I just want the record to show that I was against exploring this desolate wasteland littered with radiation from the bombs that were dropped on it. When it came to a vote, however, I was outnumbered. Even my mom wanted to explore this horrific nightmare which was once a beautiful city (probably…I’ve actually never been here before).
Apparently Jason, his brother Markus, and their parents felt that, if we’re going to be travelling for God knows how long, we should scrounge around and look for supplies that might be useful to us…and might give us cancer, I wanted to add.
“The only things we’ll be able to find,” I said, “are cockroaches and Twinkies. Nothing else is likely to survive bomb explosions.”
But they didn’t listen to me. So I grabbed my backpack (which had this journal in it as well as some writing utensils) and my hammer. It was better to be safe than sorry.
Markus and I never really got along. He always intimidated me. He was a lot taller than Jason and me and had a bigger build, too. And with his beard he kind of looked like a lumberjack. But walking along here, it was clear that he cared about his brother and his parents. He kept a constant lookout to make sure that there was no danger heading our way. He also stayed close to his parents, wielding a mallet of sorts.
I stayed close to my mom, hammer in hand.
“You didn’t have to come along,” I said to her.
“Did you forget that I voted for exploring?”
“No” I said, “and I don’t understand why you did.”
“I felt like I needed to stretch my legs. It gets tiring being cramped in a car for hours on end.”
“Well, I guess I can understand that,” I said. “Just don’t wander away. I’m the one with the hammer, so I’ll protect you.”
She laughed. “Thank you, I’m so happy to hear that.”
“LOOK OUT!” Markus screamed as he stepped between his parents and an oncoming creature who was running fast at him.
I wish that I could say that I got in on the action, standing right beside Markus and actually used my hammer. But I can’t. I froze. Markus salmmed the creature hard with his mallet, sending it flying to the side. He then ran over top of it and beat it multiple times in the head until it stopped moving. His mallet was covered in blood.
“There could be more of them around,” he said, scanning the area. He then saw a pharmacy nearby that was still half standing. The walls were still up quite a bit, but half of the roof had caved in. “Quick, everyone inside.”
He looked at my hammer which I was clutching close to my chest. “You may have to use that,” he said.
I was scared. I honestly didn’t know if I had the stomach to do what Markus just did. He closed the door and told us to wait in a corner…well, he told everyone else to wait in a corner. He told me to follow him and be his backup. He wanted to scan the pharmacy to make sure it was safe before raiding it.
I felt my stomach drop as soon as he picked me to help him. I walked slowly behind him, holding on to my hammer with one hand in a position that made it look like I was ready to strike anything that jumped out at me. It was clear that Markus was going to be the leader of our small, pathetic group. He was stronger and braver and didn’t mind getting his hands dirty…or bloody.
We only found one of those creatures in this building and he was trapped under the fallen roof. Markus looked at me and told me to take care of it while he went back to the others.
“Markus,” I said and he turned around, “what happened? With you and your parents? I mean, Jason went back to the city and saved you guys, but I want to know what actually happened.”
“By the time we were leaving,” Markus said, “everyone was in a big panic. It was on the radio, it was on TV, it was everywhere: they were going to bomb the city to try to eradicate the problem. Chaos ensued and, I don’t know how, but fires started. My parents’ apartment block was on fire. I ran in to get them but when we were heading out, the roof started to collapse…” he looked at the roof of this building, “like this roof. That creature, I was him in that building. I was trapped under rubble and my parents refused to go without me. But you’ve seen my parents, they’re not strong enough to lift the rubble off of me.
“So when I thought all hope was lost, suddenly Jason appeared through the smoke. I thought I was hallucinating. I thought the pain of knowing that I was about to die was too much for me to handle and so my brain took me into a state of euphoria and made me hallucinate. But Jason was real. He helped me get out of the rubble and we managed to escape.”
He looked at the creature that was stuck with a sense of sympathy, like he was visualising himself as that creature. “Don’t let him suffer any longer.” He then turned around and went back to where the rest of our group was.
I turned and looked at the creature and realised that I could do it…I could kill what was already dead once before. As long as I thought myself as someone doing a service for this poor, helpless thing that wanted nothing more than to rip my face off and turn me into one of them. I was going to take him out of his misery.
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and then took a few steps towards the creature. I stepped on both of his arms so he couldn’t grab at me and then in one quick motion I smashed the pronged side of the hammer into the creature’s head. I broke through the skin and blood started oozing out of the holes. But I hadn’t broken the skull and the creature didn’t even flinch. So I did it again, and again, and again. Each time I could hear the skull cracking and weakening and the blood splattering. The smell was nauseating and I thought I was going to throw up. Eventually I did manage to break through the skull and then I heard the squishing sound of the prongs getting lodged into the brain. But still, the creature was moving and making weird moaning sounds.
The hammer had gotten slightly stuck and it took some extra tugging to get it out of his head. I was tired at this point and quite annoyed that he was still alive…or re-alive. I don’t know what to call it. In any case, I took the other side of the hammer and hit him several times in the head around the same area that the pronged side hit. His skull was lodged in his brain and eventually, after 3 or 4 hits directly in the brain, he stopped moving.
