In an effort to protect our bodies from any further strain, we decided to pull over and check out a motel on the highway.

We haven’t seen any Undead in quite some time and the building was set into the landscape all on its lonesome. It seemed like a decent place to stop before the outbreak and it was the only option that we could find at the moment. Each of us badly needed to rest in positions that weren’t cramped and just the thought of spending some time off of the bus was making some people giddy with relief.

We were careful of course. We scouted out the area and made sure that the rooms that we used were free of any gore. It looked like the motel had been closed around the time of the outbreak so it was untouched.

And the best thing was that well was on a pressure system. That meant water! Blessed water for as long as the well would supply it! It was cold, my gosh was it cold, but the ability to have a shower was such a good feeling. It’s amazing the little things that you take for granted; showering, applying deodorant, brushing your teeth. And at the motel we could do it all. It was decadent and everyone took advantage of it.

And the beds were luxurious in comparison to what we had been used to. There was a level of dustiness that had accumulated but once you got into the bed, it took you back to a time where your bed was a haven at the end of a busy day. To feel the cool fabric of the pillowcase against your cheek. To wrap your body up in the constraints that the sheets offered was comforting and altogether needed. Heaven. Pure heaven at this moment in time.

We slept in shifts. Someone still needed to keep watch just in case the Undead decided to put in an appearance. From the vantage point of the bus and the office you could see all around. The night was clear and the stars provided a small amount of light to see by. We felt safe in our ability to see anything coming though to be honest, you can never watch every direction at the same time.

Our night passed without incident and leaving the motel was bittersweet. But we all got onto the bus and off we went.

As we were driving down the road, we came upon a young woman walking. Well, she was technically staggering but you could tell that she was alive.

We stopped close to her, trying to determine if she had been bitten and thereby infected. She was barely clothed and it was quite obvious that she didn’t have any bites on her. When she saw the bus, she looked at us for a moment and then started to run. Away. It was a disconcerting reaction but then we didn’t know at the time what we know now.

Ben and Julie got off the bus in an attempt to calm her down, make her stop, anything really. Her flight stole the last reserves of her dwindling energy and she collapsed not too far from where she started. Ben was by her side immediately with some water and assessed her condition. She was dehydrated and malnourished but she would be fine.

Once she understood that we were not out to harm her, she calmed down. She told us her name was Holly and my oh my, did she have a story for us…

Holly had been held for some time at a farm that was fairly close by a group of men that were collecting other survivors. Now you might ask why they were collecting survivors and from what she told us, their intent was to use them to feed the Undead that they had caught. Sickening yes. She told us in what general area the farm was and explained how she managed to escape.

Apparently the men were not only interested in feeding the survivors to the Undead. Once in a while, they engaged in depraved acts with some of the younger, more attractive women. It was on one such occasion that Holly had managed to escape. She was sure that they would be out looking for her but as she had been free for more than a day and on foot, she was beginning to believe that they might not actually be looking for her.

In the end, it wouldn’t have mattered since the men went out every few days looking for more survivors to put in their feeding cages. It was a desperate situation for those stuck in those cages and none of us were sure about what we could do…

Do we decide to help and possibly hinder ourselves in the process? Or do we do what’s right? It’s a big decision and one we cannot make lightly. Tonight we’ll think on it and hopefully by tomorrow our heads will be clear enough to make the decision that is right for us. Pray for those poor souls living their lives in cages, waiting to be fed to the Undead…

The Next Day

Day 89

It’s hard to believe that 10 years ago today we were forced to watch in horror as terrorists attacked us. I realize that I’m a Canadian but our proximity to the US and our unending desire to live in a world of peace really propelled the tragedies of 9/11 into our hearts and minds. I fought alongside many proud Americans in Afghanistan so I understand the importance of the War on Terror and the desire of so many to make our world a safer and more secure place for all. On this day of remembrance…

My heart goes out to all those whole lives were lost 10 years ago today. To the families who suffered. To the men and women who continue to fight for freedom and sacrifice their lives, only now it’s against a new enemy; the Undead. To all of us who stay strong, even in the darkest of times. In remembrance of September 11, 2001. We will never forget.

