Monday, 26 September 2011

Nineteenth Entry: Nightfall

I was exhausted, sweaty and covered in sawdust. I'd been working on a barricade big enough to cover the entire gap in the fence for hours, but by the time evening started rolling in, I was only halfway done. I'd emptied one of the half-liter water bottles while working, but I was still thirsty and hungry. Another honey sandwich and a can of soda served as dinner.

Night was falling quickly, and the church grew darker by the minute, so I lit a few of the wall-mounted candles. I wished I had something to cover the windows with, so the light wouldn't be noticed by the walkers. I wished I had a lot of things. Running water. Electricity. Guns. A toothbrush.

I lay on the floor for a while, staring at nothing. On a whim, picked up paper and pencil and decided to sketch out a map of the graveyard.

Night fell, and using my pile of clothes as a bed, I closed my eyes. 

Sleep came swiftly.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Eighteenth Entry: Carpentry Skill Increased By 1

I'd gotten myself a sizable pile of food and drink, but I would have to scavenge more, sooner rather than later. But now, armed with a plethora of tools, I got to work on reinforcing my stronghold.

My first though was simply to nail wooden planks across the doors, sealing it shut. But - as tempting as it was - I couldn't just seal myself in. I would probably have to scavenge several times a week, and there was only one way in or out. Instead, I started measuring out a thick piece of wood, about 6 feet in length, that could be slid into place across the doors like a bar, in case the lock should fail.

All the tools were in good shape, so cutting through the pews was relatively easy work. I was a little worried about the amount of noise I was making, and whether or not it would attract more walkers. I prayed that they would be otherwise occupied while I worked. I finished the bar in about half an hour and carried it over to the door. A pair of broad metal hooks, shaped like half-closed and upturned hands, had already been built into the door for just such a purpose. It took a bit of negotiating to get it to fit, but eventually the bar fell into place. I was confident that the door could withstand anything less than car ramming into it. And even then, it'd have to be a big car.

Satisfied with my handiwork, I sat back and cracked open a can of soda. What next? I had already decided to build a fence around the entire graveyard. The stone fence already in place was certainly sturdy enough, but it was so low that walkers could simply crawl over it. I didn't have anywhere near enough wood to build a fence that big. Not yet. But perhaps I could start building a framework for it. First of all, though, I wanted to plug the big gap in the stone fence.

I could plug it with a couple of abandoned cars to begin with, and then start on an actual, working gate of some sort. No matter what, I had to clear the street of walkers.

I sat down with pencil and paper, and started sketching designs for the fence and gate.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Seventeenth Entry: Looting a Dead Man's House

The caretaker's house was in complete disarray. Granted, it was largely my doing, but even before I'd upended his drawers and emptied his closets, the place had been in a terrible state. Towering stacks of dirty dishes adorned the kitchen counter, alongside various pizza boxes, coffee mugs and cheap paperback novels. The caretaker himself still hung from ceiling like a grisly piƱata. I didn't feel right, looting the house while the owner was still in it, even if he was dead. I cut through the noose and winced as the caretaker fell on floor in an undignified heap. I dropped the body outside and made a half-hearted sign of the cross. He was still human, after all, and I figured he would have appreciated it.

Careful not to knock over the leaning tower of dishes (the noise would certainly attract nearby walkers), I searched the kitchen for any foodstuffs still edible and stuffed them into my bag. It was largely bread, rice, oatmeal and a variety of raw vegetables. The fridge held a six-pack of cheap soda and a two-liter bottle of club soda. It wasn't much, but I was grateful for every scrap. I grabbed a small, battery-powered radio, a couple of disposable lighters and five boxes of matches.

A small shed behind the house produced a regular treasure trove of tools and building materials. I left the power tools alone, but made sure to bring a full array of normal ones, along with several dozen boxes of nails and screws in all shapes and sizes, three rolls of duct tape and a pair of safety glasses. With my bag and toolboxes full of supplies, I hurried back to the church. Before closing the doors behind me, I spotted something a little disconcerting. Half a dozen walkers were milling about on the street just beyond the graveyard perimeter. They hadn't spotted me, thank God, but something had drawn them here. Maybe they could smell me.

