Interviews of the Apocalypse – Chapter 5 (Simon)

The following interview was transcribed from a recorded session.

AA – “Good morning my friend, for the reco-”

SD – “Sorry, is this going to take long? I have a lot of stuff to be getting on with.”

AA – “Not too long, half an hour or so. Is that acceptable?”

SD – “Yeah, I guess, sure, that’s fine.”

AA – “Good, good. Yes well, as I was saying, for the record could you confirm your personal details?”

SD – “Simon Delany, fifty-nine year old male, originally from London, England.”

AA – “Ah, an interesting place to start. You are the first person I’ve interviewed so far who seems to remember exactly where they came from.”

SD – “Everyone knows where they came from I think. Sometimes people prefer not to remember hearth and home when they cannot go back.”

AA – “A fascinating theory, worth merit I should think. So Simon, tell me, how do you get here?”

SD – “Well, I suppose the same way everyone else did really. Heard rumour of a place Northward, safe place, for the last humans.”

AA – “A familiar tale. Can I ask where you heard these rumours?”

SD – “Hmm, a good question actually. I’m not sure, I think I just woke up one morning and decided to head north. It led me here. I’m not thinking beyond that point just yet.”

AA – “You seem to be rather relaxed, at this juncture most people seem to be on the verge of panic.”

SD – “The things I’ve seen and done, the places I’e been, I’ve learned to accept the world now as it is. A global shithole. But, we do what we do to survive, I just help with that when I can.”

AA – “That leads me nicely to our next point. Tell me, what is it you do in the town?”

SD – “Well, I’ve been referred to an electro-mechano engineer. It’s a long title but when you break it down to the component parts it basically covers what I do.”

AA – “Please go on.”

SD – “Fair enough. Well I’m an engineer, but I deal specifically with electronics and mechanics. I believe you’ve already talked to my associates Stuart and Jonathon?”

AA – “Ah, yes I believe I have. Nice pair of gentlemen, they seem competent enough.”

SD – “That’s putting it mildly. They’re excellent at what they do. Truth be told, there’s not much of a team here that do that sort of thing. I’d much rather have them helping me with my project, but it’s important they help with keeping the basics of the town running. So I’m told anyway.”

AA – “And, if you don’t mind me asking, what type of projects are you referring to?”

SD – “Well, my latest project is one I’ve been theorising for a while now. Bringing a large, stable power source back into the fold. And with it, hopefully, some useful technology.”

AA – “It sounds intriguing, tell me more if you would.”

SD – “Well, solar power basically.”

AA – “Hmm, very interesting indeed. Do you have the right resources to use it?”

SD – “Are you kidding me? Damn-near every house has a handful of solar panels on it these days…that is…the days before…the thing.”

AA – “I understand, please continue if you can.”

SD – “I’m fine, just try to take my subconscious memory by surprise sometimes and hope it will tell me what I need to know.”

AA – “A sound psychological method, I’m told.”

SD – “One dear…I swear it will work. Anyway, where was I?”

AA – “Solar panels.”

SD – “Ah, yes, so! I’m basically reclaiming as many as I can find and transforming them in to industrial standard solar power generators. I’ve been granted control of a massive section outside the town walls to build it.  When it’s finished, it will collect, store, and transfer power autonomously.”

AA – “A fairly ambitious undertaking for one man alone.”

SD – “Well, there’s no shortage of strong arms and backs around here. It’s a simple enough job to convert the panels themselves, but I still need an accumulator and a powerful enough processor to run the whole damn thing.”

AA – “A worth challenge indeed.”

SD – “It’s something to do. Eventually our luck with finding petrol that’s still useful will run out, then the generators go, then the electricity with it. I’ve no doubt we’d soldier on with campfires and pots of stew but I’d personally like to avoid that scenario. The rest of the town too I’d wager.”

AA – “I’ve some ideas that might be useful to you, we can talk while you work after the interview.”

SD – “Much obliged.”

AA – “For now, we shall move on. Has your profound understanding of the human psyche led you to recall much of your life before…well before all this. I must find a better way to say that.”

SD – “Just a tip, most people ’round here just call it The Fall.”

AA – “Ah, thank you very much. That will actually be a massive help. Now then, do you remember much of your life before The Fall?”

SD – “Not really, though not for lack of trying. It’s like there’s a…wall…in my mind. Or that part of my memory is dead and buried. Most of it anyway, though I find it odd I still know so much about electronics and so on.”

AA – “Another interesting hypothesis, you seem to think in a bigger frame than your neighbours.”

SD – “They’re just trying to get by in their new lives on their old world. Always have been a big thinker. Having said that, how do I know that?”

AA – “If I can guide you back to the question before we lose ourselves on a tangent once again.”

SD – “Of course. Yes, so…ah…what was the-”

AA – “Your life before The Fall.”

SD – “Ah, yes. Can’t remember…anything really. There is a picture of a woman in my mind, astoundingly handsome woman she is. And a child, a boy. Strong young lad, think he was my son and my wife. Can’t remember what happened to them. That’s about it really.”

AA – “My deepest sympathies.”

SD – “Not much room for that these days.”

AA – “Nonetheless, please accept them. Though it’s worth noting that such a vivid image such as that must have meant they were your world.”

SD – “It’s nice to think so.”

AA – “We’ll move on, eh? Now then, how were you treated when you first arrived?”

SD – “A little oddly really. I suppose everyone is for the first few weeks. Greeted by armed guards at the gates. I was in a pretty big truck, sixteen wheels on the bloody thing. It was a mobile factory for me. The back was full of computers and the like, things I could, and have, found useful in my projects.”

AA – “Again, a familiar story. You’re a thinking man, what do you think happened with regards to The Fall?”

