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.
King frogmarched me through the Police station. He shoved the cold barrels of his shotgun between my shoulder blades to make sure I kept moving. We passed the open door of an office and I managed to catch a glimpse inside before I felt the unforgiving shotgun steel digging into my flesh, pushing me past the open door and further down the long hallway.
There was a large table sat in the middle of the otherwise bare office. Piled on top of the table were guns. Lots of guns. Guns of all shapes and sizes. Underneath the table were stacks of small boxes that I guessed would be filled with ammo. These Police officers were readying themselves for war. I remembered what P.C. Berry had said whilst feeding the infected families.
“We’ve already gone through all the people with gun licenses.”
It all started to make sense. They had worked their way through the gun license register, visited those people and confiscated the weapons. I felt shocked that there was so much fire power in this area. Instead of a means of protection to the original owners, these guns were greedily hidden away by scared, selfish Police officers.
Harry King was a tall, wiry man. He had black, greasy hair that was receding in the front, forming a widows peak. His nose was flat and leaned to the left, a sure sign that he had taken one too many hits to the face. A thick, angry-looking scar ran from just below his right ear lobe straight across his cheek and came to a halt in the corner of his mouth.
“Right here, Sunshine.” King demanded.
The door we now faced was blue and looked heavy. At eye level there was a big brass plate with the words
engraved into it. King lowered the shotgun and rapped on the heavy wooden door with the knuckles of his free hand.
“Come in.” The Chief Inspector’s stern voice came from the other side of the door.
King twisted the brass doorknob and pushed the door open.
“Go on then, Sunshine.” He ordered, waving the gun toward the room within. “We don’t have all day.”
I hesitated for the briefest of moments; King stepped behind me and used all his weight to bulldozed me into the room. I lost my footing and landed face down on the dark brown-carpeted floor.
“Need me to stay, Ma’am?” King asked.
I looked up to see a large, well-decorated office. In stark contrast to the dingy cell I had been in, this room was well lit by a big window that looked out at the Police station’s car park. The far wall was full of with expensively framed photographs of The Chief Inspector with various important people. In one she was standing beside Prince Charles, both of them beaming the well-practised smile of people who have been in front of a camera too many times for comfort. In another photograph, she was shaking hands with the Queen of England. Evidently a well-connected woman.
“Yes, please, Sergeant King.” She answered from behind the massive desk that stood before the wall of photographs. “Just sit over in the corner there.” She waved absently toward the opposite corner of the room.
King then leaned over me, put his hand under my arm and hoisted me to my feet.
“You sit over there.” He ordered, pointing at one of the two cushioned leather armchairs that sat in front of The Chief Inspector’s desk.
I did as he said, relishing the chance to sit in a comfortable chair. Sergeant King sat on a less impressive moulded plastic chair with metal legs, the kind you find stacked away in church basements, and the chair of choice in the waiting rooms of Hell.
No sooner had I settled myself into the chair on the right, than The Chief Inspector fixed her cold, gunmetal blue gaze upon me. She leaned forward with her hands clasped together upon the desktop.
“Well then.” Her voice had the power of reducing me back to childhood, I saw myself sitting in the office of the Headmistress at school, fearfully awaiting punishment. “Who are you?”
I desperately wanted to rebel. I saw it all so clearly in my mind’s eye. Standing up and spitting in her face, giving her the Bowman’s salute as I did so, then running up to Sergeant King and kicking him swiftly and sharply between the legs. Tearing her photographs from the wall and stamping on them all, glass cracking and frames splintering beneath my feet. Taking the shotgun and smashing the butt of it into King’s face again and again and again, until there was no more scar, no more receding hairline, no more flat nose, nothing but bloody pulp and crushed bone. Shooting The Chief Inspector in her smug, self-righteous bitch of a face. Running back to the cells and freeing Dexy. The two of us stealing a Police car and escaping this nightmare.
“William.” I told her. “Daniels.”
“May I call you William, Mister Daniels?” She asked.
No, you may fucking not.
“Sure.” I shrugged.
“Good.” Her lips twisted into an ugly grin. “So, William,” Darkness flashed behind her eyes as she spoke. “Why did you kill your wife?”
I shifted nervously in my seat, silently admonishing the creak of leather that betrayed my every move.
“She was dangerous.” I explained. “She might have bitten any one of us.”
“You seem like a nice, normal man, William.” Although the words may have been complimentary, they dripped with thick gobs of derision. “Who told you to do it? Was it…” She peered over at Sergeant King.
“Dexter Roland, Ma’am.” King told her, helpfully.
“Thank-you, Sergeant.” She smiled.
“There was a video,” My voice cracked as fear wrapped its cold fingers around my belly. “Timothy something-or-other, NHS spokesman.”
“I see.” She clearly didn’t. “And what did Timothy something-or-other say?”
“That they aren’t people anymore,” As I explained, I could tell by the look on her face that it was pointless. “He said to destroy their brains.”
Waves of emotion rolled across me like thunderheads and I fought to choke back the tears.
“I just want to get back to my daughter.” I looked up at her, my eyes full of sadness and regret. “Just let us go, please.”