That thought made an unpleasant shiver crawl down my back.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Sixteenth Entry: Taking Inventory

At the top of the staircase was a door of the same design as the front doors, but with a modern lock. I opened it with another one of the keys. The bell tower lived up to its name. It was very high up, and there was a bell in it. It was very big and probably very loud. A pair of industrial-size earmuffs hung from a nail on the wall.

I'm sure that if I were to look out of the openings in wall, I would be treated to a beautiful view of the city. Complete with a beautiful sunrise and the extermination of the human race. I hurried back down the staircase, closing the door firmly behind me. I didn't need to see that shit.

Halfway down the staircase, I stopped and leaned against the wall with my eyes closed, trying to think. I was scared. Not in that intensely adrenaline-fueled way that makes your hair stand on end, but quietly scared. The rational sort of fear that pointed out that I'd been clever a couple of times, lucky a couple of times, and that I'd come out ahead of the game so far - but sooner or later the dice would come up snake eyes. Statistically, I was going to die soon. Simple as that.

Not a cheery thought.

I could feel the walls closing in, so to speak, but some part of me pushed back. I was a survivor. Fear was irrelevant. The familiar sensation of cold, calculating efficiency flooded my brain, and the Survivor gave Fear the stare-down. Fear blinked first.

The Survivor felt different this time. I had more control. Instead of being led like a puppet on strings, it felt like I was being guided.

I had both weapons and a shelter, but few supplies. My stomach rumbled audibly, so I decided to loot the kitchen. The fridge was empty, but the cupboards held some items of interest. I gathered the whole lot in my arms and dumped them on the table next to the wine and communion wafers. There was a loaf of white bread, a package of raw pasta, various spices and herbs, four apples, a jar of honey, two half-liter bottles of water and plenty of tea and coffee. Not exactly a smorgasbord, but it would keep me going for today. I put some honey on two slices of bread and wolfed them down along with one of the apples and some water.

Water was actually one of my main concerns. The water pressure had disappeared when the power went out, which meant that I had to rely on scavenging bottled water.

The smell of blood reminded me of the dead priest at the front door. I'd have to get him out of the church pretty soon, and then start on making this place into a proper fortress. The pews would provide plenty of wood, but I had no tools to work with. I had to go back to the caretaker's house and scavenge everything I could. Food, tools, anything.

I emptied my bag of clothes onto the floor, grabbed my shovel and headed out. I held my ear to the door, but heard nothing except the distant, muffled sounds of sirens and screaming. Some part of my mind registered that the gunfire had stopped. The rest of my mind chose to ignore it. I cracked open the door and peeked out, just to be sure. No walkers in the vicinity. Good.

Grabbing a piece of his robe not covered in blood, I dragged the dead priest out of the church and looked around for somewhere to dump the body. I didn't fancy having a corpse lying outside the front doors, but just dumping him off to the side didn't seem right either. After a few minutes of looking around, I found what I had hoped for: an empty grave. I dragged over the body and rolled it in.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Fifteenth Entry: Exploring

There was no handle on the white door, only the keyhole of a modern lock. I fished the key ring out of my pocket and tried to unlock it. The first key didn't work, but the second one fit perfectly. I pushed the door open gently and stepped back. The room beyond apparently had no windows, because it was pretty damn dark. I heard no movement, so I carefully stuck my hand around the door frame, feeling around for a light switch. I found one, but pressing it did nothing. The power was out there as well.

I decided to explore the room anyway, despite the darkness, but was suddenly startled by the alarm in my cellphone going off. The soothing tones of Don't Fear The Reaper filled the room. I could appreciate the irony. More than that, I had completely forgotten about my cellphone. There was no signal and the battery was low, but it would serve as an impromptu flashlight.

