“THE GATHERER’S JOURNAL”

By: MollyMolotov666

(From My Unfinished Novella, “The Gatherer’s Journal”)

GENRE: Survivalist Horror / Apocalyptic Thriller /

TAGS: [Apocalyptic] [Violent] [Trigger Warnings] [Murder] [Child Death] [Sexual Assault] [Sexual Situations]

Entry #1:
The End

The power grid went down months ago, and the society we once knew no longer exists…

After the grid failed, trucks stopped delivering food. Stores closed down, and were swiftly looted and burned down. Utilities began shutting off, one by one. First electric and gas, then water and sewage. Then, the police went rogue. They are only out for themselves now.

Everyone is, to be honest. Other than a few small bands of survivors, it seems like everyone is on their own. My neighbors were either killed off for their food and supplies, or were the ones doing the killing.

The survivors now are either Hunters, Gatherers, or Marauders.

Hunters are people who took to the woods to live off food or other people who happen to get caught in their traps. They only want to live, but by any means necessary.

Gatherers are people who loot without trying to hurt anyone else. We just sort of break in and out of places with food, and try our best not to get shot by people guarding their shit. Same as with Hunters, we just want to survive.

Marauders are the fringe; The small groups of people who don’t just want to live. They want to see everyone else dead or enslaved.

My name is Molly. I’m a lone gatherer, and this is my story.

I suppose I should start at the beginning, before the grid went down. Back then, I was a wife and mom. My husband, Ryan, was a survivalist and nature nut. He had insisted that our two young sons and I learn how to live in the woods without assistance.

At the time, I thought it was silly. Now, I just wish I paid more attention to his lessons.

It was winter when the power grid stopped working one day. I still don’t know why it happened. I just know that because of him, we had a basement stocked with emergency rations and supplies.

We were able to live in the basement comfortably for a month, locked in tightly and armed to the teeth. Any time we had a Marauder or Gatherer, he’d take care of them swiftly. That was until the food ran out, and our youngest son got sick.

Ryan took our only gun and bullets, and left for medicine and food. He never came back. By the time I realized he wasn’t returning, I was too weak from hunger to go looking for him.

By then, both children were sick. I was too afraid to leave. We’d have no shelter. They’d die in the rain and cold in hours if I took them with me, but I was paralyzed with fear at the thought of leaving them behind.

All I could do was sit there, starving to death, as my children died in my arms within an hour of each other. Their names were Richy and Jimmy. I still cry myself to sleep thinking about them, but for all I knew back then, I was going to get sick and die next. Or starve.

With nothing left to lose, I opened the locked doors of my once safe home. The frozen cold pierced my heavy coat and snow gear, but I pushed forward, looking for any sign of life or food.

Each trash can was picked clean of anything useful. Every shed torn open and rutted through, with useless items thrown from side to side carelessly, now all partially covered with snow. Anything wood was now wet, so I couldn’t even make a fire. Even car doors were either locked or frozen shut.

I spent my first night alone in hell under the stars in a sleeping bag, my survival bag under my head like a pillow. I was cold, hungry and heartbroken, but too tired to do anything else, I fell asleep all the same. I woke up to a group of Gatherers around me, telling me to keep it easy.

They told me they weren’t going to hurt me, and that I was welcome in their home to warm up and eat. I knew it was likely a trap, but I went in anyway. What else could I do? I was going to freeze and starve otherwise.

Luckily for me, I was wrong about them. I was fed and warmed as promised. It was then, nestled by a fireplace, and with heated canned soup in my hands, I made the mistake of asking if anyone had seen my husband.

Turns out, they knew what had happened to him. He was captured and executed by Marauders for breaking into their basement.

Word travelled fast because they had made an “example” of him. A very public one. One that the Gatherers were kind enough not to illuminate on further. They left it at “He’s not coming home,” and that’s that. I was alone, except for my new found friends.

The Gatherers taught me everything I needed to know about surviving the new world. For weeks, we were very literally as thick as thieves. They showed me how to rob without getting shot or getting caught.

I learned how to disable snares and raid traps of all kinds, so that I can get to the food before the Hunters do. They taught me how to get into pick locks, and even crack small safes.

Not only that, but for those few weeks I was with them, they began to feel like family. There were only 7 of us, after I joined. Then 5, when 2 were lost in action while scavenging.

The day after, there was just me. I had gone home to bury my children, and by the time I came back, everyone was dead, and our supplies were all stolen. I must have narrowly missed the Marauders.

That still fucking haunts me.

So, homeless again, I took my survival gear, which never leaves my side, and I went off, looking for something. Anything. There had to be more to this new world than death and hunger, I thought to myself as I faced the blistering cold alone.

Entry #2:
Tomb Life

Currently, I keep myself comfortable, more or less, in a tomb.

I found an old graveyard recently. I was able to crack a few gate locks, and there was an underground family mausoleum hidden behind a large slab that turned out to be a covert door. Behind the door was a massive cave filled with coffins.

It’s more homey than it sounds. I’ve spent the last few weeks stealing kills out of traps and collecting pelts and jerky off of drying racks. Wood, as well. Whatever I can find, really.

Tools, clothes, horse antibiotics… If it fits in my pockets and bags, I’m likely taking it with me. I found enough things while scavenging that the tomb it starting to feel like almost like a home.

The pelts I’ve stolen have kept me warm, as have the firewood, and I have more than enough food squirreled away to keep me for a bit. The only thing that really bothers me right now is the boredom and loneliness.

I miss my family. God, I miss my children, and I miss the way my husband would laugh when he did something I couldn’t do, like opening a pickle jar. I miss the way he smelled after a hot shower, and how he’d grin at his own Dad jokes.

Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of a dead sleep to check if my kids are okay, forgetting, for just a moment, that they aren’t with me anymore. That hurts most of all.

I have to relive losing them every time I wake up, because in my dreams, they’re still here with me.

I wish I didn’t have to sit here alone, hiding in a tomb, afraid and haunted by memories of people I’ll never see again.

I’m lost without my family to take care of. It’s the most empty feeling in the world to be staying alive and asking yourself “why do I even bother? Would it even matter if I died?”

I don’t even have an answer for myself. Why DO I bother? What IS the point? No matter what happens, I’m going to end up someone’s victim. In this new world, that is how it works, so why fight it?

Then, in that dark train of thought, like I’m in right now, I always remember something important, and it gives me reason. My husband died to get us food and medicine. He wanted me to live, so I’m going to live, dammit. Just for him.

Nothing is worse than losing my family, so whatever happens, I can face the future head on and without fear. I can’t imagine a pain worse than losing him, so there’s nothing to fear in this new world. Nothing can break me if losing my kids didn’t.

Hidden in those sad facts are a world of comfort. It’s how I’m able survive, despite these horrors, and how I know I can find a way through this. Because nothing, literally nothing, can be worse than… that.

Entry #3:
The Chocolates

I think it’s been weeks since my last entry, but I’m not sure. I’ve lost track of dates. It’s not like I have anywhere to be, anyway. All I know is that the seasons are changing right before my eyes. A cold and blustery winter is now seguing into warmer, more comfortable weather.

I think the Hunters are getting wiser about their traps. They are setting them closer to their homes now. This is bad news. It’s far too dangerous now to steal from the traps now that the Hunters are being more watchful. Those traps were my main source of food. I’ll need to find other ways to eat.

I can’t just go to the river and fish. I’ve tried. There are always marauders patrolling the waterways. I thought of dismantling and stealing the traps to use myself, but I don’t know how to trap. I only know how to steal from them. It’s a good thing I have a decent hoard of food saved, or this could be much worse.

Speaking of the Marauders, they are still monsters. I know what the Gatherers meant before about their public executions, for when they want to set an example.

During the executions, they announce the condemn’s name and crime over a fucking megaphone before taking an ax to them. Then, those bastards put the severed heads on pikes outside of their properties.

That’s what they had done to Ryan, I’m sure. It’s why I don’t raid Marauder houses or camps. God help me, I don’t want to join him.

For the longest time, I looked for my husband’s head each time I snuck by a Marauder’s property, but there was no use. He’d be too far gone to be recognized by now. Not if exposed to the sun and air.

He’s likely rotted at this point. At least our boys were buried properly, I guess. I hope the same for me, as well. I desperately don’t want to die like my husband did.

