As the five of us entered the one-storey house, I could not help but feel insecure, helpless. Even more scared than I felt outside in the freezing snow. The temperature inside the house was no hotter than the bare outside. A warning chill shot through my spine; however, I only dismissed it as an irrational fear.
The furniture inside the house had rotted. Pieces of wood broke off when applied pressure to. Zach discovered this the hard way as he was seated on a coffee table, watching us search for anything useful or ingestible. The legs gave way under his weight, and collapsed to the floor, with an astonished Zach on it.
We laughed at it, but it was not much more than a chuckle or two. As I was examining the single bedroom, I opened a drawer, and found this diary/journal/notebook, along with a pencil and a sharpener. Like it was waiting for me.
Other than that, we found eight cans of food (beans and fruit), some vegetables that were close to being spoiled, we found another flashlight, batteries that were really needed and three bottles filled with ice.
Today, as we walked through the snow-covered world, I felt odd, as if I was being watched
When we entered our store/hideout, we found that Ben (my brother) and Kyle (Emily’s brother) had fallen asleep. They were probably starving. They could have water but they were not to touch our other supplies, save the lantern (an oil lantern that we found and we had enough oil for it) which we used for light. We washed the vegetables wasting as little water as we could, then we cooked them and ate them. We sat around for a while. We didn’t talk much ever since it started although in the beginning we conversed considerably more, sharing jokes, recounting memories; we had hope that the military would end it, save everyone. However, they never came.
As time progressed on, our hope steadily declined. People died all around us, including our parents. We became certain we weren’t going to be saved. We fended for ourselves; we gathered supplies and protected each other.
After some time of sitting in the warmth of the boarded up grocery store, Zach nodded off, then Emily. A short while after Greg too, couldn’t hold off his sleepiness. Kyle and Ben had long since fallen asleep.
It's just Jason and me now, I'll try to get some sleep.
Day 78, Night
Couldn’t sleep. This was not unusual for me. Most nights I sat wide-awake, peering out the hole in the boards. Tonight was not much different.
After a few attempts at sleeping in vain, I lit a small flame in the lantern, urinated in an empty can, threw it out the back entrance, and then sat by the boarded up window. I stuck my head against the wood and looked out the hole. Even though the glass on the window was frosted, I could make out what went on outside.
A blizzard raged on outside our sanctuary, our safe haven. Tomorrow, we would have trouble leaving our hideout, let alone trudge through the store toward our next destination for supplies.
I was right. It took us a while to make enough space to even get out of the store, let alone trudge to the clothes shop for more layers. Our clothes allowed limited movement but kept us warm.
The last news broadcast informed us that the temperature was -10 degrees Celsius. It had gotten colder since then.
We tried to open the door, but as I expected, it was frozen in place. We were lucky it was a glass door. I kicked the door. It shattered whilst making a loud sound. We turned our heads; eyes searched our surroundings, hoping no monster had heard the sound. When we were certain they didn’t notice it, we went on into the store. We took woolen clothes that fitted us. Emily and I went to the section for kids so we could get clothes for our brothers.
After a while, Emily asked me, “David, did you hear that?” I made a confused face and shook my head. Then I heard it. It sounded like an animal’s moan. Emily looked at me. We had both heard it. We raised our handguns and walked toward its origin. We heard it again; it was a cat’s “meow.”
Emily relaxed her hand, but I didn’t. The beasts’ babies were known to make sounds similar to a cat’s. I peeked under a shelf.
Its face did not resemble the amber, gorilla-like face of the creatures, and instead, it was a cat, a tabby. Extremely frail. Beside it, lay curled up three kittens.
I lifted the grown cat. Its ribs were visibly protruding from its body. It struggled a little, although it soon relaxed in the warmth of my woolen gloves.
Emily asked me what it was. She squatted down and picked up one of the kittens. I called the others. We put the kittens into socks, their head stuck out. It may seem cruel, but it was to keep them warm. We wrapped the mother in warm clothes and took them home after getting a few clothes.
Kyle and Ben were excited to see them. They stroked their backs, which back brought me joy. My family had a pet cat that Ben was attached to. You don’t get to see many moments like these anymore, so you enjoy them while you can.
I went out the back door, and dug in the snow, searching for our bags of frozen meat and fish. I found them and took two strips of fish out. We were saving them, but these cats needed it more. I tied a knot in the plastic bag and buried it in the snow again.
