Authors: Lisa Richardson
Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse
Blog of the Dead - Life
Also by Lisa Richardson
Blog of the Dead – Sophie
Blog of the Dead – Life
Copyright © Lisa Richardson 2014
Cover design by Rick Jones
Cover Photography by Sarah Bray Photography
For Paul xxx
Special thanks to my wonderful beta readers Flick Merauld, Michele Brailsford and Kay Mcloughlin.
Many thanks to Sarah Bray for the amazing cover photography, Rick Jones for the outstanding cover design and for lending his hand in more ways than one by being a cover model. Thanks also to Sarah Williams, my other model, for going above and beyond the call of duty … I hope you got the blood and mud out of your fingernails okay!
I’ve had to abandon my laptop, hence the notepad I’m writing in. The electricity failed so the laptop’s useless anyway, and the record of my first year in the apocalypse has been lost; no one can read that now. No one can learn how I became the person I am today. But it doesn’t matter. Anyone still alive will understand because if they’ve survived this long, they’ve probably become that person too.
Right now, I’m in a car heading away from Folkestone. Everything has changed. And I’m hoping, by writing it all down I can start to make sense of it. I can have a fresh start – as much as is possible in a dead and rotting world.
I couldn’t face keeping a diary in the days after Sam got bit, but the events that began eight days after the-wedding-that-never-was need to be written. Everything happened so fast that this is the first chance I’ve had. So, I’m going to write the story of the last thirteen days as best as I can remember. And then maybe I’ll keep a day to day diary again.
It will help; it will give me something else to do other than mourn and fear and hate.
I sat in our camp watching the glowing embers of the previous night’s fire. The sun hadn’t yet fully risen, and pink and orange clouds streaked low in the sky. I had a blanket around my shoulders that either Charlotte or Kay had put there before they went to bed and I clutched the edges together, tight against my body. I had my head on Misfit’s shoulder. It was just me and him.
‘I’m going out to hunt,’ he said, passing me a cigarette he’d just rolled for me. I sat up straight and looked at him, the blanket falling off my shoulders to the cold, damp ground. ‘I have to,’ said Misfit through the long strands of fair hair that fell into his face.
I looked down to the ground, then at the cigarette Misfit held out to me between his tattooed fingers. I took it from him and put it into my mouth. I pulled a lighter out of Misfit’s leather jacket that I wore over a couple of jumpers and lit my cigarette. ‘I don’t want you to go out there,’ I said, blowing out smoke.
Misfit bit the ring in his lower lip. ‘I’ll wait ‘til the others are up,’ he said after a moment’s thought. ‘You won’t be alone.’
‘You can’t go out there! You don’t need to … someone else can go on a supply run.’
‘It’s not just about the food. I have to go out.’
‘I’ll be OK,’ said Misfit and he leant forwards and kissed me on the forehead. ‘And so will you.’
I wanted to throw my arms around him and hold on tight. Misfit – the quiet, awkward boy who had killed his own stepdad in order to save me from being raped and god knows what else – had barely left my side since the wedding. At first I had wanted to be on my own, retreating into myself; the pain of losing Sam had been too much to bear. But Misfit never tried to get me to talk about how I felt, never tried to offer any of his sympathies or advice on how to heal myself. And so I had got used to him being there. I needed him to be there. But sometimes you have to let go, even when it hurts. So, I watched as he stood up and walked to his and Stewart’s caravan, giving me a backward glance before he went inside.
I finished my cigarette, throwing the butt into the embers. A few moments later, Misfit came out, followed by a smiling Stewart.
‘Morning pudding,’ said Stewart, and he sat down next to me on the worn, dirty rug that provided sparse cover on the patchy grass. ‘Been out here all night again? Bet you’ve got a numb bum on that cold floor?’ I didn’t answer and looked at Misfit. He had his small hunting knife in his right hand, and his backpack slung over his shoulder. He nodded to me and then headed towards the fence.
I sprang to my feet and darted after Misfit. I reached the section we used as a gate just before he did, and I entwined my fingers through the bars. I stared at him imploringly while he undid the lock.
‘I’ll be back soon,’ he said. I didn’t want to but I let go of the bars. Misfit passed me the keys and I moved aside so he could pull the panel open. He slipped through the gap just as Stewart trotted up beside me and took the keys from my cold, useless hands. Stewart closed and locked the fence panel while I watched Misfit descend the hill, down to the Warren, his hunting ground. The outside world looked alien to me now, even though it had only been eight days. I didn’t think I could face going out there again.
‘Come here, pudding,’ said Stewart, putting an arm around my shoulders and pulling me towards him. ‘He’ll be OK. And you need a good meal inside you. You’re a bag of bones. In fact, this hug is hurting me. Get off, Miss Pointy, and get to bed,’ he said, letting go of me. ‘A proper bed. You look exhausted.’
‘I’m OK. I’m …’ A cold, grey fog swept into my brain. My legs wobbled and I leant against the fence to support myself.
‘Steady, pudding,’ said Stewart, grabbing my right forearm. ‘Let’s get you inside and wrapped up in bed. It’s bloody freezing out here.’ I let Stewart guide me to my caravan, the one I shared with Kay and Charlotte. The one I used to share with Sam.
Stewart pretty much shoved me through the inside of the caravan, down to my bedroom. He picked up my bloody wedding dress, still where I left it when me, Kay, Stewart, Charlotte and Misfit had returned from St Andrews after the-wedding-that-never-was. He looked at it, then at me standing limply in the doorway. He rolled the dress into a ball like a giant, bedraggled candy floss; with it under one arm, he straightened my bed out as best he could with one hand, the sheets still crumpled from where I had crawled and Sam had sprung out of bed eight days ago. ‘In,’ he said. ‘Now. Sleep. Good.’ He winked at me but I stared blankly at him. ‘Go on, sleepy time.’
