10-19-09 – The Awakening

I see now that we were foolish.

Everything that we have done, all of the scrimping, struggling and railing has been nothing at all, just flailing, beating our heads against a solid iron wall. No matter what we do, what we try, something will undermine our efforts. So we redouble, we swear up and down that we will do whatever it takes, whatever we possibly can until we’re too exhausted to go on. Maybe we should just stop prolonging the inevitable loss; maybe we should fling the doors open and let our fate come marching in.

We’ve tried to switch people over to rain water but now the rain won’t come. Thick, silent clouds hang over us, teasingly holding over our heads what we need most of all. Sleep is out of the question, since the arena is now filled with coughing and groaning every hour of every day. The sick get sicker, the strong – which are few – get stronger, and we watch our once-peaceful, hopeful village turn into a refugee camp plagued with failing health and dying spirits. We are all too busy just keeping things from falling apart that no one has the time or energy to send out broadcasts; our one reliable entertainment is gone, replaced by constant toil. There are no spare tents anymore so people sleep on the floor, on top of sleeping bags or piles of moth-eaten blankets. Our food supply is stretched to its absolute limit and many of us eat less than we should so that the very ill can regain some strength.

And in the wake of all this, the Black Earth Wives have begun to challenge Collin’s leadership. They insist he’s driving the camp into the ground, imposing too many rules, keeping people from food that is rightly theirs, letting in riffraff instead of guarding the villagers. All of the calm debate in the world won’t drown out their cries for new leadership, a new regime. He tries to keep order in the only way he knows how: keeping us safe, fortifying the perimeter, listening to problems and mediating and keeping the Black Earth Wives as quiet as possible. It’s not persecution, it’s just good management.

The ire of the Wives seems to extend to me simply by my being associated with Collin. They know, of course, that he and I have become very close and I’m sure they know that I sleep almost exclusively in his tent each night. I don’t know what to tell them, how to react. On the one hand I realize they have a right to be upset that the arena has overreached its capacity, but I also think they should offer a workable solution instead of complaining and spreading gossip.

I’ve suggested to Collin, more than once, that we pack up and leave. “If they want to take over so badly then let them,” I said, “Let them find out what an exhausting, thankless job it is.”

But he won’t give up on us, even now as everything seems to go wrong.

Today Ned and I had the unenviable task of resolving the sanitation problem. With all the vomiting and diarrhea, the toilets are in no way usable. With Finn standing watch, Ned and I dragged Port-o-Potties over from the tennis courts, lining them up just outside the arena. Keeping them outside is more dangerous but we decided it was better then having the smell and germs inside. Ned’s brutal work out sessions must be paying off; dragging the johns over wasn’t difficult in the least. Since our chat, Corie has been doggedly avoiding me. She suspects, I think, that I’m so firmly on Ned’s side that there’s no point in even trying to win me over. She’s wrong though, I’d be more than willing to listen to her side of the story if she were prepared to give it. But she’s chosen her side, and even though she doesn’t rage against Collin as viciously as the other Wives, I can see in her slumped posture, her vacant eyes, that she’s allied herself with them completely. I don’t even know why she does it; I think maybe the presence of so many women acts like a shield. In their tight circle she can hide from all of us, but especially from Ned.

Dragging Port-o-Potties around was just the beginning of my day. Ned and I assisted Ted with some of the sickest patients. They seem to have some kind of terrible influenza or stomach infection; they can’t keep food down and when they do it seems to cause them a lot of pain. After that, I worked with Evan and Mikey on their Halloween costumes. Halloween is Mikey’s favorite holiday and the boys insisted that we begin constructing their costumes early. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that there wouldn’t be much candy, that no one else would bother getting dressed up. I’m hoping I can come up with a costume to at least keep the fantasy of normalcy going for a minute or two. Mikey wants to be Zorro, so we’re making him a cape and mask out of an old tarp and some basketball jerseys we found in the basement. Dapper will be playing his trusty steed. Evan couldn’t decide between a pirate and Wall-E, and was heartbroken at the idea that he would have to choose. Despite his older brother’s mocking, we decided to combine the two and make him Pirate Wall-E. His costume will mainly be made of cardboard boxes, soda cans, rubber plumbing tubes and a bit of jersey – for the eye patch of course.

