William Daniels is successful author of children’s books, a loving husband and a caring father. His normal, happy life is turned upside down when an infection turns normal people into bloodthirsty animals who want only one thing, human flesh. William learns a lot about himself and his fellow man in this bleak and deadly new world. This is his diary. This is The Final Diary.
Okay, Diary, okay.
I’ve eaten breakfast and had a coffee, so now I’ll finish telling you what happened with Jim.
He took the phone away from his ear and exhaled a long, loud sigh. He fixed his gaze on me and slowly shook his head with disapproval. Then we just stood there for long moments in (for me) torturous silence.
When he finally spoke, it was in a low, calm voice.
“Do you know Frank Jenkins, the old fella that lives next door to me?” He asked. I nodded my head but in all honesty I didn’t know Frank Jenkins.
“I went to see how he was coping.” Jim paused to take a deep breath.
“Must be hard on the old folk, this. What chance do they have of surviving it?”
It was a fair comment.
“Especially ones like Frank with no family to look after them.”
Holly’s phone was still singing out its cheerful tune. Jim stabbed a finger at the screen of his phone and the tune stopped.
“So I knocked on his door this morning and it opened up. I thought that he’d forgotten to lock up.” He reached up his huge ham hock of a hand and rubbed at his temples.
“I walked in, shouting his name and I almost fell on my arse.”
I was curious to hear what had happened but I was also getting quite scared. He had heard the phone just as well as me, we had also both heard Holly so why the hell was he talking about this?
“The hallway was covered in blood, absolutely plastered with it.” He moved his hand down to stroke his moustache.
“I walked into the front room and found a hoodie crouched over Frank’s body.” He looked right at me. I looked at the floor.
“It was eating one of his lungs. There were bits everywhere. Half a leg was up on the fireplace, Frank’s intestines were hanging from the light like fucking Christmas decorations and this little hoodie shit was eating the rest.” He took a step toward me. I took a step back.
“Only it wasn’t a hoodie anymore.” He leaned over until his face was so close to mine that I could smell the bacon on his breath.
“It was a fucking monster!” He spat the words out venomously.
“So I took this knife,” He opened up his coat to reveal a huge knife tucked into his belt, the blade of the knife was at least 12 inches long and the edge glinted menacingly in the morning light.
“And I stuck it right in the fucking head of that monster.” He tapped the crown of his head with his index finger. “Right there, mate.”
Then he reached over and used his index finger to stab at the same part of my head.
I had never felt so helpless. I wanted to take that knife out of his belt and cut his throat with it but fear paralysed me. It always has, Diary, you know that.
He removed his face from mine and returned to his original stance. I breathed a sigh of relief.
“So tell me, William.” His voice had returned to its low, calm tone.
“Is that Holly in there,” He inclined his head toward the garage door.
“Or is it a monster?”
“I, I, It’s…” I so desperately wanted the words to come out clearly, but they flat out refused. My stomach tied itself in knots and I felt like I was about to throw up on Jims big black boots. I was so nervous that I wished the ground would just swallow me whole. A fly buzzed its way between us, oblivious of the tension that its wings were scything through.
“Spit it out, man. Don’t be a stuttering Nancy-boy!” Jim mocked.
Anger started to burn away the fear in my stomach and I finally looked Jim in the eye and told him,
“Are you sure, William?” Jim scratched at his moustache. “Not one of them monsters is it?”
“Yes. No.” I blurted the words out guiltily. After taking a breath, I continued.
“I mean, it’s Holly. She was bitten and she’s infected.” I clenched and unclenched my fists trying to expel the negative energy from my body.
It didn’t work.
“I’m sorry, William. I really am.” The words seemed genuine. “But that’s not Holly now though, is it?”
“It is!” I protested.
“No. No, no, no.” Jim shook his head slowly. “That’s a monster in there now. Holly is dead and gone, mate.”
“No.” I couldn’t accept it. I felt the sting of a tear trailing its way down my cheek.
Jim placed his huge hand on my shoulder.
“Let me go take care of it.” He said, pulling his coat back and taking out the knife. I was so busy feeling sorry for myself that it took me a moment to realise he had started walking toward the garage door.