As I was leaving, I noticed what resembled a snow covered car parked just outside the alley. I hadn't noticed it before. Many abandoned cars littered the streets but this one I hadn’t seen before. Maybe I just hadn’t noticed it before. I reasoned that ignoring it was the best option and went inside.
Greg lit two candles with matches as I put the fish fillets on a pan and held it above the two flames. It took time to melt the snow off it. My arm hurt. The good thing was that I didn't have to cook it all the way through so I only heated it enough for it to be edible by the cats. Greg blew out the candles and opened the back door for some of the smoke to escape. He closed it after a few seconds, as it was cold.
I gave one fillet to the mother and the other for the kittens to share. I poured a bowl of milk for them and I myself took a long drink out of the carton. Nobody said anything; things like these didn’t bother us anymore.
We sat around in the light of the lantern while the felines were hungrily feasting on the fish and I was busy writing this. All I ate were two protein bars.
Day 79, Night
As usual, I lay wide-awake on the cold while everybody else slept. I felt a pair of small paws on my face. I was startled, then I realised that it was one of the kittens. I fumbled for my small pocket flashlight, and when I found it, shone it onto the floor. I didn’t shine it on the kitten, as it would hurt its eyes.
The kitten stepped back, for some reason I smiled. I got up from bed and began my regular charade. I lit the lantern, took a piss, grabbed this journal and sat by the boarded window.
The kitten curled up in my lap, and its eyes shut. The other two were sleeping cuddled up next to their mother.
Outside, few flakes of snow dropped onto the snow already covering the ground and the silhouette of a beast moved in the distance. Its jaw jutted out. Its white fur appeared a dark shade in the dim light of the partially hidden moon.
The past three days were unworthy of recording. Little to nothing happened. We didn't leave the store. We had enough supplies to last us some while. Although, someday, these supplies were going to run out. What would we do then?
The cat and kittens had regained their health. Today we did go out. We went to a supermarket.
Many food items had already expired so we had to be careful in what we took.
But that wasn’t the highlight of today. When we were trudging in the snow, we heard a whimpering. I followed it ignoring the other’s rejections at me checking it out.
A black dog, frail and bony was half buried in the crisp snow. It could have just gotten out, but it was too weak. It was suffering from hypothermia. The poor dog shuddered violently in the cold. its head drooped down, touching the snow. When it saw us, it tried to lift his head, but because of weakness was unable to do so. It let out a small moan.
“We need to put it out of its misery.” I don’t remember who said that, but I wanted to kill them for saying such a thing. Alas, they were right.
The only reason why I didn’t want to do it was that I was a huge animal lover.
I petted the dog’s head; said something to him. Can’t seem to remember what it was. I raised the gun to its head. The barrel rested on its skull. Its pupils moved toward me, a pained look in them. I could tell it wanted me to end it, but it was too hard for me. I fought back tears. It had to be done.
When I pulled the trigger, a deafening sound erupted. I had expected the recoil of the gun but wasn’t ready for it, so was taken aback when it thrust back.
The white ice was painted crimson. Our eyes scanned the surroundings but nothing shifted except the pale, grey clouds in the grey sky.
After that, we continued toward the supermarket. We took as many food items as we could carry and went back to our hideout.
Day 82, Night
While scanning the surroundings at night, I made a terrible realization. The snow-covered car I had seen before wasn’t a car; it was one of the beasts. A beast, presumably the same one, was wandering outside our store this night. It may have gotten a glimpse of me, but hopefully not; these creatures’ eyesight was terrible; they relied mostly on their sense of hearing and smell.
When I saw it, I couldn’t believe a beast had ventured so close to our hideout, and fear set in my bones, my mind could not think of another thing but the fear of losing our home, and my friends, to a beast. It would be a miracle if I can catch some sleep.
The black blood on my gloves has dried but from it emanates the most repulsive and disgusting odor, but before I forget, I have to jot this down.
There were some things that we wanted to get from the supermarket that we didn’t take because we couldn’t carry. Today we went there again.
After taking the objects, we were about to leave, when I heard a small purr-like sound. I stopped to listen. The others noticed this and called me but I told them to shut up. I listened. There it was again. I followed it down to an aisle that was trashed.
It was in the corner, behind a mound of ripped milk cartons. When I approached it, my shoes made a thud on the floor and it, hearing it, crawled back. A baby of the beasts. The others scanned the supermarket, no adult roamed around, it had probably gone scavenging for food.