I’m taking steps to avoid it. I found a gun and some bullets. A .45, and I also now carry knives and small can of pepper spray, as well. All were sourced off of corpses I find littered everywhere.

If you find a corpse, always loot it, by the way. Waste not, want not. After all, they clearly aren’t using their stuff, anyway.

I fear the time when there’s no other choice than to rob the Marauders, so I’m getting everything I can now. They’re dangerous enough when they aren’t angry.

The last thing I need to do is actually piss them off. If I’m ever in danger of being captured by them, I’ll likely turn the gun on myself instead of being enslaved or raped and killed.

I’m not suicidal. There’s no escape if you’re caught by Marauders. You’re dead the moment they get you, you just don’t know it yet. My death will be on my own terms, I promise you.

This train of thought is stressing me out. I’m going to change the subject.

On a silly and frivolous note: I found some chocolates today while scavenging. I was both shocked and delighted because they were sealed air tight, and were only mildly stale despite their obvious age. A rare victory for me in this day and age, I’d say.

As I’m writing this, I’m in my tent, eating the little chocolate trifles slowly, savoring them. I’ve just got to say, it’s moments like this that give me hope.

This feels almost normal, like when the boys and I would go backyard camping. We used to set up a tent, sleeping bags, and eat candy while cuddling under the stars…

This feels exactly like that, actually. I could almost imagine hearing the sound of my boys now, playing just outside of view. My heart breaks knowing that it’s only the wind outside.

I know I don’t have any hope of ever seeing them again, but it’s these moments that remind me that despite the hell on earth, happiness and love exists, even now. I only need to find it again.

Entry #5:
The Baby

A few hours had passed, and the baby continued crying. I couldn’t help myself. Leaving my tomb, I found myself following the sound. Quietly, carefully, I edged closer and closer, using the shadows to conceal myself.

Ten minutes or so later, I found an abandoned car in the woods near my camp. There, the baby was in the backseat, alone, screaming. I looked, but I couldn’t find anyone.

Maybe the parents went looking for food and supplies, I thought to myself as I climbed into the unlocked backseat, next to the small, pink car seat. Inside it, was the source of the screaming and crying. She is beautiful. I’m holding her in my lap right now.

The little beauty stopped crying the moment I picked her up. I have my notebook propped on the dashboard as I write as to not disturb her rest. I wonder where her parents went.

Fearing that they might come back and kill me on the spot, I’ve put a sign in the window saying “I’m just holding the baby. I mean no harm. Don’t hurt me.”

I hope it’s enough to protect me from her parents, should they return.

When they do come back, I really hope they have food for this sweet little angel in my lap.

Entry #6:
The Mother

I’m back at my tomb. It’s just before dawn. An hour ago, the baby’s mom returned to the car. She was scavenging and couldn’t take the baby with her, which I totally understand.

Thankfully, the mom saw my sign, and told me she was thankful I was there to comfort her daughter. She tried to give me a bottle of water for my trouble, but I rejected it. The baby needs it more than me.

While out, the mom managed to get her hands on some formula, so at least the baby will have some food for at least the next few days. I left so they could get some sleep, and returned back to my tomb. I wish I could rest, though. I just can’t make myself fall asleep.

All I can do right now is worry about the safety of that baby.

Entry #7:
Lullabies

I earnestly can’t help myself. While Gathering, I catch myself collecting little things for the baby. I deliver them back to their car often. They’re never there, but I can tell that they still use the car to sleep in at night due to the baby’s cries.

Except now, I can hear the mom comforting it quietly, often singing lullabies.

I’m really thankful they haven’t been hassled by Marauders. I know they must hear the baby. I suppose even they have mercy on the young… when they feel like it. I know they haven’t always.

I wonder why this mother and baby is different from the others.

Entry #8:
The Point?

Turns out that they weren’t spared, after all.

I had gone to deliver rations again once the sun was over head, but instead of an empty car and freshly used firepit, there were the remains of mother and child.

She’s holding the baby in her arms, shielding it with her body in the back seat. Sadly, the bullets went through her back and out of the other side of the poor, sweet little girl. Her pink PJs are now brown with dried blood.

I don’t know how to feel.

I’m numb. Strangely empty. Fuck hope. Fuck it all. Fuck everything. What’s the goddamn point? I didn’t even hear them come!? How didn’t I hear the gunshots or their screams? I am so confused.

So fucking lost right now.

Entry #9:
So Confused…

I feel like a cunt, but I raided what was left of the mom’s supplies. I delivered most of it to her, anyway. I guess it’s not that bad, really. No point in the food and medicine going to waste, but I’m leaving behind the baby things.

I won’t be needing them.

My biggest question here is why? Why didn’t the murderers take the goods? Why did the kill these two clearly innocent people? Why a baby? They couldn’t have been harming anyone!

I’ve decided it’s time to move on. I don’t know what’s beyond my normal stomping grounds, but fuck it. I’ve got to take my chances. The only other option I have is dying hungry and alone. That’s not something I’m willing to tolerate.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. There has got to be more to life than… this. I have to believe that.

Entry #10:
The Cabin

Can’t sleep. I’m near Malden/Medford now.

Found a nature reserve. Clean, clear river water, plenty of woods to hide in, and best of all, I found an abandoned Ranger’s cabin. Calling it a cabin, though, is being generous.

It’s a one room shed with a fire pit, and an outhouse, but at least there’s a bed in it. I quickly found food and various useful survival rations.

Listed Below, In No Order:

A hunting knife

A 9m + 2 boxes of 25 bullets

A hunting rifle + 6 boxes of 30 shells

16 Packs of 8 MRES of varying contents: (I’m most excited to try the “Pork, Rice and Beans” with the peanut butter candy dessert. It also comes with instant coffee, sugar, and powdered creamer. I think I’m in heaven right now.)

A XXX Men’s winter flannel jacket

An advanced level first aid kit

Thermal blankets

Tent repair kits

Binoculars

Soap

Laundry Detergent

Mugs, plates, silverware

Pots, pans, skillet

5 bags/Charcoal

A BBQ grill and full spice rack

Candles and several boxes of matches

Several bags of dried meats and jarred fruits

Seeds and farming tools

Water purification tablets (40 total)

Fishing gear and two poles

Books on survival and gardening

…Basically, everything I need to live for a bit. The game plan is to live in the shed during the day, in hiding, and by night, I’ll bath, etc. in the river, and collect water for the day. I feel so excited to have found this spot untouched.

There is hope here. I can feel it.

Entry #11:
My Feelings

I’ve been here for a week now, if my math is correct.

‘In my entire time here, I haven’t seen a single soul. Paradise. Purely and simply paradise. I’m trying to bask in the tranquility and spender of it, and it’s such a contrast to the horrors I’ve seen.

It’s just that I wish my boys could see this place. My husband would gush about the wildlife. I see dear nightly as I wash by the river’s shore. At first, they seemed terrified of me, but over several nights passing, they seem to have come to realize I’m harmless.

They keep their distance, but they’re at least drinking comfortably, despite my presence. My husband would be taking so many pictures of the deer right now, likely scaring them away.

The thought is making me laugh.

It’s weird. I have no reason to be afraid right now. I have everything I need. All of my immediate concerns are addressed. You’d think I could just relax now, but no. Not me.

First, comes the boredom. I have no reason to ever get excited, except for which rations I get to eat for the night. I’m gardening now, but it’s more frustrating than relaxing.

I know getting this right means eating, so the stress is on to not waste these seeds. I study the books, but my mind stagnates in boredom.

With boredom comes a wandering mind. I begin to make myself depressed. Seriously. I over stress over everything, from the stuff I didn’t do, to the things I’ve done, but incorrectly or could have been done better… I feel empty and pointless.

I ask myself nonstop what is the meaning of all of this. I’m fighting so hard to survive, but why? For people who are gone, and I’ll never see again?

It seems so futile. All of this. But then, something weird happens, and mood will randomly shift over to gratitude. Like, when it’s storming, and I hear the thunder overhead.

The only thing between me and the harsh weather is a thin, tin roof. My heart begins to swell with gratitude and awe of the power of nature. I become small and insignificant, and humbled by it all.

I’m reminded to keep my hopes up. This is likely the best I’ll ever have it, so I should savor my current wealth while I still have it. You never know when you’ll lose everything.

