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    WARNING: Stories on this site may contain mature language and situations, and may be inappropriate for readers under the age of 18.

    THE JOURNEY SOUTH By Wayne Nance
    August 20, 2013  Short stories   Tags:   

    Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California, United States of America  

    [Before the Great Panic, this island was little more than a monument to an inescapable prison that had held some of the most notorious criminals this country has known. Today, it acts as a mental health clinic, treating the many survivors whose mental health was devastated during the war.

    I am met at the entrance by a staff of psychiatrists and security guards. They take me to an isolated ward, and for legal reasons I cannot write the exact name. I am warned that the patient is known to slip into violent rages during discussions of his past. The entourage stops outside of a glass door and allows me to enter. Jeffery White, 32, the man I’m here to speak to, is seated next to his reinforced window, reading a passage from the King James Version Bible.]

    When Ellen and I heard about the outbreak of ‘rabies’ in South Africa, we were worried.

     

    Lots of people were worried.

     

    Yes, I suppose they were. Ellen had just finished cooking supper when we saw the news. I wasn’t aware that we were only seeing the prelude to what was to happen, but then again who was aware? The government, WHO, those conspiracy nut-jobs on the Internet? I don’t know and I honestly don’t want to know. Those next few months were just unreal; Ellen and I got on Phalanx, we started hording supplies, I even got my grandfather’s shotgun out and started relearning what I had been taught by my dad about shooting the damn thing. Then Yonkers happened and we left our Montana home and went north.  I like to think that bought us more time, I hope it did.

     

    More time?

     

    It sounds crazy, but after Yonkers I knew that Ellen and I didn’t have much time left. I knew that even though we had the food and supplies to last until winter, we didn’t stand much of a chance surviving through the winter; hell, surviving UNTIL the winter. I didn’t actively think about it, but subconsciously I always knew.

    We did fare better than most of the other refugees, but not much. Where we lived, we didn’t get the blizzards and snowfalls of the other parts of Montana and our luggage really showed that. We had two medium sized sleeping bags, a few blankets, and a tent that couldn’t retain heat. Our clothing consisted of heavy layers of clothing and decent coats. If we had just packed warmer clothing, a better tent, or even just some better sleeping bags, maybe we could have survived up there.

    Like all the other survivors there, we didn’t know what to do. We made it to safety and we were set up, but we just didn’t know what we were in for. We didn’t know if we only had to survive until the first frost fell or if we were there permanently.

     

    The first frost? Didn’t you realize that you would have wait until the other areas frosted before it would be safer to travel?

     

    Believe me; we took that into consideration when we decided to return south. We had brought plenty of spare fuel to get us to northern Canada and back to Montana, at least that’s what we thought. It turns out fuel happens to be a perfect item to get stolen amongst desperate people. I woke up one morning when I heard my car’s window smash. I got up with the shotgun I brought with me. I thought it was one of them shamblers, but I was shocked to find four men in ski-masks and crowbars stealing the spare gas we had brought. I shot one of them in the arm. He must’ve accidently got some of the gas on his sleeve because the next thing I knew I was staring at a human inferno. The others fled in terror, but not before spilling the rest of our gas on the ground.

     

    Four men managed to steal all of your gas, that doesn’t sound like you had enough fuel to get back.

     

    In retrospect, we didn’t travel as far as I have heard other people say they traveled. You have to remember though; we were traveling light for what we needed in order to survive. We had our tent, our clothing, and a winter’s worth of food. We were driving a Ford Focus, it wasn’t like we had unlimited space, but we also didn’t have to worry as much with the fuel issue others had to deal with.

     

    So you think that you did well with what resources you had.

     

    Yes, considering that we brought our necessities, we did very well. We still didn’t have an axe or a hatchet to cut wood with, no medication for injuries or even simple ailments like headaches or allergies. No, we weren’t prepared enough, and that was part of the reason we chose to walk back home.

     

    What made you think your chances were better going home?

