It has been 17 days since I was separated from my family. Every day since I lost them, I have gone out into the surrounding towns hoping to find a hint—any hint—that they are out there looking for me too. It is getting harder to find shelter secure enough to survive the nights with those things around. It has also been a few days since I've felt full. I’m going to the second town again, to see if anything can be scavenged from the hospital.
While putting down the pen, I think as I have every time after recording my thoughts, that this could be that last thing I do that lets people know that I was here, that I was alive.
“Don’t think about that right now, Kin. You’ll be back—you always come back.” My self-pep talk used to work better when I was scavenging for the family, but it still convinces me now that I can leave my cocoon and everything will turn out alright. My thick clothes and weapons feel almost like armor but I hope there is no battle today.
After jogging for a couple miles, I hear a wail. It doesn’t sound very close and it’s coming from the east, a direction I don’t plan on going. Everything should be okay.
That is what I heard when I lost them: those wailing howls from what used to be a woman with knotted hair and now ragged clothes, as loud as if she was standing right outside the house. If it was just the one unliving, Daddy could have handled it, but that chilling screech had brought starving past-pets and more abominations too close to our hidey-hole. They were close enough that we were sensed, and we knew that if they found us in the boarded-up house we would have been trapped with no chance of surviving. Everything was packed into bags and duffels before the second wail sounded and we were on the move. But we didn’t move fast enough.
Another piercing yell seeps wrongly into that horrid night and I realize that it is happening now and that I have stopped moving, caught in my thoughts.
“You don’t have time for this Kinsey. Move your ass now!” I realize my voice sounds wet as I try to motivate myself to move, to go, to do anything but sit there and waste the little time I have to try and make my life better. I swallow past the lump in my throat and keep moving. If I can make it to the hospital, there is a chance things can get better. This scary, lonely reality might be a little more bearable.
This hospital looks creepier than any I remember being in before the ravenous epidemic struck. Without power, every shadow looks as if it hides something and every corner seems like an abyss of possibilities that contains nothing good. But there is hope in the vending machines along the walls that occupy every floor and the medicine cabinets hidden throughout the rooms. I only hope that I find my family to share this bounty with them. I’ve filled a duffle with enough stuff to ensure survival for at least another two weeks and I only hit a couple floors. If the rest of the family was here too, we could carry five times as much and still likely not make a dent in what the hospital has to offer.
Now, it is time to go home, or to the place that is as close to a home as I can get. It is never good to stay out in the dark anymore.
As I come closer to where I entered the hospital, I notice a problem: the door is open. I know there is no way I left it open, because that is one of the first rules Mama instilled into me when we had to learn to survive in this starving world. “Close the door behind you. If you leave it open someone—something— could come in behind you and you would never know.”
I hear a scream from right behind me.