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.
Everyone that came to help were soon busy. Dodge, Kate and Travis were checking all the vehicles in the car park for anything useful. A large group consisting of the teenagers and some adults were dragging bed frames out of the hospital and fixing them together with wire, bolts, screws or anything else that they could find. Jim told us that the bed frames were to sit in front of the entrance windows with the legs facing outwards.
“You three,” Jim motioned a hand towards Gemma, Dexy and myself. “Come with me.” He grabbed a variety of tools and handed them to us. I got some wire cutters and a claw hammer, Dexy was given a flat head screwdriver and Gemma now wielded a massive spanner.
We all walked around the corner, Gemma and Dexy kept themselves slightly behind me and Jim. I put the claw hammer in my back pocket. The black trousers that I now wore were a little tight around the waist but they were the best fit I could find. It was nice not to stink like a hot tin house stacked with rotting meat that had been soaked in sweat.
Dexy had found a light grey hoodie and dark jeans from the donated clothes to change into. His injured arm was still in a sling. “I can’t do no heavy lifting, Bruv.” He winced for effect as he touched the area of the wound.
“You won’t have to, Dexy.” Jim looked back at Dexy and smiled. “We’re going to take a walk around the grounds and make sure the fences are secure.”
“What if they’re not?” Dexy asked.
“Then we ask Gavin if he’s got any materials to plug any gaps.”
“Someone else will be doing the plugging though, yeah?”
“Yes, Dexy.” Jim shook his head and sighed. “Someone else will do it.”
“Safe, Bruv.” Dexy nodded enthusiastically. “I aint scared of working, but my arm got proper boyed by that fed.”
“Sure.” Gemma playfully punched Dexy in the back and smiled.
Dexy stepped away from her and laughed. “What?” He asked, feigning shock. “It’s true!”
Gemma hadn’t been happy with the charity clothes. She was used to wearing trendy fashion, not second hand clothes. After much deliberation she dressed in a pair of light denim skinny jeans and a plain white tee-shirt over which she wore a thin green cardigan. Her blonde hair wasn’t in it’s usual beehive style but was tied back in a simple pony-tail. “Whatever.” She punched him again and giggled.
“Ow!” Dexy used his good arm to put Gemma in a headlock. “Say sorry!”
She struggled free and both of them were now laughing hysterically.
“Children!” Jim whirled round and glared at Dexy and Gemma. “This isn’t a fucking school trip. Our lives are on the line here and you need to grow the fuck up.”
“We was just messing, Jim.” Dexy said.
“Well don’t.” Jim turned and carried on walking.
I glanced over my shoulder to see Gemma pulling a face and wagging a finger behind Jim’s back. Dexy was fighting the urge to laugh.
Jim might have had a point, but it was good to hear laughter, especially after the atrocities that Doctor Webb had shown me. I had decided not to tell anyone about that. We had enough on our plates, and I didn’t want to complicate matters by showing them a sight that could have come straight from World War Two. That wouldn’t have helped anyone. It was better to just to keep it secret.
I stared at the wire cutters in my hand and stopped walking. Everyone had walked a few paces past me before noticing. Jim was the first to turn and face me. “William?”
I looked up at him. “I know what we can use to secure any gaps.” So much for keeping secrets.
“Christ all-fucking-mighty.” Jim placed his huge hands on top of his bald head and let them slide down his face. “The army did this?” He pointed at the mountain of corpses and gave me a questioning look.
“That’s what Doctor Webb told me.” I covered my nose and mouth with the sleeve of my shirt. The heat of the sun baked into the rot and surrounded us with an unbearable stench. We once had a dead rat under our floorboards and as it decomposed the whole downstairs of the house was full of that pungent stink. It got so bad that we had to stay with Holly’s parents while we called for an exterminator to remove the rat. I’ll never forget that horrible smell, but it was like minty fresh mouthwash compared to the evil that attacked my senses now. “Not all of them were infected.” I added.
“Nobody leaves the city alive.” Jim looked up at the clear blue sky. “Nobody tells tales.”
Gemma leaned with her back against the wall and stared down at the blood soaked grass. Dexy used his good arm to shield his eyes from the Sun while he soaked in the scene of horror. “That’s fucked right up.” He said quietly.
