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SCREAMERS

ADAM MOON


Screamers copyright 2013 Adam Moon All rights reserved


To my wife for...I don't know really. Thanks for being awesome, I guess. Plus all the sex...


It started with the elderly. They all went fucking nuts. It seemed like it happened all at once down south but there had to have been isolated incidents previously that just got hushed up or dismissed. Anyway, over the past week and a half, old people have been raging out and attacking absolutely everyone and everything. No one knows why. The nerds are calling them zombies but that's just so they have an excuse to shoot at them or to use their zombie survival skills they've acquired over the years (by watching silly movies and reading stupid books). I don't know what they are, but they're scary as hell. They just sort of lose their humanity. They're fast too, faster than most able bodied folks are, fifty years their junior. I think it's because they don't feel any pain. A normal person will slow down or at least regulate his or her physical exertion based on their pain threshold. The elderly don't have such limitations anymore. That's my theory. Just because I'm only thirty two doesn't mean I can't catch it. If an old woman caught up to me and bit me and I survived the attack, I'd lose my marbles within an hour. They can't be zombies though; zombies eat brains. These monsters eat anything. But they're morons so they don't know how to open cans or unwrap candy bars. Because of that they seem to go after ready to eat meals like live animals and people. They drink water like dogs too; if they weren't so spooky, that might seem silly.


Anyway, this is the first journal I've ever written in and what I wrote above will serve as an introduction of sorts. I write only because there's not much else to do at night anymore. Anything that emits noise of any kind is out of the question. The infected will hear your TV and bust into your house with hunger in their eyes. My story starts with my search for my wife (and hopefully it ends with me finding her safe and sound). She worked at an old folks home that raged out last night. There were several corpses at the scene, a few elderly and a couple of nurses, but my wife's body was not there. Thank God for that. That means that she's either on the run, or more likely, she's infected. I don't give a shit though, she's my wife and she's alive. I'm going to find her. My name is Jack. It started yesterday for me.


ENTRY 1: Day 1 As soon as I noticed Sarah was late, I panicked. I tried her cell phone but it went straight to voicemail. I called the reception desk at the nursing home and a guy picked up. He introduced himself as a police officer. He wouldn't give me any information but he insisted I give him a description of Sarah. Then he hung up on me like a prick. I switched the news on as I got dressed. The news was just starting to report an outbreak at Shady Hills nursing home, where Sarah works. Early reports indicated that at least twelve were dead. All of the patients were either dead or missing. Sarah and I'd talked about her taking a leave of absence, ever since the elderly began to freak out. But she insisted that those outbreaks were isolated incidents (they'd occurred down south) that would never affect her or her residents. I normally taunt her when she's wrong, but right then my chest felt like it was full of quicksand. My thoughts became numb and sluggish. But there was one thought that shone through all the glare: I must find my wife at all costs. I bolted out the door and immediately regretted it. That asshole neighbor kid who destroyed my mailbox last spring was running about with several of his fingers missing. He was splashing blood around as he went. His face was knotted in a twisted look of rage I'd never witnessed before. Luckily he was chasing a cat at the time because if he'd have locked eyes with me at that very moment I would've probably froze to the spot.


I went back inside the house and grabbed my handgun and my over/under shotgun I use for trap shooting. My aim sucks but aim isn't necessarily a requirement in order to hit your target when you're using a ten gauge. It's pretty hard to miss with it. Because I've seen too many zombie movies, I grabbed a machete from the kitchen drawer. I'd bought the thing because it looked cool. Sarah had argued with me during the ride back home from the flea market where I'd bought it that we'd never have a use for it. She was right about that, until that moment. I shoved the machete in my waistband beside the handgun. Then I had to go put on a belt because my pants were starting to fall off. Something was thrown through the living room window as I bolted out the front door. I jumped in my truck and took off. Thankfully no one had destroyed the truck because there was no way I'd be able to make it on foot. The streets were swarming with infected and their would be victims alike. I wasn't adequately prepared for this, mentally or physically. I work (worked?) in middle management; what did I know about survival skills. There was blood everywhere. That bastard kid had caught the cat. He was eating it like he'd never had anything so delicious in his entire life. Thankfully the cat appeared to be dead already. I don't know if I could've handled watching that little punk eating the cat alive. I slowed down to let a teenage girl jump in the passenger seat because I'm a good Samaritan.


