O.C.D.Z.

Day 1

Strange things are happening. Thank goodness for the internet and information age. Twenty years ago, this could have been hushed up. But now, now there is a camera in almost every hand. So far, the mainstream media isn’t touching this one. I don’t know if it’s a ham fisted attempt at a cover up, or what.

There is a disease spreading throughout major population centers. The details aren’t clear, yet. More information is coming in every few minutes, for those of us who know where to find it. Some of it is truly hard to believe, even given the reliability of my sources. It’s February, too early for some kind of April Fool’s joke, but what I am reading scares the shit out of me.

A little about me for those of you just tuning in. My name is Dave and I’m an urban hermit with OCD, and agoraphobia. A shut in, some would say. I’m in OK physical shape, but going beyond my threshold is something I do as little as possible. I do my shopping for a month and a half at a time, more in the winter. I have a generator so I don’t have to leave if the power goes out. Add to that 100 gallons of stabilized fuel. What do I do for a living, you ask? I’m a writer, duh…..

Ok, CNN just broke the story as I was typing this. They are saying it seems to be some form of viral encephalitis. Initial symptoms similar to Creutzfeldt-Jakob. But that can’t be it. It is spreading too rapidly. There are only a handful of cases of CJD a year. I’m seeing reports of at least 15 infections worldwide, including 3 on US soil, within 24 hours of each other. Something tells me, the boys and girls in Atlanta (the CDC) are about to start working over time. Because this isn’t sounding like anything known to man.

Glad I did my stockpile recently. Things are about to get rough, methinks. If shit does get real, I can ration myself and probably squeeze 3 months out of my current stock.

I doubt anybody is reading this, but just in case.. I’ll update when I get more information

 

Day 2

Well, I was right. I hate being right. Things are definitely getting worse. The number of “official” infections is over 50, up from yesterday’s 15. 10 infections on US soil with more sure to come. All US patients are being airlifted to the closest CDC facility. 3 in New York, 4 in California, 1 in Florida, and a husband/wife in Ohio. All of the confirmed cases have 1 thing in common. They all returned to the country from or through the same overseas location. Unfortunately, the powers that be are keeping that location quiet for the time being in hopes of avoiding mass panic. I’m guessing Dubai, but that is pure guess.

Let’s be honest here. A catastrophic plague on a global scale is inevitable. It’s just a matter of time. A person can literally circle the globe in just a couple of days (with layovers). Diseases that were once easy to contain because of geography are now a threat to the entire world. See the Ebola scare from 2014 that is STILL flaring up today. Before international travel became the norm, it would have burned itself out within a few months. And Ebola is relatively hard to contract compared to something like norovirus or the common cold. All it would really take is the right mutation to change the face of society as we know it.

How do I know? For someone without formal training, I am very knowledgeable about infectious diseases. Why? Mainly due to my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. A major component of that is a fear of disease/germs. The best way to fight fear is knowledge. Understanding the bogeyman makes him much less terrifying. Or at least that is the theory. So, I devoted a significant portion of my time to trying to understand the things I fear. The problem is, for someone with O.C.D. it doesn’t always work the way it “should”. See, I know my fears can be irational and even a bit silly. But knowing that usually just makes things worse. Because not only do I have the anxiety that comes from it, I am also saddled with knowing that my fears and unfounded but still completely beyond my control.

Where does that leave things right now? I don’t know. I’m monitoring the situation. I may make a trip out this afternoon. I’ve got plenty of food, water and fuel for my generator. But I am a short on shells for my 12ga and 9mm. Thankfully the liberals haven’t quite gotten enough steam to brand me as someone who shouldn’t have guns. I’m sure they would like to. But contrary to the common school of thought, not everybody with a mental illness is a sociopath and a danger to society. I’ve owned firearms most of my life and have never even considered using them on myself or anyone else. With the exception of self defense of course. Come into my home uninvited….. Well, who could fault me for that mindset?

 

Update: Home from the ammo trip. 5 boxed of 12ga buckshot and 10 boxes of 9mm. Combined with what I already had on hand, I’m starting to look like one of those doomsday preppers you see on TV. They have some good things going for them. I’ve learned a few tricks about food storage watching those shows. Never thought I would need to even think about the rest.

Now that I am home, I don’t even know what put the thought into my head that I might need the ammo. I do enjoy sport shooting/target practice, but I don’t believe in force unless it someone initiates it against me first. Then I will do everything in my power to make sure they never initiate force against me again. I feel kinda silly with this stockpile of ammo now that I look at it. Maybe when this all blows over, I’ll take a trip to the range.

 

Update 2: They are starting to give more details about this mysterious illness and it’s some scary shit. It starts with fatigue and muscle weakness. The patient then develops a high fever that doesn’t respond to treatment. Speech and fine motor function begin to deteriorate. Other sources are saying that patients are becoming aggressive and are withstanding sedation to an unthinkable level.

 

Day 3

The outbreak continues to ramp up. Not sure on the current count of infections, but I know it is exponentially higher than yesterday. Even the news outlets have stopped trying to give accurate numbers. The last update I heard was 3 hours ago, and at least 500 cases on US Soil alone. So whatever it is, it is HIGHLY contagious.People are starting to panic. I think at this point, that is pretty understandable. I’m figuring within the next 48 hours, maybe 72, the run on supplies will start.

The CDC still doesn’t know exactly what is happening. It is viral, they know that much. It doesn’t appear to be airborne, according to preliminary studies. Any form of bodily fluid on the other hand is considered to be extremely infectious. At least half a dozen cases have been reported as transmitted through bites from the infected to caregivers. You read that right, it is spread through bites. There is actually some suspicion that this might be a manufactured “super virus”. Obviously, there is currently no vaccine. It would also seem that so far, nobody has found a reliable course of treatment.

