My name is Frankie, and this my story.
I was just like every other young woman, I had a menial job that I couldn’t stand and I lived at home with my parents. I was not ashamed to say that I loved anything nerdy, whether it was playing video games or watching Japanese cartoons in bed. I preferred computers to people most of the time, and although I did love nature I didn’t get out as often as I should have. My life was pretty normal and simple, but I loved it; of course that before everything changed.
In the year 2010 the news reported strange cases of cannibalism in big cities.
We thought nothing of it at first, as for years my parents had said people were getting more violent and their crimes more vicious; but within weeks the cannibalism became more frequent and people began to panic. Then the reports came, of the dead rising and eating the living. Fear rose even more, to the point where some people couldn’t cope and committed suicide. The number of suicides was unlike any the country had ever seen, within a year of this virus the population had dropped from 64.6 million to 30 million.
Despite the army’s effort to eradicate the undead and the scientists attempt to cure the disease the country became over run with the undead. The last TV broadcast was two years after the virus first appeared, the news reporter claimed that we were close to finding a cure. Sadly the reporter had been bitten, and because many people even at that point had still not seen a person turn, she had requested the camera man record her turning; watching someone turn on-screen was nothing compared to seeing it in real life.
It was horrific to watch some one turn, while a person could remain in their dead state for hours you always knew when the reanimation process started. Those who turned looked as if they were having convulsions, their limbs twisted into unnatural positions and their eyes became black and hollow. It only took a few minutes for the resurrection process to be complete, and the longer they stayed in their undead state the more decayed their body became.
One thing the news didn’t report was that we all had this virus and unless you destroyed a person’s brain, they too would rise and become one of the undead.
As it took most people so long to figure this out, it made surviving the apocalypse extremely difficult; though it only took me three months to figure it out. I had seen so many people come back, at first it was hard if it was someone I knew, but now I killed them without hesitation.
Over the years people had given the dead many names, walkers, zombies, dead heads, and even geeks. I found the term geek very amusing, as before the outbreak I was a geek. I spent many days playing table top games with my friends. Though in some ways the table top games helped me to survive in this world, one of the table top games I played was called Outbreak where we played as ourselves in a zombie outbreak and had to survive. I could not help but smile at the irony; I always said geeks would take over the world, and here I am one of the last survivors.
My home town of Dukinfield no longer looked as it did, it was now half burned down with the remainder being run down and filthy. Sometimes if you looked closely you could still see the leftover smoke lingering in the air, the dead were drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I fled my home, feeling as though I would never have sanctuary again. It became so difficult to hide from the undead that people had to flee to far of places, despite the dire state of my home town I could never truly leave it. Every few months I would return home, partly just to see my home again, to remind myself of where I came from. The other reason was to visit my parents graves. In this world burials- well real burials were a rarity, but when my parents died I swore that their bodies would not be left for the dead to feast on, no they would be laid to rest in the place that would always be our home.
Despite my nature of being an indoor person and computer geek I had survived five years of this hell. Though the country was now filled with the dead, I had never felt so alive. All those years spent on computers, I had excellent hand eye co-ordination which came in handy in this deadly world. I did not know how many people were left here; I would guess less than a million. Sometimes it could feel like I was the only person left on earth, but I knew that England wasn’t the only country to have this virus.
In the few weeks before I had left home, I had searched the internet and found that the entire world was dealing with the same problem. America seemed to have it far worse than us, by the end of year two England was still partially functioning whereas America had completely gone under. There were no news reports to tell us how they were doing, it was complete and utter silence.
The European countries had faired quite well considering, they were still broadcasting two years into the Outbreak, as for the Asian countries we lost all communication within six months. I had friends in America and feared they would be among the dead, I could only hope their families and friends had the knowledge to put them down before they came back.
Aside from my parents, I had a big brother who died just before the Outbreak; he was in the second Gulf war. I had no grandparents; they died before I was born. I had aunts and uncles around the country but I hadn’t heard from them for years, my family weren’t close.