I slowly stretched my arm behind the cartons. It swung with its claw, but its claws hadn’t become sharp yet. I pulled my arm back, but when its claws grazed my glove, without tearing it, I realised its paws couldn't hurt me.
“David, let’s go!” I didn’t respond to the slightly annoyed yell at me. Instead, I put my hand on the back of the baby and started to stroke its fur. It crawled out of the back of the carton mound (trusting me?), its paws made small ripples in the puddle of stale milk. It was around the size of my forearm.
My friends watched in awe-struck silence as the beast began to trust me.
I continued to stroke its back as it grew comfortable with my touch. Slowly, gently, I brought my hand up on its furry little body. It might have been cute, if it had not been blessed with the cream-colored gorilla head. My hatred for its race took over and I let my anger control my actions.
My grip around its neck tightened. It let out a squeak and struggled against my grip, trying to push away my arm with its paw. Its efforts were in vain, it was only a couple of days old and not very powerful.
It strenuously opened its drool-filled mouth. The small points of fangs poked out of its gums. Saliva dripped out of its mouth and into the puddle of milk as a choking sound escaped its throat. I dropped my bag of food and clutched its throat with my free hand.
"David?" Emily called.
I lifted it by the neck with both hands, its hind legs swayed lifelessly beside it, but I knew it still had some life in it. I dragged my right hand upwards on its body and clutched its head. With pure hatred and aggression, I thrust its skull downwards.
An odd feeling of euphoria washed over me as I heard the crunch of the beast’s skull shatter; as it splintered into multiple pieces of bone. I sat staring at the corpse for a while, then I swiftly picked up my backpack and ran out, yelling to my friends, “Let’s go! Its mother will be here soon!” They knew I was right but for a minute they stood there, eyes wide and mouth hanging open at the horror I had committed. They might not even have believed that someone like me would do that had they not witnessed it.
After a while, they followed me home.
Once there, Emily scolded me, “Are you nuts? Why would you kill it? What is wrong with you?”
Flabbergasted at her outburst, I yelled in reply “You’re the one that’s nuts! That thing destroyed your life! It killed your parents, everyone you loved, and now you’re defending it?!”
“It didn’t do any of that! Other beasts did! This was just a baby!”
“Its race did that, though, didn’t it?” Emily saw no point in arguing further with me, and knew that the noise would only attract unwanted attention, but I wouldn’t admit my mistake. If it weren’t for me, that thing would have grown up and become a killing machine like the others.
We set out again today for supplies. There weren’t many places left nearby to go to, so we had to travel farther. It was already hard enough to trudge in the deep snow even when we didn’t have to travel far. Now it was just hell.
When we reached the building, the wearisome sensation I had after the first few minutes of walking had intensified into a burning pain. I felt like I couldn’t take one more step if my life depended on it.
After a few minutes of kneeling in the snow and labored breathing, I turned my head upwards toward the derelict building in front of me. The name had faded off, in its place a single letter. An ‘S.’ Once a bold red, now just an irregular outline. The door had been torn down, a hole in the wall, bigger than the door, replaced it, undoubtedly a beast attack.
We headed inside the dilapidated edifice. It was, for some reason, warmer than the world outside. A putrid stench greeted us. It resembled the reek of a dead animal. Even through the ski masks, the stink incited us to gag.
All the shelves in sight were toppled over onto the floor. We walked through the store; eyes scanned the floor as we went about. Crushed cans of food, their contents leaking out, shards of glass along with other damaged objects lay scattered throughout the area of the store.
We couldn’t find a single piece of food or frozen drink. Have we come all this way for nothing, was what ran through my mind. This thought was blown from my mind as we reached the source of the malodor. Emily, being the sissy she was, ran away sobbing, hands covering her face.
I had, before this ordeal, considered myself a person with a strong stomach yet today I would have puked at the horrid sight, but since my stomach was empty, all that came out was a strained gag.
In front of us lay a shirtless human. His belly was cut open. Dried streams of blood ran down its side. The blood had turned brown with age. Intestines spilled out of his cut, but what was worse was that they had been chomped on, and teeth marks were imbedded into it. The head faced us, lips parted, as if letting out a final scream. His lifeless blue eyes looked straight at me, wide open, which made the sight even more unsettling.
I heard a small scurry of feet.