The powers that be have finally released the commonality between the initial infected. They had all traveled through Dubai in the previous 24 hours. I kinda figured it would be something along those lines. Didn’t think it would be Dubai though. Travel restrictions are being put in place. So, if you are reading this and had planned to fly overseas any time soon… don’t count on it happening. China has completely closed it’s borders. No in bound air traffic, border crossings barricaded, even the ports are closed down. The Chinese military is enforcing the shut down. I’ve seen reports that foreign nationals, including expats, are being forced to leave the country. I can’t verify them, yet, but that is what is going around. Kinda makes you wonder, do the Chinese know something we don’t?

Interesting side note, at least to me… I decided to wander over to some of the “better” prepper forums just to see how they are reacting to all this. The debate over “bugging out” vs “bugging in” is raging in full steam today. My own opinion is thus: what works for one, doesn’t always work for everyone else. If I lived in a major city, I’d be headed for the hills right now. But I don’t live in a major metro. I live in a big town/small city. Furthermore, I’m close to the edge of town. If shit gets heavy, there isn’t much between me and the countryside. I feel as though staying put is my best bet for now. It’s not like I could fit much gear in my tiny ass car anyways. I knew I should have indulged a bit and bought a truck instead of my little fuel efficient shoe box. Oh well, it’s not like I’m going to need it. I hope..

Shit, I just thought of something. I’m stocked on food, fuel, ammo, etc. But what if the internet goes out? I think that was one of the circles mentioned in Dante’s Inferno, wasn’t it?

 

 

Day 4

The number of infections continues to rise, but no real “new” information. There are only a handful of countries that remain infection free. China’s borders remain closed. In order to even get on a plane you have to go through a screening. With the exception of China, nothing we haven’t seen with other illnesses, like SARS or H1N1.

Since there isn’t much new to cover, I guess I could lend a little insight into who I am. I’ve mentioned a little about myself, but knowing a bit about me might the reader understand my thought process. To start off, it isn’t immodest of me to say that I posses an above average intelligence. I’ve mentioned that I am a writer. That is somewhat of an understatement. I am a published author, who uses 3 pseudonyms and 3 very distinct writing styles. Well, 4 if you count this series of entries. I do that without any form of physical organizational system. No notes, no files, etc. I do it all from memory. There is no record of my connection to any of those 3 names, outside of my publisher, and they have to know who to send the check to. When I die, those secret identities die with me. I say this only to underline what type of person I am. I excel at thinking many moves ahead. Which is funny, seeing as how I suck at chess. I never had the attention span for it, I guess.

And yes, I am “mentally ill”. I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which I’ve already touched on. I am also bi-polar. That can be a bit of a challenge when it comes to keeping up with my writing. It’s hard to write a happy ended when you are incapable of being happy. Luckily, I’ve got a good doctor and we’ve got me on a good medicinal regimen. So the highs aren’t destructively high, and the lows aren’t soul crushingly low. Actually, the bi-polar really is a double edged sword. Yes, the depressive end of the cycle makes it hard to keep up sometimes, but the manic phases… oh man do I get shit done when those hit.

Beyond that, I am a tech enthusiast. I have been for as long as I can remember. We got our first computer when I was in kindergarten. That started a life long love affair with bits and bytes. Since my breakdown, computers are my main source of contact with the outside world. You’d think being a hermit would be lonely. Not in this day and age. I’ve got more friends now than ever before. And that isn’t counting any interfacing I do with my readers.

Speaking of on-line contacts, one of mine has gone silent. And that worries me. We typically exchange some form of communication at least once a day but I haven’t heard from him since yesterday. And he isn’t responding to messages. He’s in a major metro, so…

Oh well,I guess we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

 

Day 5

 

First order of business, I heard from my buddy and everything is copacetic in his neck of the woods. Well, relatively copacetic at least. They are starting to see quite a bit of agitation amongst the populace where he is. But he was out of contact because his ISP went down. I’m kinda surprised he didn’t have some sort of cellular redundancy in place. But who I am to judge, right?

 

In an interesting turn of events, the entire city of Minneapolis is under quarantine. Out of all the cities in the world, I did NOT even begin to think it would be the first. Fucking Minneapolis… The National Guard has been called up. Nobody in, except medical folks. Nobody out, period. Reports on the mainstream news media are vague. Reports on the net are the city is a war zone. The infected have actually banded together and broken out of hospital containment and are now roving the city in a pack. But nobody wants to get sick, so they are keeping their distance, rather than trying to force the sick back to the hospital. I’m not sure how reliable my source is on this one but.. I’ve also read that the pack of sick people is seeking out the healthy and trying to force the infection on them. Most are barricaded in their homes hoping to escape the notice of the herd. I can’t even imagine that. It’s like a fucking Romero movie.

 

We also have our first confirmed local case. Heh, I actually know the poor bastard. Went to highschool with him back in the day. He was a prick. So, I wish I could feel bad for him, but I can’t. Supposedly, he was in Chicago for business until yesterday and started showing symptoms on the drive home. Fucker should have stayed in the Windy. Maybe that’s a bit harsh. He does have a family after all. But, you don’t get to where I am in life without becoming just a bit misanthropic.

 

Update: The FAA just ordered all planes grounded. Flights in progress can continue to their destination but no take offs allowed. Ladies and Gentlemen, shit just got real.

 

Day 6

So, I missed posting yesterday. I ended up working on some stuff, and completely losing track of time. Before I knew it, I was dead tired and just not up to fucking with the headache of firing up the PC. Hence the combo post today.

First up, an update on the outbreak. It’s getting pretty bad in a lot of places. Several cities are now under quarantine. I don’t know how many more cities can be put on lockdown. There just isn’t the personnel to enforce it.The whole “let’s break out of the hospital” shit caught on, now there are roving packs in a dozen major population centers. We are up to 10 local cases. And get this shit… a citizen militia has surrounded the hospital, armed to the teeth. I have no earthly idea what they think they are going to do. Do they think they are actually going to have the testicular fortitude to open fire on a fellow civilian?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for responsible firearm ownership. Hell, I have a couple of guns. I love shooting. I know, I’ve covered this already… But it bears repeating. I just don’t know what theses pork bellied hicks are going to do if it comes down to it.

