Hello. My name is Chad and yesterday was worst day of my life. Out of all the horrible things that have happened I would have experienced them twice before I’d wish to see that day.

I know that you do not know me, but perhaps you could learn from my experience here at the Mill.

This is what happened.

We found a place where we believed we would be safe. We pulled into the parking lot in our white van. Josh was driving and I was in the passenger seat. The second row of seats sat Max and Miley, and the third, Allen, Kaleb, and Jess, who had left the back row to Andrew so he could sleep.

What we found was a set of abandoned builds that one could say acted as a small town square. They were once used by a small community that encircled a nearby lake. When you pulled in you would see on your left a small building probably used for storing equipment, followed by a two story building which housed a few, small real estate offices. Beyond these was a welcoming center.

To the right there was a building that consisted of two trailers that were put together. I’m not sure what this building is used for and I don’t care anymore.

After the trailers was an old, rotting lumber mill. It was obvious that it was only kept around for the historic look of it.

All of these buildings enclosed around a circular parking lot that was littered with abandoned cars and debris. At the end of the lot there was a club house. It was located slightly to the right of the road, near the mill. Its first floor held the dining room, and its lower floor, other rooms, probably used for meetings and celebrations. Behind the club house and the mill was the lake. I wouldn’t say it was a small lake, but it wasn’t large.

The first thing we did when we arrived was to clear every building, every room, and every crevasse. We didn’t want any unwanted company showing up unexpectedly, whether immune or infected.

We started with the mill since its doors were open and its interior spacious. After we were satisfied, we checked the storage building, which I should be calling a shack. Then we cleared the real estate building, then the trailers, and then we entered the welcoming center.

We had the girls remain in the car, and just in case we needed to get out in a hurry, we had Kaleb at the driver’s seat. Plus, he liked hanging out with the ladies.

Max and Josh, being the eldest of the group, entered first. Josh held an axe while Max handled a handgun. Max also hilted a sword to his waste in case he needed it. I wielded a wooden bat and Allen carried another, although his was metallic. Andrew had our rear with the sledge hammer he had found.

Since it was still day, about 5:00 PM, we had plenty of sunlight. The welcoming center had many windows on the main floor, but as we descended the steps to the basement it became pitch black. We turned on our head lamps. Josh whispered, “Max, Allen, come with me. We’ll check the rooms in this corridor. Andrew, Chad, you guys take the next.”

Andrew and I turned down one of the narrow, dark corridors. I remember laughing when Andrew, in his country accent, said “Well, let’s get’er done.”

Andrew wasn’t usually one to joke about serious situations, but he was the one who kept our spirits up. I’m afraid that if it wasn’t for him, I would have died from stress a a long time ago.

I recall Andrew walked into a room on the right of our hallway and I walked into a room on our left. It was only moments after that I heard him yell back, “Hey, guys. My batteries are dead.” I quickly entered into the room in which I had seen him last but he was gone. I moved my head from side to side, trying to catch him with the light from my head lamp but he had vanished. I knew that he must have left the room to find me and had gotten lost.

How could he have missed me? I was in the adjacent room. I ran out and began calling his named but his screams cut me off.

He had felt his way into the second room on the left believing that I was there. I could hear him swinging his sledge hammer around the room into various objects.

I ran into the room and hit the infected in the back which caused it to run to the back of the room. Andrew had been knocked to the floor and had gotten his hammer stuck in the wall. He pulled his hammer out and slung it into the side of the infected’s head as it was trying to attack me. The infected ran out of the room screaming only to have been shot by Max with all six of his bullets.

I saw Max leaning against the wall, still clutching his pistol, keeping his cautious eyes on the dead infectee. It turned out to had been a girl with short hair. She had been about 25 years old. Allen and Josh ran around Max and into the room and checked Andrew for wounds. Besides a nose bleed, Andrew had a bad bite on his left shoulder. Josh said, “Nothing to worry about, we can patch this up easily. It’s a good thing you’re immune.” I’m no longer a fan of irony.

We were all shaken up but were able to clear out the rest of the building along with the club house, where we unpacked our sleeping bags and crammed ourselves into a meeting room on the downstairs level.

Andrew seemed to have been fine after we treated his wounds. He kept up his joking attitude and didn’t even seem tired after the day’s events.

After we locked the door and pushed a table in front of it we all went to sleep. I wish we could have ended the chaos there.

The next day, most of us woke up late. It was an average day and we spent most of our time looking around the buildings for supplies.

It had been only two days since we had seen the rest of our group. We were proud of the place we had found and couldn’t wait to bring them there. It was secluded from the rest of the world and we had only found the one infectee, whom we had burned that morning. 

