The soldier walked towards the body, taking off his helmet and running a hand through his blond hair. Cautious, because the dark shadows were still dangerous. His squad was close, but that was no guarantee in this apocalypse – no matter how close to the end they were. The body was of a young woman, early twenties, filthy clothes due to living as refugees, entangled chestnut hair. Dried blood laid in a puddle around her head. In her right hand she held a gun. Suicide.
The soldier understood it, very well. In this remote city, there was no hope for her after society fell, after the Krippin Virus had spread – after the Darkseekers had taken over.
But still, he was touched by the girl. She wore a black shirt with some 80's logo on it, plain jacket and once light jeans. Her wavy hair covered most of her face.
He was surprised none of the Darkseekers had touched her. Perhaps, just perhaps, there was something human in them after all. Suddenly he noticed her left hand. She was holding a leather notebook. The soldier knelt beside her to take a closer look.
"She's dead, Carter," his chief spoke with a loud voice, clearly there was little danger now.
"She's holding something, sir," he yelled back. Carter doubted for a second to take the notebook. He wondered, no convinced himself the girl had wanted to give it to them. Why else she would she take it and hold it during her suicide? Around him several other soldiers gathered, curious about the notebook and the young woman. It was the first sign of any civilization in weeks.
"We'll rest for an hour," the chief declared, as part of the team began making a small camp.
"Perfect! Take it," Arons, a dark coloured soldier said as he sat down next to Carter, so Carter did. He gently laid the left hand on the ground and opened the notebook on the first page. The flexibility of her hand told them she had not been dead all too long. Carter read it out loud.
My name is Alice Michaela Irene Sophia McAdams (traditionally family, I know).
I am the only survivor in this town. Many people have died, or turned into a Darkseeker. No one is save in this town. No one will survive in this town.
Everyone will die, or become a Darkseeker.
Carter stopped and looked at the date. May 27th, 2010. Alice must have experienced the plague from the beginning. Which mend she had lost everyone she had held dear.
The soldier around him stirred a bit in curiosity. Carter returned to the book, which he now saw, was more like a diary. The only thing Alice could use to tell someone her story, to try and process the events happening in her life and the world around her.
Ethan joined me a few weeks ago. Just like me, he is naturally immune. He told me he thought he was the only survivor in Kansas, until he found me. Perhaps there are even more. We hope there are, at least.
To stay save, me made a list of rules. Ethan had read the importance of it in some book, so…better safe than sorry. Besides, it's more a list of agreements. Rules and agreements, if you will.
1. Always stay together, never ever go alone.
2. Never ( r) enter a dark building, stay in the sunlight or lock yourself in.
3. Always be on your guard.
4. Work with the group, survive together or die alone.
5. Share the things we have left.
6. Always be honest ( ).
7. When you have been bitten, you leave.
8. Darkseekers are no longer human.
9. Only kill when there is no other solution.
10. Whoever falls behind, stays behind.
Everyone who joins the group, must sign it. As a promise to be true to the group and the rules. If you don't sign it, the group cannot be sure you are no threat to them.
Under the list first stood the name of Alice, followed by Ethan's. But under their names stood several other names. Which meant that others had joined them. Though, every name was crossed off as well.
Except the names of Alice and Ethan.
Apparently they had lived together for a pretty long time, considering the circumstances. But they had lost so much, so many new friends. Carter counted the names. Without Alice and Ethan there were seventeen names. Seventeen people had died. They had either been bitten or had turned out to be not immune. Carter looked at the rules and agreements. Ethan had known what he was talking about. It would be no surprise to Carter if he had had a military parent.
"Come on, man, read on!" Stevenson said with his raspy voice. Carter let a few pages cross his fingers, than he stopped. Again, he read out loud.
December 4th 2010,
After traveling around a bit, Ethan and I decided this was the safest place (ok, Ethan decided, I just nodded in agreement…it's not like I magically know how to survive now – if only!).
The place where we have met. The place, where I grew up.
Naomi has died. Ben "accidentally" shot her. I can't blame him, I guess. Ben's nightmares are getting worse, we don't know what to do. If he yells any louder the Darkseekers will find us easily and everything will be lost.
Not that the current world is so great to live in, but death…not yet.
Again Carter skipped a few pages. Some many pages were written. Some were decorated with drawings. Drawings of surroundings, random things, Darkseekers, but also of a young man. Probably Ethan.
Carter smiled as he told it to the group around him. The soldiers made a whooping, teasing sound. She must have had a crush on Ethan. Funny, how emotions continued, in spite of what happens around a person.
Carter he took a deep breath and began reading again.
Augustus 4th 2011,
My twenty-fucking-second birthday. Happy birthday Alice! Hopefully you may live another day. Hopefully… Ethan thinks we have to move on again. He says the Darkseekers have found us. That they know where we are. Could they?
Seriously, can they? Can they search? Can they hunt?
If they can…how are we to survive? Have you seen them? Have you seen their speed, their strength – their beast-like behaviour?
I always heard they were not human anymore, we even said it in our rules. But I begin to doubt that. What if they're still human, only different? More aggressive?
They scare the shit out of me. But on the other hand…they can't help it they're like that, right? All though, no one forced them to take the 'cure'. Ha, the cure. Greatest discovery after penicillin, they said.
Humanity's so stupid sometimes…
Anyway, our food is also getting less and less. Strange though. I thought that now we've lost Ben and Kyle we should have had enough for five persons. Guess I was wrong.
