Life is like an adventure. And like all adventures, it must eventually come to an end.
I walked hurriedly back towards the place that I tried to escape from, the diving equipment strapped uncomfortably on me. I looked like the special ops soldier that I used to play in games, with the two oxygen cylinders behind my back and what looked like an armor on my front, which KM said was to conceal the different components inside. The breathing unit, which looked something like a mask used by jet fighter pilots was hanging from the side of my face.
Daniel gave me a quick crash course on the sophisticated piece of gear, and although I nodded fervently, I could only catch tidbits of what he said here and there. My only hope was that I would not have to use it if I can. Turned out that my hopes were quickly dashed as I approached the officers quarters.
The intrusion was worse than I had predicted. Zeds were already swarming into the compound and panicked people were running everywhere. It was still night, but from my earlier experience, I realized that it was not a big enough deterrent to stop the zeds. But the biggest shock of the night was not how the zeds were mauling off one person after another, it was how some guards were running away instead of fighting the zeds. Others who were brave enough were shooting blindly to the head, then everywhere, without realizing that the weak point of the zeds were their heart. Some of the shots were lucky enough to find their way to the zed’s hearts, but the situation itself was too chaotic for for the guards to notice. It seemed that the founder’s propaganda - that the zeds cannot die - have rubbed off on the ones who were supposed to be protecting everyone from the zeds. How ironic, I thought.
“Go for the heart! They will die if you go for the heart!” I shouted from where I stood, to whoever who can hear me. A few of the guards picked it up, and their immediately switched their aim to the zeds heart. Instead of mindlessly charging even though they have been shot, some of the zeds were actually dropping on the ground now, finally dead. However, looking at the amount of zeds that were pouring in, I doubted whether the guards could hold long enough. And sure enough, I saw a guard running out of ammunition and trying frantically to pull his blade out, only to have three zeds crowd over him. His friends who witnessed the carnage retreated hastily too, and all around me, everything was falling apart. The sight of people being torn apart, of the guards desperately putting up a last stand was too much bear.
My mind told me that I should not waste anymore moment there, and I obediently strapped on the mask and turn the inlet valve. The air from the tanks begin to fill my lungs, and I hoped that it would be enough to render me invisible to the zeds. I began to pick up my pace as I headed to the officer’s quarters. The diving gear worked in a way, although it did not allow me to run at my normal speed, the zeds around me seemed to take no notice of me. The zeds continued on their rampage around me, while I strolled on casually. I tried not to make a big deal out of it, but my heart pounded so intensely that I felt that it was going to burst out from my chest. My time was limited, I know that, because it would not take long before the zeds would overwhelm the entire place. I had to reach Alicia fast.
The doors of the main entrance were stained with blood when I reached it. One body was lying on the floor, part of it stomach ripped savagely out and I saw blood trails leading up the staircase. Bullet casings littered the floor and behind some of the desks nearby, the sound of a mouth chewing on something, along with soft groans traveled to my ears. My hand reached instinctively for my gun. The hard metallic surface seemed to give me a form of assurance, as I slowly made my way to the staircase. The indicator on the gear was pointing at 50 percent now, and it would not be long before it runs out. Alicia’s room was on the third floor, just a few flight of steps away.
I crept along the marble floors beneath me, hoping that the zeds would not catch me in the room. Outside, the combination of nighttime darkness, my diving gear and panicked residents reduced the risk of the zeds picking me out as a target; by now I guessed that they operated the same way as animal predators do, picking out the easiest one to go after. Inside this building however, I would be the only target.
The building was eerily quiet despite the chaos that was surrounding it. The zed at the first floor was the only zed I saw, and before I knew it, I was already in front of Alicia’s room.
“Alicia?” I silently whispered, wishing for the best.
“Ah, yes, come in, would you?” came the reply. The voice made my hair stood on their ends. It was the founder.
“The guy who brought ruin to my kingdom,” he said as I walked into the room, staring straight at me. A lit cigar stood in between his fingers. A bandaged wound was visible on the hand that held the cigar. My hands were beginning to tremble, so I hid them behind me. We were facing each other as we walked sideways, not unlike Western cowboy movies when the two main characters were about to face off in a life and death battle. My trembling arms reached for my gun.
“You know, I used to trust people,” the founder continued.
