Diary of Descent - February


February 2
I really hope we didn't survive the end of the world just to freeze to death. Had to wait out last night in an abandoned bus. We've been lucky to not have any rain for a couple days, but without the moisture in the air warming things up the temperature has dropped below freezing. I had to physically pull my right eyelid open this morning; it had frozen shut in the night.

I don't know what the hell this is all for any more. I thought if I could get Val and I to safety everything would work itself out, but now I don't even know where she is and I'm not sure there's such a thing as a safe place in the world any more.

Valerie, wherever you are, I miss you. I'm so sorry I left. 

February 2

We took way too long to get moving today, and Donovan's starting to feel better but the cold nights really take a toll on him so it's slow going. I floated the idea of heading back to the gas station just in case the rest of the group is somehow waiting there. Matt and Donovan's silence said more than enough. I can't ask them to risk their lives for this, but I also can't just give up on Val and leave. She might be hurt. God, she might be trapped somewhere with those things snarling and howling at her, just waiting it out. 

I need to think about something else for awhile.

February 3

I told Matt and Donovan last night that I'm going back to find Val. They tried to talk me out of it, but in the end they both said they understood. Donovan offered to help, but he's still recovering from that flu and I'm honestly not sure he wouldn't be more of a hindrance. Besides, they're moving slow enough that if I find the others quickly we could catch up and regroup at the Air Force base. If they find the army or whoever they could send help our way, too.

We're dividing up the few things we have. I'm taking the machete and a flashlight. Since I'm heading back towards civilization I'm leaving them the food and water; hopefully I'll find enough Twinkies and bottled water to keep me moving.

Heading our separate ways in a couple hours.

February 3

I definitely make better time on my own, but being alone out here is terrifying. Every rustle, every gust of wind, even every crunch of my feet on the ground makes my heart pound and my adrenaline shoot through the roof. Had to circle around a group of slow-movers; I'm not sure why they congregate together so much.

Matt and I theorized that whatever is happening first turns you into one of the fast-movers. You're still alive, but you go insane or something and just want to attack anything that moves. Fast movers are dangerous, but they can die from injuries. The slow-movers, though, don't seem to feel any kind of pain. Matt thinks that if a fast-mover dies it becomes a slow-mover, one of the clumsy ones that just seem to wander around until they bump into something they can attack.

I must be going crazy, because that's starting to make sense to me.

February 4
I found Lindsey. 

I made my way back to the gas station where we were supposed to meet up and saw a ragged woman stumbling aimlessly in front of the building. I moved in and took her out using the machete without making any noise, but then I saw a body on the ground wearing the same jacket and clothes Lindsey had been wearing.

Her clothes are torn up and her head was caved in with a rock or a hammer or something. It looks like one of these things was eating at her stomach, and her left arm has a nasty looking wound that might be a bite.

No sign of a struggle or anyone else.

February 4
I'm holed up in the office of the gas station. I barred the door with a desk, but if anything shows up I don't have another exit.

Just heard gunshots.

February 5
All the noise last night brought more of those things past me. Going to try and head out early and see if I can figure out where the gunfire was coming from. Could be James and Val and Mike.

February 5
Didn't take me long to see the smoke. I made my way North and found a huge swarm of those things trying to claw their way into a house already on fire. There has to be at least 50 of them; there's no way I'm getting near that place with them around, and even if I could it's burning out of control now.

I hope no one's stuck in there. 

I'm not sticking around here in case those things lose interest in the house and start looking for something else to attack. Going to head back to the gas station and try to plan my next move.

February 5
Back at the gas station. Someone's been here while I was gone. The little bit of food I had is gone and there's fresh blood on the floor.

I don't feel great about staying here now, but maybe it was Val. I need to be here if she comes back. Not going to get much sleep tonight.

February 6
I decided to spend the night in a car rather than hole up in that office with no exit, and it looks like I made the right move. James showed up alone. I wasn't sure what he was after since he'd already taken the food earlier, so I decided to lay low and just watch. 

