I didn’t have the energy or the will to sit down and talk about what happened at the daycare after we got back last night. I assure you, it was a draining experience. I’ll go into it at length in a moment.
Today was a day for us to unwind, and scour the memories of that place from our collective heads. Yesterday was a douche bag day, today we douched out yesterday’s memories. As fresh as a summer’s eve, if you will.
Much like yesterday, we dealt with fire today. We relit the last embers of the giant pyre in the staff housing area of campus. The enormous pile of bodies has been burning for so long I can’t even remember when we lit it originally. After today’s work getting a good flame going, I think the corpses will be destroyed within a day or two. We had to use a large portion of the firewood we’d chopped up for the woodstove in Hall A, as well as another gallon of our precious gasoline to get it started. The damn rain and sleet and shit we’ve been dealing with have hampered the flames hardcore. Driving me up a wall here.
While Abby and I were doing that, Gilbert and Patty sorted out the shit we brought back from the daycare. Gilbert was useless with his injury though, and from what Patty said, he more or less hung around bitching, and making a terrible effort at lending moral support. I think he’ll heal up nicely (or at least adequately), but at his age, it’s anyone’s guess as to how long it’ll take.
My trusty sidekick and I hit the smokehouse, and made sure the flames were burning slow and that there was plenty of smoke. We wound up having to trudge back into the outskirts of campus to find enough of the right kind of branches to ensure the smoke would be adequate to cure the meat. Pain in the ass mucking through all the damn snow-sludge. It’s a wonderful consistency right now. Always finds a way to get into your boot and soak your socks.
Our labors completed for the day, we retired to help Patty finish sorting bullshit, and to have a decent sit down meal. We forced Gilbert to stay here last night as well as tonight, and he’s holding a grudge about it. I can hear him again tonight bitching under his breath a few rooms down the hall. He’s so damn funny. It’s just like dealing with the kids.
Yeah. About that.
Hm. I’d say we geared up for the apocalypse, but that’d be doing everything we do when we go out on a normal day no justice. I should say that we rolled out with much more gear than normal. Extra ammo, extra food, extra medical supplies, spare fuel, and a few new additions to our battle plans. As I said we’ve accumulated new IOTV armor from Mike. That’s heavier duty military issue body armor. I’m rocking it, and Abby is wearing our second set. I haven’t had a chance to sight in the M4 Mike gave us the other day, and until I know how it shoots, I’m not taking it anywhere. Thus, I rolled with the M15, Patty with the Tac .22, Abby with her handgun assortment, and Gilbert rocked his AK. Oh yeah, I also brought my trusty 12 gauge and I made sure there were halligans on the truck as well. Go me.
Abby made a funny offhand comment about taking on the herd of “undead ankle biters” right as we were about to leave, and it suddenly hit me that we had shin guards in one of the athletics storage closets somewhere. Don’t know why, but it seemed vitally important to bring them. It took me twenty minutes to find them, but it turned out to be well worth it. We all strapped a set of girl’s shin guards on our legs, and Patty and Abby actually took the time to fashion half assed forearm guards out of a set of them in the truck on the way to the daycare. I think they’re planning on actually making more professional versions soon. I’m all for it. They seem to stop bites pretty effectively.
We rolled in two vehicles down to the daycare. Once again, there are no good reasons to go in a single vehicle unless we have to. Because we wanted something diesel powered and beastly, we took the Heavy Rescue Truck, and Gilbert drove his Chevy. The girls all rode with me in the HRT and Gilbert drove himself.
Our plan was the same as every other house clearing. Recon the exterior of the building on all sides and ensure the vicinity was clear from threats. Check in all the windows of said building to ensure we had a better idea of what was going on inside. Open the front door, and clear the house, room by room, one panic stricken heartbeat at a time. Loot building for anything usable. Leave building.
The first few phases went like clockwork. Abby bounded across the snow to check the sides and back of the daycare and the rest of us made sure the streets and vicinity were safe. When we drove up, there were no undead anywhere to be seen, which gave all of us the creeps. The proverbial calm before the storm, as it turns out.