I guess at this point, you are wondering what kept me away yesterday. Unfortunately, the details have to remain top secret. I made some additions to my sense of security. If shit gets too far out of hand, I am fairly confident I can weather the storm until it either blows itself out, or outside help arrives. One thing I did that is relatively safe to talk about is the fact that any room in my house can be turned into a “safe room” in a matter of seconds. Door and window reinforcements that swing and to place and latch once they are there. We’re not talking Fort Knox, but it will buy me enough time to get a handle on the situation. I’ve also scattered food and water around the house. That way, if I get cut off from part of the house.. I’m not totally fucked.

I’m still worn out from all the construction work, so I’m off to prescription induced slumber land.

Day 9

Decided to take another day off yesterday. Just wasn’t anything worth reporting. More of the same. More people getting sick. More people freaking out. And me tucked in cozy in my nice little fortress of solitude. We aren’t under quarantine yet, but enough places are that stores aren’t getting deliveries. Sometimes, I wish I could be wrong. Shelves are empty. This is going to play hell on the economy. Even the gas stations are shuttered right now. Well, at least I’m well stocked. I think at this point you can probably guess why I am being vague about my whereabouts. I’ve not divulged anything about my locality that doesn’t hold true for countless other places.

 

On the home front, there is one detail I missed. I’ve been meaning to get blackout curtains since I moved in. My sleep habits are unusual at best.It is hard to predict from day to day just exactly when I am going to be sleeping or up and about. My bedroom is fitted with curtains heavy enough to keep unwanted daylight out, but I’m wishing I had done that to the rest of the place. Not to keep light out, but to keep light in. If the infected start to wander the streets here, like they have across the country, I want to be able to give the appearance that nobody is here. I guess if push comes to shove, I can move my most essential electronics and sequester myself to the bedroom after dark. What I wouldn’t give for some decent weight fabric and my grandma’s old Singer.

 

I took a good inventory today and did some math. With the exception of water, I can ration myself out to roughly 55-60 days. Water might be a bit trickier. I’ve only got about 30 days of bottled water on hand. And I don’t have any containers to store tap water in. But, if I start running low, I have the supplies to purify “on the fly” so to speak to restock. I figure iodine tablets, plus the fancy UV doohickeys mountain climbers use should take care of anything in the water I am likely to find. Funny side note about the UV thing: I actually learned about them while researching a novel I was writing that took place on Mt Everest. You’d be amazed at the weird little things you learn when getting your ducks in a row for a book. Actually, I picked up quite a bit of “survival” knowhow writing that. But I’m really hoping I don’t need to put any of it to use.

 

From the “things that make you go: hmmmmmm?” files… I wonder how this is going to effect the elections this year? I’m no scholar, but I don’t think the Constitution covers plagues during the campaign season.

 

 

Day 10

The CDC and WHO have officially declared a state of global emergency. The UN, in a rare fit of reasonableness, has disbanded all “peace keeping forces” and all units are returning to their country of origin. There is even talk of temporarily shutting down all overseas bases. Bases on US soil will remain in operation as will the Navy, lest some foreign power decide to get frisky. Not that anybody is going to have time for fuckery. Things are getting really bad out there.

A little bit of illumination of the roving “herds” of infected. This is based on my reliable sources and the main stream reports. I’ve kinda wondered why law enforcement is just letting them roam. Well, apparently a few attempts have been made to get them to disperse. Unfortunately the officers who took part in those efforts were either overwhelmed and killed outright, or became infected themselves. Nobody wants to get anywhere near these people, if they are still people. Giving my feelings about contagions… Yea, I’d be keeping my distance as well.

 

But the situation seems to be snowballing. The herds are getting larger every day. The number of infected, globally, is incalculable. Some estimates are as high as 1 in 5 people on the face of this planet are infected. That is absolutely terrifying. And it doesn’t show any sign of letting up any time soon. The world will literally never be the same. The local TV and radio stations are running on skeleton crews, only broadcasting because they are required by the FCC to help maintain the emergency broadcast network. But how long until even that ceases. Thankfully, due to huge leaps made in automation, things like power and water wont be problematic for a while yet. The telecom infrastructure seems to be fairly stable. The internet was designed in such a way that it is going to take a LOT for it to go down completely.

 

One side effect of all this that I hadn’t really considered until today… Medication. I’m on several medications that I WILL eventually run out of. With everything at a standstill, I can’t count on being able to restock at all. So, I’m going to start weaning myself off of them. This isn’t going to be pretty. But I am going to start now, so I can taper off as gently as possible. Fair warning though, there will probably be days where the withdrawal has me too sick to post. Never fear, dear reader, I will return as soon as possible if that happens.

 

I’ve been thinking about perimeter security. I’ve fortified my house as best as possible with what I had available. Now I’m thinking about my yard. Just some clanger lines of aluminum cans and fishing line to rattle should anyone come onto the property. An early warning system, if you will. If I do it, it will have to be at night. I want to stay as incognito as possible here. Futzing around in the yard in the middle of the afternoon is just going to advertise my presence. At this point, I don’t think I can be too careful. I’m trapped here, by my own doing, so I should make the best of it.

 

Day 11

Not much change externally. So, I guess I’ll get a little introspective today. Which is going to be a little weird for me. I’m sure you’ve probably figured out that I am a pretty private person. And that is when the world isn’t going to shit.

 

To be brutally honest, my biggest fear is what is going to happen when the meds wear off. I’ve started a regimen of tapering off of them. I don’t really want to go back to who I was before. That wasn’t a good version of me. How I made it as long as I did is, quite frankly, amazing. I’d say 98% of the time, I was “ok” but man… that other 2% was a bitch. Bouncing from borderline delusions of grandeur to ready to eat a bullet. As trite as it may sound, you just can’t understand it unless you’ve been there.

Before everything came crumbling down around me, I had it good. Believe it or not, I was a trucker. It shocks most people when they first hear it. I guess I don’t fit the trucker stereotype. But little do most people know, most truckers DON’T fit the stereotype. Some of the most intelligent people I’ve known were truckers. There’s just something about the road that gets into your system and stays there forever. And it gives you a LOT of time to think. And the best part? I didn’t have to deal with other people hardly at all. Unless I wanted to.