After helping the boys with phase one of costume construction, I put in a bit of time at the door checking in new arrivals. The people that come now are the worst we’ve ever seen, so starved and terrified that they can only mumble incoherently as we ask them to step behind a curtain and remove their clothing. Spending so much time with Evan and Mikey has shed light on a rather alarming trend: there are almost no very young or very old people. Everyone here seems to be between the ages of eighteen and sixty. Evan and Mikey are two of only a handful of young children and I can only picture six or seven elderly folks that are still around. It makes me afraid that there will be no generation to follow us, no one educated enough to face our problems with fresh, new ideas. What will become of us?

I hadn’t eaten since the morning so Collin and I took a break from line duty and ate together in his tent. Even there, comforted by his presence and the privacy of the tent, the outside world persists, invades. The sounds of coughing, hacking, wheezing follows you everywhere, reminding you that there are people all around you in agony. After sharing a can of soup and some granola bars, Collin and I lay around for a while talking. He told me about how much he missed teaching, how he missed his classes and grading assignments. He even missed dealing with the most insufferable members of the faculty.

“I would trade everything for just one last day as a teacher,” he says, “A day where I knew I had to savor it, had to pay attention to every silly detail.”

And then he’s quiet before adding, “But then again, I might never have met you. Life would have gone on as it always did, placid, complicated in the human way we like to complicate things. We might never even have met and now I can’t imagine life without you.”

It sounds cliché, but this is, in all honesty, the happiest moment I’ve had in many, many days. Everything seems to be almost at peace, moving toward some kind of undisturbed contentment. And this is the day that I feel closest to him, when it really does stop feeling weird, when it starts to seem normal, natural even. And this is the day when I feel certain that even if the Wives have their way and our village tears apart at the seams, I’ll have something worth saving, something tangible to grasp. And this is the day when Ted makes a bit of headway and thinks maybe there’s way to cure the ill, a way to keep us going for a bit longer.

And this is the day when – without warning, like a twenty-ton semi-truck blazing through a red light – yet another group of survivors arrive, and with them, limping, hungry but undeniably alive, is Collin’s wife.

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18 Responses to “10-19-09 – The Awakening”

  1. kerimcan Says:

    I don’t understand how you can have hundreds of people in that building and yet maintain a perimeter, accept people in. How come the undead not attack you in thousands?

  2. I hope I’m wrong, kerimcan, but I expect they will.

    Allison. You said I should get the arm removed, but it’s too late. I feel no hunger, I don’t need sleep. Just a kind of weariness, all the time. And its hard to put names to faces, or recall why they were ever worth remembering.

    But in some ways, I’m thankful. I have no responsibility anymore, no-one depending on me. You have so many to help, and you have do so often. Well done, Allison, for everything you’ve managed. For your survival. Especially for your blog, as it gives hope to so many others from such a distance.

    This is my plan:

    I’m going to find a gas station, get some lighters, and leak the fuel until the tanks are dry. Next, I will set off the fire alarm, and any car alarms in the vicinity. That should attract a reasonable amount of the undead, at least I hope so.

    And then I will burn them all. If by some miracle I survive, and the virus doesn’t take me, I will make sure to contact you again. Good luck Allison Hewitt, you will most definitely need it.

    Isaac

  3. Jonas Wilson Says:

    I sit here comfortably, if there is such a thing, in the Satellite Operations Center for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just southeast of Washington in Maryland. While we are chartered to track weather-related patterns across the globe from a series of satellites, we have now become the base of operations for tracking the migrations of undead across the globe.