She'd been bitten on the face and the forearm and as soon as I noticed, I had no choice but to drop her off. We know little about the disease but we do know that it takes over within an hour or so of infection. I couldn't risk having her in the truck when she turned. She didn't argue with me. She knew she was screwed. I think she's alright though. I dropped her off on a pretty quiet street. When I arrived at the nursing home I wasn't prepared for what awaited me; the place was absolutely deserted. Just ten minutes ago the outbreak therein was all over the news, now it was yesterdays news already. There were no cops milling around asking for statements or taking pictures, there was no movement at all. The next thing I noticed terrified me to the core. There was a bloody skeleton splayed out in the entryway. It looked like a macabre marionette doll that had its strings cut. Even thinking back on it sends chills up my spine and puts a heavy weight in my lungs. It wasn't exactly a skeleton, it still had tendons and a little flesh left on it. The scalp was intact and the guts were strewn about as though they didn't quite measure up to the delicate palate of the infected. One of its arms was broken in two and some of its finger bones were missing. I almost tucked tail and ran at that point. I didn't want to have to step over the wrecked body so I made my way around to a side door and let myself in. At first everything seemed almost normal inside the nursing home. The hallway was deserted. The walls weren't sprayed with blood like I'd


expected they would be. But when I turned the corner it was a mess. There were bodies here and there. Blood pooled all around the white tiled floor. The stench of shit and sewage increased as I walked deeper inside. I tried to avoid walking down the hallways that were occupied by corpses but that proved futile. In the end I had to suck it up and get through. I did vomit at first. I don't know if it had to do with the scene or the smells. It didn't help though. I was shaking with fear. I'd heard of this type of runaway madness happening in other parts of the country and I'd even tried to make sense of it, but nothing could have prepared me for this shit. To make a long story short, I checked the home, didn't bump into anyone, infected or clean, and ended up giving up the search. Sarah wasn't here. I guess I already knew that but I had to be sure, plus I had to start somewhere. But by that point I didn't know what to do. Should I drive around town hoping to come across her, all the while avoiding being eaten by monsters? I didn't know for sure but I knew I had to get outside and get some air. As soon as I exited the building and rounded the corner, I saw them. There were three of them. I was surprised to see that they were goring each other like crazed lunatics. I suppose they don't differentiate between infected and uninfected; it's all meat to them.


My instinct was to run because I'm a bit of a coward. My next instinct was to pull my shotgun from its back holster and blast them to wet sloppy chunks. I decided against that. For one thing, if they were zombies of lore (which I still hadn't ruled out by that point), then I'd have to get a slug inside each of their brainpans. I didn't have enough confidence in myself for that. Plus, what if the boom attracted others? What I did instead was I tip-toed to the truck, slowly opened the door, and got inside. Then all at once I turned the ignition, slammed the door shut, put it in gear, and floored it the fuck out of there. I didn't even have the courage to look in the rear view mirror to see if they were chasing after me. The streets were choked with madness. It was hellish, like a splatter house movie, but real and wet and stinky. I never realized this kind of nightmarishness could make its way into my sphere of influence. But that's because I'm a dumbass; I saw the writing on the wall, I just chose to ignore it. I did my best to swerve around bodies and pools of blood but I didn't do a good job because the tires of the truck are caked in guts and blood and packed dirt now. I realized then that a search for Sarah was pointless, maybe even foolish. It was already five o'clock at night. Everything I'd seen on the news about the outbreak indicated that when it got dark, your chance for survival diminished drastically. No one knows why but I guess the smart money says it's because you can't see them coming at you.