SD – “Well, I don’t tend to ponder it much. As far as I can recall, though it’s a little fuzzy, the governments were going at each other, everyone seemed to have reason to hate each other, though for no apparent reason. New world leaders didn’t know how to correctly handle situations, things escalated. If you ask me, the world was due a restart.”

AA – “And now you have it?”

SD – “Well, we do the best we can. When I think about the end of the world, I imagine fires, brimstone, bombs, wars, destruction everywhere. This is…quite a peaceful apocalypse really. It’s like we have all the advantages of a fresh start without the chaos. Plus the added advantage of the technological achievements we had before this happened, and the knowledge to use it. Seems kinda…right really.”

AA – “You are a man of much depth Simon.”

SD – “I just call it how I see it.”

AA – “Honesty is the finest quality. But we’ll move on for now. We talked earlier how you arrived here, but not what you did in the mean time.”

SD – “Hmm, now that’s not something I enjoy talking about much. I used to be a Hunter.”

AA – “Oh, I see. Not a duty taken lightly.”

SD – “No, not at all. As I say, the things I’ve seen and done aren’t for the faint hearted and I don’t like it all that much myself truth be told.”

AA – “If I cold ask, just for the record, what is the job of a Hunter exactly?”

SD – “Well, I suppose I could give you a general overview without going in to specifics regarding my own life.

AA – “Please.”

SD – “The truth is in the title really. Hunters…hunt. More specifically, they hunt the creatures found in the wild and in the ruins of the old world. Animal predators never posed a specific threat to humans as such, however these predators are something new. Somehow, they’re all bigger, more aggressive, much tougher than their predecessors. It was a Hunters job to make sure they didn’t breed out of hand and pose a threat to settlements. For the most part, they were mercenaries.”

AA – “That will do, many thanks for the explanation.”

(The interviewee shrugs)

AA – “You also mentioned something earlier regarding the measurement of time now. Would you elaborate?”

SD – “Again, not much to tell really. The truck I brought along had a few boxes filled with clocks. Working things, running on batteries that never seem to die. They have the exact date, day and time on them. It’s shame they were never brought past their factory settings. They all say different things. Still, I programmed them as best I could for the time, it’s not difficult when you know a few tricks. When I arrived at the town, me and Boss agreed that the date that day was January 1st 01. First day in the first month of a new millennium. There’s one in each house now, just another part of life we’ve managed to rebuild.”

AA – “A highly resourceful man too, you’re full of surprises-

(There are several loud knocks on my door and a young man bursts in. I later discover his name is Paul Latiner, PL)

SD – “Paul! What have a told you about knocking?!”

AA – “There’s no harm done really.”

SD – “Manners are what make us human. This young lad is Paul Latiner, one of my apprentices.”

PL – “Sorry to interrupt, but there’s a problem with your solar accumulator, sir.”

SD – “Damn it, how long have I been here?”

AA – “Apologies, I had not noticed the time had passed.”

SD – “Don’t worry, I can probably fix it. Run along boy, I’ll be there soon.”

(PL leaves in a rush)

AA – “Well, thank you for the conversation, it was deeply insightful.”

SD – “Not a bother.”

AA – “May I call on you again if I have more questions?”

SD –  “Sure, sure. Come see me later about those ideas you had too, eh?”

AA – “My pleasure Simon.”

END

A few notes here, primarily how different Simon Dylan is in these interviews when compared to the others I have spoken to. The man is chatty, witty, comprehensive. I swear he even grinned a couple of times, not even the recollection of what could have been his dead wife and child put him off.

He seems to view the world in a very black and white stance. A thing is either one or the other, he makes no qualms about going deeper than that. He takes the world now as it is, a simple, dead place. People need to survive, he has the ability to turn survival back in to living, therefore it is his duty to do so. It’s quite that simple to him.

He may be the last of a wonderful breed of people, but unfortunately, we cannot pick and choose who dies based on personality.

I can’t, anyway.

Interviews of the Apocalypse – Chapter 4 (The Feral)

Personal notes of Alex Ahmed

Topic – Human children found in ‘the wild’

Referred to as – The Feral

Time Period – Ongoing

An interesting topic if there ever was one. Mystery, intrigue, the depth of human nature. The Feral seem to embody it all.

While there is not much to discuss about the outward mystery these lost children represent, it’s what is not noticed that makes them so fascinating to me.

They are, at their source, human children. It’s quite that simple, actually. Human children, usually ranging in age estimates of seven to ten years of age, mixed gender, no mutilations, mutations or permutations of a regular human form. Undamaged, save for any trouble they may have gotten themselves into, falling on broken glass, falling a damaging limbs and so on. What were once considered regular childhood dangers.

They are found by scavenging teams from local villages or refugee camps. It’s been documented that The Feral come willingly with the group of adults, though the reason why has not yet been discovered. Perhaps it is the sight of a familiar form, the need for security or something more primal and heartbreaking. Whatever the reason, I personally give thanks that they do so. To live alone in the civilised wilderness would break the mind of a strong man or woman, who knows what it would do to a simple child?

I use simple as a qualitative term here, not a derogatory one. The Feral are simple in the most fundamental way, they do not speak, read, or write. They have had no fundamental education of which to speak, there has not been a case of an educated Feral found. They are usually found in good health as I say, they seem well nourished and their muscles have found good use. These are not children who have been idle, imprisoned or abused, they are simply children who are lost.

Less known about them is their origin. No one to date has been able to ascertain where The Feral originate. As I say, they are perfectly human in every way, they become educated in the new towns and adapt well to their new society. But, and I’m beginning to sense a pattern here, they have no recollection of their previous lives. By all accounts, their memory seems to begin when they are found by other humans.

