The Dead Wolf Diaries
Serial Fiction — Episode 1
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I won’t lie, I’ve spent days trying to figure out how to start this. I’ve started over at least a dozen times already. Creative writing was always my forte in university, it’s what led to my desire to work in publishing, as both an author and maybe an agent one day. An ambitious dream cut short.
This has been difficult because it isn’t creative writing. It’s too real for that and I don’t have the will to fill these pages with the grandiose verbosity it would take to win a Pulitzer Prize, not that those exist anymore.
Six years ago, the pages you’re about to read would have been published online on Wattpad or self-published somewhere. They might have ended up with a fandom on Twitter, but it’s not six years ago.
Today is August 25, 2030.
I left the borders of Dallas thirteen days ago and I haven’t lost count of the days just yet, though I now understand how easily that could happen.
It still amazes me how quickly, how easily, everything changed. How easily it was allowed to happen.
It amazes me how well the U.S kept it all hidden from the rest of the world. As I write this, I have no idea how much anyone outside of these borders really knows about what’s been happening here. Surely they would have figure out by now that something isn’t right, which is the understatement of the century.
It’s been six years, though the small changes started earlier than that. Before I landed.
Mexico, at least, knows something is wrong because they built a very large wall between us and them, and nobody has tried to cross over from their side to our side ever since.
If the world does know what we’ve been living through, then they’ve done fuck all about it because everything is still quite shit, and it’s not getting better.
I’m getting off-topic … this is how I ended up starting over a dozen times, but not this time. This probably needs to go in some sort of order, right? That’s what will be most useful.
Let’s start with my why.
Why am I writing this diary? I shudder to call it a diary, but it’s better than memoir.
A few months ago I started hearing whispers that there are refugee boats that have been docking along the west coast. This obviously means that someone knows something. Or maybe they’re guessing. Or maybe the whispers are completely made up. I just don’t know.
I want to leave this country — that’s the main goal. I want to get back to Australia, but I’ll really take anywhere but here. Taking my chances out in the Deadlands is far better than staying in the Safe Cities anymore.
If I can’t get out of this place, then I hope these pages make it out, which is why I’m including as much information as I can. So, if you’re reading this, and there’s a new Pulitzer Prize out there, please nominate me for it because this shit sucks and I’ll probably die quite horribly before getting to the coast.
If that happens, it’ll no doubt be grisly, so name this something cool, like The Dead Wolf Diaries.
That has a nice ring to it.
Now, for leaving this country, you’d think that since I’m in Dallas I would head straight for the southern border, right? Wrong. That wall isn’t even the biggest problem.
I mean, it’s a grand wall, very grand and very tall, but our government has taken to shooting anyone who tries to make it to that wall from our side.
No, they don’t shoot to kill. They shoot to wound. What happens next is … well, we’ll get to that soon enough.
The rumors said the boats were on the west coast, so that’s my goal. I’m going to head straight north from here and then west in order to avoid the heat of the South. If I make it to California then I’ll make my way north along the coast. If those boats don’t exist then I’ll start working my way along the Canadian border.
It’s a lot longer than the southern border and harder for our side to monitor. Surely there will be a place I can slip through.
Whether they let me through is another story, but I’m hoping this diary, these pages I’m writing, will help convince them to let me through. Tit for tat.
I know it’s a long shot and that I probably won’t even make it to California. If that happens, and you’ve found this diary on my mangled corpse and have come this far in reading it, then I hope you’ll pick up where I leave off and just chuck it over the massive privacy hedge into Canada. They need to know.
You might think that this is some kind of noble quest but it’s not. The reality is that I’d rather take my chances in the Deadlands on my own than back in the Safe Cities as a debt-ridden grunt enslaved in lifelong servitude. Risking my life against the Deadies so the upper-class cunts can live their exquisite, ignorantly blissful lives is not going to be my life.
So no, this is not a selfless quest, it is a selfish one and I will explain all of this but I’m trying to stay in order here dammit.
I won’t start over again.
I am typing this out on my old iPad. Paper would most likely be difficult to obtain out here and too heavy to lug around in the long run. I have a solar charger that I bought years ago but rarely used. It was a novelty purchase that ended up sitting in my window and collecting dust. Thankfully I brought it with me when I travelled to the U.S.
It’s come in very handy since The Change, saved me heaps in energy costs while in Dallas, almost got me arrested due to its illegality, and is now keeping these pages charged while I make my way through the Deadlands.