Something inside me urged my body to act. I don’t even know how it happened. I was standing by the kitchen one minute and the next I found myself standing with my back to the garage door waving a frying pan full of bacon and eggs menacingly at Jim, the titan from across the road.
“Don’t be silly now, William.” He said calmly. “That’s not your Holly. She’s dead.”
“No she isn’t! She didn’t die! She was bitten but she didn’t die, she just…” I tried to find the right words; I needed to convince him before he stuck the frying pan, bacon, eggs and that big knife of his, right up my stupid arse.
“She changed, she got really hot, like a fever, and then she was like… well… you know.” Of course he knew, he’d stabbed one in the head before coming over to eat my breakfast.
“Dead, William? Then she was like a dead thing that eats people?” He asked.
“She. Is. Not. Dead. Jim.” I spoke slowly and deliberately. Even though my stomach was performing back-flips, I must have seemed serious enough to Jim because he lowered the knife to his side and stepped away.
“You know what?” He said. “Fine. Have it your way.”
He pointed at the door behind me and tapped the flat of the knife on his thigh.
“But if she manages to get out of there then me and you will be revisiting this conversation.” His eyebrows furrowed and his nostrils flared angrily.
“Got it.” I answered, lowering the frying pan. The bacon and eggs spilled out and splattered down onto the marble floor. “Shit.”
“Well, there goes breakfast.” Jim said with sadness in his voice. “Let’s me and you go have a chat in the front room, William.”
I followed him through and sat down on the couch, sinking into the soft brown leather. Jim sat on the chair beside me.
“What about your girl? Is Gemma in there with her mother, too?” He inquired.
“No.” I answered bluntly. “She’s with…” I shrugged my shoulders and sighed.
“I don’t know where she is.” I admitted. “I was going to try and find her but the news and the hospital said to stay home.”
“Fuck them!” He yelled. Holly groaned and banged her hands against the garage door in response to the noise.
“Fuck them.” Jim repeated, this time in a hushed tone. “That’s your little girl, mate.”
I nodded my head and felt more tears stinging my cheek.
“Listen to me, William. We need to stick together; we have to get through this thing alive.” He prodded his index finger down onto his knee to emphasise his statement.
“I can help you, William. Maybe we can help each other.”
I wasn’t sure how I could be any help to him, but he could definitely be useful to me so I just kept nodding in agreement.
“First, we go look for Gemma. Then we go find somewhere safe and maybe pick up any other people who are still aliv…” He stopped himself from saying it.
“Uninfected.” I said.
“As you say. Uninfected.” He absently stroked his moustache. “Safety in numbers, right? I have some people I can look in on and I’m sure you do too.”
“Yes.” I said. I didn’t really have anyone else to look in on, unless you count my agent and my publisher. It was just easier to lie than have to explain.
“You still have that lovely SUV?” Jim asked.
“We need to get past Holly first.” He stated without emotion.
“I don’t want her hurt.” I told him.
“I know, William. I don’t want that wrapped round my head, either.” He pointed at the frying pan I was still clinging to so tightly that my knuckles were white.
I laughed nervously and put the pan on the floor.
“Get me a couple of pillowcases, will you?” Jim asked, jerking a thumb in the direction of the stairs.
I went upstairs and took two (plus another two for good measure) pillowcases out of the linen cupboard in the bedroom. Jim was waiting for me at the garage door with a broom in his hands. I passed him the pillowcases and he passed me the broom.
“Right then.” He said with a sigh. “I want you to push at her with the sweeping brush, yes?”
“Okay…” I answered nervously.
He was placing each pillowcase inside the next until he had a four-ply pillowcase.
“While you’re doing that, I’ll put this,” He lifted the pillowcase for effect. “Over her head.”
“That’s it?” I asked with disbelief. “Don’t we need to tie her up? The news said scratches also cause infection.”
“You’re right. Take off your belt.” He demanded.
I wanted to argue but couldn’t really think of anything clever to say so I dutifully unbuckled my belt, slipped it from my jeans and handed it over.
“When her head is covered I want you to come help me get her arms.”
