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.
“That is definitely going to hurt in the morning, Sunshine.” King said.
Satisfied that I had been well and truly softened up, the psychotic sergeant stepped back to admire the extensive, bloody handiwork that he’d put into my face. He leaned down, peered into my eyes, pulled a sharp intake of breath into his lungs and slowly shook his head from side to side.
“Don’t think we’ll get much out of him now, Ma’am.” He shrugged his shoulders.
I was still aware, still able to see and understand my surroundings and the people around me. I must have looked much worse than I felt. I was still full of adrenaline and anger, slowing down the inevitable onset of pain.
“I can see that, Sergeant.” The Chief Inspector glared at her subordinate, white flashes of hot anger dancing in her cold, blue eyes. “I wanted you to scare him, not beat him to death.”
“Sorry, Ma’am.” King held out his hands, palms face up. “What shall we tell Mason and Palmer?”
“Just tell them whatever they want to hear.” She gave a dismissive wave of her hand. “Eventually they’ll accept this is the best for our families.”
The Chief Inspector’s shoulders sagged and she suddenly looked as though the weight of the World was bearing down on her. “God, I hope they’re working on a cure, Harry.”
“Of course they are, Miranda.” King said in a gentle, affirming voice. “Any day now, you’ll see.”
I coughed. I was trying to laugh, to mock them and their insanity.
Even if there was a cure, what if the victims of this world shattering virus could remember exactly what they had done while infected? What if Mothers remembered ripping out the throats of their children? Fathers recalling baying and snapping at their loved ones before killing them all with all the savagery of a wild animal? Children forced to live with the memories of killing their siblings or classmates in an uncontrollable fit of blood-rage? All the blood, the screams, the relentless pursuit of human flesh, it would haunt them forever. If there was a cure, nobody would be the same again. Only the worst of us could cope with those memories.
The Chief Inspector cast an angry look in my direction. I responded with a look of scorn and hatred but my face was so swollen that she probably missed it.
“Get him out of here.” She narrowed her eyes and pointed angrily toward the door.
King rolled his shirt sleeves back down and carefully buttoned the cuffs. Then he grabbed his jacket and slipped it on. As he leaned down and hoisted me to my feet I tried to spit in his face but only managed to drool a thick gob of blood down my chin.
“Come on then, Sunshine.” He said cheerfully. “Let’s get you back to your boyfriend.”
I groaned my disapproval as he put my left arm across his shoulders while steadying me with his hand firmly in my right armpit.
“I hear that once you go black, there’s no going back.” He looked at me, waiting for a reaction, when none came he chuckled at his humourless joke.
King then opened the door and walked me down the corridor back towards the detention cells. We turned a corner and Kate Palmer almost barreled right into us.
“Watch out, Kate.” King chided.
“Sorry, I was…” She looked at me. “Oh, God. What happened?”
“He walked into a wall.” King answered with a ‘wasn’t me’ expression stamped across his face.
Kate smiled at him. “Looks like the wall got up and went ten rounds with him.” She said.
“He’s a madman.” King spoke in a grave tone. “Went for The Chief.”
I shook my head and dribbled blood and spit through swollen lips while he lied through his teeth about me.
“Oh.” She seemed surprised. “He doesn’t seem the type.”
“After all my years on the Force,” He said gruffly. “I’ve learned that anyone is the type.”
I was slowly sinking towards the floor, my knees refusing to hold any of my weight.
King pulled me back on my feet. “Now help me get him back to his cell.”
Exhaustion and pain were winning the battle against adrenaline and anger; the latter now retreating back to their keep and leaving me with no defence against the sharp reminder and shock of how much my face was hurting. I remember the cell door opening, Dexy shouting angrily at Sergeant King and D.C. Palmer. I remember being thrown on the cold, unforgiving floor like an old toy, cast aside during the tantrum of a small child. I remember Dexy being pushed back by King, then the door slammed shut and locked. I remember Dexy on his knees, looking down at me.