     

    You misunderstand, our chances were better in staying; you really need to believe me when I say we knew the risks. We chose to walk back because we were thinking of our long term survival over the short term. If we survived the winter, what then? We couldn’t walk back home during the summer, there wouldn’t be near the amount of supplies we needed from the surrounding area, and we were already putting up with the ‘survivalist’. Yes walking had its risks; the freezing weather, the shamblers that hadn’t frozen, and the chance of getting lost, but if we made it, the potential reward had much more value than the risks.

     

    What were you hoping to do?

     

    First, we wanted to get home and get our supplies we had left, or if the house had been looted we would grab our memory book that we hid in a safe under the floor. If by chance we got there and it wasn’t looted, we would fuel up the truck and make our way to the nearest safe zone. If the house was looted, we would walk to it.

     

    What was the distance you had to walk?

     

    It was 1,579 miles from the border, and about 30 miles from there to the house.

     

    You remembered the exact distance?

     

    I reset the trip mileage when we got to the border so we could figure out if we could make it back or not. It was also the last thing I saw in the Ford before we began walking back. We made good time the first two weeks, stopping only to sleep and relieve ourselves. We still had quite a bit of food during that time. The building were few enough and far enough between that we could easily find one to spend the night in, we were really lucky when we found propane heated homes that still had enough fuel to keep us warm for the night.

     

    But you still had the zombies to worry about.

     

    Oh we saw plenty of them frozen on the road and to the sides, but walking did have the advantage of the frost getting ahead of us. About the third week is when we started encountering problems. It rained and snowed that entire week. We should’ve stopped and let it pass, but our stubbornness got in the way of common sense and we kept on. By the end of that week, we both had the flu. Even with the sickness, we kept on going. The entire fourth week was dreadful. We slept holding each other, one of us awake, the other asleep, still sick as we could be. We also started seeing more active shamblers instead of the frozen ones.

    The fifth week was almost unbearable, but we finally found a glimmer of hope. The city that was only 40 miles from the border came into sight. We were finally getting over our sicknesses, but we knew that we had reached the hardest leg of the journey. At this point most of the surrounding areas had been hit with near freezing weather, but the city itself hadn’t fallen that low yet. We had the choice of traveling through the city or around it. We were starting to run out of food and we knew we had to get to the house as soon as possible. We chose to go right through the heart of the city.

     

    I assume that you knew the risks involved?

     

    I haven’t been as damn sure as I was that morning. I saw the shamblers swarming buildings and heading towards a mall. Some poor fools must’ve barricaded themselves in and had to be starving by now, but we didn’t care. We had only one goal in sight. That was the longest; no, second longest day of my life.

     

    What was longest?

     

    [He ignores my question] We traveled as fast as we could and were as careful as could be. We weren’t careful enough though, because we attracted one and it began its awful moan. We knew we didn’t have any other choice except to run, so we took off sprinting as fast as we could, knowing that we were only attracting more. As we were running, Ellen tripped and fell onto the ground. I knew the shamblers weren’t far behind, but I wasn’t going to leave my wife there to be eaten alive by them things. I ran back to her and carried her over to an abandoned hardware store. I knew it was the end of us. I laid Ellen down by some shelves while I got whatever was left to make my final stand.

    I stood there with my shotgun in my arms and a pile of broken shelves in front of me. I waited for the inevitable. I knew that at any moment the dead would pile up on that door, and I would buy my wife time to escape. I waited for what seemed like an eternity, and then another eternity. I looked at my watch and saw that it had been an hour since we entered the store. I was curious, so I looked out a broken window to see what was going on. The streets were empty. Then I could hear it; the gunshots coming from the mall. Their defenses had failed.

    We took that opportunity and ran with it. We walked to over the border and back into Montana. We were within walking distance of our home, but we were too exhausted to continue. So we hunkered down in the border crossing office and slept there for the evening. I woke up many times that night thinking that there was a shambler outside, and maybe there was, but I was too tired to take care of it.

     

    So you both made it home?

     

    [The look in his face when I ask that question is one of pure rage, he looks as if though he is fighting back his hatred] Yes, we made it home the next day. We found our home in pristine order. We thought we had survived, we thought we were going to live; we thought we had made it until we were knocked out. I came to, tied to what felt like was a bedframe. I looked around seeing only darkness, but the cotton cloth that covered my face was moving a little. I heard them talking. I heard them laughing! I couldn’t tell what was so funny.

