Diary

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic
Will be adapted into a novel soon, dates will be changed...
In a post-apocalyptic world, Markus tries to return home and see he family.

Submitted: October 23, 2014

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Submitted: October 23, 2014

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Last Day-Morning

It has been a whole year already; I can’t believe it. One endless year of wondering, climbing, running, surviving, and killing. As I walked into what was once my home, now a moss covered, crumbling block of cement and wood, I couldn’t stop thinking about the first day. The day when I left the Zone to return home again. I couldn’t stop the cold tendrils of emptiness as they overwhelmed me, dragging me down into despair.

I propped the slanted door closed, shuddering at the high pitched squeal of the rust covered hinges. I was finally alone, truly alone. Not bothering to take off my mud covered shoes, I trudged into the once cozy living room. My foot steps echoed through the screeching silence, which filled the house.

As I was about to enter the twenty meter square room, I couldn’t help but begin to imagine hearing the sounds of my kids. Tom and Bethany who were sitting on the old cotton couch, watching the saturday morning cartoons. Yet, when I opened the small sliding door that separated the entrance and the living room, my heart sank.

The room was empty, except for the moss that crept up the walls. In the farthest corner of the room lay the dissected corpse of the ancient, black and white TV; most of the useful parts has already been salvaged. The old cotton sofa was no where to be found, most likely it had been stolen and sold long ago.

The bathroom next door was even worse and not a single tile was left. The whole room was stripped bare. Turning away, I slowly began to climb the flimsy stairs to the bedrooms, grimacing at every ominous creek and groan. The first room from the stairs was Tom’s, the door had fallen clean off it’s hinges and was now lying in the hallway. I didn’t peek inside, not wishing to see what had happened there.

Instead, I went straight into my room at the end of the hall and shut the rotting wooden door behind me. No one was in the room, only me and the moss that grew from every inch of the wall. Most of the furniture was either dismantled or had rotted long ago, but the bed was still intact.

I could almost see this place a little over a year ago. Tom playing with his action figures as he ran up and down the halls; Beth practicing her grade 2 choir music in her room; and my wife, Julia, the laziest of the family, lying on our bed reading her Twilight novels. But like the morning mist, our happiness was short live, dispersed by the wind.

I crashed down on the bed, not caring about its loud groan of complaint as it bore my weight. From the damp and musty sheets, I still could smell a wisp of that heavy perfume Julia always used. I closed my eyes, welcoming the darkness, and the nightmares that followed.

 

Day 1

It has already been five weeks now, and I still don’t know what has been happening outside of the Zone. My days inside can be summed up in two words: drinking, and worrying. I can only pray that my family is fine. But I am getting sick of praying, and getting drunk no longer soothes my worries, I need to see what has happened to them.

“Cheer up Markus. I am sure that they are alright.” I felt a hand gently patting my shoulder.

“Shut up Nolan, at least your daughter is in here with you!” I said bitterly, completely tired of hearing the same phrase of sympathy.

‘’So, what are you going to do then, worry? According to those guards the outside has gone to hell or something! They are no longer accepting refugees. So unless you leave here I don’t think you will ever see them again.” Nolan said, clearly hurt and angry at my response.

“I would if I could, but those guards shoot anyone who leaves.” I said, already tired of the conversation. I just wanted to get drunk as fast as possible.

“Hold on there tiger.” Nolan said while pulling up a chair next to me and placing his hand over my mug.

“What if I told you, I can get you out?” He said in a joking tone.

“And how are you going…” I stopped mid sentence as I turned to look him in the eyes. His eyes were deadly serious. I immediately sobered up, and bought a mug of beer for him.

After a long minute of him chewing his lips and taking sips of beer, Nolan finally began to speak: “Just last week I met a fellow, a new cadet, who worked monday night shifts on the wall. That time he was caught playing poker and was going to get demoted again, but I took the blame for him.”

“So that’s why you lost half of your ration tickets.” I said remembering him begging me for a quarter of mine.

“Yeah, so anyways,” he continued as he scratched his bald head in embarrassment, “he owes me one, so I told him about you and your family.”