I’m the first person to know that. As we speak now, I’m outside, writing under a tarp while a soft drizzle of rain is spraying down softly. The sun is going down, but it’s already pretty dark out.

Majestic. So majestic. I feel small, and it’s beautiful. There’s something liberating about being so inconsequential. So tiny. Maybe it isn’t so bad to have a life, even if there’s no point. Maybe the point of it all is that there isn’t really a point at all?

Entry #12:
Being Hunted

I just went worming for bait, and I found some freshly laid traps near the cabin. I’m concerned. They weren’t there before. There must be a hunter encroaching on my territory.

These are toothed spring traps that snap closed when you trigger it. They’re big enough to take off my foot at the ankle if I were to accidentally step on one.

Needless to say, I’m overwhelmed with fear. I’ll be staying inside most nights now, too. Just in case they find my cabin. God knows, I can’t have them raiding my home, and stealing everything I own. I can’t start over again. I just can’t…

NOTE TO SELF: Board up cabin.

Entry #13:
Prey

I heard a noise outside my door last night. It sounded like someone was trying to get in, but couldn’t push the door open. All I could do was lay in bed, covers over my head, praying that they weren’t going to bust a window to get in.

Hours later, after the sun had come up, I dared to open the door, and I found a trap just at my feet. If I weren’t looking, I would have stepped right in it. Someone is wise to me.

They know I’m here, and they want what I have. Guns are loaded. Traps are all now disabled and relocated, reset, and waiting for their owner to come back.

I won’t be burning fires in the chimney anymore. I’m too afraid of the smoke calling intruders to come. No. I have to be more careful now that I know that there are Hunters nearby.

Everything is boarded up now. I’ve managed to make a lock out of some bolts and chain lengths sitting around.

I feared the hammering might draw attention, so I did my best to mimic the woodpeckers, hoping that would be enough to shield the noise of my amatuer construction.

Once I was done, I quickly locked up the cabin tight, and helped myself to an MRE.

Thank god they have their own heat source. I can at least eat a hot meal without the use of fire. Today’s lunch was spaghetti and meatballs, coffee, sugar, creamer, powdered “Tang,” and an oatmeal raisin cookie for dessert.

Dinner will be jarred preserves and crackers. I only have so many MREs. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. I don’t want them to go too quickly. It’s why was doing more fishing and gardening.

Now I’m afraid to even go outside. I can’t even cook the fish I’ve already caught. It’s a shame that I’ll likely have to dispose of the dead fish before it rots. I’d rather be eating it. Now I’m stuck eating preserved food that I had planned to store for winter.

Entry #14:
Hunter

I have a lot to say, and likely not a lot of time. I feel like this is something I need to write down right away, despite the seriousness of the situation.

I trapped the Hunter in his own spring-trigger trap. I had hid it in the tall grass outside of my only window.

Though the window is boarded up and covered with a curtain, I knew he’d be tempted to come closer to see the changes I’ve made to the cabin. He’d likely especially want to try to see if there’s a way to peek inside, and I was right.

There was a loud snap just minutes ago… And it was just followed by a howl of pain. He was struggling with the trap for several minutes now. I heard the spring clamp shut over and over as he tried to open it.

Each time he lost the fight to force the metal jaws open, it would come down hard again and again in deafening CHOMPS.

I can’t tell you how long I have been out there, screaming. I think, like, ten minutes? I’ve lit a candle to write this, so that I can better work out my thoughts. I can rationalize and visualize my problems better on paper, so that’s what I’m going to do.

PROS: (Calling Out to Him/Going Outside to Help)

-He is a human being, and he’s hurt. It’s the right thing to do.
-He might not be the Hunter.
-What if this was his cabin, and I’m actually literally the bad guy here? NOTE: Devil’s advocate here, but does it even matter? This is survival. I’ve already decided life is worth living, and it’s also worth dying for. If he’s trying to get in, despite it being clearly occupied, there must be a reason. If it is his cabin, he’ll likely try to remove me, and I’m not going, either way.
-What if he becomes an ally?

CONS (Calling Out to Him/Going Outside to Help)

-He’ll know I’m here for sure, and that I’m guarding the cabin.
-There’s no guarantee that I can help him, anyway. (More humane to kill him, but how? Should I even consider it?) Note: a.) Shooting him is going to be too loud. He might have friends that can hear him, but they can likely hear his screaming now? Maybe I should shut him up soon? But how? b.) I can stab him, but he might be stronger than me. What if he takes the knife? c.) Knife, with a gun as a backup plan, maybe?
-He’s likely the guy who’s been hunting me! He doesn’t deserve my help. He deserves to die.
-Opening the cabin is making myself vulnerable to thief, but so is his screaming!
-Can’t trust a Hunter.

PROs (To Killing Him:)
-Humane: He’s in pain. I’m no doctor.
-He’s likely a fucking Hunter. If he caught me, who knows what he’d have done to me?
-One less Hunter means more resources.
-He’ll shut the fuck up.

CONs (To Killing Him:)
-???

CONCLUSION: Kill him. Take the knife and gun, and stab him. If he takes the knife, use the gun. Be as merciful as possible.

Wish me luck.

Entry #15:
The Reversal

I don’t know how this happened…

I took him in. There’s a lot here to unlock, so bear with me. We’re in for a doozy. Dan is laying in my bed right now, wrapped up in my sleeping bag. I’ve started a fire not only to keep him warm, but to cauterize the wound.

After a makeshift surgery and an MRE of Steak Soup, Potato Chips, Crackers, Coffee, and Powdered Orange Kool-Aid, my “patient” is now in a deep sleep, practically dead to the world.

I’m sitting here, horrified with myself. I went out there to kill that man. I just could not do it, and I’ll try to begin to explain to you why I hesitated, but it barely makes sense to me. I stepped outside, and careful for traps, went to the corner of the cabin.

I imagine by the closeness of the screaming it made him about 5 feet from me, but still out view. He went silent the moment I opened the door, panting in pain and terror.

My footsteps getting closer must have made him feel like he was going to have a heart attack, but I couldn’t be any quieter.

He whimpered a terrified “Hello?” I didn’t know what to say. I was lost for words. He asked me to speak to him.

Finally, I managed a “Hey. I’m Molly.” I instantly regretted my words, and whispered a Canadian swear my paternal grandmother used to say: “Tabernacle.” Except in her accent, it came off as “TaberKNACK.” So, that’s how I pronounced it.

The dude asked if I were from Quebec, and I cracked a smile. That’s where my Grandma’s from. He asked for water, still whimpering in pain, and if I could remove the trap from his shattered ankle.

I could only say, still hiding behind the corner of the cabin, “You’re the Hunter, aren’t you? The one trying to catch me…”

He let out a sad sigh of defeat.

“I’m Dan,” he moaned out, crying in pain. He was getting louder again. “You win, Molly.” From my hiding place, he threw his guns and knives my way, out of his arm’s reach. “You a Gatherer? If you are, that’s cool. Those guns should be useful as fuck to you.”

“Why did you want to catch me, Dan?”

He sounded more desperate. “Come on, Molly. I’m sorry. Please…”

“Do you have friends? Are there going to be more of you?”

“NO! It’s just me! I Hunt alone. I saw the cabin, and realized it was occupied. I watched you from a distance, Molly. Stalked you. I never killed you outright. Don’t let me die, Molly. I was never going to just let you die.”

“Just crippled for life?” I was, and honestly, am still rather sceptical of anything he has to say. He was trying to break my leg, just as his is destroyed now.

“Please, we can work together. I’ll die alone, even if you save now. Please… I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll do everything I can to…”

“To what? Use up my limited resources while you heal? No dice. I should kill you here.”

That’s when I had the idea to throw my hat into his view, just to see what would happen. Nothing. I had expected him to shoot it, assuming he had a gun.

Dan actually laughed through his suffering. “You thought I kept a piece, didn’t you?” I heard him spit. “No. No… I gave you everything, because I know it’s over for me. I’ll help you anyway I can.

I won’t be dead weight. Please… Don’t kill me.” He made a good point. I could use him, even if he can’t walk. Fishing requires no standing on his part. Neither does some of the food prep shit I’d expect from him in his condition, but first, I had to try to patch him up.

I went around the corner. On the ground, there was a tall, thin, 20 something year old man with long black hair and a beard. He was wearing head to toe camouflaged gear and thigh high swamp boots.

