Writing

The Final Diary: Entry Twenty Three

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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.

Entry Twenty Three

“Take out the group of hoodies at the front first.” Jim knelt at the wall, rested his rifle on it and aimed down into the car park. “We think they’re the leaders.”

“Leaders?” King backed away from his scope and grinned. “You’re taking the piss, Sunshine. They are grade ‘A’ equal opportunity nutters, they don’t have leaders.” He snorted a laugh down his nose.

“Call me Sunshine one more time and I’ll throw you down there as the fucking appetiser.” Jim didn’t look away from his scope. “Trust me and do as you’re fucking well told.”

King shrugged and went back to aiming his rifle at the infected. “Sir. Yes, Sir.” He whispered.

“The middle one.” I looked over the wall to make sure. “Kill the middle one first.”

“Got it.” King squeezed the trigger.

The Hoodie infected looked up at us when the shot rang out. The bullet missed its mark, prompting all five of the Hoodie infected to run closer to the hospital and out of sight.

“Shit!” King shook his head disapprovingly at his own marksmanship.

“I thought you were a good shot?” Jim said.

“I am.” King adjusted the scope. “The sight’s off, must have knocked it.”

“Knocked your fucking head, more like.” Jim’s jaw muscles bulged with tension. “That shot might have fucked us all right up the arse.”

“Well we’ve still got the rest of them for target practise.” King pressed the trigger and let loose another shot.

The bullet hit its mark, ripping through the head of an infected. This one was an overweight man dressed in nothing but a pair of bloodied white boxer shorts. The spray of blood washed over the infected behind and served only to excite them even more. The growling and snarling grew louder until the noise surrounded us and invaded our heads with its terrible promise of savage death.

Screams from below filtered through the cacophony of the infected. It was the hospital survivors. Had the hoodies got to them already?

Jim turned his head to look at me. “Go check on them. Make sure they’re okay down there.”

I nodded and raced across to Doctor Webb who was still standing in the same spot, rigid with fear.

“I need the door key.” I looked into his eyes but he was looking through me, as though oblivious to my presence. I placed my hands on his shoulders and shook him. “Doctor Webb!”

“Y… yes.” His eyes finally focused on me.

“Give me the key.” I released his shoulders and held out a hand.

“Oh, of… of course.” He passed me the key and then retreated back into whatever was going on inside his head.

I understood what he was going through. I had spent my life letting fear dictate what I did and didn’t do. Part of me desperately wanted to curl up into a ball and just let things happen, but that part of me grew less powerful with each passing hour and was being replaced with the will to survive, I was going to fight to stay alive and I was prepared to do anything to make sure that my daughter was safe.

More screams came from inside the hospital and I pushed open the door at the bottom of the stairs. Some of the survivors were kneeling down praying while others leaned against the wall crying and screaming with each shot that Jim and King fired from the roof. Kate was doing her best to console the most distressed people but nobody seemed to be listening to her.

Dexy spotted me and waved. I walked around a small group of children who were sat in a circle on the floor, all with their arms around each other and their heads down. One of them, a little girl, was trying to sung a nursery rhyme but her own sobbing overpowered every word. The door opposite the children was open slightly and voices came from inside the room, I couldn’t hear what was being said but I assumed it was more prayers or a family comforting each other in privacy.

“What’s going on?” I stood close enough to speak directly into Dexy’s ear.

“They just went mental, Bruv.” Dexy shrugged his shoulders. “Soon as the shooting started.”

Kate saw me talking with Dexy and made her way through the crowd.

“Everything okay up there?” She shot a glance to the ceiling.

“Doctor Webb’s a bit shaken up, other than that it’s fine.” I stared down the hallway. “We got worried when we heard screaming from down here.”

Kate nodded and smiled. “They’re scared, some of these people have never heard a gun before, that and the noise from those monsters…” Her smile vanished and she sighed. “It’s a lot to deal with.”

“Is Sean helping?” I scanned the hallway but couldn’t see him. “He knows these people better than us.”

