Day 165

Trying to find a group of kids intent on hiding isn’t as easy as one would think. We radioed the other group to tell them what we had found. They were relieved to know that some of the children had survived. They had only just gotten to the hospital and promised to let us know what they found, if anything.

Wanting to cover as much ground as possible, our group of eight split into groups of four. We reasoned that they would likely have travelled into areas where there would have been less people, if they knew which those areas might be. But then children can be children and as their reasoning skills aren’t as highly developed as those of most adults, we felt it was best that we also send a search party in the direction that we least thought they would have picked. We didn’t bother backtracking toward the police station; we already knew they hadn’t gone that way.

Seeing no reason to waste any time, each group set off in opposite directions with our radios. We were quickly losing light and had no desire to test the theory that the hordes had left. Plus we didn’t want to come across any of the crawlers in the darkness. Even to have one of them grab a hold of an ankle in the dark would be sure to render us full of panic!

Our group had chosen to search the direction that we felt the children would have been least likely to go. Even though we had Liam with us, one option didn’t have any better chance at being less dangerous than the other when the factor of the unknown was weighed in.

There were quite a few skeletal corpses that reached out to us as we passed. Not wanting to waste any time in our search for the rest of the children, we didn’t stop to alleviate their suffering. Once we had found the children and the rest of the survivors, we would come back and clean up the city. It just wasn’t possible for us to focus on them at the moment. And as long as you moved during the day, it was easy to avoid the crawlers and as we had yet to come across anything other than that, I hoped that there were no walkers up and about.

As the sun went down, we found a vacant store to spend the night in. Everything had been cleaned out of it long ago and inventoried for the settlement’s use. Luckily there were a number of bottles in one of the backrooms and we used the latent pressure in the pipes to fill them. We had to have water; it was essential to our survival. The amount that we had would last us until we had to stop again. At least that was a positive.

The night passed uneventfully and once the light broke in the east, we were on the move again. As we left the vacant store, Julie noticed the trails of bloody slime smeared into the pavement of the road. Last night we hadn’t seen it in the disappearing light but it was a lead so we chose to track it. If the crawlers were after the children, we had to find them first.

The trail was easy to follow. It lead us down the road, across a parking lot and into an overgrown field. Once I saw the field, I was sure that we were going to lose them. But if you kept your head at just the right angle, with the sun behind you, you could make out the distinct path of at least 7 crawlers all headed in the same direction.

Part of each of us wanted to call the other team, to get them to come and help us search but the truth was, we had no way of knowing if all of the 59 children had stayed together. They could have split into smaller groups like we did, thinking that it was easier to hide in smaller numbers. Perhaps they had figured that they had a higher chance to running into an adult if there were more groups out there; provided of course there were living adults left to run into.

Just as we were about to exit the field, Kevin spotted something ahead of us. It was the group of crawlers that we had been following; we’d caught up to them before getting a good read on where the kids might be headed. Kevin wondered if we could just wait and continue to track them but at the rate they were moving, it could be days before they caught up to the kids or worse, got distracted by something else; likely us.

So we aimed in the direction that they had been heading and continued to search. We weren’t silent either. We didn’t fear the crawlers and figured that the chance of there being any walking Undead was slim to none. So far we hadn’t seen any and the hordes of Undead rodents had reduced the former survivors of the Herber Settlement to the aberrations leaving slimy trails along the ground.

So we walked all day, crisscrossing the former streets of Seattle, calling out to the children in the hopes that they would hear us. We skirted the crawlers as they reached frail arms toward us, and continued to search the city in a grid-like pattern; up one street for two blocks, across the street for a block and then back up the previous two blocks. It wasn’t perfect, but it allowed us to cover the most ground. We even had the foresight to keep track of where we had searched on a street map, just in case we had to come back for any reason.

As it began to get dark on the second day of searching, we found a clue that we might be heading in the right direction. On the street ahead of us, in the offensive arms of a crawler, was a bright pink hoodie. It was too late for us to continue searching but it was a good sign. All of the crawlers in the general area were too large to be any of the children. Good sign indeed.

The Next Day

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Day 159

We had a breach at the settlement; a significant breach. It started yesterday morning and it was horrific. Since I’ve had a while to process what happened, hopefully I can tell you as succinctly as possible.

I’ve been holed up in the library since it happened. There was no way that I would have been able to get anywhere else; I barely made it inside the library as it was. There are 6 of us here, all terrified of what is outside.

They came over the walls and through the small little holes that didn’t get patched. A veritable carpet of them like a wave of water just overtaking the landscape. One minute you could clearly see the ground around you and then in the next, the ground was covered.

They moved so quickly. So very, very quickly. One minute it was a lovely fall day, the next it was a massacre. The screams were the first indication that something wasn’t quite right.

I was just about the grab the door to the library, intending to go inside and write an update for everyone when I heard the first of the screams. they were blood-curdling. The kind of screams that raise all of the hairs on the back of your neck. The kind of screams that raise all of the ancillary hairs over your entire body. The kind of scream that settles deep into your psyche and changes you forever. It’s the kind of scream that you never forget but search for words to explain. I’ve heard it far too many times; more times that I care to even remember.

