It became clear pretty quickly that, despite what they were saying on TV, getting out of the cities was a good idea. Too many people, too many already infected, and way too easy to get trapped in traffic. Civilization was on the decline, and it was a deathtrap. The military was losing ground every day, so I grabbed what I could and headed for the hills.
Of course I know nothing about wilderness survival. I parked under some trees far enough away from the road that I could not see it, and spent the next two weeks huddling in my car and freezing my ass off at night. I hadn't expected it to get so cold when the sun went down; it’s almost summer!
I only had to deal with one zed during that time; he attacked my car in the middle of the night. I thought he was another survivor at first, he was pretty fresh, and didn't have any of the noticeable broken bones, torn flesh, or bloodstained clothing I've come to expect from the zeds. He looked like his clothes could have used a good washing, but they didn't have that tattered look that so many of the ones on tv and the internet have.
After I brained him with the “anti-theft device” that I keep in the car more for self-defense than for locking the steering wheel, I examined his body. I was really just looking for anything I could use, matches, a lighter, a knife or gun, etc, but I noticed something odd… as if living corpses were not odd enough on their own.
Other than the wounds I caused it appeared the former Mr. Anthony Lawrence, according to the ID in his wallet, had not sustained any injuries. I did not see so much as a scratch on him, never mind a bite. So how did he get infected? I thought you had to be bitten to be infected.
I didn't find anything of value on him. His coat looked a lot warmer than anything I brought, but it also had a fair amount of the blackish crap that passes for Zed blood all over it by that point. I dragged him away from my car, and kicked him down a hill.
By the end of the second week I had run out of food and water. I had nothing to hunt with, the Club may be great against the random ghoul, but I can’t get anywhere close enough to a deer to take a swing at it. Even if I could, I wouldn't know how to clean it, carve it, or preserve it. I should have spent more time watching those doomsday prepper shows.
I did find berries on some shrubs not too far away from my car, but I don’t know what is and isn't poisonous. If I wanted to die, there are easier ways to go about it than trying to poison myself with wild berries. I kept looking.
Not too much farther I found a campsite. There was a single tent, a firepit that had at least been out long enough to go cold, some chairs, a couple of which had been knocked over, and a large tent that was half collapsed and had a ragged, gaping hole in it. I thought that this was a Zed attack, but there was no blood on any of the four sleeping bags inside the tent. There were clothes, a couple of bottles of water, which I took, and some of those berries that I had found, but these ones looked like they had been drying out for a few days.
I also found a bag, it had Spongebob Squarepants and his starfish friend on the side of it, a wind-up flashlight, and a multitool among some other stuff that I could not see any use for. I put the water and flashlight in the bag and the tool in my pocket.
Water was good. Hell, water is probably the most important thing I can have out here, but I wanted food too. I kept looking; maybe these people had a car somewhere nearby with some supplies in it.
What I found was even better, or at least my first impression was that it was better. There was a grouping of tents; maybe two dozen of them. They were scattered around a clearing next to a rock wall. it was as if I had found a little village. I was thrilled at the thought of there being more survivors around until my brain started realizing what I was actually seeing.
Much like the tent I found, most of the ones I could see were badly damaged, and looked abandoned. The difference was that the ones I looked in were not clean like the one nearer my car. There was blood all over the place, but it was dry so whatever had happened here must have at least been a day or so ago.
I didn’t see any movement around me, so I decided to see if there was anything that I could use.
The first tent I looked in had a rifle lying next to a bloodstained sleeping bag. There was also a big black backpack. Looking in the pack briefly I saw that it had a couple of packets of those emergency foil blankets and waterproof matches on top. I would have kept looking, but I heard a noise outside.
I emerged from the tent with the rifle in one hand, and the pack hanging by its strap from the other. I expected to see maybe the tent’s owner (nothing says the blood was necessarily his, right?) wanting to know why I was rooting around in his tent.
For all I know, maybe it was the tent’s owner, but he was not interested in the reasoning for my doing anything if it was. He was probably a handsome guy before someone ate a good portion of his throat. The right side of his red checked flannel shirt was dyed almost black with dried blood.
I raised the rifle and pulled on the trigger. Nothing happened; the trigger didn't move. I looked at the gun stupidly as the man shambled towards me. I was planning to use the butt of the rifle as a club when I saw the little button sticking out of the gun’s body near the trigger. I pressed the button, and it popped out on the other side of the body where it showed bright red. I took aim again, and fired.
Now I’m not a hunter, I don’t belong to the NRA, and the last time I fired a gun it shot paintballs. Keeping this in mind, my first shot missed the zed completely. My second took him in the chest, which is basically the same as missing him altogether. The third hit just slightly to the left of the bridge of his nose, and down he went.
I was feeling pretty pleased with myself until I saw them. The gunshot must have gotten their attention, because three zeds came stumbling out of the trees and into the clearing. I decided that it might be a good time to retreat to my car and hope they didn't follow me.
