The Survivor Journals Omnibus [Books 1-3], page 1part #1 of The Survivor Journals Omnibus Series
The Survivor Journals
The collected novels:
After Everyone Died
Long Empty Roads
All We Have
Sean Patrick Little
Spilled Inc. Press
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
This book is a work of fiction. Names, character, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. All characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relationship to anyone, living or dead, bearing the same name or names. All incidents are pure invention from the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Copyright 2018 Sean Patrick Little
Published by Spilled Inc. Press
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
On Twitter: @SpilledIncPress
All rights reserved.
Cover Design: Paige Krogwold © 2018
Printed in the U.S.A.
This omnibus has been annotated with hypertext links to an appendix at the end where the author gives background information, insight, and musings on certain selected characters, places, or events in the stories.
If you are a first-time reader of the Survivor Journals¸ we would like to recommend you read the books without reading the annotations first. We have tried hard to avoid any sort of spoilers in the annotations, but cannot guarantee it.
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Spilled Inc. Press
Table of Contents
Book 1: After Everyone Died
Part One: Still Alive
Part Two: Winter
Part Three: Spring
Book 2: Long Empty Roads
Book 3: All We Have
Part One: Spring
Part Two: Fall
About the Author
Other Books by Sean Patrick Little
The Survivor Journals
After Everyone Died
The Survivor Journals, Book 1
If you’re reading this,
It’s Thursday, I think. I’m not sure.
Honestly, it doesn’t even matter. When the apocalypse hits, keeping track of the days takes a back seat to surviving. It’s amazing how little days matter. You start concentrating on things like seasons, instead. You only have a limited amount of time to gather supplies until winter, and then winter is a struggle to stay alive until spring, when you can start restocking your supplies for winter. Frankly, I wouldn’t recommend surviving the apocalypse. If you have the choice, just don’t. Go down with the ship, instead.
I should introduce myself if we’re going to be friends. That’s how I’m going to think of you--even though I have no idea who you are, or even if this will ever be read--as a friend. It’s just easier to write out what happened if I’m pretending to talk to someone. I haven’t had another human to talk to in over a year. I hope I’m not too rusty at it.
Anyhow, my name is Twist. My full, given name is Barnabas James Stickler, but that’s a mouthful. My mother named me; she thought it sounded dramatic. I was called Barney when I was little, but when I was in seventh grade and went out for wrestling, one of my coaches started calling me “Twister” because of how I would fight to get out of a hold, and that got shortened to Twist by my teammates. Since then, I’ve gone by Twist to everyone except my parents. Even my teachers call me Twist. It’s a better name than Barnabas, and given that I live in a post-apocalyptic wasteland now, I don’t think anyone will object to me renaming myself. It’s much more Mad Max that way.
Call me Twist.
As I type this sentence, I’m eighteen and a few months old. I missed my birthday this year. That goes back to the lack of calendars, I guess. And a lack of anyone to celebrate it with. I was seventeen when the apocalypse started, so I have to be eighteen by now. I’m tall, I guess. I’m about six feet, maybe a little taller. Measuring height also isn’t terribly important in the apocalypse. I was a touch overweight when this all started (thanks to my job working at McDonald’s--I loved me a Big Mac), but I’ve since slimmed down to a wiry, ropy-muscled figure with a size 30 waist. I like to think I look pretty good, but given that I haven’t seen anyone in over a year, I really haven’t had anyone to back-up my opinion on that.
I might be white. I might be black. I might be Latino. I might be Asian. I might be American Indian. I might be some combination thereof. Does it really matter? I’d like to think that eking out an existence in a post-apocalyptic wasteland means that bullshit about racial differences just ceases to exist. I’m not going to even tell you what I am because if society ever manages to rebound and claw its way back to a first-world status, I’d like to think someone is going to make this journal into a movie, and I want them to have wide open casting choices. If you absolutely have to know what my skin color and hair color is, you pick whatever race you like and make me that in your mind. Feel better?
Now that you know what I look like, I bet you want to know what happ
The Flu started in late May. That’s what everyone called it, for lack of a better name. Capital letter: the Flu.
