Shannon kicked open the house door after working it open with her trusty crowbar.
“That’s how you do it” she bragged. She gave a cocky smile to her Corps partner Dylan as he rolled his eyes. All three members of the salvage team snickered. Dylan suddenly lifted his finger and pointed behind Shannon. Without a second thought she turned around and planted her ZED into the Z’s skull with a satisfying cracking noise.
“Come on, we need to check the rest of this place” Dylan urged.
Shannon nodded and motioned for the rest of the team to follow her. The group moved into the living room cautiously. Dylan walked silently into the kitchen.
“We got two!” he shouted. A squish was heard. “We got one!” he shouted again. Shannon walked into the kitchen. A zombie lay face down with its gray matter oozing onto the floor. Another, child-sized Z shuffled slowly at Dylan from across the room.
“You mind getting that one?” Dylan asked. “I just can’t ignore the fact that it was a kid once.”
Shannon snorted. “Don’t be such a girl. A ghoul’s a ghoul!” She walked over, swung her crowbar into its cranium and painted the wall with spattered blood. She laughed and spit on the corpse.
Dylan looked at her in disgust. “That’s real nice.”
She smiled and called to the three in the living room. “Okay, it’s clear! Everybody search the place for anything valuable! Keep your eyes open!”
Fifteen minutes later the team had discovered a pantry filled with canned food, a fridge containing several gallons of distilled water, a box filled with dusty toys, and a working calculator. Dylan and Shannon continued searching the kitchen.
“Here’s some pens and a notepad.” Dylan reported.
“I got a box of matches, brand new!” Shannon replied. The team continued searching for a few minutes.
“We’ve got something!” one of the Corps shouted. “I think it’s an old music player of some sort! We found it in this ghoul’s pocket!” Shannon excitedly ran into the living room.
“What’s in it? Metallica? The Monkees?” she asked.
“I’m not sure, the batteries are dead. There could be anything on here.”
“Whatever, bring it with us. Maybe somebody back at the airport has some. I’m crossing my fingers for some kind of Rock.”
Several hours later, the Corpse Corps team returned to the Zone. Shannon and Dylan sat in her hotel room waiting for a third party.
“I’m about ready to go back to my room.” Dylan said tiredly.
“Would you hang on?” Shannon pushed. “My roommate will be here soon. He’s got some batteries for this thing.” She held up the mp3 player they had found. “I know you want to listen or you wouldn’t have come here.”
“I never really liked music that much…” Dylan sighed and put is head down on the table. A few minutes passed and a knock came at the door.
“He’s here!” Shannon yelled. Dylan snorted and jumped out of his sleep. “Come on, it’s been so long since we’ve gotten to listen to anything!” She walked over to the door and opened it up. A short, round man stood there holding two batteries in his hand as Shannon grabbed for them. “Yes! Thanks Paul!” she said happily. She popped the batteries in and sat at the table. Shannon’s roommate walked over and joined them.
Paul looked at Shannon. “So what is this? Did you-”
“Shush!” Shannon interrupted. She cranked up the volume and clicked the play button. Static fizzed as the three stared at the player as if it were pure gold. Then a voice appeared from the small device.
“Wait, this button? It’s on? What light? Oh! Um…hello. Today’s March 3rd and my birthday. My wife bought me this mp3 player as a joke. She says it’s because I’m always forgetting things and I suppose she has a point. I promised her that I would use it though. The problem is I don’t really know what to say. I guess I could start with a little about my self. Well, my name is Bernard Douglas and I’m 36 years old. I live in Syracuse, New York with the love of my life, Melissa and 6 year old son Jason. He’s my pride and joy. Okay, I’m coming! I suppose I should go join my family now. I’ve got some cake to eat!”
Paul clicked the stop button. “This is stupid, it’s just some guy talking. I might be able to get some music if-”
“Paul, you touch that button again, I’ll break your finger.” Shannon interrupted again. She smiled as Paul crossed his arms and leaned back into his chair. Shannon clicked the play button once more.
“The date is March 4th. Nothing new today. I just got home from work. I own a lawn care business with my brother, Al. We had a big job today: weeding and planting a field’s worth of vegetation. Some nice old lady owned a big area of land a few miles away. Other than that, it was a very boring day.”
“It’s March 5th. Home alone again. I just dropped Jason of at his little friend’s house and Mellie is off at the grocery store.”
