I didn't know what day it was, but I knew how many days it had been.

One week since the National Guard assigned me to the quarantine zone around my hometown. Five days since the last phone call from my girlfriend, trapped in said quarantine zone. 48 hours of downed phone lines and dead air before my patience broke. Three days since I deserted.

Three days of struggling to cross the nightmare city Malton had become. The ammo ran out on the first day, but I picked up a fire axe from some deserted school. Helps not having to reload.

Fresh rioting began at dusk Tuesday. Gangs had already begun organized looting for supplies. The survivors left in the city were none too happy about being trapped in a quarantine zone, so when two gangs both went to loot the same supermarket, vicious fighting started in the parking lot. I had hoped to grab some food myself but was instead trapped among the abandoned cars, trying to find a way out before one of them got set on fire. Then the plague victims - the "zombies" started appearing, attracted by the noise. They waded right into the fight and started grappling and biting. That's when I broke free, bashed one ghoul out of my way, and ran up a fire escape. I only looked back once. I looked from human to monster, and monster to human, and couldn't tell which was which.

On quarantine duty, it didn't matter. If it didn't stop after a shout and a warning shot, the next shot was to kill. At night, we skipped the warning shots. Our chief duty was incinerating the bodies, because they all had a nasty habit of getting up again, headshot or not.

Most of these zombies were slow, and easily avoided. But I'd encountered some dangerous exceptions. There was one who had managed a weird hopping gait, and when I realized he was using it to chase me, I stopped laughing and gave him one of my few remaining bullets. And then there was the one who knew how to follow scent trails.

I had fallen in with a group of ten other survivors and we had barricaded up the second floor and stairwell of an apartment block as a new safehouse. Someone was on watch, but we couldn't risk any lights attracting attention. So we were basically relying on one person listening in the dark. But hey, we all gotta sleep sometime.

Somehow he had wormed his way through the barricade without waking me or alerting the watch. Coming for me, just me. White cold corpse-fingers finding the shape of my body through my clothes. That's what startled me awake, screaming and thrashing; that icy touch.

Through luck he only managed to get a mouthful of my jacket before I clopped him in the side of the head with a flailing arm and scrabbled out from under him. By that time I was awake enough to realize what was going on, and soon somebody managed to find a light, and we made short work of him.

Apparently he had crawled across and past three other people to get at me. By unspoken assent I left the group the next day. The extent of trust was thin these days, and I didn't need a knife in my back.


Mostly I avoided the zombies and kept moving. I saw some messed-up things - yeah I know it started out strange already. But- the apocalypse kept getting stranger.

Bigger, stronger zombies were dragging humans out of the barricaded buildings, outside where weaker ones could feed. Then came a loud, low-pitched groaning that carried for blocks, and every zombie I could see started shuffling towards the 'food'. What was next, man? Boy scout zombies helping elderly undead across the street?


When I reached our apartment building, it looked intact. Unburned, that was a good sign. Windows broken, of course. The front door was broken down, but past the lobby some of the apartment doors were still locked. When I got to ours, on the third floor, it was thankfully locked as well. Suddenly weak with relief, I knocked and called out as loudly as I dared, then tried my keys.

Which weren't there. - Somewhere in the last three days, I must've dropped my keys. A minute of frantic searching of all my combat pockets did nothing for my mental state. Well - I still had the fire axe. I knocked and called one more time, just in case someone was inside and prepared to shoot. I swung the axe, which bit deeply into the door near the bolt, then levered back to pop the bolt from the frame. The small security chain was still set, but another round of leverage ripped that free in a shudder of splinters.

(After this, we were definitely moving.)

The apartment was untouched. I looked quickly in all four rooms - nobody. Just our possessions. Our coats hung by the door, our shoes tumbled at their feet. The framed photo of us embracing in Jamaica was still sitting next to the computer. Out of habit, I switched on the computer, then felt stupid when nothing happened.

There was a handwritten letter, folded and placed under the photo. A corner fluttered in the breeze from the open window.

It read,

My Love -

At first, when you were called up, and we were separated, I thought this would be just another short separation. Nothing I hadn't handled before.

But then the quarantine came down on the city, and they said they weren't letting anyone in or out, and wouldn't say when it might, or would, or would ever, be lifted. I thought I couldn't be more lost.

I concentrated on staying safe. The news broadcasts couldn't keep up with the rumors I was hearing from the lady downstairs, and the corner shop, and the newspaper seller. (The newspaper delivery had stopped.) I didn't dare venture from the apartment building, and I didn't care if I got fired.

I could only cling to your promise, that you would come for me if things got really bad. I still have your shirt, the faded soft denim one. It still has your smell. It was the only way I could sleep at night.

Then one of the undead bit me on the calf, when I had only slipped out for groceries. She must have been hiding out under my car. She got a chunk out of my arm, too. I couldn't risk going to the hospital, it was rumored to be really bad there, so I just beaned her with a bag of canned goods and got me and my groceries back to the apartment.

I don't remember much of the next couple of days. I'm pretty sure I saw the bone of my arm showing, and half the time I must have been delirious with fever, and then there was always screaming or something outside.

But then the fever broke, and when I awoke, my arm was healed. Or at least the wound had filled in with something waxy. My head still felt fuzzy, a bit light-headed, uncoordinated, but free of pain. I was a bit disconcerted when I couldn't find my pulse.

After a while, I came to the conclusion I was dead. But I'd never felt better.

Over time, I was able to appreciate my new un-life, and the freedom it opened to me, and I wanted to tell everybody, although I, as of yet, could not express myself in words. I felt joy. I felt I belonged. I had heard a higher calling. This is it, I am complete, I've found the peace that we all seek. I was a little perturbed when a downstairs neighbor shot me in the head, but when I felt none the worse for it after waking, I knew a higher power was at work. So I converted him.

Death comes to all things. It sweeps over us like a tide. And now, through God's Gift, there is a life after death. A life without pain, without hunger, without weariness, without prejudice. Every time we undead wake, we are refreshed and whole.

Now, some misguided scientist has injected me, and I have temporarily regained the powers to speak, and to write. And I felt, so strongly, that I had to get this message to you, to let you know, that in the midst of all this madness, that we will find each other, and be together again. It may take a while. But we have all the time in the world. Our love will never die.

I know you will come for me. And I will come for you. I shared the shirt-smell with my new friends. We all know your smell now.

Let me eat of your flesh, and you shall know everlasting life.

Is this not the end times?

Die, rise, and be counted by God.

I will pray for you to be among the saved.

Yours forever, D.

It was dated yesterday. Hmmmmm.
I can't stand clingy women.
My axe is still sharp. The perfect accessory to a bachelor lifestyle.
I'd better check under the beds again.

for FearQuest2006
inspired by the MMORPG Urban Dead
and the in-game group Church of the Resurrection wiki page.
and an e2 database crawling with, nay infested with quality zombie nodes. I bet you all have very plump and juicy brains.

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