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.
I wanted to tell him to just mind his own business. My car, my rules. Don’t like it? Then get out and walk.
I opened my mouth to speak when Jim interrupted.
“Where’d you get the gun from, son?” He asked, looking back at Dexy.
“That’d be telling, Bruv.” Dexy answered. It was the wrong answer, anyone who had met Jim for more than three seconds could have told Dexy that it was the wrong answer.
“Well then,” Jim sighed and pointed the gun back, levelling it with Dexy’s face. “How about you start telling?”
From a personal perspective, I was grateful that attention had shifted from Holly to guns. I hadn’t wanted to explain it all to them, and frankly, I shouldn’t have to.
“You gonna shoot me, Grandad?” Dexy mocked. Dodge stifled a laugh as Barney licked his face.
“Listen to me, you hooligan,” Jim spoke in a slow, deliberate tone. “You might not have noticed, but it’s absolutely fucked out there.” He waved the muzzle of the gun toward the window. “We have barely any weapons, we do have a gun, though.”
“Yeah, so?” Dexy shrugged.
Jim whistled out an exaggerated groan and looked across at me.
“William.” He said. “Please tell me that you know where I’m going with this?”
Of course I knew. I can’t imagine that any of us didn’t know, even Barney probably knew.
“We need more guns and ammo?” I offered.
Jim nodded his head.
“As you say, we need more guns and ammo.” He shook the gun with each word. “And you, Dexy,” He looked back at the hoodie. “You know where to get them from.”
“Yeah but I can’t just take strangers round there.” Dexy protested. “He’s gonna want cash for them, too.”
“I’m thinking that under this very fucking special set of circumstances,” Jim grinned. “Your gun dealer might let the stranger thing slide. As for cash, you let the grown ups worry about that.”
I stopped the car.
“We’re here.” I said quietly.
“Yeah, yeah.” Travis sat up and looked out at the shop. “This is Becky’s dad’s shop.”
It was a normal looking mini-mart style shop but all the metal shutters had been pulled down. I could see lights through the smoked glass windows behind the shutters.
“Looks like they might be home.” I said, looking at Jim.
“Yeah, Bruv.” Dexy agreed. “Her dad never leaves the place. I swear he works twenty four seven.”
“Deffo.” Travis nodded. “He’s Indian. Works like fuck, he does.”
“Her mum’s English though, and she’s a right lazy cow!” Dexy told us. The three boys started laughing.
The rest of the street seemed quiet. I couldn’t see any infected roaming around.
“All right, children.” Jim snapped. “Let’s go.” He opened his door and looked back at Dexy. “I’m going to want that address when we’ve checked the shop.”
“Yeah, Bruv.” Dexy spoke in a defeated tone. “I know.”
Everyone got out of the Ford and moved towards the shop. Dodge carried Barney in his arms.
“Oh and just so everyone knows.” Jim said. “That’s William’s wife in the back of the car.”
“What?” Travis said, his mouth gaping open with disbelief.
“She’s infected and William here is hoping they find a cure.” Jim continued. “If you don’t like it then don’t get back in the fucking car.” He looked at me and smiled, teeth briefly flashing through his thick moustache.
I think he’s starting to take my side.
Or am I starting to take his?
I rattled the shutter that covered the shop door.
“Mister Singh.” Travis whispered loudly and tapped quietly against the shutters.
We waited for what seemed like an eternity, each of us nervously looking up and down the road, checking for signs of movement.
“We’re closed.” A voice came from inside the shop.
“It’s me, Travis, Mister Singh.” Travis explained, as though that should grant him instant access.
“Travis?” Another voice asked. A girl’s voice. Gemma’s voice.
The door opened behind the shutter and Gemma stood there. Finally, I had found my little girl.
“Oh my God!” She shrieked with joy. “Dad!” She looked over at Jim. “Jim!”
“That’s Mister Croft, to you.” Jim smiled.
“Can we come in?” I asked, barely able to contain my relief and happiness.
“Oh, yeah, yeah.” She looked at Mister Singh who stood quietly behind her. “Can they?” She asked with a pleading smile.
Mister Singh unbolted the door shutter and lifted it up, the loud squeal of metal made us all visibly flinch and look behind us. It seemed safe enough though.
Once we had all filed into the shop he closed the shutter behind us and then closed and locked the door.
Gemma threw herself into my arms and hugged me as though her life depended on it.
“I tried calling.” I told her.
“My battery ran out.” She explained. “phone’s on charge in the kitchen.”
She then released me from the hug and looked around.
“Where’s mum?” She asked.
Today was full of questions that I didn’t want to answer.
Jim and Travis helped me explain to her what had happened. She was upset, but seemed glad that we had kept Holly close rather than just abandoning her.
Mister Singh and his wife brought us some blankets and pillows when it started to get dark outside.
“You can sleep on the shop floor.” Mister Singh told us. “But don’t help yourself to stock.” He motioned towards the shop aisles.
