Allison hewitt is trappe.., p.1
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       Allison Hewitt Is Trapped, p.1
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Allison Hewitt Is Trapped


  Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  Prologue

  September 18, 2009—Heart of Darkness

  September 19, 2009—Hatchet

  September 20, 2009—In Defense of Food

  September 21, 2009—The Botany of Desire

  September 23, 2009—Pandora

  September 25, 2009—The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

  September 26, 2009—The Dirty Girls Social Club

  September 27, 2009—The Bloody Chamber

  September 29, 2009—Little Children

  September 30, 2009—Breakfast of Champions

  Update: October 1, 2009—Approximately 1:30 A.M.

  October 1, 2009—Other Voices, Other Rooms

  October 3, 2009—Paradise Lost

  October 4, 2009—Sense and Sensibility

  October 6, 2009—Things Fall Apart

  October 7, 2009—Things Fall Apart, Pt. II

  October 8, 2009—Letters to a Young Poet

  October 9, 2009—Haunted

  October 10, 2009—A Room With a View

  October 13, 2009—Microterrors

  October 14, 2009—The Good Soldier

  October 16, 2009—Invisible Monsters

  October 19, 2009—The Awakening

  October 20, 2009—Hours of Idleness

  October 26, 2009—Possession, Pt. I

  October 27, 2009—Possession, Pt. II

  October 28, 2009—Possession, Pt. III

  October 28, 2009—The Fires of Heaven

  October 29, 2009—Into the Wild

  October 30, 2009—Housekeeping

  October 31, 2009 (Halloween)—The Demon-Haunted World

  November 1, 2009—Survival of the Sickest

  November 2, 2009—The Comfort of Strangers

  November 4, 2009—In Dubious Battle

  November 5, 2009—On the Road

  November 7, 2009—Gates of Fire

  November 15, 2009—On Liberty

  Epilogue

  Acknowledgments

  Teaser

  Copyright

  The New University of Northern Colorado

  10 South Sherman Street

  Liberty Village, CO 80701

  August 3, 2108

  The Witt-Burroughs Press

  University of Independence

  1640 Johnson Avenue NW

  Independence, NY 12404

  Dear Dr. Burroughs:

  Let me first express my sincerest admiration for your continued interest in our humble university. Your devotion to high academic standards and the rebuilding of our great nation is to be commended. Secondly, allow me to direct your attention to a certain individual whom you may wish to add to your new book.

  A colleague of mine mentioned that you are interested in publishing a collection of biographical essays of important personages from The Outbreak. Allow me to put forward a candidate for this exciting new venture of yours. How appropriate to commemorate the 100th anniversary of The Outbreak with an assemblage of inspiring stories dedicated to the memory of those brave souls to whom we are most deeply indebted. The individual I speak of is not widely known. In fact, I can say with some certainty that you will have never heard of this woman. I am, however, equally certain that you will quickly discover that her story is one that many of us can relate to. I feel that she, through her bravery and sacrifice, deserves a spot in your collection.

  I can promise that this woman is held in the highest regard among our small community. Before her sad passing she was recognized as one of the foremost leaders and innovators in the state. While she is not as famous or recognized as individuals such as Simon Forrest, architect of the memorable Victory Gardens, nor as gifted or prominent as our current poet laureate Shana Lane, I feel strongly that Allison Hewitt deserves a place among the pantheon you wish to create. Her struggle, painstakingly catalogued during the very worst of The Outbreak, is a snapshot of the horrific danger and destruction caused by The Infected.

  It has been my personal privilege and honor to re-create the record she left behind. We know now that she was taking advantage of SafetyNet—or SNet as it’s more commonly referred to—the military’s emergency, nationwide Internet service. As I’m sure you know, SNet allowed many of our armed servicemen and -women to organize, meet, and eventually turn the tide against The Infected.

  I have only recently learned from my father’s journals that Ms. Hewitt kept an online record of her journey during The Outbreak. Many hours of research were required to re-create Ms. Hewitt’s adventures as the Web provider hosting her story had long ago taken down the blog to conserve space. Only through constant petitioning and many frustrating hours did I succeed in gaining access to these lost pages. I have, to the best of my knowledge, collected every one of Ms. Hewitt’s postings and I have attached them for your perusal. I’m perfectly aware that including the entirety of Ms. Hewitt’s story would be impossible, but I implore you to consider an abbreviated version of her story for your collection. Let her stand as a symbol of the public’s struggle, to give a face to the faceless masses, and to endure as an example of the dear cost of survival. Her story, I think, is worth remembering too.

  Best good wishes,

  Professor Michael E. Stockton Junior

  September 18, 2009—Heart of Darkness

  They are coming.

  They are coming and I don’t think we will ever get out. If you’re reading this, please call the police. Call them now; call the cops if there are any cops left to call. Tell them to come find me. I can’t promise we will be here tomorrow or the day after, or the day after that, but tell them to rescue us before it’s too late. Tell them to try.

  If they ask for a name, tell them my name is Allison Hewitt, and tell them that I’m trapped. Allison Hewitt and five other missing souls are holding out in the break room of Brooks & Peabody at the corner of Langdon and Park. We are all in relatively good health. Most important: none of us are infected.

