How are we going to get out of this? We have an army of undead all around and god knows where we are! I know that there is little to no chance of us surviving, even if we make it through this challenge, there will just be another waiting for us. And while the enemy grows with each fallen survivor our numbers only grow smaller, and our resources dwindle more and more. What’s the point in fighting, if there’s no hope of victory?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Lindsey's Story - Christmas Special

Endings & Beginnings

My name is Lindsey Taylor, and this is my story. It all started in the bank, I always hated formal settings. I was in my element laughing with friends, or just sitting with my family. But waiting in line at a bank? Trying to seem professional? Not my style. And the people here seemed so different than people outside. Is that weird? The customer service people were friendly enough, but wore that all-to-familiar expression of fake interest and stress. The customers didn’t acknowledge each other’s existence. There was a tense atmosphere, judging anyone that held the line up or took too long at the counter. “Stress” and “Tense” are sort of the key words for this story.

Finally I got to the counter, and the bored man behind the glass called someone down from upstairs to help me, we went up to his office on the second floor. There were a few small offices up here, but only a few were for customers, we passed one and I saw a woman sitting back in her chair with her feet on the desk. Judging from the combat boots and leather jacket I doubted she was the banker. We made eye contact. I jumped forward slightly, almost bumping into the man I was following, something about her stare unsettled me. Not like she was judging me, more like she already had a long time ago. And she was unimpressed. She was, in a word, intense. I don’t like being judged, or studied, or even talked about, I guess that’s why professional settings like this make me uncomfortable. Too many opportunities to mess up and embarrass myself. We sat and got to business on the boring bank stuff. He was nice and did most of the talking, so that made me calm down a bit. But I was still sitting like a rock in my chair. Not making any movement as if it would show what a bundle of nerves and neuroses I was.

A man burst into the room, sweating profusely through his suit, making us both jump. He told us what we’d heard on the radio: that people were, changing. That anyone who’d had the recent flu vaccine would eventually become a zombie. I’d seen a few people getting sick, even some I knew, but hadn’t really taken note of it. Nor did I see it as the start of the apocalypse. Zombies. Crazy right? I wouldn’t have believed him except for how panicked he looked, and by the noises that were coming from outside. Screams crashes, cars honking. In a word: chaos. I panicked, I reached for my phone to call my parents, but they weren’t answering, neither was anyone else I called. I needed to get out of here, I needed to find them. The man who had filled us in had long left, and the banker that was helping me was also calling the people he cared about. With the same result. I got up to leave, but was stopped by the woman I’d seen before. She rushed into the room and closed the door, I tried to push past her but she pushed me against the wall with her hand over my mouth.

Everything moved so quickly. There were dead on the lower floors, trapping us up here. Eventually the sounds of chaos outside quietened, but we could still hear the groans of the dead, as well as the occasional scream or crash. The woman remained calm through it all. She said her name was Jacobs, now that I had met her she didn’t make me feel so uncomfortable, she had an air of confidence when she spoke that made me admire her, and trust her. After two days of rationing we had eaten all the food on this floor, we had been lucky that we had access to that much. Jacobs spent all of her time staring out the window, assessing, figuring out what we should do next. But the banker, Ian, was getting impatient, and hungry.

On the third day he made a break for the stairs. He ran past us and pulled open the door, alerting the two zombies that were waiting near the stairs. I ran to pull him back but he pushed me away and I fell against the wall. He only made it halfway down when he saw that the dead had grown in number, and after a few days of hunting and feasting they were a horrifying sight. He scrambled back up, falling in the process. He had almost made it back when one of the dead caught his leg. But I had caught his hand. I was struggling to pull him back, but they were too strong, others had reached him and bit into his leg, causing him to scream out. “Please!” he pleaded, “don’t let go!”
“I won’t!” I yelled back, but I was starting to be pulled into the stairwell, and the dead had started to notice me too.
Suddenly a broken chair leg came crashing down on Ian’s arm, he yelped and let go, and I fell back into the room as the door swung closed. Jacobs. “What the hell is wrong with you?” I yelled, climbing to my feet
“Me? What’s wrong with you?” She replied angrily, “you were about to risk your life, and mine, for a man who was already infected! Are you really so stupid?”
“No, I guess I’m just human,” I retorted venomously. I moved away, not wanting to hear the sounds that were coming from the ground floor. The respect and trust I had found in her was broken and replaced with betrayal and fear. If she truly cared so little for others how could I ever trust her again?

Another day went by, and things were starting to get desperate, no food, no real protection from the dead pounding at the door, and no comfort. I had stayed away from Jacobs, only vaguely aware of her constant post at the window. But as midday came on our fourth day here she came and sat down next to me. “I won’t say I’m sorry,” she began, but her tone wasn’t harsh, or even commanding like it was before, “you have to understand that everything has changed now. We can’t be the same people we were before”
“So what, we can’t be human, we can’t care about other people?” I asked, part of what I said was genuine, but another part just wanted to hurt her
“No, but we have to be prepared to sacrifice our ethics, to break our moral code if we have any hope of surviving,” she turned to me and I saw in her eyes all of the emotion that I hadn’t before, “that guy will not be the last person that we will lose, but we have to be ready to let them go. Even people we care about”
“I find it hard to believe you care about anybody
“I care about you.”

I stared at her, lost for words, I didn’t understand. She swallowed and got up, her eyes hardening again after a moment of weakness. “I have a way to escape,” she said, her commanding tone returning. And despite my previous concerns I felt a bit of trust in her. And something else too, although I wouldn’t admit it until later. “But I need your help.” Just before sunset we were ready. I threw a desk chair through a window on the east side. Immediately after she threw one through a window on the west side, followed by another, then I joined her and together we threw heavier objects. A desk, the fridge, a table. After a few minutes we could see that it was working, the dead were flocking to the commotion on the west side, and had completely forgotten about the east side. Using curtains tied into rope we made it to the ground, and quietly we walked away.