There have been a handful of incredibly rare circumstances where several Feral have found each other in the wild and been able to use their base, primal instincts to seek out other humans. But still, this has not led to a better memory recall concerning their origination. After extensive medical analysis by human doctors, it has been established that these children are made in the traditional way. They are created by a man and a woman, and born to a woman in the same way human children are.

Several salvage teams have created large-scale search & rescue operations within the vicinity of a Feral. They have always yielded zero results. There are no traces of where these Feral come from or why they are outcast from their homes.

Another thing I find fascinating about these so-called Feral, is how they are immediately treated by the humans that find them. I myself have been part of several salvage teams to stumble across a Feral in the wild, and I have even visited a few settlements where they have search & rescue teams dedicated to finding Feral and bringing them back in to the fold. I have also had the misfortune to visit one settlement and find how they treat The Feral there. I have separate notes on that encounter, but rest assured they no longer pose a threat to the lost children.

The Feral are immediately accepted by the entire community. They are always adopted by the kind and loving people who may have a little extra space in their homes. They are always provided for by the people and assimilated into that society’s own childhood groups. They begin learning with the other children in whatever education establishment the town has to offer. They often start with the younger children, learning the basics of reading, writing and speaking. Again, for all intents and purposes, they behave like children born the the community.

Possibly even more astounding is how they are treat by the other children in the towns. They are accepted immediately, brought into the fold and established as a member of the social norm. It is easy to assume there may have been cases of bullying or neglect from the other children and adults the first few times a Feral was re-integrated into humanity, but those prejudices have since been utterly destroyed. It’s amazing that human nature, even now after everything they have been through, shines through at its best. In the darkest hour of mankind, human nature is the guiding light by which all find their way.

Many of the reclaimed Feral have been questioned extensively a few years after their integration. Unfortunately, their new education does not aid memory recall and not a single one of them has been able to remember where they came from or how their lives were before they were found.

I do have several theories on this topic, but again, they can be found in a separate note section. I try to keep from rambling but sometimes it cannot be helped.

My biggest concern regarding The Feral is their respective parents. It stands to reason that there may be hundreds, if not thousands, of human survivors living out there in the ruins of the old world. Who cares for them? How do they survive? Why do they cast out their own? It could be for a specific reason, maybe they keep most to continue breeding and outcast certain children due to a defect that we have not been able to find.

Where are they living? Surely the number of human adults that can produce this many children at a fairly stable rate would need to eat and drink a not-insubstantial amount of food and water and produce quite a large amount of waste that we have, as of yet, been unable to find any trace of. It’s a bizarre situation, but we can take some solace in the fact they these children are cared for and, by all accounts, happy and well-adjusted members of human society.

Interviews of the Apocalypse – Chapter 3 (Charlotte & Jed)

The following interview was transcribed from a recorded session.

AA – “Good morning, good morning. For the record, would you both state your personal details please?”

CH – “Charlotte Harrison, sixty five year old female, origin South England I suppose.”

AA – “Excellent, and yourself sir?”

JH – “Jed Harrison, sixty six year old male, South England too.”

AA – “Oh, so you two are married?”

JH – “Kinda.”

CH – “Yeah…it’s not, like, super official or anything. Who’s left to actually marry people now?”

JH – “We just made the decision to be man and wife. We managed to find a couple rings and boom – married.”

AA – “I see, I see. So was there a ceremony?”

JH – “Difficult when everyone you know is dead and-”

CH – “Jed! We’ve been married forty years now, get over it!”

AA – “Ahem, yes, quite. I see your point. Congratulations, although I’m some years late. Now then, would you be so kind as to tell me what you two do in the town?”

CH – “Sure, I’m one of the only teachers here-

JH – “She’s the boss of teachers.”

CH – “Jed! Shush. I’m not really the boss, but it’s what I did before..well…before-

JH – “Before it all went to shit?”

CH – “Yeah…anyway it’s what I knew and the others differ to me sometimes.”

AA – “I see. So how many teachers are there currently?”

CH – “Including myself, three.”

AA – “That doesn’t appear to be that many.”

JH – “Well, when you take the number of kids into account…”

CH – “Yeah, it becomes a fairly standard ratio”

AA – “An interesting topic, but we’ll pursue that in a moment. Mr Harrison, what is it that you do?”

CH – “Town clown.”

JH – “God damn it Charlotte…”

CH – “It’s true!”

JH – “Boss appointed me town Morale Officer…I basically cheer people up.”

CH – “He’s very good at what he does.”

JH – “It’s hardly difficult to talk to people dear.”

CH – “It’s more than that and you know it.”

AA – “She’s right you know, some would say you keep this whole town running.”

JH – “Let’s not be dramatic now.”

AA – “Well, think on it a while. You’re the one that keeps spirits up when people are at their lowest. If you can make people even smile in this climate, you should be very proud of yourself.”

(JH looks away somewhat embarrassed)

AA – “Anyway, circling back for a brief moment. Charlotte, you mentioned the teacher to child ratio. Please elaborate.”

CH – “Sure, well as I say there’s four of us currently teaching a group of forty five children.”

AA – “That’s a rather high number for this day and age.”

CH – “Well, this town holds, oh I dunno, Jed, how many people would you say?”

JH – “Uhm…around three thousand all told.”

CH – “So it’s not too many.”

AA – “I was referring to a…more delicate issue with regards to new children.”

CH – “Oh, you mean the…reproductive difficulties. It’s true, a new birth nowadays is a rare and very beautiful thing but the other children, we, just kinda…”

JH – “Find.”

CH – “Thank you darling, yes, find.”

AA – “Hmmm, intriguing. And what do you mean by that exactly?”

