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.
“They were wrong.” I said softly.
Jim looked over at me as we slowly made our way up to the building.
“Who were?” He asked. “What are you going on about?”
I pointed towards the bodies that clogged up the double doorway. It looked as though a wave of people had crashed into the doorway, crushing each other in the panic. Rather than a route of escape, the exit had become a literal death trap.
“The news, they said that the dead were coming back to life.”
“So?” Jim grunted, a sliver of light bounced from his blade as he turned the hilt in his hand.
“Don’t you see?” I knew that Jim wasn’t an idiot, but I was very close to calling him one.
“All I see, William, is a bloody great block of flats that we have to move through six, possibly seven floors of to find a flat that your daughter may or may not be in.” He paused and pointed on the ground. “Now how about you pick that up and stop talking bollocks?”
I looked down to where he was pointing and dutifully picked up the crowbar that was laying on the grass. I hefted it in my right hand, getting my arm used to the weight. One end of the crowbar was covered in congealed blood. I had no idea how a crowbar came to be lying right there but I was glad it did, the weight of it made me feel a little more secure of our situation.
“If anything comes at us, you smack it right on the head with that thing.” Jim took a step closer to me and jabbed me in the chest with his middle finger. “Got it?”
Inside I was screaming and smashing the crowbar down on Jim’s head. Outwardly I meekly answered, “Got it.”
“Good.” Jim looked at the doorway again. “We’re not getting in through there.”
No shit, Jim. No shit.
He stood there deep in thought for a few moments and then he looked at me and nodded his head.
“I’ve got an idea.” He said, looking very proud of himself.
I followed him around the side of the building and up to the window of a ground floor flat. He cupped his hands over his eyes and peered into the flat, trying to see any movement past the net curtains.
“Looks clear.” He finally decided. “Smash it with that crowbar.”
“What about the noise?” I asked. It was a fair question. The last thing we wanted was to announce our presence. “Won’t it…”
“Do you have any other ideas?” Jim interrupted.
“No.” I said with my trademark stare at the floor.
“Then stop wasting time and…” Before Jim could complete his sentence, I swung the crowbar a little harder than was really necessary and we both cringed at the sound of breaking glass erupting into the late afternoon.
Jim used the hilt of his knife to clear the glass that hadn’t exploded into the ground floor flat and then he lifted himself up on the windowsill, pulled the net curtain down and jumped into the room, glass crunching angrily beneath his black boots.
I waited outside. I didn’t want to go in there. My stomach churned and begged me not to go any further. My mouth filled with saliva and before I knew it, I was coughing and vomiting against the wall.
Jim poked his head through the freshly made opening and chuckled at the sight of me.
“Come on, you big girls blouse.” He said. “Let’s get your daughter.”
I nodded my head and waited until I had finished painting the wall with the contents of my stomach. When I was done, I clumsily made my way into the flat. I was about to speak but Jim gave me an urgent look and placed his index finger across his lips. We could see the front door from the sitting room that we had broken our way into. We could also hear a scraping noise coming from the other side followed by a mechanical whirr and then a click. As soon as the noise finished, it restarted.
“What is that?” I asked in a whisper.
Jim just shrugged his massive shoulders and moved slowly toward the front door. When he reached the door he crouched down and opened the letterbox, carefully surveying the situation in the building hallway. Seemingly satisfied with what he had seen, he stood back up and slowly opened the door, knife at the ready for any eventuality. I moved closer to him, holding the crowbar over my head with the intention of bringing it down onto whatever was making that noise.
Jim took a quick look one way and then the other before pulling the door open fully and stepping into the hallway.
“Looks clear.” He said in a hushed tone.
I followed him out and quickly spotted where the noise came from. At the end of the hallway, the elevator door was stuck on three, possibly four bodies. It was difficult to tell how many, they were so mutilated. Each time the elevator tried to close its door, the bodies forced it to open up again and repeat the cycle. I lowered the crowbar and closed my eyes in an attempt to block out the visions of horror that now filled our world. It was no use though, the images looked a hundred times worse in my imagination.
“For fucks sake. looks like we’re taking the stairs.” Jim huffed.