Holding my cellphone up like a lantern in one hand and the cleaver in the other, I went in. The dim light from my phone didn't reach far, but it was enough to navigate by. The light revealed a small kitchen to the right of the door. Some cupboards, a stove and a small fridge took up most of the space. A door to my left led to a bathroom, and straight ahead was some kind of living room for the priests. A table and four comfortable chairs stood in the middle of the room, with various other pieces of furniture placed around the room. A thick, white carpet covered the floor. No walkers in here.

With a sigh of relief, I walked back into the main chamber, grateful for the warm light of dawn shining through the tall mosaic windows.

That just left the bell tower. I pocketed my phone and held my spade out before me as I walked up the staircase.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Fourteenth Entry: A Priest and a Hard Place

That momentary lapse in concentration almost put an end to me. I didn't hear the groans and shuffling footsteps before it was almost too late, and it was only when the walker was practically on top of me that I opened my eyes and saw it.

For a brief moment, I thought it was a living human being. An old man dressed in the black robes of a priest with pale skin and white hair. If not for the dead eyes, you wouldn't have been able to tell that he was a walker. The eyes and the fact that he tried to eat my face.

The dead priest threw himself at me. I screamed and brought my spade up just in time to stop it from sinking its teeth into me. I pushed it off me and scrambled into the corner of the doorway. The space between the door and the pews was too small to use my spade effectively. The walker lunged again, teeth bared in a vicious snarl, just as my hand closed over the cleaver's handle. I brought it down in a sweeping arc and split the walker's head down the middle. It gave a final gurgle, bloody foam sputtering from its exposed trachea, and fell to the floor in a bloody heap.

I got up on shaking legs and surveyed the church interior. It was very spartan, with plain white walls and a wooden floor trodden thin after many years of use. The main chamber was about 20 paces across and 40 deep, with two rows of dark wooden pews taking up most of the space. At the end of the room stood a podium and a small table with something on it. I couldn't quite make it out. A large wooden cross hung on the far wall. To my right was a staircase that presumably led up to the bell tower.

I couldn't see any walkers, but I wasn't taking any chances. Stepping gingerly over the impromptu barricade, I made my way slowly down the aisle, methodically checking the remaining pews for lurking walkers. I found none, and proceeded to examine the three items on the table: A full bottle of wine without a label on it, a box of communion wafers and a plain silver chalice. The podium was empty, but I spotted a door built to look like part of the wall. It wasn't exactly a hidden door exactly, just designed to be unnoticed.

There was nothing more to see in this room, so that just left the "hidden door" and the bell tower.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Thirteenth Entry: The House of God

I hustled back to the church with the key chain clasped firmly in one hand. Of the four keys that jangled in my hand, only one was the type that matched the lock on the door. It was old, heavy and shaped like a cross. I stuck it into the keyhole with bated breath. It slid in effortlessly. Now, I am by no means a religious man, but I freely admit that I muttered a quick prayer to God, asking him if I could please come into his house. I turned the key with a grimace, expecting the worst.

The lock opened with a surprisingly smooth click. I stopped myself from shouting a hallelujah and settled on jumping up and down a bit with a stupid smile on my face. I pushed the door, and it opened about half an inch before it stuck. Something was blocking the door from the inside. I groaned. This door was seriously testing my patience.

I squared my shoulders, braced my legs, envisioned myself as a charging rhino and pushed the door as hard as I could. For a moment, nothing at all seemed to happen. Then, with infinite slowness, the door began sliding open. I could hear something scrape across the floor on the other side, and as I got the door halfway open there was a sudden, loud crash and the door swung open completely. I stumbled in after it, and it was only the wooden pews piled high just beyond the door that prevented me from falling flat on my face. Someone had tried to barricade themselves by clumsily stacking half a dozen of the heavy wooden pews against the doors. It would probably have kept out the walkers, but not me. No sir.

I closed the door behind me and made sure to lock it. The adrenaline rush of that whole morning had faded, and left me aching, tired, and on the verge of a mental breakdown. I slid to a sitting position and closed my eyes. God, I could really use some breakfast.