CH – “Well, the scavenge teams. Sometimes they just find children. No one knows how it’s possible, but there they are. Wandering the streets, or hiding wherever they can. They have no memory, barely speak English. The Feral, we call them. It’s our job to…bring them back to humanity.”

AA – “Ah, The Feral. I’ve heard the name around town once or twice. Have you had much success?”

CH – “Yeah, they come around fairly quickly. They take to education rapidly and meld with the rest of this new society.”

AA – “That’s excellent progress Mrs Harrison, you and your team should be very proud of yourselves.”

(CH looks away, red colouring her cheeks)

CH – “Well…yes, I mean, ahem, it’s not my team…”

AA – “Now, back to you Mr Harrison-

JH – “You can call me Jed, you know.”

AA – “Ah, thank you kindly. Now, Jed, can you tell me what you did before…well in your previous life.”

JH – “Oh…well now let me think…”

CH – “Weren’t you…wait…”

JH – “I was in a band! That was it!”

AA – “Ah, a fellow musician! How wonderful! Do go on.”

JH – “Hmm, now let’s think here…drummer! That was it, I was the drummer.”

AA – “Do you still play?”

JH – “When I can with what I can, hard to get the hands to stop moving in a beat. Muscle memory is a bitch.”

AA – “Indeed, and Mrs Harrison, you’ve already said you were a teacher.”

CH – “That’s right.”

AA – “Wonderful, good. Now, a rather different question. When did you first feel the danger?”

(Both interviewees stiffen slightly, holding each other’s hands tightly)

AA – “Deep breaths my friends, it’s all been and gone by now. Take your time, try not to push your memory too hard now.”

JH – “Well…I remember I was recording at the time with the band. We got halfway through recording a song, I remember feeling incredibly tense. Just an overwhelming need to be with Charlotte.”

CH – “I remember that too, I just got finished teaching a class. I got out and went home. We were living together at the time, not even engaged yet.”

JH – “I was planning to-”

CH – “I know sweetheart, I know.”

AA – “So, what did you two do next?”

JH – “I left the studio, went home hoping she was there, and she was.”

CH – “I remember us talking…we both felt the same way. We packed up and left, went to a shelter…”

AA – “Which shelter? How did you get there? How did you know about it?”

CH – “I…I don’t…”

JH – “It was just one of those places people knew about I think. We hid for…I don’t know how long. When we came out-”

CH – “Everyone was just…gone. No trails, notes, bodies, nothing!”

AA – “Deep breaths, but continue if you can.”

(JH puts his arms around CH)

JH – “We…well we wandered. Trying to find something, anything, anyone who was left! We met with another batch of people wondering the same thing.”

CH – “We scavenged food, water, bedding. Tried to settle down. But we felt the need to…keep moving. An itch between our shoulders. Like something was watching us…waiting to get us.”

JH – “Then came the first of the…zombies.”

CH – “Jed, please don’t.”

JH – “After that, the Lost, after that it was-”

CH – “Jed!”

(Both interviewees are incredibly shaken)

AA – “Okay, here have some water and calm yourselves for a moment.”

(I allow them time to calm)

AA – “Sorry, I did not mean to push so…aggressively. Information like this is hard to come by these days.”

CH – “It’s okay.”

JH – “There’s things we can’t remember that we’d like to, and things we can’t forget that we would rather. I don’t know what happened, I just know what’s happening now.”

CH – “You do what you have to to survive, in the end.”

(They hold each other tightly)

AA – “Thank you for talking with me. We’ll change topic slightly. How did you come by this place?”

JH – “We managed to find it, after surviving all the new bullshit. Followed rumours, head North, big camp, lots of people, a new haven.”

CH – “We didn’t really have another choice.”

AA – “A familiar tale. Tell me, how did you come by these rumours?”

CH – “We…well…what?”

AA – “The rumours, of the haven, how did you come by them?”

CH – “It…”

JH – “Other…survivors. It would have to be, right?”

(Both interviewees look incredibly shaken again)

AA – “We’ll move on. Did you have any family before the…event?”

CH – “I…yes. A big family, parents, brothers. Haven’t seen any of them. I think we tried to convince them to come with us but they laughed us off.”

JH – “I remember that…I tried to talk my sister into coming but she wouldn’t listen.”

AA – “Family, the best and the worst of us. So, how did you eventually find this place and what did you do on arrival?”

JH – “We actually found our old cars. Still running, no reason they wouldn’t be, just a bit of oil and bang! Functioning cars.”

CH – “We had one each, decided to load them up and take them both. Petrol was easy to come by. We made straight for this place, found it eventually.”

JH – “We were greeted a little warily, but we can’t blame them for that. They took us in, straight to Boss. We were assigned jobs and that was it.”

CH – “They didn’t have any trained teachers here so that was my job, train others and begin educating the children.”

AA – “Funny how strong some old habits are, I bet they were eager to learn and you eager to teach.”

CH – “It’s like a piece of the past we kept with us, the children need to learn and I could teach. Simple.”

JH – “We chatted for a while before he invented my new job. Can’t say I don’t enjoy it. Although I do miss the video games. But, we got a plot of land in the town and this is our life now. It’s not the worst of places to be in this age.”

AA – “We carry civilisation on with us, on our shoulders rests the responsibility of the future of mankind. Not a burden taken lightly, I think.

(They both shrug, continuing to hold each other)

AA – “Well, that will be all for now. I appreciate your time. Would I be able to call on you again?”

JH – “Sure.”

CH – “Thanks for talking to us.”

AA – “My pleasure, my absolute pleasure. Please don’t dwell on the questions overlong, it wasn’t a test! have a nice day.”

END

A few notes here, these interviewees were notably less nervous than the previous pair that I found. However, on mention of the world-ending event they immediately became wary and forgetful. I have seen this in many other interviews and it bears much further investigation.