Sliced through the ankle, was the spring trap, nearly completely through the bone. I could see where he kept trying to pry it open, but it would sling shut. It looked like a shark kept taking bite after bite out of his leg.

It took some effort, but I managed to get it off him, and helped limp into the house. There, I cauterized and bandaged his ankle to the best of my ability, and fed him.

If he’s better when he wakes up, I might offer him some Brandy I found in the first aid kit, just to ease the pain. From a fur pallet I’ve made in the corner, I’m observing my new house mate.

I know I can’t trust this guy. This feels foolish of me, but I can’t seem to stop myself.

I’ve taken all the guns, knives and ammo, and I’ve hidden them in a location that I will not document here for obvious reasons. He will not be able to reach them in his state. I’m keeping my eye on him.

Honestly, I’m terrified he’s going to lock me out when I’m not looking, to rely on the rations within the cabin to out-wait me, expecting hunger and the elements to lead me away from the cabin after time.

Or that he might attack me while I’m sleeping, killing me when I least expect it.

Watching him now, though, he seems so peaceful. It’s hard to imagine him as the man who might one day murder me in my sleep. I don’t know what he’s really like, but all I actually know about the man that he tried to kill me once already, and if I were smart, I’d smother him now.

Entry #16:
Mercy

Clearly, I’m not smart. Dan is still alive. He’s eating breakfast slowly. I’ve served him fish, cooked on the BBQ outside. So far, his behavior is exceeding my expectations.

We’ve been looking out for signs of fever or illness. I told him to tell me if his ankle starts to feel hot. So far, so good, but then again, it’s only been a couple of hours.

I can tell by looking at him that he’s in a world of pain right now. Honestly, I’m starting to think he’s just thankful to not be alone. He keeps looking at me sadly, as if sorrowful for how all of this turned out.

Though, of course, if he had his way, the bear trap would literally be on my foot, instead. I don’t know why I’m even trying to save this asshole…

I feel stuck with him now for some reason, despite what he’s tried to do to me. I can’t figure out for the life of me why I feel this way. I just do. I guess I don’t want to be alone right now, either…

The really bad news is that I simply don’t know how to fix his leg. The bone is devastated. I don’t need to be a doctor to see that he’s likely going to have to lose that foot, but I don’t even know how to do that safely to begin with! Especially in this unsterile environment!

I have no idea how he’s even going to handle the pain with no meds to knock him out. I doubt I even have a knife sharp enough!

He just asked me what I’m writing.

“All I could say was “The next great Post-American novel.”

He smiled weakly as he chewed his food. “The first, I’d say.” Then he asked me to read it to him. I think I might…

Entry #17:
The House Guest

Dan is a very captivated listener. It was nice reading my words to him. He actually cried with me as I read about my family. Part of me fears this is only an act, but God help me, I hope I’m wrong.

I can only pray I’m wrong about him. When I read to him about my doubts on his character, he looked down solemnly. All he could say is “I hope to earn your trust.” Then he smiled mischievously. “But the ‘locking the door on you’ thing is genius.”

We both had a good laugh.

Right now, Dan is still in bed. I’m in my slat of furs. It’s surprisingly warm and comfortable. We’ve found a green tea bag, so the kettle is on the fire under the chimney, beginning to slowly boil.

We only have one mug, but I’ve agreed to let him have the first cup. After all, he’s injured. He offered it to me, but I can’t take it in good conscience.

It’s nearing dinner time, so I have to figure out what to feed the both of us… It’s still not too late to kill him, right? (I say JOKINGLY)

Entry #18:
The Surgery

Dan’s health took a turn for the absolute worst the other day. I haven’t been able to write since his fever skyrocketed. When I went to change the bandages, his leg was shriveled and black. It had to go. I consulted the survival books, but this was too much for a simple manuel.

All I could do was tie him up and feed him from the Brandy bottle. Then, I used the elastic bit from a rubber glove to work as a tourniquet, and after sterilizing everything to my ability, I began to cut his foot off with my sharpest knife.

He passed out from shock, which made things easier, as bad as that sounds. When he woke up, he was missing his foot below his ankle. Turns out, the trap got him cleanly just under the ankle joint, almost severing it for me.

It’s been about 12 hours since then, and he’s doing much better. Dan, the glutton, is already eating an MRE. Beef Mac and Cheese with Cornbread and Honey, Coffee, and a vanilla Twinkie for dessert.

I’m having the “Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, and Roasted Carrots’ meal, with coffee, a bag of black tea, and a cup of pudding; mystery flavored. All we can do is eat in silence.

As I wrote that, he just asked me how I’m able to eat and write so comfortably after what I just had to do to his leg. I shrugged. I honestly don’t have an answer. I guess my guts toughened up since the world ended. I can’t tell you, to be honest.

Meanwhile, I’m over here wondering how he’s able to eat like that after losing a foot.

When I asked him that question just now, he said because he just lost a pound at least during the surgery, and he needs to gain it back somehow! I cannot with this guy!

SIDE NOTE: Stop eating and writing at the same time. I’m getting food all over the papers.

Entry #19:
Shit

I’ve just spent the last week tending to Dan’s leg. He’s doing much better. His fever has broken, and his wounds are clean, free of dirt, and changed every few hours. Good thing we have so much gauze from the first aid kids I found!

I’ve since gotten him a long walking stick to lean on in order to help him get around.

Since the outhouse is unsanitary, I’ve taken to assigning him his own “chamber pot,” which was actually a long sheet cake shaped tupperware piece he could use to take care of himself in. I’d then take it to the outhouse to be dumped out, and then the river to be cleaned.

This guy tried to me kill me, and he has me cleaning his shit? There must be something really, deeply wrong with me. I just can’t do it. I can’t let this guy die. I’m simply not the killing type. I’ll do it if I have to, and right now, frankly, I don’t have to.

After rinsing out his mess, I even took it upon myself to clean his pants. As I basically beat the “dirt” out with a rock and wet wood ash, Dan laid in my bed, reading a survival guide.

After a week of this literal shit, however, I finally have a chance to lay down and write.

As I lay here, journaling, Dan is sleeping peacefully. His pain is much better now. I’ve let him polish off the Brandy. He needs it more than I do. The pain must still be unbearable, but he’s trying his best not to show it.

I can tell he desperately wants to convince me he’s hardly in pain, but I’m not buying. I think he just doesn’t want to be a bother.

That’s both admirable and completely stupid at the same time.

Entry #20
The Vow

It’s proving impossible to keep Dan down. It’s been nearly a month, and he wants to get up and hop on one foot, leaning on whatever he can to get around around the cabin. He says it’s bad for him to sit in one spot for too long, so I made him a cane from a heavy branch for him to walk with.

Dan quickly got the hang of it, and I can tell you now, he’s going to be outside climbing trees in no time. This guy is unstoppable. It’s admirable as fuck.

I’m starting to trust him. I really am. He told he life story on the promise I’m not to report anything he tells me in my notes. I’m staying true to that, but the knowledge is eating at me.

I want to write everything down, but I made a sacred vow. I can’t recreate a single word. That said, what he did tell me was enough for me to believe him. He’s a good man who learned early on that he couldn’t trust anyone.

Now, we’re learning to trust each other in this new world.

As I’m writing this, he’s heading right out the door. He says he needs to disable a few traps and he’ll be right back. Is it weird I’m hoping he actually does? Once again, I hate to be a broken record, but he did try to literally kill me.

I shouldn’t miss him the moment he’s gone. He hasn’t been gone a mere moment, and I wish I could tell him to stay here and rest longer.

Entry #21:
The Roommate

He’s returned with a bag of supplies, and more ammo for his gun. He had gone to his camp to retrieve his spare gear. Dan really was running on spare parts before he met me, only having a mere grocery bag of stuff to his name.

He asked me if he should stay with me after he’s healed, or if he should go back to his camp.

Dan says his camp is just a tarp on a clothesline between two trees. He left the tarp and sleeping bag he was using behind because both have since been weather damaged while he was away.

All Dan has now is the clothes on his back and a few guns, but he promises me it’s okay if he can’t stay at the cabin, because he’ll “rebuild his camp” just fine on his own.

I honestly believe him when he says that, too. If anyone could do it, it’ll be Dan.