 

Then one morning, at age 30, I found myself in the E.R. having a heart attack. Not due to artery blockage or anything like that. It just started flitting and fluttering and fucking up. It was some seriously scary shit. Not even gonna lie. Eventually, I was diagnosed with a murmur that only shows up from time to time. There isn’t really a treatment for it, other than trying to stay stable when it acts up. Sadly, that ended my trucking career. I could no longer pass the DOT required physical.

 

I tried a few other jobs, but nothing really worked out. A repair place thought I would make a good dispatcher for their techs… except I didn’t know a damned thing about the stuff they were repairing. Kinda hard to maintain a schedule when you have no clue how long a job is supposed to take. That lasted about 3 months before I had a mini-nervous breakdown. I’d painted myself into a corner and couldn’t get out. So, I looked the owner in the eye, told him I wasn’t the right man for the job, shook his hand, and tried to find something else.

 

From there it was desktop support. This was something I could have been good at. Until I discovered that my self inflicted solitude behind the wheel was masking my OCD. I could do the job. I was good at the job. But I couldn’t sit in my little jail cell sized cubicle surrounded by people. Again, I lasted about 3 months.

 

Things got pretty dark for a while after that. I felt completely useless. I’d been working,in one form or another, since I was 16. And now, I couldn’t do shit. What was the point in going on? Then inspiration hit. While I was driving, I would sometimes occupy my mind by making up stories in my head. Now, I’d let those stories out of my head and onto the page. I filed for unemployment, and got to cracking.

 

Writing seems like it would be easy, until you sit down with a blank page in front of you. Some writers make it look a hell of a lot easier than it is. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones who basically write the same story over and over, with a different title and slightly different names. It took the better part of 6 months to get my first novel written. And then probably a year or so to actually get a publisher to look at it, like it and offer me a contract for it. Then it was editing and revising and rewriting. By the time it went to press, that first book was a far step from the original manuscript I mailed out dozens of times.  I got off pretty lucky, from what I hear. Once you get established, you can write your own check almost, but getting to that point is an uphill climb. Both ways. In the snow.

 

I guess that is enough for now. I could keep going, but its getting late.

 

Day 12 pt 1

The rattle cans were a bad idea. No, strike that… The rattle cans were a VERY bad idea. Had a couple of roamers in the neighborhood last night. One wandered into the yard and tripped the rattle. Within minutes my yard was absolutely crawling with them. At least 15. Thankfully, I’ve been observing light discipline, so I went unnoticed. Too bad my neighbor Doug can’t say the same thing. He can’t say anything.

I don’t even know where to start. I’m still in shock. First, let’s clear the air on something. Those are no longer humans. All traces of their humanity is gone. That is the only way I can describe what I saw last night. How else can you explain a swarm of people ripping an 83 year old man limb from limb. If only he had stayed inside. I accept at least partial responsibility. Doug heard my rattle cans and came out to see what the commotion was. Then, being the awesomely crotchety old bastard he was, he tried to stand his ground. For his efforts, he’s currently being digested. I can’t believe I just typed those words. None of this makes any sense. At least he went down giving them hell. I watched him empty his revolver into the closest one. Didn’t even phase the fucking thing. And I know Doug wasn’t missing. He could have had his eyes closed and still hit. After that, they had him down. I can still hear his screams if I let myself think about it.

After they finished with Doug, they sort of just wandered off. I don’t know where they went. I want to go out in a bit to take the rest of the cans down. But I’m kinda worried. What if they are still out there? Screw it. Pistol is loaded, I’m going out. If I don’t post later… You know what happened. Wish me luck.

 

Dat 12 Pt 2

I made it back in one piece. Physically at least. Right now, I’m just emotionally shattered. I don’t know if it was because of the shock or what. Until I was outside taking down the “perimeter” alarm, I had completely forgotten about Betty. Who is Betty you ask? Betty is Doug’s wife. Well, she was. According to the note I found next to her, Betty passed quietly in her sleep two days ago. I’m glad she went peacefully.

 

Betty was Doug’s world. His meaning for existence. Everything Doug did, he did for her. In the couple of years that I’ve lived here, Id gotten to know Doug and Betty pretty well. Hell, they invited me over for Christmas and Thanksgiving. They knew as well as I did that I’d never accept, but I was welcome. And never fail, after all the kids and grandkids left, Doug would trudge across the yard with a plate of leftovers. And I would keep the plate in the fridge for the requisite number of days to be polite. Then I’d scrape the food off, wash the plate, trudge across the yard and give it back. In return, I took care of their yard during the summer and kept their porch and driveway clean in the winter. You couldn’t ask for better neighbors. I think Doug new exactly what was going to happen last night. I think he’d been hoping for it. The note was specifically addressed to me:

 

“[REDACTED FOR PRIVACY]

           

            I don’t know how to thank you for the time we’ve been neighbors. I know you probably don’t think you did very much for Betty and I, but just knowing you were there if we needed you counted for a lot. I don’t envy you. I don’t envy anybody that has to live through whats coming. I know the world is about to turn into a living hell. And I’ve already lived through one of those. My hell was Iwo Jima . Yours is going to be your own home town. Your own neighborhood. I wish I had some wisdom that I could impart that would help see you through. But I don’t. What I do have to offer you is everything I have left. You are going to need every scrap of supplies you can lay your hands on if you want to see the end of this. Upstairs in the spare room, I’ve laid out a few things for you. Take anything and everything you can carry/store. You’re going to need it a hell of a lot more than I will.

           

            I hope to god you don’t see what I’m planning on doing. But if you do, I want you to understand something. I don’t know if I still have it in me to take many out with me when I go… But I am going to try. I am not going to die hunkering down, scared shitless. I retired long before you and I ever met, but once a Marine always a Marine. I hope when your time comes, you go quick but do NOT go quiet. Make the sonsabitches pay for every inch they take.

 

                        Semper Fi

                        Major Doug [REDACTED FOR PRIVACY]

                        USMC (ret)”

 

 

I… I’m done for the day.

