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.
Jim smashed the crowbar into the forehead of the first one through the door, blood sprayed in an arc against the wall, contrasting against the bland magnolia paintwork. The body slumped to the floor, legs twitching along to the melody of death.
The rest of the infected rushed through, biting and scratching. Two, then three Hoodies were on the floor desperately fighting at the zombies that had launched themselves at them. Another infected had one of Dexy’s friends pinned against the wall, hungry teeth chewing into soft flesh.
Everyone was screaming, which made the infected more vicious, more excited. Everyone was screaming, that is, except for Jim. He looked like he was having fun, strolling through the madness and smashing heads with the crowbar. He was made for this. I could swear that I heard him humming a tune as he caved heads in.
While I was distracted by the ease with which Jim could kill, one of the infected pounced on me. I lost my footing and fell hard on the cold floor, the bloodthirsty creature was instantly on top of me. I pushed under its chin with all my strength, trying to stop those chomping, yellowed teeth from gaining purchase on any part of my body.
“No! Get off me!” Was all that I could shout.
I tried to shift my weight but the infected man was too heavy. It was a thickset man with a balding head and a big gut. It pushed down on me forcing my arm to buckle and biting teeth got closer and closer to my face. Thick globs of blood-speckled drool hung down from its fat jowls before finally falling free and spattering onto the floor beside my head. As imminent death growled and snapped at my face, I wondered if that saliva would infect me if it got into my system.
I had almost accepted death when the infected man stopped moving. His body was suddenly rigid and his already clouded eyes grew dimmer. His head lolled and then fell to a resting position onto my chest. Dexy was standing above me, his knife dripping with blood. He kicked the fat monster away from me and held his free hand down to help me up.
“Come on, Bruv,” He said. “Get up.”
I took the offered hand and Dexy pulled me to my feet. He was surprisingly strong for a tall, skinny youth.
The leader of the Hoodies had just saved my life.
“Thanks.” I said meekly.
“You was on your way out, Bruv.” He grinned. “Big time!”
I looked around. The infected were all laying in bloody heaps, as were Dexy’s friends. The only ones left standing were Jim, Dexy, Dodge and myself.
“Good to see you’re still here, Billy-boy.” Jim shouted from the other end of the hall, his clothes pebble dashed with blood. “Maybe one day you’ll write a book for grown ups about all this!”
Fuck you, Jim. I wanted to say.
“Maybe.” I said quietly.
Dexy surveyed the scene and shook his head mournfully while putting his arm around his brother’s shoulders. Dodge made the muffled snuffling sound of someone trying their hardest not to cry.
“Is he..?” I asked.
“He’ll be fine.” Dexy answered. “He’s known my boys since he was in nappies.”
“I’m sorry.” I knew how hollow my sympathy sounded as the words spilled from my mouth, but I really was sorry. Even though these teenagers had treated us badly, they didn’t deserve to die.
We all stood in silence with heads bowed for long moments in a makeshift memoriam for the dead.
“William.” Jim broke the silence. “We should go.”
I nodded and walked towards him. Dodge reached out and grabbed my hand, his tearful face looking up at me.
“Can we come?” He asked.
I looked at Jim and he silently mouthed the word “No.” while slowly shaking his head.
“We got nobody else, Bruv.” Dexy added.
“Of course you can.” I told them.
Dexy had saved my life and Dodge didn’t look any older than twelve. I wasn’t going to just leave them to fend for themselves. I also had to consider the old adage of safety in numbers.
Jim handed the crowbar to me and shook his head again.
“More stray fucking dogs, William?” He said in a low, disapproving tone.
“They’re just kids, Jim.” I walked past the splintered and blood soaked door.
“As you say, William. As you say.”
We all climbed the stairs to the seventh floor in complete silence. Dexy and Dodge a few steps behind Jim and myself. Dodge dragged his mallet behind him.
When we reached the door, Jim swung it open, gun at the ready. Thankfully, this hallway was empty.
“What number is it?” I asked, looking back at Dexy.
“Halfway down,” He told me. “Number seventy-three.” He pronounced the word ‘three’ as ‘free’.
We all crowded around the door.
“Should I knock?” I asked.
“For fucks sake.” Jim smashed the flat of his huge hand against the door three times.
Bang. Bang. Bang. The door visibly shook against the blows.
“Hello?” A timid male voice spoke from the other side of the door. “Who’s there?”
“It’s Gemma’s dad.” I answered. “Is she in there with you?”
“Who?” The voice asked.
“It’s Gemma’s dad, you little pikey!” Jim yelled over me. “Let us in, right now!”
“She ain’t here, mate.” The voice told us.
“So let us come in and see for ourselves.” Jim demanded.