“The razor wire.” I didn’t want to be here for any longer than necessary.
“What?” Jim looked confused.
“We can use the razor wire.” I said.
“Right.” Jim shook his head like a dog that had just been thrown in a bath. “Good call, William. Good call. We’ll check the fence first and then get this cut to size.”
Nobody wanted to do this job and nobody wanted to tell someone else to do it. “I’ll cut it.”
“Really?” Jim raised his eyebrows and for a moment I thought I saw admiration in his gaze.
“Someone has to.” I said. “Might as well be me.”
“Thank-you.” Jim turned his back on the death and walked towards the fence. “This perimeter won’t check itself, let’s go.”
We walked in silence, each of us reflecting on the hell that had exploded around us in little more than a week. A lot had happened and I couldn’t shake the feeling that things were going to get much worse before they got better. We were survivors, even me, as unlikely as that sounds. Whatever happened, I was confident that we would get through it, I just wasn’t sure what the cost would be. My stomach kept tying itself into knots and the dark cloud of dread hung over me. Something bad was coming.
The fence that we had checked so far seemed secure, no rails were missing or bent.
“Let’s hope it’s like this all the way around.” I tried to dismiss my feelings of dark portent and distract myself with the task at hand.
“As you say, William.” Jim stopped and turned to face us. He looked worried.
“What’s wrong, Bruv?” Dexy asked.
“Things might get fucking messy in there. They’ve already divided.” He pointed at the hospital. “I want to know that whatever happens, we’ll stick together.”
“Why wouldn’t we?” Gemma squinted the sunlight from her eyes.
“Yeah.” Dexy said. “You and William are safe as fuck. That’s truth, Bruv.”
“William?” Jim looked at me expectantly. It felt good to know that even he was haunted by thoughts of an approaching storm, but had no idea how or where it would start.
“I’ve been with you from day one, Jim.” I looked him right in the eyes. It was what he needed to hear and things had changed since the first days when I toyed with the idea of ditching him, every call he’d made so far had kept us alive.
Jim nodded and half smiled. “Good.” He turned his attention to Gemma. “Your boyfriend, what’s going on there?”
“We’re done.” Gemma’s answer came swift and cold. “He’s not who I thought he was.”
“Are you okay?” I moved closer and put my hand on her arm.
She looked up at me, swept an errant strand of hair from her eyes and smiled. “I’m fine, Dad.”
“He said he’s going to clean up.” I glanced across at Jim who was slowly shaking his head. “I think he will.”
“I fucking don’t.” Jim said. “Time will tell. We need to watch him, I don’t want him causing us problems.” We all agreed to that.
Dexy looked back nervously. “We going to have this chat with Mason and Kate?”
“No.” Sunlight danced across a sheen of sweat that had formed on Jim’s forehead. “Just keep it between us.”
“And Dodge.” Dexy added.
“And Dodge.” Jim agreed. “But make sure he keeps it to himself.”
Dexy raised his eyebrows and grinned. “‘Course, Bruv. He’s won’t say nothing.”
“Kate’s alright though.” Gemma tugged at the hem of her cardigan, her fingernails pulling a loose strand. “I like her.”
“We talk to her, she talks to Mason and fuck knows who he talks to.” Jim used the sleeve of his charity burgundy shirt to wipe the sweat from his forehead. “Let’s keep it small. We stay together and if people want to join us, they can, but our priority is each other.” He stroked his moustache and eyed each of us in turn. “Okay?”
“Yeah, Bruv, no worries.”
Our inner sanctum was born; our secret survivors club. I had assumed that Jim thought very little of me, it’s not like he ever tried to hide it; but this told me that he must, on some level, respect me.
Jim stretched his arms out and turned his face toward the heat of the sun. “What a beautiful fucking day. I should be sitting in my garden right now drinking a cold beer, not pissing around in here with fences and piles of dead fucking bodies.”
“I hear that, Bruv.” Dexy said in a solemn tone.
“You haven’t got a garden, Dexy.” Gemma cupped her hand over her eyes to shield them from the sunlight and smiled.
“When this is all over, I’ll be kicking it with Jim in his garden.” We hadn’t even thought about this being all over, it felt too optimistic and talking about it would have just been tempting fate to step in and take a huge shit all over our hope.