When I looked to see what was causing the panic and terror, I saw them. It was the largest group that I had ever seen. The Undead rodents were everywhere; cutting down every living thing that was in their path.

Knowing that I didn’t have a second to spare, I ducked inside the library and closed the door quickly behind me. I turned the lock, knowing that if I didn’t I ran the risk of allowing someone else trying to escape the horde the means to let them in. It may seem heartless but what good was it to sacrifice myself and anyone else that might have been in the library with me.

I heard the panicked and pained screams continue down the street, knowing that the tide of undeath was flowing in that direction. I had no way to warn anyone of their advance.

I could only sit and stare in horror as the seconds ticked by. Seconds turned into minutes, and minutes into hours. The worst was the waiting. Fairly soon the screams died down completely. None of us dared to look out the windows. The fear of attracting them was palpable.

What I didn’t know about the Herber Settlement was that it had suffered a breach just like this about 2 months before we got here. From what I understand there used to be quite a few more people here. The attack by the Undead critters dropped the population down to less than one-third of what it once was. And when Marcus had decided to patch the gaps and disband the Perimeter Guard completely, he did so not realizing what else the PGs had been assigned to look for.

Was it his fault that we’re in this position? No, how was he to know that we were in the path of their carnage. But the sad thing is that if we had known they were coming, we could have gotten in doors. We could have saved more people.

I have no idea who is dead or alive. I can’t even get out of this library. They could still be out there, waiting for us…

The wait is beginning to get to me. I need to find out if my friends made it. I know that Ben was at the hospital, Julie was at the house and the twins and Jane were all in school. The stress of not knowing is wearing me down. I can’t help but realize that while I want to know, I don’t want to know.

And all I can do is sit here and wait. Either they get in and devour us as well, or they’re long gone.

Oh sh*t! More screams… Someone must have ventured outside thinking it was safe only to find out it’s not. At least now we know for sure.

So we wait. And pray.

The Next Day

Day 156

I remember what it was like in the beginning. The constant fight for survival; the overwhelming sense of desolation. At that point we were on the move, just trying to stay one step ahead of them. Hoping beyond hope that someone would be able to stop them. And by them, I mean the Undead.

Our unrelenting pursuers. They never stopped. Never got tired. Sometimes you were lucky and someone or something else would steal their attention away from you. But there were always more of them. They were everywhere and their numbers just kept growing.

I liken the experience to a river taking over the landscape. You don’t really know where the source is; all you know is that it just keep coming. Everything in their path is consumed and tainted by their encroaching tide of death and subsequent undeath.

Being at the settlement has eased some of the fears that we once had but didn’t erase them completely. Sure, there was no immediate threat related to the Undead behind the walls but things are strained. Marcus still has his minions observing the other survivors in the settlement at every possible moment.

People are not allowed to meet in groups larger than ten and our communal meals are always watched over by someone from Marcus’ camp. There must be something that he is afraid of but the question is what might that thing be? If it’s the possibility that someone might decide to rise up against him, I don’t think he has anything to fear. None of us are interested in seeing any more death. We’ve all seen so much of that; enough to last us 10 lifetimes.

Marcus does have bigger problems though. The supplies at the settlement are dwindling and he has yet to figure out a way that he can send people out and still maintain his hold on the people left behind. If it were me, I would just send a team out to forage for supplies but he’s so paranoid that he’ll send the wrong people that he’s chosen to do nothing. We have about 4 more days of food left before we’ll be eating the types of things that no one knows that to do with. Things like canned mushrooms and Spam. We have nothing fresh that much is obvious. No one is growing anything anymore and the canned goods are going to begin to expire in a few short months. We need to come up with a plan of self-sustainment for the long term. Otherwise, what’s the point in maintaining a semblance of normalcy behind the concrete walls.

In some ways, life is getting better though. Marcus has eased some of his restrictions. We’re allowed more time on the computers. It’s not that there is much to look at or even do but the fact that we have a way to escape for a few more moments a week is good. Most people have just been playing the games that come preloaded. The truth of the matter is that you can only play so much solitaire and minesweeper before your brain goes completely numb.

It’s probable that Marcus is coming to the realization that the people are losing their tenuous grip on reality…

There is a shock that settles in at some point. I’ve seen it first hand while fighting  in Afghanistan but what I’m seeing now is on a much larger scale. The survivors are walking around as if they are lost. They have the same looks on their faces as the people of Minden. It’s chilling really. Some of you might not remember what happened to us in Minden but the experience is burned into our psyches. As much as we might have wanted to forget, the vacant faces we see behind the walls of the Herber Settlement bring those memories back to the forefront.

We’ve seen vacancy before but it’s nothing like the widespread phenomenon that you can see as you walk down the street. It’s like every face is a mirror image of the one before. Each morning I get up and look in the mirror hoping that my face doesn’t look back at me with the same vacancy. The day that it does, I know I’m done. I’ve seen what happens when you just stop caring. Once you reach that point, it’s only a matter of time before the Undead accept you into their flock.