“Yes, continue.” I said slightly annoyed at him giving away my personal information without my permission.

Opening his hands like the host of some comedy show, he grinned cheekily and announced in a quiet but excited voice: “He has agreed to smuggle you out, but the only time he can do so is tomorrow night.”

I stared into his stormy grey eyes, checking if he was just playing a prank, but found only seriousness. Raising my mug in front of him I said: “I am in, I don’t know how to thank you. But this is a toast to you.”

“A toast to your success too.” He said as he raised his mug and clanked it against mine.

 

Day 2

Today is the day that I leave the Zone, Nolan told me that I am to meet him behind the bar, fully packed and ready to disembark. For the majority of last night I could not sleep. Only one thought filled my head: I would find my family again. It was complete fatigue that finally stole my consciousness and sent me to sleep. But after only three hours of sleep, I was forced to wake up. I had to do my mandatory five hours of service again.

Structure maintenance is hard, backbreaking and dangerous work. I was forced to scale buildings, and walls carrying a bucket of instant cement to repair cracks, fissures, leakages, and other structural defects. At the end of my shift, I was completely exhausted. After taking a quick shower, I crashed into my bed and fell into a deep slumber.

Luckily, I woke at around eleven at night, so I still had one hour to pack. I grabbed my bag, a fading, navy blue backpack with two slots on the strap for a knife and compass, and placed everything that I needed to survive into the pack: first aid kits, flints, a fresh change of clothes, emergency rations, my pocket knife, and the beat up grey thermos that my wife had bought me on our second year anniversary.Turning off the lights, I left my room silently so as to not disturb my neighbors and made my way to the bar.

When I arrived, I saw Nolan conversing with a young man in his twenties. The man wore the usual guards’ uniform: tight black underarmour covered by a green bullet proof vest, and green camouflage pants tucked under tall steel toed boots. But what made him stand out was his head of blond hair, gleaming like gold under the moonlight.

“You’re finally here! We thought you wouldn’t show up!” Nolan said excitedly as he noticed my approach.

“Enough with the clichés, and introduce me to this gentleman.” I said, wanting to move the conversation forward.

Nolan looked at the young man, then back at me and said: “ Markus, this is William, the guard I was talking about.”

“Hello, sir.”

Then he pointed towards me and said to the young man: “William, this is Markus; the man that I want you to smuggle out of here.”

Looking me over, William nodded his greetings and said: “Follow me,” as he began to walk towards the southern wall.

“He doesn’t like to speak much, does he?” I whispered to Nolan as we began to follow him.

“No, even when playing poker he only speaks if necessary.” He replied flatly.

It took us ten minutes to arrive at the edge of the wall, where a small building was leaning against the concrete bulwark. From the countless times I had spent repairing similar structures, I knew this was a guard house.

“Come in silently. There are two people on shift with me so they might notice.” William warned as he typed in the password to open the large steel door.

I nodded slightly and began to sneak in.

Once again, I was awed by the sheer luxury that the guards enjoyed. Electric lamps instead of candles hung on every wall, a fully equipped kitchen at the end of the hall, and offices, larger than my room, were everywhere.

“Don’t ogle too much and follow him.” Nolan said as he tried to push me forwards.

I quickly followed William as he disappeared into one of the rooms near the end of the hall.

“These,” William said as he handed me a small case as I entered the room, “are a pistol and two magazines, use them only in emergencies.”

“Understood.” I said while packing the weapon away.

“Nolan you have to leave now, I can’t take two past this point.” William said apologetically.

Looking me in the eyes, he stepped up and hugged me. “I’ll miss you.” he said getting a little teary eyed.

“I will too” I replied as I returned the hug.

I stood there, watching his sneaking figure disappear out of the room. Then I turned back to William waiting for further instructions. He walked farther into the room while beckoning me to follow again.

After walking behind one of the many supply shelves in the room, we came to a large steel framed door.

“This is our back entrance. After you exit you will be on what used to be on Parker Avenue.” He said as he typed in a long strand of letters into the keypad.

When he had finished he handed me an old book from his inner pocket and said: “Here is a map of the city before the Zones. This is the best I can do for you.”

Then the steel door hissed as it swung open.