Harvey, one of the survivors that had made it through all of the obstacles that had been recently placed in front of us, had actually survived being at Ground Zero at the time of the attacks. He was on the twenty-first floor of Tower One and chose not to listen to the announcement that told him to stay in his seat and keep working. Instead, he got up and walked out of the building and continued walking right out of Manhattan. Today was a little difficult for him given the circumstances but you can tell that he’s a survivor; prepared to do what he needs to do in order to stay alive.

That instinct definitely came in handy yesterday. We were driving through the town of Colby in Kansas. The roads were serious mess; cars, trucks, bikes, RVs, every vehicle that you could imagine were everywhere. It was slow going for us, trying to pick our way through the mess and not get caught up in the long forgotten congestion.

Ben was doing a great job driving. He seemed to be able to anticipate the really tricky parts and then bend the bus around them. It was a weird skill and one that he wouldn’t have had before the outbreak. In fact, he’d never even driven a car before then. He had lived his whole life in Toronto and didn’t need to learn. Transit was always available and he had his bike for when it wasn’t.

Unfortunately he didn’t see the glass all over the road from some sort of firefight that must have taken place. The glass shredded both of the front tires causing the fluid ride to get choppy. It was bad timing for sure. We were deep in the congestion of this small town and there was really no way of knowing what had been attracted by our progress.

We needed to think of something and fast because any moment we could be surrounded by the Undead. There were tonnes of vehicles to choose from but as we were losing light, we needed to get something decided sooner rather than later.

Scoping out the area around the bus, Harvey noticed a school bus not too far from where were stopped. It was one of the shorter buses and would just about hold all of us. It didn’t really matter as it was the only thing within a short distance that was suitable for the size of our group.

Ben pulled up as close to the bus as he could get. The school bus wasn’t completely blocked in which was great as well. We’d be able to pull up on the sidewalk for a distance until we could get back onto the actual road. If all went well, we would be back on the road within the hour.

Julie and I got out of the bus and went to the school bus, checking to make sure that it was empty. The bus was clean from all the bodily gore that you begin to associate with attacks initiated by the Undead. Instead it was full of backpacks and lunch boxes. We both said a small prayer for the children that would have been aboard that bus and prayed that they had been taken to safety. We knew the prayers were futile at this point. It had been 88 days and the chance that a dozen small children had managed to survive was low.

It’s becoming a pervasive problem within our group of late; the loss of hope. At one point in time, we all thought that we’d find a way to survive and rebuild. Now it was steadily being thought of as a pipe dream. The hopelessness of the situation that we are in is reinforced each day by the landscape around us. The bodies that we see, the images of horror that are painted in blood in some of the places that we stop. The weather has washed away a lot of those scenes but there are still reminders that pockmarked the scenery; broken bodies, burned out cars, and other indicators that the world had actually ended. Not to mention the Undead that walk the earth, constantly searching for the living.

Most of us choose to believe that we are not the only ones left surviving. Julie has been spending a small amount of time on the internet searching for other survivors. Trying to collect the stories of those who have fallen. Of those who made a last stand but in the end were defeated. There’s not much out there. That could be due to the fact that most of the communication channels are shutting down. There are times when we don’t have access to a Wi-Fi signal so I’m sure that anyone else out there is having the same problem. We’re lucky that we are on the move because we will go into areas where one is available and I work hard to get word out to anyone that might be left. I also hope that someone will contact us and let us know that we are not the only ones left. It’s a little depressing to know that humanity might be on its last legs. But we always move forward, hoping beyond hope that there is someone else.

I popped the hood of the bus after trying the dead battery; we knew it would be dead but we always try regardless. There was the chance that the bus had been abandoned recently and if that was the case we wanted to conserve our batteries if at all possible. Each time that we charge a vehicle we are running the risk of discovering that it has no gas left in the tank. We were lucky with the Savannah city bus because it was built with an idle timer. The engine could only run for 2 hours before it shut itself off. It was failsafe built-in just in case. I’m not sure of when it would have come in handy but you never know what situations had arisen to warrant such a device being implemented.

Julie placed her rigged battery charging unit onto the existing battery and closed the hood for the moment. We both got back on the city bus and set to waiting. If the school bus was out of gas, we did have some tanks that we had found and filled along the way. All we needed was enough to get to the next town and find a pump. We’d already stayed too long in Colby so we were pretty sure that at some point the Undead would make an appearance.

