Hello. If you’re reading this you likely know two things; that the world was fucked over in a mere five days by the Virus and that I am most likely dead by now. I mean, why else would you have my journal, I keep it in a basket along with my e-cigs and a couple porn magazines (yes, porn used to be printed on paper. Shocking!)
Not as shocking as the revelation that zombies are indeed real, you understand. Gnarled hands, twisted muscles and putrid flesh, you get the idea. There's was almost around 8 billion human beings on this planet, and now more than half of that is turned into a Zeke. Imagine how surprised we must've looked collectively when the first patient shat blood and pus into their bed and then got up and tore out their neighbor's neck tendons.
Even more shocking is the fact that special infected - you know, those guys in video games that are cartoonishly strong and way scarier than normal zombies - are indeed real too. I mean it makes sense. In a world where a corpse can kill and make more corpses that also kill, why shouldn’t a creature with three times as much strength and just the right amount of killing intent not exist as well?
Nobody really knows how the infection started. There’s rumors it was started like in I Am Legend, with a cure for cancer, except with less horrible acting. Some say it was a natural reactant mixing with the toxicity in the water system. Doesn’t really matter now to be honest. I remember where I was when the alarms went off: sleeping. My dog Toasty was getting his intestines ripped out in my backyard and my dumbass was hungover on the day humanity croaked.
I have to admit, they fucked us good. In the first 12 hours of infection I saw a friend of mine get torn in half by a Cuddler (which I’ll describe at length later). Needless to say, I think humanity is absolutely boned. But in the off chance that we get one last hurrah before going out or you just want to get revenge on that undead freak locked in your basement, I’ve written a decent amount of info on the Specials I’ve studied besides the usual zombies.
The Gymnast: We don’t need virals or runners on this planet when these fuckers exist. Skeletal, grey skin stretched over barely rotted muscle, these guys can go from stock-still to sprinting at 15mph in like two seconds flat. Not only that, but they can climb as fast as a human too. AND they can bullet-time. Okay, I sort of embellished that fact, its just that the holes in their ribcage allow bullets to pass through pretty safely. ...Ahh who am I kidding, they dodge bullets pretty well on their own. Oh well. A well-timed explosive or buckshot to the head is usually decent enough to put them down permanently. They also tend to stand still a lot when not chasing down meatbags: I think they conserve energy for their bare-bones structure. I dunno how that shit works honestly, you would think they’d have fallen apart by now.
The Sludger: You’d think water is the enemy of the zombie right? Well, not in this case. It seems they learned how to swim back to land and bring the waste back with. Bloated and damp and constantly gurgling, they slowly drag plants, mud, and rotten flesh with them. They’ll get close and before you know it, you’re inhaling wet paper and feces and being tackled to the ground by the swarm. I saw one pretty much waterboard a guy to death with a plastic tarp that got stuck to its hands. I don’t like smelling them either, but thankfully for you that’s what’ll keep you alive long enough to put them down. One blow to the stomach should deflate them like a water balloon. Sometimes you get a not-so-nice little surprise... I once saw a half-digested skeleton fall out of one. It was still holding the pacifier.
The Succubus: I’m not sure what’s more fucked up, that the Virus is somehow capable of being sexist, or that it managed to specifically engineer the female gender for its own means. The thing about these infected is at a cursory glance, they appear to be totally normal female human beings. It isn’t until things start getting hot n’ heavy - or hopefully beforehand when you realize they’re being way too handsy - that you notice they are in fact dead. You can probably guess how I came across one of these...without going into details it was definitely a more “hands-on experience”.Their biology has changed to the point they secrete a pheromone that masks their scent, unnoticeable yet powerful to human males. All it takes is one horny survivor and all of a sudden your group is waking up to wet, sloppy noises (definitely NOT of the romantic type). Unsurprisingly females are unaffected by the pheromone but can still be tricked by these creatures, given that they’re capable of limited speech and even crying out in fear when a survivor is nearby. Just bring a chick into your group, if there are any left, and they’ll be able to smell the bitches even if it cries out “don’t shoot!” while you’re out looting. You could also theoretically do a quick check under th- y’know what, forget I said that, I actually vomited in my mouth a little writing that. God, the smell was so bad when I came around.
The Ooze: Okay so, I don't want to say these things are infected as much as they are erm, primordial? Mutated? An abomination??? They're literally just thick, ropey puddles of pulsating black ooze. Maybe at one point they were people. They now appear to be blind amoeboid things that shriek in the presence of blood and rush forward to lap it up with these cone-shaped stingers. Absolutely horrible little things. I saw one as big as a car just laying in the middle of the street pulsating and leaking a purplish liquid. Looking at the liquid made me feel sick: it has a weird dizzy effect on the senses. Just burn the fuckers with napalm, get rid of them all. I hate them. So goddamn much. I can't stand it when they stare at me.
The Cuddler: Affectionately named so because of their big, cuddly demeanor. The Virus decided in all its evolutionary glory that it needed a strong-type Zeke, and it made one in the most horrendous way possible. People with more fat and muscle tend to become these noticeably, so both ends of survivability are pretty equalized in the end. The flesh turns into a hard, dough-like material which obfuscates all noticeable features and turns the body into a massive wall of veiny meat. So while the tiny mouth - which is only capable of letting out curious moans - becomes unable to take chunks out of living people, the arms become huge and bulging, capable of literally mangling and molding bodies into balls of viscera and gore.
