YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE...MAYBE TWICE!
The infected got in today. We don’t know how. If any of us do know they’re not telling. Or they're among the dead.
It was early morning and I was napping on the couch when I was woken by gunfire. Two heavy blasts from a doublebarrel shotgun. I swung my legs over the edge of the couch sat up and shook my head and waited to see if there would be more.
I hear you ask why I didn’t react sooner. Maybe I could’ve turned the tide. Quite simply gunfire is not unusual here. Our apartment building is right alongside the barricade and there were official culls by FEMA, executions, suicides, many many suicides, as well as shooting from those few survivors who were still, somehow, alive out there in the dead zone, and struggling to remain so.
Then all hell broke loose. There was a pock pock pock sound of a semiautomatic, I guess a handgun, coming from the floors below. Shouts. People yelling and screaming. The thud of boots in the corridors. I got up. Pulled on my boots. Got my browning nine mil from the corner table. Then I went out.
The power hasn’t been good lately. Blackouts, brownouts, and of course power rationing, like with everything else. One day a week we go without any power at all but fortunately today wasn’t that day, else I might not have been writing this; if probably be one of the mindless infected and FEMA would be lining up the fire trucks to burn yet another infested apartment block and its weeper inhabitants to ash. The corridors were dim however and a lot of shadows. Only a few dim bulbs lit every floor. Not a good combat environment. I found myself wishing I’d remembered my flashlight.
My neighbor Mikael was at the stairwell aiming his doublebarrel down into the darkness. I called out to him as I approached. He looked on edge. Hell I was on edge. Did not want to surprise him.
We didn’t exchange any words. Just a look. The sounds of combat below were loud, furious.
I motioned for him to go on. I don’t think he wanted to, he was scared, but he didn’t argue. I believe he understood why he had to go first. I had a handgun. He a shotgun. If we met resistance I didn’t want to catch a spread of shot in my back. I could cover him much easier and safer with my handgun. It wasn’t that I was afraid or anything. Well I was afraid but that’s not the reason I didn’t go first like I said before. Like I said before I think he understood that and forgave me in the end, before the end.
We came down onto the second floor and here we encountered the infected. They were gathered around a door banging on it and howling. Mikael raised his shotgun to his shoulder and, maybe it was the sound of him flicking the safety off, at that same moment the weepers turned and looked at us their milky eyes filled with insensible anger and they rushed at us. I did not fire. I like to think I was maintaining fire control but I think perhaps I was unable to fire that I felt impotent standing there with what amounted to a toy gun trying to stop that wave of infected rotten flesh. I did not run. I did retreat but I did not run. Mikael fire off both barrels knocking the infected over with a wave of lead though they were not killed and we both retreated back up the stairs to the third floor. There I leaned over the banisters and immediately did fire my weapon missing as a head came around the corner then shooting the same creature twice in the area of his heart without effect. I kept shooting and finally it went down. I think I hit it a few times in the chest and shoulders and also the head. They are very tough bastards but I'm not like some people who think they cannot be killed at all and panic whenever there is an engagement. I know they can be killed. It’s just difficult.
The shooting below us was dying down and whether that was a good thing in that they had killed the main body of the invaders or whether it meant the shooters themselves were all dead, or worse, turned, I didn’t know. I was also worried that the infected would come up from the other set of stairs and take us from behind.
Again the infected came at us. Mikael was reloaded and he blew three infected to pieces all up the walls of the landing. I had backed away to the stairs leading up to the fourth floor and Mikael should have been doing the same but he wasn’t. He was reloading right there. He broke the gun open over his knee and jammed the shells in and was clicking it into place even as the infected were running up the stairs towards him.
I caught a glimpse of his face and I tell you he wasn’t the same man as he was a few minutes before when he seemed nervous, on edge, almost scared. No longer. He seemed possessed by the spirits of all the great warriors that have come before out time. He was in the battle space, berserk even. He roared out and tried to swing his gun up in time. I fired. I really did try. I fired maybe six shots around him past him peppering the walls behind the infected with blood and bits of their tattered flesh. I don’t know if I took down any.
Mikael went down under a mass of them. He did manage to fire his shotgun both barrels lifting a wave of rotten meat and blood from over him sending it splattering against the ceiling and that saved my life, but his was already over. There were no more infected on the floor. Not yet. I stayed there for a few seconds. I saw him begin to turn. He arched up off the floor muscles and joints popping convulsing. Then suddenly he snapped to his feet. Yes. Snapped. Like a maggot or a fluke snaps back and forth on a carcass when exposed. He screamed. Howled at the ceiling. Then turned to me and I shot him several times until my gun was dry. He came at me and bowled me over. I was on my back and he came over top of me. I could see his face now and you have likely seen the transfiguration yourself so I needn’t describe this one in detail but let me tell you he seemed like a demon bent on dragging me down to hell with him. I planted one foot in the square of his chest and pushed but he had already seized my leg and he pulled it up towards his mouth with an incredible strength.
Then his head exploded. I really experienced it in that order. First his head exploded then I heard a boom of the shotgun behind and above me. A man was standing on the stairs with a shotgun pump action barrel still smoking. Mikael or what remained of him was slumping onto the floor. Thinking about it now I realize I came very close to having my foot blown off along with Mikael’s head but I can’t say I'm not grateful to that man. There were others too. Maybe four of them. They were familiar to me. they lived higher up in the building. I didn’t know their names and was I think in shock too much in shock to talk to them. They covered me for a few minutes with their guns, rifles and shotguns, but when I didn’t turn they allowed me up past them. There were even more of them behind me and they were bringing forth furniture from the apartments and using the wood to seal the stairwells here at the fourth floor. I assume below there is overrun. I was in no state to help covered in blood and filth and stunk worse than one of them probably and anyway my gun was empty. I headed back up to my apartment on the sixth floor and showered thankful even for that trickle of water we get here in the apartments and dried and dressed. Then I decided to make this journal here. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s so I can get my excuses down on paper for why I let Mikael die. Maybe it’s so I can read this back to myself and say to myself at least that there was nothing I could have done differently well not reasonably not without the light of hindsight to have prevented his death.
I did not know Mikael before all this. Before the outbreak of African rabies. Before the city was quarantined into green areas and black areas, between the living and the weepers. I hate remembering those times I hate thinking about them it makes me so sad as if I've lost something so important something which at the time I didn’t even appreciate. The ability to go down to the store and buy some fresh food. The taste of ice cream. Pizza. Friends. No forget those times. I did not know Mikael before all this. I met him when FEMA moved us here. See FEMA evacuated the suburbs of all the people who had been unable to leave for whatever reason too ill to make the long journey north too poor or simply had been left behind by family, like me, these people stayed behind when the others left and then FEMA had come and rounded up all the uninfected and decided to move them into the newly vacant center of the city where, they said, would be more defensible. I have heard other theories. Reasons why we are kept here, even protected somewhat, fed and kept alive by the authorities. I will just say one word. Bait. I'm tired now and sick of writing stuff. I will continue writing in this journal though. Every day if I can. Maybe this will keep me from in the despair of loneliness from going and meeting other survivors making friends and then watching them get killed just like Mikael maybe even from my own incompetence and cowardice.