However, he’ll be staying with me, of course. It’ll be tight in the cabin with one single bed, but I think we can make it.

Good news, he’s able to clean and tend to his own sanitation with minimal help. I’m so excited for him. Dan is so proud of himself. He’s very self reliant, almost to a fault. There are times he really does needs help, but he refuses out of pride.

I hear him cry in pain less and less, but I can tell the pain really gets to him sometimes.

Entry #22:
Mushrooms and Berries

Dan left again randomly around lunch. This time, he returned with a basket filled with berries and mushrooms. We swears they’re safe, but I’m dubious. I wouldn’t trust a survival book that easily. Still, he insists on grilling the mushrooms and serving the berries on the side. It does sound rather tasty, though.

I can smell them on the grill, cooking now. I am interested to see if they’re toxic. Only one way to find out, I suppose.

NOTE: The bed needs new sheets, and we need gauze. We’re running low on furs, too. It might be time to start Gathering again? Maybe Dan can teach me how to Hunt? I just won’t use spring traps, though.

Never again, I swear to god. Never again.

Entry #23:
Too Many Chefs

Dan thinks I’m being unreasonable. I need to weigh this one out on paper.

The Situation: He left without telling me one morning while I was away, choring at the river. When he came back, he had a book back full of loot. Literally everything we needed, too. Soap, gauze, booze, more paper and pencils… Even metal file clamps to keep everything neat.

I’m not going to say I’m not happy we have the new supplies, but he went Gathering without me. He said I’d be “too many chefs in the kitchen.”

I’m furious! He shouldn’t have left me. He’s still recovering! It’s only been a month and a half since the incident with the trap! He needs to chill out. Dan is just plain showing off now!

Ways I Might Be Unreasonable:

-As he said, we’re not dating, and I’m not his mom. I have no say over what he does.
-He’s a grown up, and he can decide what he wants to do.
-Dan’s healing is impressive, I’ll admit. He really doesn’t seem to need me for anything anymore.
-Dan: “I don’t want to just sit there and suffer while you Mommy me to death.” Okay, valid point.
-He says he’s “Handicapped, not crippled. I need to back off.” …I guess I respect that, and agree, but he doesn’t need to be “crippled” to need help. Everyone needs help sometimes. I know I do.
-I’m strangely bitter about the “too many chefs” remark. WTF does that supposed to mean?

Ways I’m Reasonable:

-He has one foot, and limps with a homemade cane. He’s in no condition to walk alone. Dan’s rebuttal is that it’s unfair to judge his capability on his disability, which is a good point, but fails in the face of the fact that I’ve literally seen him fall down twice this morning alone before he even left on his little adventure. Rebuttal: Why do I care so much? He’s an adult.
-The man needs more exercise and time to heal. The wound is still a huge, deep scab. It’s barely even scarring. Just scabbing over, likely from moving around too much. It’s clean and not infected in anyway, and is healing nicely otherwise. It’s crazy to think he’s robbing people right now. Even if it is just Gathering. If he gets his nub wet, I fear it’ll get infected. This entire forest is dripping in dew for most of the morning, when he decides to run off most.
-Dan has recently taken up fishing. It’s bad enough he’s risking falling into that water, but now Gathering, too? I think he should pick one dangerous activity, and stick to that until he heals better. Rebuttal: That’s not my call to make. Should I let him do what he’s going to do in peace? I’m going to chase him off if I try to protect him too much.

Question: Why do I care so much about this? Why am I bothered about “chasing him off?”

Possible Answers:

1: I’m scared to be alone. Loneliness scares me significantly. I think this plays a huge factor in my need to protect Dan.

2: I care about him as a person, despite what he had tried to do to me. These feelings are mostly platonic. Mostly. I just honestly don’t want to see him get hurt.

3: I might be developing feelings for him. It could be just lust, though. I’m feeling weird feelings about him either way, that’s for sure. They’re complicated, and I haven’t really explored them yet. It’s still such a weird and new concept to me that I might like Dan. I’m almost scared to think about it deeper. Rebuttal: To me, he is the last man on earth. This is likely a factor in my infatuation with Dan. It’s not like I have many choices to choose from.

Question: How do I actually feel, deep down, for Dan? Honestly?

Answer: I’m staring at the page, unsure of what to say.

Question: What would I do if Dan left and never came back? What would I do if I actually lost him?

Answer: I think it’s telling as I wrote that question, that I think of it as “losing him.” It’s clear I care about him deeply.

Question: If I’m in love with Dan, what am I so scared of?

Possible Answers:

1: Him not sharing the same feelings. Rebuttal: How will I know if I don’t ask? Side Note: Dan’s point earlier was “I’m not his girlfriend and I’m not his mom, so I have no say in his life.” What if I were his girlfriend? Would I have a say then?

2: He might leave. Unbearable. I swear to god. Unbearable. I don’t know how I’ll take it. This makes confession a very big gamble. One that I find irresistible.

Question: What is the end game of these feelings?

Answer: Exploration of our relationship, to see if these emotions are valid.

Conclusion:

1: I’m only being unreasonable if I’m not his girlfriend. I’d like to be his girlfriend, honestly.

2: I care about Dan enough to at least want to confess my feelings to him. Sooner than later.

3: I should confess my affection to Dan in a timely manner, knowing the finite nature of luck in this new world.

4: Perhaps a confession of affection to Dan will curb his adventurism slightly. Not a lot, hopefully. Just so it’s not as dangerous as it is presently.

5: I know that at very least that I want to fuck Dan, but my heart honestly wants more, the more I think about it. It could be “Last Man on Earth” syndrome, but I have no idea of knowing for certain. Not until this is explored further. I’m not as platonic leaning with him as I thought I was.

6: I’m presently smothering him, and I need to stop, or I’m going to lose him either way.

7: He is a grown man. Even if he gets hurt or dies, I have to respect the fact that he’s his own complete human being, and I have no say over what he does.

8: I need to respect it if he wants me, or not.

…Okay, so, here’s the plan. Dan is in buzzing around the cabin right now, putting things away as I sit here in my fur pallet. Things are delightfully quiet here. I’m going to take my chance, and shoot my shot, as they used to say.

Here goes…`

Entry #24:
The Kiss

Dan kissed me.

I told him my conclusion, showed my math and everything, and he laughed at me, then kissed me softly on the lips. I’ve never been so equally insulted and seduced by a single gesture so much in my entire life. I wanted to ask him why he was laughing at me, but I fell into his kiss before I could.

I was lost. Enamoured. For someone who loves words, I have nothing for this. I still won’t call this love, but it sure is something. I don’t think English has a strong enough word for it. When Dan pulled away, I wanted desperately to grab him, and pull him back in, but refrained from indulging in such a raw instinct.

Dan sat down on the bed, and held my hand softly. He confessed he felt for me pretty early on, but didn’t know if it was just the guilt of trying to trap me. I get it. He’s a Hunter, and was starting to see other people as prey. I can forgive it easily because it was the nature of his survival before he met me.

He swore he’d never hurt me, and you know what? I believe him completely. I finally believe him one hundred percent, and it means everything to the both of us because we’re actually doing this. We’re re-learning love in a loveless, sick, dangerous place. He says he’s ready to give us a chance, but there is one caveat:

This doesn’t mean I have “too big” of a say in what does or doesn’t do…

I can’t help but respect that.

Entry #25:
SHOPPING LIST

“SHOPPING LIST:”

Gauze and tape
Disinfectant spray
A 50 foot measuring tape
Sanitation pads for “heavy flow” days
We need to start Gathering winter clothes ASAP
Mason Jars for Canning the Crop

Entry #26:
Romance Blooming

Dan and I have decided to take things nice and slow. He doesn’t know if he feels the way he does over guilt, and I don’t know if I do because I’m scared to be alone. Either way, we can’t deny our at least slightly amorous feelings for each other.

We’ve come to an agreement that we’re stuck together. Lifetime pact. I take care of him. He takes care of me. Even when we are fighting or disagreeing, even when things are hard: We’re going to stick it out because either as a couple or as platonic partners, because we both need something from the other that we can’t live without.

All I know is this: He’s grown attached to me, and needs me to help him just in case he’s ever sick or gets an infection. I need him because I’m attached, and dying alone sounds dreadful. It’s a bizarre arrangement, but there’s a lot of promise here.

As for romance, that needs to come naturally.