Ok, let’s start one more time, straight to the point this time.
My name is Persephone Lennox, I have been within the borders of the United States for six years. We are cut off from the world and all of the zombie apocalypse movies and books you read growing up got it very, very wrong.
First of all, zombies are not created with a virus. It is a parasite.
The infected person does die, but the parasite controls the brainstem and the body. They rot, but slowly. The more they consume, the slower they rot.
Unlike the shows, they’re not slow rambling creatures. They’re fast. Like a cat with the zoomies, except it’s rabid and ready to rip you up and munch you up and there’s very little you can do about it. They’re stronger than they were as living humans. They don’t feel tiredness or resistance or any of the things that would make you or I stop.
Think of Michael Phelps. He swims as fast as he does (or did) because he doesn’t produce as much lactic acid as the rest of us, so he doesn’t get tired. Except now he produces no lactic acid, is fifty times stronger than he was before, and he wants to either eat you alive or nibble on you enough to pass the parasite on to you via his saliva.
I will admit, the shows did get the biting part right. One good bite and you have about a sixty percent chance of contracting the parasite.
If you’re one of those unlucky ones, you’ll develop a fever within a day or so. You’ll start hallucinating so badly you try to claw your face off and mutilate yourself in other ways. If you survive this, you’ll puke until you shred your stomach and esophagus and hurl up blood and chunky bits of your insides. If you’re still alive at that point, and I hope you’re not, you will shit your guts out, literally, then you’ll die.
The death part is inevitable.
No long after your mangled corpse goes limp, the parasite will take over and you will rise from the dead, so to speak. It won’t feel the pain of its guts hanging out of its anus. The creature that stands up won’t remember you.
The person you knew is gone and they are not coming back.
Unlike the media we consumed as kids, these things are not stupid. Well — they are — but not entirely. They can still perform some basic tasks. Whether these are related to muscle memory or they’re learning, I don’t know. I’m not a scientist, I’m a fucking creative writing student.
I’ve seen them open a variety of doors, push buttons, climb ladders, and even a rope.
They also seem to have some animalistic instincts such as sneaking around quietly to surprise you and sometimes even working in groups to take you down.
They can coordinate.
It’s not Jurassic-Park-Velociraptor style coordinating, but they’re good enough to take someone down if that person isn’t careful.
Yeah, they almost got me a few times with their little tactics, but I’m learning their games. I just don’t hope they change.
They have a few names, though most of us call them Deadies. The moniker caught on early and took over zombies quite quickly. Probably so we could be different from the comics sitting on our shelves.
The Risen is what the news calls them.
Biters, a classic.
Gutbutts or Gutters, for the ones with guts hanging out of their assholes — these tend to rot faster since they can’t consume food properly.
The Infested, rather than infected, since it’s a parasite and not a virus — we’ve had a lot of time to think about this, alright?
I’ve heard rumors about a few weirder versions of the Deadies, but I haven’t seen them myself, which isn’t saying much, and they haven’t been on the news. I’ve been in Dallas for the entire six years and this is my first venture out into the Deadlands … boy has it changed out here …
Ok … I think I’ll have to leave off here. It’s started to get dark and I’m currently staying in the attic of an abandoned house — they’re all abandoned out here. I don’t like to have the tablet light on at night because light attracts them and I don’t want to risk it, but before I go let me add a little about myself.
My name is Persephone Lennox. Not Penny, or Sophie, please refer to me as Persephone. My mother’s name is Demeter and she has always had a rather obsessive fascination with Greek mythology. Not that I’m complaining, I like my name, though I doubt I’ll ever meet a man named Hades and become queen of the Underworld.
As of today, I am thirty years old.
I am a citizen of the United States and a permanent resident of Australia, at least I was six years ago when I flew to the U.S to visit friends for a Vegas trip. After I arrived, I wasn’t allowed to leave.
I left the Save City of Dallas thirteen days ago, against the law, and am now considered a defector. A criminal.
I am also an undocumented werewolf. I know that sounds like a curveball, but it’s one of the reasons that finally pushed me to leave after thinking about it for so long. I think it will also give me an advantage out here.
Either way, I’m willing to take my chances to try and get home to Australia.
For now, so long,
P.S — There is a calico cat who has been tailing me since my third day out of the city. She’s proven to be a self-sufficient little hunter, so I’ve named her Atalanta.
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