I should have gone with the others. We heard about the evacuation, but I didn’t go. We had plenty of notice. I had time to barricade the doors and windows. I had to protect my home. It wasn’t the ghouls that I was afraid were coming: I’ve seen the movies and figured I could stop the zombies if it came to that. No, I had to stay and protect my house from looters. I wasn’t about to pack up and move and leave all of my things behind. I couldn’t take my 65 inch plasma with me, so I stayed behind to stand guard. That was the biggest mistake of my life. The rest of my friends all headed west. They figured that they would get away from the heavy population of the east coast. I hope they made it.
I quickly boarded up all possible entrances to my home. The only way in or out was through a second story window that was over the porch roof. As far as I knew, those ghouls couldn’t climb and I needed to be sure that I had an emergency escape route. Next, I had to make sure that I was ready for whatever may be coming. Whether they were trying to steal my PS3 or eat my brains, I was going to be ready. I quickly realized that I didn’t own many weapons; you just can’t kill a zombie with a stereo speaker. I had to improvise. The legs from my kitchen table would work nicely on both the living and undead. The table was one of the few pieces of furniture that I owned that wasn’t made of cheap particleboard. When you’re spending thousands on hi-tech toys, there’s just not much left to buy furniture. I kept two of the solid oak legs by my side at all times, never knowing when I would need to use them.
It was quiet after the evacuation, but that didn’t last. The only news I could get on the outside world came via the emergency broadcast system. This was not a test. They reported that all across the country, the highways had become parking lots. Some of the tie-ups were from accidents, but some were from the infected. Most people had just abandoned their vehicles and made a run for it. The phone lines were overloaded, so it was useless to try to get in touch with my friends. I still don’t know if they were in one of those backups. I passed the time watching the empty streets below from the roof of my porch. It was strange seeing the street so empty, so quiet. There was always a group of boys playing basketball in the park up the street, or an argument coming from the bar next door. Not today. The only noise I could hear was the wind blowing the autumn leaves down the street.
Then I heard a sound that sent chills down my spine. It was a low, dull moan coming from down the street. I quickly moved back inside the house, but keeping an eye on the character moving up my street. It was moving slowly, not really looking like it had a plan of attack. Its clothes were blood red, and it looked like the ghoul’s left arm was missing below the elbow. Trying not to make a sound, I tightened my grip on my makeshift weapons, and I waited for it to pass. Looking back, I don’t know why I was so afraid of this one-armed Zack. I guess seeing your first real-life zombie would do that to anyone. It slowly meandered down the road and out of sight. I began to think that I wasn’t going to have to worry about looters anymore.
I didn’t sleep at all that first night or any of the next three. I just spent my time staring out of my window silently watching what was unfolding on the streets below. Each day brought more and more of the undead to the city. Their numbers had increased dramatically from that first night. The quiet has been replaced by that unmistakable moaning. I really wished I had gone with the others. I didn’t really think that things could be as bad as the news predicted. I figured I would ride it out for a day or two, and then things would settle down. But today was the fifth day barricaded in my house. The only food that I had left was half a jar of peanut butter and a box of stale crackers. It wasn’t gourmet, but it was enough for me to make it a few more days.
I lost track of how many days it had been since I saw the first one. It’s hard to keep track of the days when you’re not sleeping. I had managed to drift off to sleep when all of a sudden, I heard a loud banging on one of my kitchen windows. I quickly grabbed Law and Order, my trusty zombie killing weapons, ready to kill whatever was lurking. “Is there anyone in there?” yelled a voice from outside, “Help me! They’re after me!” I froze. Someone was out there. I figured anyone who stayed must have been converted by now. I had to help this stranger, but could I help them without weakening my defenses? The zombies and I had an understanding: I stayed in my house, and they stayed out of it. “Please, please, if there’s anyone in there, please let me in!” pleaded the voice from the darkness.
“Go to the porch!” I yelled back, “Climb to the open window.” I ran to the porch roof to help the stranger. When I got there, I grabbed his arm to help his climb. But they were there too. They swarmed around him, sinking their teeth into his flesh. He screamed in pain, pleading with me to pull him the rest of the way up. It was too late. He was infected. It was only a matter of time before he became one of them. I had to let Zack have him. Those beasts pulled his body back down and ripped away at his flesh. This brought the others around, fighting each other for a place at the feast.
They knew I was there. It was no longer safe for me, but where could I go? It had been well over a week since the evacuation. Anyone with any smarts was long gone. If I was going to survive, I had to find others. I figured I would head for the Interstate. I would either find other survivors, or maybe a car to get me out of town. First, though, I had to make it out of my house alive. I grabbed my oak weapons and started smashing at the rear window of the house. I thought the noise would bring Zack around back so I could make a run for it out the front. Sure enough, they started clawing at the window, trying to get in. I summoned all of the courage I could, and made a run for the porch roof. I didn’t have time to climb down, so I jumped, landing awkwardly on my ankle. I took off down the street, taking out a few of the ghouls as I went.
I quickly realized survival was going to be a lot harder out here than locked in my house. It was too late to go back now. My ankle was throbbing, but I had to keep moving. It was pitch black, and in the rush to get away, I became disoriented. I couldn’t see anything; I just listened for that moan, and then swung as hard as I could until I connected. That first night, I must have put down two dozen Z’s.
When morning came, I could see the devastation that was all around. The streets were covered with blood and the occasional limb; most of the buildings had been ransacked or burned. I kept moving, trying to stay out of the way of those zombies. I made my way down Route 31 toward 81. I would follow the highway towards downtown Syracuse hoping to find some means of rescue. I stayed to the side of the highway, walking in the woods along the roadside whenever possible. By now, my ankle had swelled to double its size–I could barely put any weight on it. I was exhausted, dehydrated, and praying for rescue to come. As I made my way towards Exit 26, I heard a noise that I hadn’t heard in days. I never thought I would be so happy to hear the hum of a diesel engine. The sound wasn’t coming from the highway; it was coming form the road below. The truck was too far away for me to signal, but I saw where it was headed. I had to get there.
I made my way under the Interstate where Route 11 and South Bay Road split and began to head towards the airport. I couldn’t walk anymore, so I crawled and dragged myself down the access road. I could see a makeshift barricade blocking the road. There must be survivors here, I thought to myself as I continued to inch towards the gate. I tried to yell out to anyone who might hear, but I was so weak, and all I could muster was a dull, weak sound. I heard some shouting from up ahead, and then the sound of something zipping past my head. “Did they just shoot at me?” I thought, “They must think I’m one of them.” I had to convince them that I wasn’t infected. I tried to call out again to no avail. Another bullet came my way, this one hitting just to my left. Two figures came running at me, weapons raised, ready to finish me off. One had a cricket bat, and it looked like the other was carrying a clipboard. I tried one final time to speak and wrapped my arms over my face. “Help” was all I could get out as the first man swung his bat towards my head. “Wait!” screamed the one holding the clipboard, “I think he’s one of us.” The two men then picked me up off the ground, and carried me inside of the gate.
The next thing that I remember was waking up the next morning; it was the first good night’s sleep I had since the evacuation. Dr. Krezner was standing next to my bed. He introduced himself and said, “Welcome to Zyracuse. Now would you mind stripping naked? I need to inspect you for bite marks.”