    There is not much government left, and the armies of the world are shrinking by the day. What we have witnessed, firsthand from hundreds of miles in space, is perhaps the downfall of mankind.

    The military bases in the US have learned the hard way that land-based perimeters are defensible but not inpenetrable. Soldiers are working without sleep, trying to keep the undead at a distance from our perimeter. The undead have no heat-signatures, so at night we are unable to track the slow procession of them beating on our fences.

    My job is somewhat hopeless. Although I am in control of weather-related satellites with untold military applications, the very weapons built into the system are uncontrollable from this facility. With all that goes on in this world, still we have political BS to deal with. The weapons are controlled in the Joint Forces Command at the Pentagon, the satellites are controlled by us. Between our facilities over a million undead walk this city.

    What we have learned so far is this, which may help you, Allison, in your mission in Texas …

    1. Any stronghold is only stronger than another shelter. No matter how hard you try, they will find a way to break your defenses.

    2. We have not resolved whether these creatures can or cannot swim, or even walk at the bottom of a body of water. Water-based perimeter defenses are therefore no verifiably successful.

    3. Our snipers have now resorted to loading their own cartridges, deeming most ammunition worthless unless you can hit the “brain” perfectly. What works is a load made of graphite, with a small amount of Semtex in the center. The graphite penetrates the skull of the groaner but shatters inside so there is no exit wound, and the Semtex explodes inside causing the brain to explode. The result is messy but it is working. We have 3 guys working round-the-clock outside loading cartridges.

    I cant say much because of national security, but know that your country does have a plan, and we will take our country back, and this world.

    This too, shall pass. Be strong, and keep up the radio broadcasts. Hope is important, but what your listeners need are survival skills and advice.

  4. Proof now that the government is behind this! National security! The whole point behind the infection was to reduce humanity to a controllable number and re-boot. Soon the innoculations will start — of course everyone will line up to get them so they don’t turn into teh zombs staggering around. Adn then the plan will be compelete as the shots will inject nano-tracers into our bloodstream which will allow the government to not only know where you are but what youa re doing!

    I caught Trace typing away letting the Jackboots latch onto my signal but now i’ve re-shielded it and taken care of him and his family too. They were going to expose my netowrk of tru PATRIOTS! The only way to win this war is to wipe out everything!! No more grid, no more government!! Tiem to WAKE UP AND RISE UP! The zombs will pass but the shadowy tendrils of the New World Order are going deeper — don’t let them take you too! Email me at timothy.resistnow@gmail.com and i will give you the proof you need to know!!!

  5. Elizabeth Says:

    Things are almost sleepy on the ocean. Occasionally we raid a port, Avalon has proved itself to be an asset due to its general low population numbers, and therefore low number of the undead. Thankfully, it looks like the virus hasn’t transmitted to marine organisms, because I cannot imagine how horrible a wave of zombie dolphins would be, especially considering the size of the pods we’ve been seeing recently. At one point we sailed north to the Vandenberg Airforce Base, and it looked completely deserted. Camp Pendelton in San Diego had some activity, but in all honesty it looks safer on the boat.

    We’ve made contact with a few survivors who were out on the more remote islands camping, as well as some scientists who were doing studies. They’re still there, as the boat is small and there aren’t any zombies on the islands nor any sign of them. We take them supplies every once in a while, and they’re happy they’re where they are.

    From what we’ve been able to see from the ship, the dead still line up at the ports and on the beaches, but in reduced numbers. I can’t tell if there are just fewer of them, or if they’re moving somewhere else. But the good news is that it looks like LA has stopped burning…as much. Still no sign of survivors there, but there has to be someone. Occasionally we’ll hear someone on the radio, but it’s so faint that we can’t make out anything concrete, but it seems like the signal is coming from inland. So unless we want to leave the safety of our ship, we’ll have to be content with what we know.