I’m hoping that day never comes for me. Or my friends. It would be horrible to survive the things that we have survived for the last 5 to 6 months only to give up now. We have to figure out how to keep our minds strong and in the game. The answer might be to leave the settlement. It would be dangerous of course. We have none of our weapons and no real way to travel quickly and safely but we’ve been at that point before. If the need arises, I’m positive that we’ll be able to stay alive. We have to. There is no other option. The Undead will not be the death of me or my friends.

The Next Day

Day 149

It’s amazing how much you miss certain things when you don’t have access to them. A number of people were talking the other day about how much they missed music. In fact, there was an impromptu sing-a-long that erupted among the group. It was a joyous moment; people’s voices joining together in song.

Then the moment turned sour. While we were singing a song that I was sure everyone would know we all forgot the words. It was like a switch turned off in our minds and we just forgot what it was that we were doing.

I want to believe that the arts are going to live beyond the Apocalypse but the case may be that they will not. Think of all of the works of art, just hanging in museums and galleries with no one to appreciate them. The songs that will no longer be heard. The books that will no longer be read. It’s a depressing thought if you think on it too long… Art is an expression of a culture’s creativity and at the moment, we are so busy trying to survive that we have no time to be creative. I would like to think the world will be able to get back to that but I do believe that the chances of that happening are slim to none. I hope I’m wrong; I hope that people need to create in order to understand, to process, to heal. I think it would be good for us, for all of us.

Life with Marcus in charge hasn’t actually been all that bad. Despite the way in which he came to power and the deaths that had to occur for it to happen, he has been a good thing for the settlement. He has taken on the task of patching all of the gaps in the wall. It’s freed up a lot of time for the Perimeter Guards to do other tasks that needed to be done. Now all we do it patrol the perimeter just in case the patches don’t hold.

Having the gaps patched up has actually prevented the Undead from hanging around the wall too much. Of course, we get the odd group that passes by but without an entrance they don’t bother too much with us and move along.

With Marcus, everyone has a say. It’s not a true democracy, that’s plainly obvious but he at least listens to what you have to say and then weighs the pros and cons before making a decision. With Johanna and the Council, it was a dictatorship pure and simple. Whatever Johanna wanted to put into law, she did and the Council never stopped her. I can’t fault the woman completely however; she did protect the city of Seattle from the Undead with her plan.

In the days following the riot, coup d’état, whatever you want to call it, Marcus officially apologized for the atrocities that were committed. While it’s interesting to see that he has a heart and I don’t believe that he genuinely feels bad about what happened. No one dares to speak out against him. What’s done is done and people are choosing to let sleeping dogs lie.

Even though he has apologized, people still feel the threat of violence that hides just beneath the surface. It’s an eerie feeling to be completely honest, like you’re never able to get comfortable. Like a pair of eyes are always on you at every moment.

We live with a number of restrictions as well. There is a curfew and you’re only allowed out after dark if you have special permission. If you’re caught out once the sun goes down and you have no proof that you’re allowed to be there, you spend an obligatory week in jail.

I’m not sure what it is that Marcus is worried about. No one is going to try to usurp his new role. I mean there might be a few people that want him gone, but there are no plans to make that happen. At least none that I know of anyways.

The worst of the restrictions might be that we are now only allowed to have one hour per week on the communal computers. And I have seen that our laptop has been put into circulation there. It’s hard to only have contact once per week as I know that some of you are out there thinking that something awful has happened. Well it has, but somehow we always manage to pull through it and survive.

The worst thing is that internet is beginning to die. That’s that only way that I can explain it. There seems to be a systematic shutting down of sites and well I can’t really fault that it‘s happening. At some point, we all knew that it was bound to happen. With no one to run the power stations, the servers would eventually go down. And we’ve been experiencing sites going missing all along but now it just seems that the internet is getting smaller. The once infinite space for information and the like is imploding; folding in on itself and swallowing the information that it once readily provided for us.

The funny thing is that porn sites are still very much alive. And I don’t mean alive in the sense that there is new content or anything. I just mean that the servers were still active and streaming content for the people that had either paid for it, or were willing to pay for it. I saw it a lot at the communal computer bank. The fact that it was the only thing left on the internet to really see meant that everyone was going to go there. And it wasn’t about the sex; it was the fact that they were the only images left to see of a world before all of this.

At some point, those sites will die as well. Lost to the world forever. Some of you might wonder if we will miss them. The truth is we will miss it all. Everything that we lose will be a painful reminder of the world that we once lived in.

The Next Day

Day 140

Lockdown does funny things to people. Put someone in a locked room and tell them that they can’t leave and you’ll soon find out just what they are prepared to do for the rights and freedoms that they once had. The following is the story of Marcus Bereger.

Marcus was one of those unlucky people to have been locked up in the old jail until it could be determined if the wounds they had posed any risk to the entire settlement. He didn’t appreciate the forced confinement; none of them did but Marcus was different. He had a voice, he had charisma and the angry outcasts of the Herber Settlement were ready to listen to someone. Johanna and the Council certainly hadn’t done them any favours by locking them up with potentially infected people.

