We thought he was a hero, the savior. I certainly did. I looked up to him so much, until he did that thing he did.
He found me first. I was hiding in a little shop then. He was looking for supplies inside. I cried out to him for help then. I think he nearly blew my head off then. I was lucky he didn’t.
He took me under his wing. I didn’t know why he did so then.
I don’t know what to do today, but I can’t leave. There’s no way I can survive on my own out there in the city, the world.
It all started with that supposed cure for cancer. They said they found it. The scientists were confident. It made headlines all over the world.
And it worked. It worked at first.
People with all sorts of cancers were getting better. Their tumors shrunk into oblivion.
People were happy, very happy. Heck, we felt immortal. Some said it was the start of cell evolution. The scientists, and even the politicians even said that we could start research on reverse-aging.
Then it all went to shit. It happened in just a few months.
Cancer, in the pre-vaccine days was always a mystery. It mutated too much. And it won. Cancer won. It somehow grabbed the cure in the host’s body and mutated every, single cell.
That’s when they turned into zombies. Oh, you know what they are. They’re dead, but not dead. They walk around mindlessly.
At first, only cancer patients with the cure injected in them turned into zombies. Then it spread like wild fire. Apparently this living-dead abomination spread their condition in almost every possible way. Fluids. Biting. Bodily contact. Air. Some even said by staring alone.
That was all it took. The city turned to shit in just a few days.
Everybody was pretty much worthless against the zombies, but him, he was different. He always manages to win. Fear didn’t seem to take over him. It was almost as he was immune. I mean, I swear I saw get bitten once, but he didn’t get infected at all. It looked like his sheer force of will alone allowed him to survive. We were all hoping to know his secret. We thought he’d tell it to us one day, but he didn’t.
He was a killing machine. I guess I am glad to be on his side, despite what he did, and what he made me do.
He taught me everything I needed to know in surviving today. Shooting. Looting. Running. Fixing things. Fitness. Spotting a person who has been infected and when he would turn into a zombie. I was grateful. I dare say even, at one point I felt like I had family again. I try not to think about that anymore.
After he found me, we went on a journey. It was, well, kind of amazing actually.
I never felt more alive.
We killed zombies. It was satisfying. We escaped and avoided narrow deaths quite a few times. It was thrilling. We saw great sights in the countryside of the city. We chatted. We bonded over fires. We got to know each other.
And yes, we saved a lot of people, a lot meaning just four of them. To find a living human in today’s world was rare.
I don’t know how he did it, but he seemed then, to have this intuitive ability of scouting out these people.
The first person we saved was Jackson. We found him in city hall. Jackson was a good man, both during the pre-apocalypse days and today. He was a judge. A fair one, I was told.
And yeah, he was pretty useful. He made smart, rational decisions when it came to roaming around the city. He wasn’t much of a soldier, or a killer, but it was good to have him around. He gave a sense of ease that things would be alright. I would wonder why Jackson thanked him so many times, repeatedly.
He was our first member to the party.
The second person we saved was Sarah. She was really scared when we found her in her house in the suburbs. She actually recognized him at first. I thought it was a pretty cool coincidence that they knew each other.
He helped her then. He calmed her down. He fed her. He taught her how to survive properly. I swear even, at one point that she was falling in love with him. Good choice, but crap timing I thought, to fall in love with a hero during the apocalypse. I would wonder why she kept crying and apologizing to him though.
Sarah made the party a total of four then.
The third person we found was Bob. Bob was a great guy. He was a cop. He was fit, smart, funny and also had good instincts. He was like, a real match for him!
They got along pretty well. It was like a combo of bravery and courage. I’ve seen the two of work together like pros. They shot, kill, ran and saved the rest of us countless times. I would wonder why Bob said to him that one time after killing a few, “I’m glad we’re on the same side now brother.”
Bob made us a total of five then. It was so good. It felt like a real family.
The last guy we saved was Terry the lawyer. I didn’t like him at all. He was snarky, loud and most of all, pretty useless. All he ever did was talk. I think he knew Terry when we found him. It was strange. But I don’t think Terry reciprocated. I guess Terry met too many people in the pre-infection days. I would wonder why he kept keeping an eye on Terry. I think once, nay, more than once, while talking to Terry, he clenched his fists really tightly at random moments.
Nonetheless, Terry was one of us. We totaled six then. It was still good.
Then he brought us to his base, as he called it.
It was a little farm in the countryside and boy, was it a base!
He put up spiky barriers all around. He built an entire fence surrounding the house and the barn. He had weapons stored in the tool shed. And get this, he even had animals and crops growing!
He was self-sustaining! We were self-sustaining! Not only would we survive, but we could live a perfectly normal life as we continued to head out to save others, or so I thought. I seriously thought that’d be the right thing to do.
I thought we’d all become heroes in this god-forsaken world.
And then, he did it. He made me watch too.
He led all of them to the barn that night. He told them he wanted to train them in some new survival skills. Everybody willingly obliged of course, save for Terry who, as usual had to add in a few critical remarks on inane things. They were grateful for him. I remember they just had dinner then.
Looking back, I was surprised how easy it was. I was shocked at how long he spent pretending to live like that. I was amazed that sheer force of will alone worked.
He opened the door to the barn. He let them in first. Then he closed it from behind. I was confused, but didn’t say anything. I was never one to question him. You don’t question a hero.
They started knocking on the door from the inside. He gestured me to follow him. We climbed up the stairs to the second level of the barn from the side.