     

    You don’t have to continue..

     

    [He ignores me, but he looks to the door, the psychologist nods] They said “We love it when the meat is salted!” and I heard my wife choking and crying. I heard their fucking orgasmic moans as they, ‘salted’ her. I was fighting as hard as I could against my restraints, but it was the toughest rope I had ever felt, we had been walking and running hard with little food and water and I was in no condition to fight those bonds. I heard both of those inbred bastards laugh as they kept ‘salting’ her. Finally I heard a gurgling sound; the cowardly fuckers slit her throat and kept on ‘salting’ her corpse.

    They laughed some more, and said they were going to need more salt. They came into the room laughing and talking about all the blood. They shouldn’t have said that, because right at that moment I broke free. I grabbed the first one by the throat and ripped out his esophagus, the other one fled in terror. As the one lay choking on his blood, I saw my shotgun sitting by the door. I realized that these inbred fuckers had turned my home into a slaughter house. The other one was only in my yard when I blew his fucking leg off.

    There were shamblers down the hill. I went back to the choking one. I saw the terror in his eyes as I drug him to the front porch. I tied him up and shot my other slug into the air; they were coming to eat. I went to the now legless one. I carried him back to our room.

    [Jeffery at this point has become overcome with rage] I asked that sorry son of a bitch who he was! He said that he was nobody while he cried; THAT SICK FUCK ACTUALY CRIED LIKE A FUCKING BABY! I asked if he liked meat, no answer. I SCREAM, and he whimpers, FUCKING WHIMPERS, yes. So I rip his pants off. This piece of shit is pissing himself when I rip his dick off. I SCREAM “THEN EAT IT YOU BITCH!” and shoved the thing down his throat. He choked on it, but not before he heard the shamblers get his fucked up friend.

    [He starts crying] She was pregnant. Ellen was pregnant and the ANIMALS killed her for a little bit of food for their stomachs. I carried her body out with me. She was still warm as I got into my truck. I was just about to leave when I remembered the memory book. I went back and grabbed it, and then I left. I buried her with the book on top of the old hill where I proposed to her. She was only 19, and those sick fucks killed her that way, and I’m considered a ‘lucky’ case.

    [Jeffery committed suicide the day after this interview]

    10 Comments

    1. That was very intense, I’ve always believed that the living will be more dangerous than the walking dead … and at the risk of embarrassing myself, what is Yonkers?

      Comment by Jasmine DiAngelo on August 20, 2013 @ 1:19 pm

    2. Yonkers was a key early battle in the novelised version of World War Z. It was basically a massacre of the combatants involved. Excellent story, Wayne. And unfortunately, quite a valid observation of human nature, as I noted myself in my story “Saturn, Devouring His Children.” And yes, cannibalism would probably occur quite frequently during the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse.

      Comment by Craig Y on August 20, 2013 @ 3:02 pm

    3. Great story! I love the ones that follow the format of interviews after the Z-war. I also love the spelling of the main character’s name. Jeffery is how I spell my youngest’s name as well! 🙂

      Comment by Tonya on August 20, 2013 @ 8:42 pm

    4. Wait until a few more years and we won’t need a reason cannibalism because of Zombies. We have the Obama Administration.

      Comment by John the Piper's Son on August 20, 2013 @ 10:12 pm

    5. The quality of this story is so good that it could have been included in the original anthology itself and it would fit right in.

      Comment by bong on August 21, 2013 @ 9:25 am

    6. Excellent story perspective. Keep up the good work.

      Comment by Terry on August 21, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

    7. I can feel his rage.

      Comment by JT Asher on August 22, 2013 @ 4:32 am

    8. Very well done, i enjoyed that you used the WWZ style writing.

      Comment by Gunldesnapper on August 22, 2013 @ 6:46 am

    9. Thank you everybody for the feedback. I was very worried about sending this in, but I’m glad you all are enjoying it.

      Comment by Wayne Nance on August 24, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

    10. Very good. This tackles one of my biggest fears about the breakdown of civilization.

      Comment by JamesAbel on October 12, 2013 @ 6:29 am

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