We were keeping a vigilant eye out for them but it was surprising who actually alerted us to their presence. Jane gently pulled at Julie’s arm and once she had gotten her attention, she pointed and spoke her first word. Children. Each of us would have been super excited that she had spoken but the fact of the matter was that there was a group of about 20 very undead children headed in our direction.

The thing with children that had been infected and subsequently have become Undead is that they are so creepy. The innocence that has been lost but can still be vacantly displayed on the bloody and rotting faces was sometimes too much to bear. And now there was a group of them heading in our direction. The sight was chilling and the goose bumps raised the hair on each of our arms.

They were in all states of disrepair. Some of them looked relatively normal aside from the blood stained faces and clothes. Others looked like they had definitely seen better days. As they got closer the horror that stained their clothes became more apparent. They had been busy little Undeadlings and their work was all over them.

They got closer to the bus; each of them fixed on what we can only assume was the noise of the idling engine. We couldn’t shut it off though because IF we had to make a run for it on destroyed tires, we were going to. The closer they got, the more we began to realize why they were so bloody. Anyone that had come across this group would have immediately sought to help them. It was the wrong move of course.

Each of the Undeadlings before us had suffered from Down’s Syndrome before the outbreak. There was an immediate pull of sympathy for these children. They might not have understood what was happening at the time and they would have been easy pickings for any Undead that happened to be passing by. Everyone on the bus was stunned and somewhat frozen by the tableau of the promise of death that stood before us. The minute that you got sucked in was ultimately the moment of your demise.

The Undeadlings crowded around the doors of the bus; as if they knew that they were the weakest parts of its structure. To see those positively innocent faces pressed up against the glass, the contact transferring blood and gore to it was shocking and practically debilitating. Not a single soul moved on that bus for long minutes.

That was until Harvey got into the driver’s seat and pulled the bus forward about 60 feet. The Undeadlings followed us as we all knew that they would. Harvey threw the bus into reverse and used the bulk of it to mow them down. Once we all realized what he was doing, we each grabbed a seat, anticipating a bumpy ride. The bus rocked up and down and back and forth as he gunned the engine and the bus over the Undeadlings. You could hear the sickening crunch of bone and the soft splat of tissues being flattened.

Once Harvey had cleared the pile, he put the bus into drive and aimed for anything that still moved. We went back and forth like that for at least an hour. Harvey was like a man possessed. He just kept flattening them into the pavement. Once he finally stopped, he dissolved into a mess of frustrated and despair filled tears. The sobs that racked his body were felt by all of us.

When he turned to us, the look of resolve was back on his face. He got up and looked as if he might make a short speech. The words weren’t needed. We all knew that Harvey’s own son had suffered from Down’s Syndrome and that he hadn’t made it during the initial outbreak. His school had been overrun by the Undead before anyone could get to them.

We didn’t need to say anything because we all understood. We did what we had to do sometimes.

Harvey got off the bus and went to try the school bus. It started and we all changed to the other bus quickly. In a few moments we had left Colby behind.

We moved toward Seattle and the possibility of sanctuary.

The Next Day

Day 85

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Wait! Who am I kidding?? It’s just the worst of times…

Travelling through Alabama and Mississippi over the past few days has really reinforced the disparity of our situation. We are alone in a sea of Undead faces. As we pass, they hear the sound of the bus’ engine and come out of their hiding spots.

There are so many of them and so few of us. How can we possibly ever regain the world that we once lived in? It’s only been 85 days since the awakening of Brooks VanReit but already you can see how quickly nature is taking the landscape back. It’s not a hugely noticeable difference but the weeds are definitely gaining a foothold again. And lawns and parks are in need of a good mow as well. There’s no telling what horrors are hidden in the long grass. The scenes of unspeakable violence that are lost forever…

We encountered something odd and ultimately scary in Mississippi. We came upon a large group of the Undead all piled up on top of something. We couldn’t really tell what it was that they were on top of until we got closer to the scene.

It does make sense though when you think about it. With the power off to most places, any electronic locks would have been disabled. Couple that with hunger and you’ve got one dangerous animal on your hands.

But back to what we witnessed. This particular group had managed to down an elephant. And I’m not talking a baby elephant or anything. It was obvious from the size that the specimen had been quite large. And it appeared from the degree of flesh that had been consumed that the animal had not been down for very long. Maybe only a few hours.