I was a junior in high school, looking forward to summer break and then my senior year. I had a girlfriend named Emily. My mom, dad, and I lived in a pretty typical white-picket-fence-type house in a small-town suburb of Madison, Wisconsin called Sun Prairie. I worked fifteen or twenty hours a week at a McDonald’s. I had a really nice mountain bike instead of a car (I was saving for college, and a car seemed like an unnecessary extravagance). My dad was an accountant, my mom was artsy and worked in a florist shop. My girlfriend worked at Culver’s. All was good and right in the world. I lived the sort of idyllic suburban lifestyle that would make a horrible novel, at least until the Flu started.
No one really noticed the Flu at first--it was just another head cold that was going around, right? They happen every spring. The weather changes, cold becomes warm and yo-yos back and forth a few times, people get scratchy throats and runny noses. It was a typical spring. But it got worse without people really noticing. Who notices how many people have a cold around them? And it wasn’t presenting with any strange issues or warning signs. By the time the virus became newsworthy, it was too late. Humanity, as we knew it, was done.
Most people think of an apocalypse like a nuclear war or an alien attack or something, maybe even a zombie apocalypse. (That zombie thing was a lot of people’s fears in the initial days, but no one reanimated after they died.) Before the Flu, we thought of the apocalypse as some sort of major event, but the Flu was a very quiet, very sneaky virus. Almost the whole of the primate kingdom was wiped out by something too small to see. Humans, gorillas, chimps, orangutans, monkeys, and even lesser primates like lemurs, aye-ayes, and lorises--the virus got us all. It probably even got Bigfoot, if he/she/it ever existed in the first place.
To this day, I don’t know that they ever figured out what the virus was exactly. Some people thought it was some mutated form of H1N1, and some people thought it was something released by a chemical lab or a military base as a way to cull overpopulation and it just got out of hand. Doesn’t matter anymore, really. I’ll never know the answer. What’s done is done.
The Flu started small, a few people getting sick, going to the hospital, and dying. It barely registered on the news. After a week, the number of people escalated exponentially and it became a major story. After two weeks, it was the only thing on the news. After three weeks, the TV stations went black and stopped broadcasting. The last news story was that the world leaders (the ones still living at least), ordered all nuclear reactors to be taken offline so they didn’t overheat and melt down with no one to watch them. The power grids went dark. Electricity stopped.
By then, the disease was being called the Hand of God. People called it the Rapture. The CDC was trying to urge people to not overreact, but if you’re on fire, a fireman without a hose telling you not to overreact is not going to help. The world was done.
The disease started like a cold or a flu, and then it quickly progressed to a debilitating respiratory infection. By the time a person began exhibiting symptoms, it was too late. They had about three days before they would die, usually asphyxiating from horrific pneumonia. Nothing could be done. By the second week, doctors realized that if you exhibited symptoms, you’d already been contagious and shedding the disease for more than a month. The virus was highly contagious and spread very quickly. Every sneeze, cough, or heavy breath sent out untold legions of the virus on the wind to infect others. It wiped out prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, and college dorms in days. Young, old, weak, strong--it didn’t matter. Anywhere people were in too much contact, they died quickly. The major cities turned into graveyards. Tokyo, New York, Paris, London, Rio de Janerio--all of them were nothing but wastelands of rotting bodies by the time TV stopped. The virus spread slower in the smaller towns because of less contact, but it still spread at an alarming rate. Sun Prairie is a mid-sized town and fell pretty quickly. A lot of the people in Sun Prairie work in Madison. The viruses always spread outward from an airport, it seemed. Nothing could be done. There were no cures.
In my own little world, Emily got sick first. She got sick during the second week of the Flu. My parents immediately forbade me from seeing her, trying to keep me safe, I guess. But even as my mother said the words, she was coughing and had a runny nose. She and Dad both died three days later. I tried to care for them, tried to help them, but they both went quickly. They passed within an hour of each other, side-by-side in their king-sized bed. The sheets were soaked with their sweat. They were weak and looked frail. My mom died without a word. She exhaled her last, heavy, wet breath staring blankly at the ceiling. My dad was able to squeeze out the words ‘Love you’ before he went, burbling heavy exhalations as he slowly drowned in his own fluids.