 

Day 237

So far so good, I haven't run into any other humans yet. I think I am going crazy from the solitude. But I finally know why they say the world has gone to hell. The buildings were caked in ash and soot, as they leaned against each other like wounded soldiers. The tarmac roads were plastered with cracks and fissures, crumbling from the slightest touch. The sidewalks had completely disappeared, crushed under thousands of pounds of brick, steel, and trash. From as far as I could see the whole place had turned into a war zone.

As I slowly got closer to Manhattan, to my home, I was slowly losing hope. I was even more worried than before I had left the Zone.

During my travels I had found that there was more than one Zone. If I included the one  from which I had fled, I have encountered three Zones in total. I was currently on the edge of Philadelphia with only a few more months of traveling to go. But first I needed to stock up on supplies again.

As I trudged down the dust covered road, I nearly jumped out of my shoes when a black arrow suddenly dug itself into the ground in front of me. Then a group of about five people jumped out of the building surrounding me, brandishing their rusty and crude weapons as they charged at me.

With all my strength I dived sideways, narrowly avoiding another arrow, which, if it had hit me, would have pierced my neck. Drawing my pistol out, I pulled the slide, released the safety and aimed it at the closest man. Steeling myself I pulled the trigger.

*Click* *Bang*

The two sounds rang out from the metal frame like someone was striking a church bell. Everyone froze. Except for the man closest to me who flew back from the momentum of the bullet hitting his skull and died in his own brain matter. It was during this stunned silence that I found the archer hiding in a window to my left. I aimed my pistol towards him and pulled the trigger again.

*Click* *Bang*

The sound of my gun firing once again reverberated through the empty streets, which was followed by a scream as the archer fell out of the building and most likely to his death. I turned back to the group who was still too stunned to do anything.

“I’ll give you five seconds to get out of my sight or you all die.” I said threateningly while brandishing my pistol.

Before I could count to three, the four remaining men disappeared into the nearby buildings. Sighing out of relief, I flipped on the safety and holstered my pistol. Then looking at a distant faded road sign, I trudged forward towards Manhattan.

 

Last Day- Morning

I was finally here, I was home again. Despite the dust, I could still smell the warm, salty air of the sea. I was nearly there, and I could feel my heart pounding furiously from the excitement, threatening to explode out of my chest. Three more blocks and I was home. I slightly quickened my pace, in anticipation of maybe meeting my children and wife again. If Nolan could see me now, he would think that I had overdosed on coffee.

Without a care in the world, I nearly started skipping as I passed Papa John’s, a pizza store that my children and I always visited on Friday afternoons. But as I rounded the corner of the store, my expression began to darken and my heart began to fill with anxiety.

On the top of the steps, just outside of our building, lay a little girl’s body covered in black blood. As I ran up, I began to pray to every god out there that the girl was not Beth. When I got closer, I saw the knife which had killed the girl sticking out of her back, covered in rust.

“No, shit, no!” I yelled into the air as I notice the the purple polka dotted dress on the girl. It was Beth’s 8th birthday present.

I felt lost, for the first time in the whole year of trying to return home, I don’t know what to do. Using my coat to cover Beth’s body I enter into what was once my home.

 

Last Day- Afternoon

I woke and found myself in tears. It has been nearly 10 years since I last cried, but that was from happiness, not from this agony that is tearing my heart apart. I felt numb and cold, as if this world is not as real anymore.

Walking down the hall, I looked into Tom’s room. I saw his body still asleep, clutching tightly onto his spiderman action figure, and a rusted knife sticking out of his chest. Then opening Beth’s room, I saw Julia void of any clothing, her arms tied to the bedpost also asleep with a big gash across her throat.

I slowly limped my way into Beth’s room, pushing aside her polar bear plushie which was laying on the floor, and sat down beside Julia.

“I am sorry, I am late honey.” I whispered into her ear.

Pulling out my pistol from my back pocket, I flipped off the safety.

Gently hugging the cold, lifeless, and naked body of Julia, I placed the muzzle against my temple and said: “Honey, I am coming home.”

Then I squeezed the trigger.

*Click* *Bang*

 


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