He immediately went to the office but didn't stick around long. When he came out he went to Lindsey's body and bent down over it for a few minutes. When one of those things started gurgling and growling from the woods he left. I followed him for what seemed like hours through the pitch black woods. He went into a cabin, seems like he's been there before. Just walked in without so much as knocking. 

I can see candles burning through the windows. I hope Val's there, but I don't know what I'm going to do.

February 6
Not much movement from the house. I'm absolutely fried but I'm afraid if I find a place to sleep I'll miss them moving out. Waiting game for now.

February 6
Movement. James is heading out with two guys I don't recognize. Makes sense that they would move at night when they can try to stay out of sight. No sign of Val. I'm going to try and get closer to the house.

February 7
I chickened out. Kept telling myself I needed to regroup, eat something, and get some rest to be as ready as possible but I think I was just afraid. Afraid of what James might do but more afraid that Val might not want me to show up. Caught a few hours of sleep in one of those old casino shuttles. The thing smells like death but I figure that's better than smelling like something alive out here, where those things seem to hunt down anything that moves.

Moving back to the cabin to make sure I don't miss them if they move. If James heads out again tonight I'm going to go in for Val.

February 7
I've been scoping out the cabin for a few hours now. No movement. Lights are off. There are two movers roaming around the yard aimlessly. Hopefully they don't smell/hear me. Lucky for me (sort of) it's been raining most of the day.

February 10
Don't know where to start. I saw James leave the house again with his buddy so I snuck up to the house. I could see her, I could see Valerie inside. There was another woman with her, and older woman in her 40s maybe. I knocked on the window and she screamed when she saw me.

She said James had told the group he saw Donovan, Matt and I get overrun by those things. He told everyone he'd seen us die. Val had a hard time believing I wasn't infected or whatever with that stuff. 

She wouldn't come with me. I begged her to come with me and get out of there and she wouldn't come with me. She told me I had to leave or James would find me. Her "friend" Leah wasn't nearly as nice, and kept telling me to stick around so James and Murphy could kick my ass.

Valerie wouldn't leave. She said she was scared, but I don't think she's scared of the world. I think she's scared of leaving James. I tried to drag her out and she started screaming for me to stop. Leah came at me with a screwdriver and buried it in my arm before I could stop her.

I kicked her away and she fell backwards onto a camp stove they were using to make coffee. She screamed so loud my ears are still ringing. I bolted out of there just instinctively. Val refused to come with me. 

Now I'm squished inside the hollow of a fallen tree. I don't dare stop at any of the houses around here - James and his group will probably be looking for me.

Still trying to get my arm to stop bleeding.

February 11
Need to get out of the area and find a better shelter; my legs are so asleep I don't think I could outrun a crawler if I had to. Thought maybe I had lost Val but earlier today I heard two males crashing through the woods talking to each other about looking for someone. Didn't sound like James.

I have to find some food. Going to try one of the more run-down looking trailers and hope no one comes snooping around.

February 12

First instinct was to run out there and see what was happening, but then I realized how stupid running towards gunfire would be. Not sure where they're coming from, but I'm almost certain it's James's group. Haven't seen any sign of any other people around.

Whatever's going on, they're going to have every single one of those monsters coming down on them any minute now.

Arm's still really sore. I've lost some mobility in it, but I'm trying to stretch it and keep it moving as much as possible. What I wouldn't give for a space heater. Of course that would require electricity. 

You know, I used to watch those bullshit survival shows all the time and for the life of me I still can't figure out how to start a fire. I wonder how those guys are handling the end of the world. 

Now there's a show I'd watch if I wasn't living it.

February 13
Couldn't sit back and wonder what was going on, so I snuck back towards the cabin. It's been pouring rain for the last three or four days; I'm soaked clean through. I couldn't get very close to the cabin because there are at least 20 of those things surrounding the place. I tried to survey the area but I couldn't see any activity inside the windows.

I don't know if it's a good sign or a bad one that the runners weren't interested in the house; they were just sort of milling around.

Today's mission is to come up with a weapon and some way to distract those things so I can get in there.

