AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE
Based on the series by W. G. Sweet
AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE
Copyright © 2013 by independAntwriters All Rights Reserved
Writers: W.W. Watson, Geo Dell, W.G. Sweet, G.D. Smitty
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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the authors imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
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EARTH’S SURVIVOR’S – AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE
This material is not edited for content
Conner March 9th
Maybe it’s March ninth. I guess I really don’t know. But, that’s what I think it is so that’s what I’m going with.
It’s late. I spent today getting food. Canned stuff mostly. It was rough. Almost everything is flattened, and what isn’t flattened is badly damaged. I spent about five hours a few days ago digging my way into a market on the Park Street Road. The roof was down but held up by the tops of the aisle stacks, so I was able to make my way through. I just had to be really careful of broken glass. That was where I went back to today.
I had no flashlight at first, but I managed to get a small flashlight and batteries. I had to take so much stuff out of the front area of the store that all the impulse stuff they sell was right there, Candy, little radios, and of course flashlights and batteries also. I tried a small portable radio, nothing but static on the A.M. and F.M. bands both. I bought it back with me along with some extra batteries. I listened to it a short while ago; still nothing, maybe tomorrow.
I spent the day at the market digging out canned goods and bringing them back here.
Here, is an old factory. The factory is down in back of Old Town as it’s called. I knew about it from growing up here. It used to be some sort of a manufacturing plant and it had been closed up for years. The quake took care of that though. The doors that had once been closed and bricked up buckled and sprung open. I was worried about the building itself collapsing, but it seems to be fine.
It’s only about a mile and a half from here to the markets in the village but with no vehicle it’s slow going. I’ve been piling stuff up on a large sled and making trips back and forth.
I found several cars and trucks, snowmobiles, but none of them will run. Most of them have no juice but even the ones that do just turn over but won’t fire up. Maybe if I was a mechanic I could do something, but I’m not. So it’s the sled and a lot of muscle work.
I did notice today, after not going there for two days that no one else had been there either. No tracks in the fresh snow. It’s depressing. No way can I be the only freaking guy here, right? And that made me wonder, what the hell am I writing this for? I mean, if there’s no one left who will read it? I guess those are questions for another day. Another day because, truly, I don’t want to deal with them today.
So I spent my day getting food. There are maybe two dozen buildings still standing in Old Town. But that’s where I was when I left off writing yesterday, heading for Old Town, so I’ll pick it up from there.
When I got into Old Town there was no one there. Only the handful of buildings standing as I mentioned, and two of those went down a short time later from an aftershock. The Police department… Gone. The Fire department… Gone. I know I walked out there. Ditto the high school. All the old houses. The newspaper, museum. Really, it’s all gone.
There were some tracks, but how old were they? I couldn’t tell. And I couldn’t tell where they were headed either. I got pretty down about it and ended up walking back down to Old Town and then down towards the river in back of the buildings. There was a porn shop, still there. It seemed like the dirtiest place I’d ever seen. I mean, why would a place like that still be there, still be standing when almost nothing else was?
Is that a statement or what? Hey, maybe it is. But, since I was down that far I thought I’d take a look at the river, and that made me think about the old Factory down by the river. I remembered playing around that building as a kid. Solid back then. I could never figure out why it was abandoned. Maybe it was still solid.
It wasn’t hard to find it. It’s on an old abandoned road below the level of Old Town, but a good hundred feet or so above the level of the river. All of the brick work that had once closed off the entrance way had fallen. The building itself seemed okay. Some brick had come down, but not much. Most of the brick lying around looked pretty old. Like it had been there for some time. Given the buildings in Old Town, which were still falling, or this old factory that seemed pretty solid , I chose the old factory. It just seemed to make more sense.
It’s quite big. Lighted from the old wire reinforced windows all along the front. The front area is huge, and dry, more room than I could ever use, so there’s no need for me to go back into all that darkness where the light doesn’t reach and find out how deep it goes. And that’s funny, isn’t it? What is it that I’ll need? Might need? Could need? I don’t know. I do know I won’t be spending the rest of my life living in an abandoned factory, that’s for sure. But it’s winter. I have to stay somewhere for the next few months. Then maybe I’ll head south if no one shows up to rescue me. I guess it would be me, there’s no one else here. It shouldn’t be that way though. There has to be more than me.