“Haven’t seen him since we got up here, Bruv.” Dexy scratched his head. “He only causes trouble, probably a good thing he’s gone A.W.O.L.”

He was right, all Sean had done up to now is cause problems for us.

“Okay, I’m going back to the roof.” I turned to leave when Dexy put his hand around my elbow to stop me.

“What’s the plan?” He asked in a hushed tone. “We all know that they’ll be in here soon.” He released my elbow and waved in the general direction of the car park. “How are we getting out?”

“Just stay close to the door.” I glanced across at the roof door and then back to Dexy. “When the time comes I think we’re all going down the fire escape.”

“That’s his plan?” Kate didn’t even try to disguise her contempt for Jim. “Send fifty-odd people down a fire escape and hope we don’t get spotted?”

“I think so, yeah.” I hadn’t really thought about the plan, let alone questioned it. Jim led and I followed.

“Is he mad?” She asked. “We’ll never get all these people down there. What about the older ones that can barely walk? What if there’s a panic and people get trampled?”

“I don’t know.” I held her gaze and shrugged. “Just be ready.” I leaned closer to them both and lowered my voice to barely a whisper. “We’ll be taking the minibus.”

“What about everyone else?” Kate pointed at the children that I had walked past earlier. “These kids?”

Dexy rested his back against the wall and stared at the ceiling. “We can only do so much, Kate.” He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly before continuing. “At the end of the day, they’re not our responsibility.”

Kate opened her mouth to say something but held it back and sighed instead. “Fine.” She shook her head and then stormed off, heading down the hallway.

“Don’t worry about her. Bruv.” Dexy patted my arm. “She’ll come round.”

“Yeah.” I wasn’t convinced. “I’ll see you soon.”

“Later, Bruv.” Dexy strolled down the hallway as if he didn’t have a care in the World. I wish I knew his secret to staying calm when everything around him was pure pandemonium.

I skirted around the huddled group of children, the little girl that was singing had overcome her fears and her voice was as sweet and melodic as a songbird.

“Hush little baby, don’t say a word,” She had blonde hair that flowed almost al the way down her back. “Daddy’s gonna buy you a mockingbird,” She noticed me standing there and looked up at me through big blue eyes. “And if that mockingbird won’t sing,”

I smiled at her and stood by the door opposite them. The door was open a little more than when I had first passed it, but I didn’t hear voices from within anymore.

“Daddy’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.”

I felt a slight breeze on the back of my neck and saw that the little girl wasn’t looking at me anymore, she was looking at something behind me. An arm wrapped around my throat and a hand pressed across my mouth and before I could react, I had been dragged into the room and the door was closed. I lifted my gun.

“Watch out!” Sean’s voice cried out.

The person holding me moved his hand from my mouth and grabbed the back of my head. I tried to hit him with the pistol but he dodged the swipe and promptly rocketed me towards the wall. Black stars danced across my vision and a deep thud reverberated around my head when my face met with the wall. The gun slipped from my hand and landed heavily on the tiled floor.

I was on my knees holding my head in my hands and groaning when Sean walked up to me.

“I heard everything you said out there.” He bent down and picked up the pistol. “You’re all going to leave us behind.”

“No.” I tried to stand but my head was still ringing so I settled for crouching with my back to the wall. “We’re not.”

It was a small room with only one bed, a night stand and a small chest of drawers. The yellow curtains had been pulled across the small window and the room glowed with a dull golden light. Sean’s wife was sat on the bed glaring down at me, she picked at a hole that had started in the knee of her black leggings and was now laddering its way up her thigh. Two other men were in the room. The man that had grabbed me was thick set and had almost no neck, his face resembled that of a bulldog chewing on a mouthful of hornets. He stood beside Sean and smirked down at me. The other man in the room was Travis, he sat on top of the small chest of drawers and was nervously passing his red beanie hat from one hand to the other.

“You’re full of shit, mate.” Sean aimed the gun at me. “I fucking heard you.”