Abby took a solid ten minutes to check all the windows of the daycare, and just like last time she returned saying there was nothing visible anywhere inside the building. I wasn’t comforted by that, and neither was Gilbert. We had visions of zombified children hiding under little plastic play tables and inside counters and cabinets. *shudder*
Gilbert pulled road security for us while the rest of us kicked in doors. I went in #1 in the stack with Patty and Abby. I rolled with the gauge, they went with pistols. Brace yourself for this Mr. Journal: There were no children in the daycare. Sort of. The stench was overwhelming though, which was a real kick in the pants. Usually that much stink meant a plethora of undead, but there were none to be found. See: sort of. See also: God hates Adrian.
I kicked in the doors that were locked, and opened the doors that weren’t. Not one shotgun blast happened the entire time we went from room to room. We had some pants wrecking moments when items were bumped off shelves or tables and they fell on the floor, or hit one of us, but we encountered jack and shit overall. See again: Sort of.
After the most tense half hour in my entire life, we started to take stock of our haul. The ground clearance on the HRT and the Chevy is pretty impressive, and with the snow melt, we were able to drive them both across the parking lot/driveway and right up the front door. I had to shovel out the walkway and the steps, and I tell you what, I’m glad Patty thought to grab one of our snow shovels. We snagged two cribs, a bunch of toys, a stroller, 17 boxes of diapers in various sizes and flavors, baby wipes, baby oil, baby powder, baby shampoo, baby aspirin, books on how to raise kids and deal with health ailments, Pedialyte, etc etc. And then there were snacks. Jumping Jesus there were snacks. They had fruit roll ups, granola bars, crackers, candy, and almost every form of small fruit snack imaginable to man. We took it out of there by the case.
We took a short lunch break to try out the fruit roll ups a little before noon. We shut the front door of the daycare due to the smell of the trash that had never been removed. Months old rotting diapers and food waste had only “improved” with age. Update on fruit snacks Mr. Journal: still very yummy.
Anyway, Gilbert gobbled down some little fruit chews and went inside to get a head start on getting the last bits of stuff out. The girls and I were remarking how much of a relief it was that the weather was decent, and how the place was nice and safe, when we heard a loud crash, and the world rip apart inside the daycare.
Gilbert’s AK goes to full auto, and he’d just emptied an entire magazine into… something. If you’ve ever heard an AK get emptied like that up close, it’s a pretty distinct and bowel emptying noise. I know a lot of guys who had buddies get torn open by that zipper sound. Brings back some bad memories.
I launched off the back of the Chevy and snapped up the shotgun. It was the closest gun to my hand. Patty and Abby froze for a split second, but I was in the door and heading to Gilbert like a missile. I could hear him yelling from what sounded like the back of the building, near the kitchen.
“Get the fuck! Holy jumping! Little cocksuckers!” There were a few more colorful uses of the language as well, but to retain what little dignity Gilbert has left, I’m going to omit them. I went down the hall with the shotgun up looking for Gilbert or signs of danger.
In the back near the kitchen there was a huge, floor to ceiling bookcase tipped over face down on the floor. It had fallen down somehow, and Gilbert had managed to get his toes on one foot trapped underneath the edge. He was still upright, and dangerous, but when the bookcase had fallen over, it revealed a doorway heading to the basement. The smell wafting upwards into the kitchen from the black opening into the cellar was easily one of the worst things I have ever breathed in. Even right now I’m coughing, and I think it’s just psychosomatic.
Gilbert’s spray of rounds had decapitated at least three small kids that burst through the opening to the basement. He was literally rooted to the floor at the doorway, and from below, I could see a mass of glistening white eyes floating up the stairs towards us.
All the children had been trapped in the basement the whole time. Someone had shut them down there, and pushed the bookcase in front of the opening to hide the door. I recall now seeing that the doorknob had been removed so the bookcase could slide flush against the wall.
I had a split second to make a decision. If I was wrong, or hesitated, Gilbert would be killed. Panic couldn’t happen or my friend would die. Or I might die.
