Chapter 14: Mark Jones, September 16th, Year 0

I woke up at first light again. I promised myself that today I would take a break every few hours. If mommy zombie hadn’t tried to take a bite out of my shoulder where it was protected by my backpack strap and jacket, if she had bit me in the neck or on the back of my head, I would be dead. I couldn’t let myself get that tired again. I absolutely had to stay alert.

I went upstairs to my second floor and opened the window to my front yard. There were eight zombies eating bait. It took just a few minutes to take care of them.

My house was now boarded up. Today, I was going to explore, but first I had to make sure that if a swarm of zombies were chasing me, I could lose them. Zombies didn’t seem to have much of a memory. Apparently, for zombies it was basically out-of-sight for a half hour or more, out-of-mind. I went next door to the Jacksons with a pry bar and my cordless skill-saw. The Jacksons still had the original hardwood floor that was installed when their house was built in the 1950s. The floor was just planks of wood on top of beams. If I pulled up a 6-foot gap in the floors and cut out the crossbeams, I could easily jump over the gap but zombies couldn’t. If I destroyed the basement stairs, there would be no way any zombies that fell into the hole could get out of the basement. I planned on staying in the light while cutting the hole in the floor all the way across the house from the top. I would cut away the basement stairs from the top, again staying in the light as much as possible. If there was a vampire in the basement I wouldn’t make it easy for it to get to me.

I got the Jackson house done, and then the house directly across the street from it which had been owned by the Harrisons. My plan was to jump into the Harrisons’ yard, nail as many zombies with my bow as were following me over the fence, and then take off into the Harrison’s house and hopefully lose them because of a 6-foot gap in the floor. I left my bow and a quiver of arrows on top of a large patio table. The table about ten feet away from the fence I planned on coming over. It was too hard to run while carrying both my mace and bow. I reminded myself again that I needed to figure out a way to carry both. My plan was to clear out one area of zombies and then slowly make my way to the fire station as I cleaned out zombies.

Hopefully, the fire station would have a thermal camera. Zombies weren’t too bad, but vampires sucked. I never wanted to have to go hand-to-hand with one again. Having a camera that would allow me to see vampires through walls would help me avoid them. I needed to head two-and-a-half miles northwest to get to the fire station. I was going to make a quarter-mile detour due east to check out the ward closest to my house; this is the ward where I thought the gunshots were coming from the other day.

I walked out into my street and headed past the stop sign. I saw three zombies. One was dressed like a construction worker, wearing a hard hat. The first one that saw me began to scream and then all three headed my way. I walked away from them at the same speed they were using to head my way. I didn’t want any of them to lose sight of me. I lead them into the backyard next to the Harrisons’ and then used the 6-inch wooden step that I had installed to get over the fence into the Harrisons’ yard. I had plenty of time to get over it and to get on top of the patio table. I picked up my bow. The three zombies slowly climbed over the fence. I was just ten feet away from them. It was no big deal to nail each zombie in the face. I aimed for their open mouths. The arrows went through the back of their mouths in to the base of their skulls, dropping them immediately. The hard hat wasn’t a big deal.

It was simple then to smash in their heads for extra safety and then drag them in front of my house with the other bait. The pile of bodies in front of my house was getting out of hand. I needed to figure out soon what to do with them; another thing to figure out later. Thank God their bodies didn’t smell.

I went down the street and past the stop sign again. A half-block up the street another group of zombies saw me. It was time to go back to the Harrisons’. Again I kept my pace slow, at the same speed as the zombies coming toward me. It was simple to nail them in the head while they climbed over the fence. The pile of bodies in front of my house got larger. This was going much better than I thought it would.

I took five more trips up and down my street, bringing in zombies and then killing them before I got within sight of the ward. Holy shit! The ward was surrounded by zombies. They were mashed tight against fence. There were thousands of them, maybe even a hundred thousand. There had to be people alive in the ward. Only the presence of living, moving, breathing humans could keep so many zombies in sight. I hoped that they would last for as long as possible. The only reason zombies were so sparse around my house was because the ward was keeping so many of them occupied. If I was going to survive, I needed help. I needed to make sure the people in the ward stayed alive.

One of the problems I had with all the end-of-the-world movies I had seen before the 11th was that in almost all of them—except for the one where people hid out in a shopping mall, which, by the way, is my favorite zombie movie—surviving humans wandered around going from town to town, losing people to ambush in every town. The only way to survive for long when everything is out to get you is to control your environment. There is absolutely no way to control your environment when you are constantly moving from town to town. People who flee without a plan are just victims, refugees hoping to find someplace, somewhere, where someone else will save them. The life expectancy of a refugee in this world was going to be nil.

I’m not a victim. A zombie or a vampire might get me but God damn it, I wasn’t going to run and I would take a hell of a lot them with me. Better yet, I wasn’t going to die; I was going to kill every single zombie and vampire that got in my way, and the only way I was going to do this was with other people. I have flaws. God knows, every woman I have ever dated has been happy to tell me what they are. For my entire life, I have been a completely selfish bastard and a loner. I don’t have any friends, just some I guys I drink with. The funniest, most entertaining guy I know has always been me and the only guy I ever needed to have around was me. I’m my own hero. When I say this to other people, they laugh because they think I’m joking. I’m not. I’m serious. The person I’ve admired most has always been me.

If I was going to survive, I needed to have people I could trust. If there were tens of thousands of zombies in just the few blocks from my house, there had to be hundreds of thousands in the greater Salt Lake area, and who knows how many millions in Utah. If I was going to control my environment, I needed every single human who was still alive on my side. For the past three days, I had been staying alive one day at a time. I needed to start thinking about how to get rid of the hundreds of thousands of zombies and whatever number of vampires that were in this city.

Chapter 15