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?

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.