I lost most of my friends in the first few months, I didn’t know why I was the one that always survived but I knew that I had to carry on. No one that I knew was left alive; it was beyond sad, but as I had learned there was no use in dwelling on those that had been lost.
My best friend Amara had been the last person from before the outbreak that I had lost. It was from that moment that I vowed to kill all walkers I came across and also to steer clear of large towns or cities.
I clenched my fists as I thought of her, she died because of her own stupidity but also because we chose to avoid the dead instead of taking them on. If only I’d been brave enough back then, I could have saved my oldest friend a fate worse than death.
I shook my head, it would do me no good to dwell on the past. I had to keep moving forward, I snorted, forward to what I wondered?
Over the course of the five years since it had begun, I had found other people but one by one they died. Whether it was at the hands of walkers or the vile people this world created, no one survived for long.
Somehow I did, and with each death I’d had to deal with I became stronger and more able to accept the world for what it was; cold, harsh and lonely. I had seen too many people succumb to insanity and inhumanity, yet I still tried to help people while maintaining a reasonable amount of caution.
I walked along the streets of Hyde, the cold winter wind, whipping through my hair. I was here in search of supplies and food to take back to my companions family. I smiled to myself remembering that day not so long ago that we’d met.
Some god damn idiots had taken up residence in Dukinfield park and decided to build a large camp fire, which drew the dead right to them. Me being me, just had to try and save them. Though in hind sight, I should have left them to die, it was their own stupidity after all that led to their downfall.
With backpack full of gear and enough food to last a month at least, I raced into the west entrance of the park to find the people cowering in fear, hiding at the top of the spider web as we called it. It was a metal frame that was easily ten feet high, rope weaved in and out of the metal giving climbers plenty to hold on to. The fire they had built in the grassy area nearby, had been trampled out by the dead, as the sun quickly descended in the sky, the remaining embers gave the place an almost haunting look. I looked upon the scores of corpses that had gathered round the spider web, luckily for the couple at the top the dead could not climb.
They looked to be about my age, in their early twenties. The girl was short and dumpy, with short, choppy, pale brown hair, her fringe kept being blown into her face. I shook my head from the shadows, any person with half a brain knew to keep your hair out of your face. It blurred her vision too much, if they did manage to get down she was going to have a hell of a time running like that. Especially when in danger, any little mistake could cost you or your loved ones your lives. I looked again, at least the girl wore appropriate clothing-well mostly. Her red fluffy jumper would certainly keep her warm, as would the large, puffy waist length black coat. Her jeans were ripped in places but still she could move with ease, her footwear however seriously needed fixing. Her converse shoes were falling to pieces, even from here I could see the gaping holes in the bottom. A look of pure terror crosses her pale, dirt ridden face as her companion slipped a little. She reached out to grab him just in time, the corpses movements and growls became more urgent more fierce at the prospect of their food becoming within their reach.
She pulled him back up to her level, I had to admit she was strong. Her friend was a good six inches taller than her, with rippling muscles beneath his torn grey t-shirt, His black, faded jeans were also torn, though his footwear was in better condition than hers. His long raven hair was kept in a tight high ponytail on his head, he gave his friend a weak smile as he found his footing again.
I could hear them from where I was, the wind carried their voices making it seem as if they were right next to me.
‘So come on then genius, how are we going to get out of this one?’ The girl asked with more humour than I thought was appropriate.
‘I could always use you as bait,’ he joked giving her a flirty smile.
Really, of all the times to be joking and flirty, they pick now! Ugh, maybe these people were too stupid for their own good, I thought annoyed. I sighed, they might be idiots but that didn’t mean they deserved to die. I looked around, being careful not to be seen or heard by the dead as I thought of a way to get them out of here. Goddess help me, I thought desperately. There was nowhere out of the way for me to lead the walkers to, there were too many for me to take on and there wasn’t any animals around I could use as bait. Then it clicked, I was in a small wooded patch in the park, right next to a little cafe house. I could use the trees to climb on to the roof of the small house and use myself as a diversion, I’d shout to the couple to meet at the old church that was just up the hill from the park. I’d then climb back on the trees and use them to get to a safe place before climbing down. I’ll admit, it was a risky idea but it was all I could do. I wasn’t going to leave two seemingly innocent people here to die. I used what little grip I had left on my shoes to help my climb into the nearest, largest tree to the house. Once I was near the top, I jumped on to the next tree. I kept an eye on the ever growing horde as I pulled myself on to the house. Once I stood up I saw just how many corpses there were.