There was a small convenience store nearby where we stocked up, using make-shift bags made out of our jackets. Plastic bags wouldn’t help with stealth. We couldn’t be professional entirely though, after two days of starving we could help but dig in to a few tempting bags of chips, and some bread, and some chocolate. And god knows what else. But this made us sloppy, and as Jacobs checked out what was behind the counter I went to the toilet, and walked straight into one of the dead. In panic I fell back, knocking over a stand and screaming in the process. The dead was on top of me in moments, and I used every last bit of strength I had to stop it. This was it, it had to be, I didn’t have the strength to push it off, at least without letting it bite me first. And deep down I knew that Jacobs had left the store, left me behind. She had all but told me she would. It was weird but in those moments, when the horrifying corpse was attacking me, all I could think about were the past four days.

I heard a gunshot, and the dead corpse was thrown to the side, and I was intact. It was Jacobs, and although the hand holding the gun was straight and stable, her face was a wreck. I climbed up and ran to her, and she dropped the gun and grabbed me, holding me close. I pulled back, “I thought you were going to leave me,” I almost cried
“I-I,” she stuttered, I’d never heard her voice even waiver before, “I couldn’t,” she looked at the gun before putting it on a shelf, “I found it behind the counter, and then I heard you, and-and I”

I couldn’t control myself, I kissed her. And it was… fantastic. It might have been spurred on from the adrenaline but I knew I’d wanted to for a long time. After some indescribably long moments she pulled away slightly and smiled, “we need to get you some boots Lindsey”
I laughed, “was that a lesbian joke, Jacobs?”
She laughed back, “no, I just don’t think those heels have served you very well. And call me Allison.”

The next few days were surprisingly peaceful, and almost… pleasant. Nothing seemed to phase us as long as we were together. I was seeing new sides of her every day, she was so much more than the scary woman I had seen in the bank. And from the way she looked at me I could tell that I was so much more than the insecure girl I thought I was. I had found through her that I could be strong. And even happy, despite the state of things. At first Allison had brought me trust, then fear, and now strength. But above all, love.

We were picked up after a week by two huge trucks, their trailers full of survivors. They had survived this long, but they weren’t very organised, nor did they have any plan or leadership. Allison soon found herself their leader. Two weeks later there were five trucks, and several smaller vehicles. And I had found myself on a scouting team. Allison hadn’t liked that, but she respected the person I had grown into, and while she was my leader, and my girlfriend, I wouldn’t be a burden anymore. On anyone. The outbreak might have been the end of the world, but for me it was just the beginning, for my new identity, my new life. And for me and Allison.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Brooke's Story - Halloween 2016 Special


My name is Brooke Rowe, and this is my story.

They say you show different faces to different people. Your family, your friends, your lover. You act differently because you want them to appear differently, you want them to see you in a certain way. But does that mean you are a different person? Is the person my family knows a different person my friends know? And if that’s the case then which one is the real me?

I know the answer of course, they all are, and they all are not. I can break each of these people down into traits, responses, or views I do have, and those I am creating just to have an effect on those around me. So if I change myself to have an effect on others does that mean I am only the real me when I am alone? Of course not, because even when I am alone I am trying to convince myself that I am a better person than I really am.

          When I joined the army I formed a new face, new reactions to new stimuli. A man made a joke I was offended by, I laughed and joked back. A man told me to do something I didn’t want to do, I nodded and did what he asked. I heard a bang, I saw an enemy, I responded with force, and anger.

          I came home, but after you’ve worn a face for months it begins to change you. And faces you set down can’t be picked up again so easily. But the stimuli are still there, as are the responses. I’m meant to be different here, I’m meant to pretend I feel safe, but I don’t, I feel threatened. So I lash out with force, and anger.

          I try and pick up new faces, ones that will fix the changes underneath. But there are traits you pretend to have, and those that become a part of you. Your true face. So maybe that is the only way to find your true face. To experience the unknown, to be faced with new challenges and see how your instincts react. To meet new people, and see how they affect you.

          I say find your true self, but as I said before you already know which traits are real and which aren’t. But maybe that’s good, to be able to suppress the parts of yourself you don’t like, and let the ones you do flourish. Or maybe instead of finding our true selves we are finding a way to admit our true selves. And a way to fix the parts that are broken.

          I’m in a different place now, a different world. And I’m surrounded by different people, people who rely on me. And none of the faces I have are ready for this, or right for this. And slowly I’ve realised that the people I’m with are seeing my true face, or maybe I’m letting them see it. I don’t care, what matters is that for the first time in a long time, even though everything is falling apart and dying that I feel myself. As sick as that is. As ashamed as I am. But these people, they need me. The real me. And I need them. And for as long as I can I will protect them. Even if it kills me. And maybe one day, by staying with them, I will be able to see the face they see, and it will be what I’ve always wanted it to be. Me.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Haven Chapter 32 - Final Chapter

            Chapter 32

            “We can’t tell anyone yet,” I told Nicole after shaking out of my stunned silence
            “They deserve to know,” She argued, but I could tell she was conflicted too
            “True, but if I tell them now they’ll argue, some might even want to leave him behind, or worse,” I played out the scenario in my head, it never ended well no matter what I would say. Eventually Nicole agreed with me, we had to keep moving forward, but to what end I had no idea. Haven was safe for now, but if our theories were true and the dead could sense us from miles away no one location would be safe, not forever. I kept remembering those theories I had before all this, ideas for the perfect hide out. But even if one of them could protect us indefinitely, we couldn’t build it in time, and it was more than unlikely that we’d stumble upon one in the suburbs. But it wasn’t for just me to decide, for the first time in a while we had the opportunity to reunite everyone together in one place. They had put their trust in me as a leader, not a dictator, and now I understand the importance of that title. If the decision had to be made, it would be made by all of us

            The cars were loaded up with as much as we could take, so we couldn’t drive as fast as we wanted to, not to mention the danger posed by the remnants of the zombie horde. But after a few hours we made it, we found the others. Once again people starting jumping out of cars before they had fully stopped, too anxious to reunite with their friends to wait. Connor and Will wouldn’t stop smiling and laughing as they examined they damage that had been done to the cars. Chris and Monica shared a friendly smile, although Monica seemed even happier to be handed the extra ammo. Malcolm and Andria had already reunited, but the still kept close to one another, I had forgotten they were friends before all this.