“I like you, William.” She seemed genuine. “I can tell that this is tearing you apart.”
I nodded, afraid to speak for fear of blubbering all over her nice leather chair.
“So I’m going to help you.” She stood and leaned towards me, her hands palm down on the desk. “But first, you have to help me.”
“Help you?” I eyed her suspiciously. “How?”
“Your new friend, the young Mister Roland.” She opened the top drawer of her desk and rummaged inside for a moment. “I want you to tell me that he forced you to kill your wife.” As she said this, she pulled my car key from the drawer and dangled it in front of me. The key rotated slowly in shallow, taunting circles.
“What?” I asked. “Why?”
The Chief Inspector slammed my car key down on the desk and loomed over me angrily. Fear tightened its uncomfortable grip around me, my belly flipped and I gasped.
“Sergeant King.” She hissed.
“Yes, Ma’am?” King stood and rested the shotgun against his chair. He was taking off his uniform jacket as he walked over to me.
“Help William become more…” She paused, searching for the right word. “Amenable to my request.”
“With pleasure, Ma’am.” King carefully placed his jacket across the back of the armchair to my left. With lips curled into a hideous grin and eyes gleaming with pleasure, he stood over me with both fists clenched so tightly that I could see the whites of his knuckles.
“Wait.” I raised my arms nervously. “Please. Don’t hit me.”
“Then tell me that your lowlife, scumbag friend forced you to murder your wife.” The Chief Inspector spoke in a gentle, almost soothing voice that belied her true character.
King was now unbuttoning the cuffs of his shirt and rolling up the sleeves, revealing powerful forearms covered in thick black hairs.
“I can’t.” I told her. “It’s not true.”
King smiled at me, raised his right fist and smashed it into my gut with the momentum of a truck careening down a mountain. Pain ripped through my body and I doubled over, winded and spluttering with my head between my knees.
“I don’t want to hurt you, William.” The Chief Inspector assured me.
“Then,” I gasped for air, the wind still refusing to return. “Stop.”
Sergeant King wrapped his long, bony fingers in my hair and pulled until I was looking up at him. I protested and pleaded but I could tell that he was just starting to enjoy himself. The next punch landed square in the middle of my face. My nostrils exploded with blood and snot as black spots danced in front of my eyes, obfuscating the faces of my tormentors.
“Don’t protect him, William.” The Chief Inspector advised. “He’s nothing but a thug, a gangster, a killer.”
“Why?” I asked through blood and tears. “Why do you want me to do this?”
She sighed loudly. The sharp metallic taste of blood filled my mouth.
“The rest of my team need to know that in these…” She looked across at the window, surveying her kingdom. “Troubled times, pond life such as Dexter Roland are even more dangerous.” She slid the car key across the desk. “Help me to prove that and you can walk away.”
“Scot-fucking-free.” King added.
Realisation is a strange event of the mind. Sometimes it can be the crashing cymbals of an ‘Aha!” moment while other times it’s a simple case of mentally kicking one’s self; “of course!”. This was neither of those. This realisation swept across me like a hurricane, drenching me with facts that I would rather not know. Facts that felt like a noose tightening around my neck, waiting for me to take that jump into sweet oblivion, sweet ignorance, sweet bliss.
I would have welcomed that oblivion right now, but I was stuck here, in the cold, hard reality of realisation.
These ‘Police officers’ had been feeding their infected family members with criminals. They had gone crazy. The image of Dexy tapping the side of his head and saying, “Mental.” flashed through my mind’s eye.
I chuckled to myself. The Chief Inspector narrowed her eyes.
“Share the joke, William?” She insisted. “I’m sure we could all do with a good laugh.”
Blood dripped down onto my sweater and I tenderly fingered my nose, relieved to find that it hadn’t been broken. I was starting to realise that while pain did hurt, it also numbed me and my fear of it was greater than the reality. Fear crippled me, turned me into a quivering wreck that nobody would ever respect. I wasn’t about to turn into Rambo, fighting wasn’t really something I had ever done, but I also wasn’t scared of these people any more.
“I pity you.” I told her, looking her straight in the eye and smiling through blood and snot.
“If you want to feed Dexy to your husband,” I nodded toward Sergeant King, “His wife and kids. Then do it.” I spat some of the blood that had been pooling in my mouth onto the carpet.
“I won’t help. He’s worth ten of you psychopaths.” As the words spilled from my lips, I realised that I wasn’t afraid. Those cold fingers unwrapped themselves from my belly, to be replaced with a raging fire that rushed through me and burned behind my eyes. I’d always been a slave to my fears, my cowardice; it was time to take a stand.
“That’s very disappointing, William.” The Chief Inspector sighed. “Very disappointing.”
I didn’t even see King’s fists coming at me, but I felt them. He pounded my face with a flurry of heavy blows; they came so fast that I felt like a pinball stuck between two bumpers. Each powerful wallop resounded in my ears and brought me one-step closer to darkness.
I didn’t want to feel that comforting blanket of unconsciousness this time. I fought against it. This time, I wanted, needed, to feel everything. I smiled through every second of the severe beating that King doled out.
Pain became numbness and the numbness gave me freedom.
“Not… scared… of… you…” I sputtered.