Day 625

What can I say. Hi? Hello? How ya been? Why do I feel so awkward writing this!? Its only a book and a few squiggles right? I don’t know. After that day on the docks, when I finally got function of my hands back, it got harder and harder to write anything down. Fairly soon after, I’d just look at the blank paper and stare, like how it used to be when you hadn’t seen anyone in a long time it just got harder and harder to pick up the phone, even if you wanted to. So worried they would be upset that you hadn’t talked to them in ages and you didn’t want to put yourself or the other person through that.
Sometimes it is hard to believe that its been over a year since I wrote anything down. Not like this anyway. All in one spot. I’ve made a few notes here and thee, but it isn’t the same. The lives that have come and gone since then. So much time in just one year. Alex, Joel’s daughter, my niece, can walk now. And you haven’t even met her yet. So much has happened and it feels that I don’t have any time to write it all down. I have so much responsibility now. Its hard to justify doing this. But much like before. If I don’t get this down, its going to continue eating me up inside. And I don’t need that. Too much rides on it.

Just a heads up on what to expect, so it isn’t too much of a shock.
Dad had a lot to say when I got back. It was hard to see him that way. Half the man he was when I last saw him walking around. But that wasn’t the worst of the news he had.
We went on an unexpected trip to place I didn’t think possible anymore. I fear for the things I learned while there. What it will mean for the future.
As I said, Alex was born. One of the happiest and saddest days of my life. She reminds me of her father more and more everyday that I see her grow.
I’ve seen that Red-headed zombie a few times since that day down on the docks. No other zombies have shown the same level of intellect. She ended up saving me again though. Every time I think about her, I can’t help but think there might be a cure or a way to save them. And if so, were we right in killing every zombie we came across? I still don’t know the answer or if I’ll ever find one.

Anyway, its the middle of the night after a very long day. For some reason I thought it best to take a big group into the midlands to start up the farms again. Maybe it’ll make sense in the morning. A story for another time maybe. I don’t know, I just had the sudden inspiration to write all this down. I think if you really want to climb a mountain, you kinda have to take the first step.
This is my first step.

So, until next time,
Shaun Michaels
Wannbe Zombie Hunter

Shaun Michaels Wannabe Zombie Hunter Logo 1

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Day 233

I didn’t expect to make it through today…

 

The morning sun rose.

I handed my shotgun to Tom.

He didn’t say anything. His eyes locked on mine, almost pleading, asking me not to go.

“If I die or don’t come back, give this to Henry.” I said, pressing the gun into Tom’s hands. “He always looks so happy holding it – I know he’ll look after it.” Tom nodded and wrapped the strap around his shoulder. I took out my hatchet. “I want this to go to Amy.” He took it in his hands. Lastly I took off my watch, the one Lee gave me. It still worked. “And give this to Tess… it feels fitting for her to have it – completing the circle or something.”

Tom just looked at me.

“I’ll be holding them for you when you get back.” His stare was unwavering.

“Sure. You do that.” I smiled.

What else could we say? I’d known Tom for years. He’d been one of my best friends growing up, and now he was more like a brother.

“You look after them Tom – they’ll need someone strong to lead them. Troy is barely holding it together now. You have to be ready to drop everything and run. There’s no sense in you and the family dying as well.” I turned to the door, mainly to stop Tom from seeing my tears. “And don’t you dare let Joel call his kid Shaun if it’s a boy – Shaun sucks as a name.” I laughed at my own expense.

I started towards the door.

“It should be you.” Tom voice quavered. “You are strong enough, better than most of us. You could lead all of us. We could win the war. Please… don’t go…” I turned back to him. He was crying freely.

“I’m hoping there won’t be a war. The Boss has made it clear that he doesn’t really need what we have. If he did, he wouldn’t be meeting me here – he would have just attacked. No, he wants me. And when he has me… I think that will appease him. I need to do this Tom. It’s our only hope.” I couldn’t stop the tears.

I walked back to Tom and hugged him. “I’ll miss you, my friend.”