I turned to head away from the zombies only to find a couple more coming up from behind me; from the direction of my car. I could see more off in the woods shambling towards me as well. Now maybe I could have run around them and gotten away clean, or maybe I would have tripped on an exposed tree root like some sorority girl in a bad horror film and become their dinner.
Since my life has been a little too much like a bad horror film lately, I decided to go the other way; towards the rock wall.
I used to do some rock climbing as a teenager and though that this should be an easy climb. I could see a small ledge not too far up that I could get up to. Last I had heard, zeds had trouble with stairs, so I figured I’d be safe up there until I could climb all the way up to the top of the wall. It was only maybe forty feet up, and I could find my way down from there.
I got up onto the little ledge just fine with the rifle, Spongebob bag, and black backpack all trying to pull me down. The zeds followed me. I don’t know if they could see me, or smell me, or just hear me panting, but they certainly knew I was there. They couldn't reach me though; even the longest of their rotting arms came up a good foot short of reaching my little safe spot.
This presented me with a new problem though. Try as I might, I could not find any way to climb up from there. The wall looked almost like it was sculpted to be an actual wall instead of a naturally occurring rock formation. I figured I was screwed unless I could find a way up because the zeds aren't going anywhere, and I used up the last four bullets in the rifle killing two of them.
Killing those two seemed to have attracted even more of the damned things. I guess a lot of people thought running off to the woods was a good idea… or the zeds followed people like me out here somehow. Whatever brought them out here, shooting off a gun seems to have brought every single cursed one of them to my feet.
Again, I was screwed; safe for the moment up here with my bags, some scrubby grass, and a scattering of loose rocks and pebbles. There's enough room for me to lie down and sleep up here, but I doubt I kind of doubt I will be doing that.
With nothing better to do, I decided to take stock of my supplies:
1 Spongebob tote bag
2 bottles of Bevilacqua bottled water
1 wind up flashlight
1 multitool (Les Stroud Edition, whoever that is)
1 wallet containing completely useless cash and credit cards
1 receipt that has gone through the wash at least once, and may have originally been from Burger Bro
1 hunting rifle with no ammunition
As depressing as that little inventory was, I was in a little better shape with that backpack. The survival/first aid pamphlet in the bag says it is a “Deluxe Emergency Bug-Out Pack”. It contains.
30 water purification tablets.
18 Raptor Blood protein-energy bars
3 books of waterproof matches
6 foil emergency blankets.
4 dust masks
1 magnesium firestarter
1 container of steel wool
2 bright orange plastic ponchos.
2 chemical heat packs
1 multitool, so hey, I have two of those.
1 solar/wind-up flashlight, nicer than the other one, but smaller.
1 first aid kit with adhesive bandages, antiseptic gel, and tweezers.
3 rolls of gauze
2 maxi pads
2 pairs of work gloves
1 bracelet that claims to be made of 100 feet of paracord
1 pouch of metal BBs, they are too big for an air rifle, maybe a little smaller than marbles.
Now when I say "slingshot"' I don’t mean one of those Dennis the Menace Y shaped sticks with a rubber bands strung on it. This thing is metal with a plastic pistol-grip handle; it has a wrist brace, and the rubber is this thick, super-stretchy stuff with a little leather pouch in the middle to hold your shot.
My first thought was to use the multitools to try and chip away at the rock and make myself some handholds ad footholds and climb up. That could take days though, and I will run out of protein bars and water before then, plus what if I slip and fall while trying to make new holes higher up? Best case scenario is that I break a leg and lay on this ledge until I starve; worst case scenario and I deliver myself to my waiting fans like a turkey dropped out of a helicopter.
Then I decided to check out that slingshot. I mean, that’s a weird thing to put in an emergency kit, right? A slingshot? What is it supposed to be there for? In whose fantasy did they believe that they were going to be hunting wild game, or defending themselves with a slingshot?
I decided to open up the little pouch of BBs; the sun shined of their little metal surfaces. I took one of the balls out fit the braced of the slingshot against my forearm, placed the ball in the little leather sling, and pulled back.
Damn it if that BB didn’t go right through a zed’s neck and out the back side. It didn’t sever the spine or anything useful, but holy crap, it worked as a weapon.
Of course my skill with a slingshot is equal to my skill with a rifle, but it I did manage to kill five zeds with it before I ran out of BBs. I’m not feeling down about it though; I’m feeling pretty confident actually. I figure I can make this water last a couple of days, and I think I can ration the protein bars out as long as a week. I just need to take my time and kill all the zeds before climbing down.
The rock wall is not all that hard. I am able to chip away at it pretty easily with the needle-nose pliers on the multitools. I may not be willing to use them to try and carve myself holes so I can climb up out of here, but that doesn’t mean that doing a little mining with them won’t be useful if I need to.
You see, the thing about slingshots, unlike rifles, is that they don’t really care what you fire out of them. You could use BBs, or metal nuts, or coins, or even rocks.
I have plenty of rocks.