I spent the rest of the day looking around. I walked all the way out to the strip, as well as out of Old Town toward the old rail yards. It’s all car dealerships and strip malls now. The South Town mall, or most of it, has collapsed. But I should be able to get some stuff out of it. The interstate is car wrecks and bodies everywhere. I could see it from the overpass. I didn’t feel a need to go down there to see it in person. I didn’t want to.
I hadn’t really seen many bodies. Some at the mall, some at the market, a few others here and there, but there is so much ground, houses, things missing, that I think the other people just got swallowed up by the quake. There is a lot of raw earth. Most of the streets are messed up. The interstate is like that in places, what I can see any way, but close to the mall it’s all wrecks and bodies. Wrecked and burned vehicles and it smells horrible. I could smell it long before I came up on the overpass. I’ve decided it will take a lot to get me to go back out there again.
The market has that smell. It’s just a small neighborhood market really. I found two people up by the checkouts when I first dug it out, but none since then, as I’ve dug out other parts of the store. Maybe it’s the meat department at the back of the store that smells like that.
I spent most of the next day wandering around. Trying to start cars and trucks. Calling out to the people I had hoped were there. Nothing. I heard something that sounded like an engine running, but it came and went on the wind and I couldn’t tell where it had come from. But I took that as a good sign. It has to be someone right?
I can’t imagine being alone.
I tried to start new cars, old cars, new trucks, you name it. None of them do anything except turn over. But at least their batteries are working.
That was the day I realized that the daylight seemed to last way to long. My watch wasn’t working, so I can’t say for sure, but the sun just seemed to hang in the sky all day, then it seemed to sink in the wrong direction once it did set. And I was sick all day. My stomach. And I was light headed.
The night lasted a long time and the sun came back up in the wrong place, unless my sense of direction is off. Maybe it is. In any case I don’t know what happened. Maybe it was the earthquakes? I don’t know. It could’ve been, but it doesn’t seem possible.
The end of the world books were saying the Earth would stop and then run backwards. Maybe it did, but I didn’t feel weightlessness if it did. Or at least I don’t think so. But I thought about the vehicles, magnetic poles, maybe because everything is electronic now they can’t work? I don’t know. It’s just an idea, but I’m thinking I’ll look for an older vehicle to try out my theory on. Like I said, I wish I were a mechanic and then I’d know.
Once I found the old factory my mind was pretty much made up. I spent a lot of time clearing out the glass and broken bricks. Bringing food in and even some chairs, blankets, things like that. I’ve collected a lot of firewood and every butane lighter I could find. Paper plates. Plastic forks and spoons. And, man oh man, coffee. I found a small metal coffee pot in an aisle with camping gear. It works pretty damn well. I got some heavy duty pots and pans there also.
All of that over the last few days, but still no other people. It makes me wonder about the tracks that went past my house. Where did they go? Where is there to go to? I turn the radio on every once in awhile but nothing. Even so I’m keeping my attitude upbeat. Positive. There has to be other people. Doesn’t that just make sense? Winter can’t last much past May, and then it will be time to get out of here. Hopefully with other people.
Katie March 9th
I saw him! I know there is this other person just across the river. It was while we were on the way back and I happened to look back across the river from the rail trestle and there he was by the river bank. Climbing it? I think so, but why? And how can I say it was the same man that belonged to the footprints? I can’t. I feel it though. I believe it was him. Who else could it have been?
I wanted to go back right then. Jake refused. There was no reason for him to refuse but he did. We argued about it. I mean really argued. I hadn’t realized or really even thought about what it is about Jake that I don’t like. Maybe a better way to say that is what keeps me away from him. Why didn’t I, in all this destruction, hopelessness, just fall into his arms, or love, or whatever would pass for love in this world. Isn’t that logical? Shouldn’t I have? But I didn’t and the reason is because he’s got this attitude about what place a woman has in his world. It came out today when we argued. I think I picked it up subconsciously before that though and it kept me away from him.