I cleared my voice, feeling body shake with nervousness as I called out to them.
‘Hey, you two. Over here!’ I shouted at the top of my voice.
They turned and smiled, looking glad to see another living soul.
‘You’ve come to save us?’ The guy shouted laughing.
I should have felt annoyed by his ill timed humour, but instead I found myself smiling.
‘I’m gonna try, now listen to me. When you get the chance, run. Go out that exit there,’ I said pointing towards the west exit that led on to Chapel Street. ‘When you get to the main road, run all the way to the top of the hill. You’ll see a church, meet me there,’ I called over.
They looked down, to see that the horde around them had massively thinned out. They smiled as they tried to make their way down.
I wasted no time in jumping back into the trees, there was nothing else I could do for them but hope that they could fight well enough to get out of here. As I jumped from on tree to the next, I found myself unable to see as the last little light of the sun faded from the sky, a fierce gust of wind blew by, knocking me straight out of the tree. I landed with a thud, right on top of a newly turned female corpse. I pulled my knife quickly from my belt and rammed it into it’s decaying head before it had a chance to react. I jumped up, running with such speed that the walkers looked like blurs as I passed them. I ran out the northern exit of the park, as the exit nearest to me was blocked by the dead clambering over a fallen tree. I hoped the couple made it to the church, but before I had a chance to get there I felt a pair of hands over my mouth, pulling me into a nearby alley. I had first wanted to struggle against the unfamiliar hands, but something inside told me not to.
‘Shh,’ a male voice whispered.
I let him keep his hands over my mouth, I waited and sure enough within moments I saw why he wanted me to keep quiet. It was not a horde, nor the survivor’s I had tried to help, no it was the worst of humanity that had come to kill us all. I heard their car as it raced by, I was lucky that none of the passengers had looked this way. As the sound of their car became quieter, the man behind me let go and relaxed a little.
I turned to face my rescuer, he was a tall, older man in his late forties, with medium length, flowy chestnut hair and deep brown eyes, his muddy, tanned skin was rife with cuts and bruises. He had a youthful smile, and small pale freckles danced across his nose. He wore simple clothes, that reminded me of country folk. His sleeves were rolled up on his red plaid shirt, one button on the top was dangling off, the collar was ripped a little and one pocket had been pulled off. His jeans were in no better condition and were only held together by tight fitting belt around his slender waist. He wore steel toe capped boots that went half way up his shin.
I wasn’t attracted to this man, I mean he was old enough to be my dad, but there was something about him. He had a glow, a light that I hadn’t seen in people for so very long.
‘Thanks, for saving me,’ I smiled graciously.
‘It’s alright, I saw what you tried to do for those people in the park so I figured you were one of the good ones,’ he replied in a somewhat happy cheerful tone.
‘Did you see what happened to them, did they make it?’ I asked with concern.
He shook his head sadly, ‘I’m afraid not, the dead got the boy before they even made off the spider web thingy, and I saw the girl be taken by those- those monsters,’ he said through gritted.
‘Are they, slavers?’ I asked already knowing the answer.
‘Yeah, I’ve seen them about but luckily I’ve always avoided them.’
‘Well thanks again for saving me, I don’t know where your heading but do you mind if I join you, I could use some normal company,’ I joked trying to lighten the mood.
‘Well I don’t if I’m what you’d call normal, but sure your welcome to tag alone.’
That day changed my life for years to come, if it wasn’t for that chance meeting then none of this story would ever have happened. Any future joy or happiness that I found, was all down to Cameron. He gave me something that in this world was very rare, he gave me a mission, a purpose, a reason for living.