Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Last Hope

As promised, here is the story the publisher stole for the anthology. You can also read Martin's story here. Enjoy!

The Last Hope

From: computergenius01@email.net
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2013 4:44 PM
To: Undisclosed recipients
Subject: Is anyone out there?

This is it. My final, last-ditch effort to find other survivors. I don’t even know if it will work. I created a program, a spam program, to send this message to random recipients. I can’t send it to those in my address book. They’re dead. I know they’re all dead. They are the type of people who live on their computers. The only time they move from in front of their screens is to go to the bathroom. If they don’t reply to an email or IM in 5 minutes, something is seriously wrong. I hope this reaches someone. Anyone.

My name is Dillon, and I live in Denver. It has been 3 days since the attacks began. I have been in my basement the whole time. I was actually down here when the attacks started. I work from home and have an office here. I’m not worried about them getting into my house, they can’t. I live just a few blocks away from downtown, so I have bars over my doors and windows. I’m safe. I have food and water, but it won’t last forever.

When the attacks first started, to be honest, I just thought it was a typical day. I heard screams from the neighborhood and police sirens. I didn’t think anything of it until I took a break and clicked on the local news. There was a report about how the recently dead were returning to life and attacking humans. At first, I thought it was a joke, but the more I poked around on the internet, the more information I found. It was happening worldwide. No one knew how it started. Does anyone reading this have a clue?

After a while, I mustered up some bravery and headed upstairs. I kept my back to the wall, my gun in my hand. I could still hear the screams and sirens outside. When I made it to the front window, I took a breath before parting the curtains. I couldn’t believe the destruction. Black smoke was curling from Republic Plaza. Bodies were laying in the middle of the street, covered in their own congealing blood. In the neighbor’s lawn across the street, the 86 year old woman I said good afternoon to when I checked the mail was being devoured by two people with yellowed skin and deep sunken eyes. There were people running down the streets, some carrying weapons and others with suitcases and kids.

I ducked back inside my house. My stomach had cramped and dots were dancing in front of my eyes. I sunk to the ground, taking deep breaths and swallowing thickly. It all seemed like a dream, like I was watching a movie. Someone or something clomped onto my porch and rattled the storm door. I jumped to my feet and headed back to the basement, locking the door behind me. I didn’t know if it was a zombie or a looter, but I knew I didn’t want to run into either.

I only ventured up one other time to get food and water. I remember being shocked by the silence. There were no more screams. No more sirens. There wasn’t even a cricket chirping. Just my own breath and the squeak of my shoes on the linoleum floor. It was unnerving. I saw the destruction, the death, and I can only hope that I am not the only one left. Although, I wouldn’t really be surprised. If there is someone else out there, I hope and pray that you will get this message.

Dillon


From: computergenius01@email.net
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2013 9:37 PM
To: Undisclosed recipients
Subject: Is anyone out there?

It has been 5 hours, and I have not received a reply to my first email. I generated another spam list, as well as resending it to the people on the first list, in the hopes that this reaches someone. The zombies have been pounding at my door for nearly 2 hours now. From the basement, it sounds like a soft thumping. I was able to ignore it for the first hour, but like a leaky sink in the middle of the night, it’s starting to grate on my nerves. I hope someone answers this soon, but I’m beginning to think no one will. Maybe this was a stupid idea. Who checks their email during the apocalypse?


From: sasha@cdc.email
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2013 10:15 PM
To: computergenius01@email.net
Subject: RE: Is anyone out there?

Dillon,

My name is Sasha, and I want to reassure you that you are not alone. There aren’t many of us, but there are survivors. It must be fate that I even got these. Normally, as you mentioned at the end of your email, checking my email would be the last thing on my mind. I only did so because my husband recently sent me a photo of our daughter, and I needed to look at it. Imagine my surprise when I found new messages in my inbox.

I read both of your emails, and I completely sympathize with your situation. We are in Windsor, so we are close, but Denver is a hot zone, which means attempting a rescue mission is suicide. Here is what’s happening:
For lack of a better term, zombies have taken started attacking. The plague, if you will, started somewhere in the Middle East. The insurgents were experimenting with biological weapons and discovered a virus that would reanimate the brain and turn the corpse into a killing machine. It took 24 hours for the virus to reanimate the body. At first, the effects would only last a few hours and would only work on the recently killed/dead (recently being within the past 12 hours), then the virus would die. The terrorists would inject the bodies of freshly killed soldiers, knowing they would be stored on base until they could be shipped home. They were hoping to thin our ranks. For all intents and purposes, it worked.

The military tried to keep it quiet, they didn’t want to start a panic, but the tactic got out of hand. The insurgents figured that if it worked this well on the soldiers, it was bound to be devastating to the U.S. population. They coordinated attacks of the major cities. I don’t know how they smuggled the virus onto the planes, but they did. From what we understand, they then targeted the homeless. They murdered them, injected them, then set them back out on the streets. They planned it perfectly. The only thing they didn’t plan on was the virus mutating. Instead of the virus dying within a few hours, it learned how to sustain and could be passed to a living host. Now, the only way to destroy the virus is to destroy the brain of the host.

I’m sure you’re reading this and wondering how I know all of this. I was there, Dillon, in Iraq when this first started. I’m not a soldier, I work for the CDC. I know it sounds crazy, but from what we understand, they have been working on this virus for months now. It has only been recently that they found a strain that works. I don’t know why they weren’t stopped or why we weren’t warned, but it’s too late to worry about that now. I was called over about a week ago to figure out what was going on. While the terrorists were trying to perfect the virus, they would inject anyone they could find. The bodies littered the streets. The military knew it was some kind of weapon, but they didn’t know how to stop it. It was only a few days after I arrived that the first zombie attacked. The virus works fast and efficiently.