Once again, for now at least, I will not remind them of the world-ending cataclysm that led us all here. I will however, if it becomes pertinent to my investigations.

Again, a brief mention of ‘zombies’ here. They have the ability to recall all events, no matter how harrowing, that occurred after (or possibly as a result of) the world-ending event, but not the event itself. There was also a mention of ‘The Feral’ and ‘The Lost’, subjects of great interest to me. Again, my notes on each subject can be found in my personal journals.

Interviews of the Apocalypse – Chapter 2 (Subject 221A)

Personal notes of Alex Ahmed

Topic – Global engineered-viral-outbreak

Referred to as – Z-Day, Zombie Apocalypse, Zombies, Second Fall of Man

Time Period – Undocumented, approximately 5 years after the world-ending event

Little is known about how the viral outbreak started, but there are common theories among the remaining scholars of the world, as well as folklore and public conjecture.

The first reported sighting of a ‘zombie’ (as they were known) came some five years after the world-ending event. Historical records of this period are scarce, humanity was focused more on reclaiming what they had lost and there were only a handful of people who found the time to make scattered recordings of the situation.

What was noted states that there was a group of survivors (exact number unknown, estimated around one thousand or more) that had begun to repopulate and reconnect a town to the outside world, searching for other survivors, organising farming and salvage operations and so on. On one of these searches, a group stumbled upon a hospital with only one patient within its wings. The patient was noted as being attached to various electronic medical devices which were, somehow, still functioning, but no medical charts or history were found near the patient. Only a chart on the wall, with the title ‘Subject 221A’, lacking any reference to the patient’s family history, age, even gender.

But, the patient was still alive. The search party brought their find back to the town to oversee treatment by their own medical personnel.

At this point I like to think that these particular clan of survivors were among the more friendly and conscientious groups that survived the First Fall. Good people, simply trying to recover their lives as much as possible, find other survivors, no matter what their condition, and bring them back into the folds of humanity. Though, as always, fate, such as she is, is a cruel mistress to the kind and generous.

The next batch of records I managed to find and collate seem to come some months after Subject 221A was found and brought back to the town, though this is pure conjecture as there are no dates kept with the records. No one seemed to survive out of the original group of over one thousand humans. Well, not survive in the common sense.

From what I can tell, the virus took hold of the brain, manipulating certain parts of the hypothalamus, hippocampus and amygdala, ignoring the body’s need to rest, and over-stimulating the need for hunger and uncontrollable rage. Though, again, this is conjecture as there were no specimens left to analyse.

On my journeys I found many sacked settlements, devoid of anyone, human and zombie alike. From the records that survived the fires, storms and natural movement of the planet, the attacks always came swiftly and suddenly, overwhelming refugee groups and spreading the virus to any left alive. There were always words scrawled around the settlements, presumably from survivors or prophets of the attacks. It was a place, a place abundant with resources, living space and makeshift weaponry to house many thousands of survivors. A place I quickly made my way to.

Metrocentre.

It was a massive shopping complex in Gateshead, providing every shopping service from beauty and sport to fashion and gadgets. It seemed to be in some disrepair even before the survivors discovered it. There were large signs everywhere that just said ‘intu’, I assume they were once part of a larger sign. When I arrived I found nothing but traces of the group that had once inhabited it. Pouring through the administrative records I found there (that someone had the good sense to establish) I found that more than three thousand people had fled there in the hopes of a last sanctuary. There was a defensive perimeter surrounding the main entrances, and all of the secondary entrances and exits were blockaded. Well, most of them. Unfortunately, that many people situated in one place seemed to attract every infected specimen in the country.

The official records stopped, with the final entry concerning the large amount of attacks that had begun to arrive. After piecing together what I could from diary entries and manic writing on the wall I managed to deduce that there was one final pitched battle, wherein everyone died. There are no further details as to how. The battle, such as it was, raged for days on end. The human survivors lost ground day by day, the infected were tireless in their hunger and rage and did not stop, the humans needed to rest, resupply and continue moving. Each side paid a heavy toll for every step. Needless to say, in the end, the humans were overrun and destroyed.

After that, there are no records I have found that state what happened next. By my best estimate, it was another twenty years before the next batch of records were found, pointing to human survivors. In the meantime, there was no further mention of zombies or infected survivors. It seemed humanity took the chance once again to hide from the terrors of life, and the infected simply…died. Starvation, muscle degradation, fatigue, thirst, any number of natural causes would have simply wiped out the infected and the infection. Without a host to use, the virus died out completely. Since that last battle at Metrocentre there has not been another zombie sighting.

A lot of things would have prepared humanity for these kinds of disasters. Before the Fall, there were games, films, theatre performances, music videos and a score of other multi-media warnings and possibilities should something like a zombie apocalypse ever actually occur.

However, through a lot of investigating, digging through archives, retracing steps and following footprints in the dust I have discovered the exact cause of the viral disaster. The secret will die with myself, I dare not dedicate the words to permanent record lest they fall into the wrong hands and lead the wrong people back to the worst of places. Rest assured, however, I have made it impossible for the location to be of any use every again and I have destroyed every trace of the virus in stasis I could find. There may be other facilities out there, but it seems they remain safely hidden for now.

Humanity struggles on once again. For my own personal reference, since using dates and times is no longer feasible, I have begun referring to the first world-ending disaster the First Fall. This viral plague will now be referred to as the Second Fall and so on. There are many Falls to discuss and I shall endeavour to research and investigate each one thoroughly.

Interviews of the Apocalypse – Chapter 1 (Jonathon & Stuart)

The following interview was transcribed from a recorded session.

AA – “Good morning gentlemen, for the record please state your personal details.”

