[camera comes on. background is an autumn forest, with a rough campsite: fire, tent made out of a tarp and some nylon rope, bunny rabbit eared school backpack against a tree. Piper comes into frame, and puts a finger to her lips- shhhh.]

[abrupt movement for a few minutes. she’s running. dirty converse come into frame occasionally. they’re splattered with blood. then, a stop, and the camera lowers to the ground- brief image of still leaves, then it’s picked up again. apparently she is holding it just over the top of a ravine; looking through the bushes are men in black uniforms, with black vans, white tents, yellow full body CDC style suit and mask, a chopper parked nearby. Piper begins to narrate.] 

“I’m whispering cause I don’t even fucking know who these assholes are but they were NOT here before. It’s day… ten, I think? Since I left the attic. And wierdos are starting to show up, like, yeah these men in black fuckers, but also just- dudes who do not belong. It’s not like we’re a big town. Who are the- oh.” 

[She shifts position. the Orochi symbol can be seen on the side of the van.]

“What the fuck-? Ohshit-” 

[a brief glimpse of someone pointing at her camera, and then blurring movement.]

[CUT TO BLACK.]

[camera comes on to see Piper in what looks like the tarp shelter. rain can be heard drumming down on it. she’s bedraggled and wet, but not soaked. the inside is dark and illuminated only by a candle under a tin can of green beans.] 

“Ok, so, day twelve. Found a few canned veggies in a house. Eating one for dinner. Made a friend- a Templar, whatever that is. And get this. The dude knows blood magic. That thing I did before? Yeah. Blood magic. And there’s other kinds. His people, I guess they like, kick evil in the teeth? He said he would teach me what to do. Called me a Chosen of Gaia, one of the bees, all that. It seems a little too YA fantasy novel except, yknow, everything is a hellish post-apocalyptic zombiescape, so there’s that. And I’ve seen-“

[a pause, as she swallows. her face is smeared with dirt. she looks like she hasn’t bathed in three or four days at least.] 

“I-I-I’ve seen worse, by now. Started to keep records. This is private but- wendigos. People, the ones left, have started… well, there’s only so much food, you know? Some people… and there’s- Henry, the Templar whatever, he mentioned demons, literal Hell Is Real TM type demons, somewhere else and just… all the creepy stories about Kingsmouth, the rumors, the murders no one wanted to look too close at- they’re all coming to the surface now. Like there was always something evil here. Something hidden. Sleeping. And now it’s waking up.” 

[she shivers spasmodically, having nothing to do with the cold. the rain falls. thunder cracks and booms. for a moment despair wars with grief before she grits her jaw hard enough to banish it.] 

“A-Anyways. I’m learning, a lot- like how to survive in a place like this. Off the grid, in the wild. How to kill zombies, and draugr, that’s what Henry called them, and all the rest. I get hurt, but get this- I heal like stupid, like, I thought I was fucking dead a time or two and then just, bzzzz bzzzz bzzz and boom, back in action. Am I like… gonna age? What is being a bee, what is Gaia? Henry doesn’t always answer, he’s got this whole I WORK ALONE Soldier 76 type attitude but I think I’m growing on him. He has me go and sneak and spy on those Orochi fuckos and report back sometimes. More wierdos have come to town too, he won’t let me warn them though. I keep finding…”

[a swallow, deep breath.]

“…Dead ones. Like. Turned or… worse. High casualty rates among the wierdos. Except the Orochi.” 

[a brief angry scowl.]

“Them and the Morninglight have these things that prevent the zombies from coming in and they won’t share which in my book makes them fucking monsters too. They could be helping! They could-“

[she cuts herself off visibly, clenching her small grubby hands into white knuckled fists.]

“Assholes.” 

[CUT TO BLACK]

[camera comes on to what looks like a freshly dug grave. Piper turns it to face her. she looks… blank, exhausted, ruined by grief, the kind of emotionlessness only achieved through trauma. she speaks, matter of fact and horribly toneless. three paralell lacerations on her face are still bleeding; she has made no effort to bandage them.]

“Henry died today. He got… infected he said. Told me to kill him and make it quick. I didn’t want to. Then he grew black tentacles out of his eyeballs and tried to kill me. I had to kill him. Really kill him. Turns out we aren’t immortal. It was hard.” 

[pans back to the grave.]