“Not as much as I’ll miss you.” He said, hugging me back.

I patted him on the back and left the warehouse.

I made my way towards the meeting place.

I made sure that I didn’t look towards where Jayani and Danny were hiding, just in case The Boss had sent any scouts out – I didn’t want to give away their positions.

I sat down in one of the chairs we’d set out and waited.

 

It was about noon when they arrived. I say about, as I couldn’t be sure with out my watch – not wearing it didn’t stop me looking at my wrist regularly though. Some habits are hard to break.

The Boss walked up the pier with seven other people.

Two had bags over their heads.

Jon and Stone.

Well, I hoped so, anyway.

I stood and The Boss levelled his gun at me. The others with him did the same, though one had his trained on Jon and Stone.

I raised my hands.

“I have no weapons on me – feel free to check.” The Boss glanced at the man to his left and jerked his head towards me. The man came over to me and frisked me down.

“Not the kind of weapon you’re looking for, buddy.” I said, raising an eyebrow.  The man grimaced at my comment about how thorough he was being.

What? I’m a teenage boy, remember? I figured I may as well have a bit of fun before I died.

I sat back down at one of the chairs and gestured for The Boss to do the same. He hesitated, then joined me.

“Bring the two here – get them on their knees.” The Boss ordered. The five men brought Jon and Stone over to us and shoved them to their knees. I could see that their hands were bound.

“Well.” I said, sitting back. The Boss stared at me. “The places we find ourselves.”

“Let’s skip the small talk – I have many things planned for you, boy, and I want an early start.” The Boss was obviously enjoying himself.

“Let those two go, and we can talk.” I gestured at Jon and Stone.

The Boss looked down at them and addressed his lackeys.

“Take their hoods off.”

I could hardly bear to look at them.

There was so much blood. I could barely make out who they were.

I felt sick.

The Boss admired his work, looking at them with a twisted smile.

“They were fun. That one…” He pointed at Stone. “He cries a lot, and him…” Now he was pointing at Jon. “I remember him from the Island. He caused me a lot of grief, even before he met you. I have to thank you – he seems to have gotten sloppy joining with you. He wouldn’t leave the other behind and escape, even though he had the opportunity. He’s done it before – oh you didn’t know? I guess he didn’t tell you about the group he was with on the island, did he?” I looked at each of the men standing behind Jon and Stone. Four of them looked away, but one met and held my gaze, though his face held no emotion.

I turned to The Boss.

“Let them go – you don’t need them anymore.” It was everything I could do to keep my voice from shaking.

The Boss sucked at his teeth.

“What do I get in return?”

I glared at him.

“Me!”

“Not enough. That just brought me out here.” He said, leaning back in his chair.

“What do you want?” I said through gritted teeth.

“Other than to watch you squirm in your seat trying to figure your way out of this? Not much. I’ve got you anyway.” His tone was insolent.

“Part of getting me peacefully was letting them go. That’s what we agreed on!” I said angrily.

“Oh, was it now?” The Boss just smiled.

“So you are going back on your word? I suppose that you can do that if you want – just know that it will lay a seed of doubt in your men there. They see you doing that too often…” I shrugged. “You seem like the type of man that rests a lot on the value of his word.”

The Boss considered this, then nodded.

“You make a fair point. They’re no fun anyway.” He flicked his wrist and his men dragged Jon and Stone to their feet.

“Don’t do this Shaun!” Stone broke his silence. “Don’t you give up!”

I stood, and The Boss pulled his gun on me.

“What do you think you’re doing?” He asked me, his gun pointed at my stomach.

I spoke, not looking at him.

“Stone, I’m not giving up. This is all part of my plan – it’ll be okay. Take Jon and get into that warehouse – you’ll be safe.” I tried to sound soothing but Stone glared at me. Finally, he nodded. He took Jon’s arm over his shoulders and they stumbled together towards the warehouse.

“You have people here!?” The Boss stood, moving his gun to my head.

I looked at him, puzzled.

