Day 3:
I made good time through the hills, a day of brisk travel and I was ready to begin my descent. Travelling through elevated ground is always cathartic. Even the slightest of inclines is often enough to dissuade one of the undead from going any further. A zombie stumbles or slips a few too many times and whatever locomotive automaton drive that propels the thing switches from “straight line” to “go around”. Unless there’s a sure chance of fresh meat, no zombie will exert themselves in their directionless wanderings. I dream of one day retiring to a self-sufficient mountain cabin, miles above the altitude any zombie would conceivably reach.

Bring a fresh corpse into the picture and you’ve got another story. Some years ago I saw the most amazing feat of disorganized chaos from a horde of undead. A group of survivors had holed up in a 3 story building. The first two floors had the windows bricked off, reinforced, exterior and interior stairs completely destroyed. Garden on the roof and ample supply of rations, the only way to come and go would be a rope ladder lowered from the roof. They could have survived this way forever, small group that they were. Completely off the radar. No militia to pay “protection” money to. Far and removed from gang warfare. Far enough away from any of the major settlements or perverse “cities” that they could avoid becoming tainted by the sick and twisted souls that inhabit those places.

If a zombie can smell the living, its response is minimal. Living as they were, peaceful and isolated, they could simply ignore the so called zombie menace. In a counterintuitive bit of survival that I have rarely seen put to practice, your best chance of staying alive is often to simply ignore the zombie. Don’t get too close of course, tt will still attack the living if given half the chance. But, it is death that the zombie truly craves. A lesson this idealistic group failed to learn in time.

As these things go, isolation breeds a certain brand of madness. There were six souls living there, all together. A leader was unnecessary, given the small size of the group. However, when someone’s mind is infested with delusions of grandeur, fueled by paranoia and a concoction of stimulants: the desire to lead can be intoxicating. Who cares what his intentions were? His biggest mistake was killing the girl. Gunshot, the smell of corpse. The zombies were drawn to it. The immolation of the corpse, the smoke rising and spreading the smell of burning flesh for miles was equally ill-advised. They advanced from all directions. Pressed against the walls of the building, stumbling and falling on top of each other. A seething heap of human shaped mindless devourers of the living, piling up on all sides. Like a slow moving swarm of insects, they enveloped the building. Crushing their own numbers at the bottom, drawing in even more to replace them.

While I have never known a zombie to actively kill one of its own numbers, when a zombie’s brain is destroyed in become indistinguishable from a regular corpse. It will be devoured by its own. Perhaps the lack of kinship and respect for its comrades is the most human thing remaining within it.

I was the only survivor of that little group.

In fact, the incident would become one of the main reasons I took up my current profession. In a world gone mad, in a world after the bombs, in a world where the dead walk: the greatest threat to humanity will always be humanity itself. If I can force you to think of your actions, to remember that you are not a slave to the horrific “norms” that what’s left of society has allowed to fester within itself, then I am doing my part to maintain what it is that makes us human. My words can be more devastating to the greedy, twisted, warped ideals of the bastards who somehow inherited the world than any traditional weapon.

My satphone is ringing. I had forgotten that I owned it. Including it in the items I had packed was an afterthought. Only slightly less rare than my computer, the solar-powered satphone I had won in a modified game of Russian Roulette that involved a power saw, the still animated upper torso of a zombie and a blindfold was ringing.

I dropped my bag to the ground and dug through my belongings, finally finding the source of the ringing. The number of functioning satphones dwindles every year,  and of those, who had this number? My voice croaked, hoarse and dry, I suddenly realized I had not actually spoken to another human being in weeks.

“Hello?”

The crackle and hiss of static was the only thing on the other end of the line, suddenly, the line was clear.

“St-Brigid?”

“Yes.”

“Just read the latest article, you’re on your way to New Bunker?”

“Yes.”

“You should know, Vincent Conroy is in charge of things there these days.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

I swallowed hard, announcing my travel agenda to the world was a less than discerning decision. New Bunker was the only place that would have the supplies I needed to stay alive. The only place where I had the contacts to further my ultimate goal of restoring sanity to the world. Even if I wasn’t going to stay there long, it was the only destination I had. I couldn’t even say conclusively that there were any other living humans in the world other than in New Bunker.

The last time I saw Vincent Conroy, an angry mob that I have no pride in creating looked as though they were about to tear him to shreds. I have no doubt that if there is only one face that Conroy remembers from that day it is my own.

“Fuck.”

“Yep.”

The line went dead. Who knows if it was disconnected intentionally? The message was sent, by friend or foe, I couldn’t be sure. As I looked down at the flatland extending out from the base of the hill, hundreds if not thousands of walkers dotted the landscape.

I was still at least 2 days from New Bunker.

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