“…He left me his stuff though. That was nice. He has a spellbook I can use and a phone with reception to… somewhere and some weapons and supplies. I can last another week on that.” 

[pans back to Piper. her eyes are dull, voice flat. she’s extremely pale, skinnier than before. her right hand is bloody from wrist to fingertips and shakes constantly.]

“I have to finish burying what is left.” 

[CUT TO BLACK]

[camera opens on Piper. different location, same tarp. wind is blowing it around her a little, pulling and tugging at the anchored corners. she’s wearing multiple layers and still looks cold, hunched over a fire in the middle that’s sheltered from the wind by the tarp. the fire has a can of beans in it. she props the phone up against something and rolls up her sleeve, exposing gross bandages and an open bite wound. the cuts on her face have been cleaned and look deep, but healing slowly. they will likely scar.]

“So, like, ok, I try help out this wolf -since when do we have fucking wolves around here anyways? Haven’t they been extinct for like, a hundred and fifty years?- cause he was super hurt, dunno by what but man lemme tell you I hope I don’t find out, and he totally bit my ass which, fine, he’s a wolf gonna do wolf things, but then when I healed him with my blood magic he just gave me a LOOK. And he’s been following me since? He has red eyes, like mine, so, okay, not the strangest fucking thing since this all started, kinda cool, honestly? I think I heard him fucking up a draugr earlier so yknow what, more power to you, wolf bro. Do your wolf thing. Is he a wolf? I think so, but he is a BIG ass one or something. I think he’s out there now. HEY BUDDY! WANNA COME IN? I GOT A FIRE?”

[Piper pokes her head out the makeshift tent. it’s difficult to see beyond her, but after a moment, she shakes it like nah, ain’t happening, and pulls it back inside. brrrr. it is grey and gloomy and foggy and generally miserable looking out there. she uses a rock to keep the tent “flap” shut, pinning down a corner.]

“That’s a no. But hey. At this point, yknow, take your upsides where you can fucking get them.” 

[she begins to rinse the wound, first with cold water, shivering, then with what looks like iodine. by the face she makes, it hurts. she wraps it again with what are probably strips of a bath towel and uses half a tube of neosporin.] 

“Dear fucking bees, I guess, please do not let me get gangrene. Love, Piper. Gonna get first fucking aid certified at this rate. Been a good day otherwise. I’m making maps and notes about monsters, their ecology, biology, relationships to one another, behavior patterns, attacks, weaknesses, resistances, favored terrain. I’m getting stronger and faster and meaner. I can fight. I’ve… killed. Monsters mostly. And… a few people who act like monsters.”

[there’s that flicker again on her face, almost too fast to see, as she shoves emotion aside. cause that’s definitely a healthy coping mechanism.] 

“I don’t wanna get all sentimental and philosophical about it. There’s no fucking time for that shit. If you’re fucking around doing bad shit here in Kingsmouth I’m gonna fucking ruin your day, end of story.” 

[the way she looks away from the camera is telling, as she says that and changes the subject.]

“There’s more weirdos every day, other factions, I learned. Apparently I’m a Templar now. Yer a Templ’r, ‘Arry. S’cool. As long as they don’t get in my way or keep me from helping. I, I- I used H-… his phone, texted the guy he had been texting. Told him how… what had happened. We talked. He was all “Templars do not do child soldiers” and I’m like “Buddy do you think I fucking chose this shit?? Because there’s a motherfucking zombie-demon-wendigo-draugr-god-only-knows-what-else army on my fucking doorstep, meaning the answer is fucking no, I did not choose this shit, but that doesn’t fucking matter. The shit is here whether I want it or not. So yes, we’re all soldiers now, help me fight this or get the fuck outta my way” and he was all “Well, shit, alright, someone ought to I guess” and here we are. He was yknow, more polite about it and kinda buttered me up a little, which never hurts, but he was also kinda a prick. Maybe I can shake the stick out his ass. Seems like he might be cool when he’s not being so… prissy. But hey.”

[a shrug of small shoulders.]

“Might be good, yknow? Monster killing bros. Or, uh, whatever. I’m honestly not sure what all they do besides that. Bit fuzzy. Sonnac isn’t really like, super forthcoming with information a lot, so I’m figuring it a lot as I go. Modus operandi. Still, like, the precepts seem good. Be loyal to one another and all. Might be something I can get behind. But there seems to be a whoooole lotta bullshit politics involves in like, the relationship between the so called Big Three. Whaaaaatever, honestly. Like, cool story bro, call me when you’re done with the petty infighting and willing to get shit done. I sure as fuck don’t care.” 