We went in.
He switched on the lights. With that, something in him changed immediately.
And I then saw the sole reason why the bible said that god was a vengeful god and why he made us in his likeness.
Jackson, Sarah, Bob and Terry were all looking up to us, asking what was going on.
Jackson asked what they were going to learn next. Oh, how naive you were Jackson.
Sarah became her old, timid self again, as if she remembered something horrible.
Bob was alert, exploring his surroundings.
Terry told him to stop fooling around and that he was hungry.
Then he started his speech.
“Lady and gentlemen, I’ve brought you all here together tonight for one reason and one reason only.
I am here to make sure that you all pay for your sins.
My name, is Seth.”
At that moment, all of them, save me, reacted in their own individual way.
Jackson stood there, looking up with a stern look on his face.
Bob instinctively reached for his gun, but it was not there. He was told not to bring it. His biggest and last mistake.
Terry just looked at the two of them and looked up again, obviously confused.
“The past four months with you all was a pleasurable one. I actually did feel a sense of satisfaction as I taught you all what I know. All of you, even Sarah, today are able to survive on your own today.
But, that will not come to pass.”
At that point, all of them started to speak together.
Jackson said, “Son, please. We can talk this out.”
Sarah was crying by then as she shrieked hysterically with tears streaming down from her eyes, “Please Seth! No! I am sorry!I am so sorry!”
Bob didn’t say anything. I think he knew what was coming.
Terry, for the first ever, said something smart, “Wait, I know you…”
But he was cut off. They were all cut off.
He continued, “Five years, two months and exactly six days ago, I was brought before each and everyone of you in the courtroom. On that day, the verdict was given. I was sentenced to prison for four years. I was sentenced because my wife was raped. I was sentenced because Bob right here, caught me in the act of killing my wife’s rapist and decided to turn me in. He did not care that I acted out of self-defense. I was sentenced because Terry right here, did shoddy work and cared nothing for my freedom. I was sentenced because my wife’s best friend, Sarah, who never liked me decided to lie to the court that I was an unstable, crazy psychopath who cared nothing for my wife. I was sentenced because the honorable Jackson gave the final verdict, calling me a danger to society.
I was sentenced because none of you saw me as human.”
The barn was silent. Nobody dared say a thing. I didn’t dare to say a thing then. I was shocked, shocked at his past and what he had to go through and what the people below me were actually like back in the day.
“And then my wife died. She had cancer. I spent exactly eighteen days with her alive, right after I was released. Do you know what it’s like? To have to sit in prison, worrying if your own wife can pull through the trauma? To find out over a prison visit that she has cancer? To read about a cure that we could not afford?”
The four of them stood there silent, starring at him.
“I’ve roamed around the city for a long time alone, aimless, lost, and angry. I felt like that for four years, everyday in prison. When I found out from others, yes, there were others that the four of you were still alive and stranded, only then was my purpose and will in life revived. So now, all of you shall wander the city aimless, lost, and mindless. None of you, shall be human.
There was a collective gasp.
Jackson spoke then, “Please son. Think of the child!”
“Oh this little guy right here?” said Seth as he pointed towards me. “He’s nothing but my redemption. He needs to learn anyway.”
Sarah ran towards us at the wooden pillar beneath us. She tried to claw her way up. “Please! I am sorry Seth! I am sorry!” was all she was screaming.
Terry spoke up, “Come on buddy! I can make this worth your while!”
Bob running around below. I think he was trying to find a weapon.
“Enough talk” he finally said.
He walked over to a dark corner. When I looked over and squinted my eyes, I spotted a rope hanging from the ceiling. He pulled it. And then it happened.
One wall of the entire barn fell over instantly. It was a fake wall. I wondered why it looked so out of place then.
Then twenty-nine zombies walked out after the dust and smoke settled. I actually counted. I wondered then how he managed to capture them and put them there. But, you just don’t question a hero.
The four of them below started screaming. Bob was trying to protect them by running in front of them, but everyone knew they didn’t stand a chance then. Sarah was screaming. Jackson actually started to cry with his eyes closed. Terry went down on his knees and screamed something incoherent. I think he was begging to Seth.
I looked away right after that. All I heard then were their screams, the tearing of flesh, the grinding of bones and what Seth taught me, the choking death cry. That is when the human takes its last breath and becomes one of them. I did however, take a peek at Seth. He stood there, starring at them, his face expressionless.
After a few minutes, he pulled me over and we got out of the barn.
We walked a little out into the field, among the crops he grew.
Then Seth spoke, “You will release them in the morning. You can let them roam then.”
I didn’t say a thing. I didn’t know what to say. I was confused by that statement. I just gulped as I shifted my eyes everywhere.
Then he continued, this time with a glimmer of wisdom in his eyes, “It’s funny how we see the best in people only when everything around us dies.”
I blinked. I was so confused. I was so scared.
“I know you’ll be fine.”
Seth took out his gun from his holster. He handed it to me. He pulled the barrel to his forehead. He stared right into my eyes.
“Do it” he said. “I have nothing left here. You can be the hero now.”
You don’t question a hero. So I pulled.
Just like that. I was alone again.
I am scared. I don’t know what to do today. I feel like I can’t leave here.
But I guess, I’ll simply continue the hero’s journey. That’s what I need to survive; to be immune; to carry on. I need the fire, the pain, the hatred.
I just remembered that I really use to hate loud babies.