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.