As a result of the fire that Marcus stoked, the disenfranchised members of the settlement started to rebel. At first, they would just engage the guards in heated debates but soon it turned to violence. That’s the way with our society, if you can’t solve it through (educated) discourse; the one that strikes first usually has the upper hand. And the self-proclaimed outcasts struck first.

It was an organized attack. They moved all of the children into one section of the jail as their safety was never to be jeopardized and then staged a mock fight in the cafeteria. They knew the fight would draw the attention of the guards, and would likely bring them all down into the cafeteria to break it up.

The Herber Settlement Police Force wasn’t made up of your brightest of individuals. None of them actually had any police experience (most of the real officers had either left the city to help other forces quell the uprising of the dead or they had died themselves keeping the Undead out of the city in the early days). What stood for officers now were untrained men and women granted the “honour” of police work by Johanna and the Council. It had worked in the interim when no one did anything to jeopardize safety. And now it worked to the advantage of Marcus and his followers. Once all of the guards had responded, and left the doors open in their inexperience, the outcasts turned on them. They were soon overpowered. It really wasn’t a fair fight, 157 grown men and women against 20 guards ill-equipped to handle any kind of crisis.

In the end, 13 of the guards had been beaten so badly that they died of their injuries. No one even knew to respond to them in the jail; their bodies were found after the fact. The remaining 7 guards were locked in cells and Marcus and the rest of the mob left the jail in search of a fight.

They didn’t have to go too far to find one. Seeing the group burst forth from the jail, panic exploded through the settlement. The assumption was that the infection had spread through the jail like wildfire and now the Undead were loose. It was a fearful reaction but one that had been ingrained so many times before.

A number of the braver inhabitants picked up whatever weapons they could lay their hands readily on; gardening implements, cleaning tools, even spare pieces of wood still present after one of the buildings had been repaired. But the mob was too big for them. While they did some damage, they were quickly disarmed and granted no mercy.

The mob moved through the city, intent in its goal. They wanted the source of their anger, their frustration and they didn’t plan on letting anyone stop them in their pursuit.

The Council all lived in the same area of the city; in the houses that surrounded Johanna’s estate. They were easy to find and naturally were at home at that time of day. The mob dispersed to each of the houses as they came upon them; the group getting smaller as it stalked up the road to its final destination.

The shouts and screams from the houses left behind could be heard as the mob surprised each of the Council members and their families. But onward the shifting mob moved. They found Johanna and her granddaughter in the back of the house, just sitting down to eat dinner. There was an exclamation of surprise, then outrage out of Johanna.

Marcus struck her with a shovel that he had picked up along the way, her skull crumbling in upon itself. Her death was instant and her granddaughter’s followed shortly. By that time, the rest of the mob had finished with the rest of the Council. They were all dead, along with their families.

Marcus proclaimed himself the new mayor of the settlement on the steps of Johanna’s estate, still holding the shovel covered in her blood in his right hand. He raised it high in the air to the exclamations of support from the crowd.

The rest of us found out about the change in power shortly thereafter. Marcus made sure that we all knew he was in charge now. Nothing really changed for a number of us; we went about our normal tasks  of protecting, feeding and cleaning the settlement. There was no time for us to express anything other than blind acceptance.

Marcus is a very fluid speaker. Listening to him is like listening to music; the melody of his voice and the lilt of his words made you want to believe in the things he was promising. I can remember the last time I was present for one of his speeches.

He was standing in front of the doors to City Hall proclaiming that this was the new age of civilization. At the time, I wasn’t entirely sure he understood what he was saying but soon we would find out just what he meant. If anyone thought that Johanna was bad, they should have been warned about charismatic charlatans.

Well, myy allotted time is almost up; I had better get this up before it’s lost forever…

The Next Day

Day 131

The settlement is visibly shaken and nervous after it was revealed that Dean had been let back into the sanctity of the walls infected. The consensus seems to be that no one can be trusted. It’s a little bit disconcerting to know that a very large number of people are all looking at each other with suspicion.

Anytime people are seen with visible wounds, there is a panic! People will change to the opposite side of the street, ply them with vicious words, even turn tail and run. The strange thing is the newly offensive person may not have even been outside of the walls since they were erected. But that didn’t seem to matter; if you had a wound, you became a pariah.

The council decided it was time to take action. They enlisted all of the medical staff and had them conducting around the clock visual examinations on each and every person that lived in the settlement. The fear was palpable. No one wanted to submit but was afraid of how it would look if they did not. Dissension was not an option; there had been a breach and the council wasn’t about to take any more chances.

They had even gone as far as setting up a Quarantine Zone for anyone having a cut, laceration, or scrape on their bodies. The used the jail that had been cleared shortly after the Apocalypse; each person had a cell to retreat to and common areas to interact with everyone else if they chose to. They used the settlement police department to man the jail, though none of the officers really wanted to deal with the inmates.

It was beginning to border on the ridiculous! Putting all of those people, and there ended up being quite a few, into one place to work each other up was madness, in my honest opinion. But consider the ramifications if just one of them turned out to be infected?

The Next Day

Day 130

We got a visit from the Herber Settlement Police Department the other day. At the time, it wasn’t something I was entirely sure that we should be concerned about but soon it became apparent that the whole event could have had some very dire consequences.