“You thought I’d come here alone? I guess I gave you too much credit. Of course I brought people with me, to make sure Jon and Stone would make it back safely. How have you even made it this far?” I shook my head in disbelief.

The Boss didn’t like me laughing at him. He used his pistol to hit me across my face. I fell back, stumbling over my chair. He walked over to me, and dragged me by the shoulders to the edge of the pier, wrenching them up behind my back, causing the wound to open up. The edge had concrete blocks about knee height – I guess they were to stop people driving off.

It’s funny what goes through your head when it has just been hit.

He placed my hand on one of the blocks. Blood started to seep through my shirt.

“Hold his hand there!” He yelled back to his men. The stone-faced man moved without hesitation. I looked up into his face when grabbed my arm. He was smirking – he was going to enjoy this.

“Give me that!” I heard The Boss behind me. I heard a whooshing sound and then my hand exploded with pain. He was hitting it with a crowbar. I could hear the bones in my hand breaking under each strike.

“The other one too!” I was disgusted by the delight in his voice.

My other arm was pulled up and my hand placed on the block.

The next bit is fuzzy.

Both my hands were bleeding freely, as was my shoulder, and I was aware that I had lost a fair amount of blood. My vision started going blurry and I came in and out of consciousness.

Suddenly, the beating stopped.

I saw a flash of red.

The Boss’ face red with ecstasy.

Black.

He was gone.

Black.

The man standing above me pulling his gun out.

Black.

The man on the ground, red blood spilling from his head.

Black.

Tom, standing over me, looking relieved. “It’s going to be okay.”

Black…

 

I awoke in the warehouse. My hands had been bandaged up. The pain was excruciating.

I looked around.

Jayani and Danny were standing over the remaining four Boss’ men. They were sitting against the wall, everything but their clothes stripped from them.

Tom saw that I was awake.

“Here – you must be thirsty.” He placed a canteen of water at my lips and I realised he was right.

I tried to sit up but Tom held me down. “No, you rest. You lost a lot of blood.”

Less than I thought I would today.

I shook my head. He frowned at me then surrendered, helping me up.

I sat for a moment, getting my balance… then I threw up. Mostly water. It burned my throat. Tom wiped my face with his shirt then gave me more water.

What would I do without him?

He just smiled. “Better out than in I guess, and better that you don’t drown in it either.”

“Jon…? Stone…?” I got out. I had to know that they were okay.

“They’re fine.” He said, pointing to them lying asleep on a pile of tarps in the corner.

Jayani saw that I was awake and came over.

“I’m so sorry, Shaun. I would have shot sooner… but… but, you told us not to do anything if he attacked you. Then the zombie came out of nowhere and attacked The Boss. I think it came from under the pier… it ran so fast, faster than any I have seen before. It and The Boss went into the water. The guy standing over you pulled his gun out, and I shot… I’m sorry. I fucked everything up haven’t I?” I looked at her. Tears streamed down her face.

“Did… did the zombie… have red hair?” I asked.

“What?! Ah… yeah, it did, why?” Jayani’s face screwed up in confusion.

I chuckled to myself then gasped at the pain it caused.

“Nothing.” I smiled up to her. “You did fine.” I turned to Tom. “Did you find his body?”

“Yeah, he was caught in the struts under the pier – his head had been taken off. We didn’t find it.” He shuddered.

“Help me up.” I said, reaching a hand up. Tom frowned again, then took me under the arm and held me up. I wasn’t as steady on my feet as I would have wanted to be. “Take me to them.” I pointed to The Boss’ men, now leaderless.

Once there I looked to Danny.

“Holy shit, Shaun, what are you doing up?” Danny looked impressed.

“Got things to do.” I shrugged. “Have they given you any trouble?” He looked down at the men who were hanging their heads.

“Nah, threw down their weapons when Jayani shot the other guy – they’ve been complacent ever since.” Danny said. I nodded.

