Four hours until sunset. Nothing has changed. The tension running between us is palpable. Todd and Roger keep going over the plan together. They’ve managed to sketch out a rough floor plan of the basement, as least in between the stairwell and the security office. Henry has been breaking down the storage racks, taking all the binders and filing boxes down and disconnecting the shelving from the walls. I think he’s trying to turn them into some sort of improvised weaponry. I don’t know how effective flimsy aluminum shelves are going to be as a deterrent, but it’s still a better idea than using the binders themselves. probably a better idea than letting Henry try his hand at firearms again, too. If nothing else, it’ll be less noisy.
McIntyre has been drawing maps on the back of research papers, outlining how to get to the checkpoint from the museum. There’s an almost strait shot there, but it means going past the stadium in order to reach the highway, which is the only way to get up to the bridge. The stadium is still probably filled with infected, even after all this time. It wouldn’t take an entire stadium filled with infected to pose a threat to this group. A couple of dozen stragglers would do. McIntyre has thought of an alternative, though. It’s a bit out of our way, but if nothing goes horribly wrong, we should still make it to the bridge by sunup, long before any large groups notice us.
What am I doing? I’m typing, trying to keep my fingers moving, in an attempt at ignoring my stomach. Don’t think about finger bones. I told McIntyre not to think too far ahead, but the truth is I’m always thinking ahead, always trying to think of the next contingency plan. It’s how I’ve managed to live this long. Well, that and blind dumb luck. So what am I going to do once I get out of here? I can’t imagine the military is going to just let me walk off once we’re past quarantine. I’d need food, of course, but I’d also need transportation, some means of getting away from here, getting to the next city. I’m going to need money too, since there’s no chance in hell I’ll ever get back to my emergency funds. I wonder if hitchhiking would work. That would kill three birds with one thumb, as it were. Get a lift from some tourist, on his way to some vacation spot. Kill him, eat him, take his money and his car, get to a city. There’s always people in cities with the kind of moral flexibility that helps things like me get by. Sell the car for scrap to someone who isn’t interested in whether I have the title or not. Find a place to live owned by someone more concerned with receiving rent money than whether or not my papers are in order. Find someone willing to supply a fake id, preferably someone who doesn’t care what I’m planning on using it for. Find some menial job with an extremely lax hiring policy. Steal a few essentials, get myself set up. Start over again. I remember the first time I did this, what was it, two or three years ago? Must have been two years. Less than, what with the anniversary and all. It’s hard to tell. I honestly can’t remember how long I spent in the wilderness, wandering around. I remember eating at least two campers, but I was young then. I didn’t know how to pace myself.
I remember the first time I had to control myself. I was by the side of the road, and I’d figured out that those large fast boxes slowed down sometimes, if you held out a thumb and pointed it at them. I had also figured out that once you got those fast boxes to stop, they were often filled with meat. At some point, it occurred to me that those boxes full of meat that didn’t stop didn’t actually disappear when they got out of eyesight. I remembered a place full of even larger boxes, boxes that didn’t move, boxes full of people. A lot of people, not just a few like the fast boxes. In my twisted logic, I came to this conclusion: the fast boxes must be taking the meat to the big boxes. Holding my thumb out brought the fast boxes to a stop. If I could get into a fast box, it would take me to the big boxes, where the meat was. However, once I had eaten the meat from inside the fast boxes, they didn’t move anymore. If I stopped myself from eating the meat inside one of them now, I could eat a lot more meat later. I later learned that humans called this “delayed gratification.”
I don’t think the guy who first picked me up ever figured out how lucky he was. He dropped me off at a motel, and drove on his way. That was the first human being I’d ever met that I didn’t immediately try to eat. I kind of wish I could remember more about him, but I was too focused on not eating him at the time to really take note of who he was. After he dropped me off, I ate the owner of the motel (whom I later learned was named “Norman” something) and spent the next month watching children’s programming on television and occasionally eating people who stopped by to rent a room. I also took some time to learn to drive, which resulted in more than a few crashed cars out behind the motel, which was fine. I needed to dispose of them, anyway. The last person I saw at the motel was a chef, or at least someone with more than a few cookbooks in their car. After killing them, I started reading, and on a whim, I tried out one of the dead chef’s recipes on himself. How it had never occurred to me to try this before, I’ll never know. I’d seen cooking shows before, but they never interested me, since they weren’t cooking food. At least, not the kind of food I cared about. But this, just a simple steak recipe, cut off a slice of leg and fry it in a cast iron pan, it was transformative. Don’t get me wrong, that first rush of blood when your teeth break the skin, it’s unbeatable, but a slice of meat, charred on the outside and still weeping blood on the inside, it was a revelation. I had to have more.
So much for distracting myself. I’m even hungrier now.