We had been assigned 3 houses in one of the outlying suburbs close to downtown once we had been properly cleared for entry. I was living in the larger house with Ben, Julie, the twins and Jane while everyone else in our group had split themselves up between the 2 other houses.

It was early in the morning, maybe about 7:30, when they knocked on the front door. Only Julie and I were up; Julie because she was getting ready for her shift at one of the Food Kitchens (restaurants turned into cafeterias of sorts that feed all of the people at the settlement) and I was just unwinding after another harrowing night assigned to a gap. When I answered the door, the two officers demanded immediate entry into the house. Unsure of what was going on and considering the potential for a city-wide breach, I let them in.

Their gruff and militant demeanor made me wonder what had happened. Before closing the door, I scanned the neighbourhood around the house for signs of the Undead. The only thing out of the ordinary was the squad car in the driveway and the second one across the street. The second squad car was parked directly in front of the house and was inhabited by two other officers, both intently watching it

Feeling slightly puzzled at the strangeness of the situation, I closed the front door and walked into the living room. Julie was already engaged in a conversation, if you could call their frantic and intimidating line of questioning a conversation, as I entered the room. Once I joined the group, the officers turned their attention to me, fixing me with their hardened and suspicious eyes.

From the line of their questioning, it became evident they had received a tip that we were harbouring a member of the Undead. Hearing such a preposterous claim, I welcomed their demand to search the house.

We had absolutely nothing to hide. In fact, we had even taken on the responsibility of ending the lives of our friends and family that had succumbed to the infection. There was absolutely no way that we would have harboured anyone that was infected or worse. Our pasts had shown us firsthand how dangerous those actions could turn out to be.

The officers searched the house, starting in the basement, with their guns drawn; expecting at any moment to be face to decomposing face with one of the Undead. When they reached the upstairs bedrooms, their tense anxiety was palpable. Not wanting them to wake Jane and the twins, we quietly told them to keep it down. Our polite request only seemed to fuel them more.

They burst into the room they twins shared with Jane, their guns held out before them; the safety’s off. The noise and commotion of their entry jarred the twins awake and made Jane scream in terror. The twins started to cry and tried to become as small as they could in their shared bed. Jane backed up so far in her own bed that it looked like she was being crucified on the wall behind her headboard.

Seeing that the room was in fact only inhabited by children, the officers lowered their weapons and adopted a somewhat sheepish look. They did not apologize however. They just backed out of the room and milled in the hallway. From the looks on their faces, I could tell they realized they had been made to look like fools.

I escorted the officers down the stairs and out of the house without allowing them access to the rest of the house; not that they even asked. In fact, during the short trip down the stairs, they didn’t say a word to me. There were no apologies, not even a justification as to why they had to search the house. I’m not sure if the silence was worse than the potential false platitudes and excuses.

Once the door was shut and the outside world was locked away once again, we met as a group to discuss what had just happened. Thankfully the twins and Jane were so used to startles and scares that it was relatively easy to calm them down. That was the reality that we faced; kids became even more adaptive in tense situations.

It didn’t help that none of us could figure out why someone had accused us of something so heinous. As one of the only doctors in the settlement, Ben had gained a level of something akin to prestige once he started working at the hospital. Medicine is one of those things that people tend to hold in high regard and as it’s unlikely that there would be anymore doctors graduating from Medical Schools anytime soon, the doctors that were still around were precious commodities. And as a Perimeter Guard, I have a level of respect that is bestowed upon me as well. It just didn’t make any sense for someone within the settlement to be working against us…

We’ve been keeping our eyes and ears open on the off-chance that we can gather a little intel. Finding out who was behind the accusation is important but it has since taken a back seat to the events that occurred later that evening.

In order to keep a huge group of survivors like this fed and well, happy, it takes quite a lot. As a result, the council had organized a group of men and women that had special skills; orienteering, Parkour, observation, and weaponry. It was their job to leave the settlement at regular times in order to forage for supplies. Everything that was already behind the walls had been stockpiled and it would last for a while but it never hurt to be even better prepared than what you already were. Now they had to go farther and farther afield for supplies in our dwindling world. Sometimes they would get a lucky break and find a transport truck full of non-perishables on their way to a supermarket when the Apocalypse hit. They had everything that you could ever imagine at their fingertips to obtain supplies; weapons, vehicles, battery chargers. Everything.

The Supply Team came back a few nights ago with two trucks that had been on their way to a grocery store in Vancouver. Two trucks full of groceries and something else. Something a little more insidious. It appears that one of the group had come into contact with some infected blood. No one really knows how it happened since the man swears that he hadn’t been bitten and there were no bite marks on his body. Upon their return, each of them was checked for bites; the full-body check was part of the price for entry. Everyone had to submit to it or risk being left on the outside of the walls.

The man whose name was Dean, had come back with a long but shallow cut on his leg that he said he had gotten while navigating a tricky spot between two buildings. At first no one really paid much attention to it, after all it was just a routine laceration; something that the Supply Team was used to dealing with in the line of duty.