Anyway I’m not going to go there. I’m leaving in the morning to go over there and find the man that I saw. I know that sounds crazy. I know it does but I’m going. I’m getting up at sunrise and I’m going. Jana and James said they would go with me. If Jake doesn’t want to go he doesn’t have to. We’re not speaking at all. Lana seems upset by that. She wants him but not at my expense. I guess that makes me like her a little more than I did.
I was outside until way after dark looking for firelight on the other side of the river. I didn’t see any at all.
I don’t know that area though. Maybe I wouldn’t see a fire over there. Maybe he is being careful. I want to know so much. When will I know it?
March 10th ? (probably) Conner
Another long day, more trips back and forth to the market. The days are definitely longer, but so are the nights. I don’t see how that can be but it is. I have no real way to judge it; it’s just a gut feeling. I found several watches by the checkouts. None of them work either. But, I know its true. I feel the longer days. I feel the longer nights. That’s all I can say.
A few days back I became sure that the days were even longer and that’s changed. They’re not as long as that, but still longer than they used to be.
I was thinking. Who are you? I know that’s kind of dumb but, you’re somebody, right? And you’re reading this, right? And, how far away is it in time? Place? Do you know who I am or did you just find this and begin reading it? Have you been through this too? Is it over and explained? For all I know no one is here to read this. I can’t really believe that though. Man, I really can’t… Won’t. It’s the only reason I’m writing this. So that someone, you, will know who I am. That I made it, at least so far, and as I go along I hope to get some answers. There must be some somewhere. Maybe you have them. Maybe.
So my name is Conner Davis. I’m a web site designer… Was, I guess. I guess there’s no more internet, right? Hopefully it’ll be back though.
I’m twenty three years old. I’m single and it looks like I might remain single for awhile. That’s not funny really. Hopefully I’ll find other people soon. I can’t be the only one left. But if I do or if I don’t, I’ll have this written record.
I dragged about fifty sled loads of stuff down here today. The inside of the market is really beginning to smell bad. No, really bad. And I found more bodies as well. Two today. I’ve been concentrating on canned stuff, trying to make sure I don’t get sick. There is a lot of it, and I have a lot of it here now.
I heard dogs today and not far away either. And there were paw prints in the market. And something had been at the bodies. The dogs, I suppose. I was kind of leery of going in but they weren’t there. And had they been they probably would’ve been as afraid of me as I was of them. But I was also wondering, were they dogs? Wolves? I mean, don’t they sound the same? Leave the same sort of tracks? Maybe not to someone who knows what to look for in the tracks, but to me they look like dog tracks. And the bodies I had found had been partially eaten. Something was eating them. Dogs? Wolves? I didn’t know but I knew I had to be careful. And what about the other tracks going into the market? Other People? Where are they?
That got me thinking about the zoo. What happened to all of the animals there? So I walked out to the park, but I couldn’t get all the way up to the park entrance. The road’s gone. The whole park area seems to be gone. No trees just raw earth. So I turned back around and came back. I don’t think anything could’ve lived through that. But lions, wolves, bear? There are a few new things to worry about, right? Can a lion survive in the winter? I don’t know. But I walked back from my trip to the park a whole lot faster than I walked up there.
But I heard dogs… Or wolves. I heard them, and if they lived other people had to live, right? And a few times now I’ve felt that I was being watched. You know that feeling you get? Well I’ve gotten it a few times in the last few days. I still haven’t seen anyone though. I’ve called out a few times; no one has answered.
I haven’t seen other footprints besides the market, but it’s been a little warmer and the snow has melted. Not all of it, but a lot of it. And they could also walk where I’ve been walking, in which case I wouldn’t see their tracks. But they should have no trouble finding me. I’m not try to hide… Be careful about the tracks I leave. I don’t know if that’s good or not. I’ve been thinking about that too.
