09-18-09 – Heart of Darkness
They are coming.
They are coming and I don’t think we will ever get out. If you’re reading this call the police. Call them now; call the cops if there are any cops left to call. Tell them to come find me. I can’t promise we will be here tomorrow or the day after, or the day after that, but tell them to rescue us before it’s too late.
If they ask for a name, tell them my name is Allison Hewitt, and tell them that I’m trapped. Allison Hewitt and five other missing souls are holding out in the break room of the book shop at the corner of Langdon and Park. We are all in relatively good health. None of us are infected.
If they ask what exactly you mean by all that tell them this: On the evening of September the 15th, 2009 just before closing time, the Brooks & Peabody shop on Langdon and Park was attacked by the infected. I don’t know what else to call them but that seems like the right word somehow, I guess I’m not sure it’s a virus or disease, but I know it spreads and I know the kind of destruction it brings.
Our phones don’t work, not the land lines or the fax, and the cellphones began running out of batteries yesterday. No one thought to bring a charger to work or keep one in the break room. Phil, my manager, swears there’s a charger in the stock room around back but that’s all the way across the store from here and none of us are brave enough to try for it. I think eventually we’ll become desperate and have to go out into the store; the food in here won’t last forever and I never thought I’d be so sick of beef jerky. The only electricity we have comes from the emergency generators; Phil bought them last year when the flooding was getting bad and everyone was worried about losing power during the end of school sale. I don’t know where the wireless is coming from, it could be the little row of apartments that sit on top of the store; maybe someone is alive up there, maybe they’re trying to contact you too.
We’re living behind a solid, safe door. The lock is industrial grade. The safes are housed back here and the doors are very heavy and reinforced. It was the logical place to hide – no windows, a refrigerator with some food and most of all the very heavy reinforced doors. I can’t stress that enough, how much we rely on that door, how that one, metal door has come to symbolize, over only a matter of days, survival.
If there are no windows and only one door, you might ask, how do you know they are coming?
I know because of the security cameras. They must run on the emergency back up generators because they still work and the one and only monitor to view the feed is in the safe room. The safe room is just off of the larger area with the table and chairs and refrigerator. Sometimes when I can’t sleep I go sit in that room (it’s not locked any more, I don’t think money will mean much now and none of us has even tried to steal any of it) and watch the monitor. Thank you, Brooks & Peabody, for installing those cameras. Those cameras allow us see almost the whole store. The picture is black and white and not very clear, but I can see them and I watch them scrape around the store, winding through the bookcases, passing Mystery and Science Fiction, lumbering by the reading lights and bookmarks. They will not leave, not even after everyone in the store is gone or dead.
What are they looking for? What do they want?
Sometimes I see them disappear out of frame and I know they’re just outside the break room door, moaning at the barrier, thumping their heads and their rotten fists against the steel. It’s unfair, I begin to think, the others are trying to sleep. What do they want? Do they think we’ll answer the knocking and thudding? Do they even have the capacity to think or is it something else making them claw at the door?
One of the other grad students in my department has a greyhound. Joey’s his name. Joey was the nicest dog I think I’ve ever met. He was rescued from a racing track, from the kind of place dogs don’t ever want to be, a place where they’re abused and treated like objects. You can drive a Nascar around a track day and night and it won’t complain; greyhounds are the same way. They don’t complain, not ever, they just look at you with those big, bottomless eyes and beg you to be nice, to show a little mercy if it’s convenient. Joey didn’t seem like the kind of animal that could hurt an injured fly, but one day he bolted past me out the front door. I don’t think there was even a foot of space but he just zipped right outside and into the yard. He had mauled a rabbit before I could even get his name out twice. He was so fast, so efficient, so completely unlike the couch potato Joey I had come to know.
It wasn’t Joey that killed that rabbit, not really, it was his instinct, his prey drive.
That’s what waits outside our door, insane with hunger, driven forward not by intelligence or understanding but a blind, consuming need for what we have -
I’m trying to stay extremely calm for you. I hope I’m doing an okay job. In a weird way, it helps to write about it, to talk about it, somehow that makes it less real. Now it’s just a story I’m writing for you, a tale I’m spinning, not a cold, vicious reality underpinning everything I do and say and think. It’s nice for a change, to do something I want… And I think that’s what I miss the most: making choices.
There aren’t any choices to make anymore, just survival, just what needs to get done. Soon we’ll have to go outside that door to get food. There are some bigger refrigerators and a dozen or so bags of potato chips out by the registers. We’ll need to get to those soon: we don’t have a choice. I didn’t choose to be trapped with these people, these coworkers and strangers that I never wanted to know beyond their connection to an easy part-time job. I didn’t choose to be taken away from my mother, my mom, the only family I have left. She’s already sick and now I won’t even get to be there at the end…
I was studying to be someone but that’s over now. Now there’s just these people I don’t really know and the constant, crippling fear and their drive… I understand it I suppose, the reason those things groan and shuffle around outside the door, the reason Joey murdered that rabbit. It’s in our blood, in our hearts, the hunger, the ambition, the out and out need to survive. I just wanted to work here, to make a little cash and now, suddenly, I will die here.
Maybe I’ll write again… At least it’s some small comfort to look forward to. I should close my laptop and get some sleep, I should stop staring at the glowing screen but it’s hypnotizing and I can’t look away. But I’ll force myself to go to bed, to close my eyes and cover my ears.
They are coming.
They are coming and I don’t think we will ever get out.