Entry #27:
Date Night

We went Gathering today, and brought back quite a bounty. I guess nobody ever thought to raid a Natural History Museum! It was practically untouched, likely since before the Power Grid Event. There was a lot of rotten food sitting out on tables and fridges in the cafeteria, but we found a jackpot in their pantry.

Boxes and bags of various dry foods, cereals, sugars, honey and condiment packets of all kinds… But best of all? Sodas, bottles of water, snacks, juices, chips, energy bars, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

The gift shop was the real motherload. We got our hands on things like soaps, toilet paper, trash bags, rubber gloves, CD players and flashlights that run on batteries, batteries for a lifetime, and all the clothes we need for a few seasons, if we’re careful with them. Hoodies, sweat pants, t shirts, PJs, tennis shoes and socks…

We lost our shit when we went to the garage and found their truck and hauler trailer, complete with their own gas pump. Dan checked both to see if they were still in working order. There was even gas still in both the truck and the pump.

Loading our pilfered goods into the back of the truck, the two of us made it back to the cabin, hopefully without being seen. We had cleared the entire museum, and even gotten a few gallons of extra gas stored, too, to get us back when we’ve depleted our current fuel supply and we need to return to the garage for more.

Dan and I make an amazing team. I sensed a real spark between us as we wandered around the museum together, casually looking at the artifacts. It almost felt like a normal, run of the mill, pre-apocalypse date, but we were like Bonnie and Clyde as we slipped away in the silence of night.

It was an amazing first date.

Entry #28:
The Promise

A second kiss. This one was better than the first, believe it or not. We were sitting in the bed together as if it were a couch. He was reading. I was reading over my journal pages, contemplating over my writing, studying them to learn more about myself.

I heard him say “Molly?” as softly as a hummingbird’s chirp. When I turned up to look at him, Dan kissed me again. This time, it was like lightning and thunder deep inside me.

Lust filled every inch of my body. I stiffened in fear. I wasn’t sure what to do with this sudden tidal wave of emotions. My tongue slipped in between your lips, and you moaned breathlessly, kissing me deeper. More passionately than before.

I felt Dan pressing himself against me tighter, his arms wrapping around me, enveloping my small frame into much larger body until I barely knew where he began and I ended. We felt like one as he held me. I felt safe. Nothing could ever hurt me as long as I’m with him.

I knew that in my bones as he kissed me. Dan’s kiss was like a promise to always keep me safe from harm, and defend me from the evils of this sick new world.

All I could do was sigh contently as he pressed a single palm to my breast, squeezing me softly, caressing me as if I’m the most precious and delicate thing he’s ever had in his hands before.

I’ve never felt so safe than in that moment. So alive. So needed. I listened to my lover’s breath become labored with need as I kissed him even more.

The way his hands slid down over my chest, exploring me… It sent me in a daze. I was drunk on lust. I can admit that now. In the moment, I had no idea what it was. It was as if Dan was making me high.

If I’m not careful, I’ll no doubt become addicted. Maybe I already am.

It felt like we kissed for hours. I wanted more, but I waited for Dan to make the first move to venture onward. When we stayed to making out and heavy petting, I was content with it.

I could ride on the high of his kisses forever. We ended up falling asleep like that. We were entwined in each other, my head on his chest, legs hanging off a bed far too small for the both of us.

I could not ask for more.

Entry #29:
The Romance Blooms

Dan is making us lunch after a day of farming with me. Fish and mushrooms, both freshly procured by my sweetheart, himself. He’s been remarkable, despite everything he’s been through.

The grill is fired up. Everything smells incredible. A lovely texture of aromas are whafting into through the open door, reaching me in our bed as I write. We rely less and less on the MREs these days, hoarding our dry foods for harsher times.

I’m being served. I’ll be right back…

Okay. Fast forward over a plate of barbeque fish and mushrooms: Dan and I are full, simply basking in each other’s glow. Young love is kind of nice, isn’t it? It’s moments like this that mean the most to me. It makes me feel most alive despite all the death and despair in this world.

Addendum to a Previous Statement: I no longer wonder if I’m in love with Dan. I know I am, beyond the shadow of a doubt. I just don’t know what to do with this newfound knowledge. It’s more than clear to me that the feeling is mutual.

I’ll always miss my husband, but it’s time to find love again. Life is far too short. Especially these days. I want to believe he’d like Dan, and that the kids would have accepted him. It strangely enough gives me comfort to think about that.

Entry #30:
The Husband

We finally made love for the first time, and it was everything I’ve ever wanted it to be…

I was washing clothes by the river when I noticed him staring at me from his spot on a tree stump only a few feet away. Dan had the most intense look on his face. Frankly, I couldn’t read him. I put the shirt that I was washing down, and asked him if he was okay.

Dan motioned for me to come to him, so I got up from my spot at the river bank, and walked to his side. Leaning on his cane, he stood up and kissed me. It was so soft, so sweet, and so loving that my eyes fluttered shut. All I could do was let myself fall deeper in love.

Leaning on me, he lead me back to the cabin, and sat on the bed. I asked Dan again if he was okay. His eyes were serious, piercing with intensity. It took him what felt like forever to finally answer me.

“If we do this… It’s forever. We are forever. Do you understand?” Dan looked almost scared. “You know my past. Molly, you know my faith. If we do this, it’s a covenant between you and I. A marriage contract signed in flesh. Do you agree?”

My heart skipped a beat in that moment.

I thought for a moment before whispering solemnly, “I do.”

Dan’s kiss this time was different. The hesitation, the fear… it was gone. All I could feel was my lover’s passion for me. I felt him lean back, balancing himself against the wall, breaking the kiss long enough to start unbuttoning my shirt. Every single time our lips touched, it was like lightning. I couldn’t help but feel shocked, almost overwhelmed by the power of his kisses.

Once my clothes were removed, I slowly, so slowly, stripped off his shirt, teasing his chest with kisses all the while. When I began to pull off his pants, he let out an audible wince. I asked Dan if I had hurt him, but he said no. He just felt ashamed and lessened by his amputation.

My response was to kiss his leg, just under the knee, but well above of his injury.

“You are perfect. So perfect…”

I’ll never forget the little growl that escaped his throat as I said that.

“Lay back, baby… Lay back and let me do the work…” I whispered in his ear. Dan complied, spreading out over the mattress, ready for me to take control. I climbed on top of him, kissing my man as I reached between us to slide him inside me.

Dan’s fingers grasped my hips and he sucked in a breath as we finally became one. All I could do was let out a moan of pure pleasure. This was, and is, everything I’ve ever wanted and more. I buried my face into his neck and chest, and show that man exactly how much I loved him.

I became lost in my new husband’s passion, our kisses and moans filling the afternoon air. Dan had never kissed me so deeply, so abandonly before. He was lost in the desire, and was finally submitting to it after months of self denial.

I couldn’t remember being so happy than I was looking down at him, his eyes locked on mine, knowing that I was his everything, and I was his, and I would never have to be alone again… Not as long as Dan was there to be with me.

I’ve never had an orgasm at the same time as someone before… Until that first time with Dan. Covered in sweat, I collapsed on top of him, kissing my lover before settling into his chest.

I apologized for being heavy, but he laughed, saying it was okay. There’s no room to cuddle otherwise. I smiled and somehow managed to fall asleep like that.

This was a few hours ago. He’s since left to go clean himself up… I’m laying in bed, writing, because I don’t want to forget a moment of this day.

Entry #31:
Gardening

It’s sundown now, and Dan is out checking is rope traps for rabbit. I just ate. Fish and mushrooms again, but I’m thankful. I just wish we had more food options, that’s all. It’s always “rabbit and mushrooms” or “fish and mushrooms.” We can’t justify hunting deer, though, because it’s only the two of us. It’s not sustainable, as tempting as it may be.

I’m also tempted to get into the MREs and dried food, but that’s a bad idea. We need those for when the weather gets rough. I find myself missing bread most of all. We have jars of peanut butter, fruit preserves, but no bread. Only crackers. If I ever find any flour that’s good enough to use, or we get the chance to farm wheat, I’m making bread for PB&J.

Speaking of farming, I’m overjoyed to tell you it’s doing great. We’re going to have to do the final harvest of the season soon. The leaves are starting to slowly change from green to orange. I think I might get on that after I finish here, actually. I’d hate for us to get hit by a sudden frost, and we lost our crop. It’ll be such a waste of onions, potatoes, strawberries, and corn.

