Monday, November 11, 2013

#AA

#2

Dear diary, I'm afraid that I have to digress today on the back story of the entire incident as something special happened today. I promise that I will eventually catch up with my side of the story before I met you whenever I have the time.

As usual we were sitting in an abandoned house, doors locked of course, to pass our time. It was around evening that time, the still functioning clock of the three bedroom unit showed 4.30 pm; and I was sitting in the room next to the main door, jotting down my stories as always while Daniel and Julie were outside. What they were doing, I do not know and neither I wanted to know, as I was content with spending my time with you and my beloved pen.

Daytime when the sun was out are our usual rest time as the zeds are most active during this period because you know, they are chlorophyll infused and need the sun to function after all. It's during the nights when we carry out our raid and loot activities, as the zeds tend to be dormant during night time. They will still come at you if you get close enough or if you are loud but if you took the necessary precautions to stay hidden and quiet, you can generally pass by a group of zeds relatively easy. It's during the daytime that the zeds will actively hunt for you and if you're unlucky enough, they would even run after you. Which is why staying indoors is always a safer choice when the sun is out.

I was contemplating on how should I continue my story when I was jolted alert by the sound of violent knocks on the door. I instinctively rushed out to the living room and already Daniel was there, with Julie behind him and his softball bat firmly in his arms. Not having any weapons myself, I picked up the closest wooden chair, in case something do break in, and turned my attention back to the door. The knocks have stopped but both me and Daniel were not going to take any chance to go and check the door. So three of us just stood there for I don't know, perhaps the longest five seconds that we have ever felt in our life with every possible scenario of how this might turn out running in my head.

Then the knocks came again. 

Thud, thud, thud. Pause. Thud, thud, thud. Pause.

"Hello? Anyone there? I saw your message at the 7-11 store. Hello?"

I wanted to laugh with relief when I heard the voice. I could hear Daniel himself giving a huge sigh himself. We both relaxed our grips on what we were holding unto and I proceeded to the door myself. The three of us had a habit of leaving spray painted messages on the wall in raiding locations that we go, in case other survivors might stumble on to the messages. That way we had something extra to do too.

Just to be sure, I myself took a peek at the keyhole to make sure he did not have any zeds hanging unto him.

From what I saw, he was in his mid forties or fifties, wearing the normal formal white suit that people wear for corporate work with the sleeves rolled up to his elbow. He was obviously uncomfortable in that clothing, with his top two buttons off and pool of sweat clearly visible around the front and his armpits. There were also indication of blood around his shirt. Before letting him in, I had to do the unthinkable. I had to ask him to strip. Right until his boxers.

It's a habit that you pick up when the world requires you to be always on alert. It's a habit that could mean between staying alive or getting mauled the next day by your companion. People always have their own reason to hide their bite marks and forgetting to check for them could very well mean the end of all the efforts you have put in to your survival. There was a famous story that spread virally on the internet before it went down, about how a survivor camp allowed a group of children and teacher into their midst without going through any checks as the teacher insisted that they were clean, only to have three of the children turning minutes later and almost jeopardizing everyone in the camp. The teacher had wanted to protect her kids but mercy and trust is just not a viable concept in this type of situation.

Both Daniel and I went through this before and I am ashamed to admit this, I even made Julie strip as I found it hard to trust anyone's word by the time I met them. Daniel refused to make a sentence longer than five words with me for the longest time after that. I just knew I had to be sure.

The old man seemed to contemplate my instructions for a few seconds, after which he took a step back and took off all his clothes. He seemed to understand the need for this. For an old man like him, I was astonished at how firm his muscles were. He looked like one of the marathon runners that I used to see back in the days. Luckily, he had no scars nor any indication of bite marks around his body, or else this would have gotten pretty awkward. Satisfied, I let him put on his clothes and let him. Strangely enough, he did not asked us to show him whether we had any bite marks too, so I left it at that.

He walked in without saying anything, with his backpack behind him, and straight proceeded to sit on the sofa. From how he slumped unto the chair, I guessed he must have not rest for days at least. A few seconds passed as the three of us stood there watching him, wondering if we should initiate any conversation at all. Before we could decide though, the old man finally opened his mouth.

He first apologized for entering like he did, explaining that it has been days since he had last gotten a good sleep and how he has been moving around for days in hopes of looking looking for survivors in the residential areas without much avail before coming across our message. He told us that his name was Michael Teh but we can call him uncle if we wanted, or Mike, depending on how we preferred it. I chose Mike because uncle just sounded too formal and distant.

Mike later told us that he was a police retiree with the rank of sergeant, under the Clementi Police Division. That would have explained his serious demeanor and the authoritative aura around him, I guess. He has a son in the police force as well and he told us how when the full scale of the Singapore outbreak started he wanted to head back straight to the headquarters. Had his son not sent a SMS back to him and told Mike that he is making his way back, Mike could have very well been one of the zeds walking out there right now.

He paused after that, staring into space.

"So... did anyone of you actually killed a zed before?" He then asked. It was a question that caught me by surprise.

Both me and Daniel looked at each other. Although it has been weeks since the outbreak started, never did we all came across a situation where we needed to take down a zed. After all, they were always clumped together and we had to focus on avoiding detection more than elimination. We were no heroes and this was not a game nor movie. Furthermore, the rumours that these zeds cannot be killed through the traditional method of a shot through the head deterred us too, as none of us wanted to be caught in a situation where we have to come face to face with an enemy we cannot kill. Besides, we did not have any worthy enough weapons to begin with.

Mike looked at us for an answer. However, sensing that nothing was gonna come out, he continued.

"Hmph. Just as I guessed. But I don't blame you though. Having never killed anyone before in your life and suddenly expected to clobber those creatures to death with all the blood and all, of course you're not ready. And they said playing video games make you more violent. From the looks of it, it's all show only right? Only on the computer and not in real life."

His eyes hung at Daniel's t-shirt. It was the Left 4 Dead 2 t-shirt that he got from the gaming convention last year.

"My son used to play that, you know."

I didn't know what to reply, as I usually do when speaking with people who were far older than me. Daniel on the other hand, was still looking at him with a fixed stare that I could not decipher what emotion that lie behind it. His fingers was intertwined with Julie's. Her gaze alternated between me, Mike and Daniel.

Mike went on by asking if we heard the rumours about the zeds not being able to be killed through a blow or shot to the head. We nodded our heads.

"What if I tell you that instead of the head, they do have a weakness?" He said with a whisper, perhaps trying to add a little suspense to emphasis his point. He told us about how the rumours about the zeds not having a weak point was not true, it's just that this time round it's not the head. Instead, it was the heart that needs to be put out of commission to really kill a zed.

Of course, we were surprised. How could he know, we asked him. Did he really go and kill a zed himself? And how true were his information as compared to the rumours out there? Where did he get the information from and finally I blurted out my doubts about him bluffing us.

The words that he said next, along with his expression, I will never be able to forget it for the rest of my life.

"I know. Because it was my son."

#AB


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