“I used to think that people are inherently good. Until my dad disappeared one day, even though he said he would never leave us. When I was older, my business partner took away with all of the company’s assets. Nevermind, I thought, because I still had my wife. But she cheated on me with a high school sweetheart later, giving me the lame excuse that she could not forget him,” he stopped to take a puff from his cigar. My peripheral vision searched for Alicia as we continued our slow dance across the room.
“And you proved to me again that humans no one can be trusted,” he said with a heavy sigh. My eyes spotted Alicia near the edge of the room, near the windows. Her hands were tied and her mouth was gagged. Bruises were clearly on different parts of her body.
“Looking for her, aren’t you?” the founder taunted, when he caught my eyes looking towards her direction. I considered whether to make a dash towards Alicia, before realizing that the founder’s hands now held a strange looking device in his hands. Two buttons can be seen clearly on the surface of the device, one brightly coloured red and the other green.
“Lets see how you would like it when hundreds of zeds are sinking their teeth into your skin!” the founder screamed, and just as I raised my gun and shot two bullets into his direction, his hands slammed unto the green button. The bullets caught him by his lower abdomen, and the force of it knocked him backwards. His back hit the wall behind him, and before he slumped to the floor, he uttered one final sentence.
“Lets see how you save her now,” he mocked. The device activated the fire alarm in the building, and the building blared with the sound of bells ringing noisily. I knew what was going to happen next as I rushed towards Alicia and began frantically untying her. My eyes took a peek at the situation outside, and already I could see the horde of zeds rushing in. I could already feel their clamber beneath us.
“Can you move?” I asked Alicia as I cut loose the final knot on her legs. Though visibly shaken, she told me that she can. Good, I thought to myself, as I began to take off the diving gear that I was wearing.
“Wear this,” I told her, as I rushed towards the founder. He looked dead by now, but it did not mattered to me. I went straight for the device on his hands and tried pushing the red button, then the green button. No effect. Just as I expected, he had prepared well. It seemed as there was only one thing left to do.
I walked back to Alicia, and trying to muster my calmest voice, I told her my plan. The sound of the zeds were growing stronger by now, and even though they were terrible stairs climbers, I knew it was only a matter time before they reach our floor. She had already fully worn the diving gear. I helped her to put the mouthpiece in, and turned on the valve.
“Now listen,” I told her, and began to explain my plan. Given how it is impossible for us to escape the zeds in our current situation, I told her that I was going to try and distract the zeds by leading them to the rooftop and once the situation is safe enough, she must slip away with the help of the rebreather. Upon hearing this she shook her head violently, and tried to pull her mouthpiece out to voice her disagreement and I told her that I would have none of it. And to help her make up her mind, I turned over my hand and showed her my elbow.
There was four distinct red lines across it, and surrounding the wound, the skin has began to turn greyish. A zed had managed to sink it’s virus laden nails into my skin while I was outside, and now the virus was spreading inside my body. Alicia’s face turned pale when she saw it, and I tried to reassure her.
I told her how our life must all eventually come to an end, and sadly it was now my time. I told her not to be sad, as I did not regret any of my actions and how I would not die with a satisfied heart if I did not save her. In the end she agreed, and as I hear the sound of an approaching vehicle, deep down in my heart I knew that everything will eventually be alright.
As I sit here, on the rooftop alone, with the steel access door securely locked behind me, I am trying to fill up the last pages of this diary with whatever adventures that I have experience with the remaining time that I have. I could still hear the sound of the zeds banging on the door. It would not be long before I am one of them, I thought to myself.
I had stood at the edge of the roof watching Alicia climb into the personnel carrier driven by KM, and I saw how the vehicle stood there for the longest time ever, presumably deciding whether they would want to save me. But in the end, as the number of zeds kept increasing they did not have a choice but to leave. I was just glad that in the end all of them made it out alive.
It has been a great adventure I would say, my dear diary, and I wonder if one day you would be found by others. I am going to put a bullet through my heart after this, but not before I say how grateful I am to everyone whom I have met along this journey.I have no regrets of ending my adventure like this, because I have truly experienced enough. And I must say that it has been a great journey. But I am not sad, because a part of my memories would forever live on in the pages of this book. Like I said, all adventures must inevitably come to an end. Adios.
P/s: This story is part of the ongoing series, Dear Diary, that I am writing in hopes of getting it published. I try to read through it several times before I upload it, but time and time again grammar mistakes might elude me. So if you spot anything do let me know, and I will correct it asap. Thanks!