February 13
Couldn't come up with much in terms of weaponry. I did find a nice folding knife in the center console of a pick-up truck, but I was hoping for something a little more long-range. Still, nice to have a back-up plan if I lose my machete.

Walked the better part of five miles but hit distraction paydirt when I found a fireworks stand. The poor son of a bitch inside must've been defending his stash to the bitter end. I had to put him out of his misery, but he was already in pretty rough shape so he didn't present too much of a problem. 

It just dawned on me how fucked up it is to talk about this stuff so casually. What the hell am I becoming? 

Have to figure that out later. I'm waiting for dark and I'm checking out the cabin again.

February 14
I just realized today's Valentine's Day. What a terrible way to find out.

Used four rolls of firecrackers about a half mile out to draw most of the freaks away from the house. Took them awhile to clear out but it seems like once a few start moving the others follow out of instinct or something. Once the coast was clear I waited a few minutes to see if there was any reaction from the house, but there wasn't.

I moved in as quietly as I could, but I could hear my breathing loud and clear no matter how much I tried to stifle myself. I was too nervous. As I made my way around the cabin my heart sank: the back door was wide open. No wonder those things hadn't shown much interest in the place. 

I made my way inside and the smell of rotting meat invaded my nostrils and made me gag. I wretched in the doorway before I forced myself to press on. When I saw the bodies I lost it. I started sobbing so hard I couldn't breathe, and my eyes welled up with tears so thick I could hardly see anything. I couldn't control myself. I just sort of fell to the ground and cried over them. I'm crying now as I write this.

I don't know why but it suddenly hit me that there were only two people. As far as I knew there were at least four in the house. I pulled the corpses off of each other to try and identify them, but through all the gore and blood and tears I just couldn't. They were a man and a woman; the woman was not wearing the clothes I had last seen Val in but for all I knew she scavenged some more from the house. Her face was gone; those things had stripped the flesh almost entirely from every spot that clothing didn't cover. There was a single gunshot wound in her chest; dried coagulated blood clumped around it.

It wasn't her. The hair wasn't right, the hands were not her hands. It had to be Leah. I cried even harder, worrying that somehow something even worse had happened to Val. That's when the corpse's jaw fell open and it gurgled a wet, bubbling hiss. I threw the thing down, horrified, and it started to clatter towards me, old dried blood falling from its face and wounds.

I kicked it in the face as I clamored away. It's hands, mostly bone and dried tendon with ragged strips of flesh hanging from them, reached out and locked around my boot. It pulled, hard, and brought its maw closer to my leg. I screamed and fumbled for my machete. The thing brought my boot into its mouth. Thank god I'd picked up steel-toe boots at the outdoor store; I could feel the pressure its mouth generated even through the material. I brought my machete down into its cranium. The blow stunned it for a half a second before it went right back to trying to devour me. I rained down blows three more times before I split the skull open entirely and the thing collapsed.

All I could hear was my own heart pounding in my head. My face felt flushed, and I was so jacked up I was worried I might pass out. As the adrenaline started to wear off I could hear the rasping moans outside. I took off at a sprint back towards the woods, and once outside the perimeter of the yard I lit two smoke bombs I'd tucked in my pocket to hopefully cover my trail and distract any unwanted company.

I ran until I couldn't breathe any more. I'm back in the shitty trailer. It won't hold up if those things arrive but I have windows at either end I can climb out of if things get too intense.

February 14
I will find you, Val. I know you're still out there.

February 16
Spent the last couple days scanning the area for food and clothing. Never thought I'd be so happy to have baked beans and an oversized hoodie. Hit up the gas station for lighters, too, since my survival skills are pretty lacking. 

I really don't want to go back, but I have to check out the cabin again. There might be some clue as to where James and Val went. 

February 16
Change of plans. No way I'm going near that place without daylight; still too rattled. Try again tomorrow. Early.

February 17
Heading out. 

February 17


February 19
I don't have a hell of a lot to go on, but I think they headed North. I've been going over the clues I could come up with, and most of the "maps" someone was drawing focus on landmarks and things that are North of the cabin.