    I’d suggest moving on, Allison. Take those who want to live, who want to fight to do so, and leave. First off, the dead seem to head towards population dense areas, like they can sense it. The only movement we’ve seen is towards LA and San Diego. Secondly, sounds like the Wives are a drain on resources (bad) and morale (a million times worse). They will be the disease that kills you in the end. Pull out a map, find a defensible position, get there. You could probably stay on campus if there’s a decent engineering building. The usually have rooms and showers built in there, too. Take half of supplies and move before things get too dire.

    Good luck, stay alive, and let’s hope that things are happening elsewhere in our favor (like the good folks at NOAA suggest).

  6. OUR “FRIENDS” AT NOAA are tracking weather because they know how important it will be to stopping the zombs once hte innoculation program begins. many of you have been writing me for more information and i can only tell so much on unsecure networks. Let me burst the bubble the good, trusting “friends” at NOAA (read: NSA) are blowing for you:

    T-3 through T-1: Vital military/industrial/political personnel are evac’d to underground and remote outposts when transport routes are unaffected.

    T-0: “infection” starts

    T-1 through T-210: population is thinned to acceptable levels // zombs likewise reduced but still active

    T-210 (plus or minus 30) forward: “miracle” is discovered to innoculate against virus — survivors run to “benevolent GOVERNMENT” for cure and nano-trackers reach 85% of remaining populace.

    THEN (!) covert dispersal of aerosol agent via cloud seeding and aircraft (like fighting a forest fire) — WHICH IS WHY WEATHER PATTERNS BECOME SO IMPORTANT — to eradicate remaining zombs on the spot. ALL HAIL OUR CONQUERING HEROS!!

    DO NOT RADIO GOVERNMENT ACTORS!! YOU WILL BE TARGETED.

  7. CORRECTION TO ABOVE:

    Timeline reads badly. First entries should be read as “T minus 3 through T minus 1” — then after T-0, should be “T plus xx”

  8. tink in dc Says:

    we’re still alive here in DC. supplies are running low, but for now we’re safe.

    isaac, a scientist in our group has read your posts, and has some theories about your condition. we believe there’s hope for you. if you’re still alive, try and email him at samuel.watson.md@gmail.com

    trace, if what you say is correct, this entire nightmare is deliberate, and we can’t fathom a person so cruel as to unleash this destruction upon society only to serve a personal goal.

    we refuse to believe that we are nothing more than pawns in a game. we refuse to give up hope.

  9. Five days ago, I left the relative safety of the security office in the water treatment plant in Aurora, Colorado, to get food but most of all, join up with Josh one floor down and surrounded by … them.

    I wish I had just let myself starve.

    With the eight rounds left, spread in two magazines, for the 9mm I found, I managed, somehow, to slow down or take out the eleven of them outside the security door 50 feet from the officer. The three that I didn’t have ammo for, I managed to get to follow me back towards the security office, then I bull-rushed through them and closed the security door behind me, and between them.

    That wasn’t even the hard part.

    Out of ammo, I carefully walked down the hallway, with the cliche flickering lights of course, and managed to find the red box. You know the box Allison, the one with the axe in it. It was still there!

    One axe, one tired man affected by malnutrition, one floor down, 30 some odd zombies, and one former USMC security guard.

    Now, I may not be the best at math, but that seems a little… stacked.

    Against.

    I don’t really remember what happened next, but Josh swears that I was the personification of anger and wrath. From what Josh told me, I managed to take out enough of them to get through to the room Josh was held up in, get him, and get out.

    About twenty minutes after that, I realized what I did, at least the concept. Two minutes after that… He pointed at a growing bloodstain on the left forearm of the coveralls I was wearing.

    I’ve been bitten.

    That was five days ago, we’re held up in a five story office building on the third floor, where the water luckily still runs, about a quarter mile from the plant.