I’m not much for guns. I’ve never shot a pistol or a rifle or gone hunting. But I’m thinking of walking back out to the strip. There were a few sporting goods stores out there. I even took a few things from one of them the other day, but I didn’t think about guns at the time. Maybe I’ll go tomorrow.
A weird thing did happen today. I was being careful, making sure there were no dogs or wolves, or whatever in the store. Looking around. I was up at the front where the payphones are, there was a time when people used things like payphones, these were still there from that time, and one of them rang. As soon as it did the other two there rang also. Only a little jangle. It didn’t last more than a second, but it scared the crap out of me. I thought I was dead right there. For some reason I thought the wolves had sneaked up on me. Come up behind me and were about to get me. Don’t ask me how I got wolves from a ringing phone but I did.
I calmed down after a few minutes and so I walked over and picked up the nearest receiver. Static. Scratchy static. Then it cleared for a second and, it was probably just my nerves, but I could swear I heard someone there. Maybe not heard, I don’t know if I heard anything at all, it was more like I knew someone was there: You know what I mean? Like when you get a crank call and the person doesn’t speak but you know that they are there anyway? Like that. Exactly like that. But, then it went right back to scratchy static and I felt stupid for even thinking it at all. Who could’ve been there? Who would know I was there? It was just nerves. I know it was.
After I got everything back to this building I organized it. I’ve bought back a lot of stuff. Meat, vegetables, bottled water. I have to work my way over to some of the other aisles. I need rice. Pasta. Maybe some instant potatoes. I started on that today. I got part way through the end cap, but the whole roof seems to be resting on that part of the aisle stands, and it’s the same way on the other end. That’s when I found the bodies. It was so bad I couldn’t tell what they had been.
I thought it might be better to go through the aisle dividers. They are solid steel though, and I can’t see any way through them, short of a set of torches. Maybe I could find a set, but it seems as though it would be easier to start from the checkouts and work my way through the piles of stuff until I hit another aisle. I have no idea what each aisle is though.
Yeah, I’ve been there about a thousand times, and I can tell you where the beer and chips would be, paper plates, disposable forks and spoons, but that’s about it. I’d hate to spend five hours or more of digging just to reach the toilet paper and sanitary napkins in aisle four. That would be my luck. But there’s nothing to do for it except to do it. Or go find a set of torches.
I know I need carbs. Canned meat and vegetables are good, but very low carbs. It’s funny but I need fat, things I’m burning heavy and need to replace. I have nearly constant exercise. My pants are hanging off me. Who knew it could be this easy to lose weight?
I’d also like to find supplements. A good selection of first aid stuff. Vitamins, band aids, disinfectant, things like that. I guess that’s my next little bit of time mapped out for me.
Other things I’m looking for: A wind up watch (Should work right?); an old car or truck without an electronic brain (My hope is that if it’s just a simple distributor/spark arrangement with a carburetor, I should be able to get it to work). I think electronics are shot. They don’t work that’s for sure. But I could be wrong. Maybe they will in time.
A battery powered T.V. ; maybe there will be a station on. I know it’s a long shot. Everything is digital. Do they even make battery powered digital televisions?
A C.B. or Ham radio. That would let me listen to the state, maybe the world. I should be able to reach someone. And, last; I’m going to check every phone I come across… Just in case.
It’s early but I’m tired… I wish I weren’t alone.
Katie March 10th
It’s late at night. What a difference a day makes. Conner is his name.
We went back today to see if he had been back to the store. I went there first. I hoped to catch him there early but he wasn’t there. Jake dragged his feet. Like he didn’t want to go at all. He didn’t say that but it seemed that way to me. Maybe things were just getting to me. Jake putting more and more pressure on me to be with him. Lana turning up the I hate you attitude. Maybe it’s just me, or just was me. Either way, by the time we did get there this morning the snow was melting and there was no real way to tell if he had been there at all. I thought about what I had decided yesterday, just going without Jake, but I waited.
We went back to the river and began looking along the banks on that side. I couldn’t figure where he had gone to.
I backtracked to the market up street, thinking I must have missed him, missed something anyway. On the way back I saw him crossing the end of Old Town. I practically screamed out loud but he didn’t hear me. By the time we got there he was gone.