“Shit, Bruv.” He shook his head, eyes full of melancholy. “They made a right fucking mess of you.”
My world started to spin faster and faster, when finally, the merciful blanket of unconsciousness threw itself across me.
I coughed and spluttered myself into the land of the living. I tenderly touched my face, trying to find out where the swelling ended and my features began. It was a hopeless pursuit. I stared up at the strip light in the ceiling until yellow spots danced in my vision. Dexy had lifted me on the bench while I was out cold and then taken off his hoodie and put it under my head, as a makeshift cushion. Quite thoughtful for the evil lowlife that Mental Miranda Price, Chief Inspector, had painted him as.
“William, Bruv.” He sat on the edge of the stone bench, staring down at me with worry written all over his face. “How you feeling?”
I sat up and groaned.
“Sore.” My lips were so thick and my jaw so bruised that I spoke with a speech impediment, ‘S’ now sounded like ‘Sh’.
“Yeah.” Dexy stifled a chuckle. “I bet. They gave you a proper beat-down.”
“You should see the other guy.” I tried to laugh, but it sounded more like the dying croak of a tortured frog. “How long was I out?”
“Not long, Bruv.” Dexy eyed me uneasily and put a hand on my shoulder.
“Why they done this?” He asked. “What’d they want?”
I sat with my back resting against the wall and spoke slowly to make certain that he understood every word.
I explained that Price and King had told me to say that Dexy had forced me to kill Holly; then they would have a good reason (in their twisted little heads) to feed him to their infected family members. He looked at me with a certain amount of respect when he heard how I refused and then took a beating and not giving in to their demands and walking away free. I recounted it all to him, especially how King had lied to Palmer, telling her that I’d attacked the Chief Inspector. In short, we were both well and truly in the…
“Shit.” Dexy rubbed his whiskered face and wearily shook his head. “Well, I’m not going down without a fight, Bruv.”
“They’ve got guns.” I reminded him.
“Fuck that, Bruv.” Dexy grabbed his hoodie and put it back on, pulling the hood over his head. “We’ll shove those guns right up their arses.”
I wasn’t sure that I would be any use in a fight, but I was willing to try.
“Okay.” I blanched at the pain shooting through me when I moved any of the muscles in my face. “We fight.”
“You got that right, Bruv.” Dexy flashed a broad grin and held his fist out towards me. “You and me, William. Fuck the feds.”
I bumped his offered fist with my own and smiled inwardly. For the first time since the outbreak had started, I felt a sense of camaraderie. I wondered if this is how soldiers felt before battle, not scared of death, but proud to stand beside their brothers in arms.
The sound of keys rattling in the main gate jarred me from my thoughts. Dexy motioned for me to stand at one side of the cell door while he stood at the other. The hatch opened.
“William.” Kate’s voice lilted into the cell. “We need to talk.”
“Need to talk?” Dexy showed himself first. “You seen what your boy done to him?”
“You know I have.” Kate said. “I helped bring him back, remember?”
“I remember you throwing him on the fucking floor.” Dexy’s nose wrinkled as though he had just been subjected to a bad smell. “And now you want to talk?”
“Yes.” She replied. “I have to play along with them.”
“It’s fine.” I stepped out of my ambush spot. “I understand.”
She recoiled at the sight of my newly re-arranged face.
“It’s not fine, Bruv.” Dexy pointed an accusatory finger in Kate’s direction. “She’s playing you, if she doesn’t want to do what they say then why is she still here?”
“It’s a fair question.” I admitted, eyeing her cautiously.
“I brought you painkillers.” Kate ignored the question and passed a small, clear medicine cup through the hatch. Inside the cup were four white pills.
“Codeine.” She told me. “It should help.”
I nodded my thanks and took the medicine cup from her.
“Did you attack her?” She asked, staring at me intently.
“Course he didn’t.” Dexy answered for me. “She wants him to say I made him kill his missus.”