“You heard wrong.” I felt a warm stream coming from my nostrils and my tongue darted past my lips to taste blood.

Bulldog stepped forward and moved as though he was going to kick me, stopping his foot short just before it connected with my face. I cringed back and held my arms out, gritting my teeth when he laughed at me.

“Heard wrong, did I?” Sean asked. “So you didn’t tell your lowlife friends that you were going to leave us all down here while you escaped from the roof?”

“What?” I shouldn’t have been surprised that he was lying, either that or he was so paranoid that he believed what he was saying. “No.”

I looked at each of them in turn, hoping that at least one would see that I was being honest. The look on their faces told me all I needed to know. They saw me as the enemy and if I wasn’t careful, I would die in this room.

“We want to help everyone here.” I tried to stand but Bulldog loomed over me threateningly.

“You just don’t stop lying, do you?” Sean’s wife lurched forward on the bed and pointed an accusatory finger at me. “Just shoot him.”

Sean aimed the gun at me and I looked him in the eye, he was no killer, terrified, yes, but not a killer.

“Please, don’t kill me.” What else do you say when someone is pointing a gun at you? I was new to this. “Just tell me what you want. We can work this out.”

He lowered the gun and looked at each of his group, all of whom gave him a small nod and a ‘might as well’ shrug.

“We want you to get us out.” There it was. The man who had spoken out so loudly against us, the man who convinced everyone else that he was fighting their corner, fighting for their children, had now chosen his own small group and finally showed his true colours.

I couldn’t help smiling at his hypocrisy. “What about everyone else?” I waved an arm at the door.

“Can’t save everyone.” Bulldog’s voice was as ugly as his face. “So you’re going to take us with you.”

“Mick’s right.” Sean glanced across at the thickset man. “Our kids are out in the hallway, Mick has two sons and me and Kerry have a daughter. It will just be them and everyone in this room.”

“It makes sense, Mister Daniels.” Travis decided to throw his hat into the ring.

“If I say no?” I asked, ignoring Travis.

Mick the bulldog moved quickly for a man of his stature. He wrapped a thick hairy hand around my throat and hoisted me to my feet, his fingers choking me with increasing pressure as he moved his face close to mine and spoke in a low, intimidating voice.

“If you say no, we’ll kill you.” He smiled, revealing yellowing teeth. “Then we kill your friends out there.” He glanced at the door.

His grip was tighter still and had blocked my breathing. I tried to choke out some words but only managed to sputter and gag.

“Let him go, Mick.” Sean said. “I think he gets it now.”

Mick released his hold on me. I rubbed my throat and coughed breath into my lungs.

“We on the same page, then?” Mick asked, his face still uncomfortably close to mine.

I nodded and held up a hand, still coughing.

“Good boy.” He patted me on the shoulder and backed away, smiling.

My stomach burned with anger. I didn’t want to help these people, they didn’t deserve any help. I’d never even seen Mick the bulldog before. My guess is that he was only in this little group because Sean needed someone who could get tough. I felt bad for their kids, but as far as I knew, everyone was going to get a fair chance to live through this, not just a select few. We owed Sean nothing and all his threats had accomplished is making me dislike him even more.

I certainly didn’t trust them. Travis and Sean had both proved themselves to be liars and as soon as they found an opportunity, this desperate group of people would try to kill us. I couldn’t let that happen, not after we had come so far, lived through so much.

I was out of options though, I had to play along, I had to survive.

They waited for me to recover and once I was breathing normally, Sean waved the gun at me.

“Let’s go then.” He nodded towards the door. “You first.”

Travis and Kerry moved over to stand behind Sean and Mick. I straightened my shirt, hobbled across to the door and wrapped my fingers around the handle.

“William.” Sean’s voice was barely audible as he spoke my name.

I turned to face him, keeping my fingers firmly wrapped around the door handle.

“Don’t do anything stupid.” He narrowed his eyes and aimed the gun more carefully at me.

Fuck you, Sean.

I opened the door quickly, rushed into the hallway and dived to the floor.

