I. The Fool and The Giant

It was the bombs that saved us, coupled with those harsh winters. Those damned Indians and Pakistanis caused the skies to darken after they made nuclear fires blossom in each others cities and it saved us. At points I felt like I was a Russian, pleading with Tsar Winter to come and save me from the walking nightmares. We must have had close to eight months of cold temperatures and five with serious winter conditions. The "Deep Freeze", I came to both hate and love that time with a deep passion But, I'm getting ahead of myself, it is best to start at the beginning of things.

I was 24 when I killed that poor little girl. Too drunk to know where I was, speeding through a crosswalk. Little Marrieta Rodriguez, dead in street at seven years old. They put me at Cedar Junction, the maximum security prison in Walpole as it was my third offense for drinking and driving. And this time I had killed somebody. For four years I lived in a metal and cement cage with a man named Joseph Druce.

In a way I deeply respected Druce, in another I felt absolutely terrified at living in the same space with him. Druce was 47 when the Panic began and we escaped from that bloodbath. He had been put in for life without parole for killing a man who had allegedly made some kind of pass at him after picking up a hitchhiking Druce. Apparently that was all true, because at no time during my stay in the prison did he try to make a pass at me or any other man. He easily could have overpowered me, he was a huge man with arms that could have throttled my young neck without much of a fight. Yet he never touched me and always served as a deterrent to others when a group of them would try to take me on. However the thing that really inspired my respect for Druce was the fact that he had killed a Catholic priest who was being held for molesting and raping young altar servers of both genders. As five guards tried to get past the barricade that Druce set up he strangled and stomped the priest to death; and when he was lead from the cell, blood staining his bare feet, the other prisoners cheered and clapped for Druce. Druce told me once that he had two kids, a little girl and a boy of college age. He said he did it for their sake, and I took him at his word.

For four years I did the same exact thing day in and day out, mainly eating, sleeping, reading, and avoiding getting raped or killed. Then one day, as the mess hall clamored with sounds of swearing inmates and angry servers, we saw one of the first pieces of news having to do with Them. A drug named Phalanx was coming out to prevent against the "African Rabies" that were spreading. Table conversations briefly wondered at what the hell was African Rabies before returning to complaints about the slop that was passed of as food. Around late October the first of the guards started not showing up to work and replacements were called in. But soon more and more of the guards just stopped showing up and replacements didn't come fast enough to fill up the spots. Soon it was clear that the prisoners could overtake the small amount of guards left and that they would likely be murdered in the process. Yet all attention was on the news and any tvs that could work were watched by hundreds of prisoners as the "African Rabies" soon become a growing number of Them that were spreading and killing all across the country, and the globe.

The one day it all changed in just a few hours. It was Yonkers, America's finest military technology and smart war machines put against a growing flood of Them. And we sat there and watched it all unfold in complete silence, as They just kept coming past the explosions and the missiles. We continued to watch as a few million of Them continued on towards the cameras and the soldiers in front of them. One of the explosions must have destroyed the mic for that crew because we heard nothing and watched as They kept coming, on and on and on like the waves. The incendiary bombs came then, and the last thing we saw was Them marching through the flames, on fire with their arms outstretched, looking as if they would come right through from Hell and take us all. The commotion began then as we became a horde, a horde of men trying to escape the prison and find families or just somewhere to be safe. Soon however the warden came on the speakers and promised we could all be free men working with him and the men who had guarded us to make this place a fortress against them.

I can't remember if I sided with those who wanted revolt, wanted to join the warden, or just wanted to get out of there. It didn't matter though, as minutes later a roaring sound could be heard coming from the air and men rushed outside to see what it was. The plane was a 737, and it must have just taken off because when it hit the north side of the prison it obliterated part of the complex and knocked down the fences with the force of the explosion. All I remember then was running, running towards the forest alongside Druce, running from the fires and the death. Running into the nightmare.

I didn't see my first one of Them until later, almost two weeks later. Druce and I were coming down from the roof of a store in the small downtown area of a town we had come to, Brain something or other. It seemed from what we had seen on TV that they could only go slowly and simply limped along, meaning that they hopefully couldn't climb. We weren't sure though, and that fear kept us on the edge. Fear kept us alive, it consumed us and so we consumed it and turned it into vigilance and extra safeguards. It was when I wasn't afraid that It almost killed me.

We spotted her on a roof above a shop not much farther down the street, she was crying and holding a revolver with a pink handle underneath her chin with one hand, another held a bottle of amber liquid that could only be strong liquor. Her hair was brown and dirtied, her eyes were blue and swimming with tears, her jeans and other clothes were dirty and bloostained,and yet, she was beautiful. She was the first real woman I had seen in four years and she was a beautiful, dirty, mess that was about to kill herself in front of us.

"What the fuck are you doing? Are you crazy bitch!?" I shouted up at her.

Her eyes snapped towards me and filled instantly with anger, but then just as quickly widened with fear. At first I thought it was the fact that we were escaped convicts, but we had our jumpsuits weeks ago. Then she screamed, "You fucking fool, behind you!"

And They were upon us.