Knowing that elephants tend to travel in herds, we thought it was best to keep our eyes peeled for the rest of them. Chances were that they were long gone but you can never be too careful. None of us had any desire to meet the herd and have them view us as a threat and charge us. Our bus wouldn’t survive and the Undead would likely be drawn to the commotion.

This brought up a whole other topic to ponder. The organism or virus that was responsible for the outbreak in the first place had managed to jump species. Remember the chipmunks and small rodents? It was especially frightening to wonder what else might be out there. Considering that a number of the big cats and other carnivorous animals will dine on carrion if there is nothing fresher to be had, there is the huge possibility that they have already partaken of the infected flesh of a DEAD Undead. (You know I’m not even sure if that’s the best way to describe them… But then it works, doesn’t it?) Or perhaps they had waged their own war with a horde and lost.

We all thought that the horde of Undead chipmunks was terrifying but I believe that being on foot and pursued by an Undead cheetah just might make me freeze in abject terror! The classic ‘deer in the headlights’ stance. Of course, we all love to think that we could and would run but it begs the question: what would you do?

We got our chance to find out in the next town over when we HAD to stop for gas. Knowing that there was the possibility that large game-type animals could be lurking around anywhere didn’t sit well with any of us. But the tanks were almost empty and being stranded without a vehicle was a less attractive option.

Julie pulled the bus up to the pump and we all waited. Waited to see what, if anything would come out to greet us. The Undead are usually pretty quick about showing their rotting faces lately. There must be some kind of mutation within the infection that is allowing them to regain some of their cunning and dexterity. Why can’t they all just rot away?

We figured that we were as safe as we were going to be after about 10 minutes of nothing. Not a single thing moved in the area. There was no wind even. An eerie calm. Like a foreboding that something terrible was about to happen. We should have kept driving to the next station. Even though we were in a small town, there had to have been more stations.

A few of us exited the bus, ready to just get down to business and get out of there. It wasn’t going to be easy. With no electricity to the pumps, it was definitely a task to get the gas out of the pump and into the tank. This is where Julie works her magic. I don’t know how she does what she does but we’ve restored so many batteries that we’ve collected along the way using the solar panels that companies and counties are using to power so many things that are out in the open. Things like warning/danger lights on roadside signs to the ticker tape that runs across the top of bus shelters. It’s amazing what you can modify.

We hooked up the pump, careful of course not to create a spark or anything. None of us want to survive this long only to go up in a ball of flames. Within a few minutes, there was enough power in the pump to turn it on and extract the gasoline. Again, I’m not sure exactly how it works, but thankfully it does.

Getting gas is such a stressful endeavour. You’ve always got to watch your back, watch for sparks and monitor how full the tank is becoming. Plus sometimes you don’t know how much gas is actually left in the underground reservoir. It could be full or it could be empty. You took the chance each time that you’d come up empty. We were in luck today. There was gas left in the tank; it was just a question of how much was left.

Just as I was thinking that the bus’ tank should be about full, I heard something behind me. I looked to my right at Lt. Lafferty and she was absolutely frozen. I knew that whatever was behind me wasn’t good. Usually the Undead don’t frighten us anymore to that extent. Sure they’re scary in the sense that they’re Undead and you don’t want to ask one of them for a dance or something. But you get used to them. Like you get used to any pest really. You learn to avoid them as much as possible and when you have to kill one, you do it. Seeing Lafferty frozen like that did absolutely nothing for my insides. I will admit that I was scared to turn around at that point…

The sound was slowly getting closer. Immediately my mind flashed to a lion or a cheetah or something like that. The situation reeked of the feeling of being slowly stalked. Like something you would see on the Discovery Channel. My heart started beating even faster. I was too many steps away from the door of the bus and safety. And Lafferty was a statue standing in my way. I dared a look to my left and saw Harvey looking much the same way as the Lieutenant. This was not turning out to be a good day.

I looked up hoping to get a glimpse of the threat reflected in the glass of the window. I really wish I hadn’t looked. My back was to these things after all and I was going to have to slowly turn around so that I could see them coming when the attack came. My hand released the pumps trigger, stopping the flow of the gas into the bus’ tank. I could see the faces of the rest of the survivors on the bus, all of them trained on the monstrosities behind me.