Then the day just started to slide away. I began to think I wouldn’t find him at all. It depressed me.
It was James who smelled the smoke. All we had to do was follow the smoke and we found him. James found him. How do you follow smoke? Have you ever tried? I mean, if I could see it in the air? Sure. But I couldn’t. James knew how to follow it anyway. That man is smart.
I guess there’s a lot more that I could say about today but I’m not going to say it now. I’ll say this though, I want him. I want him and Jake knows it. It’s like Jake knew it would turn out this way. Jana knew how I felt, knew how it would be. She told me that today. She said she could see it in me last night. Like this is the way it’s supposed to be.
Lana knows as well. She’s happy about it. I saw her face when she figured it out. She looked from me to Conner and back. Then she did it again; this puzzled look on her face, and then she smiled, looked at me and nodded. I think she’s just biding her time now. I guess I am too.
Conner Davis. Conner. I think I already wrote his name. I don’t know what happens next. How to make it happen. I’m no good at that sort of thing. I’ve never done it. And my little notebook here, my only friend through all of this, along with Jana, can’t help me with that. I can write it here, look at it, but that doesn’t realize it.
I still have my father’s gun. That has also been my friend the last few days. But it can’t help me either, unless I shoot Jake. I guess that’s not funny. Jake never liked my gun. It bothered him Not ladylike? Something like that I think. Conner wasn’t shocked at all except to say he should have already gotten one and didn’t. It didn’t intimidate him in other words.
Tomorrow is March eleventh. I would have started a new life tomorrow. Maybe one I wasn’t meant to start. I feel like… I don’t know. To be honest I feel like I’m just a dumb girl pretending to be a woman, a grown up. Does nineteen know everything? No. I don’t want to pretend at this. I want to get things right. I don’t know what’s next. But does anybody?
Conner March 12th
Things have been really crazy the last few days. I’m not alone anymore. It’s funny because that’s the last thing I wrote, and two days later it’s like an answer to prayer. It happened later on the evening of the tenth. Oh, and it was the tenth. Jake has an old fashioned wind up watch. So does Katie. And they’ve both kept track. Kept them wound up too. But, in another way it isn’t the twelfth today at all because the days and nights, or the rotation of the Earth that makes the days and nights, isn’t the same at all. It’s much slower. It’s taking about twenty eight hours to cycle through. But last week it was up to almost thirty six hours. And, none of us knows why, except it slowed up and it’s now starting to get back to a normal length of time to cycle through a night and day. So, it’s not really the twelfth, and they’ve just been keeping track of the days as they pass. Same as I’ve been; except for the day I thought I’d lost.
Anyway, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from start; I was organizing stuff. There is a warehouse down closer to the river full of wooden pallets. I went down there a few days ago. Box upon box upon box. I have no idea what’s in them. I figured sometime I’d just open a few up and see. Maybe it would be something useful, maybe not. What’s useful now is radically different from what used to be useful.
Anyway I noticed all of the pallets. Pallets everywhere. Some full, some piled high with stuff, but a lot of empty ones; so I went back down with the sled and made a few trips back and forth to the factory so I could stack the canned stuff on them, so they’re not sitting on the floor. I was putting them in the back of the building. I was so wrapped up in stacking the canned goods that I never even heard them until Katie cleared her throat. I guess to get my attention.
It scared me bad. I thought about the gun I had never bothered to go and get, and a lot of other bad stuff. It went through my mind so fast. The first thing in my head was. The wolves got me! They Sneaked up on me! Stupid, I know. I knew it was a person, but my head still insisted wolf. It didn’t last though, and my reaction scared them as well. Lana said I had a can of peas in my hand and she was sure I was going to bean Katie in the head with them. For some reason she found it funny that I would bean someone in the head with a can of peas and she giggled. I just felt embarrassed and glad I didn’t throw the can. I set it down on the stack and took a few deep breaths instead. We all ended up laughing our asses off. Nervous energy. Release, I guess, or something like that. And then we all began to talk at once.