 

More tomorrow

 

Day 13

Ok, I think I’ve recovered a little from yesterday. Not even gonna lie… I’m hungover as fuck today. I know getting shitfaced last night was a terrible idea but I just couldn’t process everything. I needed a way to shut my brain down. So, I did what any red blooded human would do. I cracked open a bottle of scotch and well, I don’t remember much else after that. At least I had the presence of mind to maintain light discipline. And since I haven’t been ripped to shreds, I assume the, I don’t know what to call them, didn’t come back around. That won’t last, I’m sure

 

I made my first trip over to Doug and Betty’s a little bit ago. I felt like a vulture. Even though Doug’s note expressly told me to do what I’m doing, I still feel wrong about it. On the other hand they won’t be needing them. Before I did anything else, I grabbed a shovel from my shed and dug a grave for Betty. There is nothing left of Doug except a blood stain. Betty was a small, frail woman in her best days. The word “dainty” was probably invented to describe her. With that being said, holy shit was she heavy as I carried her out. With tears streaming down my face, I placed her body in the grave and filled it in. I couldn’t construct a cairn of stones to keep scavengers out, so I did the next best thing. I took a heavy door off its hinges, placed it over the grave, and pinned it down with their riding mower. Not quite as poetic as stones, but it does the job.

 

Then I made my way up to the spare room to take inventory of what Doug had wanted to make sure I took. It was kinda rough. I’d wager, if things had happened differently , what I found would have gone to Doug’s oldest son. But since he is in Washington state, not much chance of him being able to come get them. If I ever see him, I’ll give them to him. Because if I ever see him, I won’t need them anymore. Here is what I found:

 

  • Colt 1911 .45acp pistol. World War II era, most likely. Actually, I’d be willing to wager money I don’t have it was his side arm while he served. Oil and very well maintained. Also 5 boxes of .45 shells.
  • Ka-Bar knife stamped USMC. Handle is in great shape and it is literally shaving sharp. The scabbard is in pretty good shape too.
  • A bolt action .308 Winchester rifle. It’s got a scope on it and roughly 80 rounds of ammo.
  • A Ruger 10-22 a couple of spare 10 round rotary magazines and at least a thousand rounds. No idea how effective it will be against the roamers (gotta come up with a better name) but it might help feed me.
  • A beat up pair of Bushnell binoculars. The optics are in good shape, but these have been well used.
  • A small compass, OD green, in really good shape.

 

 

Combine that with the dry goods I removed from their cabinets, and I’ve got the wherewithal to last at least a little longer than I Initially expected. Between the .22 and the .308, I should be able to keep myself somewhat stocked with meat. I’ll have to do some research on what is native to the area, how best to find it, and what to do with it once I’ve got it. Never been hunting in my life. Well, if you don’t learn something new every day, you’ve wasted the day. I will probably take another trip over this afternoon and check out Doug’s tool situation. It’s not going to hurt to add to my collection.

 

 

This will probably be it for the day, unless something major happens. I’m going to be busy. And when I’m done being busy, I’m going to be tired.

 

 

Day 14

I finished retrieving what usable stuff I could find from Doug’s place last night and this morning. I won’t bore you with a complete inventory, but suffice to say I’m in a better spot now than I was a couple days ago. Between the two of them, they could have opened their own pharmacy. This afternoon, I need to sit down and make a list of what all I found, and see what the hive mind has to say about the ones I’m not familiar with.

 

I’m pretty well set for any tools I might need, between what I already had and Doug’s WELL stocked workshop. In all the years I lived next to them, I never knew Doug was a hobbyist machinist. He’s got a nice metal lathe and a Bridgeport milling machine in the basement. I’ve never studied the art of metal working, but I’m familiar enough with it to know that in the right hands, there isn’t much you can’t make with that combination. That actually gives me an idea. I remember an old Tom Clancy (I think) novel, where the main character makes a silencer for a pistol with that same basic tool setup. I’ll have to see if that can really be done and if it is something I can muddle my way through. We’ve already established that noise draws a crowd. And I don’t like crowds.

 

One thing is bugging at the back of my head. I couldn’t put my finger on it yesterday, but I’m putting that down to still being in shock from everything. When I was scavenging through their stuff, I found maybe half a box of .357 ammo. I’m assuming that he was using a .357 when he died because nothing else he had would chamber it. But I’ll be damned if I can find the revolver. It just isn’t there. I’m not too worried about it, because the ammo supply isn’t exactly plentiful. I guess that is just going to remain a mystery. Unless I see one of those things carrying a gun. Now that’s a terrifying prospect.

 

My online contacts are slowly going dark. That worries me. Broadcast TV is off the air at this point. Really wishing I’d gotten off my ass and gotten my HAM license. Shit… and this is why I’m writing this. I think better when I type. I’ve still got my old Galaxy 99 10 meter radio from when I was trucking. I’ll have to see if I can find it. Then all I have to do is rig up a power supply and an antenna. I’ve got enough electronics knowhow to manage that. I think. It’s not as high tech or powerful as it could be, but maybe I can reach out and touch someone with it.

 

Well, now I have to decide. Do I spend some time studying metal working and fashion a suppressor for one of my pistols, or do I engage in a crash course in radio operations? My gut instinct says radio first. I know suppressors don’t work like in the movies. They make a gun quieter but they don’t actually silence them. Which, while nice, doesn’t really do me a whole lot of good. Sure it wouldn’t be as loud and the sound wouldn’t carry as far… but if I’m pulling the trigger, I’m in a situation where sound is no longer a factor. Being able to stay in contact with the rest of the world is much more practical.

 

I guess I’m off to the googles to see how practical modding my old Galaxy will be.

 

 

 

UPDATE: Found the radio. Found my antenna and coax cable. It isn’t going to do much, but it’s a start. Now that I think about it, the truck stop on the north end of town has a CB shop. If I need parts, I might hazard a trip out.