“Okay.” I was not looking forward to this. “I think she broke one of them.”
Jim nodded his approval. “Even better.”
“Alright then, so we’re all clear? Push with brush, pillowcase over head, both restrain her and secure with belt.”
“All clear.” The words barely came out, I was so scared.
Jim turned the key.
He looked at me and gesticulated that he was going to open the door and wanted me to go in first with the broom. I closed my eyes and nodded my agreement.
Everything moved in super-fast-motion. I ran in screaming at the top of my lungs, Holly lunged at me almost instantly. I pushed her away with the brush and looked back at Jim.
He smiled, threw the four-ply pillowcase and my belt onto the garage floor and closed the door, locking me in with my infected wife.
Holly clawed at me with her good arm, the broken one hung limply at her side. I had the broom head firmly under her breasts, keeping her out of reach.
“Jim!” I screamed.
“Your wife, your fucking problem.” He bellowed from behind the door.
“Help me!” I implored.
“You want her alive? You do it yourself!” Jim answered coldly.
I looked into Holly’s colourless eyes and screamed. I put all my weight behind the broom and pushed her past the car and into the wooden tool rack bolted onto the wall on the other side of the garage. She smashed into the rack heavily and a hammer fell onto her head, quickly followed by a variety of screwdrivers clattering down around her, confusing her but thankfully not hurting her.
While she concentrated on the tools, I ran back across the garage, grabbed the pillowcase and hid out of view behind my Ford Explorer.
Holly started to look for me. She ran up to the Ford and slapped her hands against the windows, growling and snapping at the air like a wild animal.
I knew what I had to do, simply move slowly around the car and put the pillowcases over her head. I willed myself to do it, begged my body to work with me, to do this one thing but it refused and I was frozen to the spot. I had never been so full of fear. Tears ran down my face and snot poured out of my nose.
So much snot that I sniffled. I tried to be quiet but it had a mind of its own and instead of a barely heard sniff, it sounded more like the grunt of a pig as amplified through a nightclub sound system.
Holly came for me quickly and with deadly intent. She raced around the Ford and leapt at me. Instinct kicked in and I rolled out of the way, causing Holly to hit the concrete floor mouth first. I heard the awful crunch and then saw a white explosion of teeth rattle across the floor.
She was about to get up but I rolled over and onto her back, holding her down with my weight, her good arm thrashed around, trying to hit me but missed each time.
Very carefully but quickly I pulled the four-ply pillowcase over her head. I then reached out my arm for the belt.
It was half an arm’s length out of reach.
“Jim!” I screamed. Holly desperately tried to get free but my weight held her in check. “JIIIIIIMMMMM!”
Jim opened the door and poked his head through the gap. He looked down at me laying on top of my zombie wife, pillowcase over her head and he laughed. Not just a snigger, oh no, this was a big hearty, belly laugh.
“Do you two need some more alone time?” He said between laughs.
“The belt!” I spat the words out angrily.
He stepped into the garage and carefully nudged the belt over to me with his foot.
“There you go, Billy-boy.” He said. “Don’t say I never do anything for you.”
I ignored his mockery and grabbed each of Holly’s arms at the elbow. I lifted myself up until I was sitting on the small of her back, secured her arms under my knees and grabbed the belt. After that, it was easy to finish the job.
Once she was safely tied, I lifted her to her feet, opened the back of the Ford and pushed her inside, slamming the hatchback door closed behind her.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Jim shook his head. “What if she gets loose and jumps across the back seat at us?”
I pointed into the car. Jim stepped forward and looked through the window at the metal bars between the storage area and the back seat. Holly wouldn’t be driving anywhere.
“I didn’t know you had a dog.” He said.
“We don’t. Holly’s Dad has a Labrador that goes everywhere with him, so we had them fitted.”
Jim smiled and patted me on the back.
“I’ll tell you what, Billy-boy, I didn’t think you’d do it but fuck me sideways if you haven’t.” Another smile. Patronising wanker. “Seriously, good for you.”
“William.” I stated coldly. “My name is William.”
“As you say, William.” He said with a slight nod of his head. “Let’s go find that pretty little girl of yours, shall we?”