“Why?” Kate looked over at me, eyebrows furrowed.
Dexy moved closer to the hatch.
“So you lot won’t feel too guilty, when I get fed to the family.” He waved an arm toward the other cells. Phlegm filled groans radiated down the hall. I wondered if the infected prisoners had listened to every word and grew excited about the prospect of eating my cell-mate.
Kate simply nodded her head. I could tell that this had been no revelation.
She glanced furtively up and down the corridor before passing a black leather handbag to Dexy. He snatched the bag from her hand, opened it up and stared inside. Dexy looked up at me with a big grin on his face and then looked back into the bag. He reached inside and pulled a gun out. His gun, the one that they’d taken from Jim a lifetime ago.
“Phil wants to come with us.” Kate said.
“Who the fuck is Phil?” Dexy aimed his gun at the far wall. He was clearly excited to have some of the odds back in our favour, but still distrusting of Kate’s help.
“D.I. Mason.” She winced while telling us the name.
Dexy dropped the gun to his side, eyes widened and jaw dropped.
“He’s a good man.” She hurriedly added before Dexy could protest.
“Good man?” Dexy spat the words out like bad food. “He’s a stitch-up merchant, a wrong ‘un, love.” He stuck the gun in the back of his jogging pants. “A fucking, bastard, dog, you get me?”
Kate gritted her teeth. “Well, that ‘fucking dog’ wants to save your fucking life,” She fired a look of fury at him. “and I’m not your ‘love’, you ungrateful little chav.”
Dexy ran up and kicked the door, causing our neighbours to grow more excited in their ululations.
“Call me a chav, you cheeky bitch?” He reached behind himself, fingers wrapping around the grip of the gun.
I quickly placed my hand on his shoulder. “Dexy, no.”
“They’re going to fuck us, Bruv.” He relaxed his hold on the gun and placed both hands on top of his head, fingers interlocked.
“Mason might be a bastard,” I said. Dexy backed away from me, shaking his head slowly, hands still locked together. “But that’s exactly what we need.”
“You’re chatting shit, Bruv.” He could barely even look at me.
“No. I’m not.” I moved closer to him. “We need the bastards, the Masons, the Jims.”
He narrowed his eyes and looked at me. I was getting through to him. “Jim?” He asked.
“You don’t think he’s a bastard?” I tried not to laugh, mainly because it would hurt.
“He’s our boy, Bruv.” Dexy lowered his hands and thrust them into the pockets of his hoodie. “He’s our bastard.”
“Mason wants to be our bastard, too.” I shrugged my shoulders. “I say, give him a chance.”
Dexy stared at the floor and the cell fell silent for what felt like an uncomfortable amount of time. He then looked over at Kate before settling his gaze on me and nodding his head with an accompanying shrug and sigh.
“Fine.” He said. “But I’ll be watching them.”
“I’m counting on it.” I really was. Dexy was the only one here that I could trust one hundred percent, but we had to accept help, even if it did come from an unlikely or unwanted source.
“One wrong move.” He raised his index finger to his head. “I will end them.”
“We get it, hard man.” Kate seemed unimpressed by Dexy’s threats.
“What’s going on, Kate?” The voice came from down the hall. It was King.
“Just admiring your work, Sarge.” She was totally convincing, didn’t miss a beat. I would have been a stuttering wreck, in her place.
“Nothing he didn’t deserve.” King said. “Mason’s looking for you.”
“Okay.” Kate looked down the hall at him and smiled. “Be there in a minute.”
King grunted and I heard him walking away.
Once she satisfied that King had gone, Kate turned her attention back to us.
“Oh and to answer your question,” She whispered. “I’m still here, because I haven’t got anywhere else to go.”
“You do now.” I said. “You and Mason.”
She smiled and closed the hatch.
“He’ll come to see you soon.” She walked back down the hall, keys rattling in the main gate as she closed and locked it.
“Can’t fucking wait.” Dexy sat on the bench and pouted.