“Good. You four.” They looked up. “I want two of you to come with us. The other two, I want you to go back to your camp.” They looked at each other, confused. “Which of you had the most sway with your people?” They exchanged glances. Finally one raised his hand. I guessed he was the eldest, maybe thirty. “Name?”

“Rodger, sir.” He didn’t look at me.

I was amused by the ‘sir’.

“Shaun is fine. Rodger, pick one of the other three and take him with you. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want this war to happen.” He looked up at me in surprise. I continued. “Both sides will lose too much. We have many other enemies out there, zombies obviously being a big one. They seem to be getter smarter too, as I am sure you saw today. When you get back to the camp, I want you to talk to your people. I want you to get everyone’s opinion on this – there are some big decisions you need to make, and they need to be made as a group. When you have decided on what you will be doing, get us on the radio and tell us what you have decided to do – we’ll be waiting.” I tried to keep the pain out of my voice.

“Why do you want to take two of us with you?” One of the others asked.

“So you know we’re telling the truth. I’m sure Rodger will feel a lot better talking to one of you on the radio rather than to someone he doesn’t know, and I assume the same would be true for anyone else in your camp.” They still looked unsure. “You wouldn’t be hostages – you would be welcome to join the community as equals. I just want to make the communication between you easier. Would you be prepared to do that?” They all nodded. “Great. Rodger, let me know who you pick and when you want to go. We’ll give you your weapons and supplies back.” Danny went to speak and I felt Tom shake his head. I pretended not to notice.

After half an hour, Rodger came up to me. Still not able to stand by myself, I sat on the floor trying to flex my hands and failing.

Rodger crouched beside me and winced at my hands.

“I’m sorry about that.” He said. He sounded genuine.

“Not your fault.” I said, looking at him. “What have you decided?”

“Max and Henry will go with you.” He pointed them out to me. Max was almost as tall as Tom, but without Tom’s muscle. Henry was short and stocky – he didn’t remind me of my Henry at all.

“Good to hear. Hope to hear from you soon. Danny! Give these men their stuff.” Danny came over and handed their supplies. “Good luck guys – stay safe.” Rodger looked back at me.

“Thank you for this. I hope we talk soon, too.” He smiled briefly and led the others out.

Tom came over to me.

“Home?” He asked, helping me up.

“Home.” I replied. I could feel my muscle relax at the thought of it.

 

It only took about three hours to get word from Rodger. They want to meet with us, hoping to work out how to best deal with this situation. Most of his group want peace, just like we do.

The entire camp roared with applause when we told them.

Rodger did say that a few of them can’t handle it and are going to leave. I can’t help but feel a bit sad about that, but it’s better than the situation we had before, so I guess I’ll have to settle for it.

I can see that I’m not going to be able to write for a while – I can’t even hold the bloody pen to write. Henry, my Henry has acted as scribe for me, sitting with me the last couple of hours, writing down everything I say – even this, apparently.

As I won’t be able to write for at least the next few weeks, I’m going to leave it here. I won’t be able to take up Henry’s time writing regularly, and I doubt I will have the time myself anyway – everyone seems to want me running things… I guess sick leave went when the apocalypse started.

I came so close to death yesterday.

It has made me acutely aware of all the things I nearly lost.

Despite the pain, I’ve never been gladder to be alive.

To know that I’ll get to see Amy grow up.

To help Joel become a father.

To be an uncle myself.

To watch Henry grow into the man I know he will become…

 

I didn’t expect to make it through today…

But I am glad I did.

Shaun Michaels Wannabe Zombie Hunter Logo 1

Day 232

One of the strangest things happened to me yesterday.

Tom turned up and made sure I knew that he was coming with me, both on my scouting trip and to the meeting itself. I think Joel told him what I was planning and asked if he could talk me out it, though Tom didn’t say anything outright.

Two others came with us to scout out the location – Jayani and Danny. Jayani is the best shot we have, and Danny is built like Tom, all height and muscle.

My shoulder was healed enough that I could finally hold my shotgun again. It was good to have my old friend back.