I knew I'd need to spend some time fortifying the basement of the house or else there would be no tomorrow for me. I drove to Home Depot, filled a cart with two by fours, a nail-gun, and drywall screws. I could have probably found sturdier stuff than wooden boards but time was of the essence. I didn't pay because the store was being looted. Luckily my Home Depot is out in the middle of nowhere which meant I didn't have any man hungry cannibals to contend with. I made it home but I had to drive around the block so that the infected old lady that was standing in the street wouldn't see me going into my house and follow me inside. By the time I circled around she was gone. As quickly as I could, I brought the lumber and whatnot downstairs and started boarding up my basement windows. Others had already done this to their homes, anticipating the spread of the disease, but I'm a lazy fucking dip-shit. Maybe I was just optimistic that this madness could never touch my life. I don't know. By eight o'clock I'd boarded it all up, brought all the food and drink downstairs and called it a night. I tried to watch the news but I ended up having to turn off the TV when I heard a crashing noise overhead. The infected must've heard the TV. Luckily they didn't try to get through the boarded up basement door. There was a struggle upstairs and then for about two hours the floorboards were creaking but now all is silent. That's why I'm writing in this journal.


I can hear gunshots somewhere outside and I can only hope and pray that whoever is doing the firing doesn't decide to choose my house as a refuge because they'll draw in more zombies. I'll find Sarah in the morning.


ENTRY 2: Day 2 Brad stopped over first thing this morning. Because I'm a terrible friend, I didn't even consider whether he was alright or not yesterday. He's Brad though, Brad is unique and unique things are accorded a special place on earth. He'll probably never die but if he does, it'll be in the most awesome, bloodiest fashion imaginable. Of course, now that the infection is here, there's a higher probability of that happening to him than there ever was before. He's a bit of a loner so he's got no one to fend for except me, and since Sarah's missing, he decided he had to help me find her. I almost wish he'd reconsider. He's alright, just a bigger dumbass than I am. Now, when I say he's a dumbass, I don't mean he's stupid because he's actually probably a genius. And therein lies the problem, his ideas are wacky and unrealistic and they generally lead to pain or embarrassment. Plus he's a drunken slob. But no one's perfect. Anyway, enough about Brad; there are more important things to report. I grabbed a picture of Sarah so I could show it around. I should've thought about that yesterday. Brad had brought his nunchucks with him instead of a practical weapon. I'm sure they'll come in handy just so he can say he told me so. He nicknamed the infected Screamers because of the awful sounds they make when they catch sight of their prey. I hated the name at first but


over the course of the day it sort of stuck so I'm going to be calling them that from now on. He said he'd had to run away from half a dozen Screamers to get to my house. When I asked why he didn't just drive he said it was because his car was a fuckin' classic and he didn't want it dented or damaged. That's idiotic. We probably won't survive this and if we do, no one's going to care about cars anymore. We hopped in my truck and set out. It seemed like Wisconsin was already getting comfortable with the fact that we were the newest red zone. The rednecks were out in force. I think they secretly hoped this would happen just so they could shoot people. Just because Wisconsin's a liberal state doesn't mean we don't have our fair share of rednecks and hillbillies. We also have an inordinate number of hunters per capita. Oh, I'm sorry, they're not called hunters these days, they're outdoor sportsmen. That's a bullshit misnomer though. If killing a defenseless animal at a distance from a hiding spot is sport then so is spree killing. Anyway, that's my rant for the day. So rednecks were everywhere, but it did no good. All it did was swell the ranks of Screamers. Screamers are apparently hard to kill (because of their inability to feel pain, I think). So when a pickup truck full of rednecks opens fire, it draws all the Screamers to them and they all end up eaten or infected. Brad and I saw it happen as we were headed to the nursing home to try and pick up Sarah's trail.


It's fucking horrific, but we decided right then that it would be suicide to try and help the rednecks. The truth of the matter is that neither one of us was comfortable shooting at a human being, even if they were infected. We're not sociopaths. Well, Brad is; he suggested we help the Screamers. When I asked him why we should help the infected defeat the rednecks, he said "Because what if the rednecks survive and then move on?" I didn't get it at first but thankfully I realized what he was saying before I asked him what the hell he was babbling about. He meant that they might move on and kill my wife. But just because I understood the logic didn't mean I was ok with following through with it. I kept on driving. We did kind of side swipe an infected guy with the truck. He was butt naked, just running from one side of the road to the other, looking everywhere except in our direction. I didn't mean to hit him but he was erratic and unpredictable. As I swerved to try and get around him he changed direction and crashed into the passenger side door. I know he wasn't hurt too badly because as soon as he hit the deck, he jumped to his feet and gave chase. I've only felt that terrified once in my life and that was just yesterday when those three Screamers were mauling each other outside the nursing home. With that image in my head I realized I didn't just need to worry about rednecks killing my wife, I had to worry about Screamers devouring her. I'm not a violent man but the thought of that makes my blood boil over.