Too weak to argue, I lay down and Stewart pulled the covers over me. I buried my head into my pillow. I didn’t want to watch him as he carried my wedding dress away. The dress with Sam’s blood on it.
Now I was alone, I turned onto my side and screamed into the pillow until every bit of breath left my lungs. Even then I refused to breathe in, pushing against my lungs, so heavy on my chest, resisting the impulse to allow the air inside me. When I couldn’t stand the pain in my chest any longer I gasped in a large lungful of air, and a sob racked my body. Eyes closed, I bit down on the pillowcase and held my breath again, not so long this time.
I rolled over onto my back and lay still, numb after my brief outburst, my breathing shallow. When I was little, I used to think holding your breath meant you were dead. At that moment, I wished it could be that simple. Apart from my chest slowly rising and falling, the tears rolling down my cheeks were the only part of me that moved.
I couldn’t stand being back in that bed, too big and cold without him. He’d been right there with me, just eight days ago, when he’d woken up beside me, excited about our wedding day. I hadn’t wanted to marry him, but I hadn’t wanted to lose him. I had loved him. As housemates in the same student house, he had been the last connection to life before the outbreak. I learned via an email from my dad, early on in the apocalypse, that my little brother, Jake, had been bitten by a zombie while he played out in the back garden at our house in Surrey. I had lost touch with my mum and dad after that so I never knew what happened to them. I could only imagine the worst. And hope for the best.
Now Sam had gone. I didn’t want to breathe. I didn’t want to think. I didn’t want to feel.
I closed my eyes.
Opening my eyes was like an arthritic ninety-year-old trying to open a stiff up-and-over garage door – I knew they should go up but I didn’t have the strength required to achieve it. I rubbed my eyelids until they slowly gave and I prised them open, blinking a few times to loosen them up.
I wondered how long I’d slept but the weak, early morning sun that filtered low through the half drawn curtains in my bedroom suggested it could only have been a couple of hours or so. I lifted my heavy body off the bed and glanced at my reflection in the full length mirror on one of the wardrobe doors. The last time I had stood in that spot I had been wearing my wedding dress, my hair freshly washed, trimmed, curled and pinned up with fabric roses. At the time, I’d had to admit that Kay and Charlotte had done an impressive job of making me look pretty and girly. But I had seen through it all to the apprehension in my eye and the twitch in my fingers – fingers that wanted to rip the fussy attire and adornments away so I could run out into the wild and be free.
My body had been thin even then, under the layers of faded, weather-worn lace and silk of my post-apocalyptic wedding dress. But, despite my lack of body fat, I had looked strong and more than capable of surviving in the dystopian world of the living dead. Now, I wasn’t only thin but frail, my defined muscles having wasted away in the short space of time I’d been in hiding. Puffy eyes bulged from their dark rimmed sockets, while with my hollow cheeks and pale skin I could easily be mistaken for a zombie.
I ran my fingers through my straggly, unwashed hair, my fringe flopping back into place as my hand carried on to the back of my neck. Turning from the mirror, I staggered across to the window. I could see Kay, Stewart and Charlotte standing beside a dying fire. No sign of Misfit, but I knew he wouldn’t be back yet. An experienced hunter, he would often be gone for hours, returning with a bundle of rabbits, squirrels, fish, even seagulls and pigeons as the sun went down.
I wobbled my way out of the bedroom, wrapping Misfit’s leather jacket around my body. Wearing it comforted me. The smell. The feel of it. As I stumbled out of the caravan, the others turned to look at me. Their grave expressions made me stop still. ‘What’s the matter?’ I croaked.
‘Misfit hasn’t come back,’ said Kay.
‘But he only just left,’ I said.
Charlotte sprang across to me and placed a hand on my arm. ‘No,’ she began. ‘He went out yesterday.’
‘Yesterday?’ I said quickly. ‘But –’
‘You slept for twenty-four hours, sweetie,’ said Charlotte, her voice soft.
‘But –’ My legs buckled. Charlotte tried to support me but I went down, the caravan steps breaking my fall. I perched on the top step and Charlotte took a seat beside me, putting her arm around my shoulders. ‘Why didn’t any of you wake me? Have you been out to look for him? He –’
‘You needed to sleep,’ said Kay. ‘And it was getting dark before we realised he wasn’t coming back. It would have been fucking suicide to go out then.’
‘Now,’ I said, standing up. ‘We have to go NOW!’ I marched towards the fence, not caring that I trampled over the remains of the vegetable garden, now a patch of dry earth in need of weeding. Stewart put a hand out to stop me. I shoved him away and continued on to the fence but he grabbed my right arm and swung me round.
‘You’re in no condition to go out there, Sophie,’ he said. ‘And what are you going to do out there with no weapon? You’re not thinking straight.’
I looked down. I wasn’t carrying a weapon. ‘I’ll get a weapon,’ I said, pulling my arm away from Stewart. ‘You can’t stop me.’
‘I’m just worried about you, pudding.’
‘If she wants to go, let her go. And you can count on me to be right there with you, Sophie,’ began Kay. ‘But this is Misfit we’re talking about. That boy knows how to handle himself and he knows the Warren like the back of his hand. If he’s not back by now, you might have to face the fact he’s not coming back.’
‘He is. And I’m fucking well going to find him!’ I said, and I stormed off to my caravan to get my weapons.