They had known about me for two days. They had seen that someone was going in and out of the market. They were going out to one on the north side, the other side of the river from where I was. For some reason I hadn’t thought to cross the river, they had already been on the other side to begin with, and even though the main bridges seemed too damaged to be trusted, the railroad trestle seemed solid and unharmed to them, so they crossed over on that to get to my side. I was impressed; that is an open trestle. A long way down to the water.
Because the snow on the asphalt was melting they couldn’t figure out where I was going when I left the market. They were actually going back across the river when Katie happened to look over her shoulder toward the opposite bank and happened to catch me going into the factory. She had thought to yell, but over the sound of the rapids she couldn’t get anyone around her to hear her, let alone me.
Once they were across she talked to Jake, Jake pretty much was their leader (I don’t know if I like that. Do we need leaders?), and they decided to come back the next day, which was two days ago, and see if they could find me. They didn’t know about the . Katie had thought I was just climbing the rock above the river. They searched along the back of the Old Town, or what’s left of it, and down towards the strip. If they had come back down one more road towards the river, they would’ve found this old factory then. Maybe they hadn’t realized there was a road there at all; so they just followed the path of the river thinking I was living in one of the fallen down buildings closer along the banks of the river itself.
They had seen me from quite a way off crossing the square as they were heading back. It looked to them like I was heading for the north side, maybe crossing one of the bridges, but by the time they got there I was gone. They even began to wonder if I had seen them and hidden on purpose. Maybe out of fear. They had searched for awhile and then, just when they had been about to quit for the day, James realized that he could smell smoke. As soon as he said it, everyone else realized they had smelled it all along as well. After that it didn’t take long to find the old factory. They just followed the smell of smoke down to the lower road and found me.
So that was that and now we are six. Jake, Jake Light, he was their leader as I said. He’s an older guy. In his late thirties. Used to be a truck driver.
Katie Lee (don’t call her Honey. I don’t know why). She’s nineteen and was visiting her grandparents. She was from New York. I thought she was with Jake. I think Jake thought so as well.
James and Jana Adams. James is a little older than Jana. In his fifties, and he said he is a mechanic. Jana does, did, data processing. And Lana. Her real name is Marcia Santos. Lana is her middle name. She said she always liked Lana better. She was still in school, local college. I guess she’s the same age as Katie, nineteen. And last, but not least, me.
We spent all of yesterday getting their stuff from across the river and bringing it over to the factory. I thought that was weird. Why go get stuff anyway? You can have anything you want. It’s all free. But in another way I guess I understand. We’ve lost everything. We want to hang on to what little we still do have. We’re all going to stay here. And we talked about what’s next, and what we know about what happened.
I said I had been kind of planning to leave once spring came. Head south or west. Somewhere where I wouldn’t have to worry about winter. Jake said it may be that where it would normally have been warmer it won’t be any more. He said it depends on what happened. None of us really know. He thinks it might be smarter to stay here. We could stock up this building. We could even hunt. He said he’s sure there are deer around. James agreed with him, at least on there being Deer around.
I told them about the footprints by my house. They said they had seen footprints also. They had gone out toward the strip and seen the tracks of three or four people going in and out of a small store in a strip mall out there. They had called out, but no one had answered. They had had second thoughts about calling out as well. They weren’t armed. What if someone shot at them?
That bought my original thoughts to mind about a weapon. I mentioned the sporting goods store and we all agreed to make a trip out there soon.
We talked about cars and trucks and agreed it would be good to get an SUV or truck of some kind if we could find one that will run, as they might be the only vehicles that could drive around as bad as things are torn up. They have also tried starting a few vehicles with no success. I mentioned my electronic brain idea, and Jake said he had thought of the same thing. Turns out he’s also a mechanic. I guess I can see why they chose him to lead. I feel kind of useless around the guy though. We agreed to try finding an older vehicle. Jake thinks our chances of getting one running are good. We’ll see what we can find.
The first night together was good. The best I’ve slept since this thing started. Just not being alone, you know? I guess I’ll end on that note…