Entry #32:
The Harvest

12 onions
8 corn
32 strawberries
3 onions

…It’s something to something. I’m happy with it. Over all, things could be worse. I’m pretty thankful we even had anything grow at all. I mean, I’m no farmer, that’s for fucking sure. I’m shocked anything managed to grow at all.

Time to get to jarring.

Entry #33:
Lust

I’m addicted to this man. Dan is under my skin. The weather is getting colder, so we’re both spending more time inside of the cabin. This translates to us spending hours and hours keeping each other warm.

Without getting too deep into Dan’s personal life, he’s not very experienced in sex. I’m given the pleasure of teaching him everything I know.

Married life looks good on us, despite everything. It’s not just the sex, though. There’s more. Dan is fiercely romantic. He tells me he loves me non-stop. He cooks for me, bathes with me, and is careful to apologize when wrong. I’m made to feel like a queen on a daily basis, and honestly, it’s addictive. I’m doing my best to be just as good for him.

I love the way he stares at me quietly as I write. I’m sitting here now, paper in my lap, and he’s staring again. I can never tell what he’s thinking. I love his mystery. I love that though he’s so guarded and walled in emotionally, but when we’re making love, he lets himself go.

He allows himself to be free with me. Dan makes me feel complete. I can tell he feels the same way. Even if I can’t tell what’s on his mind, I don’t doubt I’m never too far from his thoughts.

That means more to me than I can say.

Entry #34:
NOTES

1: Clean out cabin from top to bottom before the first frost settles in.

2: Dust everything and air out the cabin. It’s getting really musky.

3: Update “Shopping List”

4: Make an inventory list

5: Fix Dan’s socks

Entry #35:
Late

I just realized I haven’t had a period this month. I’m nervous… and kind of excited. I’ll be talking about this with Dan later. I need to think about how I’m going to say this.

PRO: Baby

-I want one.
-If I’m pregnant, there’s not a whole lot I can do about it except be thankful.

CON: Baby

-It’s the apocalypse, and would be selfish to bring life into this world.
-Despite being comfortable here for a while now, it’s still not safe enough for a baby.
-Baby cries lure Marauders.
-Burden on supplies.
-Giving birth without a doctor will be dangerous.
-No prenatal care or vitamins.
-I’ll go insane if anything bad happens to that baby.
-What if the baby is special needs, and I’m not equipped to give them adequate care?
-What if it’s a multiple birth pregnancy? I don’t think we could handle the pressure as a couple.
-No help. No babysitters. No backup. We’ll be completely on our own, with no breaks or date nights.

Question: If I’m not pregnant, should I take steps at prevention?

Answer: I don’t know. I suppose it would be wise, despite my desire to be a mother again.

CONCLUSION: If I’m pregnant, I’m pregnant. If I’m not, I should still talk to Dan about prevention. At least for right now, until we can figure out where to go from here. Our current situation isn’t suitable for a newborn. That said, I really miss motherhood, and I think Dan would make an outstanding father.

Entry #36:
Murderer

I spoke to Dan, and he dropped a bombshell on my entire life as I know it. At first, it went so well, but things went tits up quicker than I could have ever imagined.

Dan was so excited at the concept of being a father. He hugged and kissed me, and even told me how much he loved the idea that I could be carrying his baby. My nerves were instantly soothed. I asked him, “What are we going to do about baby supplies? Bottles, blankets, and things like that?” His answer broke my heart.

My new husband told me of a family he killed before we met me. A woman and a baby in Boston. He said he left their bodies in the car in the middle of the woods. Inside the car, he said we’d find everything we’d ever need.

All I could do was ask “Why did you kill them?”

“They were stealing from me,” he said, “Gathering my goods. I took back what they took, and blasted them for theft. You know I’m not like that anymore. I feel terrible, but I’m being pragmatic right now. We could take their supplies. Besides,” Dan quipped casually, “That baby would stop crying each and every night. Something had to be done, either way.”

I pulled away, grabbed my journal, and left without another word. Right now, I’m sitting down river from the cabin, collecting my thoughts. Did he do it? Was he the bastard who murdered the mother and baby? I can’t believe this is happening. I think I’m going crazy.

Question: What if Dan DID kill the Mom and Baby?

Answer: Justice needs to be served, but this is Dan we’re talking about here! I can’t “punish” my own husband! I’m so lost and confused.

Question: How do I find out for sure?

Answer: I should have him take me to the car in the forest. If it’s hers, I think I need to consider my options now, while I still have time. If he did do this, I don’t think we should be together anymore, either way. I don’t want that man raising our future children. The real question is, can I live without the love of my life? Honestly, I think I could stop loving him if I find he was the killer. I don’t remember ever being this angry before. Especially at him.

NOTE: No matter what, whether he killed the Mom and baby or not, he still admittedly murdered “a” mother and child out there somewhere, and don’t forget, Dan and I met because he was trying to kill me, too.

I have the feeling I should have killed him while I had the chance.

Entry #37:
Guilty

I’m in shock. He’s in bed snoring right now, having fallen asleep likely wondering why I am so furious at him. We have the boxes of baby supplies in our truck right now, and yes, they belonged to her. Yes, her. My husband, after a long drive, followed by a meandering, lengthy hike, brought me to the woman’s car.

His prediction was correct. The vehicle remained exactly as it was when I left it. The poor mom was still surrounded by boxes of baby things, still holding her dead child. They were rotten now beyond recognition, parts of skull and bone slowly being exposed from decomposition.

Callously, my husband went to work, stripping the small car of anything we could use while I just stood there, stunned and confused. Dan asked me why I wasn’t helping. I told him that I needed to sit, and I got into our truck, fighting tears. I didn’t let myself weep for the poor mother and child until I knew he was sleeping. I didn’t need him knowing how furious I am. Not yet, anyway. Not until I know what I’m going to do.

As I write this, the tears are finally falling free, because that’s just the thing; I don’t know what I’m going to do! My husband is a fucking monster. I’ve always known, but he’s never been so in my face about being terrible before. I don’t know how I’m supposed to take this.

My heart is broken. Justice needs to be served, no matter how I feel. He’s a murderer.

Part of me wants to take him out while he’s sleeping. It would be easy to do it, too. Everyone’s vulnerable when they’re sleeping. But then, I’m reminded of my pact with him… We’re in this together.

Forever. Even if we’re not getting along, we still have to be there for each other. If I knew he was capable of doing this particular crime, of all things, I’d never, ever have taken that vow. I feel foolish. I’m a fucking idiot.

I’m thinking about the Mom and Baby right now. They’d be alive right now if it weren’t for someone who may very well have helped give life to a baby of my own. I’m horrified. Devastated. This is the worst thing that has happened since the death of my first family.

PROS: Killing Dan

-I genuinely believe he deserves it.
-It feels like the right thing to do. I mean, come on! He killed the Mom and Baby!
-He’s a killer. He’s killed before, and he’ll kill again.
-I’m in danger! I know what he’s capable of now, and he can do this to me, too!
-Any future kids of ours will also be in danger.

CONS: Killing Dan

-I can’t help but still love him.
-I’ll need help raises his baby, if I’m pregnant.
-It’s not my place to choose who lives and dies.
-Murder is wrong.
-It could backfire, and he kills me instead.

CONCLUSION: Requires further thought.

Entry #38:
Fall, in Full Force

It’s still cold, and it’s only getting colder. Not just in weather, but in mood. Dan can tell there’s something wrong with me. Each time he reaches out to touch me, I recoil in disgust. I think I love him still, but it’s complicated now.

I wish I had never met him. Or better, had, as I’ve said before, killed him when he was still in the snap trap.

The feelings of disgust and love are so intertwined now that I don’t even know if I’ll ever be able to separate the two ever again. I never knew it was possible to hate and love someone at the exact same time, but here we are.

I think I know what to do, but it feels wrong. Frankly, I don’t want to live without Dan. I can’t fool myself. I will miss him when he’s gone. I know how selfish that is, but I can’t help myself. I wonder if I can ever learn to forgive him. I wonder if I should even try?

In Other News: Our meager fuel rations have been nearly depleted, so it’s time for Dan and I to do a trip over to the museum. We hope the pump remains undiscovered.

