I used to cut myself with a razor-blade—on the arms and legs if you’re wondering. I would do it when I was trawling the darkest parts of myself; I wanted it to hurt as much on the outside as it did on the inside. It helped to see something bleed then scab over and heal. I wore my pain like an expensive suit—as though it defined who I was. Looking back, I think I spent way too much time in my own head. I would think too hard and too deep and mine the black places of my memory that should have stayed buried.
I read an article that said the company that uncovered the end of the world also mined too deeply. They dug too hard and too deep, not stopping when they hit the ancient wall erected before the birth of Christ. They didn’t care about what the wall was trying to keep out or, more importantly: what it was meant to keep in. Fifteen men and women died on that first day; they died horribly and painfully. The news had a field day and a slew of international ‘experts’ were called in to comment on what had been unleashed. They weren’t qualified.
The surrounding population was obliterated like stalks of corn plagued by locusts. The world watched in horror, most of them from the comfort of their own countries; countries that went into lockdown at the first whiff of a threat. There had been too many outbreaks for any world leader to be caught with his or her pants down. This wasn’t an outbreak—it was a reckoning. We’d had it too good for too long, living our bloated, privileged lives above an unseen power. We were overdue.
The Cursed Ones is what the media began to call them. An army of things that moved about in the darkness and ate humans for food. They didn’t just politely snack on soft-tissue like zombies from b-grade horror movies: they ate skin, sinew, and bone. They didn’t discriminate: humans, animals, insects, raw meat abandoned in the butcher-shop window—they ate it all. These creatures were hungry and relentless and unstoppable. Then we learned that they were multiplying.
Britain was the first to go and then there was nothing for weeks and weeks. Had they starved themselves out or had they begun to eat each other once all other food sources were tapped out? Then the footage came: lithe, pale forms with jagged teeth and blood-stained lips filmed with night-vision cameras. It turns out that the things were able to walk underwater without the need for air. They’d hit Germany and then moved into greater Europe: swarming like rodents in a metropolitan sewer. The Powers tried military contingencies including troops on the ground, bombing, and there was talk, for a time, of going nuclear. Talk stopped when the mucky-mucks pushing for ‘the button’ were ingested by the swarm.
I’m holed up in my long-abandoned apartment block with dwindling food supplies and a collectible sword from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I still cut myself; only now it’s to wipe blood on the walls of the outside halls as a diversionary tactic for supply-runs. I’ve killed seven of the things, to date: I’ve had occasion to examine them properly and I’m more terrified now for the knowing of them. They are slender but strong, with cat-like eyes for seeing at night and sharp, strong claws for digging both earth and flesh. Their ears are large and made for hearing footsteps up to a mile away, it seems; their mouths are wide and gaping and able to envelop the head of a baby with ease.
I’m writing this journal that someone may get the benefit of my limited knowledge. Maybe I write so that I may be remembered; I can’t know for sure. Perhaps I want it to hurt as much on the outside as it does on the inside. Please read this journal and take my words to heart: I care for you, though I don’t even know you. Please be safe and please fight for your life—with every fiber of your being. I can hear them at the door... They’re coming.