I pulled the shotgun’s trigger and sent a spray of pellets down the stairs into the dark. Some of the eyes went black and I heard little bodies tumble away into the depths of the daycare cellar. Without putting any thought into it, I racked and fired the Mossberg over and over until it clicked dry. I stepped on the bookcase to get into the doorway, which caused Gilbert to scream out in pain. He claims that was the moment his toes broke. We can’t be sure. He’s got no right to bitch at me, that’s for sure. At least he’s still alive.
I dove into the doorway, and started to reload the shotgun. Behind me I heard Patty and Abby arrive in the kitchen and start to help Gilbert. We yelled and hollered as I literally used my body to block the basement. Right about then the girls started yelling that the bookcase was too heavy for them to lift. I looked back to them to assess, and when I turned to check the basement below again, more of the white eyes had appeared. In the dark all I could see was the reflection off the milky white haze in their eyes. Creepiest thing I’ve ever seen. Easily.
I let loose a couple more shotgun blasts to buy myself some time, and I sprinted up the couple steps back into the kitchen. I jumped over the bookcase and tossed the shotgun to Abby, who caught it like a champ.
“Anything comes up the steps, blast it!” I hollered to her. She swallowed hard and jumped over the bookcase to block the doorway with her tiny body. I motioned for Patty to get the fuck out of the way, and I Hercules tossed the bookcase. It smashed in the glass window on the stove when it landed kitty cornered. Gilbert lost his balance and stumbled backwards, smashing his ass end into a kitchen counter. He yelped in pain, and called me a few very choice names, but he was free.
I think I told him to shove his attitude up his ancient asshole, and Patty and I grabbed him to help him get outside. I told Abby to follow us out. Down the hall and through the rooms we went, half helping, half carrying old man Donohue with the busted toes. Patty went ahead and opened the passenger side of the Chevy, and I got him in. I turned to make sure Patty and Abby were okay, and all I saw was Patty.
Abby never followed us out.
Patty’s face went white as a sheet when we heard my shotgun start going off inside the daycare. I told her to stay put. Sitting in the bed of the Chevy was my M15, so I snagged it, flicked it to three round burst, and headed back inside towards the sound of my Mossberg.
I don’t think I’ve had a heart attack before. I mean, I can say comfortably that up until yesterday, my heart has always beat in a normal fashion. When under stress or when I’m scared yeah sure, it hammers away. But that’s normal. When I came down the hall and saw Abby on her back, pinned to the fallen bookcase by a twenty something girl zombie with at least three or four more toddler sized undead biting and scratching at her legs, my heart completely stopped beating. See: God hates Adrian.
My heart didn’t beat again until I was done smashing them off her. I didn’t fire my rifle so close to her, I might’ve hit her. Bitten or not, I wouldn’t risk shooting her until we were safe and could wrap my mind around it. I brought the collapsible stock of the M15 down on the back of the skull of the bitch on top of Abby, staving her spinal cord apart where it met the brain. Her weight sagged onto my little girl and I started straight up punting those bitch ass kids down the stairs. One of them flew so high in the air it bounced off the sloped ceiling of the stairs before tumbling with a crunch into the dark. I don’t even remember how many I kicked.
Abby was crying and bloodied as she shoved the bitch off of her and I empted my magazine down the stairs to try and kill off the apparently never ending supply of dead kids. She stood up, and I barked out to her to go get an axe from the rescue truck. She returned with one of the heavy duty fire axes just as I made a magazine swap and squeezed off a couple bursts. I handed her the M15, and with righteous fury I took a few steps down, and smashed the top few steps apart. The little legs of the dead kids couldn’t make the jump up a few steps, and they were trapped.
I grabbed the shotgun and her, sobbing and all, and led her out. Patty took her, and I grabbed a zippo lighter one of the firefighters left in the truck, and one of the two gallon tanks of gas we typically bring as spare fuel. I drew my Glock, and headed back inside with arson on the mind.
The house took a bit to catch fire with intensity, but it did. We drove the trucks out into the road to get away from the heat, but I tell you what, once it was going good, it went up like a house of matchsticks. We could hear the fire alarms beeping from outside. Good batteries. Guess the sprinkler system didn’t survive the apocalypse though. As it burned with a terrible roar, we checked Abby for bites or wounds.