 

Day 15

Houston, we’ve had a problem. I got everything hooked up, I thought. Apparently, there was a break somewhere in the antenna line. For those of you not in the know, if you key up the mic on a high powered CB radio without a proper antenna hooked up… you let out the magic blue smoke. So, the HAM radio idea is dead for now. Well, the idea isn’t dead. Just the radio is dead.

In theory, if I can get my hands on the diodes and resistors and shit, I can fix it. In theory. In practice, I’m not so confident. For an electronics nerd, soldering has never been my strong point. I just don’t have steady enough hands. And with the withdrawal from my meds… no way in hell. I’d have a better chance of cutting the solder into tiny little pieces, laying it where it needs to go, and then putting the circuit board in the oven.

Had another bright idea. The mail isn’t running. UPS and FedEx aren’t running. But for now the internet is still functional. And Amazon is up and running just fine. So, using every credit card I own, plus a couple I found at Doug and Betty’s, I’ve purchased a shitload of Kindle books. Truth be told, I’m kinda surprised the payment processing still functioned. The world is coming to an end, but you can still count on Visa and Mastercard. Either way, I don’t have to worry about getting bored any time soon. Sure, using Doug’s cards were a little illegal, but it’s not like he’s going to turn me in. And I was smart enough to buy some books on survival, along with some fiction.

It occurs to me, that I haven’t really mentioned my other neighbors. Probably because I don’t know much about them. I’ve not seen any sign of anybody else since the outbreak started. I don’t know if they headed for the hills or what. Literally no sign of anybody but Doug and Betty. And we already know their fates. I’ll give it a few more days of watching for activity and then I might go scavenging again. I think I’ll find it less morally troubling to raid the supplies of people I never spoke with compared to a couple I considered to be friends.

The roamers passed by again this morning. I wonder if their movements have a pattern. They are still moving as a pack, and the group is noticeably bigger than the last time I saw them. But they have lost some cohesion. They are much more spread out than they were the last time I saw them. I’d estimate there are about 50 of them right now. It took a good 2 hours from when I spotted the first one until the last one had wandered out of sight. I’ll have to increase my vigilance. From now on, I keep a gun on me, even in the house.

That’s it for today. I feel like garbage and have a massive headache.

 

Day 16

Ok, I haven’t really talked about much of what is going on outside my immediate surroundings. Before I get into that, I did make a scavenging run around the neighborhood. Managed to find some more food and medicines. Beyond that, nothing much worth grabbing. I found one gun safe, but I have no way of getting into it. I searched the house for the combination. No such luck. I suppose if I really put my mind to it, I could figure out a way to cut into it or something. I don’t know that it is worth the effort though. It’s a dice roll. I could be walking away from some serious hardware, or I could waste a bunch of time and find it empty. I’ll think on it, do some research, and come to a decision later.

Now, to the outside world. It is already blatantly obvious that things will never be the same. I think at this point, that is a well established fact. But the things I’m hearing just make it more and more plain. The military has been mobilized to retake the population centers. I’m sure my little shithole of a town is pretty far down the list. Hell they may not even bother with the small cities and towns. Other countries are starting to do the same.

I was surprised to hear they are not disarming civilians. I figured that would be the first thing they did. On the other hand, we do all have a common enemy. Roamers, walkers, biters, Zeds, freaks, undead, unclean, zombies. Every citizen is a soldier in the fight for civilization. This is not an occupation war. This is a war of extermination.

That doesn’t mean the hard times are over. Far from it. Complete eradication is something that is going to take years. We’re only a little over two weeks into the ordeal. We can’t afford to even think about “after” yet. The government can’t ride in and save the day overnight. Estimates are currently in the high hundreds of millions if not billions of infections world wide. There is no known cure. Nobody has had a chance to develop a vaccine.

But say someone were to find a miracle cure. Even if they do, the damage is done. Food production will be at a stand still this growing season, at a minimum. That means come winter, after the pestilence, famine will prevail. I don’t know if the human race will make it through this, as a whole. At this point, I have some serious doubts.

I do know this. I’m not leaving my home. If it kills me, so be it. I’d rather die here than in a crowded camp, surrounded by the sick and the starving.

 

Day 17

In the immortal words of Monty Python.. And now for something completely different. I met a stranger today. And let me tell you, it was most assuredly a strange encounter. It was early afternoon, around 1:00pm or so. I glanced out the window, considering another foray out to do some scavenging. I feel like a squirrel gathering nuts before winter hits. Constantly going to and fro, finding bits of useful stuff and hoarding it in my pantry back home. But that is a completely different story altogether.

 

Back to the weird bit of my day. I was glancing out the window when I spotted her. Walking down the middle of the street. Heading straight towards my house. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned or not, but just in case, I live at the end of a cul de sac. She didn’t appear to be armed. She was wearing tennis shoes, blue jeans, and a black leather jacket.

I stepped out onto the porch, with Doug’s .45 in my hand. She was about 20 feet away when she saw me. I leveled my gun at her. “Keep your hands in site and no sudden movements. There are 3 rifles pointed at your head, so you don’ want to spook anybody”. She had no way of knowing it was a bluff.

“Take it easy now. I’m not looking for trouble. The only thing I’m looking for is a little shelter for the night.” She said. “I don’t suppose you know where I could find a place”

“Anywhere but here” I told her. “Nothing personal, but we have a strict ‘no strangers’ policy”

“You got a name Mr ‘no strangers allowed” She asked with a smirk

“Yea, it’s SS”.I responded with a smirk of my own

“What kind of name is” she started to ask when I interrupted her by shouting “I VILL ASK ZEE QUESTIONS!” Maybe I’ve been a little too isolated. But with that the tension was broken by laughter. Might as well be friendly. I lowered my pistol and invited her to have a seat on the porch.

“My name is really Dave. And you are?” I asked as we sat down.

“Michelle, Michelle Ang. Nice to meet you Dave” extending her hand to shake

“Wow. You’ve got the same first and middle name. That must be convenient, Michelle Michelle Ang.”

“Anybody ever tell you that you are a very strange person Dave?”

“Yea, pretty much everybody” I said, with exaggerated suaveness

“You going to signal your snipers that I’m OK and they can come out?”