I stood there, over his body, panting, exhausted, but victorious. When I turned around, the rest of the group was standing there staring at me. Markus started applauding.
“How was that?” He asked, smiling.
“I think I’m gonna be sick.” I said.
“I think you need a better weapon,” my mom, of all people, said.
“We should all get weapons,” Jason and Markus’s dad, Victor, said.
“You don’t need a weapon,” Victor’s wife, Rosie, replied.
“Your mom is right, though,” Jason said to me. “If we’re swarmed by these creatures, you can’t take half an hour killing each one. It’s fine for this guy, he was trapped under the roof. But what are you going to do if there are three of them with their legs intact?”
“Be eaten,” I said sarcastically and seriously at the same time.
“We can worry about getting weapons later,” Markus said. “Let’s see what medication we can get here first.”
So we got as much Tylenol and antacids and various other non-prescription medicines that we could get. I looked at the Zoloft that they had and decided against using it. It didn’t do anything for me, anyway.
When we left the pharmacy, we started sneaking around just in case there were more creatures lurking about. Markus had visited this city regularly so he knew where the nearest hardware store was located. He figured that would be our best bet at finding some decent weapons. My mom didn’t like the idea of everyone getting weapons (and by everyone, she more meant herself, she didn’t want a weapon of her own).
“Mom,” I said. “I know it’s only been maybe a week, but it would appear that the world is changing. Dead people are coming to life and attacking the living. I know nobody wants to put a label on it, but let’s face facts here: it’s a zombie apocalypse. These creatures are zombies. We all had a good laugh, a good scare, we all thought they were fictional, but now they’re real. I want you to be safe. So please, for me, have some kind of blunt object.”
My mom reluctantly agreed. She decided to use a crowbar, which is not what I would’ve expected from her. She seemed to struggle just to hold it, but she insisted that if she’s forced to have a weapon, she wants it to be the crowbar. So I let it slide.
I grabbed one of those compact multi-tools just for everyday surviving, not to use as a weapon. It had a small knife on it, a compass, a plastic toothpick, a flint side to start fires, scissors and a bottle opener.
As my weapon I chose to wield an axe. It was extremely sharp and, what better way to kill these zombies than by chopping off their heads? I also found a medium sized dagger (or knife, but I prefer to call it a dagger) with a holster that I strapped around my waist.
Jason and Markus both chose to use sledgehammers. Victor grabbed a pickaxe and said that he was going to go mining for brains. Rosie grabbed a screwdriver and said that she wasn’t planning on killing anything anyway. Markus pulled a clean mallet off of a shelf and handed it to his mom, telling her that it’s better to have a good weapon in hand even if she isn’t planning on using it.
We decided to head back to the cars but it turned out we were too late. A group of living people had surrounded our cars and were busy smashing in the windows when we got there. We could hear them laughing as they smashed each window with the butt of a gun.
As soon as we saw them we quickly moved behind a building, out of sight.
“What do we do?” I whispered.
“I don’t think there’s anything we can do,” Markus whispered back. “We have to just wait for them to leave.”
“We have weapons,” Jason said, holding onto his sledgehammer with both hands.
“They have guns,” Markus replied. “Or did you not see that?” Then after a few moments he looked at me and said, “Give me your knife. I have an idea.”
So I gave him the blade and he put down his sledgehammer and started sneaking around the side of the building.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
He didn’t respond. He just kept moving. I slowly followed him and saw him peek around the building. With my axe in hand I also looked around the building and could see that there were two of them. They had guns but they weren’t smart. They found it funny to smash windows.
So he crept up to a dumpster and peered around. In one or two quick motions Markus moved from crouching behind the dumpster to standing behind one of the guys and put his arm around the guy’s throat and held my dagger up against the bottom of his chin. He gagged and his friend turned around, his face no longer smiling.
“These are my cars,” Markus said. “Nobody fucks with my cars.”
The guy aimed his gun at Markus, but I could tell he was scared and wasn’t going to shoot for fear of shooting his friend.
“Put down the gun,” Markus said, and the guy obeyed. He whispered something in his hostage’s ear and his hostage dropped his gun, too. “Kick it over to me.” He did as Markus commanded. “Now I’m going to let you two go, and I never want to see you anywhere near me or my group or our cars again.”
At that moment the rest of my group showed up, brandishing their weapons, so I quickly got up and walked behind Markus, holding onto my axe. Markus shoved the guy towards his friend and he fell over, knocking his friend over, too. I quickly grabbed both of their guns as they scrambled to get up and run away.
When they were gone, Markus held out his hand and we traded, my knife for their guns.
“And that’s how it’s done” Markus said.
“That was the stupidest thing you’ve ever done,” Rosie said.
“How do you feel?” Jason asked.
“Like a rockstar,” Markus said.
“That was incredible,” I said.
We put our stuff in our cars and cleared out any glass that was on the seats and took off. We’ve been driving ever since with no destination in mind. I hope one day I can be that strong and brave.