“She aint here, mate.” The voice insisted. “So how about you fuck off?”
Jim’s complexion went from normal to bright red and I could almost see steam coming from his ears like some cartoon character. I could have predicted his next coarse of action before he had even decided on it. He stepped back and lifted his right foot up, which he then slammed into the door, just below the handle.
Splinters of wood erupted into the still air of the hallway and the door burst inwards. We heard a loud yelp and then watched as Travis hobbled around from behind the door, holding his hand over a freshly bloodied nose.
“What the…” Before Travis could finish the sentence Jim had rushed up, wrapped his thick fingers around the young man’s throat and violently pushed him up against the wall.
“Now then, hard man.” Jim spoke between clenched teeth. “My friend here,” He inclined his head in my direction. “is looking for his daughter and we think you know where she might be.”
“That’s stone cold, Bruv.” Dexy whispered, clearly impressed by Jim’s antics.
Travis was tall like Dexy. He wore baggy black jeans, a grey sweatshirt and he had a dark red beanie on his head. He glanced over at me and then back to Jim.
“I haven’t seen her.” He pleaded as the blood from his nose dripped onto his sweatshirt. “I swear.”
“Just tell him, Trav.” Dexy advised. “He’s not messing, Bruv.”
“Honestly!” Travis insisted. “Last I saw her, she was going to the shop to see a friend.”
“What friend?” Jim hissed, tightening his grip around Travis’s throat.
“B..Becky…” Travis could barely get the words out and started gasping for air.
“He told you, Bruv.” Dexy said to Jim. “No point killing him.”
Jim let out a long, whistling sigh and released Travis from the grip of death. He then slammed the heel of his hand against the wall, just beside Travis’s head. Travis flinched at the resounding slap of skin against plaster.
“Fuck!” Jim exclaimed.
“Where’s the shop?” I asked in a calm voice, hoping to move the situation into a less confrontational place.
“Not far, it’s the one next to the park.” Travis said. “Becky’s Dad owns it.”
Travis looked at me apologetically, eyebrows raised.
“I’m sorry, Mister Daniels.” He really did seem to be, too. “She left just before all this started and hasn’t been answering her phone.”
“That’s okay, Travis.” I tried to comfort him, placing my hand on his shoulder. “We’ll find her.”
Jim kicked one of the scruffy armchairs that sat in the room, it fell unceremoniously onto its side.
“It’s not okay, William. It’s not!” A solitary tear ran down his cheek. “That’s your little girl! She could be any-fucking-where!”
“I know, but…” As usual, my words were cut off by Jim.
“But what? But we’ll find her?” He asked. “What if we find her and she’s dead? Then what?” I couldn’t work out if he was angry, upset or both. “You still going to comfort the little pikey here?” He snorted. “Tell him how it’s all going to be okay?”
He turned his back to us and faced the window, looking at the streets below. He was definitely crying.
“Losing a child is never going to be okay, William.” He wiped his eyes defiantly, as though by showing emotion, they had let him down in some way. He then looked back at me and added. “Never.”
“I can come show you the shop.” Travis offered, looking uncomfortable with Jim’s outburst. “I just need to grab a towel.”
He walked through to a small kitchen area and took a dirty looking green towel from the cluttered counter. Holding the towel over his bloody nose he walked past us and into the hallway.
“Come on then.” He said, beckoning us to follow. “Can’t stay here now my door’s kicked in, can we?”
We all trudged our way back down the stairs.
“Oh shit.” Was all Travis could utter as we walked past the carnage of level six.
As we walked down to level four, Travis rushed ahead of us and opened the door.
“My mate lives down here.” He explained, looking back at us.
He then poked his head into the hallway and yelled, “Oi! Danny!” at the top of his voice, followed by an even louder, “Dannnnyyyyyy!”
Dexy jumped down the remaining steps and pulled Travis away from the door.
“Are you fucking mental, Bruv?” He asked. It was a fair question.
“What?” Travis wondered with genuine surprise on his face.
“Noise, Bruv.” Dexy tried to explain.
“What he’s trying to say,” Jim added his wisdom to the moment. “Is shut the fuck up, you stupid little arsehole.”
Travis opened his mouth to speak but was cut short by the familiar growling that we had all come to fear. It was coming from above us and from behind the door that Travis had just shouted around.
“Leg it!” Dexy shouted and we all ran down the stairs.
I looked back when we got to the third floor and immediately wished that I hadn’t. The infected were already close, rushing down at us like wolves. Travis also looked back and stumbled, his hand reached out to steady himself but it was too late, he tumbled down the steps and came to a halt with a painful sounding thud against the second floor hallway door. We all ran past him, and
when I saw that he was struggling to stand up, I went back towards him.