I was grateful that I didn’t have to go alone.

The Cenotaph appeared empty when we arrived.

We started by scouting a big warehouse that was close to the docks – I knew we would need to clear it, to make sure nothing untoward would interrupt us from that direction.

We left Jayani to watch over us from the Cenotaph. There are barely any trees or tall buildings in the area, so she had a clean line of sight to most of the warehouse, and nothing would be able to sneak up on her easily.

The rest of us made our way down towards the water.

We made it to the wall of the warehouse. The metal was surprisingly warm for a winter’s day, though I guess there was more sun than we’d had in weeks.

“You two go around the back – I’ll take the front and we’ll meet in the middle. Move on my signal.” I whispered. Tom shook his head.

“You shouldn’t go alone, you can barely hold your gun up.”

“I won’t be alone, Jayani will be covering me. Besides, I have a reputation to live up to. I’m badass, remember?” I grinned at him.

“You’ll get yourself killed one day…” Tom sighed.

“Probably tomorrow, if all goes to plan.” I replied.

Tom frowned at me. I think he wanted to say something but he let it be and tapped Danny on the shoulder – he’d been keeping lookout.

I moved to my corner of the warehouse and turned back to see Tom heading in the other direction.

He looked back at me, waiting for my signal. I put my finger to my lips and he nodded – we all swapped our guns for melee weapons. I looked up to Jayani, gave her a short wave then one to Tom.

We stood at the same time. I lost sight of them as I rounded the corner. I got to my door and tried to open it slowly. The hinges creaked with rust.

Great. My new hatchet had a rubber handle which was moulded to fit my hand comfortably. They had replaced the head and the new metal shone. I remember thinking at the time that I’d need to scuff it up, so it wouldn’t give me away.

I moved in, scanning the room.

It was full racks of canoes.

There was a door at the other end of the building.

I moved towards it, hatchet at the ready. I had started to pull the door open when it suddenly burst towards me, knocking me off balance.

I fell and tucked my shoulder in, and rolled with the momentum. I rolled out into the middle of the room.

I saw a flash of red. A figure ran past me.

I scrambled to feet, pulling my gun up.

“Stop!” I shouted.

The figure stopped in the doorway.

I held my shotgun to their head.

It was a woman, with fiery red hair. She started to turn. Her hair was ragged and missing in spots.

As she turned I saw that she was also missing a fair portion of her skin on what was left of her face.

One of her eyes was clouded over, just like all the other zombies, but the other was a bright blue, probably her original colour.

I realised that she was the zombie I had seen watching The Boss’ camp from the store, that night in Salamanca.

I’m probably going to kick myself for this in future, but I still feel it was the right thing to do…

I let her go.

She watched my gun as I lowered it. When I let it hang by my side and held up my empty hands, she slowly backed out the door and I lost sight of her.

The rest of the place was empty.

No more zombies.

None of The Boss’ people.

I didn’t tell the others about the red-headed zombie.

We’ve been waiting here all day. We want to be ready if they decide to come early.

Tomorrow, Jayani and Danny will go back up to the Cenotaph, but Tom will stay down here with me.

After The Boss comes, I’ll go out alone and meet him at the end of the pier – we’ve even set up a table and chairs there, just to add to the effect. Then Tom will take Jon and Stone back, and leave me alone with The Boss.

Whatever happens tomorrow… if I die…

Well, if you have read this, all of this, then you know what it is like to survive in world where it’s harder to live than to die.

But please, try.

Try and live for love.

Love of your family.

Love of your friends.

Even love those who cause you grief.

Because without the grief, how can you know how great things really can be?

Wish me luck.

Shaun Michaels Wannabe Zombie Hunter Logo 1

Day 231

I’m going out on another scouting trip.

I need to go and make sure that the meeting place The Boss decided on is secure.

I am worried that The Boss will try and weasel his way out of the situation – it certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

Joel thinks I’m crazy. He says that as soon as The Boss is finished with me he’ll attack, and Jon and Stone will die anyway.