She was scratched something fierce, and had a pretty bad cut on the back of her head from being tackled by the bitch zombie, but otherwise, she was fine. Her shin guards saved her from all the bites. My mind kept repeating over and over her joke from earlier; “undead ankle biters.”
Had she not busted that joke, and I not thought of the shin guards…
Abby would be dead right now. And I might be eating the barrel of my Glock too.
Gilbert has three broken toes. They’re mangled looking, all bruised red and purple, but they should heal well enough for him to walk as well as he could before the injury. He’s got some Percocets for the pain, and he has decided that sipping on some Johnny Walker Blue Label is the best medicine, which isn’t really all that bad of an idea.
Everything was under control for the few hours it took for the house to collapse. We kept moving further and further away from the fire as it got more and more intense. Eventually the sound of our gunfire drew in shamblers, but luckily it was just a few, and Patty snapped off some .22’s and took care of them.
Once the fire subsided I asked Patty for the Tac .22, and I walked back to the smoldering hole in the earth where the daycare was. I felt safe in approaching it, as the foundation was pretty deep, and I thought the undead kids would be trapped down there anyway if they survived the fire.
Many of them did “survive. “ They were charred and blackened, many of them still smoking and stumbling around in the rubble strewn cellar. I counted ten. Once I started shooting, they all turned on me, and made a rush to try and get at me, but they couldn’t get out of the basement. It was killing fish in a barrel. Burnt, rotting undead children instead of fish though. See: Sort of. See: God hates Adrian. See: vomit.
That’s why I’m scared of zombies that are on fire. The flames don’t kill the brain. The bodies get set on fire, and the bodies are damaged, but they’re just as dangerous as ever. Moreso if they’re still aflame. It takes far too long and too intense a flame to risk killing them with fire. I’m so glad I didn’t use fire as a means to kill them before this. The daycare was a little different mind you, being that they were trapped in the basement. This worked out, and even so, only barely. I don’t think it would work out as well otherwise.
I think officially this was our closest call with death yet. It feels like it to me. Maybe it’s because I thought Abby was bitten? That moment of despair where someone you really care about is in mortal peril? Reminds me so much of Iraq again, but this is so different. More than our lives are on the line here. I can tell that much just from my dreams.
We got everything back sometime around 4 or 5 in the afternoon. No one wanted to unpack anything, and it looked like the weather would hold overnight, so we brought the food in, and left everything else. I had to carry Gilbert inside too because the pain in his foot was off the damn chain. He couldn’t even support his weight walking from the truck.
After collapsing where we could, we cleaned up Abby’s scrapes and bruises, and watched her go positively schizoid looking for bite wounds. She was certain somewhere, somehow one of those little bastards got her. Fortunately, no teeth marks were found on her. It does raise the question in my mind of what constitutes a lethal bite? One tooth? Four teeth? Any form of wound caused by anything oral at all?
Shrug. Play it safe, and don’t get any injuries at all from anything anywhere near the mouth of a zombie I guess. I’m practicing zombie bite abstinence.
We have adjusted our plans slightly to allow for recuperation. As I said, we did little today, and tomorrow we plan on doing little at all again. Campus activities. The day after that I plan to head into town solo. Gilbert’s foot is very painful, and there’s no expectation that should he need to move on foot, he can. Bringing him anywhere off campus right now would be a mistake.
Patty can go with me I suppose. There’s nothing to keep her here. Abby seems… a little distraught. She’s jumpier today than she has ever been, and she seems twitchy, bitchy, and frayed. Bringing her into potential danger so quickly might start the whole PTSD cycle, and I can’t afford to lose her to that. Incidents like this make me wish Gavin and Ollie were here. More able bodies to deal with violence. Able minds? Now that’s a different question I guess.
I’m heading out on the 20th. If all goes well, we can start making real plans for driving a wedge into the town, finishing off the undead there, and maybe finding survivors.
I can say this with certainty today; I am less enthusiastic about children being here now.