The problem was that after a few days, Dean started to get sick. It turns out that the wound got dangerously infected even though it had been properly cleaned and bandaged. The doctors hadn’t seen anything like that. What would have been useful information for everyone at the settlement was the fact that the sharp edge that Dean had come into contact with had been covered in dried blood. Infected blood.

While the doctors valiantly tried to save Dean’s life, they were puzzled that they couldn’t stop what they assumed was just a simple infection of the tissues surrounding the gash. Within 2 days, Dean was dead. Precautions were taken to ensure that he didn’t come back but under careful study in the lab, it was determined that he had been infected.

It was a sobering lesson for the council. An infected person had gotten past their safeguards. Until further notice, the Council had placed the entire settlement on lock down. No one comes in, no one goes out. I’m not sure how this is going to pan out for us…

The Next Day

Day 125

I know it’s been a few days since I last posted but there has been quite a lot going on around the settlement. They also monitor the amount of time we have on the communal computers. We still haven’t gotten our laptop back which is odd to us since it’s not on the list of restricted items. Eventually I hope that we’ll get it back but you never really know sometimes.

Johanna Herber came to personally thank me for sounding the alarm when the Undead managed to get through the breach in the north wall. It was a nice gesture but I didn’t think that I needed a personal visit. I was just doing what I would assume anyone else would have done. And it was done with so much pomp and circumstance that you would have thought they were giving me a key to the city!

Having finally met Johanna, I have to say I’m a little bit disappointed. She’s made out to be this larger than life hero; like someone who no one could possibly ever live up to. Instead she’s just this little diminutive woman of about 80 years of age. Her face is a map of the life that she has lived; all of the trials and tribulations carved deeply into the freckled skin. She has arthritis so severe that she walks with a cane and the assistance of another woman; someone much younger than herself but from the familial resemblance, likely her granddaughter.

When you meet her, you get the impression that she would be ineffective at anything that she tried. You would have been wrong the moment she opened her mouth. The authority that oozed out the woman was palpable. And when she fixed her eyes on you for the first time, you got the impression that she enjoyed being underestimated. The fire that blazed behind those eyes was very evident and you soon realized why Seattle stood relatively unchanged 125 days after the Apocalypse.

It also became readily apparent why so many people just did everything that she asked of them. Her wisdom and knowledge on any subject was astounding. One might even begin to wonder if she had worked to get herself into a position of power in order to prepare for such an event.

We’ve been hearing rumours and snippets of information about Johanna from other survivors that have been here longer than us. Apparently, in the 30 years (yes that’s correct, 30 years) she has been the mayor of Seattle, she had amassed the multitude of concrete barriers that are currently surrounding the city. Amassing and stockpiling them in warehouses maintained by the city located on the outskirts of town. How she managed to stay in power, with all of the money that she must have diverted, I cannot even begin to comment on.

Once Johanna heard the news that Brooks VanReit had reawakened, she didn’t waste any time in turning all of the city’s manpower to the task of enclosing the city. She figured that it was better to be safe than sorry in any situation that involved the Undead. And all of us were extremely lucky that she did; none of us would have a place to stay safe otherwise.

What I don’t understand is why she leaves the gaps open, it’s not like it would take a lot to patch them up. And she has to know about them; there have been too many breaches to believe otherwise… Perhaps in the beginning the workers that had constructed the wall had hidden the fact that there were gaps but with all of the alarms and the need for Perimeter Guards, it would have become obvious there was an issue.

And after the breach that we had along the north wall the other night, Johanna and the council have even allowed us to have a source of illumination. It’s not a true light because they still don’t want us to inadvertently attract the Undead to the weak parts along the walls. What they have supplied us with are small LED lights similar to what you would find attached to a key ring. It gives off the weakest of bluish tinges and only illuminates the smallest of areas. It’s not enough to really see by but it is better than nothing.

I will say the first time my light was cast upon the face of one of the Undead, I recoiled in abject horror. The light made them look even more ghastly than I thought was possible given the greyish pallor of their rotting visages. It was positively ghoulish. I am not ashamed to say that it caught me by surprise as there were no telltale sounds to accompany its arrival.

The noises may have been missing purely because this particular Undead used to be a toddler; its face now half eaten and right arm ending in a putrid stump just above the wrist. It didn’t take me long to kill it, but I will say that you never get used to the kids…

If I had to choose the kinds of Undead I would prefer to encounter, children would be at the bottom of said list. Sure they are smaller and can be killed slightly easier depending on your method but they are more voracious and just a little more cunning. That might just be because of the creep factor though…

At least with the full-sized Undead, for lack of a better word, you can see them coming. They tend to be taller than or at least as tall as the cars clogging the roadways. And unless they are scraping themselves across the ground after you, you can usually track them in tight spots. Children, on the other hand, can come out of nowhere sometimes. As you make your way around a car or through an area that has some congestion, they can suddenly just be there, their undead eyes fixed on you and their undead arms reaching out as if to be picked up. In the first few days, I can see how a number of people might have easily reached down out of habit to pick up a child. An instinctual move that might well have been their demise; who wouldn’t have wanted to help a child in distress? We’ve been taught that it’s the right thing to do.