He doesn’t understand though.

I need to save them.

I have to make sure that they are safe.

I have made plans though. I’ve told Joel that if it does look like The Boss will attack he’s to cut and run. Between him and Troy they’d be okay. Maybe they could go to Lee and Tess’ farm, and use that as a base for a new community… maybe that way we don’t need to lose anyone else.

I’m hoping that The Boss having me will give them a few days to prepare.

I wish I could do more for them.

Shaun Michaels Wannabe Zombie Hunter Logo 1

Day 230

I talked to The Boss.

I’ve convinced him to meet me in two days.

Down on the docks, behind the Cenotaph where the war memorial is.

It feels fitting to hold our meeting so close to it, hopefully our war won’t need to be inscribed on to its base.

We should be able to get Jon and Stone back…

In exchange for me.

Shaun Michaels Wannabe Zombie Hunter Logo 1

Day 229

No sign of Jon or Stone.

No easy way of telling where they might be being held either.

My best guess is that they’re in the warehouse. It looks like The Boss has expanded his camp into there.

Most of the tents are gone now – perhaps they moved everyone inside, into the warehouse. It would make sense.

Only one of the fires is still burning. They have chopped down all the trees in the area – they’ll need to start looking elsewhere for fuel if they want to keep it going, if they haven’t already.

I’m rambling again – I’m just so tired.

Anyway, the point is that it is simply too risky to try and bust Jon and Stone out, especially when we only have a guess as to where they are to go on.

So, now I’m going back to Joel to let him know what I am planning.

I’m leaving four of the others here to watch over The Boss, in case something happens.

After I see Joel, I’ll head to the Governor’s House and get on the radio.

I want to see if I can contact The Boss and get him to meet up with me.

Any way I look at this I can’t see an easy solution.

How can he trust me… and how can I trust him?

I’m running out of time though…

What choice do I have?

 Shaun Michaels Wannabe Zombie Hunter Logo 1

Day 228

We made it to the hotel just before sunset last night.

The guys I had left there hadn’t seen Jon or Stone.

Once the sun had been down for an hour or so I lead the way down to The Boss’ camp, following the same route I’d taken on my last visit there.

The tide was out, which made for a slightly more comfortable journey along the waterfront than last time.

We finally made it to my old lookout in the hotel near their camp, a little damp but other than that none the worse for wear.

Now, we wait and watch.

I can’t help but look down at the shops, into their windows…

I know I’m looking…

Looking for the zombie with a working brain.

Shaun Michaels Wannabe Zombie Hunter Logo 1

Day 227

I’m about to leave for the hotel, to meet up with the others.

From there, we’ll head towards The Boss’ camp.

I’m bringing the four from here with me – Jayani, Robin, Mark and Danny. After they volunteered to come with me, I felt that the least I could do was record their names. It isn’t much, I know but should anything happen to them… at least they will be remembered.

 

I’m planning to do a bit of reconnaissance of The Boss’ camp, and find out where they are keeping Jon and Stone. Maybe even rescue them.

But even if I can’t rescue them straight up, at least we’ll know what their forces are looking like, which will help us plan a proper attack.

I’m hoping that if we can disable them during the rescue, and make it too hard for them to attack us again, then they might go away, meaning minimal losses on both sides.

I know it feels like a fairy tale.

But a guy’s gotta dream, right?

Otherwise, we may as well join the zombies stumbling around in the streets.

Shaun Michaels Wannabe Zombie Hunter Logo 1

 

Day 226

Joel met me again at the main gate.

He wasn’t smiling this time.

He took me to the radio.

A message was playing on loop.

It was The Boss’ voice.

We have one week to move out of our holdings and surrender to them to him.

He promised no one would get hurt, if we do as he says.

Otherwise, he will kill Jon and Stone.

 Shaun Michaels Wannabe Zombie Hunter Logo 1

Day 225

They aren’t at the hotel.

I’m leaving the two with me at the hotel and I’m going back to Joel.

Hope he has had more luck than me.