            I was smiling, we were all smiling, until Nicole turned to me, her smile fading, “where’s Brooke?”

            We had lost someone before, but I was dismayed, yet slightly comforted, that it wasn’t easier the second time around. I explained everything that had happened at the station, the resistance, Anthony, everyone who had died. I introduced Lindsey to the others, but I was not surprised she did not receive a warm welcome, the circumstances were fair from pleasant. Lauren cried freely, Chris comforted her silently. Will walked off, and Connor followed him, Daniel as well a little later. It wasn’t until they returned and the other’s settled down that I spoke again, “We have to decide what comes next, whether we return to Haven, and try to make it perfect”-
            “But it never will be,” Chris finished, “no amount of wooden beams and barbed wire could stop what we just saw”
            “Exactly, but the alternative is not very appealing either,” Nicole argued, “Previously we had a purpose, find our friends, find medicine, find a home. But what do we do if we can’t find a home, where do we go?”
            “What was it like in the resistance?” Will asked Lindsey, “travelling with little destination in mind?”
            “It worked,” she began, trying to sound encouraging, “but we had huge trucks, with shipping crates large enough for dozens of people and equipment, we were even trying to experiment with hydroponics”
            “We have two cars and a Ute,” Connor said bluntly, “that’s hardly enough to live place to place”
            “He’s right,” Nicole agreed, “without those kinds of resources we’d have no chance.”

            We all segmented into smaller groups, arguing over what was best. I tried to find the answer in my own head, a home would never work without a massive amount of luck and manpower, and we had neither. But living on the road would only end in disaster to, it would destroy our mental and physical health, and resources would always be a problem. If we stayed in one area we’d know all the dangers but eventually run out of food, and if we ventured out too far we would have no idea what we’d be heading into. If we had the same resources the resistance had we wouldn’t have to worry about running into trouble, we’d have the manpower to stop it. And if their experiments bore literal fruit we wouldn’t have to worry about food. Without realising it I stumbled upon the answer. “We’ll join the resistance,” I said finally, and eventually everyone agreed.

            Before we lit the signal we wanted to be ready, and we knew we’d have to replace the Ute with one with an intact windshield, so Daniel and Monica went out on foot to find one. The others sorted out the supplies, between what we had gathered from Lindsey’s father’s house and what we had kept from Haven there was quite a bit. I sat in the old Ute’s passenger seat, trying to get some rest. Part of me wanted to be with Jade, but I was far too exhausted, and she always seemed to be full of energy. Nicole stunned me out of my nap by hopping into the driver’s seat and slamming the door, a sour look on her face. “Are you okay?” I asked drowsily, I was tired but concerned, Nicole usually kept the spirits up, not dragged them down
            “I’m fine,” she snapped back
            “You sure sound it,” I replied sarcastically
            “It’s nothing it’s just,” her sour mood broke into sadness, “it’s them,” she gestured out to the others, smiling and laughing as they examined our supplies and planned their life with the resistance. “They’re happy,” I said confused, “is that a problem?”
            “No,” she sighed back, “I want them to be happy, but… Brooke is dead,” we were both quiet for a long time, “maybe I’m just bad at moving on but I don’t feel like laughing right now”
            “No one expects you to,” I tried to be soothing
            “Well tell them that,” the sour face was back, “that’s it.”

            She turned the key and the engine roared to life. The others outside looked up in confusion, but I faked a smile and with a gesture they want back to their conversations. I was worried she was going to try and drive away so I prepared to grab her hand, but she didn’t reach for the handbrake, she reached for the radio. “You won’t get anything you know,” I almost laughed
            “I’ll get white noise,” she replied sarcastically, “enough to drown them out.” And she was right, teeth-grating static came through, and Nicole smiled grimly at the look on my face. As a joke she pretended to scan through the channels, pretending to judge each one before moving on. This time I really laughed, but I did go to stop her, “you’re gonna waste the fuel.” But she knocked my hand away and shushed me, as she turned the volume up, and listened carefully. A voice came crackling through the radio, impossibly.

            It was the end of a message, and I thought we had missed it, until it began again on a loop, “Hello my name is Lewis Carter, and if you can hear this, you are not alone.” The fact that someone was out there broadcasting on the radio was crazy, but true. The others eventually heard the sound of a voice and came running over, about to speak until the heard the message and realised. The message didn’t end there, “I’m in Melbourne, near the centre, and I’m working with Doctor”- the message cut out for a moment and I could hear another female voice, then the male voice again but neither were distinguishable. But then it became clear again, “we are working with other’s to find a cure, we are at Gordon Centre, and if you know where that it is you know enough about science to help us.” I turned to Nicole, and she nodded in recognition, Lewis spoke again “we are safe there, I repeat we are safe...” the message paused for a while, “come to GC if you can help, this our last chance, this message will repeat on this frequency.”

            We all stood in stunned silence and listened to the message twice more before Nicole turned the engine off. Was it possible? Somehow, somewhere there were people working on a cure, was a cure even possible? Nicole insisted she wouldn’t be able to help, and argued that we stuck to the original plan, but she was outvoted. Eventually I convinced her that even if she couldn’t help being close to a possible cure would be important. The only issue was the trip there, and the location. Everyone with common sense knew that the city would be swarming with the dead, and if we wasted fuel and supplies to get to the place where we died it I would never forgive myself. So we waited until Monica and Daniel returned with the new Ute to put it to an official vote.