“March 6th. Remember to pick up weed whacker from Al’s.”
“I just found this player after losing it last week. I didn’t tell Mellie. I was actually pretty upset after losing it. Even though I’ve only recorded a few entries, I’ve grown pretty attached. Oh and today is March 12th.”
“March 15th. There have been reports on the news about people attacking each other. Sounds pretty messed up to me. It’s probably some kind of weird brain tumor that makes you go crazy. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor. All I care is that it stays away from my family.”
“Today’s March 16th. Jason’s teacher talked with me today when I went to pick him up. Apparently he’s doing excellent in class. She says he is much more advanced than the other students. I’m so proud! I took him out to get ice cream as congratulations. I tried to tell him why he was getting rewarded but I don’t think he really cared as long as he got his hands on some sugar.”
“March 18th. I only had one job today, pouring fertilizer in some guy’s garden. I hate daytime television.”
“March 19th. Sometimes I forget how boring it can get around here. Don’t get me wrong, Mellie and Jason are my world. It’s not them though, it’s this whole city. It’s the same thing every day! I know I shouldn’t complain but I’m just sick of waking up, going to work, coming home, watching television, and going to sleep again. Would it kill people to bring a little excitement around here?”
“March 20th. Need to get something for Ted’s birthday next week.”
“Well, it’s March 22nd. I lost one of my best customers today. Kyle Russell had an enormous lawn and always paid graciously. Apparently he’s moving out of state to live with his great aunt and uncle. He says he has a weird feeling about the epidemic going around. I told him not to overreact, that things like this happen all the time. He didn’t listen to me. He was always foolish.”
“Happy April 1st. Mellie got me with the “classic” bucket of water over the door. She thought it was hilarious. She’s really going to be laughing the next time she uses the sink. Ha!”
“April 2nd. Al was attacked today. I called him to ask why he didn’t show up for work and he told me how some psycho bit him on the leg. Apparently, Al saw the man bleeding on the ground. He went over to help him out and he rolled over and bit his ankle! Poor guy was probably freaked out. Al still doesn’t know what happened to him.”
“April 5th. I’m scared. More people have been reported acting the same way as the crazy guy who bit my brother. Al says he feels really weak. Maybe Mr. Russell had the right idea…”
“April 6th. I ran into one of those psychos today. Crazy bastard tried to mug me. He grabbed me from behind and started groaning. He must have been drinking or something, his breath smelled horrible! Joke’s on him though, I punched him right in his freaky mouth. Unfortunately, he bit me right on the knuckles. It’s not that big of a deal though, he just nicked me.”
“April 9th. I don’t think it’s safe to go outside anymore. The whole city’s gone mad. Many people are leaving. I feel drained…Al stopped returning my calls two days ago.”
“April 11th. I boarded up my house. Those freaks are everywhere. This is bigger than I thought. Melissa went out without telling me and took Jason with her. I couldn’t get hold of her cell so I had to go out and find her. I was furious. I found her at the grocery store. I asked her what she was thinking and she said she wanted to stock up on food, just in case.”
“Would you put that thing down? It’s really not the time!”
“Give me a minute Mel! Anyway, I brought her back home as quickly as possible. I explained that she needed to get back in the house with me and stay there. It’s the safest place.”
“April 12th. Those people have been banging at our house for the past day. They haven’t stopped. You’d think they were robots or something…I’m tired. The bite on my hand is still hurting. It doesn’t look like it’s healed much…I feel weak. I think we’re safe in here for a while. The world may have lost it but at least my family is okay. I love them so much. I’d rather die than have anything happen to my family. My Mellie is in the kitchen trying to calm Jason down. I wish he never had to experience any of this. He’s so innocent. He’ll grow up to be a fine man. My arm is hurting…I can’t believe it takes so much energy just to lay here and talk…I just want to sleep. Even if anything happens to me, I can rest knowing that my family will be safe inside this house. I just need sleep…”
The mp3 player clicked to a stop and signaled that the entries were finished. Shannon looked at it with a stone face, her cheerful disposition now non-existent. She popped the batteries out and stood up from the table without a word. She threw them to Paul who let them bounce of of his stomach without a reaction. Shannon turned to her partner who had a worried look on his face.
“Goodnight Dylan.” She walked over to her bed and placed the tape inside the nightstand drawer.