I turned slowly, trying not to focus their attention solely on me. There were 7 of them. All of them in the early stages of decomposition. Kind of what you might picture a Hell Hound to look like. They were the scariest things I have ever seen. I can feel my heart racing and my eyes welling up just thinking about them. I have stared death in the face many times in the past 85 days but it all paled in comparison to this one moment.

The only male of the group lifted is giant rotting head and roared. It was gurgling throaty sound, filled with the promise of an attack and certain death. It was at that moment that the ladies moved into what I can only label as formation, their matted fur that had once been the golden colour of ripened wheat covered in sores, dried blood and the products of decomposition. The pride of Undead lions was about to make a meal out of us and everyone on that bus was going to get front row seats.

You could hear them growling low in their throats; feel the power radiating from their tensed muscles. They knew they had us at this point, now they were just playing with their food before dinner. The largest of the females moved slightly closer bringing the scent of her death within the range of our nostrils. It was horrifying and nauseating. Not something that you wanted to be smelling at any distance.

It was at that point that I realized I still had the gas pump in my hand. I hoped that there was still some gas in the tanks as I pressed the trigger and unleashed a stream of gasoline onto the beasts staring so intently at us. I had hoped that the liquid would confuse them, hurt them, scare them away, anything! All it seemed to do was make them angrier and more intent on killing us.

It was at that point that I actually felt like I was going to die. The situation was hopeless from where I was standing. I couldn’t get to the doors of the bus. I was going to die at the paws of an Undead lioness and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.

And it was that moment that Lafferty chose to snap out of it. She raised the pistol in her hands and started to take aim. She pulled the trigger 7 times in rapid succession, downing each and every one of them. I’m certain I could not have made the shots but I’m thankful that she did. After a tense moment of waiting to see if there were any more of them ready to attack, I dropped the pump handle and practically dove for the bus doors. I did not want to be outside any longer. Lafferty and Harvey were close behind me. We decided to leave the battery where it was. We had others and perhaps someone else would find it of use.

We pulled out of the station and aimed the bus to get us out of town. The Undead were already making their way towards the noise of the shots. Let them find the lions and feed off of their dead flesh if they so desired. We were heading out of town and as far away as we could get.

The Next Day

Day 82

The bus has a radio/cassette player attached to the front panel in easy reach of the driver. It was one of the bright yellow Sony Walkmans from the 90s that everyone and their brother had. It was obvious that this bus had been driven by one driver for quite some time. It was probably a local route. The route where the driver, whose name was Earl (it was on the Walkman) knew everyone’s name and their stop by heart. The kind of service that you would have been grateful to have prior to the outbreak.

We spent the days listening to the sweet sounds of the big bands. Benny Goodman, Duke Wellington, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey; you name it, Earl had it. All of his cassettes were neatly labelled and worn with age. While it might not have been the first choice for many of us, the sound of the music took each of us back to a time where luxuries were boundless. It’s the little things that remind of our dwindling humanity. And the little things that make us all regain a small part of it back. We each thanked Bus Driver Earl by the taping of our feet, or the smiles on our faces, or even the grand gestures of conducting.

As we left the city behind and started driving southwest through Georgia, we were shocked to see the lack of congestion and no signs of the movement of people that one would have expected. It was like the people in Georgia never got the chance to fight. It was weird.

We kept right on going, only stopping to fill up the tanks when we needed to. We had no food and no water but everywhere that we stopped was completely wiped. Nothing remained. We were going to need to stop and do it soon. It was only a matter of time before we wouldn’t be able to function.

We have no idea where we’re going. We’ve tried everything and failed it seems. Well everything but finding an uninhabited island somewhere. I know that we can’t keep driving forever but now that we have a mode of transportation, it seems to be a good choice for us to head for Seattle. There’s no telling what we will find there but it might be the best option that we have.

The great thing, and I use the term great so very loosely,  is that in having to travel all the way across the country it leaves us open to finding something else. And I hope that something else presents itself. In Alabama, the situation looks quite different in comparison to what we encountered in Georgia. Here the travelling is slower going and the Undead are everywhere. They don’t appear to be exhibiting the same type of behaviour as the horde at the store in Savannah but it’s not like we’re about to take any chances.