            Over the past months since we left the clinic my leadership skills were tested, if I even had any to begin with. But even if I didn’t I had to believe that I developed some, otherwise every bad thing that has happens is my fault, and I couldn’t live with that. And if my guidance leads us to a gruesome death in the city I would have no one else to blame. Except maybe this guy Lewis. But if I lead them to our salvation, maybe for once I can be sure, that I am the right leader for these people. My friends, no they’re more than that now, my family. I would do everything to protect them, even if that meant stepping down and letting someone else take control, but for now I was their leader. And I won’t let them down.

             They returned, we voted and then we left. Headed towards Melbourne, headed towards our fate. And possibly the fate of the entire world. Or what was left of the world now gone.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Haven Chapter 31

            Chapter 31

            My heart was beating fast in my chest, I felt like I was still surrounded by the dead. But instead of being afraid I felt excited, and anxious. We were close to the warehouse, in a moment we would see it, but there was still the possibility that the others didn’t make it back alive. I didn’t know what I would do if they didn’t, how I would be able to go on. Without Jade any hope I had of having any meaningful future was gone. That was why I worried so much, it was one of the reasons why I left her here. I thought she would be safe, but know I wonder whether she would’ve been safer with me, even when we were trapped in the station.

            We turned the final corner, and then it seemed like my heart had stopped beating entirely, they were alive. Just like us the car, as well as its passengers, was worse for wear, covered in blood and the windscreen was smashed. They hadn’t noticed us yet, I saw Chris cleaning chunks of flesh off the car, and as we approached Daniel exited the warehouse, his arms full of supplies they had left behind. But I couldn’t see Jade. My mind flooded with all the possibilities, was she inside? Was she left behind? Was she even alive? But all my questions were answered, along with a small heart attack, when the windscreen shattered, showering the bonnet with glass. Inside I could see Jade holding a baseball bat.

            Before they noticed us I saw the three of them arguing, but when they finally did they stopped, and ran to greet us. The doors slid open before we’d even stopped and Lauren dashed out towards Chris. I barely registered their reunion, or that of Daniel, Will, and Nicole, my eyes searched for Jade. I finally saw her as she stepped out of the Ute, and I found myself running towards her faster than I ran away from the dead. We collided and it hurt because of our injuries, but neither of us cared. I held her close, almost crying. I treasured every moment, everything. Every scent, sight, and touch felt new and familiar at the same time, and I never wanted to let her go. But I had too, and after pulling back and laughing better than we had for years we all met at the back of the Ute.

            “How did you guys go getting away?” Will started
            “Better than we expected if I’m being honest,” Daniel answered, “the windscreen got smashed when we hit one full on, but we were able to keep the rest away with sticks”
            “We fired as few rounds as possible,” Jade added, trying to keep our eyes from meeting in case we never looked away, “once we had their attention we didn’t want to get any more, what about you guys?”
            “Well… um…” Will replied nervously, still traumatised by his near miss
            “We ran into a bit of trouble,” Nicole said gently, we knew what had to be discussed, even if we didn’t want to discuss it
            “Will might be infected,” Lauren blurted out, she apparently didn’t not have as much tact as Nicole
            “What?” Daniel and Jade reacted at once
            “He got covered in glass,” I explained, looking unsympathetically at Lauren, “and the glass was covered in blood”
            “Infected blood,” Will emphasised.

            I was more than worried about Will, and not just about his health. In the past experiences with the Dead have either shattered his confidence, or strengthened his, well his will, Will’s will. And this was a similar time, and right now we all needed to be strong, I couldn’t afford to have him lose his strength right now, this had to be dealt with now. “Here’s what’s going to happen,” I began, using my best leader voice, “Nicole and are going into Haven to check Will out, when we come out we will decide what to do, until then you guys need to do everything you can to fix the cars.” And then I gestured to Will and Nicole and walked away, ignoring anything the others said in protest. Inside the warehouse looked very different than it did before, more like a home. I didn’t feel bad about abandoning it before, but now seeing what the others have done with it I did. The three of us stepped into what remained of Nicole’s first aid area. “I appreciate the support Todd, but I think you should leave,” Will suggested sheepishly
            “No, I’m here to help,” I insisted, wondering why he asked, then almost as an answer Nicole turned around and spoke
            “Alright Will, take of your clothes,” She was all business
            I was a little less professional, “I’m gonna go,” I said quickly and ducked under the heavy sheets blocking the view. As I turned to leave the warehouse I was stopped by Jade. “Why aren’t you outside?” I asked, although I was happy she wasn’t
            “Because,” was all she said, as she pushed me towards the beds.

            We had almost died, and Will might be infected, but somehow I felt happier than I had felt in a long time. Although we might be abandoning the warehouse, I knew that as long as we were together I would be home. After an hour and a half of work we were satisfied with the work we had done on the cars. I knew at some point we would have to replace the Ute with one that had a windshield, but it would get us back to the others. And we had found a strong clear plastic sheet to replace the window we had broken to save Will. We also used a few buckets of water from a nearby pond to clean most of the blood and guts from the cars, although they were hardly sparkling. Both cars were covered in dints and scratches, but they were still in one piece. Everything was packed and ready to go, finally we were going to be together again, and everything would be okay. Until Nicole and Will walked out from the warehouse, and they were both deathly pale. “Nicole?” I asked, fearing what she would say

            She leaned in close, so only I could hear, “Will’s got a cut on his leg, it was small but there was blood. I can’t know for sure, but its possible Will is infected.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Haven Chapter 30

            Chapter 30

            The van became covered in blood, in their desperation to reach me inside the dead had scratched whatever remaining skin off their hands. The smell was disgusting, but I felt strangely calm, resolute. I was going to die here, and I was okay with that.