  If they ask what exactly you mean by all that, tell them this: on the evening of September 15, 2009, just before closing time, the Brooks & Peabody shop on Langdon and Park was attacked by the infected. I don’t know what else to call them. The infected? The damned? I guess I’m not sure if it’s a virus or disease, but I know it spreads and I know the kind of destruction it brings.

  Our phones don’t work, not the landlines or the fax, and our cell phones began running out of batteries yesterday. No one thought to bring a charger to work or to keep one in the break room. Phil, my manager, swears there’s a charger in the stockroom around back but that’s all the way across the store from here and none of us are brave enough to try for it. I think eventually we’ll become desperate and have to go out into the store. The food in here won’t last forever and I never thought I’d be so sick of beef jerky. The only electricity we have comes from the emergency generators that Phil bought last year when the flooding was getting bad and everyone was worried about losing power during the end-of-school sale. I don’t know where the wireless is coming from—it’s something called SNet. I’d never used it before. It could be coming from the little row of apartments that sit on top of the store. Maybe someone is alive up there; maybe they’re trying to contact you too.

  We’re living behind a solid, safe door. The lock is industrial grade. The safes are housed back here and the doors are very heavy and reinforced. It was the logical place to hide—no windows, a refrigerator with some food, and most of all the very heavy reinforced doors. I can’t stress that enough, how much we rely on that door, how that one, metal door has come to symbolize, over only a matter of days, survival.

  If there are no windows and only one door, you might ask, how do we kn
ow they are coming?

  We know because of the security cameras. They must run on the emergency backup generators because they still work, and the one and only monitor to view the feed is in the safe room. The safe room is just off of the larger area with the table and chairs and refrigerator. Sometimes when I can’t sleep I go sit in that room (it’s not locked anymore, I don’t think money will mean much now and none of us has even tried to steal any of it) and watch the monitor. Thank you, Brooks & Peabody, for installing those cameras. Those cameras allow us to see almost the whole store. The picture is black and white and not very clear, but I can see them, and I watch them scrape around the store, winding through the bookcases, passing the Mystery and Science Fiction sections, lumbering by the reading lights and bookmarks. They will not leave, not even after everyone in the store is gone or dead or becoming one of them.

  What are they looking for? What do they want?

  Sometimes I see them disappear out of frame and I know they’re just outside the break-room door, moaning at the barrier, thumping their heads and their rotten fists against the steel. It’s unfair, I begin to think, because the others are trying to sleep. What do they want? Do they think we’ll answer the knocking and thudding? Do they even have the capacity to think, or is it something else making them claw at the door?

  One of the other grad students in my apartment complex had a greyhound. His name was Joey. Joey was the nicest dog I think I’ve ever met. He was rescued from a racing track, from the kind of place dogs don’t ever want to be, where they’re abused and treated like objects. You can drive a car around a track day and night and it won’t complain; greyhounds are the same way. They don’t complain, not ever, they just look at you with those big, bottomless eyes and beg you to be nice, to show a little mercy if it’s convenient. Joey didn’t seem like the kind of animal that could hurt even an injured fly, but one day he bolted past me out the lobby door. I don’t think there was even a foot of space but he just zipped right outside and into the yard. He had mauled a rabbit before I could even get his name out twice. He was so fast, so efficient, so completely unlike the couch potato Joey I had come to know.

  It wasn’t Joey that killed that rabbit, not really, it was his instinct, his prey drive.

  Prey drive.

  That’s what waits outside our door, insane with hunger, driven forward not by intelligence or understanding but a blind, consuming need for what we have …

  I’m trying to stay extremely calm. I hope I’m doing an okay job. In a weird way, it helps to write about it, to talk about it. Somehow that makes it less real. Now it’s just a story I’m writing for you, a tale I’m spinning, and not a cold, vicious reality underpinning everything I do and say and think. It’s nice for a change, to do something I want … And I think that’s what I miss the most: making choices.

  There aren’t any choices to make anymore, just survival, just what needs to get done. Soon we’ll have to go outside that door to get food. There are some bigger refrigerators and a dozen or so bags of potato chips out by the registers. We’ll need to get to those soon. We don’t have a choice. I didn’t choose to be trapped with these people, these coworkers and strangers that I never wanted to know beyond their connection to a part-time job. I didn’t choose to be taken away from my mom, the only family I have left. She’s already sick and now I won’t even get to be there at the end …

  I was studying to be someone but that’s over now. Now it’s just these people I don’t really know and the constant, crippling fear and the drive of the infected. I understand it, I suppose; I understand the reason those things groan and shuffle around outside the door, and the reason Joey murdered that rabbit. It’s in our blood, in our hearts, the hunger, the ambition, the out-and-out need to survive. I just wanted to work here, to make a little cash, and now, suddenly, I will die here.

  Maybe I’ll write again. At least it’s some small comfort to look forward to. I should close my laptop and get some sleep. I should stop staring at the glowing screen but it’s hypnotizing and I can’t look away. But I’ll force myself to go to bed, to close my eyes and cover my ears.

  They are coming.