“Something to look forward to, Jim.” Gemma had worked the stray thread in her cardigan loose and was now winding it around her index finger.
“You’ll all be welcome at my house.” Jim said gruffly before turning around and getting back to fence checking.
We trudged our way around the grounds and were surprised that we hadn’t found one single fault with the fence. Maybe I wouldn’t have to cut that razor wire after all.
“Looks good.” Jim stopped at the gate that we drove through the day before, it had been closed and locked by Gavin and Mason. “We’ll use the razor wire on these exits, put it in front of the other, what was it? Four gates?”
“This one makes five.” My shoulders sank, turns out that I would be cutting wire.
“Leave this one clear in case we need to get out of here fast.” Jim said. “When we’re finished with this, we should go out and get some supplies.”
“I think the hospital is okay for food.” I wasn’t really sure about that, but I really didn’t want to go back out there.
“Those aren’t the kind of supplies that I mean, William.” Jim looked at Dexy and motioned across to all the vehicles in the car park. “Can you find us a decent vehicle? One that won’t let us down.”
Before Dexy could reply, I went and opened my big mouth. “I saw a mini bus from Dexy’s room window. It looked in good shape.”
Jim nodded his head appreciatively. “Sounds good. I bet someone in there has the keys.”
“I’m on it, Bruv.” Dexy headed back to the hospital. “You coming?” He asked, looking over his shoulder at Gemma. She caught up with him and they walked back together.
“Loves young dream.” Jim placed his hand on my shoulder as we watched Dexy and Gemma smiling and laughing together as they went. “She soon got over the pikey, eh?”
“You don’t think…” I quickly dismissed what he was implying. “No, they’re just friendly, that’s all.”
“As you say, William. Just friendly.”
We both whirled around as a shout blasted through the sunny day. “Help!” Don and two other men were running towards us. “Jim! Help!” They cleared the car park and when they had reached us the three of them leaned forward and gasped for air.
“Well?” Jim asked. “What happened?”
“The… monsters…” Don sputtered out his words between huge gulps of air, his face was red and drenched in sweat. “At… gate…”
One of the other men continued for him. “They attacked the gate.” He pointed to the right side of the hospital so that we knew which gate he meant. “We can’t close it properly.”
“Are they still attacking?” Jim was already speed walking in the direction that the man had pointed out.
“Yes.” The man replied.
“Come on, William!” Jim pulled his knife from the belt of his dark trousers and sprinted across the car park. I held the claw hammer in my right hand, wire cutters in my left and ran after him. Towards the danger.
There were about a dozen infected on the other side of the gate. A small crowd of people stood around in a semi circle that Jim and I pushed our way through. Gavin had his back firm against the gate but he was slowly slipping as the infected tried to force their way in. Mason grabbed one of them by the arm, pulled it forward and slammed the length of the screwdriver into it’s right eye. A huge gout of blood sprayed into the air which sent the rest of the infected into a frenzy, they pushed and snarled and one of them wrapped it’s long fingers around Gavin’s forearm.
“Get off!” He cried out in desperation but Mason was struggling to release his screwdriver from the skull of the now dead infected that slowly slid it’s way to the ground.
Jim ran towards them but he was too late. The infected that held Gavin’s arm pulled it through the railings and ripped into it with yellow teeth. Gavin screamed and pulled his arm free; he staggered away from the gate, blood flowing down his arm and spattering down onto the tarmac. I heard Mason cursing when he realised that Gavin wasn’t holding them back anymore and then they flooded in.
The people that had formed around the scene quickly scattered. I heard Kate’s voice in the distance but didn’t look around. The infected that had bitten Gavin now threw itself at him and the two of them fell to the ground with a loud slap. Gavin struggled to get free but the monster’s teeth were already tearing into his throat and it’s hands scratched viciously at his sides until they were drenched in blood.
Mason pulled his screwdriver free and an infected grabbed his arm. Just before teeth sank into flesh, Jim yanked Mason back so hard that the Detective Inspector struggled to keep his balance and balled past me before landing face first on the road. Jim hacked and slashed at the infected, blood sprayed high into the air and came back down like a rainstorm of red wine. Bodies fell with the keening cries of death on their lips as Jim whipped through them like a dagger wielding Looney Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil.