“Heh, umm, well, the thing is… There are no snipers. Just me. It just sounded good. I mean, you’re the first living person I’ve seen since this all started. You could have been hostile, you still might be but I doubt it. So I bluffed a bit to give myself an appearance of advantage.”

“I guess that makes sense. I was in the next town over when this all started. I’m from Chicago, but the boss sent me down to pitch a potential customer. At first, I was desperate to get back. Then everything really went to shit and I want to stay as far away as I can. I can’t imagine it being anything other than a death trap at this point. I know their phones are down and last I heard their power grid was failing. So, I figured I’d find some place to dig in and see what happens. My car is a couple blocks away. I like to explore on foot.”

“Yea, it’s getting bad in all of the major cities. You couldn’t get into the city, even if you made the trip. The military has it barricaded. Nobody in, nobody out. Have you seen any roamers since you got to town?”

“Roamers? You mean a herd of once humans stripping the flesh from any survivor they can get their decaying hands on? The best you’ve come up with is Roamers?” She asked incredulously.

“Well, I’m trying really hard not to use the Z word. It just seems crazy to use the Z word.”

“Yea, but Dave, you strike me as the kind of guy that crazy doesn’t bother. Look it’s getting late in the day and I need to get settled in somewhere for the night. Since you know the area, can you point me somewhere?”

“Two blocks east, one block north. Red brick 2 story with a nice basement. Dodge minivan in the drive. House number is 1710. ”

“Thanks Dave. Maybe we’ll bump into each other again sometime. It was nice to meet you. And your imaginary friends.” She said with a smile.

“It was nice to meet you too, Michelle. If you decide to stick around the area, let me know. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings to know there is a friendly face in the area.”

 

At that she rose to her feet and made her way down the steps. I sat there for a few minutes, watching her walk down the street. Second guessing myself. I could have told her of a closer place. Hell, I could have invited her in. It’s been so damned long since I’ve had any meaningful human contact. The whole interaction took less than 10 minutes, but it lifted my spirits a little. C’est la vie

 

Day 18-20

No post

 

Day 21

Sorry for the lack of activity the last few days. I’m not quite sure the best way to explain it. After my visitor the other day, I was feeling somewhat out of sorts. I slept fitfully, drifting in and out. When I was actually able to sleep, I was plagued by nightmares. When I wasn’t, I was drenched in sweat tossing and turning. Once I finally resigned myself to not being able to sleep, I barely had the strength to stand. No fever, blood pressure and pulse normal. Blood sugar was well within range. I have no idea what the issue was. Unless maybe it was from the detox/withdrawal from my meds. That is really the only explanation I have. This morning I was finally able to get up and around. I’m still not 100% but getting better. Eating helped, now that I am able to think about food without the urge to gag.

I’ve had visitors. My yard is pretty chewed up. The porch is covered in muddy footprints. Bloody hand prints on the door. I’m glad I had the presence of mind to barricade the doors and windows before I went down. I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to think of it, but I need to rig up some cameras. I’m going to remedy that today.

Once I get that done, I might pay my new neighbor a visit. I wonder how she’s getting along. Hell she may have moved on. But, I need to know if she is in the area. If I know she’s around, there is less chance of me accidentally mistaking her for one of the infected. I’ve gotten lucky so far and been able to avoid the infected. But I’ve resolved myself to defending myself if it comes down to it. If it’s them or me, I’m definitely going to choose me.

 

Day 22

Just over three weeks into the outbreak, and I’ve been pretty lucky so far. Until yesterday. Yesterday, things got kinda touchy. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it back here to post this. I know that I’ve said before that I believe the world will never be the same again. But at this point, even if it is… I won’t be. Three weeks of playing it safe. Three weeks of just hiding in my little corner of the apocalypse. Until yesterday…

I don’t even know where to start. Everything went to shit after yesterday’s post. You know, it’s really hard to set up cameras when you DON’T HAVE ANY. In all of my infinite wisdom, during my scavenging runs, I have neglected to gather any form of tech that I might find useful. Just food and medical supplies. Real freaking smart. Not much left to do but holster up and go gathering.

I’m going to blame it on the med withdrawal. I’m normally not this dense. I swear. It never occured to me to even think about it before yesterday. Where the hell did all my neighbors go? I saw what happened at Doug’s. With that one exception, it’s been really quiet. Maybe they evacuated and nobody thought to check and see if I wanted to go. Maybe they all got infected and are roaming the streets. All I know is I haven’t seen any familiar faces. This is going to have to go in the “unsolved” file for now because I have no freaking clue.

I managed to put my hands on a couple of webcams and some other miscellaneous hardware. I stumbled across one hell of a rack mounted rig that I’ve got to figure out how to move it. It’s got a nice server grade computer, killer gigabit switch and uninterruptible power supply all mounted up nice and neat. A lot of the hardware I’m bringing in is coming from that house. I didn’t know I had a geek of that level in the neighborhood. I’d have gone to his place first. Or maybe her place. Gotta be politically correct these days.

After I got done with my “shopping trip”, I decided to swing by and check on Michelle. I don’t know if she ever made it to the house I’d suggested. There was no sign of her. Or she may have found what I found and decided to put as much distance between her and the house, as possible. In a weird moment of civility, I knocked on the door and waited a good five minutes for her to answer. When she didn’t, I let myself in. As I said, no sign she was ever there. But what I did find…

I though for sure I was hallucinating. I could hear infected. I KNEW I could hear them. But I couldn’t find them. Don’t ask what possessed me to even look. I couldn’t tell you. Maybe something in my head had finally snapped and I realized if I was going to survive this whole ordeal, I was going to have to get blood on my hands at some point. Might as well get it done and over with. After a few confusing minutes, I realized with a bit of shock that I was dealing with a hidden room. It took me a bit to figure out how to open the false wall. When I did figure it out, wow. That is the best I can do right now.