            But I was wrong

            Apparently the world wasn’t done with me yet, and the scratching and growling slowly stopped, and as it did I could hear the low growl of another engine. I tried to look through my mirrors to see where it was coming from, but the ones outside had been ripped off and my back window was smeared with blood and worse. But I could still make out some shapes. The dead that had given up on me were now running frantically away from me, or more towards another car. They turned the corner, I couldn’t see them anymore. The sounds faded away but still I stared at where they were just a few moments ago. Then a bloody hand slammed against my window.

            I leapt out of the front seat and into the passenger side, I pulled out my gun on instinct, even though it was out of bullets. But my fear was miss lead, as the hand wiped away the blood I could see a face, and it was one I recognised. It was Will. In one swift motion I unlocked the door, opened it and hugged him. I had never been more grateful to see anyone my entire life. And he wasn’t alone “Thank god we made it in time,” It was Nicole, gasping for air, they’d obviously ran. Lauren eventually joined us, in a similar state to Nicole’s.

            “What are you doing here?” I asked, while I was glad to see them I didn’t think joining me on a suicide mission was the best choice
            “Saving you, you ungrateful idiot,” Nicole replied indignantly
            “Connor, at least we think it was Connor, sent us a message,” Will explained, he was all smiles, “‘Save Todd’”
            “It was pretty obvious it was you who stopped the dead from reaching us,” Nicole continued, “then all we had to do was”-
            “Follow the zombies,” the three of them finished in unison.
            “So the car that drove them away?” I was suddenly worried that they put their lives on the line to save me, after I did someone to save their lives
            “The Ute,” Will answered, “Chris, Jade, and Daniel took it as a distraction while Andria took the car to pick up the others”
            “Speaking of the others we better get going,” Nicole began with a serious tone, “They’d have a much better chance at surviving with our help.”
            I couldn’t believe they had done this, I thought I was dead, and more than that I thought we had failed as a group. We had lost Brooke even though we thought we were prepared, and then when faced with another threat I was forced to sacrifice myself for them. But now I found out we are stronger than I thought, that even when they were apart my friends had managed to organise a rescue mission. This time they had saved me, but my job wasn’t done yet, not by a long shot.

            I got everyone to wipe down the windows so we could see. Will had brought ammo and weapons so we restocked, then we were off again. I turned down the corner I saw the dead disappear down, but after that there were no other signs of where they had gone. Luckily Will had a radio, as did Daniel. “Daniel, it’s Will, we got Todd where are you guys?” Will sounded afraid
            “Will!” Daniel’s voice came through the radio, he sounded distressed, and you could hear the sound of the engine as well as gunshots in the background. “We’re headed towards Clyde Road, we’re hoping to lose them there but we could use some help!” I grabbed the radio off Will
            “Daniel? Can you hear me this is Todd?” I spoke, trying not to sound afraid, or too desperate to hear Jade’s voice
            “Todd! Thank god you’re alright!”
            “Yeah,” I tried to stay focused, “we’ll come up behind you and split the group in half, once you’re sure you’ve lost them we’ll meet at the warehouse”
            “Haven? Alright,” Daniel finished and the radio just played static
            “Haven?” I turned to Nicole with a raised eyebrow
            Nicole shrugged back, “seemed like a good name at the time”
            “No, its fine”
            “I guess it made more sense before we had to abandon it.”

            Daniel had chosen a good road to lead them to, a familiar one, and soon we could see the stragglers of the dead. Will climbed on top of the van and shot at any that came to close. They must have been practicing while I was away because he’d become a good shot. In fact we got so close I could hear the gunshots of the other’s and then the engine. I wanted so much to simply drive through the zombies to see them, to feel her next to me again. But I had to wait, because what I wanted even more than that is for her to be safe. So I had to wait. There was another reason why Will was on top of the van, he had a better view of the dead, and when we got to a certain point in their group he yelled to me, “now, Todd, turn now!”
            I span the wheel carefully, I needed to be sharp enough to turn around in the space and time given, but too sharp and I would lose control, and that would not be good. Will clung on to the top as we turned, but when we hit the curb the whole van jolted and he lost his balance. His hands still held on to the bar attached to the roof but now his legs dangled precariously. At any other time he might have been able to drop down, or even stand up, but we were still surrounded by the dead, and they were hungry. He pulled his legs up as high as he could, and whenever one of them got to close he’d swing them out to knock them down, but it wouldn’t work forever, and every time he made contact he risked infection via fluid transfer.

            “Will hang on, I’m coming to get you!” I yelled out the window and reached for the handbrake, he had slowed down considerably during our manoeuvre, so I could stop here and get out
            “No you’re not!” Nicole pulled my hand away, “you’ll be eaten alive the second you open those doors, and even if you aren’t the plan would fail and we would all die”
            “We can’t leave him!”
            “We won’t,” with her other hand she grabbed my gun, turned the safety off and fired at the window. Glass shattered covering Will’s legs and I felt a chill, those windows were still covered in infected blood, one scratch and it could be over. But at least we could save him now. Nicole yelled for Will and caught his attention, seeing her plan he swung his legs towards her. She caught them and tried to pull him inside, “Lauren help!” from the back seat Lauren left her huddled position and grabbed Will’s belt. “Will you have to let go!” Nicole yelled out the window
            “Are you crazy?” I heard him yell back. But nevertheless it was his only chance, he let go. Will wasn’t incredibly heavy, but still Nicole and Lauren had trouble holding on, let alone pulling him in. With one hand on the wheel I reached out to help. We were moving faster now, pulling about half of the dead away from the others, and I had to focus, so I let Nicole guide my hand. Finally the three of us were able to pull him inside, but now there was a hole in our defence, if the dead caught up now there would be little to stop them.