[she uses her teeth to hold the end of the bandages, making a knot, and rolls her sleeves down quickly.] 

“Christ, fucking miserable day, cold and wet and windy. Been learning spells- and latin, apparently, cause half are in latin- out of H… his old book.” [the name Henry is a crack in her otherwise deceptively normal composure.] “Latin sucks, by the way. Also trying to learn Norse. I’ve found some runes and I am pretty sure the draugr are speaking it or some variant? They do speak, just dunno what… Oh, and the old treehouse? The one Danny kicked me out of after I caught him kissing Carter and punched him cause he asked her to the dance before I could? Yeah, that’s in bug-monster-land now. Which, what the fuck. Those were NOT there before. But they sure as hell are now. Also, the scarecrows are alive, and as if that wasn’t creepy on its own, they have chainsaws. Fuck the Morninglight, and the Orochi, and that ultracreepy abandoned amusement park too, by the way. And Innsmouth. Shit went SO south there. Yknow, they rejected my application, and surprise! It’s cause they’re Hogwarts. Like, a sketchy Illuminati Hogwarts, apparently, though they’re real quick to say they’re not officially Illuminati. Thank god Carter is ok.” 

[she pauses and blushes a little, looking away.]

“…Danny too, that asshole. God. My two crushes hook up with one another… but nothing like the literal end of everything to put it all in perspective. I guess they’re happy with each other. UGH. Figures. Also, I found mayan creepers? And Viking shit? Like runestones. And, you will not even believe this, TALKING RAVENS. Not the monster summoning kind. They called themselves Hugin and Mugin.” 

[she stares into the camera like she’s on the office.]

“I was already having to rewrite all my OTHER preconceptions, I guess I may as fucking well rewrite what little remains of my religious ones. What the actual shit. Though I gotta say… If there’s a god? He better beg me for forgiveness.”

[she mutters that last bit, using her hand in her sleeve as an oven mitt to turn the can of beans on the fire. she’s gotten skinnier, face a bit gaunt, all traces of baby fat gone, dark shadows ringing her eyes in the firelight. she watches the can with a particular intensity.] 

“I’m hungry. A lot. I’ve never been- like, I was broke, but never hungry. Suzy let me eat there when I had shifts, you know? ….But there just isn’t much here. I could go get some. Everyone else is trapped by the Fog but I guess bees have… a secret tree road thing or something. I could get out. Sonnac wants me to go to London. Get all official. I… I’m sc-scared to. That-” 

[her throat works as she stares into the fire.]

“That if I go, I won’t be able to make myself come back.” [it’s a faint, guilty whisper.] “I can’t just abandon these people, my people, my home! They weren’t that great to me but shit, nobody deserves this. Nobody. I gotta try. To figure this out. Fix it, if I can. Or I could never live with myself.” 

[more staring into the fire for a long, silent minute.]

“Nobody is ever gonna see these. I probably ought to delete them. But for now, yknow, whatever helps me hold onto my sanity instead of running gibbering into the void. I could talk about the rest. The whispers, the dreams, the… voices, the dreams of the mountain and whatever is under it and the black oil stuff that…” 

[she takes the beans out of the fire. her hands are shaking as she talks, though her voice is strangely, unnaturally calm.] 

“I could. But I’m not gonna. I- ok, I’m not crazy. I’m NOT. I’m not like M- yknow, she heard- I’m NOT going nuts. I-I-I’m stone cold sober, no drugs, not even a cig. Never, not even now.” [a deep breath.] “But I feel like the more I talk about it, the more… they have a presence in the world and I don’t wanna give them that. I don’t wanna give them anything at all.” 

[Piper picks up a spoon.]

“Beans! Awesome.” [she grins. she’s actually very, very happy about a simple can of beans.] “Then bed. Maybe I will sleep tonight. I set up the ward spells to keep stuff out and from noticing me. So like, I can relax, right? ….I don’t ever feel like I can relax but! I’m gonna try. After all, in zombieland anything could happen.” 

[CUT TO BLACK]

Author Cael
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