Behind that wall was, well, we’ll call it a playroom and it was occupied. But not the kind for kids. Add this one to the “words I never thought I would write” list: Zombie in a gimp suit. Far be it from me to judge. What consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes is none of my concern. But who is the fuck thinks “Hey, the end of the world as we know it is here, and I’m feeling just a touch randy about it”? A little light spanking to go with your apocalypse sir? His partner’s attire was along the same vein, but you could tell who wore the pants in the family. Believe me when I tell you, I have more questions running through my mind than answers. And I’m not sure I want the answer to any of them.

I stood there in what can only be described as shock for maybe two seconds until 50 shades of zed started lurching towards me. At this point, I had taken in just about all I could process. What happened next is a bit foggy. I can’t tell you exactly how it went down but I do know that I am still here and they are still there. Except they now have bullet holes in them and I do not have any teeth marks on me. So I guess you could say I won. I was just running on instinct. I made a hasty retreat and hauled ass for home base.

Once I made it inside, I secured the door, collapsed in the middle of the floor and just shook for what was probably a couple of hours. By the time I collected myself, it was dark and time to start observing light discipline.

That’s it for today. I’m spent.

 

Day 23

Holy shit. I know I’ve said it many many times, but I don’t think the world can ever possibly recover from this. Obviously, at this point, the laws have gone out the window. It’s do whatever you can to survive. But I never thought it would come to this. The big guns are being brought to bear on the outbreak, in a rather unprecedented manner. And it’s happening on a global scale.

Apparently, broadcast systems are being brought back on line in select areas. All radio and television frequencies are sending out the same signals in those areas. “If you are uninfected, leave the city now. You have 24 hours to comply. Report immediately to the nearest evaluation center to be assessed and then assigned to your new sector.” It just repeats over and over. And not just on U.S. soil. It’s happening around the world.

Reports are coming through that exactly 24 hours after the first broadcast in an area, all hell breaks loose. What exactly is happening is a little fuzzy, but entire cities are being completely leveled. Some rumors suggest mass carpet bombing and napalm. Others suggest nuclear explosions. Military forces around the world have turned to the most extreme solution possible. Total annihilation of the infected cities. All building razed. Nothing left alive. These are unconfirmed at this time. Just data filtering in through the web.

If I were conspiracy minded, which I am, I would think that this may have all been engineered. Who might be behind it, well, that’s anyone’s guess at this point. Obviously, it would almost have to be a government. The amount of resources needed to develop the virus alone is staggering. The question is, was the virus released on purpose or on accident? We will most likely never know the answer to that.

On the home front, no visitors last night. It was actually a pretty quiet night. I almost wish it hadn’t been. I’ve been thinking about that poor couple I had to put down. It’s been weighing on me pretty heavy. So many points of no return.

 

 

Day 24

Not much to report today. It was as “routine” as days can get right now. I’m running out of things to keep me busy. I’ve almost scavenged as much as I can on foot. Food wise I can survive for another 75 days or so. I’m sure if I expand my scavenging range, I could push that even further out. But eventually, I will run out of supplies. Right now, I’m wondering if it is even worth bothering. Does it really matter if I live 25 days or 100? If the world is truly fucked, am I doing anything other than prolonging the inevitable? Or would it be better to end it now?

Fuck it, that’s it for today. Maybe I’ll be back tomorrow. Maybe I wont. Only one way to find out.

 

Day 25

I don’t know what the hell is going on with me. About 1:00pm today, I heard a knocking on my door and someone calling my name. I checked my cameras and it was Michelle. I sort of froze. I couldn’t bring myself to get up and let her in. The only living human for who knows how many miles, and I couldn’t bring myself to talk to her. Why? What the hell is wrong with me? Why am I like this? Am I being punished for something? Am I punishing myself for something? I don’t deserve to live in this hell. I’m a good person. Or at least I’ve always tried to be. Maybe I should go for a walk tonight. Unarmed. I’m too much of a pussy to end it myself, maybe I should let the roamers end it for me. If I knew for sure that there was nothing left in them of the person they once were, I might just do that. But becoming one of them and KNOWING I was one of them would be a fate worse than anything else I could imagine.

Shit, someone/something is trying to get in. I’ll update later if I am able.

 

The End

Breaking news from Springfield today where a man was killed in a standoff with the police. The authorities were alerted by the man’s social worker who had attempted a home visit earlier in the day. She reported that there was good reason to believe he was in a mental health crisis. His name has not been released pending notification of his family and the conclusion of the investigation. The chief of police issued the following statement:

Our office was contacted this afternoon by a mental health caseworker who believed she had a client in danger. Upon arrival, the man was found to be heavily armed and apparently delusional. Fortunately, no officers or bystanders were hurt. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for the man who had barricaded himself inside his home. He was shot and killed while brandishing a firearm at officers.

 It is tragic that this man was unable to get the help he obviously desperately needed. Inside his home, we found a series of electronic journal entries that lead us to believe he was suffering from paranoid delusions. The entries seem to indicate that he believed he was living through the end of the world. He truly felt like all hope was lost and the people coming to help him were the things he feared the worst.

 Not only is it tragic for the man and his family, but for the community as well. The man has been definitively linked to the series of home invasions in the area over the past 3 weeks. There is also strong reason to believe that he was connected to the murder of his elderly neighbors, and the couple who were murdered in their home just a few days ago. The couple only lived a few blocks away.

The thoughts and prayers of the department are with the families left to pick up the pieces of this tragedy.

 

We would like to take this time to plead with anyone reading who might be facing a mental health crisis to please seek help. Information can be found at http://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/index.html or by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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Shadows of Hiroshima – The Letter

The following is the contents of the letter from my grandfather that I found with the journals. Identifying information has been removed or altered. Moving forward, I will post entries individually or in groups of two or three. Text in italics are my additions.

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Shadows of Hiroshima – Prologue

Author’s note: This is a new project. It will be a continuing story, updated periodically. I won’t be updating on a set schedule but I’m going to shoot for at least once a week. At this point I have no idea how long the series will run.

This work is completely fiction. Any similarity with actual individuals or events is coincidental. All electrons used in the creation of this story are free range, organic, non-gmo, and cruelty free. Enjoy…..

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