            But we were lucky, I might say skilled, but I’m not that confident. After a few side streets we couldn’t see them anymore, and after a few more we slowed down to see if there were any still frantically following us. There wasn’t. I had survived, we had survived. And now we drove to meet the others at the warehouse, the place they named Haven. Where finally I would reunite with Jade.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Haven Chapter 29

            Chapter 29

            The other’s panicked after I left, but luckily they all had enough sense not to try and run after me. But there was still nothing they could do, they couldn’t reach the warehouse because there was still a sea of undead between them, and they couldn’t run after me for the same reason. So they sat on the ground, some were crying silently, others kept ranting on about how they could have helped me if I had taken them too, others just sat in silence, thinking.

            It was like this for several minutes, until in a burst of movement that made everyone jump, Connor leapt off from his sitting position towards one of the houses nearby. The others stood and glanced at each other in confusion “Connor?” Lindsey called, she worried that he would do something stupid out of grief and fear
            “I can save him,” he stated bluntly as he half-ran out of the house, holding a piece of polished metal in his hand
            “How?” Monica asked desperately, but Connor just ignored as he stood in the middle of the road, staring wildly at the horizon
            “We only have a few minutes left,” he said to himself
            “Of what?” Malcolm asked through clenched teeth
            “Sunlight,” Connor replied as he held the piece of metal up in the air, and twisted it periodically.

            As the sun set the inhabitants of Haven stood on the lookout they had built, staring at the horde of dead which had seemed hell-bent on tearing them apart until a few moments ago. Jade had noticed it several minutes ago, more of the dead than they had ever seen before, marching steadily towards them. But then suddenly they all stopped and turned away, distracted by something they could not see. A few remained, but they were confident the walls and traps they had set up could handle them. Lauren and Chris weren’t in the lookout, at the first sight of the horde they had been sent to get the cars ready for evacuation.

            “Come on,” Daniel said and he turned away along with some others, it was time to abandon the home they had made. Jade was the last one to turn away, she knew that if they left the chances of the others and me finding her were slim, and if she said goodbye to Haven she was saying goodbye to me too. “Find me,” she whispered to no one, and as she turned tears began to run down her cheeks. But just before she descended the stairs something caught her eye on a hill in the distance. A flash of light, blinking in a pattern. She recognised it, Morse code, the code Connor had taught everyone when we had begun raiding, and quickly she picked up the pattern and deciphered the message. S-A-V-E T-O-D-D.

            I knew I was going to die, but it wouldn’t be here, not if I could help it. And even if I did, I would make sure the other’s escaped, it was the least I could do for the group that made me their leader, that placed their trust in me. I guess we were about to find out whether or not their trust was misplaced. I slammed my foot down on the accelerator and I felt the van surge into motion. This time I didn’t care how many corpses I hit, I had gotten their attention now I needed to keep it. Eventually, and gratefully, I broke out of the dense centre of the horde, I wasn’t hitting as many bodies, and I could actually see where I was going. But I couldn’t take this opportunity to escape, I couldn’t risk the warehouse being targeted again. So I kept my eye on my rear-view mirror, and lowered my speed anytime they would get too far away.

            But as any driver knows, time you spend looking at the mirrors is time you’re not looking at the road, and eventually I made a mistake. I didn’t notice the road turned, and I only realised at the least second, I turned the wheel sharply, my foot tentative on the break, if I slowed to much I’d be eaten. I went up on the foot path, which didn’t help my lack of control. I hit a small tree, luckily my car was big enough and fast enough that I didn’t stop immediately, but I I’d start to spin out of control. I knew I had to stop, if I didn’t the car would most likely flip, and there would be no escaping then. I pressed on the breaks, slowly at first then harder and harder, until finally I regained control.

            I’d been slowing down for too long, the dead were almost on top of me. I had stop facing them, I could see them running towards me. I could feel my heart beating, faster than it should. It was too late now, this was it, I wasn’t going to survive this, but I would do everything I could to save them. I put the car in reverse and slammed the accelerator. I watched the rear view mirror, and saw the road end in a t-section. I span the wheel quickly when I got there and put the car in drive as quickly as I could. I wasn’t as quick as I would’ve liked, the fastest of the dead slammed into the side of my car. I heard them growling and scraping at the sides as I once again hit sped forward.

            But this time I wasn’t as lucky, one of the zombies that had made contact got its leg caught in the wheel and was dragged under the van. Its brittles bones broke and punctured the tire, and the van swerved around the road wildly. I did all I could to keep control, but it was no use, the bulk of the horde had caught up and soon they would be on top of me. No amount of metal or glass would protect me from their hunger. I promised I would do all I could to save them, and I had, I was done. I stopped the van, I knew the best way to distract them now was to let them reach me, and wait for them to rip me apart. I was done.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Haven Chapter 28

            Chapter 28

            Things were tense at Haven after they realised Emma was missing, there was a lot of fighting, arguing. Some wanted to find her, but others like Nicole were convinced there was nothing they could do. So they waited, they kept watch for the others, they continued with their tasks. The one hope they had was when I called in, they had already assumed she had followed us, or hoped at least. The alternative was that she had run away from the group to travel alone, and although she had survived alone before, none of them felt she would be better off. But the call was cut off, and they couldn’t reach me again. They had no idea why, I might have been killed, or the radio may just have run out of batteries. The truth was that Greg had taken it away, and that the radio was still with his body in the station.

            But even if they knew they couldn’t go after her, even if they had no idea whether or not we would return, they still prepared for whatever would happen. Nicole made sure that her station was prepared for any injuries, and had emergency supplies ready in case they had to leave. Daniel found a way to connect the generator from the boot of a car, meaning in a moment’s notice it could be driven away. Jade and Chris built up as much defences as they could. And Lauren made sure every vehicle had supplies to last us days, even if they couldn’t convince themselves that it would all be okay, they did their best to make sure it would be. But even as they prepared a danger far worse than anything we had faced was inching towards them.