    I have myself handcuffed to a drain pipe in a storeroom with the laptop I stole (not sure if it really counts as stealing) from the security office.
    It has now been five days since the bite, and either it wasn’t enough to get infected, or I have some sort of resistance or immunity. I’m leaning towards the former, just to be on the safe side.

    We’re running out of supplies again, Josh has been scavenging for longer and bringing back less each time. We might have to move again, which brings up some … issues.

  10. kerimcan Says:

    Allison are you OK? did something happen to you? I hope to hear from you soon.

    • allisonhewitt Says:

      I am in the process of letting you all know what has been happening the last few days. Please be patient as I try to collect my thoughts.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Allison, this is important. I can’t tell you who I am but I can tell you that I am writing this from the gym. No one knows that I have internet access and I dare not tell them. If the black earth wives found out… well. I have to make this quick before they find out. Few people have been paying them much attention, but I have and so have you. The black earth wives have been “baptizing” people with a foul looking water. They claim to wash sickness away with it but they aren’t using water from our supplies and I doubt they take precautions like boiling it. They claim to have used it to wash away the sins of the infected with it too. Everyone I know who has been baptized gets terribly sick. After those people get sick, the black earth wives blame Collin for it. Please, I don’t want them to ruin what little sanctuary we have here! Please ask Collin to do something about them before it is too late! Please!

  12. Elizabeth Says:

    Ditto to tink. Sitting here being paranoid about the ZOMG GOVERNMENT PLOTS!!11 solves absolutely nothing. Maybe you’re right, Trace. But there’s a good shot that you’re wrong. What matters now is survival, and if that means that we end up allying ourselves with corrupt governments who may or may not have initiated this fiasco in order to save my ass, ok. Sure. I’ll save the rage and questions for when I’m not being actively hunted, thanks. In the meantime, I’ll trust my fellow scientists rather than some paranoid conspiracy theorist. And let’s hope to god there’s some inoculation program coming, because this has got to stop, and soon, and there’s no evidence of the zombies just up and dying on their own, again.

  13. You can doubt me all you want but the real horror begins AFTER the zombs are gone. You’ll all be rustled up like so much cattle and controlled like them once the zombs are eradicated. The zombs are a MEANS TO AND END. I’ll be leaving for my sector HQ in a day or two. Those of you who want a way out, email me and i can try to get you on the approved list. We already have 320 people in my sector alone who WILL ride this out and ORGANIZE against the Jackboots when they come for us. NOW is the time; not later — you’ll be too weak.

    Tim (not Trace — heheh, def not Trace)

  14. Barry O. Says:

    So, wait…. This isn’t for real? It’s just a story?

  15. “I don’t want to let the commentary go towards “Government Conspiracy”.” — WHAT A SHAME THAT THE TRUTH IS SPOKEN — HOW INCONVENIENT FOR YOU. Why not censor anyone that says something different than what YOU want said???

    It won’t matter — in 2 days I’ll be gone — PREPARING for whta comes next.

    FIGHT!

    Tim

  16. Michael C Says:

    I have become a huge fan of your writing. This story has me checking every day for more. Do you have anything else online that I could read? You are truly gifted, keep it up.

  17. Wasabista Says:

    Sorry it’s been so long since I checked in. Ran out of food in the apartment but found others in the same building, we made a rush for the local municipal refuge. No dice, it was built for earthquake relief, not zombies. Now we’re in, check this out, the Imperial Palace in the center of Tokyo. The moat keeps the bastards out, for now anyway. Damn near did for me, too, I’m not that great a swimmer.

    We take turns going out to forage for food but it has to be at high noon. The air is filled with danger at other times. Mornings the crows come out, at night it’s the bats. A few of our number were bitten by bats at twilight and didn’t make it back. Yeah, zombie bats.

    This has got to be the nicest decorated refugee camp anywhere. Keep posting Allison, on behalf of all of us (I’m the only native English speaker here, so I’m the spokesman) your reports are an inspiration.

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