We do need to stop for supplies soon. We need food, water and ammunition. Plus it certainly wouldn’t hurt to get some diapers for the little one. The small store that we had been holed up in was sorely lacking in the Baby Needs section and the poor thing was wearing diapers that were way too big for him. But in times like this, you make do with what you have.

The baby has actually been a bit of a godsend to be perfectly frank. He’s renewed the spirits of some and little Eduardo will never want for anything that can be obtained in a post-Apocalyptic world. His smiles light up the faces of those around him and the extra hands are more than Polly could have asked for. I can’t imagine what it must be like to know that your baby is growing up in a world full of the Undead. In fact, I wonder how many more newborns are facing the world today without the chance to know what it could have been like.

The Next Day

Day 80

Now normally I don’t swear, but HOLY F&CK! Things probably could not have gone more wrong if we had actually sat down and planned for them to go that way.

The plan was for us to get to the Savannah City Bus that was about 100 feet from the small grocery store that we were holed up in. We could clearly see the two-tone green bus from the front windows and it appeared to be clean. The doors were open and there was no tell-tale blood on the outside or even on the inside of the windows that we could see. Of course, it all could be so deceiving but it was our absolute best option.

Julie thought that she could get the bus started. All we needed was some time for her to be able to get to the battery in the back of the bus in case the bus wouldn’t start. We all knew that it wouldn’t start when she pressed the ignition button but we were going to try anyway. It had been a significant amount of time since any of the vehicles had been started and there had been a good chance that the bus had been left on when all of the sh*t hit the proverbial fan. In times of stress, no one really stopped to make sure that they paid attention to safety. It was an “every man for himself” type of an attitude that befell most. Some would have stayed to help but they probably would have died as a result. Survival tended to reward those that were willing to sacrifice the many for the one.

We had decided that we would head for the bus the day after Polly’s baby was born. There’s just something that seems safer about being on the road. It might be a false sense of security but when we were first on the run from the Undead, I know that Ben, Julie, Bob, and I all felt safer in that Escalade moving toward whatever we were moving toward at the time.

After the woman had run screaming down the road, the Undead had cleared from the front of the store. We couldn’t hear them and we couldn’t seem them. It was eerily quiet but it might have just been the nerves that we were feeling. Going out into that street was the last thing that any of us really wanted to do, no matter how much of a necessity it was quickly becoming. We had hardly any ammunition and even less in the way of firearms to propel them from. It was going to be a dangerous endeavour but one that we had to undertake.

We left just after first light. No time like the present as they say. Out in the open air, we felt a real nakedness. We could always go back of course but that would mean leading the Undead directly to our hiding spot. Our main objective in getting to the bus was to get out of here but we also needed to see if we could find the twins. It was important that we exhaust any and all effort that we could to find them. They had survived where many an adult would have crumbled and we owed them that much. Besides, they were a part of our family now and while you sometimes had to let your family go when faced with an army of the Undead, we were still going to try to find them. It was just something that we had to do.

We moved quickly to the bus, our eyes searching out in every direction. It appeared as if we were alone. We got to the bus and boarded it quickly still on the lookout for any of them that might be staggering around. The coast was still clear. Julie tried the ignition switch and surprise, surprise it didn’t engage. The battery was dead. It wouldn’t have mattered really because it was what we had expected. We exited the bus as a group, opting to stay together for safety.

The back panel of the bus opened easily and Julie was able to affix her special rigged system to the battery. It would take time for the battery to charge at that point so we closed the panel and were about to get back on the bus. It was that moment that the Undead decided to ambush us.

That’s right, I said AMBUSH us! They moved collectively, swarming from all around the bus and coming at us in a way that we had never seen them move before. We barely had enough time to get ourselves back onto the bus before they were literally on top of us. With the electrical systems of the bus compromised it was certainly a fight to even keep the doors of the bus closed against the press of rotting, putrid bodies.

All of our hearts and stomachs had to have been in our throats waiting for the battery to charge. We didn’t even know how long it was going to take and if one of them had gotten in, it would have been game over for us. It was a tender balancing act; the doors could open both inward and outward. Too much pressure either way and we were toast.