They also tend to kinda ...I dunno, puncture their fingers into people’s sides and tear out the ribs? Yeah, its as painful and loud as it sounds. Thankfully Cuddlers are pretty goddamn slow so its easy to navigate around them. But you definitely don’t want to be caught in a corner with one of these things around,
because guns. Don’t. Work. Still haven’t killed one yet. Killed one. Took lot of bullets. Not worth the effort. Arm broken in several spots at the time of info.
The Turret: Goddamn, I hate these fucking things. Imagine getting a hair stuck in your eye, but its like five times thicker and can be launched at you like when a tarantula is threatened. That’s the Turret. They somehow got welded into a single spot and their hair began growing at an exponential rate, while also hardening into a quill-like projectile. On sight, they screech at you loud enough to burst an ear drum or two and start rapid firing hairs at you from a distance, around 20 to 30 meters. Theoretically they’re zombies: I mean they groan and try to kill you. But sometimes when I sneak up on one I swear I hear them crying. I usually just use a blade to end it quick. I don’t like the implications.
The Dreamers: I haven’t exactly been up front about everything. Everything here I’ve told you is really real, sadly (I mean duh, you’ve seen the mountains of bodies yourself, and the ones that still move). This isn’t the ramblings of a junkie or a hyperactive imagination, and God I wish it was. I really do. But there’s one thing that tells me this world has far more to it than meets the eye, that sends shivers down my spine as I sit here in this derailed train car, only illuminated by candle light. This Virus didn’t just spawn a Saturday morning cartoon lineup of special infected that require more thought than an itchy trigger finger. It spawned something OTHERWORLDLY, an intelligence that leads the pack.
I’ve only seen maybe a handful of these type separately. They all apparently committed suicide before they turned, and that didn’t stop them. They came back haunted. Gunshot wounds to the head, self-immolation, some with wires still tied around their neck. And I’ve only ever seen one in maybe 10 city blocks for some reason. Guess not many people got the chance to buy the farm themselves. But they all have the same behavior. I can’t explain how it works, but it just does.
They can kill you just by having you look at them.
It was the early morning before my last group set out. We were scavenging a supermarket and clearing out the area of a few spare Zeds, taking care to avoid a few traps a previous group set up. Then we heard a door creak open. We all trained our guns and weapons at the door, and our leader Larry - swell guy, really liked cheese danishes - demanded the intruder show themselves. And so they did.
I think, in the brief moment of panic and confusion that followed, it used to be the manager of the store department. From what I remember he still had the noose tied around his neck and his skin had turned purplish-red from the blood pooling in the face. But his eyes...dear Christ, his eyes were glowing. Like, actually fuckin’ Biblical-light-from-Heaven glowing. My head started to hurt so I turned away, but not in time to block out the image of Larry’s eyes and mouth violently spitting up blood. His gun went off, blowing off a cute girl’s head in the process (I had the hots for her back then), and someone screamed and we all scattered. I hid in a furniture store closet and at some point blacked out amid a slew of gunfire and screams.
I woke up hours later, head throbbing and feeling like it was about to split. There was some blood on my hands too where I wiped my nose. When I walked outside, it was utter carnage. Apparently the rest of my group had tried to fight the thing that came out, and they lost. I tried to remember the creature’s face and was met with horrible eyeball needles, so I stopped and looked at what was left of my group. All of them died the same way: total facial hemorrhaging, blood pooling out of their orifices. Their mouths twisted into grimaces of absolute horror like I’ve never seen before. I think one of them...actually tore out their own eyes with their bare fingers. The creature was nowhere to be found.
I’ve seen the Dreamers walking around more often in the distance since then. They emit a light so bright in the evening it drowns out the setting sun. And they hum. Its an electric hum, one that numbs the ears. And they talk. I try not to listen to them. I just cover my ears and run away until I can’t hear or see the backs of their heads anymore. Last night, I saw a group of them for the first time. They were raising their arms and singing and praising the setting sun. I couldn’t resist. I listened to them sing, and it….it was good. Its alien, its heavenly, its terrifying to behold.
At night I dream about them. In it, I see visions of something crashing into earth. A meteorite. Men in suits and lab coats and armor taking the fragments. Cocktails of unknown origin. Klaxon alarms. Running and gunfire. Hoarse bellowing. And the Dreamers. They weren’t only the first suicides of the outbreak, they came from the meteorite. From the black reaches. Things with unblinking eyes that burn like the Sun. Those are what started it all. They hawked a loogie and humanity became a fucking petrie dish.
Story of my life, eh?
I’ve been thinking about it for a while now and I have nothing else to lose. My family is mostly dead by now. That cute girl from my group is dead. My dogs are dead. The internet is dead. Everybody is dead. Maybe if I take the express elevator, I can see them again sometime. Maybe those Dreamers I hear in the streets calling for humanity to join them know something about the other side that I don’t, about how this infection came to be. About why humanity was chosen to take the fall. I know it. They stand outside my hidey hole at night and whisper lovely things to me.
Yeah...it’s all good. I’m cashing in. Don’t think too hard about it. Okay.
Dear reader, I bid you adieu. I've got a pack of what may be the last Budweiser in the world, a CRT that's been broken for a few weeks now and a cool steel magnum revolver. Maybe I’ll see you on the other side of the dream.
Or maybe you’ll see me.
Cordially yours, (formerly) Eric Flint | June 18th, 2020
P.S: While you’re here, don’t open the lock on the portapotty out back. I’m still using it.