BEFORE READING THIS, READ: this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and most importantly, this. Or don't, if you want to be a clueless bastard.
Maybe you feel like you missed something…welcome to the crowd, welcome to the crows.
It’s a dead world, and if you find a part of it that isn’t dead, you wish it was...and it still is, anyways. McMurphy is a fucking lunatic, and even if you try to ignore it real hard because he’s saved your ass over and over again, there’s a point where you have to open your eyes. Razor wire has saved my ass a few times, too, but I don’t want to get too close to it, you know? Sarah’s on her last leg as a sane person, trapped down in pitch black for too long, too scared, too weak. And me? I lost my sanity long before any of this shit ever went down.
After the school blew, we all jumped in McMurphy’s ride, and since then, life has been…
There’s no way to really tell you how life has been. If you’ve lived through it, you understand, otherwise, you never will. The dogs, I always thought it was just about dogs. Come to find out, it was about The End. The dogs were just the beginning. You want to know what started it? Me, too.
I woke up after the explosion from the school, and we were running. And that’s what we did. We would run and we would destroy whatever McMurphy stopped in front of, and then we would run some more. Days, weeks, months, eternity. And then we ran into a problem: more of them than we could deal with. “Them?” you ask?
Them: whatever the fuck has happened to this planet. If you saw them in movies, you would call them zombies, I bet. But they aren’t zombies. They aren’t dead, and they haven’t been dead. But they’ve been destroyed, possessed by a virus or infection or something…they mutate daily, and they only want to kill, it seems like.
So many movies have been made about this kind of thing that you would think that someone would have come up with some sort of in-the-event-of plan, but apparently nobody ever really took it seriously. Why should they, right? I mean, before this, nobody even believed in the end of the world, you know?
It’s transmittable, but it’s hard to say how. It’s not and airborne thing, we don’t think, but we only think that because none of us have been infected. If one of them has it, and it bites you, you get it. If one of them has it and touches you, you might get it, or maybe you won’t. We don’t know why. That’s what’s so damn frustrating, you know? We know nothing about it, except that it’s seriously violated the planet.
I’m so used to knowing much more than I’m supposed to, so much more than I want to, it’s especially frustrating to be completely clueless. The thing that my mother always called The Curse was, ironically the only thing keeping me sane, at this point. McMurphy is nuts, Sarah’s just about there, and what can you expect, being locked down in a hole for who knows how long? I can see outside, but usually that’s worse than seeing nothing but dark. Still, though, I’ve seen sunlight, and that’s something. It’s weird, because being able to see the future was the thing that almost drove me insane for most of my life.
“You kids ready?” McMurphy asks. I try to explain to him again that just busting out into a world full of insanity isn’t really a good idea. I had tried to explain to him that our eyes were going to be fried by the daylight, that we had no idea what was out there, that we had no idea where we were going, that there was nothing out there for us but death.
“We can wait another couple of days,” I tell him. Let me look around a little more, let me get a little more sure.”
“No more waitin’, lad. The time has come, and if you’re not with me, you’re again’ me.” He holds his lantern up, and I can see the crazy in his eyes. I don’t blame him, really. Back in the day, McMurphy was a construction worker, just some guy that liked to screw his wife on Saturdays and watch football on Sundays, and if that worked out, then his life was a-oh-fuckin-kay.
He’s out with his family one day, they go out to an amusement park, have a super day, the wife, the two kids, and big daddy. His wife was named Karen, if you care, and his kids were named, Davis and Millie. Davis was nine years old, and named after his great-grandfather on his mother’s side. Millie was named after her grandmother on her father’s side (who was, incidentally, named after her grandfather’s favorite hunting dog). Millie was six.
McMurphy stopped at a gas station, filled up the tank, and ran in to get some snacks for the family. When he came out, his minivan was filled with screams and blood and—shortly after—a dead family. One of those first dogs had found its way to the highway, and found its way to McMurphy’s family. He had ripped it apart with his bare hands, and by some miracle didn’t get infected.
Once you got a few drinks in him, he would tell you this whole story, in graphic detail, and then he would finish by saying that he believed God hated him, and that’s why he lived without infection while his family was ripped apart. He would say a lot of other things, too, so we generally tried not to let McMurphy near a bottle.
After his family was killed, he set out on a one-man mission to kill every mutated beast, every infected person, every single thing that may have caused or been caused by the phenomenon that was killing the planet. He was good at killing, I had to hand him that, but he was going over the edge…quickly. Like I said, I don’t blame him.
But I felt like it might soon be time to part ways. “Fine,” I tell him. “Let’s do it. Sarah, you hold onto my hand, you keep your eyes shut, and you just stick with me. Don’t let go, no matter what.”
“Plannin’ on runnin’?” McMurpy asks.
“The second we open that door, we’re all blind. You want to run out into a world full of monstrosities without your vision, that’s your business. But I’m not letting her get ransacked by these freakin’ things just because you’re impatient.”
“We don’t even know if it’s daylight out there,” he said. True. One thing we had discovered right away is that whatever these creatures are, most of them possess an excellent sense of smell. That’s why we have weather-guard and tape and whatever else we could find around the door—when we first barricaded ourselves down here, there were so many monsters trying to get in that they almost broke down the door. After we sealed ourselves in, most of them lost interest. A couple of them stuck around, though which made opening the door for air a very dangerous thing.
It had all seemed so easy at first, honestly. We cruised around with McMurphy, and when we came across a monster, we killed it. Even when we started noticing more and more of them, we still thought we could take them. And that’s how we ended up at the Miller’s house. Not quite pure panic—something in me told me where to run, and Sarah and McMurphy followed. And now we’re about to go out there again.
Sarah whimpers. “It’s going to be okay, baby,” I tell her. “Shit’s all freaked right now, but we’ll get through this.”