I'm in doubt, I don't know what to do. Kim is
"Who's Kim?" Arons interrupted Carter as he chewed on some dry chicken.
"Uhm," Carter said and searched on the pages pervious pages, "Kim is a little girl. Seven years old, they found her in a basement."
"Damn," Arons sighed, feeling a combination of loss and failure, "Go on."
Kim is so vulnerable. So young. She has no idea what is happening! I cannot allow her to suffer this much. I have to do something. I will do something.*
At the bottom of the page stood the same star with another date: September 18th, 2011. Carter swiftly found it and read it. He read it again. He could not believe it. Again, he read it.
"What is it?" Peters, their youngest recruit with nearly black eyes, asked with a small voice. Carter read out loud.
September 18th, 2011,
Fuck this shit, I'm done with it.
Today I shot Kim. I had to. She could not keep living like this. She made too much noise and became a danger to all of us. Besides: what was there to live for, for her? No one is ever going to find her or us. And we are not going to find anyone else.
Seriously, I'm done. I don't think a generation has ever fucked up so badly for the generation(s) after them.Anyway, this brings our number down to three. Even though I don't think Sam will hold on any longer (not that I understand how I've managed to keep on this long…probably Ethan, but don't tell him that). Sam barely sleeps and always keeps on the light. Like he is afraid that the Darkseekers will come whenever and wherever it is dark. Even here, in our hiding place. But I don't blame him.
I keep having nightmares. And the darkness…it looks like every night the dark is getting deeper. Ethan said he heard a man on the radio. Robert Neville, I believe he said his name was. He's in New York, and said he could provide food, safety and shelter. But I don't know how we should ever get there…if it's real. We cannot leave this town. It's the only save place we have left. If we leave this place again, we won't find it back and we will die for sure.
If we don't die on the road.
"How did she become like this?" Watson asked with her kind voice.
"Things happen," Carter said and looked for the last page. It was over three quarter of the notebook. But after he read the first line, tears filled his eyes. He rubbed his hand over his face and read the date again.
"Shit," he hissed and dropped his head.
"What?' several of his companions asked, between bewilderment and worry.
"The date: November," he said, looking up, "23, 2012."
"That's two days ago," Watson said.
"Shit," Arons hissed and spat to his left.
November 23th, 2012
He is not going back. I saw him. We had a fight. We were the only ones left and we had a fight. Can you believe it?! We humans are weird and dumb.
He wanted to go to New York, but I said we had to stay. So he left. Fool of a man. The Darkseekers followed him and took him.
He's one of them now.
I cannot go on like this. Now that Ethan is gone, now that everyone's gone, there is nothing for me left. Not that I was so much alive still. But still, there is no way I can survive alone. And after so much time, I'm sure there is no one else left here. We've checked.
It has to end.
I will make it end.
Dear diary, reader, however reads this,
I'm sorry. I hope you understand.
I pray you are not alone, for this city is overtaken by Darkseekers. My blood is pure and save. So please, use it! Please look for other survivors, because I may have missed them. Please also check on Robert Neville in New York. He might have other people at his house. Perhaps, New York is saver.
Please take my blood and use it, if you can. Burn my city down, so the Darkseekers will die (after you've checked it!). It's the best thing to do.
The gun I used only contains one bullet. When I found it, it had four bullets. Three I used for Ethan, so one was left for me.
I just knew it.
"Three I used for Ethan?" Carter repeated.
"She shot him," Stevenson concluded. Extreme situations made a person do extreme things, he had seen it before.
"If she shot him, he has to be around here," Carter said in curiosity. A pen laid on the other side of the body. A plain, simple pen. One used by students. Carter could not help but conclude it was Alice's pen.
"Read on, we'll search for him later," Arons said, his tone close to demanding.
My name is Alice Michaela Irene Sophia McAdams. I am the only survivor in this town. Many people have died, or turned into a Darkseeker. No one is save in this town. No one will survive in this town. Everyone will die, or become a Darkseeker.
My blood is good, use it to do good.
Please, do not leave my body here for the Darkseekers.
May God save what's left of the world,
"Alice," Carted repeated, bringing the diary to an end. He looked at the girl. She had been so brave. She had tried hard and fought well. But, in the end, had been swallowed by the events. Which was very logical. He laid his hand on her head.
"Rest in peace, Alice," he said.
"Rest in peace," the group murmured. Some crossed themselves, while other just stared at the body amidst the ruined city.
"We'll take her blood and burry her," Carter's chief said after a moment of silence. Carter had given a quick recap of the notebook to the chief and their squad.
"Yes, sir," Carter said. He handed the notebook to young Peter next to him and lifted the young woman. She was very light. They probably had run out of food.
Carter and three others carried her to the Black Hawk, which they used to travel. Some of the medical crew began to draw blood. In a few minutes she would be buried.
Suddenly, behind some rocks he saw a body. A Darkseeker. When Carter stopped and took a better look at the face, he recognized it from the drawings.
"Ethan," he murmured to himself. The young man had been strong and tall. But now his tanned skin had lightened, his dark hair had half left him, and his body was covered with wounds.
'Three bullets,' Arons confirmed who took a closer look. Carter looked at Alice. She had been brave. She would rest now. She deserved it, after all the things she had been through.
"Let's hope New York is better, aye?" Carter said as he stood up.
"Let's hope that Robert's still alive," Arons sighed.