The original plan was to take out the U.S., but the virus has spread worldwide. We are working on understanding it better and developing a way to cure it, but it evolves too fast for us to get a handle on it.

We have a safe haven, a place where survivors can group together, and we will come get you and anyone else who has survived, but it might take a while. I need you to remain patient and strong, Dillon. We are doing the best we can.

Sasha


From: computergenius01@email.net
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2013 10:20 PM
To: sasha@cdc.email
Subject: RE: Is anyone out there?

Sasha,

You have no idea how thrilled I was to receive your reply. I cried when I read it--I hate to admit that, considering I’m a grown man, but given the circumstances, I’m entitled to a little emotion.

I am so happy to hear there are others who made it. I’m sure it goes without saying that I’m pissed at how the virus was created. Of course, there’s nothing that can be done now. With any luck, the insurgents have been taken care of and are burning in Hell.

I assume that since you were going to your computer to look at a picture of your daughter that she is not with you. I can only hope that she is some place safe and not dead, but given the circumstances, I must assume the worst. I am sorry for your loss. My dad died a couple of years ago from emphysema, and my mother is in a home with advanced Alzheimer’s. I never married. Human relationships are actually kind of a mystery to me. I’m like my friends. All my relationships are through the computer. The one person I really had contact with was my neighbor across the street. When I saw her dead body, it suddenly became very clear to me how alone I really am.

The pounding has stopped, and I am enjoying a moment of silence. I am anxiously awaiting rescue. Please let me know what I need to do.

Ecstatic to know I’m not the only one,

Dillon


From: sasha@cdc.email
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2013 10:22 PM
To: computergenius01@email.net
Subject: RE: Is anyone out there?

Dillon,

Thank you for your concern about my daughter. To tell you the truth, I don’t know what’s happened to her. Her and her father are in Georgia, and I have no way to contact them. If there was some way I could get them to get on the computer, I could talk to them through email or maybe even the video camera. What I would give to see their faces one more time.

I’m sorry to hear about your family. Despite what you’re feeling, you are not alone. You have me, and you are going to get through this. Everything will be fine. I’m here, and I’m listening.

Sasha


From: computergenius01@email.net
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2013 10:28 PM
To: sasha@cdc.email
Subject: RE: Is anyone out there?
Sasha,

There is a way that I can hack into your husband’s computer and turn on the camera, assuming his computer is on. They won’t necessarily know that I’m looking at them, but you’ll be able to see if they’re all right. I might be able to write a program also, a computer virus actually, that would make their email pop up without them opening it. Again, the computer would have to be on and you would have to give me their address, but it’s possible. I’ve been working on it here, trying to send it out with some of my messages, hoping to get a hold of other survivors, but so far it hasn’t worked. I’m still working out some kinks. But since I have nothing but time right now, it shouldn’t take too long to fix.

I appreciate knowing that I’m not alone and that I can talk to you about anything. You have no idea how much that means to me. I would definitely like to continue this conversation later, but it is getting late, and I am going to try and get some rest. I haven’t slept a wink in 3 days, and it is starting to takes its toll. I hope you are still there when I wake up.

Dillon


From: sasha@cdc.email
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 6:08 AM
To: computergenius01@email.net
Subject: RE: Is anyone out there?

Dillon,

I just received word that they will be sending in helicopters to search for survivors in the Denver area. If you can make it to your roof, be up there in 1 hour with a white sheet. It is very important that you have the sheet. Do not wave it in the air. Lay it on the roof and sit in the upper left hand corner. This will set you apart from others who may be waving sheets for visibility. This will let the rescue team know that you have been in contact with me and you are not infected. You will be brought directly to our safe haven instead of going through quarantine. I need your computer skills, so please follow these instructions closely. I hope to see you in the next few hours.

Sasha


From: computergenius01@email.net
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 2:28 PM
To: Undisclosed recipients
Subject: Keep the faith

I don’t know if anyone will get this message, but an email saved me, so I have to try. There are survivors. The zombies have not destroyed everyone, nor will they. The military is working tirelessly to set up camps and shelter for those who are left alive. Right now, there is one outside of Denver, near Windsor. I will send information about other cities when I receive it. Helicopters will be doing flybys of the cities and towns, so please try to be on your roofs and visible. They are not all military; private citizens and news crews have volunteered their craft and time to help the rescue effort. If you see anything in the sky, try to flag them down. They will rescue you if they can.

Until then, there are a few simple rules to make sure you survive the outbreak. First, and most importantly, if you know or have someone near you who has been bitten, kill them. If you cannot bring yourself to do that, get them as far away as possible. Even if it’s a loved one, they WILL kill you. Right now, there is no cure for this virus. It is much kinder to put the victim out of their misery now. DON’T let them suffer as the undead. To kill them, you must destroy the brain. Beheading them will NOT do the trick. They still have the ability to bite even without their body. Smash their skulls, put a bullet into their brain, anything.

Know that the CDC and the military are working very hard to find a cure. Unfortunately, it won’t be anytime soon, and our safety is more important than thinking loved ones or friends can be saved. Please, do NOT think that you can save your friends or family members. Even if they find a cure, those who have been infected will never be human again. The cure will only work to protect us survivors.

Even though things look bleak, have faith. If you receive this, please email me back. Tell me your location. Tell me your story. Sometimes the best way to get through a difficult situation is knowing there is someone else out there who has been through the same ordeal. Sometimes it’s just nice to have someone to talk to. You will be saved; one way or another.

I hope to hear from you soon,

Dillon

1 comment:

Martin Rose said...

I remember this one from long ago! I'm thrilled to see you post it in full, and I just want to let you know I updated my post and linked your story! Well done, Pembroke :)