It was supposed to happen tonight, in about ten minutes to be exact. Most of the people here would be asleep, and the guards would be changing shifts. We were
behind my tent; luckily my daughter and I had gotten one close to the eastern
wall. The tent concealed us from any searchlight or helicopter. Private Nielson
stood before me, outlining the plan once more, making the risk very clear.
“There’s only about 2 minutes of time where you could pass under the
searchlights without being seen.” He said. “You’re gonna have to run like hell
when you see the signal, and I mean book it. Grab your daughter and head to the
of all four watch towers, before squinting as a searchlight passed overhead. He
brushed his long, black hair out of his green eyes, and said “If we’re caught,
I’ll get in a lot of trouble. They’ll gladly have my ass.” He looked at me with
solemn and ponderous eyes. I nodded. “I understand. And thank you for doing
this.” The grave look he had barely changed when I said this. “No problem. Just
do exactly as I said.” He reached into his uniform pocket and pulled out a
small wooden box. The box itself had brass hinges, and as he opened it, I saw
two cigars that were bound with a small amount of gold painted twine. I reached
for one, and he snapped the box shut. “Not until we get outta here alive.” He
said, tucking the box gently back into the pocket. “Then we can have a reason
to celebrate.” I nodded once more. He smoked, and looked up to the sky with an
expression that was heavy with hope. He was very short, but then again, I was
quite massive, or so I’ve been told. I stood up and stayed next to him for a
while. We stood together under the dead moon.
I didn’t expect to be surrounded by an army of the living dead when I brought my daughter Kiley to the park. I just wanted her to have a little fun. It has been
5 months since her mother left, after I caught her sleeping around with not
one, but two different men. When I discovered one of them in my house, I nearly
killed him. He wound up with a broken neck, and an incredibly swollen face.
Long story short, I made sure he couldn’t sleep with my wife again. After
all…who can slip in and out of my house if they’re paralyzed?
After that, nothing mattered to me besides my daughter. She was the only thing I had left and that I trusted in my life. Kiley has long, blonde hair and big blue
eyes, just like her mother. That never got to me like you’d think it would
though. Claire is out of my life for good, and I, Gordon Valley, was going to
be the best father I could possibly be. When I took her to the park, however,
my life would drastically change, and I still question whether or not this was
a wakeup call or a sure sign of doom.
Kiley swung on the swings, slid down the slides, and for the first time in months, thoroughly enjoyed herself. She ran giggling up and down the park, her hair
tied in a bun and bouncing around with each step. I finally felt relief. It was as I felt this feeling of bliss that I
heard something in the distance. The sun was about to set, and I looked past
the glare. As I stood up from the park
bench to investigate, I saw a helicopter. And it was getting closer. It was
straight black, and was clearly military. The sound of the rotors grew to a
deafening thrashing as the helicopter landed in the park only several hundred
yards away from me. I suddenly felt my daughter run into my arms, and I could
see that she was crying. I held her close and I wanted to run, but I was frozen
with shock. People from the houses around the park started toward me, screaming
and growling viciously. Waves of them were approaching slowly; limping forward
with hatred in their eyes. I had seen the reports on a deadly virus spreading
everywhere in the U.S., but I hadn’t made the connection that these people were
I was pushed to the ground with tremendous force, and as I got to my knees, I saw soldiers run in front of me, most wearing camouflage uniforms with gasmasks and
large backpacks. They opened fire on the growing swarm, and my eyes started to
get hard to hold open. Right before everything went black, I noticed a masked
face staring into mine, and as the chaos erupted around me, the masked figure
tried to say something. Something I couldn’t hear…
“….Daddy?” I shook awake from this daydream to the soft tug of a small hand on my shirt. Kiley looked up to me with somniferous blue eyes. Her blonde hair was clumsily
forced into a ponytail, and her jeans were stained from the running we had done
a couple weeks before. I slid my arms around her and held her close. “Is it
almost time to go with your friend, daddy?” I lightly separated myself from her
grasp, and looked into her eyes, nodding. “Yes, it’s almost time. Are you ready
to do some running?” She stood silently for a couple of seconds, and said “I
think so.” This quarantine was a 4-sided square with four watchtowers; one on
each corner. The North, South, And East sides all had 25-50 rows of tents. We
were just at the edge of the western wall, so we had a ways to go. I stood up from the cot given to all of us in
each tent, and grabbed the backpack Nielson put together for me. A survival kit
basically. I hadn’t opened it up yet because I had to keep it concealed until
we left this quarantine zone. I grasped my daughter’s hand. “Let’s go.” Just as we started out, sirens
blared, and a woman screamed. It was very close. I heard snarling…and I heard
ripping. The screams became shrieks, and gunfire soon followed the onslaught of
noise and chaos. We stepped cautiously out of our tent, and the troops were
standing in a line to our right, which happened to be exactly where we had to
go. It was a long way away, I can’t say how long for sure. Kiley tugged again
at my shirt, nervously. I looked down and tried to hear what she was saying,
and couldn’t. I yelled “Trust me!” and scooped her up.