Although most of the group stuck together we had somehow become separated, because when night approached one of us had gone missing. Allen and I had been filtering water from the lake when we returned to the club house.Everyone was talking worriedly when we opened the door.

I asked what had happened and Miley said that Andrew had not been seen for sometime and they were hoping he was with Allen and myself. Allen’s face was white when I looked at him. We had all become close friends and the thought of anything happening to one of us was devastating.

We grabbed our weapons and our flashlights and headed for the door, but there was a problem. All our flashlights and head lamps had had their batteries removed. There was nothing we could do about it. As we searched our bags for more but there were none. Someone had taken our power. We wanted to believe that other immuneers, as we had began to call ourselves, had followed us and stolen them. “But how on earth did they know exactly where to look?”

The only logical explanation was that Andrew had taken them, but Andrew was our friend and would never do something so irrational. Could it be that he was infected? We didn’t want to believe that he could have turned into one of those heartless monsters. They weren’t human. Nothing without the capability to care for another can be called human even if they look like one. Andrew cared about all of us. We weren’t about the believe that one of our best friends had become infected. He was immune like the rest of us, or so we thought.

After building up our courage to leave the club house, we stepped into the night. It wasn’t pitch black as we had anticipated. Even with the partial overcast that night the moon had reflected enough light to give our surroundings a slight, blue glow.

We circled the small town once together, calling Andrew’s name. We got no reply. Josh, being the natural leader that he was made a plan. He decided that He, Allen, and I would make one group and Max, Kaleb, Miley, and Jess would make another. We would search the buildings around the lake, including the welcoming center, while they would look for Andrew near the entrance.

My group first searched the mill, then the club house again, in case Andrew had returned. We then descended the slope behind the club house to the lake, where there was a small boat house and dock. We couldn’t hear anything or anyone, only the soft sounds of the lake against the shore. But then we heard a scream. “That sounded like one of the girls,” I said. Then we heard another. “I know for a fact that was Kaleb,” Allen exclaimed as he began to run toward the noises.

I was already feeling sick, worrying that something had happened to them.

When we reached the others we saw Max sitting next to Kaleb, trying to wake him up, while Jess was comforting Miley. Kaleb and Miley had strayed a little too far from Max and Jess and had been attacked. Miley said that she had seen someone standing behind Kaleb, which caused her to scream. Kaleb looked behind himself to see what had scared her and had his legs swept out from under him and hit his head on the pavement, which caused him to lose consciousness. 

When we asked Miley for what the person had used to sweep Kaleb’s legs out from under him she said that she could not remember, but judging from the wound on Kaleb’s shin, we guessed it to be a sledge hammer.

Miley continued that the person had ran away when he saw Max and Jess running to their aid. Josh was one step ahead of us. “Follow me,” he said. Josh carried Kaleb back to our room in the club house, where he asked Miley where the figure had ran. She said he ran toward the real estate building, jumping over the hoods of cars on his way. Josh decided that Max and the girls would stay with Kaleb in the club house as He, Allen, and I went to the real estate building in search of the mystery man.

We already knew it was Andrew, but thought it was best not to tell the girls. I’m not sure why, but we thought it reasonable at the time. This too will contribute to my now hatred of irony.

I could tell that I wasn’t the only one afraid of what might happen. Josh and Allen were silent the entire way to the real estate office. I think we were all in denial that Andrew could have become one of them. We thought that we were all immune, but apparently not.

The front door was already open. We hesitated to enter but knew that we would have to sometime. I entered first. I didn’t want to, but I did and the room was empty and quite. We followed each other upstairs, our way illuminated by the light of the moon beaming through the windows. Once upstairs I felt almost safe.

There was nowhere to hide upstairs. It was an office with two desks against the walls. I could tell that Andrew was nowhere near us by the calmness that was in the air.

We all jumped to the sound of a car alarm going off outside. We looked out a window to see our van’s head lights blinking, which wasn’t odd in itself but that we had parked the van in front of the club house and it was now next to the entrance of the parking lot.

We rushed down the stairs and into the parking lot, but became silent and crouched as we approached the van. “Where was Andrew?” I wondered, “Was he bound to pounce upon us with his sledge hammer?” I was behind Josh, who slowly approached the alarming van and opened its door on the driver’s side. The overhead light turned on to reveal the keys that were sitting on the front seat. He pressed the panic button, turning off the alarm. “How did the van get over here?” Josh asked as he turned to Allen and I. It had to be Andrew, but why? 