Once the Apocalypse hit, the right thing quickly became what you rarely did. Unless of course it was something that you deemed was safe to do. No one went out of their way to help anyone else; doing so could mean death. You had no idea who was infected, who might want to do you harm, and who might end up being completely useless.

We’ve been hearing that the settlement has been turning away other survivors since we got here. And in fact they hadn’t let anyone inside after they were fully enclosed. That leaves us to wonder why they decided to let us inside…

The Next Day

Day 117

Yesterday would have been Thanksgiving had we still be living our normal pre-apocalyptic lives. There were a few of us that gathered to celebrate; mainly Julie, Ben, Jane, the twins and myself. We did have a few people from British Columbia that came as well but it wasn’t really a joyous occasion. How could it have been after what went down the other night?

As you know, I’ve been working as one of the PGs (Perimeter Guards). It’s an 8 hour shift of just staring at a gap in the wall. A boring, tedious, exhausting 8 hours but you knew that you were doing something that greatly benefited our community. This is mainly why I cannot fathom how someone managed to fall asleep at their post.

It happened a few nights ago. Sunday morning to be more exact. Gregory, an older gentleman probably in his 60s, was given one of the more solitary gaps to guard against. It was along the north wall and in an area of the city that wasn’t inhabited by too many families.

The worst thing about the duty was that we didn’t have the luxury of light to help us. The council thought that using light to highlight the gaps at night would only attract more of the Undead to them. I could see the logic behind that, really I could, but you have no idea what it’s like to be standing in the inky darkness of night with only your ears as a warning system. After a while your eyes would adjust to the darkness but it wasn’t a perfect system by any means.

I know a bunch of guys that rigged up different types of warning systems just to help them out. Strings with bells across the openings. Cans stacked up in front of the gaps. Anything that you can really think of to make noise in the event that one of the Undead decided to come through your gap.

That must have been what Gregory was relying on. He’d probably been using his system for quite a while and it had worked thus far so why would he think about changing it? The scary thing is that you cannot rely on the Undead to be predictable…

To a certain extent they are. They will come after you relentlessly until you either kill them or they kill you. It’s pretty simple; they are driven by their need to feed and assimilate. What you cannot bank on however is that they can come at you from all different angles, in any way, shape, or form that they can. As long as one of the Undead is mobile, it’s going to pursue you. It might get waylaid if something else crosses its path, but it will keep moving in the last direction that it saw you going.

Poor Gregory. Underestimating your most voracious enemy is dangerous and he definitely learned his lesson.

It was about 3:30am on Sunday morning and I was keeping my eyes glued tp my gap. I was stationed on the west wall that night but I was close to where the north and west walls met. It was a quiet night. Sometimes you heard people out and about in the streets, acting as if nothing was wrong with the world. A little bit of security can put the blinders up for people. That was pretty scary to deal with as well because there were people living in the Herber Settlement that didn’t believe that anything was really wrong with the world. It was like they had selective memories of what had happened and were choosing to forget that there was a world on the other side of the wall.

The night was quiet and incredibly dark… We didn’t even have the benefit of the stars to help illuminate the tiny gaps we watched. I heard a slight scraping along the concrete close to my gap and knew that soon I would have a visitor to turn away. Within a moment, the scraping got louder and from experience I could tell that pretty soon the rotting corpse would be all the way through. It was easy to tell when you had something about the come through; the smell usually gave them away if you didn’t pick up on the noise. I quickly put the invader to rest and went back to listening. My mind started to wander and I began to wonder why The Council didn’t just patch the gaps. It would make life a whole heck of a lot easier. But then I guess maybe they wanted to make sure that people had a job to do… It was a risky choice but one I wasn’t about to argue with; I had no desire to leave the settlement.

As I was listening and smelling for my next invader, I heard a noise off to my right. It sounded a little far away but it was like I instantly knew that it had something to do with one of the gaps. We had an alarm system in case we got into trouble. It consisted of an air horn (a super annoying sound but effective). We each had a specific call signal which was a b*tch to learn each night to be honest…

I blasted my horn 3 short bursts to signify that I was on the west wall and followed it up with a 4 second long burst. The long bursts were meant to tell the Response Team which gap you were guarding. There were only 4 along this stretch of the wall so I only had to deploy the button for 4 seconds as I was the farthest out. In my mind, it would have been easier to have us just continued to press the button until someone came to your rescue but I’m sure they had their own Morse Code of sorts just in case the PG got taken down by one of the Undead.

Once the response team got to my location, I quickly explained that I had heard a strange noise coming from the north portion of the wall. Since I couldn’t leave my post to go and check it out, it was up to them to get over there and investigate. I didn’t feel bad about calling a false alarm; there were usually about 5 or 6 a night. But in my mind it was better to be safe than sorry.

I turned my attention back to my gap and tried to put the possibility that one of the Undead could have gotten through the wall out of my mind. I was doing a pretty good job until all of the shouting started. From what I could make out, it appeared as if Gregory had been surprised by one of the Undead while he had been asleep and the Response Team had happened upon the offender while it was feeding off of Gregory’s now dead body. It was a good thing that I had blown my horn since there was already another member of the Undead army almost through the unattended gap and another one just waiting to push its way through after it.