I ran. Probably the fastest I ever had in my life. I felt bullets whiz past me, and I heard growls and moans. The infection had made its way here, into the
safe zone. My ears were bombarded with the shouts of soldiers and the dying
screams of hundreds of innocent people. It became clear that the military was
sprinting to the west side of the wall. Now the only noise that filled my earst becam
was the scuffing and shuffling of feet behind me, and the blustering, howling
noises that were human but horrifically inhuman at the same time. They were
ambling faster and faster it seemed. I couldn’t spare a glance back, for it
could be my last.
Out of nowhere, a soldier appeared and stopped me in my tracks. “STAY PUT!” he shrieked. He opened fire on the growing horde behind me; I swiveled to catch a
glimpse at the carnage. The throngs of infected were dropping fast, and with
each wave of fallen bodies, a new one appeared. The soldier was reloading as I
turned to run again. “HEY!” I heard him shout over the noise. “STOP WHERE YOU
ARE!” I turned again to see him aiming straight at me. From behind, I felt a
hard shove, and I toppled to the ground. That soldier’s gun went off right over
me, and I saw Nielson running toward him with his rifle in hand. My daughter
was beside me on the ground, again trying to say something I couldn’t hear.
Nielson was on him in a second, he bludgeoned him with the butt end of his
rifle, hitting him on the chin. He went down with tremendous force and laid
still. Nielson ran to me, pulled me up and shouted. “Get moving!” He pointed to
a row of military vehicles.
I swung the passenger side door open and set Kiley down in the back seat. I quickly scanned my surroundings. Not a soldier or infected in sight. I turned back
to my daughter and pulled the seat belt over her. She was crying. “It’s going
to be ok,” I said, comforting her. “We’re getting out of here.” I slammed the
door and saw that Nielson was just opening the driver’s side door. He was
waving me into the car. “Get in right now! We’ve got to go!” I quickly headed
for the passenger seat, and got in, closing the door behind me. Nielson was on
his radio standing by the open driver’s seat, telling everybody to get the hell
out of here. Just then, to my horror, an infected grabbed him by the throat and
started dragging him back. He was slammed to the ground and an UMPH sound
escaped his lungs. I sprinted to the other side of the car and heard him
wailing at the top of his lungs. The infected was a man, about 40 years old,
with a beard matted with blood. His head was misshapen and one ear was missing.
He looked up at me, growling and foaming at the mouth, and he hissed, Nielson
was pinned by this rabid man. I kicked him in the teeth, and his white eyes
widened as he yelped like a hurt animal.
He flew off of him from the force of the blow, and he laid twitching and
gurgling. I pulled Nielson up and saw that his neck had a chunk of flesh
missing and he was bleeding fast. “You have to go.” He gasped, cringing at the
pain. He handed me the keys to the jeep. “You’re coming too.” Nielson protested
but I towered over him and was much stronger than he was. I dragged him to the
passenger side and set him down in the seat. I once again pulled the steel door
to a close, and headed toward the driver’s seat.