One of the infected was getting ready to dive at Jim. Without thinking, I raced towards it with the claw hammer held high. As I got closer it turned it’s attention to me, those evil white eyes staring right at me and a guttural, animal growl rattling around it’s throat. The face of the monster was speckled with blood and grime, it’s gnarled and broken teeth snapped at the air in front of me. Fear had been replaced by rage and a desire to impress Jim. I brought the claw of the hammer down onto the head of that infected with so much force that its skull imploded and it’s left eye burst from it’s socket. The dislocated eye bounced up and down the face of the infected, the optic nerve acting like a macabre yo-yo string. The hammer had made such a massive hole that it didn’t even get stuck.
“Gate keys!” Kate yelled as she pushed me out of the way and stood beside Jim, screwdriver in hand.
“Come to learn about fighting, sweetheart?” Jim rammed the blade of his knife into the throat of an infected and grinned at Kate when the spurt of blood showered across her face.
She turned and kicked one of the monsters in the chest while thrusting the screwdriver up under the chin of another. “Oh piss off, old man.”
I scrambled over to Gavin. The infected was still attacking him, even though he was long dead. I got to my feet and hefted the hammer, a rush of power coursed through me and I smashed the weapon into the side of the monster’s head. It stopped attacking Gavin’s dead body, looked up at me and shook it’s head as though trying to dislodge something that had just crawled into it’s ear. I gritted my teeth and brought the hammer down again, smashing into it’s face this time, completely obliterating the nose. It tried to stand but stumbled and fell at my feet, arms reaching out to grab me. I lifted up my leg and slammed my foot down onto it’s head.
Just like I did with Holly.
Bone gave way to my heel and dark crimson pooled around it’s head. The body shuddered and the monster died.
Gavin was still gripping the keys tightly in his hand. I dropped to my knees and set about freeing the bunch of keys, pulling at each dead finger until it released it’s hold.
“That’s all of them.” I heard Kate say. “Where are those keys, William?”
“Right…” I loosened the last finger and tugged the keys free. “…Here.” I held them above my hand like a young Arthur that had just taken Excalibur from the stone.
Jim walked over and snatched them out of my hands. “Good work.” He glanced down at the body by my feet.
Once the gate was closed and locked, the people that had run away now came back to see the aftermath. Others came out of the hospital like sick voyeurs trying to get a look at the carnage of a car crash. I sat on the tarmac and waved at them. “Thanks for the help.”
“Look.” Jim said, pointing past the gate. “You see him?”
Kate peered in that direction and nodded her head. “Yeah, I see him.”
I looked back to see what they were talking about and standing at the end of the road was the Hoodie infected. I couldn’t see his face but I knew it was him. “That’s the one from the park.” I told them.
He stood there motionless, watching us. Leader of the plague rats. The virus king.
“Come on then!” Jim yelled, huge hands rattling the gate. “Let’s fucking have it!”
The Hoodie infected turned and walked away, disappearing around a corner.
“He’s testing us.” Kate said. “Seeing what we can do.”
Jim laughed and faced us, his face and clothes slick with blood and slops of flesh. “Oh, he hasn’t seen fuck all yet.” He turned back to the gate. “You hear me?” He pushed his face through the railings. “You haven’t seen fuck all!” Spittle sprayed out of his mouth like venom from a snake.
“How did they find us?” Mason limped towards the gate.
“Maybe…” I was about to speak up and tell them that one of the infected had followed us at least part of the way here, but Jim shot me a glance that told me to shut my stupid mouth. So I did.
“Maybe what?” Mason eyed me curiously. Blood seeped into the cuff of his blue shirt and streamed down his hand until small droplets formed on his fingertips and dripped onto the tarmac.
“Maybe they’re fucking psychic, or saw the lights last night or what the fuck does it matter?” Jim walked back towards the hospital, pausing to stand in front of Mason. “What’s this?” He grabbed Mason’s wrist and pulled the shirt cuff up to reveal two deep, bloody gouges in the flesh. Jim looked back at me and then at Kate. “He’s been scratched.”
Kate ran over and pushed Jim out of the way, taking Mason’s wrist in her own hand and examining the wound. I got to my feet and moved closer to get a better look.