I'm not the best navigator, but so far as I know there's not anything significant up there. Maybe they're heading for the hospital? Might be a good place to check out for supplies anyway.

Seeing that guy, Devin, makes me realize I need a gun. Just in case. Three separate times I have been sitting here and thought, "I'll just google 'gun shop.'" Keep forgetting the world stopped working like that a long time ago. Still, we're out in the sticks. I'm sure someone around here has a hunting rifle or something.

February 21
Slowly making my way North now. Not really sure what to look for, or even if I'm headed in the right direction. Alternating feelings of determination and just plain stupidity. I'm not making great progress, because I'm stopping at every little side street and house to see if I can find any sort of weaponry, food, or water.

February 22
I had a dream Val bought me a new Xbox 360 game. It was full 3-D and turned the whole living room into a game world. It was so real I could swear that when i woke up to the sound of one of those monsters banging on the door of the house I stayed in that I must've fallen asleep playing it and was having a nightmare.

Total mindfuck.

February 22
Fucking. JACKPOT! Found a dirtbike with almost a full tank of gas. Loud as hell but it's a lot faster than walking. Now I just have to be careful I don't eat it riding in the slush since it started sleeting.

February 23
Gun safe. Looks like a big time hunter lived here, judging by the trophy mounts on the walls. Someone's torn through this place pretty thoroughly and tried to break into the safe, but didn't have any luck. 

I'm hoping I can dig around and find a combination written down somewhere. 

February 23
No luck so far with the safe. The homeowners were upstairs in their bed. Looks like they decided not to stick around when the world went to shit. One gunshot each. Looks like a husband and wife; I don't know how they could do it. One of them had to shoot the other before finishing themselves. Hurts my heart to think about it.

Things being as fucked up as they are, I'm going to stay the night here. They don't seem to be going anywhere and this place is pretty well insulated. It'll be nice to not sleep on a floor tonight, and it'll give me some time to work on this gun safe.

February 24
Spent most of the day scavenging for any slip of paper that might have a combination on it, no luck. I really hope this guy wasn't the type to keep it safe in his head. 

On the plus side, he was pretty close to the same size as me and a pretty avid outdoorsman, so I'm borrowing some of his clothes. There was a time in my life where doing something like this would seem absolutely abhorrent. Now my only regret is that I don't have a way to heat the water and take a hot shower.

February 25
I was never much for hunting, but I'm sure glad this guy was. Found a huge supply of deer jerky in the basement. Seems to be vacuum-sealed, so I think it'll keep for a good long while. I'm running out of room in my pack and I've barely taken half the supply. I had some for breakfast and it was fantastic. Wish I had some sharp cheddar to go with it.

Still no joy on the gun safe. 

February 25
42 11 1

I've got a semi-automatic handgun with two magazines and a hunting rifle with some kind of scope on it that has six rounds in it plus a box of ammunition. Even better: looks like they take the same 9mm bullets so hopefully I can split the ammo.

Again, I wish I had Google so I could search how to clean and take care of these things.

Tomorrow I'm heading out in earnest. If they ARE headed North they've had a few days' head start on me. Hopefully the dirt bike can help make up for that. 

I don't know what's going to happen, exactly. 



Anonymous said...

Eagerly anticipating the next installment!

Anonymous said...

Nice way to end this one - looking forward to the next.

Mark Scott said...

I cannot wait to read the next entry in this.

You have no idea how often I check your blog site just to see if there's a new entry... Been loving the other stuff I've stumbled across as well.

Life after the bell cracks me up.

Randall Cleveland said...

Thanks Mark! I'm banging out the next installment this week and trying to find a more regular schedule to post these.

Currently life is about as busy as it can get, but I hope to have an update within the week. Thanks for the kind words!

electronaut said...

Fantastic -- thank you for continuing this! I'll say again what I said last time -- I would definitely pay for this. I wonder if you could set it up as some sort of installment series on Amazon Kindle or something.

Anyway, keep up the good work. And, thank you again!!!