‘Food.’ It came in a whisper. We were dealing with a human. A deranged one. Out of the shadows it came. It... It crawled into the light. It wore no clothes except blood stained boxers, which led me to believe it was male. Skinny. Its arms looked as if they were bones wrapped in skin. It was as if he had no meat on his bones. Its ribs protruded visibly out of its chest. Its hair was a thinning, tangled mess that swayed violently as it advanced. What was most frightening was its face. Its cheekbones were disturbingly visible. Its thin lips hung open, revealing crooked, dirty teeth.
Its eyes were the worst part. It seemed to have lost all intelligence. As I looked into its eyes, It seemed as if the thing in front of me was not a human, but a soulless monster, incapable of emotion.
It approached Zach, crawling on all fours. The others were too petrified to react. As it was face to face with Zach, it extended its jaw further and motioned as if it was about to leap. A loud bang erupted and the human collapsed onto the ground. I had shot it.
The others turned to me. Their eyes were wide, with shock or fear, I am still unsure. They didn’t say much, they knew the person was a deranged cannibal, and might have killed them had I not reacted. Nevertheless, Emily, being the bitch she is, gave me a long talking to, which I ignored.
The only thing we found that was consumable was a packet of chips. The wrapper had frozen and hardened and the chips inside were probably cold and tasted disgusting, but we took it, still.
I can’t believe I had come all the way here in nearly knee deep snow, with my legs hurting like hell, all for a packet of freezing cold chips that probably tasted like buttfuck.
After a short rest, we trudged all the way back to our hideout.
The cats had taken a shit, Ben took a few of our unused tissue papers, and scooped it up. He threw it outside, and then cleaned the rest with a wet tissue paper. He said from now on, we had to take turns doing this repulsive chore.
Today the others set out again, I didn’t though. I didn’t want to, if I had to walk more than I did yesterday, I’d rather stay in and take my chances with a slowly depleting food supply.
The others tried to persuade me to come with them, but they just wasted their breath.
So, they went searching for food while I stayed back with the kids. As soon as they left, I laid my head back and tried to get some shut-eye. However, I couldn’t. I wasn’t sleepy, just tired, if that makes sense.
I sat up and filled these unnecessary details of the day into my journal. I pretty much had nothing better to do so, why not?
Had an energy bar and gave one to Kyle and Ben each. The cats got more of our depleting supply of meat.
When the others got back, they were pale with fear, I asked them what happened, and they told me they were almost killed by a pair of the beasts.
They said they were on their way, returning, when a deafening roar burst into the air. They turned their heads to discover two beasts, separated from them by only a few feet, fighting. Claws swung in the air, puncturing the skin and flesh of the beasts.
When the fighting became more violent, they tried their best to flee. Their legs were tired, but they carried on without protest; their lives were at stake. Greg was unable to hold his curiosity and turned around to see one of the beasts’ sharp fangs burying themselves into the neck of the other. Thick, black blood stained its white fur and trickled down to the pallid snow.
Cannibalism. That word seemed odd as it rolled off my tongue. Yet it suited the actions of the beasts so much. These beasts did not seem to be herbivores, so they didn't eat the few trees that remained; and their food was decreasing, so they resorted to cannibalism. Much like some of the humans.
They didn’t bring much food back with them either. But, they had cat litter.
I ventured out with the others again; at least it wasn’t as boring as sitting around. In just one day, I had become unused to the biting cold outside. Not much time had passed before I found myself shivering in the biting wind. The few gray streaks of sunlight that reached our savage planet did nothing to warm my body.
If I thought the last time I went outside was tiring, it was nothing compared to today. It felt like hours as we trudged in the deep snow. We finally reached a store. The atmosphere inside was no less eerie than the outside. Adding to that, I felt suffocated inside, like there was not enough oxygen. There was not much oxygen anywhere but we had gotten used to it.
I sat down in a corner. I could make out the silhouettes of my friends slowly moving around the store in the dark, like a silent ritual. I just sat in the corner. Watching them, resting my aching legs. My legs throbbed with pain.
After a while, I got up to help them getting the supplies. Cleaned up a few shelves, but it was hell to carry back.
Tonight we ate canned fruit, I used to hate fruit, now it tastes like it dropped out of heaven.
Zach fell sick with some sort of disease, yellow spots grew on his skin and he said they ‘tingled.’ Was it from exposure to something in the store?
We let him stay and rest while he hopefully recovered, and Emily stayed back to take care of him as the children couldn’t do that. She had always had a thing for him and she also probably wanted to avoid taking the tedious trek on which we were about to go.
We went back to the store we had went to yesterday, and cleaned out the rest of the shelves.