            Today we figured out the terrible truth, that there was no escape from the dead. They hunted by sight, smell, and sound, but when starved they pushed those senses to their limits, and slowly they marched towards the faintest of signs of living flesh. It turns out the resistance was lucky, since they were always on the move they were long gone before any starving hordes turned up at their doors. But we weren’t so lucky, the other’s had stayed in the warehouse for far too long, and now their scent had drawn the attention of every zombie 50 km, which was far too many. Even if we had enough bullets to kill them three times over we wouldn’t be able to kill enough to stop them reaching the warehouse and tearing apart everyone we hoped to protect.

            There was only one hope left, and I had to act fast, and I had to act alone. The others started yelling at each other, panicking, Malcolm wanted to run, and return with more supplies to save the survivors. Monica wanted everyone to slow down, convinced there was a logical way to deal with this. Emma suggested we charged in, using the car as a weapon to trample them all down, but Connor pointed out that the car would break before they even gotten through half of them. “I’ve got it!” Lindsey yelled, and everyone fell silent, “we use the smoke signal, call in reinforcements”
            “Would they get here in time?” Emma asked hopeful
            “Even if they did respond to the signal it’s doubtful they’d bring enough force to deal with this,” Malcolm responded pessimistically
            “It’s worth a shot,” Lindsey argued, and turned around, “I’ll grab it from the”- She was cut off by the sound of an engine starting.

            I slammed down on the accelerator, speeding down the hill in the empty van, towards the horde of dead. This was the only way I could save them, save her, I would drive straight into their ranks, make enough noise to get their attention, and then drive them away from the others. But I couldn’t escape, if I tried to out-run them chances are I wouldn’t have distracted them enough, or driven them far enough away from the others to save them. I would have to drive slow enough to tease them, but fast enough not to be overtaken. I doubted I would survive, in fact dying and letting them waste time tearing me apart is probably the best chance I have of rescuing the others.

            I glanced at Connor, Lindsey and the others as I drove past, they yelled, and tried to run after me, but in the mirror I saw them stop, some holding others back. They knew what I was doing, and I hoped they knew that I had to do it. I wondered what would happen to them, I hoped they would get to the warehouse and warn the others of what was coming. But if the other’s realised what was happening and left before they arrived it’s possible the group would be split forever. Hell it felt as if we had been split forever. How long was it since we left for the police station? Too long I guess. And now I felt I was going to die without ever seeing any of them ever again. But I was doing this for them, and I would make the same decision again.

            The back of the army of the dead came closer and closer, and I wondered how far I would have to drive into their ranks to get the attention of those in the front. Some of the dead were at the back simply because they were further away than the others, but it was clear that others had fallen behind due to the damage they had sustained. A few were even crawling now, their legs having been torn away to mostly bone, or simply torn off all together. I tried to avoid those ones as I started swerving around them, afraid of them damaging the wheels. I knew that every zombie I hit would damage the car, and I wanted them all to follow me away from here, not swarm a broke-down vehicle. But eventually it was unavoidable, the first one I hit splattered across the windscreen, and comically the wipers activated, trying to clean it but all it succeeded in doing is smearing guts and blood across more. Seeing through was becoming difficult, but after a few hard hits the major body parts fell off and I could see again. I was in the middle know, and I was surrounded by the dead, and oddly one of the most horrifying sights I’ve ever seen also gave me hope, as one by one the reanimated corpses turned and began to stumble towards me, hunger in their eyes.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Haven Chapter 27

            Chapter 27

            I felt sick, I always did when I saw things like this but there was no danger here, no adrenaline pushing me forward so I felt worse. I could only imagine what Lindsey was feeling, her face was a mixture of stoic resilience, shock, and grief. Connor looked sympathetic, and I tried to be the same. Emma walked into the room from another, her hand over her mouth. She had been the one to find the body and it clearly had startled her. Connor was the first to speak, “the place has been raided, he must have fought back”
            “I’m sorry,” I said softly, but Lindsey ignored me
            “Does that mean this was a waste of time?” she asked, tearing her eyes away to look at Connor
            “No,” Emma answered, shaking her head to try and focus, “The garage is locked, it looks like someone tried to break in but failed”
            “Good,” was all Lindsey said as she walked past the three of us.

            We were surprised by her calm tone, although we shouldn’t be, we had seen it before. Once again I wondered about the resistance, and Lindsey had been through to make her like this, was it training? Or experience? We eventually followed her through the house, except Connor who went to take watch by the front door. Eventually we stopped at a large metal door with a padlock on it. It had bloodied dints in several places and the latch looked like someone had tried to break it off, the blood looked dry though, so assumed it happened a while ago, hopefully. I turned to Lindsey, “Do you know where your father left his”-
            “We don’t need a key,” Lindsey interrupted calmly as she shot the lock off, making everyone jump. Connor ran back inside, gun raised, but he lowered it when he saw what happened. “Uh, Lindsey?” I started, slightly afraid, “I think I should take the gun.” I reached out for the gun, I was worried about how she would react, but I was even more worried about what would happen if her grief made her do something stupid. Her hands gripped the gun tighter for a moment, and I got more concerned, but gratefully she released it, and passed it over.

            What we found there was exactly what we needed: about 5 cans full of petrol. But there was more than that too, Lindsey had said that her father was a survival nut and she wasn’t lying. Rope, tools, tents, there was a huge amount of gear we could use, too much for us to carry in fact. That’s when Connor and I took a look at the car. It was in very good condition, better than most cars I used to see on the road, it was older, but not so old it didn’t have all the comforts newer vehicles do. Luckily for us Lindsey’s Dad left a spare set of keys in the garage. The issue was that this car still couldn’t get past the barrier we stopped at before, so we had to come up with another plan.