“How does it feel?” Kate touched one of the gouges with her index finger and blood pumped out.
“Shit!” Mason pulled his arm away from her and yelped with pain. “It hurts.”
“He’s going to turn!” Someone shouted from the crowd. I looked up to see that it was Sean, standing front and centre with a murderous glint in his eyes. “We’ve all seen it.” He motioned his arm towards the growing throng of people behind him.
Dexy, Gemma and Dodge shoved their way through and stood with us. Travis was conspicuously absent. Don pushed through and walked over to Gavin’s body. He dropped to his knees and sobbed. “I told you. I told you not to do anything risky.” He leaned down and kissed Gavin’s lifeless lips. “Now what will I do?” He was looking to me for answers that I didn’t have. “He was my everything!”
“He needs dealing with!” Sean’s voice raged on.
The people that had helped us to fortify the hospital moved away from Sean and his crowd. That still left him with two thirds of the hospital survivors on his side.
“How about I deal with you?” Mason held the long screwdriver in front of him with both hands. “I feel fine.” He looked at us and then back to the crowd. “I feel fine.”
“Sean’s right.” Someone else weighed in from the hospital mob. “Same thing happened to my wife, just a scratch and ten minutes later she tried to eat me.”
Jim looked at Kate and shrugged. “Your call, sweetheart.”
“What?” Mason pointed the screwdriver at Jim. “Why is it her call?” His voice grew louder with each word. “It’s MY fucking call!”
Jim swatted Mason’s arm, causing the screwdriver to fall to the ground. “What if they’re right?” Jim leaned down and whispered into Mason’s ear. “What if they’re right?”
“Look, just wait.” Mason held his arms up. “Just wait. Wait and see.” He walked towards Sean. “Please.”
“We can handle it.” Kate said. “We’re going to take him inside and watch him.”
Jim nodded his head slowly. “If he shows signs of catching the virus, we’ll deal with it.”
Mason slowly backed away from Sean. “I won’t.” He said insistently. “I won’t catch it.”
“We’ve got families here.” Sean pointed at the people behind him. “Children.” A murmur of agreement rippled through the mob.
“I said,” Jim stepped forward and pushed Mason behind him. “We’ll fucking deal with it.”
“We dealt with that.” Kate pointed at the bodies by the gate.
“I don’t think we’re going to win this one.” I said quietly. “I’m so sorry, Mason.”
Mason looked at me, his eyes wide with shock. Jim breathed in deeply and let out a long, exasperated sigh. I put my hand on Kate’s shoulder and gently pulled her back. Gemma walked over to Don and knelt beside him, putting her arm around his shoulders.
“We won’t let him back inside.” Sean pointed an accusing finger at Mason. “If you’re going to deal with it, deal with it now!”
I saw Doctor Webb standing a few metres behind everyone. He was staring at the ground, trying to act more neutral than Switzerland.
Jim grabbed the gun that was tucked into the back of his trousers. Sean took a few cautious steps back when he saw the weapon. “Now, look, we’re just trying to protect our families, here.”
Jim grabbed Mason’s good wrist and pulled him around so that he was facing us. “You don’t want to turn into one of those crazy fucks.” He shoved the gun into Mason’s hand and looked him in the eye. “Easy way.” He inclined his head in Sean’s direction. “Hard way.”
Kate lurched forward and wrapped her arms around Mason, hugging him for all she was worth. “I’m sorry.” She released him from the hug and stepped back, tears streaming down her cheeks.
Mason looked up at the sky and then at us. He smiled, thrust the barrel of the gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger before I could even blink. Kate cried out in anger while we all watched Mason’s body crumple to the ground. Jim knelt down and took the gun from Mason’s hand. He stormed toward the hospital, tucking the pistol into the back of his trousers. He stopped inches away from Sean and leaned forward until Sean could feel the breath from Jim’s nostrils.
“Pray I don’t have to deal with you any time soon.” He said through gritted teeth before continuing towards the hospital, Sean’s angry mob parting for him as he went.
The rest of us stood there and looked at Mason in shocked silence.
Dexy stood in front of me and whispered. “I found the minibus keys.”
“Where?” I asked.
“He’s got ’em, Bruv.” He thumbed over his shoulder. “Sean. It’s his minibus.”