  They are coming and I don’t think we will ever get out.

  COMMENTS

  anonymous says:

  September 18, 2009 at 11:03 am

  the city is overrun. chicago gone too. get out of the city, get out as fast as you can.

  Allison says:

  September 18, 2009 at 12:08 pm

  Overrun? You mean for good? How did you get out? Tell us if you find somewhere safe.

  Luis Wu says:

  September 18, 2009 at 1:36 pm

  Hey Allison,

  You still out there?

  We have been checking on your blog silently so far. Can’t disclose our location—sorry—as there are some marauding survivors about in our area. Take good care. Are you using SNet? That’s the only network that seems to be up. Hope you manage to keep your head above the water.

  Allison says:

  September 18, 2009 at 2:01 pm

  I understand. Don’t give yourselves away: stay safe and stay smart. SNet has had a pretty stable connection so far. Let’s hope that doesn’t stop anytime soon! Update me when you can.

  September 19, 2009—Hatchet

  For the most part we’re not what you would call athletes. I’m not certain “survival of the fittest” really applies in this case, but only time will tell I suppose.

  First there’s Phil Horst. Phil takes the definition of meat and potatoes to the lumpy, Green Bay Packers–loving extreme. He’s not just the manager, ho no, he’s very much a gleeful retail sort of fellow. Most of us work here without complaint, going about our menial tasks with competence, but Phil is the only one who seems to really enjoy it. He loves this place. There is no limit to his enthusiasm for inane mystery novels and bestsellers. He’s gulped down the Kool-Aid and can’t wait to hand out free samples.

  Phil, Philsky, is a big guy, tall and solid, but not particularly fast or agile. Imagine the captain of your baseball team, and now imagine him fifteen years down the line with kids, living on a steady diet of cheeseburgers and soda. Now imagine he believes himself to be the lovable papa bear and best chum of everyone he employs.

  He has a habit of yanking up his pants by the belt, shimmying the hem up under his belly while drawing himself up like a Kodiak getting ready to attack. Primarily he does this when he’s faced with an unpleasant request or annoying customer.

  Phil’s our own roly-poly spokesperson for Midwestern living. He’s the type of guy you expect to see tailgating every weekend, the type of guy who says things like “drawring” instead of drawing and “donesky” instead of done. This has earned him the secret nickname of Philsky.

  Sometimes I’m certain he and I speak different languages. Teach me your customs and your traditions, Oh Great Philsky, teach me the way of the domestic beer.

  Believe it or not this man was a philosophy major.

  It’s good to know that if things ever return to normal, Brooks & Peabody will emerge with its managing staff completely intact. The two assistant managers are here with us too, spending most of their time huddled together over the same Newsweek we’ve all been reading over and over again. They too haven’t had a hard time adjusting to our bizarre diet of junk food and diet sodas. It’s familiar territory for them.

  Janette is probably my favorite person to work with. She’s laid back; she sipped the Kool-Aid and dumped the rest out in the trash. She and the other assistant manager, Matt, are nerds in arms. They’re the only employees that actually see each other outside of work and although they’re both married, I’ve always had this secret inkling that, were things otherwise, they would date. They give off that “You bother me so much but oh God take me” vibe that so many odd couples exude like an awkward, fumbling, sexually charged musk.

  Matt is our resident discerning snob when it comes to books. Miraculously, he’s never realized that having expertise in on
ly one area of literature pretty much makes you ineligible for that position. But he’s nominated and voted himself into the role and none of us have the energy or perseverance to pick a fight. He never outright sneers at other people’s taste in books, he just has this one tendon that works in his jaw; he thinks you’re a plebeian. It means he is secretly spitting all over the cover of whatever book you mentioned.

  Neither Matt nor Janette is particularly out of shape, but I’d wager most of their adventures take place safely in their minds. I’m not sure if any of Janette’s cosplay outfits involved a katana, but if so we could really use it now.

  Holly and Ted are here too but they’re not employees. They hang around in the store so often that I recognize them whenever they show up. I’ve helped them order enough stuff that I know their names and the kind of books they like to read, but otherwise we’re strangers. Holly is a petite redhead, very quiet and mousy, with a little pattern of stars tattooed on the top of her right hand. She looks like a lot of the girls I grew up with as a child, the girls next door, but Holly is clearly going through her undergraduate rebellion phase. She and Ted dress almost identically and both of them have innocuous tattoos that aren’t quite hard enough to be considered badass.

  These two are dating, or are—more accurately—in a state of symbiosis. And so Janette and I have taken to calling them Hollianted. They are never apart. They are one word. We now call them this to their face, which they find a little insulting I think because they want desperately to be individuals and have meaningful identities. I’ve told them that when and if they can tear themselves apart for ten minutes we will consider assigning separate names.

  “Until then,” I told them over a meager lunch of salted peanuts and Crystal Light, “you’re Hollianted.”

  I really don’t think it’s so mean. It sounds like a religious holiday to me. Janette agrees. We like to tease them by asking each other things like, “What are you getting your dad this year for Hollianted?” or “What are you giving up for Hollianted? I think I’ll give up chocolate.”

 
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