When we came back, Zach was in a worse condition than before. His skin was dry and the yellow spots on his skin had grown into patches. His breathing was also labored.
Whatever had infected him was killing him.
Zach died today. I had seen this coming but there was a tiny sliver of hope, of wanting, that he would survive.
It was undoubtedly tragic, but something worried me more than that. Was it contagious?
If he was infected, wouldn’t we be infected as well, through him, or through the thing that infected him?
We didn’t even have a proper funeral for him, we just opened the back door to out hideout, and lay him outside in the snow. We didn’t put much effort into covering him with snow. Poor guy. He deserved better.
Everything went to shit today. Besides me, the only person who survived today's ordeal, Emily, is barely conscious, barely alive. The bleeding looks like it has stopped but I can’t properly tell through the bandages.
It was supposed to be a regular scavenger hunt like any other, instead, things went wrong, horribly so.
This time, we went to another store, thankfully this one was closer than the past few; I don’t know why we hadn’t noticed it before. Jason saw it and saved us from a long journey of trudging in snow. But it held something far more sinister.
There was a truck-sized hole in the side, which warned us of what was to come, but we should have cared more. We went in anyway.
When we went in, I noticed three things:
The shelves and everything were knocked over.
Various items, including food, were scattered on the floor, still usable and edible.
A beast lay in the middle of the floor, asleep.
We all knew as soon as we saw it, that we should leave immediately. All of us, except for Jason. When we were outside, he argued that the beast was sleeping and that if we were quiet, we could get some supplies without being eaten.
He had no idea how wrong he was.
All of us tried to tell him how insane he sounded, but he wouldn’t listen. I’ve come to realise that to survive in this land, you need to be insane. This was not the case today. Eventually, Greg gave in to Jason’s argument, but Emily and I were still skeptic.
They teased us for being afraid, hoping that might change our minds, but we still wouldn’t go. Therefore, they went on their own, despite our objections. We waited outside for a while. The clatter of something dropping to the ground was followed by a deafening roar. We were fucked.
Screams erupted from inside, mixed with the roars of the beast.
Emily was going inside; I stopped her, told her not to go. She asked me how I could abandon my friends, and called me a ‘selfish coward’ before proceeding to enter the store. I believed that I should run but guilt clawed at my chest until I finally went in.
I was met with Jason being devoured limb from limb, and Greg lying on the floor, one leg bitten off. The blood had already dried in the cold. A shudder passed through my body as I saw him.
The blood-stained neck of the beast moved as it turned its head to face me and a shivering Emily. I knew we shouldn’t have come here. It grunted. It ran toward us. Emily was frozen in place, and she would have been torn to shreds but I pulled her arm, and that suddenly re-animated her.
It was too late. While she wasn’t killed, she was injured badly, her right leg had fallen victim to the beast’s claw. She collapsed, screaming in pain.
Then, I did the stupidest thing in my life. I swiftly turned, and shot at the beast. The bullets pierced its white fur. It winced but its massive frame still advanced toward us, although slower. It opened its mouth, revealing row upon row of fangs tinged with crimson.
I kept shooting, bullet holes kept appearing in its white fur and thick, black blood seeped down. When it was directly in front of me, my bullet pierced its grey, ugly head. It almost killed me, but the opposite happened and I killed it.
Emily squirmed on the ground in pain. She had lost a lot of blood. Without thought, I took off the jacket Greg had on and wrapped it around Emily’s leg. I wrapped it over her pants. She winced, but it slowed the blood leakage. I supported her most of the way home but she fainted on the long way. I had to carry her the rest of the distance. By the time we reached it, I had become so tired that I nearly collapsed.
I got a bottle of water, drank some and then I poured the rest of it over her leg. It took me a while to find the unused bottle of antiseptic. I cleaned her leg with it, and wrapped a bandage around it. She woke up, and moaned in pain. I found some painkillers and gave them to her.
Now here I am. This may well be the last time I write in this journal.
I just looked outside, a beast lumbered around our home; its eyes scanned the door every few seconds.
It knew that we were in here.
Emily died. Whether it was of blood loss or something else, I don’t know. I’m leaving this place.
Went outside, careful of beasts, and grabbed all our meat, cooked it (took a lot of time and there’s a lot of smoke here now) and fed the cats, Ben and Kyle and myself. Grabbed our packs and filled them with as much supplies as I could. Put the cats in a carton layered with a wool blanket, and covered them with the blanket, closed the flaps.
We are about to set out.
Written by Sykokillah