“Of course not.” I assured him. “Thank-you.”
“You need to leave in the morning.” He said, passing Gemma’s phone to her.
“Cheers, Mister S.” Gemma said, visibly happy to get her phone back.
“Leave? Why?” Jim asked angrily.
“Because we don’t want you all here.” Mister Singh said matter-of-factly before walking into the house part of his shop. He closed and locked the door behind him. The shop lights turned off and we were illuminated by the street light just outside the shop.
“Well he’s full of social fucking pleasantries, isn’t he?” Jim commented. I could have made a joke about peas in a pod, but thought better of it.
“At least he’s letting us stay the night.” I said, hoping that Jim wouldn’t get too wound up about our host.
He grumbled in response and took a blanket.
We all decided to lay in the biscuits and cereals aisle.
Gemma and Travis snuggled up under a blanket and whispered into each others’ ears. Dodge sat up, cuddling Barney.
“Looks like you made a friend.” I said.
“Yeah.” Dodge smiled. “What’s his name?”
“Barney.” I told him. “We found him on our way to your flats.”
“Nice.” Dodge said, nodding with approval.
“Gemma, where’s Becky?” Dexy asked.
“Why, do you fancy her?” Gemma laughed.
“Shut up.” Was his not-so-witty reply. I had expected better banter from him, but he had just watched all his friends get killed by flesh eating monsters so it was understandable that he wasn’t really on top form.
“She wasn’t feeling too good so went up to bed.” Gemma then looked over at me. “Dad?” She said softly.
“Yes?” I asked.
“You should check this out.” She passed me her phone. A video was loaded up on the screen. I jabbed my finger at the touch screen.
It was Jo, the newsreader.
“This is Jo Pearce for the BBC.” She was sat in a brown leather armchair situated in a bare, white room. “I have with me Mister Timothy Mills, who is the…”
The camera panned out to reveal a well dressed, grey haired man sitting across from Jo in a matching armchair.
“I’m the spokesman for the National health service.” He offered.
“Right.” Jo smiled. “Well I’m sure that our viewers have got lots of questions, but the main one has got to be,” She looked across to Timothy and her smile dropped a shade. “What is going on out there?”
“We really don’t know.” Timothy said. “All we know is that this disease has spread faster than anything we have ever dealt with.”
“Disease?” Jo repeated. “Can you tell us how it’s caught?”
“We think that it’s passed on by an infected bite, but we’re not really certain.” He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “It does seem to be highly contagious, though.”
“We have heard rumours that this disease is also bringing the dead back to life.” Jo leaned forward, looking like a jackal that had sensed it’s prey was weakened. “Is there any truth to that?”
“We don’t think that this is true. But again,” A nervous wipe of the brow. “We don’t know.”
By now, everyone had crowded around me, all of us watching the interview unfold on the small screen.
Jo seemed very unsatisfied with the answers that Timothy was giving her and did little to hide her disappointment.
“Perhaps you can just tell us what you do know?” She asked, her tone full of caustic bite.
“Well,” Timothy straightened his tie. I felt sorry for him. “We advise that everyone avoids contact with the infected at all costs. If you are attacked, the army have told us that the only way to defend against an infected person is to destroy the brain.”
Jo’s eyes widened with shock.
“The brain.” Timothy repeated.
“You want us to smash in the brains of our loved ones?”
“Fuck.” Dexy murmured.
“No, no!” Timothy held his hands up, palms facing Jo. “We want you to avoid any contact until we know exactly what is causing the infection.”
“Failing that, take a shovel to their heads?” Jo asked.
“Look,” Timothy was now visibly angry. “The infected are like wild animals. They attack with the intention of eating their victims. Do not treat them as people, family or anything other than a threat to your general well being. We don’t know if they’re alive, dead or somewhere in between.” He wagged his index finger in Jo’s direction. “We do know that they seem to have the most basic of motor skills and instincts.” He was now clearly agitated by the whole situation. “They hunt alone and in packs and are extremely dangerous.”
“Yes but…” Jo tried to interrupt, no doubt with more sarcastic bait.
“There is no but, Jo.” Timothy lowered his tone. “The armed forces are fighting them in all of the main cities and the armed forces are losing, Jo. Do you understand that?”
Before Jo had a chance to answer, Timothy was pulling the microphone set up out of his suit jacket and storming across the studio.
“Stupid bitch.” Was the last thing he said before the feed went dead.
“Well then.” Jim said. “Let’s go see a man about some guns in the morning.”
“Fucking right, Bruv.” Dexy agreed. He grabbed a pack of bourbon creams from the shelf behind him, opened it and munched on the biscuits.
“Not family.” I spoke in a barely audible tone.
“What, Dad?” Gemma asked.
“He said they’re not family any more.” I spoke a little louder. Jim put his massive hand on my shoulder.
“Yeah but they don’t know anything for sure.” Gemma tried to sound hopeful.
I shook my head.
“They’re not even people.”