Once in the car, I started it up, and put it in reverse. I heard men yelling and gunfire erupting behind me, but I wrenched the jeep around a full 360 degrees,
and I was facing the weakest point in the wall when I stopped. Perfect. I
accelerated, gaining speed quickly considering the size of the truck. This
point happened to be a break in the wall that was made of metal fencing only. I
was heading straight for it. I mowed over several infected, and the vehicle
shook violently. Blood sprayed on the windshield, but the outside was still
visible. The vehicle got closer to the fence, and I braced for the imminent
impact. We crashed through the fence; sending metal in every direction, and the
jeep skidded to a stop at the edge of the park where we’d been captive for so
long. “Don’t go toward the highway.” Nielson muttered. “Our best bet is going
for the back roads and through the woods. The highway is probably clogged up
with cars and with crazies.” I turned to him and nodded. “Stay alive.” I said.
“I’ll do my best.”
We arrived at an abandoned bar on a country road. This is where Nielson told me to go. I left Kiley in the jeep, and locked it up tight. I told her to just keep
her head down, and that I’d be back in a couple of minutes. We broke into the
bar, yet another “Ok corral”, and sat at the counter. The glass windows were
barred and had planks nailed to them. We were safe for now. Nielson took out
his box of cigars and unraveled the cigars from their golden prison. “Let’s
smoke them golden girls right now, Gordy. Better now than never.” He took out a
lighter, and light his. His black hair was greasy and had blood smeared into
it, his eyes were slowly turning white, as well as his skin becoming paler. I
put the cigar into my mouth, and he light it for me, wincing at the pain in his
neck again. “I know what you’re thinking Nielson.” He turned to me, wondering
if I did indeed know what he meant to do when he came here. “And I don’t want
you to do this. We can find another way. There’s a cure somewhere.” I had tears
in my eyes now. He patted me on the back. “Not worth it, man. I’m dying either
way. I won’t make you do it. I just wanted to share my last moments with the
fella I consider to me my only true friend.” I smiled with tears standing out
in my eyes. “We’ve known each other for a month.” I said. “I know. But I trust
you, Gordy, I really do.” He let out a puff of green smoke, and sighed. “Take
this.” He slid the cigar box over to me, across the bar. I stopped it before it
slid off the edge. He smiled and said “Smoke on, my friend. You’ll need cigars
though. Got some in the truck there. He took a pistol off of his belt and laid
it in front of him. “Nielson,” I started. He put a hand up to silence me. “I’d
been hearing things like this for weeks.” He said, shaking his head with a look
of disgust on his face. “The whole world is going to hell, man. I heard it. All
over the globe, cases of people goin’ crazy, biting each other, the dead comin’
out of their graves. We thought this could be contained. But scientists are
thinkin’ this is airborne now.” He looked down at the pistol. “Either way, I’m
screwed.” I got up, and he still sat at the bar. I pulled him up to me and gave
him a warm embrace. “What’s your first name?” I asked. He smirked. “Eric.” He stated
simply. “Now get out of here. And keep that daughter of yours safe and sound.”
I nodded, and proceeded through the doors and to the jeep.
As we drove away, the shot rang out; a loud, thunderous sound. I kept driving. “What was that dad?” Kiley asked. “Nothing, sweety. Why don’t you take a nap?
You’ll need the rest.” She reluctantly slid onto her side and fell asleep.
Tears streamed down my face, but I was silent.
As she slept, I thought of Claire. I thought of Private Eric Nielson. I
reached for the radio and flipped the switch. Soon after, many voices filled my
ears. These voices spoke of death, chaos, utter anarchy, and the inevitable
fate of mankind. New York was gone.
Washington D.C. was overrun. They were closing in on the Midwest now…and I had
to get out. Somehow I had to get out. The
whole world is going to hell, man. Yeah?
I thought to myself. Well, I’m not going to hell with it.