The Response Team managed to get the situation under control fairly quickly (did I mention that they get to carry flashlights?). Poor Gregory met him demise unfortunately but it drove the point home to all of us watching our respective gaps. Paying attention was of the utmost importance.

The rest of the night passed uneventfully and I was granted a week’s vacation by The Council from my job as a Perimeter Guard for averting what could have been a huge crisis. I’m not sure if a week off is what I need though. I’ll be able to recover from the stress of the job, only to have to go back on active duty in a few days. I pray that someone on The Council will come to their senses and just patch the gaps. I’d rather watch a patched gap than an open one. Until next time, stay safe my friends.

The Next Day

Day 111

They took everything away from us. Guns, ammunition, clothes, personal belongings, and our laptop. They even took all of our identification. I know it seems silly to be walking around with it still since there is no use for it but it’s just been something most of us decided to keep with us, just in case.

It’s a very militant world that we are now living in. Everyone has a place and a purpose and if you don’t tow the line, you could be cast out to fend for yourself. Consider this the end of the “free” world. Sure you are guaranteed protection from the Undead but that is not infallible. The Undead are able to breach the wall and they do so often. My second day in the Herber Settlement, named for the mayor of the city formerly known as Seattle who had devised the idea for this fortress, I was scheduled for sentry duty. Mainly it was my job to ensure that nothing came through the 4 inch space between two of the concrete slabs on the West side of the settlement. There were many such gaps and they had to be manned 24 hours a day.

At first I thought they were kidding. What could possibly get through such small a space? Apparently the Undead can. I guess with their lack of pain or need for a properly articulated skeleton it allows them to fit through just about any space imaginable. At the sight of the first skull pushing its way through, I was instantly creeped out! I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even react at first mainly because what I was seeing seemed so unbelievable.

The Undead man was almost all the way through the gap before I remembered that I had a job to do. Once I regained my wits and came to my senses, I placed the blade of the machete that they gave me at the base of its skull, brought it up and then quickly down, severing the head completely from his rotting body.

I would have loved to have had a gun for encounters such as this but the council in charge of the settlement didn’t believe that guns were required for this duty. As long as you took care of all of the Undead trying to breach the perimeter in good time, there would be no need for firepower.

In a way it was a solid place but you couldn’t help but wonder what happened if you missed one. Or if something smaller and infinitely creepier made it through the gap quicker than you could dispose of it… I hoped that we would never have to find out.

Everyone else was put to work as well. Some went to work at the local Laundromat (thank God my laundry duties were over even though it was a much safer job). Others went to work at local restaurants preparing food for delivery to all of the survivors.

Herber Settlement was a fairly well oiled machine by the time that we arrived there. Everyone had a place and a use. Everything that they had been carefully inventoried and measured. The power plant for the city was still functioning so we had lights for when it got dark, and electricity to run hot water heaters, washing machines, ovens, dishwashers. You name it; if it needed electricity, it could be  used for some purpose.

It really was a Utopian society compared to the hell that we had been living for so long. There were numerous safety protocols in place and regular resupply missions undertaken. There was a council of individuals that were charged with deciding what was best for the settlement made up of the former mayor, Johanna Herber (who singlehandedly fought to protect the city of Seattle from the Undead) and 9 other people. Some of those 9 people were other survivors that had been accepted into the settlement. And actually the council was about to name one of our group to it to ensure that we had a voice.

It was a democracy of sorts. Not perfect of course as we were beginning to learn but they were making an effort. The main problem was no one was willing to go against anything that Johanna Herber suggested. There was a bit of a messiah complex that surrounded her. Everyone here revered her and I can understand the belief that she is a hero. If it hadn’t been for her and her plan to protect the city, tens of thousands of people would have been enlisted into the growing army of the Undead. But the constant deference to her and her ideas had gotten the settlement into some trouble along the way.

From what I’ve been told, in hushed voices of course as people are somewhat paranoid around here, is that there used to be a lot more people at the settlement. Anyone that disagrees with the council, and therefore disagrees with Johanna’s decrees is asked to leave immediately. It was similar to what we experienced with Thomas Rosenberg on the ship but this was just a little bit worse.

On the ship, everyone was in agreement that no “upper” class should exist. In the new world order, each person started off as equals.

That wasn’t the case at the Herber Settlement. There was an elite and those in the elite didn’t have to contribute much of anything to the day-to-day maintenance of the community. Their free rides had been bought and paid for by their monetary support in building the settlement once the apocalypse started. Was it a fair system? Of course not but parts of the world had remained intact, that was readily obvious.

What began to truly scare us was the way in which a number of people acted when they thought no one was looking. You know the kind of activity that makes you pause and just say to yourself, something doesn’t seem right about that… Each of us is keeping an eye out for the bizarre but it’s hard to tell with a large group of people what truly is just bizarre and what is a potential threat.

After risking our lives to get here, we still have some uneasiness in staying. Only time will tell what the future holds for us. Let’s pray that the cards are stacked in our favour for once.

The Next Day