We didn’t have much time to ask questions, there was a bunch of noise coming from the club house. Josh took off running first, then Allen and I behind him. We weaved between the cars cars that spread across the parking lot until we heard something else, something familiar. There was another set of footsteps in front of us.

We quickly ducked behind a truck and waited for the person to reveal itself but it never did. The running stopped and we heard nothing.

Josh thought fast and told me to go right and Allen to go left, hiding behind cars and keeping our heads low, while he continued straight. With any luck we could surround the hidden person. As Allen and I began our part of the plan, Josh put his axe down and crawled under the truck. He looked out from below it to try to capture a glimpse of whomever was out there. Max and the girls were told to stay at the club house, but something could have happened.

I looked around at the moon lit, vehicular graveyard in the hopes of seeing Andrew whether alive and well or infected, anything was better than sneaking around an invisible man. Allen poked his head over the hood of a car adjacent to mine, he mouthed, “I don’t see anyone.”

I looked back at Josh who had crawled out from under the truck, but something was wrong. Josh wasn’t holding his axe. He looked at me with large, worried eyes and a blank look on his face. Josh opened his mouth to talk but was stopped. Andrew had taken Josh’s axe and with one swift, bone crunching swing impaled it into the back of his head.

I couldn’t speak and I couldn’t move. I stood there watching as Josh staggered, then fell, face first, to the ground. 

I hadn’t notice, but Allen had told me later that he screaming “No!” just as Andrew murdered Josh. I was in shock until my adrenaline came to my aid. 

Andrew had ran off in a direction I didn’t care to see. I ran to Josh’s side but quickly averted my eyes and hid from his sight. I sat on the other side of the truck from his corpse and began to puke.

Allen grabbed my arm and pulled me from the truck’s side. Together we ran to the club house and leapt down the steps.

The door to the room that we had slept in was wide open. As we entered we saw Miley with her arms wrapped around Kaleb, who was now awake but still weak and in pain. I knelt next to Miley and asked her where Jess and Max had gone but she didn’t have a clue. Miley had fallen asleep to pass the time. Kaleb tried to sit up, “Andrew has her.” I looked back at Allen who was thinking the same thing as I was. I jumped to my feet and Allen and I split up. We had to find Jess before Andrew did anything to her. Allen left to search the lower level as I went upstairs to search the dining room.

As I entered the dining room I saw through the dim light that the tables and chairs had been moved closer to the walls, which were adorned with large windows.

The room was very dark in one corner, because of its lack of windows, so I began to move in that direction. If I remain in the dark I can see what is in the light more clearly. As I walked toward the corner I heard a noise come from behind a cluster of chairs. It was Max. He made a gesture with his hand but I couldn’t understand what he was asking of me. I began to walk to him, but as I reached the center of the large room two bright lights beamed out from the darkness. They were headlights!

The car’s wheels screeched on the hard wood floor before it came serging toward me. I jumped over a table and rolled onto the floor behind it, just in time for the car to miss me. As the car rounded the corner of the dinning room’s walls it turned down the hallway and burst out of the double door entrance.

Max jumped out from behind the chairs and shot three bullets in an attempt to pierce the car’s wheels. Every bullet missed, which was strange because of how great a shot Max was. I picked myself up off the floor. “What just happened?” I asked Max. Max asked if Miley and Kaleb were alright. To his relief I told him they were. He told me he was going back to protect the two in case Andrew returned for them but that I should follow him. Max unsheathed his sword, “Andrew was in that car, but not alone. He had Jess.” That explains why he had missed the car. He was worried that he would shoot Jess.

As I rushed to the entrance Max called out to me again, “Wait. Where’s Josh and Allen?” “Allen’s downstairs,” I said. “Where’s Josh?” Max knew something was wrong. I couldn’t answer. I just turned and left, and so did he.

The parking lot seemed almost more quiet than it had been before, as I could my heart beat. The overcast was heavier now and I could hardly see, but continued, clutching my bat and praying for Jess’s safety.

As I walked I heard the sound of footsteps and Jess whimper. It came from the lumber mill. The mill had three levels to it, the third floor being partially destroyed by rot and time. I entered the ground floor, cautiously. The room was mostly empty, being littered with trash. I heard footsteps from above. I moved up the stairs to the second floor. Through the gaping, half gone third story floor I saw Andrew and Jess beside one of the many a large openings in the mill’s walls

Andrew had Jess on her knees and her hands tied behind her back. He turned to me. He began to speak as he slowly tied a noose.

“Well, well. You’ve finally caught up with us,” Andrew said in a calm and eerily, pleased voice.