“You promise?” It’s the first intelligible thing she’s said in days, maybe weeks, who knows. I know why she wants me to promise. She’s wandering if I’m telling her it will be okay because I’ve seen the future and know, she wants me to promise that we’ll make it through.
“You’re with me, darlin’. How could it not work out?” I kiss her on the forehead. “Just stay close, keep your eyes shut, and run. We’re going out the door, across the lawn, into the garage. There’s a Hummer in there with a full tank of gas, and the keys are in the visor.” Also some sunglasses, which I’m hoping will help. I don’t mention the shades, though, because then McMurphy will want to drive.
Right now, I’m in charge because I’ve been able to see outside with my mind. What McMurphy doesn’t understand is that I’ll be just as blind as him and Sarah. I’m going to be running through a world of madness counting on memory alone, hoping that the visions I’ve seen in my mind’s eye are accurate. One misplaced tricycle, and we’re scrambled in the lawn, easy prey, and dead.
“We’re going to die,” Sarah says. She wraps a bandana around her eyes. “I won’t be able to keep my eyes closed, I know that.” She smiles. “Did you ever love me?”
The question catches me completely off guard, and I’m bumbling for a response when McMurphy unlocks the door. “Let’s roll, kiddies.” He rips the tape seal from around the edges, and kicks the door open. I shut my eyes, and start running, Sarah’s hand in my right hand, and a rope in my left. McMurphy’s holding the other end of the three-foot piece of rope, he’s supposed to be tagging along behind me, but I don’t trust him enough to let him hold me where I can’t get away. I don’t want him freaking out as we run across the yard, holding me in place while he decides to make his last stand.
The door opens and even with my eyes shut, the light burns. I hear McMurphy scream in pain, and I wonder if he’s already been tagged. “What is it?” I scream to him, wondering if I should just release the rope.
“Din’t get my eyes shut in time, I’ve blinded myself!”
He’s running, though, and that’s good. We make it to the garage without incident, but I forget to yell stop, and McMurphy slams full-tilt into the side.
“Fuckin’ asshole kid!” He screams. And I suddenly see the three of us, but from above. What I see is the future, though, because McMurphy is standing up, but I can tell that at the moment he’s still on the ground. In my vision, I see the creatures moving towards us, running. They’re at the back of the yard, and I’m scrambling to unlock the garage door. This is helpful, because I didn’t even figure on the door being locked. I drop to my knee and find the key in a hide-a-key rock beside the sidewalk. I stand and try to unlock the door.
“We’ve got six of them coming across the yard at us,” I say. Sarah’s hand tightens on mine, and I feel her fingernails draw blood. “Keep calm, and we’ll make it. I promise.” In my vision, I see the three of us pile into the garage, I see the door slam shut, and then it blinks out, which is probably better—it’s hard to concentrate on what you’re doing in the present when you’re trying to see into the future.
I unlock the door and drag them into the garage. It’s darker here, and I open my eyes for just a second. I realize that it’s actually night time. The moonlight is what is playing such hell on our eyes right now. So that’s why you shouldn’t lock yourself away in a hole for weeks at a time, huh?
I run to the Hummer, and Sarah climbs into the backseat behind me. McMurphy has dropped his end of the rope, and is walking around to the passenger side, using his hand against the vehicle as a guide to get around it. Once inside, I put the sunglasses on, and open my eyes all the way. I shove the keys into the ignition and start up the Hummer.
“You did good, kid,” McMurphy tells me. Even with his eyes closed, he looks more sane than he did down in the bomb shelter. “You did real good.”
“We all did,” I tell him, sounding like some shithead after-school special actor. “Where are we going?”
“I don’t know,” McMurphy says.
“We have about two minutes to decide, and then they’re on us.” I look up and see that the vehicle has a GPS system, and one of those help numbers you can dial if you have an accident or get way lost or whatever. I dial the number, hear it ring, and then—surprisingly—someone answers.
“Hello? Hello?” The voice sounds high and panicky. You can tell it’s a man, but you can tell that he’s losing it. “Is anyone there? Someone talk to me! Who is this? Help me! They’re all around the building! Someone has to help!”
I think about ignoring him, but decide not to. In a world that’s been destroyed, you have to think hard about burning bridges. “Make sure you have all the entrances sealed airtight—if they can’t smell you or see you, they’ll walk away.”
“Oh thank god you’re out there! You’ve got to come help me! I’m in Harveryville, Ohio, and I need help.”
“We all need help, chief, but I don’t think it’s out there. The best thing for you to do is secure the area—seal the building, and find some weapons. We’re in a bit of a bind right now, but we’ll try to give you a call back alter.”
“Who? Who’s ‘we?’ Don’t hang up!” I hung up.
“Guy gets on my nerves,” McMurphy says.
“We might need him later,” I tell him.
“So I’m still with ya, then? ‘Cause I din’t know, there for a bit. I saw ya thinkin’ it over, ya know.”
“You’re all right, McMurphy.” I look in the rear view mirror at Sarah. She has the blindfold off and is experimenting with opening her eyes. “You all right babe?”
“I would have gone crazy if I had stayed down in that hole another day. I want to take a shower, I want clean clothes, I want the world back.”
“I think we can probably take care of two out of three of those,” I tell her. I have an image in my mind, fleeting, like when you want to use a word but just can’t quite remember it. On the end of my tongue, at the edge of my mind. Fuck it, whatever. I throw the Hummer into gear and slam my foot down on the gas pedal.
We blast out into the night, running over a gathering gang of creatures, the explode against the windshield and it looks like the night sky has been splatter-painted. McMurphy laughs as I turn on the windshield wipers, and I laugh with him, because it feels good to be out into the world again, even a world of nightmares.