Timing when to try the ignition switch was tricky too. If you tried it too soon, you ran the risk of draining what the battery had managed to charge and then having to start the waiting game all over again. But do you err on the side of caution with hungry undead mouths just on the opposite side of the glass? The answer to that question is YES!

Tense, tense moments passed. Moments where we thought that the Undead were surely going to overpower our attempts to keep the doors closed. Moments where you literally thought you were going to go insane from the stress. Moments where you laughed from the sheer absurdity of the situation that you were in. Moments where you wept uncontrollably because you believed you were going to die in the next few minutes and then become the one thing you had fought so long and so hard against becoming.

And then the glorious sound of the engine filled our ears as it roared to life. Julie had taken the chance and tried the battery. She engaged the locks on the doors and gave all of us a bit of a rest. Now it was just a matter of getting out of here.

We had discussed this possibility with those left in the store and they knew that we would have to drive away, leading any and all Undead away before being able to come back. Julie put the bus into the lowest gear and started to move forward, taking out anything and everything in her way.

It was a bumpy ride but one that each of us secretly enjoyed. Like a carnival ride at a local amusement park. Pretty soon the Undead figured out what was going on and got out of the way. It was completely unlike anything that we had witnessed before. They were meant to be mindless, searching us out only to satisfy an insatiable hunger. This mindful behaviour was disconcerting.

We continued to go forward, thinking that they would follow us, but they did not. It was like they knew what we were trying to do. Were they willing to give us a free pass at escape as long as we left our comrades to face death at their hands and mouths? If we had anything to say about it, it certainly was not going to go down like that. We’d find a way to get them out.

We aimed the bus towards the neighbourhood that we had ridden out the hurricane in. Perhaps we could get back into the houses and recover our ammunition. The size of the horde we had just faced was not that large and with enough ammunition, we’d be able to take them out, no problem. Besides, given their current behaviour they deserved to die a final second death. There was no question about that. Smart and undead was a lethal combination.

The neighbourhood was empty but we weren’t going to take any chances, Julie pulled up and only a few of us got out to get as much out the houses as possible. In the third house that we entered, we encountered an amazing surprise. Lt. Lafferty was there with both Lily and Liam, hoping that we would come back and look for them there.

They had narrowly escaped the hordes of the Undead that day after the hurricane but had managed to sneak back into one of the houses unnoticed as everyone else ran in the opposite direction. It was great to see the twins. And Lt. Lafferty. Thank God she had been there to snatch them up and get them to safety. Otherwise, things might not have had such a happy ending.

Getting back to the bus, we filled Lafferty in on what had happened with the Undead by the store. She was quite surprised by the hive-like behaviour. None of us had any idea of how we were going to get back to the store and lead the Undead away, especially if they had other plans.

More pressing matters interrupted us at that moment though. The bus was nearly on empty and we had to figure out where to find some fuel or else the bus was going to be useless.

We drove further away from the store looking for a set of pumps. We didn’t have to drive too far. That was the lucky thing about competing companies. In order to remain competitive you could find a gas station on literally ever corner. Filling up was pretty easy too. The diesel pump worked on reverse pressure, they were older models and didn’t require electricity. Soon we were full and off again.

We decided to drive past the store and see what was going on. Maybe we could draw the Undead away this time if we moved in a different direction and made some more noise.

The scene at the store was eerie. The Undead were gone but that was not the eerie part because you could tell that they were watching. They were waiting to ambush us again. We stopped the bus in front of the store and waited. Nothing. We opened the doors to the bus. Nothing. A few of us got off. And the Undead rushed us again. They were toying with us.

The group in the store knew the score at this point. We were going to have to figure something else out…

It took us two days to orchestrate a final plan. After many different attempts at drawing them away we learned that they were only watching the front of the store to ambush. After learning that simple and stunningly awesome fact, our next pass brought us to the rear of the store. We loaded the rest of our group onto the bus and circled around to the front. We stopped and a few of us got out. Once the Undead came out to ambush us, we got back on the bus.

You could see the realization of their mistake dawn on their Undead faces. In a collective wail of distress, they all rushed the bus but it was too late. We were leaving, safe and sound and much too quickly for them to follow us.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have shown them their mistake but there was that moment that we just wanted to goad them. If they’re developing a level of consciousness, however basic and rudimentary, it scares us to the core. We need to figure out how to stay another step ahead of them.

The Next Day