“Help!” I felt a rush of air across the top of my head and then heard the gunshot ring out.

People were screaming all around me but I heard Kate shouting at Sean. “Drop the gun!”

I looked up and saw that the group of children had scattered. All except one. The girl that had been singing to the others stared at me through lifeless eyes, her head lolled to one side. Thick streams of blood trailed down her face and out of her nose. The bullet had hit the top of her head and travelled down to the back of her neck, killing her instantly.

“No! Oh God, No!” Kerry rushed past me and crouched next to the dead girl and cradled her, rocking back and forth as she sobbed and kissed the girls forehead.

“Dani?” I looked back at Sean and saw a terrible pain travelling across his face. “Dani, baby?” He looked at the gun in his hand and then at the little girl. “It’s me, baby, it’s Daddy.” He dropped to his knees and tears flooded down his face. He held the gun in both hands and stared at it with disbelief.

Mick the bulldog crouched behind Sean and held his arms out. Two boys ran up to him and he embraced them both, pulling them close to his chest so that they couldn’t look at Sean and Kerry’s dead daughter.

“Drop the gun, Sean!” Kate closed in on him until the barrel of her shotgun was touching his ear. “Right now!”

Dexy leaned over me and offered a hand, I put my hand in his and he winced as he helped me to my feet. He immediately stood beside me and slowly backed us both towards the roof door.

Sean glared up at me. “You did this!” The words were muffled with sob but his hatred of me came through loud and clear.

“No.” I closed my eyes, wishing that it would all go away. It was all still there when I opened them again.

Sean bared his teeth and lifted the gun, pointing it right at me. “You did this!” He wiped away the tears with his free hand, replacing grief with a need for vengeance.

“Don’t do it, Sean.” Kate nudged him roughly with the shotgun barrel, pressing it closer still. “I will shoot.”

His index finger curled around the trigger of his… no, my gun. He ignored Kate and the shotgun barrel that pushed against his head and just stared at me through hate-filled eyes. Most of the hospital survivors had calmed down enough to see what was happening and they all crowded behind Kate, inching forward towards the devastated parents that they still saw as allies. Allies that had been destroyed by one bullet.

“Leave him alone!” A woman shouted.

“They killed little Dani.” Another voice cried from the crowd. “Six years old.”

“Bastards!”

More and more voices filled the hallway, merging together to make one unintelligible noise. The angry mob had formed and they wanted blood.

“Damn it, Sean, put the gun down!” Kate remained focused on Sean. “You’re wife needs you.”

Sean glanced at his wife who was now holding her dead daughter to her bosom and screaming hysterically.

“Stay back!” Dexy aimed his gun at the hospital survivors. “It didn’t go down like you think!”

They paused, almost within arms reach of Kate.

Sean turned his attention back to me, bit his bottom lips so hard that blood dripped down onto his chin, giving him the appearance of a vampire that had just feasted. He slowly began to press the trigger.

I closed my eyes. The report of the gun was almost deafening, like a small explosion. Instead of the pain that I was trying to prepare myself for, I felt a warm, wet mass splatter across my face. More screams, including my own, hammered at my ear drums. I opened my eyes but could only see blurred images. A figure was rushing towards me and I cringed as it got close enough to touch me.

“Move it.” The figure was Kate. She grabbed my arm and pulled me back towards the roof door.

I wiped the sticky wetness away from my eyes and blinked the world into focus.

Sean’s body lay in a heap on the ground, all that remained of his head was the bottom jaw and skin that used to be a face now flapped across his neck. The rest had exploded onto me, covering me with bone and brain and blood.

The hospital mob looked on in silence, mouths gaping and eyes wide. All that could be heard was Kerry whispering “It’s okay, sweetie. Daddy’s going to be okay, we’re all going to be okay.” Into her dead daughters ear.

Kate pulled the door open and shouldered me through, never once letting her shotgun stray from it’s firm aim into the crowd. I tripped on the first step and crawled up the next two before managing to stand. Dexy was close behind me with Kate hot on his heels. She closed the door and we all winced when the first shout broke the silence.

