My name was Tod Wilson, but like just about everyone, I now go by my handle, Z33 (pronounced “Zee”). This is my personal account of the events spanning the most recent era in human history — and my life.
“This is the way the world ends. Not with bang, but a whimper.” — T.S. Eliot.
Everyone had their own ideas about the finer points regarding the infamous “Zombie Apocalypse”, but I think most, if not all, ran pretty congruent: that it was a plot device reserved for games and B-grade horror movies. The irony wasn’t just that it actually happened, but that it wasn’t a plague, a bio-weapon, an alien parasite, or a rage-infected monkey. It was judgement — of sorts, from someone, from somewhere, because of something. There was no nation-wide panic, no epic battles with the military, no cops firing desperately at unending hordes, no groups of mercenaries crying out “Fire!” in Russian accents, no presidential speeches, only plain and simple unforgiving judgement. It just happened: one day everything was normal, the next it was as if we were a few months into the nightmare. Nobody knows whose God was responsible. The Christian religions claimed it was End of Times and started preparing for a Rapture that they finally gave up on a year later, the Islamic religions said it was their Lord’s wrath upon a liberal and decadent society, the Scientologists said some distant bad guy had sent out waves and that this was the prelude to the final battle, even the Jewish people managed to dig up a few prophecies. Of course a year passed by as every religion became less and less vocal until they were back to telling people not to screw around or jerk off. At the end of the day, not even a scientist with the most expensive equipment money could buy was able to find a pathogen responsible for turning people, or even a genetic reason why those who survived did. The survivors didn’t have any specific race, gender, religion, or even fitness levels in common. It was almost like the whole thing was random, like some really sick joke, like some really bad piece of fiction.
14 February 2016
I woke to the sound of screaming. Glancing at my alarm clock, I saw “00:10” in glowing red on the liquid chrystal display. Assuming the noise was another domestic disturbance from our perpetually-drunk neighbours, I rolled over and put my earphones in.
I woke to the sound of more screaming. A blood-curdling howl so overwhelming that even my music couldn’t drown it out, followed by a maniacal laugh like something out of one of my anime. This time it wasn’t coming from the neighbours, this time it was coming from my house. In a mixture of shock and fear, I ripped my earphones out, stood up into my slippers, and grabbed the screwdriver from my computer desk — all in one fluid movement that would’ve made even an olympian gymnast envious. Cautiously, I approached my door — which I kept locked for the same obvious reason any healthy teenager did: to prevent my parents catching me in the act, especially while watching porn. Slowly, after peeking through the keyhole, I began unlocking it. Thud! It was as if a dead body had been hurled at the door. Suddenly there was a wild rattling of the handle followed by another blood-curdling scream. While most male 16-year-olds would’ve immediately rushed out to ensure the safety of their loved ones, I was not filled with hormone-induced bravado. My immediate concern was my own safety. I wasn’t brave, I wasn’t aggressive, and I definitely was not a hero. All I was, was rational. My lack of enthusiasm was not to say I didn’t love my family, simply that my logic told me I had no chance facing an enemy head-on if they’d been able to take down my dad.
Rattle, rattle, thud! The door handle kept turning and the door kept shaking. Whoever was on the other side was clearly relentless enough that it was only a matter of time before the door gave in. I was running out of time. I turned to my bed and began pulling and pushing it until it was flush against the door. Next I grabbed my schoolbag and emptied it onto the floor before packing it with a six-pack of cola, some Pringles, my backup hard drive, clothes, a roll of duct tape, and a blanket. After my bag was packed, I hurriedly slipped on my boots, all the while the sound of the lock and hinges of the door continued to moan as though ready to give way any moment. Finally, I rolled my curtain over my fist and began knocking all the glass out of one of my windows. “I’m not doing too bad,” I chuckled to myself as climbed out and my father burst through the door.
“Dad?” I asked cautiously, filled with a surreal sense of disbelief. He was covered in blood, and not all his own judging by the coagulating drip marks running from his mouth, down his neck, and under his T-shirt. “Dad, what the fuck?!”
He didn’t reply he just gurgled, growled, and pulled himself towards me.
Instinctively, I dropped from the window and ran, my will to survive overriding the myriad of questions and even my shock at the scene.