“Come on!” I insisted, trying to help him up.
The infected rounded the stairway and headed down towards us, their momentum growing with the excitement of being so close to catching their prey.
“Go with him!” Dexy shouted at Dodge, pointing to Jim who was already halfway down the next set of stairs. “Now, Blood!”
I was relieved when Dexy ran back to help Travis and myself.
“My ankle’s knackered, mate.” Travis squealed as Dexy and I hoisted him to his feet.
“Move!” Dexy yelled and with him on one side of Travis, and me on the other, we rushed down the stairs, dragging my daughter’s boyfriend with us.
The infected were so close now that I almost felt their breath on the back of my neck.
“William.” Dexy said quietly.
I looked across at him.
“Sorry I called Gemma a skank, Bruv.” He said apologetically.
I nodded, unsure if this was really the time or place for such things, but still appreciative of the sentiment. The strangest things can happen when death is snapping at your heels.
We passed the first floor door and saw Jim and Dodge heading for the flat that we had broken into. Jim held the door open and waved his hand at us with urgency.
“Go.Go.Go!” He screamed at us.
We were go,go,going as fast as we could. Travis began to regain the use of his foot again, letting us all move a little faster. A hand reached out and tried to grab my shoulder but it couldn’t get a strong enough purchase and slipped away again. As we reached the final step I felt confident that we would make it.
The three of us raced past the pile of bodies at the main entrance and Jim stepped aside as we rushed past him, and into the flat. Just as Jim was closing the door, a hand pushed its way in. Jim slammed the door against the hand but it didn’t shrink away, it just stayed there, clawing at the air.
“One in!” Jim yelled and opened the door. He pulled the infected owner of the hand into the flat and then slammed the door shut before any more of them could get through. The infected was, or had been, a woman. She stood there quietly for a moment before her cloudy, lifeless stare locked on Dexy and she leapt onto him, snarling and biting.
Dexy screamed out as he and the infected woman fell onto the floor, he desperately tried to stop her from biting him.
Without thinking, I lurched forward and swung the crowbar like a golf club. It ripped into the infected woman’s head and the force of the blow made her roll off Dexy and onto her back. Dexy scrambled to his feet and Jim directed everyone toward the window that we had smashed to get inside the building.
As they climbed through the window, I looked down at the infected woman, her face all bloody, her mouth still champing at the air and although I wanted to pity her, I hated her.
I hated them all. I hated that my sweet, brave Holly was one of them. I hated this cruel new World.
I lifted the crowbar above my head with both hands and brought it crashing down into her face. Her eyes bulged out with the blow and her left cheek was ripped away, her teeth now clearly visible in a macabre grin. I lifted the crowbar again, and again, and again, and screamed my anguish as her face spattered across the floor and walls.
I ignored the rest of the infected on the other side of the door, ignored the fact that they would soon be inside. I felt powerful. Elation coursed through my veins with each crushing blow that I landed until I was no longer screaming, I was laughing.
A hand touched my shoulder and I spun around, ready to smash the crowbar into the next assailant.
It was Jim.
“She’s done, William.” He said, patting me on the shoulder. “She’s done.”
I dropped the crowbar onto the floor beside the infected woman and wiped my bloody hand across my brow. Tears streamed down my face but for the first time since this had all started I wasn’t full of fear. I was scared, but I wasn’t consumed by it, it wasn’t my master.
The door flew open with a crash and the infected rushed at us.
“Shit.” Jim ran for the smashed window and jumped through it as though diving into a pool. I followed suit and landed softly on the grass outside. We both got to our feet and headed for the road. Dexy, Dodge and Travis stood waiting for us.
“SUV.” I said breathlessly, pointing toward the Ford.
The infected spilled through the window and gave chase as we all ran for the Explorer.
“Back seat, you three!” Jim yelled at our new companions.
Dodge dropped his mallet and turned back for it but Dexy grabbed his arm, yelling, “Leave it!”
We all got into the SUV and slammed the doors shut, I clicked the lock button on the car-key and breathed easier on hearing the ‘clunk’ of locking doors.
The infected had surrounded the vehicle by the time I’d started the ignition, all of them banging against the bodywork and windows, trying to work out how to get at us.
“Floor it!” Jim boomed.
I floored it, watching the infected get further and further away in the rear view mirror.
Barney jumped into Dodge’s lap and licked his face.
Holly growled and shuffled.
The three boys in the back seat looked behind at the same time. Then they looked at each other before finally looking at me.
“William?” Dexy said in a confused tone.
“Yes?” I asked, dreading the question.
“Who the fuck is that, Bruv?”