“Andrew. Please, let Jess go. This has to stop. You’re sick!” I was scared, tired, and angry all at the same time.

Andrew tilted his head as he spoke to me. “Do you know what insanity means, Chad? Insanity is the act of doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. Do you know what makes me different? I do different things, but I expect the same outcome every time.” He lowered the noose around Jess’s throat.

I became almost froze in fear at the thought of what might happen next, but then I saw Allen.

He was climbing up a metal beam through part of the broken floor near Andrew.

I knew that I had to stall him, “What is it that you expect to happen?” 

Andrew looked up from Jess and smirked at me as he said, “You all to die.” Jess began to cry and Andrew stroked her hair. “You see, you call me sick. Heck, I’ve been using the word too. Infected. Those cursed Infectees, as if they were animals, but the thing is, to be one of them is really quite different. I feel stronger, smarter, like a god. No fear, no worries. Not a care in the world!” He proclaimed as he shot one of his hands into the air. “Not even you or Jess or Miranda. How does that make you feel, Chad? Do you know what I have realized, Chad? You’re a lot like me.”

Allen grabbed Andrew and threw him to the ground. I turned and ran for the stairs as they began to fight. One of the wooden steps broke and I fell. 

My bat had fallen but I didn’t have time to retrieve it. Andrew had pushed Allen off of himself and punched him square in the face, causing him to fall off the balcony and onto the second floor. I propelled myself as fast as I could up the wooden stairs and just as Andrew had grabbed Jess by the arm to throw her over the ledge I grabbed the other and pulled. 

As Andrew pulled her back he had pulled me along his her. I kicked him right in his solar plexus, knocking the air out of him. As he reeled from the blow, I placed both of my hands on his chest and pushed him with all my might. He soared straight off of the platform and into the air.

It seemed to happen in slow motion. I was still bent over, my arms extended, as his feet left the floor. Mid air, Andrew looked right into my eyes and for a second he seemed human. Maybe it was Andrew I saw in there. Then he vanished from my sight as he fell three stories and met the earth with a loud, fleshy thump.

I clung to a beam on the wall and looked over the ledge. There he was, lying flat on his back with dirt in his dirty blonde hair. He was finally at rest.

I helped Jess out of her noose and bonds. She had been crying profusely and her left arm had been dislocated, but together we helped Allen back to the club house.

As the day broke from behind the horizon, we took a canoe from the boat house and filled it with charcoal and gasoline. We then placed Josh and then Andrew, side by side, into the canoe. After we lit it, Max and I shoved it into the lake.

Everyone watched as the canoe burned and sunk into the depths of the still waters.

Afterwards, I learned how Andrew had kidnapped Jess. In our self righteous denial we had neglected to tell the girls that the assailant was Andrew, and he used that mistake to his advantage. But first, how did the car get inside the dinning hall? After Andrew had driven the van to the real estate building and set off its alarm, he returned to the club house and drove the car into the dinning hall. Max had decided to investigate the noise, leaving the girls alone.

Josh, Allen, and I, being distracted by the mysterious appearance of the van, didn’t notice the noises from the club house until after we had turned off the van’s loud alarm.

After Andrew killed Josh, he returned to the club house and pleaded with Jess to allow him in the room. Jess, still trusting Andrew, let him in and he took her as Kaleb awoke and watched.

He then took Jess upstairs and forced her into the car when Max found him.

We’re going to leave soon, to head back to the rest of the group, but I decided to wright down what happened here, so if anyone finds this letter they can know. I don’t know why you would want to know what happened, but maybe you’d like to know what it taught me.

Although I have been surrounded by friends throughout all that has happened, this new, cruel world can still be a lonely one. I thought that I had little to live for, and this might be true, but I know now that I have more than enough to fight and die for. My friends are all that matter, not my own feelings.

It was something Andrew said after he had tied the noose around Jess’s neck. He said, “Do You know what I have realized, Chad? You’re a lot like me.”

I’ve realized it was true. The way I had been thinking was inward when I should have been thinking outward. I have all these important people around me. 

Important humans because they care about one another and love one another.

There is no time to worry merely about ourselves, and if we were to realize that then whatever blessings we might of wished for would come next. Because nothing good can come without love.

I am going now. I will be driving the van this time, not Josh, and the one sleeping in the back of the van will be someone else. I’ll have a lot to think about on the ride home. Like how I’m going to tell the others what happened here, and how I’m going to tell Miranda, Andrew’s girlfriend. 

I’m leaving this letter in the lumber mill in the hopes that someone will find it. I pray that whoever does will be more careful than we were and look out for their friends instead of themselves. Because they’re worth it.