A few houses down, I stopped at my friend, Jamie’s house. The streets were filled with the echoes of that same blood-curdling howl, but luckily there was nobody in sight. Cautiously, I knocked on the door. There was no reply so I phoned her. Her mobile was either off or obliterated because it went straight to voicemail.
“Arsen!” I called, but no sound nor light emanated from her home. “Arsen! You alive?! Please, I think the shit hit the fan,” I called, suddenly realising how I’d just accepted everything, despite my best efforts not to.
I was just turning to leave when the front door opened and Arsen emerged, covered in blood.
“Oh, shit!” I cried, about to start running.
“Wait!” she called. bounding toward me as fast as her skinny legs would allow. Jamie, or Arsen as she was known, wasn’t skinny in the supermodel sense, but more in the half-starved-anemic-gamer sense. “Zee, I’m not a Zom–“
“Don’t say it!” I yelled, interrupting her as she flung her arms around me.
“What?” she asked, releasing me and staring at me with a puzzled look.
“The Z-word,” I replied, suddenly remembering how similar we sounded to a scene in Shaun of the Dead.
“You sound like Simon Pegg. I would laugh, but I’m too fucked up right now. I’m in that place past emotions, you know, like when you’re so sad or angry, you just… I don’t even know what I’m feeling. Zee, I just killed my parents!”
Without thinking, I threw my arms around her. She felt so delicate in that moment, so different from her usual self who was always talking big and showing off, trying to prove how tough she was. I’d always seen her as a girl, but I’d never seen her as feminine or vulnerable until that moment. The toughest person I knew was now clinging to me, desperate for something, and I didn’t even know what to say to her.
“So what now?” I asked, trying to remind her of our situation without being too course.
“I don’t know, Zee, I don’t have a fucking clue,” she replied.
“We can’t stay here, the neighbours will start coming for us,” I said, releasing myself from the embrace and gripping her by the shoulders. “Right now, your house is clear. But it won’t stay that way. I say we load your dad’s truck with essentials and get the hell out of here. You look for supplies — tins, jars, dried shit, you know, non-perishables — I’ll look for anything we can use as weapons.”
“There’s my dad’s .38–” she began, her demeanour becoming awkward.
“Is that what you used?” I asked, feigning sympathy. Not that I wasn’t genuinely sympathetic — she was my oldest and best friend — however, rationality told me that ascertaining the number of rounds left was priority.
“Yes,” she said, shivering with a deep inhalation. “I tried to warn them, but they kept coming.” Her face started to tremble and her eyes glistened in the street light.
“I’m sorry, let’s just leave it,” I replied, despite having every intention of sneaking it into my pocket as we made our final trip to the truck. “Just put it out your mind, I’ll get us somewhere safe,” I lied, giving her a quick hug and reassuring pat on the back.
“Thanks,” she said, swallowing hard and heading back inside the house. As she reached the front door, she turned and smiled at me. “My dad keeps a box of ammo in the gun safe, it’s already open.”
For a moment, I stared in silence.
“I know you Zee, you were gonna sneak the gun when I wasn’t looking. Thanks again,” she smiled, turning and disappearing into the house.
“For what?!” I called.
“For caring about my feelings. For lying about getting us somewhere safe. For stopping by here,” she called back.
“It was on my way,” I said as I stepped through the doorway into dark house.
After collecting the gun and bullets, I began searching for other weapons or useful objects. I grabbed kitchen knives, mop handles, gasoline containers, anything of pragmatic value. Meanwhile my mind was already racing, trying to put together something, anything, from an escape strategy to what was going on, all the while being vigilant, waiting for an affected neighbour to come rushing out looking for fresh flesh. There were still so many variables. So much had happened and this was just the start. In the end there were only three things that made sense: Firstly, to head for the shopping mall. I could get a blade there — a sword or even a machete — at the home security shop or the hardware shop in the case of the machete. Unlike guns, blades wouldn’t run out of bullets. There’d also be supplies there, and maybe even people. Secondly, we had to keep our eyes open for survivors. Logically, at this point anyone left alive was skilled at something that had kept them that way, making them useful. Thirdly, try to get ahold of the largest vehicle possible. Not only could a bigger vehicle hold more people and equipment, it would provide more protection. Finally, figure out what the hell was going on and the extent of how far it went on for…
Next Episode (Part 02)
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