We walked past the elevator and made our way up the stairs beside it. Another body lay in awkward angles at the top of the first flight. It was a woman, her long blonde hair matted with black, dried blood and her face smashed to a pulp. The acrid stench of death seemed to permeate every brick of this building and sent it’s odorous tendrils forth to assault my nose. I reached into my jeans and pulled out my white linen handkerchief, placing it across my nose and mouth. Jim looked back at me and shook his head.
“Just wait a week, William.” He said with a knowing smirk. “Then you’ll know what a real stink is.”
Not wanting to look any weaker than he already knew me to be, I put the handkerchief back into my pocket. We reached a thick wooden door with a white sign that had a red number one painted onto it.
“Should we go check for other people?” I asked.
“Fuck that.” Jim answered as I had expected him to, blunt and selfish. “Keep going.”
So we kept going. We kept going up until we reached door number four. The high pitched scream that came from somewhere behind that door made us both stop dead in our tracks. Jim stood with his left shoulder against the door and his fingers wrapped around the handle. The slapping of bare feet against linoleum floor got closer and closer.
“Help me.” A woman’s voice pleaded between heavy breaths. “Someone, please…”
Then we heard the growling. Whoever she was, she had some infected in hot pursuit. The door suddenly jerked open as the woman threw herself at it. Her desperate gaze met mine briefly before Jim pushed back, putting his full weight behind that door and stopping any chance of her escaping.
“No!” She yelled, pushing even harder at the door now, knowing someone was there, knowing that help was there.
“Jim?” I stepped toward him and pulled at his arm. “Jim? Let her out.”
He used his brutish strength to push me away. I landed heavily on my backside, dropped the crowbar and one of the steps leading up to the next floor jammed into the small of my back while the crowbar clanged noisily down the stairs that we had just climbed.
“Back the fuck off.” Was all he said.
We both heard the infected behind the door as I slowly stood up, heard them tearing that poor woman apart, the woman that Jim had just murdered.
“Go get that.” He motioned his head towards the crowbar. “Now!”
I did as I was told, nursing the sharp pain in the small of my back with my left hand as I went. By the time I reached Jim, with my crowbar in hand, the screams had stopped and all we could hear now was the sick slurping and chomping of the infected as they (presumably) ate their prize.
Jim pointed up the stairs and I went slowly and quietly. I wanted to shout at him, wanted to confront the atrocity that I had just witnessed him commit but I knew that if I said one word, then those things would be on us just like they had been on her. Jim carefully released his grip on the door handle and stepped back, both of us held our breath, waiting to see if the infected would burst in on us and attack. The door rocked back and forth as they moved behind it but they didn’t come through, they were seemingly content with their fresh kill.
Jim and I quickly but silently reached door number five. I stopped for a quick breather. It’s not that I’m out of shape, diary, but I’m not exactly in peak condition and I do have a bit of a belly. Holly calls it my “marriage belt”.
Inky black spots danced across my vision before I realised that Jim had his thick fingers wrapped around my throat and my back against the wall. His face was red with rage and he leaned in until I could feel his breath in my ear.
“If you ever defy or question me again,” He viciously spat the words out.
“I will open you up from here,” He placed the tip of his knife against my crotch and moved it slowly up to my throat. “To here.”
He pulled his head back and glared at me furiously.
I nodded my head and as much as I wanted to say yes, his fingers restricted all but a pathetic choking noise from being emitted.
“Good.” He said, satisfied that I really did ‘get it’. He waited a few moments before finally releasing his grip and once I was free, I fell to my knees and choked thick gasps of air into my lungs.
“If I had let her out, Billy-boy,” He said, “We’d all be dead.”
I struggled to my feet and picked up the crowbar (again). Even though he made sense in a twisted sort of way, I wouldn’t have been able to do what he had done.
Is that why I stay with him? To let him be the one that makes these terrible choices? Can I live with that?
We walked up yet another flight of stairs and I tried to put all these questions out of my mind. All I needed to give a shit about right at that moment was finding Gemma, who was on the sixth or possibly seventh floor.
When we reached the sixth door Jim looked at me and grinned.
“Well then,” He said, pulling the door open. “Let’s see what’s behind door number six.”