Once we parked at the home, I warned Brad about the skeleton in the front entryway. But that just made me look stupid because the corpse was gone, only faint dark splotches from day old blood remained. Brad looked at me like I was losing it until I saw a broken arm bone (or a leg bone, I don't really know much about anatomy) about ten feet from where the corpse had been. I ran over and held it up like a trophy for him to see and said, "See. It's true. They must've come back for the scraps last night." He said, "Dude, don't touch that. What're you thinking." Only then did I get a real sense that I was starting to become numb to the horrifying reality of our situation. Two days ago I would've puked if you showed me a picture of a fresh human skeletal bone. I placed it back on the ground and wiped my sticky hand in the grass to get off whatever yuck was on it. For the next hour I worried that I might've infected myself simply by touching it but I'm still here. That would've possibly been the most idiotic way anyone ever got infected so I'm glad it didn't come to pass. (I had to stop writing for a second because of some creaking floorboards overhead. Brad's staying with me too since he didn't reinforce his apartment but the noise didn't wake him from his booze induced coma. The creaking's stopped now so I don't know if I just imagined it or not.)


So I followed Brad into the nursing home to look for clues. Neither of us had worked as a tracker in this life or any previous incarnation so I don't know what we were expecting to find. The place was still deserted. We wandered around but we didn't find anything that could point us in the right direction until a rather obese woman came running into the home. She was scared shitless but that was because two Screamers were chasing her. We discovered that little tidbit of trivia right away when the Screamers came inside a second later. She ran up to Brad and grabbed him around the waist as she slid to her knees, sobbing violently. Brad looked at me as if to say, "Help, she's going to get me killed." He held the nunchucks above his head to hit her (only to get her to let go so he didn't get eaten, you understand, right?) Before he could crack her in the skull, I ran forward and grabbed her legs. Brad figured out what I was doing; we would carry this fat pig to a safer place. The Screamers were almost upon us as we got the lady into one of the rooms and shut the door on the screaming madmen coming after us. She wouldn't let go of Brad so I had to hold the handle by myself to keep them out. They didn't seem to go for the handle though, which I was glad for because I'm pretty sure they're stronger than me. The door shook and rattled as they threw their bodies at it. This went on for at least half an hour. I


worried the entire time that other Screamers would hear the commotion and join in. By the time the mayhem on the other side of the door died down, Brad had managed to release the fat woman's death grip and somehow managed to get her to sit on the bed (we noticed the mattress was caked in dried blood but not until after the fat lady got up). We waited for another ten or fifteen minutes before I was brave enough to open the door. I was immediately mortified. It looked like one of the Screamers must've turned on the other one because it was still feasting greedily on its corpse with its hunched over back to us. I slowly closed the door. I wish I could close the door on the memory but once you've seen something that bizarre and gruesome, it can never be unseen. Brad got the fat woman to her feet so he could take off the bed sheet (that was when we saw the blood stains). He wrapped it around his fist like you see in the movies and then gingerly punched the window that led outside. Nothing happened except that the Screamer must have heard it because it started to throw itself at the door with renewed vigor. Brad punched and punched that window with all his might as I held fast to the rattling door handle. He kicked it and slipped, landing squarely on his ass for his troubles. Then he picked up a visitor chair and lobbed it but it just bounced back and hit him in the legs. At that moment we knew we were fucked; that glass was indestructible (I don't