            We decided to split up, Connor and Lindsey took the car the long way around, through several small streets that would eventually lead them to the other side of the barrier. Emma and I walked back the way we came, carrier just the fuel we had come for. We were walking up hill this time, and carrying more weight so it took longer than before, but at least this time we didn’t have to be so cautious about running into any of the dead. “What do you think about Lindsey?” I asked Emma, neither had spoken much yet, and both of us were already out of breath
            “What do you mean?” she panted back
            “Can we trust her?”
            “Depends, if you mean can we trust her not to stab us in the back then yeah, we can. But if you’re asking if we can trust her judgement and skill, then I can’t say,” Emma surprised me with her analysis, clearly she’s been thinking about this, then I wondered what she thought about us “back at the house she was emotional, but she didn’t really seem that reckless, just distant. She did, however, shoot a lock off with one bullet, so at least she can aim nicely”
            I laughed at the last bit, “Yeah I guess so”
            “Why are you asking?”
            “We still don’t know what’s going to happen,” I said, hoping I could trust Emma with my concerns, “with the resistance I mean, we might join them, or if the can’t find a way back they might have to join us for a while. We’ve been in fights with them already so we know they don’t easily panic and they have skill, but if people like Anthony can infiltrate their ranks who knows what will happen.” Emma nodded, then looked away, I took that as a sign she didn’t have anything more to say. It was something to think about definitely, most of the time when new people join our group it’s been a pretty easy decision, and I’ve come to trust them quickly, but joining such a large group of people comes with a whole new set of problems.
            We turned the final corner and saw the blockade, I picked up a stick and banged against the rumble a few times, in a rhythm we had set out. It was the code to saw it was us, and that we had the petrol we needed. A few seconds later a reply came through, the sign to say they were still here, and they hadn’t encountered any trouble. Then came a voice, “Todd, is that you?” it was Malcolm’s voice
            “Yeah,” I replied, glad to hear a friendly voice, “we’re coming through.” There were obviously mixed feelings when I told them about what we had found, sadness about the fate of Lindsey’s Father, but happiness at the news of more supplies.

            As we waited Malcolm refuelled the van, and Monica, Emma, and Owen, the man from the resistance, went on a quick raid of the surrounding houses. I sat down for a rest in the van, but I couldn’t relax for long as Jacobs walked in and sat down next to me. “It’s pretty obvious we need to talk about what happens next,” she started, but this was different than the previous times we’ve talked, this time she spoke to me as an equal
            “Yeah, pretty soon I’ll be home,” I tried to speak to her the same way, “but I don’t think we’ll be up for a trip back to, where ever you live”
            She smiled, “actually we don’t live anywhere, we haven’t settled yet”
            “But you said”-
            “Without a base we are more susceptible to raiding, so when we negotiate I make it seem like we’re all set up,” she explained, my mind was reeling
            “So… why haven’t you stopped yet?”
            “We haven’t found a place yet, it needs to be large and out of the way enough to house us and keep us safe, but close enough to previously populated areas so we can still get new supplies”
            “Right, makes sense I guess”
            “So here’s my question: does your base have enough space to house and protect over 150 people?”
            I wish I could say I thought about it, but the answer was already obvious, “No”
            “Then we can’t settle there, that brings me to my other question: is it in your people’s best interest to pack up and join a group without a home”
            Once again I already knew the answer, “No”
            “Then that settles it, we are not combining groups, and considering everything we had to trade was on the vehicle Anthony stole,” she paused and took a deep breath, “there’s no reason for us to stay together”
            “I’m sorry Jacobs”
            “Please,” she shook her head, “call me Allison, I’m only Jacobs to people who I don’t trust.” It was an off-hand statement, but it meant a lot, I found myself disappointed we wouldn’t be working together.

            “When Connor and Lindsey get back I’ll take the car and leave,” she said finally
            “Ok,” I wondered how to make it up to her, I shamefully realised that if it wasn’t for us she wouldn’t have lost so many people, even if one of them was Anthony. “We’ll split the supplies from Lindsey’s house,” I offered, “she your person anyway”
            “Thanks, but that’s the other thing I want to discuss,” Allison replied, she spoke in a weird tone, “I think Lindsey should stay with you guys”
            “What why?” I was surprised to say the least, the two of them seemed very close
            “She’s strong, friendly, and capable. And she’s one of the people I trust the most”
            “Then why”-
            “Because one day our two groups will join,” she said, and she turned to stare earnestly into my eyes, “if we both survive long enough we’re going to have to combine forces with every honourable survivor out there to rebuild society. And even if we’re not combining now we still have to work together, and as I said I trust Lindsey, so if one day we meet again and she says she trusts you whole-heartedly I can believe her, a hundred percent.” I believed her, and more than that I agreed with her, we had to survive this, and I could see the new society she hoped for. And I knew it would take everyone to do that.

            Connor and Lindsey eventually arrived, followed by several of the dead that were easily handled in close-combat. As we divided the supplies between us Allison took Lindsey aside and explained what we discussed, the range of emotions on their faces was heart breaking, but they both new it was for the best. When they were done Allison handed her a small pack, she and I had discussed this too. It was some of those gas things Greg had used to contact her back at the station, only these ones were a different colour. The main purpose of these ones is to say that they had found a place to settle, but we were to use it when we felt ready to join their traveling group, or their settlement if they had one. And then, after a few other words and goodbyes they left, Allison and the one man out of almost a dozen, heading back home. I wondered what kind of reception they would get when they returned.

            We all got into the van, now full of petrol with some spare cans too, and headed back home. We knew we weren’t out of the woods yet, we still had no ammo, and if we ran into any large group of zombies we had little hope of coming out alive. But despite that we were still optimistic, after all that had just happened losing Brooke, finding Lindsey’s father, saying goodbye to a potential alliance, we felt things were finally looking up. We were all smiling, up until the point that the car lurched to a halt as we reached the top of the hill, and Malcolm, the driver, stumbled desperately out to stare at the horizon. We all followed him, and joined him in staring. The warehouse was visible now, we could just make it out amongst the other buildings and fields. But that wasn’t all we could see. It was the largest amount of the dead I had ever seen, and it wasn’t in one line or group, but it was coming from several directions, from dozens of side streets, all stumbling in one direction. Towards the others, towards our home.