(They both stumble over each other somewhat)

AA – “Relax guys, it’s not an audit. How about you first.”

JN – “Okay, uhm. Jonathon Nicholson, sixty three year old male, origin North East, I’m a specialist handyman.”

SC – “Hi, I guess. Stuart Cove, sixty two year old male, origin North East, I am also a specialist handyman.”

AA – “Great, great, thank you. Also, please confirm you know this interview is being recorded and will be transcribed at a later date.”

JN – “Yeah.”

SC – “Uhm, yeah, confirm.”

AA – “Great, great. So we’ll go through the standard set of questions, and we can deal with elaborations and side-tracks when necessary, okay?”

(Both nod their assent)

AA – “Great. So, we’ll start with you Mr Nicholson. Could you tell me more about your job role?”

JN – “Sure, so I’m a specialist handyman but I deal better with mechanics rather than anything else. I kinda just keep the town’s generators running and mock up vehicles if we manage to find any.”

AA – “So you and Stuart work in tandem to keep the town running?”

JN – “You could say that, Stuart specialises in, well he can probably take you through that better than I could.”

SC – “I guess, yeah. So I’m a specialist handyman too, but more to deal with electronics. I use the generators that Jonny fixes up to supply the town with a good source of stable electricity. Lights, appliances, et cetera. I also help with the electronic side of engine and appliance repair.”

AA – “Good to know there’s a couple of people keeping the village running.”

JN – “Well, it’s not just us. We’re part of a crew of about thirty or so people making sure everything runs well, taking shifts, repairing new finds and so on.”

AA – “So, there’s an organisational infrastructure in the town?”

SC – “Well, I guess so. There would have to be really.”

AA – “Curious, and why would that be?”

(The two interviewees look at each other, probably wondering how stupid I am)

SC – “It’s just…I dunno really, just how it is. Someone has to organise everything and keep the town running.”

AA – “I see, and who would that be?”

SC – “We just call him ‘Boss’, not actually sure what his real name is. When you arrive, he’s the one you go to to be assigned to something.”

AA – “A fairly common affectation, so each new refugee needs to be assigned to a role?”

JN – “Well, yeah. Everyone has to put something in otherwise, I dunno, the town wouldn’t function as well I guess.”

AA – “Interesting, it’s funny how some parts of our old lives are so deeply ingrained in us, hierarchical management structure, give and take, trade and so on. So what did the two of you do before…well before you arrived here.”

(JN hesitates)

SC – “Well, we made it by ourselves for a little while. There were a few of us, we tried but couldn’t settle down anywhere. Shit kept happening, y’know? We’d pick a spot clean and move on. Then we heard rumours of this place-”

AA – “Sorry to interrupt, but heard rumours from where?”

(Again, both interviewees hesitate and look to each other for answers)

JN – “Other survivors I guess…other refugees. A few people joined our group. That would have to be it, right?”

SC – “I suppose. Then again, where would they hear the rumours?”

(Both interviewees look immensely troubled for a moment)

AA – “Let’s move past that shall we? How did you get here eventually and what did you do when you first arrived?”

(Both interviewees shuffle in their seats, but continue with a little hesitance)

SC – “Well, we managed to find a truck. It was an army truck, had a few crates in the back. Luckily it was in pretty good shape, me and Jonny fiddled with the engine while the others searched the crates.”

JN – “Yeah, the truck was stocked high with food but most of it was bad by then. But there were a few crates of military ration kits, and plenty of guns.”

SC – “Oh yeah, plenty of guns, plus other equipment. We all got geared up relatively well, enough to scare off most threats.We headed to this place. Offered the truck and the supplies, as well as our skills.”

JN – “Yeah, there were about twelve of us to make it here in the end. They needed the guns, the guys on the walls mostly had rocks and planks of wood. Now they have body armour, assault rifles and plenty more besides.”

SC – “Anyway, before all that we were taken to see Boss, all of us were assigned a role and a plot of land to build a shack. After that, we were left to our own devices.”

AA – “Interesting, so you don’t work in designated shifts?”

JN – “Hmm, not quite. No one does except the guards. We work when something needs doing.”

SC – “But something always needs doing. People know how to spread it around though, no one gets too over or under worked.”

AA – “Alright, alright. Thank you. Now to take a slightly different approach, I would like to ask you both when you first saw or felt the original danger.”

(Both interviewees register a range of negative emotions on their face, both look shaken)

AA – “It’s alright gentlemen, it’s been and gone. Take your time, just take me through it piece by piece.”

JN – “Well, we both knew each other back then anyway.”

SC – “Living together even, I was still studying I think.”

JN – “I was working, but it was convenient that we still share a house.”

SC – “I remember a lot of things going on at the time, I think the US just elected that terrible president. A lot of problems started with him.”

JN – “That’s right, yeah. And I think the UK had just separated from…something.”

SC – “I remember a few people calling it the UK Independence Day.”

JN – “Oh yeah, bunch of wankers.”

SC – “Yeah, the Prime Minister of the UK wasn’t great either. Or that massive country, Ruskia or something.”

JN – “Hmm, come to think of it it seems the world leaders were largely worthless at the time.”

SC – “Yeah, the world was falling to shit way before it actually fell to shit. Then…then it happened.”

AA – “Sorry, just to clarify, what do you mean by ‘it’?”

SC – “I don’t…I can’t…quite remember. It wasn’t bombs or war like everyone predicted. I can’t remember.”

JN – “Me either, but you could…just…feel it coming. The end.”

(There is a slight pause here)

AA – “So you just felt the danger?”

JN – “Yeah.”

SC – “Basically. I think we hid, a few of us did. By the time we came out everyone was just…gone.”