“Get them!”

The three of us raced up the steps, pushed the door open and tumbled through in a heap.

“What the fuck?” Jim snapped his attention to our sudden arrival.

“Lock it!” Kate scrambled to her feet and pulled me up. “Quickly!”

The first of the angry mob had pulled the bottom door open and were rushing up the stairs. I pushed the top door closed and fumbled around for the key. When I pulled the key out of my pocket, it flew out of my hand and bounced against the door.

“Shit.” I quickly bent down, grabbed the key and hastily rattled it against the lock, fear and adrenalin made my hands shake uncontrollably.

The hospital survivors had reached the door and pushed against it, almost opening it enough to get through until Dexy pushed back. Jim had run across to us and powered into the door, holding it firm.

Kate snatched the key from my hand, calmly pushed it into the keyhole and locked the door.

“Things went badly.” Kate aimed the comment at Jim who was eyeing us all incredulously.

Fists and feet hammered at the other side of the door, angry voices cursed at us but the door showed no sign of giving way.

“Very fucking badly, by the looks of it.” Jim stared at the mess that covered me. “Are you okay?”

Gemma, Dodge and Barney started running to us when they had decided it was safe. They had gotten halfway across the roof and suddenly stopped when an almighty roar came from the car park.

King slowly backed away from his scope and stood up. He looked at us, then the car park and back to us.

“They’re coming.” King tried to make himself heard above the crash of breaking glass and the war cries of the infected.

The whole group rushed over to him and stared down into the car park.

All of the infected sprinted towards the hospital like wild beasts released from their cages. Howling and growling and snarling and snapping and hooting and every last one of them had a huge insane smile, as though this was the most fun that they had ever had. These crazy bastards were loving every second of it.

A thought scratched at my mind like a rat. What if they’re not hungry for flesh? What if they’re just hungry for the hunt?

That would mean they weren’t killing us to survive.

This was genocide.

“We have to let them out.” Doctor Webb scratched his face until red welts scarred his skin. “All those people. We have to.”

“Dad?” Gemma tugged at my arm. “Dad, we can’t just leave them locked in there.”

“If we let them out, they’ll try to kill us.” Kate said.

Doctor Webb dived at Kate and pushed her against the short wall surrounding the roof. She lost her balance and the only thing stopping her from falling into the car park were Doctor Webb’s hands, firmly gripped around her neck.

“Give me the key.” His face was flushed red and his eyes bulged with madness.

Jim got between them both and grabbed Kate’s arm with one hand and pushed Doctor Webb away from her with the other. The Doctor fell and landed on his back. He looked up at us and then covered his face with both hands. Jim pulled Kate away from the wall and closer to himself, wrapping an arm around her waist.

“You owe me one, sweetheart.” He gave her a quick pat on the backside and a dramatic wink before releasing her.

“I’ll never owe you that.” Kate glared at him. “Next time you touch me, I’ll cut your dick off.” She stormed off in the direction of the fire escape.

Jim looked at me and smiled. “I think I’m in, there.”

“Seriously, Jim?” Gemma stepped in front of him as he turned to follow Kate. “Keep it in your pants, mate. Those people are going to die if we don’t help them.” She pointed angrily at the roof door.

“You heard her.” Jim said. “They want us dead. We have to look after each other, here, remember?”

Gemma was about to reply when the screaming started.

Kate walked back to us and we all stood in a line, holding our breath and staring helplessly at the door. The frantic cries of pain were almost drowned out by the grisly noise of the infected.

They had found their prey.

I pictured all those people trapped on the claustrophobic steps, watching as the infected tore flesh from limb. Standing there helpless as teeth ripped through skin and the monsters clamoured over the freshly killed bodies, quickly and merrily working their way up each step.

When the noises stopped we all let out a breath and looked at one another, our faces covered with the dark shadows of remorse.

“What have we done?” I whispered.

Three slow, deliberate knocks came from the other side of the door.

***

 

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