This is a story about how the whole world changed, and I changed with it. My name is Will Sandren, and I am one the last surviving people, that I know of anyway. I’m 21 and I am, was I guess, a university student, I was going to be a teacher. If you had asked me how well my friends and I would survive in an apocalypse type situation a few weeks ago I would have said we had no chance, but now I think we had exactly what the situation required. We were nerds you see, big fans of sci-fi shows and horror movies, less big fans of physical exercise, except for a few of us. One of my best friends Todd loves zombie films and as a science geek we are constantly discussing whether it’s possible, what we would do and how it would happen. Turns out it was through a flu vaccination, or at least that’s what we think, and we’ve had a lot of time to think about it.
But those things are not important, what’s important is how we survived those first few days of the end of the world as we knew it, and what happened afterward. This is my story.
I hate being sick, but wanting to work with children means I’m going to have a lot of exposure to illnesses, that’s why I usually keep up to date with my vaccinations. My sister, Sophie, does the same, she teaches swimming. But when I got an email saying the latest flu vaccination was available I just ignored it, I wasn’t a teacher yet. I worked part-time at a child care centre but they were on holidays at the time so I didn’t have much worry about catching anything. So that’s why I ignored the new vaccination, it wasn’t mandatory for anything and I had until the end of the holidays until I have to return to the petri dish that is my workplace. My sister however, got the vaccination. She was one of the first victims.
And that’s how I made the decision that saved my life. A decision I will either regret forever, or feel grateful for, I still haven’t decided. The day after my sister got the injection she got sick, really sick, she was coughing a lot and looked really pale, she stayed in bed the whole day. I didn’t take much notice; I was just excited that I got sole control of the television for a few hours, I’m now regretting I didn’t take better care of her, or at least said hello. I was chatting with my friend Nicole, you’ll hear more about her later, arranging to meet up the next day when my sister came downstairs. She had coughed up blood and my dad had to take her to the hospital. At this point I was concerned, we’d had illnesses in the family before but only the more common stuff like Dad’s pneumonia or Grandpa’s heart problems. This seemed different. When I woke up the next day it was noon, my parents were with my sister at the hospital so I was alone in the house, and it seemed unnaturally silent.
I got dressed as usual and started to walk downstairs, thinking about maybe going to the hospital today when I heard a scream from outside. We lived in a small south-east suburb of Melbourne and although one side of our house faced a busy road there wasn’t really any crime or anything to scream about. I had never even heard a scream so chilling and scared before, not even on TV. I looked through the window, it was glazed so I could see much, but what I did see had me frozen in place. The woman who had screamed was now running past our house until she tripped, she wasn’t exactly wearing clothes for running, a business suit and skirt I guessed, she fell, hard. Another figure appeared, walking strangely as if he had hurt his leg, but that did nothing to hinder his speed. I wondered at what could be happening, maybe he saw her fall and ran to help her I reasoned. But his purpose I couldn’t have predicted, or even considered with any rational thought, but rational thought had no part to play in what was happening.
As the limping, creature, reached the fallen woman she struggled to get up, but just as she found her footing the other figure reached her. And bent down to rip into the flesh of her calf, with its teeth.
I ducked down from the window in sudden, horrifying fear that he would see me, it was all I could do to stop myself from screaming just as the woman had. I quickly called the police, even with my hands shaking uncontrollably, but the phone simply answered: “All lines are currently busy.” I almost screamed at the phone, but my sense caught me and I slapped my hand across my mouth.
I panicked, I felt like the whole world had dropped away and I was in a place completely alien to my home, nothing felt familiar or calming, all my eyes saw was what that thing had done, and what it could be doing now. Maybe it was still biting into her, maybe she had managed to get away and it was chasing her down the street. Or maybe it had left her and had come to investigate the house next to them. I scrambled up and ran downstairs, keeping low as if that would help, and grabbed a large knife, I don’t know why but I felt like any moment the man would enter my house and try and kill me too. I must have sat there, quivering, for at least an hour until I had the courage to call 000 again. I got the same unhelpful and distressing message as before and almost threw my phone across the room until I remembered Mum and Dad. And my sister.
I called Dad, for some reason I thought he might know what was going on. I had no idea of the repercussions of my actions.
He was in a store room in the hospital, he too was shaking, curled up against the wall. He hadn’t turned on the light so it was still very dark. He was barely breathing he was so afraid to make a sound. He swore quietly when his phone in his pocket went off, he cursed himself that he did not turn it off when he entered the hospital. But there was a greater danger now than disturbing some patients or doctors. He thought to turn it off but when he saw the caller ID he had to answer out of hope. “Hello?” He whispered
“Dad?” I sobbed over the phone, I hadn’t even noticed I was crying, “is that you?”
“Will! You’re alive!” he was so relieved he forgot his situation for a moment and allowed himself to speak louder, “are you alright”
“A women outside our house was attacked, I saw it happen,” images of those events kept repeating themselves in my mind
“Stay inside Will! Okay? Just stay inside!” the hope and joy inside of my father had been replaced with fear. “What happened Dad, are you okay?” I had never heard my father like this before
“Will, Sophie died an hour ago,” my father moaned
“What?” I was crying again, “how? What happened?”
“I don’t know but a few seconds after she woke up,” my father was speaking faster and louder as fear took control, “but she wasn’t the same, she didn’t speak, she didn’t even seem to recognise her. Your mother, oh god your mother hugged her but sh-she just bit into her neck. The blood it.... oh god” All I could do was listen as my father went on, “I called for help but all I heard was screaming, I ran outside and everyone was running past me,” he just kept talking, the memories flooding his mind, “I tried to grab one for help but another patient came up behind me and bit my arm, oh god there were so many of them”
“Dad are you alright? Where are you?” my horror now came second to my concern, what was happening, the truth hadn’t appeared to me yet regardless of the evidence
“I ran, oh god I left your mother there and I just ran with the others, but the people in front just closed the doors.” my father was talking loudly now and crying, “We tried to open it but they locked it! They locked us in with those, those THINGS! I hid in here because people were”- his voice was cut off by a scream as the door to the store room was knocked down by two patients, both covered in blood, some their own, most was not. My father clung to his phone, his one connection to the world now rapidly disappearing before his eyes, “Will they’re coming, don’t leave the house Will! All the people that were sick they”- but he never got to finish the sentence as the patients torn into him. All he could do was scream. And all I could do was listen.