JN – “No evidence of what happened at all. We were just…wandering around. Trying to figure out what happened, where everyone was, when it was, even.”

SC – “We saw the first one then. The first zombie.”

JN – “Are we really saying zombie?”

SC – “Well what the hell would you call it? It was a living, rotten corpse feeding off another corpse. ”

AA – “Okay gentlemen, I think we’ll get on to that at a later date. So do the two of you have any family?”

JN – “I think I did…I used to anyway. Had to really, didn’t I? Mother, father and so on. Think I had a sister too.”

SC – “I had my parents, they lived quite close. Can’t quite remember what happened to them though.”

JN – “I think they refused to hide, then they just…disappeared like everyone else.”

SC – “Yeah…I had my girlfriend. I remember that much, I managed to convince her to hide with us.”

AA – “Do you mind if I ask where she is now?”

SC – “Dead.”

(There is another pause)

JN – “She died on the road to this place, raiders hit us while we were on foot and-”

SC – “Stop. I can’t talk about that day.”

AA – “That’s fine. Thank you for telling me about her.”

(I allow a short pause, for both interviewees to catch their breath)

AA – “So, let’s move on. This first interview is nearly over.”

SC – “First?”

AA – “Hmm? Oh, yes. I’d like to talk to you two again at some point in the future. I may do the same with others but not all I talk to.”

JN – “Fair enough.”

AA – “Excellent, good, yes, excellent. So, who were the two of you before this all happened?”

SC – “Well, as I said I was a student, finishing my PhD, I don’t remember in which field of study. We both lived in Gateshead, in the North East of England. I think I was also a member of the local police force, but I don’t think it was full time.”

JN – “I had a full time job, I think I was a web developer or something. I remember exercising often, riding my bike mostly. It was stolen once, what a shit walk home that was.”

AA – “I see. Okay gentlemen, thank you for your time. If I get the chance, could I interview the two of you another time?”

JN – “Sure.”

SC – “I guess.”

AA – “Thank you again, keep up the good work.”

END

A few notes here, both candidates were incredibly nervous and edgy during the interview for unknown reasons. It is possible that recounting the events that lead humanity to this dark place at the end of all times shakes their confidence somewhat.

The people of this settlement seem to lose themselves in their work, rebuilding a fraction of what was lost. I’ve seen a few smiles and heard trickles of laughter throughout this new town, but everyone is still on edge. The guard patrols are regular, even though the town is situated in a barren field for miles of vision in each direction.

This is yet another case where a survivor cannot recall the exact circumstances which led them into this particular situation. I can remember it all, with vivid clarity, but if they cannot, or simply chose not, to remember what happened, I would not like to remind them. Though I will if it becomes necessary.

There was a brief mention of ‘zombies’ in the interview, but I will touch upon that in a later interview. You can find all of my notes on this time in human history, though I warn you it is not a joyous one.

Interviews of the Apocalypse – Prologue

Time no longer matters. Happiness is a distant memory. Technology is near-worthless. Currency is irrelevant. Civilisation has collapsed. Only survival matters.

My name is Alex. I am a survivor. I live in what could very well be one of the last refuges of the remainder of humankind. It is a terrified society, but functional. There are many who live here; race, religion, culture and creed no longer exist. Anyone who believed in a higher power is now presumed dead, for no salvation was forthcoming. It is an operational society, if not always a functional one. People work together to attempt to rebuild something akin to the life they had. Shelter, food, clean water and armaments all rank the same on the list of priorities. But, the group that supports itself will eventually prosper.

I am a collector of sorts, not of trinkets or any tat, but of stories. I have been welcomed into this society as I have something to offer. I am loathe to tell you what it is or make note of it in any fashion in case someone is to happen upon this settlement one day and find my notebook devoid of…well…myself. I have no fear that these kind people will put it to good use and will not abuse it. That is the last I will say on the matter.

I am also somewhat handy with technology. Though this was not always the case, travelling around a desolate planet gives you plenty of spare time to brush up on some things. For this, I was welcomed with open, if somewhat weary, arms. It took some time to find this place, these people have a natural aversion the places of old civilisation or anywhere where a populace may have thrived. There be dragons, as the old adage goes.

We forage there for anything we can, but we do not spend long there. Tinned or dried food, bottled water and furniture are all well and good, but only if you live to bring them home.

This particular settlement houses some two thousand or so people. The shanty itself is made up of primarily living shacks, with some functional tents thrown into the mix, plonked in the middle of a desolate plain, with an old highway cutting through the centre. Surrounded by a dirt wall topped with an utter shambles of a wooden palisade, a fortification such as this would have made a Roman Legion shake their heads in dismay.

But, for all intents and purposes, it works. People live, farm and offer what help they can to each other. Prejudice does not make it past the main gate, nor the somewhat armed guards who reside there. I plan to talk to as many people as I can, find their stories and help them piece together the broken puzzle of the past.

There is no religion, the people’s faith in a deity died when mankind did. Currency does not matter, less it is used for decoration or fuel. People trade and barter what they can. Crime is minimal, at least here. People do not force goods from others, for no one has anything valuable. That, and they’d be immediately shot on site or stripped of their belongings and exiled. Most would prefer the former.

Make no mistake, there is most definitely something out there. In the ruins of the old world, where people scavenge but do not live. I have not seen it, but I have spent many a night unable to rest due to an uncomfortable feeling down my spine. Throughout my time wandering this fresh wasteland there is one question that has plagued me. One question, whose answer leads me to believe there is a menace still out there, plaguing mankind.

There were no bombs, no wars, no starvation, no fighting, no plagues or diseases. The ruins of the old world are still as fresh as the day they were built. I remember the first of the zombies, then the first of the spirits, after that it was the new breeds of predators, and many more things that came after it happened. All were dealt with in turn. Humanity limped on, regressing to the dark ages.