It was sunny the day they died. That made me angry. And it was sunny the next day, too. It was unfair, in a way. Part of me wanted the Hollywood death for them, the overcast skies and gray light, the rain to hide my tears. I got none of that. They died on an otherwise beautiful day. I had to get used to that, though. The world couldn’t stop. The sun would rise. The sun would set. There would be sun. There would be rain. The deaths of my parents, the death of Emily, of everyone--nothing would change that.
I dug their graves in my backyard and buried them two days after they passed. I spent a good twenty-four hours hoping I was wrong, and that they’d wake back up and get out of bed, but they never did.
I went to Emily’s house. Her whole family was dead. Em was in her bed, stiff from rigor mortis. I carried her outside and buried her in her backyard.
After digging three graves, my hands were blistered and raw. I wanted to bury the rest of Em’s family, but I just couldn’t do it. My arms hurt. My back hurt. My feet hurt.
My soul hurt.
I sat down on one of Em’s family’s patio chairs, stared at Emily’s grave, and cried my eyes out. I cried for two, maybe three hours. I cried for Em, for my parents, for the houses filled with the dead around me, and I cried a lot for myself.
Then, I went back home and waited to die.
So why am I here, you ask?
Beats the hell out of me.
I sat in my house and waited for the virus to take me. Each morning, I expected to wake up and feel the aches or start coughing, but I didn’t. In the fourth week of the Flu, I was bored, bored as hell. There was no more electric power, so I spent the days of the beginning of summer trying to stay cool in the shade of the trees in my yard. I was depressed and sad. I cried a lot in those early days; cried until I couldn’t cry anymore and all the sadness left my body and a state of debilitating numbness set into my bones. Then, I was launched into depression, a really heavy, can-barely-move depression. I was just waiting to die.
I started reading a lot of books for lack of anything better to do, and to try to keep my mind off the inevitable. I found one book on my Dad’s shelves that looked long enough to provide me with entertainment until I wasted away from the virus. It was Stephen King’s The Stand. Within the first chapter, King outlines a story about a virus that gets accidentally released from a military base. It spreads and kills about 99 percent of the world’s population. A small percentage of people were immune to it, though. By the time I finished the immense tome that was The Stand, I was well into the fifth week of the Flu, and I had to assume that was the only logical explanation as to why I was still alive: I was immune.
It was the only answer that made any sense to me.
For whatever, inexplicable reason, I was immune. And I was still alive. And for all I knew, I was the last living person in Wisconsin. Maybe the last living person in the world.
A Gun and a Great Wind
I don’t know if I can explain what it feels like to realize that you might be alone in the world. Hollow, at first, that’s for sure. I was numb, numb to my core. I slept in my bed maybe sixteen hours a day.
I spent a lot of time in those first couple of weeks of isolation just coming to grips with the new status quo. I spent a lot of time thinking about suicide, too. It didn’t seem right that everyone I knew and everyone I had ever known was dead. I didn’t really want to live. The extended sleeping, the barely eating--that was me just trying to die, pretending to be dead. I cried just about every day, too; I’m not ashamed to admit it. I can’t explain the emptiness I felt. There aren’t the words for the gravity of it, the weight. I saw the next sixty years of my life, maybe more, being lived alone in isolation. It was too much to bear. After weeks of this eating at my brain and weakening my resolve, I decided that I would get a gun and kill myself. That would be the simplest thing to do.
Before the apocalypse if you’d asked me, I would have taken the machismo-driven high road and sold you a line about how I could have handled anything, how being alone wouldn’t get to me, and how I would have dealt with tragedy like a man. I think we all do that, don’t we? We act like we know how we would deal with any situation, but if that situation really happens to us, then we find we don’t actually know anything. To me, dying was the only logical move at that time. Everyone else had died. I should die, too. I’m not advocating suicide, mind you. It just made sense at that time, in that place, in my ravaged brain. What else could I do?
My parents didn’t have any guns. Dad was too neurotic to own a weapon and Mom was a pacifist. I knew my neighbors had guns, though. I walked next door to the Robertson’s house. The doors were locked, so I let myself in through the back patio door with a brick. Immediately, I was greeted by a cloud of noxious fumes of decomposing bodies mixed with at least two weeks of dog feces and urine. It was so overwhelming that I gagged and threw up in their bushes.