know why. Maybe it's to keep the elderly from escaping but I have no clue). But just as we resigned ourselves to our terrible fate, the din from the other side of the door slowed down and then died off completely. We waited another five minutes before checking the status of the angry cannibal. It was on the floor outside the doorway, scraping at the floor tiles. Its hands were reduced to bloody nubs but still it scraped, smearing blood all over the place. It was bleeding from the head profusely. Its eyes were bugging out as it swiveled them from me to Brad and then to the fat woman. It tried to scream but it seemed like it didn't have the energy. It bled to death right in front of us. It had killed itself trying to get through the door. That thought alone terrifies me down to my core. Once we got over the initial shock, we managed to leave the room, gingerly stepping over the dead Screamer, anticipating a final death lunge from it that never came (I watch too many horror movies). We gave the woman a ride to her house a few blocks away and figured out instantly why the Screamers had targeted her; she had a shit-load of cats. Brad tried to convince her to set them free or abandon them but she wouldn't hear of it. Before we took off, I showed her a picture of Sarah. While she didn't recognize her, she did say that there are trucks of men going around town, capturing the infected in nets and hauling them off. She thought they were cops or Feds or whatever.


She didn't know where the infected were being taken; if they were being held somewhere, or being destroyed in private. The government has done a lot to resist the outright killing of the Screamers. I get that; they don't want people to devalue human life, thereby opening the door for others to join in the massacre. These are still people after all. They're just fucked up. Personally, I'm all for it; Sarah's probably a Screamer and I'd be pissed if she came to any kind of harm because the laws got changed on the fly. I'm seeing on the news right now (I have earphones on while Brad keeps an ear out for any uninvited guests) that the CDC fears the epidemic may be airborne. I don't know about that. I've been around the Screamers enough just in the past two days to have contracted whatever it is that plagues them and I'm clean, so far. I think it's blood borne. I think the CDC knows that but they're clutching at straws as to how it's spreading so virulently. I know why it's spreading so fast; the infected are actively trying to infect us. Actually, that might be a bullshit theory on my part. I'm pretty sure they're just really hungry for man-meat, and if you're unlucky enough to survive it, you end up infected and therefore cursed. I don't know; my head's spinning. Ok, back to what happened earlier today. Brad and I flagged down a truck full of redneck simpletons and showed them the photo of Sarah. I figured they were making the rounds and they might have spotted her.


The driver looked at me like I was the most disgusting piece of shit he'd ever seen and said, "If the bitch is infected, why you trying to find her?" I was about to mention that if he ever referred to my wife as a bitch again, I'd put a round between his eyes when he added, "Is it so you can kill her yourself?" I decided to change course and replied, "yes," just so he'd give up any info he might have. His buddies all chuckled at the thought of me chasing down my infected wife in order to kill her. The driver said, "We seen lots of zombies but none like that. Gimme your cell number and I'll call you if we come up on her." I wrote my number down on a receipt from McDonalds that had been tucked into the glove box. It scares me to imagine what those morons might do to her if they find her before I do. A Screamer chased after my truck about half an hour after that encounter with the rednecks. Screamers are fast as shit but they are far from nimble or fully aware of their surroundings. The guy ran at full sprint, right into a lamp post and fell over backwards. He scrambled to his feet like the crazed cannibal that he is, and came at us again. This time he tripped over his own feet. His face was bleeding as he got back up. We stopped watching in the rear view after that because it was getting pathetic. The point is we outran him. We got lucky. We drove to the police station to show them the photo. That was a waste of our time. The front desk was completely unattended because every uniform was either out on the streets


trying in vain to contain the Wisconsin apocalypse, or else they'd quit and moved away as most intelligent folks had done already. We did see three cops outside wrestle a netted Screamer out of the back of their van. They yelled at us to, "Get the fuck back or we'll shoot," right before they hauled their captive inside. We thought it prudent to avoid instigating them. They were stressed out. Hey, here's something they don't tell you on the news or in the papers: Screamers shit and piss themselves like infants. Hygiene comes second to hunger I guess. I only mention this because it's something we're seeing more each day. I can't wait to see how filthy they are tomorrow (sarcasm). We came across a feasting Screamer too. She was full on long-pig so she barely gave us a passing glance. That is very important to know. Brad and I collected as much meat as we could and it's thawing out in the sink down here. We'll use it to distract them if they come after us the same way you would use a steak to distract or otherwise preoccupy a guard dog. I don't know if it'll work but we have to find something that gives us an advantage or we might not live through tomorrow. Here's the point of this entry: We didn't find Sarah and we're no closer to finding her.


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Screamers