One question leads me to ponder when the next challenge will arrive for humanity.

Where, in this empty world, where are all the bodies?

My name is Alex, and what follows are transcripts of interviews I hold with survivors and details on my own experience here.

How to be a Man – Written by a man, for men.

First of all, calm down. Whoever you are, for whatever reason you’re reading this right now, just chill. This isn’t a sexist dialogue, I’m not a meninist (lower case intended) nor am I a misogynist in any form. I love women, some of the best people I know are women, my wife is a woman (I’m pretty sure).

I’m a man. Well a man with the mind of a boy anyway. And no, we’re not all alike. I know stereotypes are a bit of fun not really to be taken seriously, and yes sometimes they happen to ring true but I feel like I need to set the record straight about some things. Some men are immature, preferring to spend more time away from their loved ones rather than spend time with them. Some men are ‘more manly’ than others, men who love cars, bodybuilding, physical labour and the like. Some men, prefer to sit and read, play video games for a living. Some men prefer to create, great works of art in song and paint, some men prefer to write beautiful poetry. Everyone is different, regardless of gender, race or station. That’s fine. Just like there’s no universal template for a ‘normal woman’, there’s no universal template for a ‘normal man’.

This book is written from a bias point of view, I’m not what most people would call an ‘average man’. I’m not too keen on cars, as long as it moves that’s all I need. I love a bit of DIY, but I know nothing about plumbing or electrics. I don’t like football, or any sport for that matter. I’m not the fittest of guys, nor the most ‘masculine’ looking. I have trouble growing facial hair. I don’t like beer, nor going out and getting drunk. I’ve never been one to ‘shag about’, I’ve had 3 sexual partners in my life, 2 of which were in long-term relationships,  and I’m proud of how low that number is. I’ve always preferred a good relationship to many one-night conquests. I like to cook, I love to bake, I love my dog, I hug my dad, I’m not afraid of my emotions and, honestly, I quite enjoy doing the dishes and hoovering.

In this pointless book, I’ll try to cover as many things as possible that goes on in the life of a man, how to transition from a boy into a man and how to deal with these problems as they arise. There will be many an anecdote and inevitably many, many references to my wonderful wife.

My name is Alex Ahmed, I’m 24 as I write this, and I’m a man.

The Third Kingdom – Prologue

There was a time, not so long ago, when daemons freely roamed the earth. The origin of the Schism is still unknown, even three thousand years later. All that is known for sure is The Schism, and the outpouring that followed, broke the world.

In the first years of the Rising, billions of humans lay dead; and the race of great craftsmen, engineers and scientists, was near-extinct. Their great armies were shattered and their cities were sundered. It took time, but they adapted to fight instead of think. Never in aeons had humanity fought with such ferocity and coordination. A race used to thinking and building in peace and harmony was destroyed, and from their ashes a dangerous military hunger was born. They have since reclaimed much of their lost heritage, but the bloodlust lies beneath a thin veil of patience and science. Some splinters of the humans have since detached and formed their own societies. Emperor Lianor keeps the Military Barons at bay, attempting to reclaim a semblance of their former glory.

The Alverii, long descendants of the mythical Elvenkin, emerged from their years of hiding. Their masteries of the Three Arts made them formidable warriors against the daemon horde. Humanoid creatures, standing at little over eight feet tall and moving with feline grace made their perfection of all-things martial seem almost natural. The speed at which they retaliated and the skills with which they fought the daemon onslaught made it seem as though they were prepared for the war. Immortal until killed, the humans suspected these creatures had some foresight of the invasion and had prepared for centuries. They have since vanished back into hiding, most likely in the Ven-dahr forest. Although there has never been any conflict between the two races, the humans and the Alverii studiously avoid each other. The humans are mistrustful of magics they have never comprehended and the Alverii fear the speed at which the human technology is advancing.

Deep from under the ground came the Gorken. Next to nothing is known about these dark-dwellers, save they tunnel deep for resources. Legends tell of a network so vast you can enter a tunnel below the ground and emerge on the other side of the world. Dealings with these creatures face-to-face is highly uncommon, but trade roots have been established using mutual trade posts. Selected human Travelers from the Merchants Guild are chosen to visit these locations on a weekly basis. Materials, such as rare metals, precious stones and building goods are traded for raw materials, food and tools. A mutual trust has been built over thousands of years, some of the best guildsmen have met with the Gorken on rare occasions. Most often described as a conglomeration of human with Elvenkin, no two look alike. Never have they been involved in conflict, with each other, human or Alverii but the daemons never came close to conquering their territory, which may be why the fighting was reported to be most ferocious in these areas.

Even with the impending doom of the world and the survival of all things at stake, the three races of the world never fought united against the waves of daemons pouring forth from the Schism. The war waged across the world for three thousand years, but the daemon horde seems to be dissipating. The armies of humanity push toward the Schism, driving the daemon storm before them, re-conquering cities and Bastions as they go. The Alverii have disappeared, their movements and goals unknown to the outside world. The Gorken have become even more secluded, moving the trade from weekly to monthly or longer with less goods.

Each race is on-edge, waiting for the next wave of daemons to finally obliterate the world. Many ask their gods for guidance, receiving only silence in return.

Humanity pushes their science and engineering beyond anything they have attempted before.

The Alverii commune with the powerful magics of the Three Arts and meditate on the possible future.

The Gorken mine deeper than ever before, hoarding much of the raw materials. Smoke spews from great gouts in the earth from deep foundries.

The daemons retreat toward the Schism but they do not go through the great crack in the earth. No one knows what will possibly happen now, but each race is ready for anything. Including, it would seem, war with each other.