Entry #39:
Fuel Run

I snapped. God help me, I snapped hard. As we were getting fuel from the Museum’s basement, Dan asked me if I’d gotten my period yet. He was pumping fuel into gallon jugs when he randomly popped out with that question. I found it off putting and completely random to bring that up as casually as he did.

Dan said that he has been thinking a lot lately about being a father, and was excited at the prospect. When I said “I don’t know,” he pushed on, asking me exactly when I’d know for sure. Well, I don’t know, and it’s not like I have a doctor I can go to for these things. My answer didn’t satisfy him.

My husband continued. “Well, I want to know. I don’t want to make the same mistakes as a lot of parents out there.”

“Oh, like what? What are the common mistakes people make?” I was genuinely curious on what his answer was. What Dan ended up telling me was very telling:

“Well, my love, for one, that mom and baby from the car the other day? That didn’t need to happen. She actually brought her baby to go Gathering. What a fucking fool. The baby cried, alerting me to her looting my shit. She escaped with my stuff at first… but that night, all I had to do was follow the wailing. We aren’t going to make that mistake. No, Ma’am.”

I was horrified. Dan had his back to me, and I took advantage by ripping his cane from his hands, knocking him to the ground with a crackening thud. He asked me what the fuck I was doing, but baby as I beat Dan to death with the very cane I made him.

Dan tried to fight, but after the 5th direct head shot, he could only fall over and guard his head with his arms. This didn’t stop me. I kept going and going and going… I didn’t stop until I could see the inside of his skull, and his only movement was his foot twitching wildly for a moment before going still, as well.

I had killed the only person I had in my life, but I didn’t know what else to do. If I’m carrying his child, there’s no way in hell, I’d allow him to help me raise it. No way in hell.

I hope the Mom and Baby can finally rest in peace knowing the man who killed them is dead.

Entry #40:
Widowed Life

It’s nice sleeping in the bed again. It smells like Dan, but that will surely fade with time. I have the front door open, airing the place out. I’ve dusted and cleaned the cabin, but it still has the smell of sex and my dead husband’s feet all throughout it.

The cold wind blowing in is surprisingly welcomed right now. It’s almost cleansing.

Crying seems like the most logical thing to do right now, but I can’t seem to shed anymore tears. My husband and sole companion is dead. Dead, because I killed him. I’m going to have to live with that, wandering forever if I had done the right thing or not.

After all, I don’t want a killer so close to my children… Even if I’m not pregnant, I knew for a fact that I didn’t want a baby with him anymore. Not after knowing what he had done…

What if I had actually confronted him with my feelings, though? Would things have gone differently?

Entry #41:
Relief

I’m not pregnant. I woke up this morning, covered in blood. I’m more relieved than anything. I guess you could say I’ve taken off the rose colored glasses. This is no world for a baby, and I can’t delude myself of anything otherwise.

I’ve dumped the baby shit and Dan’s personal effects far away from my camp. I really don’t want to have to look at that junk anymore. It breaks my heart, and I can’t take much more pain right now. I am reaching my threshold. I can feel it. To ease the pain, I’ve purged myself of everything that reminds me of anyone who’s dead and gone.

Healing is so important right now. I need to heal. I just don’t know how.

What am I supposed to do? I can’t exactly go to therapy. If I can’t get over it, what am I supposed to do? I can’t live with this filth in my veins. I won’t make it long if I don’t figure myself out, and soon. I have so much to work through and think about. God help me, what have I done? What the fuck did I do? Why did I do this? I shouldn’t have lost my temper. I’m no better than him now. I’m just a killer.

Entry #42:
Months Go By

It’s full blown winter now. Several feet of snow have engaged the entire cabin, blocking my exit, even if I wanted to leave. Plot Twist: I don’t want to leave. I’d rather just stay in bed, if I’m being honest. There’s nothing for me out there, I assure you. I have all the food, water and firewood I need.

I haven’t written in awhile. I didn’t feel like it. Nothing matters to me, not even my journal. Besides, there was nothing of note to chronicle, anyway. No “visitors,” so to speak, or any sign of intelligent life whatsoever.

Not even the sound of cars on the road. It’s eerie. You’d think you’d hear something other than the winter wind pounding the roof, but no. Nothing at all.

Boredom is hitting me in full force, but I am not going to be able to get out of here for a while. I might as well get comfortable. I know I should address what happened at the museum, but I’m pushing it off. Frankly, I’m not ready to even think about it.

NOTE: I’m so thankful for having saved the MREs during the summer months. Right now, I’m having piping hot beef stew and cornbread, due to my careful planning. I feel very proud of myself. I still have several of these. Not a winter’s worth, but there’s still enough crackers and dried goods to hold me until spring. Or I hope so…

Entry #43:
Suicidal Thoughts

What have I done? Seriously? I still can’t believe I’ve taken a human life in cold blood like that? And worst of all, it was someone that I loved so passionately! I’m the monster. Not him. I’m trapped here, in this cage, thinking about what I’ve done only because there’s nothing else to do. I can’t write without wanting to write about him.

You don’t know how many pages I’ve crumpled up and thrown away because I’m tired of writing about Dan. I keep jumping back and forth between “he had it coming” and “my poor baby.” I can’t get my mind right on this, and it’s driving me crazy.

Every time the door rattles in the wind, I think it’s Dan. I miss him with every beat of my heart, but I’m also thankful that I’ll never have to see him again. This is a shame I fear I’ll likely carry until I’m dead and gone, too.

I shudder and cringe to think that it’s going to be decades before I finally pass. Why can’t it be sooner? Why shouldn’t it be? By my own logic, I deserve to die now, too. Maybe I should?

Entry #44:
Flood

I have just woken up to several inches of water on the floor. Even though the fire went out hours ago, the cabin is unseasonably hot. When I opened the door, I realized that the several feet of snow that caked around the cabin has almost completely melted, flooding it with water from below.

The roof was still water-proof, but not the door. When the waterline rose high enough from the snow melting on the outside, the flooding began to pool inside my home itself.

I think the ranger who had this cabin before me knew this, and that’s why everything was in waterproof boxes when I arrived. It’s like the cabin was built in the middle of a dirt basin. I don’t know how to get the water out. I feel in over my head right now.

As ashamed as I am to admit this, I have to say that I wish Dan was here. He’d know what to do. I’m so scared, and I wish I had someone here who knew how to fix this problem. What if this causes mold that damages the cabin? What if this causes rot that will make the entire structure collapse? I don’t know how to fix this. I think I’m having a panic attack right now.

At least I managed to save my journal from water damage. This is why I store it in an old Zip Lock. Keeping it in plastic has been really helpful, especially when I’m out and it begins to rain.

Entry #45:
The Ranger and His Sister

I managed to get the flooding under control. I dug out a channel around the cabin so that the water had a place to escape. Then, I mopped the floor, drying the wooden walls and cabinets to the best of my ability. As I was wrapping up, I heard a car in the distance.

This is the first time I’ve heard any life outside of birds and deer in months. If “Fight or Flight” is actually a thing, then you could say that I “flew.” I didn’t care what the car was doing or where it was going, I just knew that I didn’t want any part of it.

Quickly, to quell my nerves, I had begun to get my writing supplies together, but I had to stop when I realized the car was getting closer. And closer… And closer… Soon it sounded like the car was just outside of my cabin before it stopped. I heard the motor idle for a moment before someone killed it.

The car door opened, and I heard wet, heavy footsteps in the mud, slowly approaching my door. Then, I heard another car door open and close. I held my breath as a second set of footsteps followed suit.

I heard them talking, but I couldn’t make out any words.

When I heard the door knob rattle, my heart skipped a beat.

I heard a man’s voice say “Look at that! Someone really fortified the place! There’s even bear traps at the windows! The windows are boarded from the inside, too! Smart!”

Another voice said “Do you think he’s still inside?” This one belonging to a woman.

“I’d say so! This looks like it’s not our cabin anymore, Kate!”

The woman, who’s name I now can assume is Kate, sounded mad. “NO! This is a Ranger’s cabin! You were the ranger it was assigned to! That technically makes it your cabin, doesn’t it?”

The man laughed. “I haven’t been back here since I went looking for you, Sis. It took me almost a year to locate your sorry ass!” His tone was jovial. “I couldn’t assume such prime real estate would stay vacant. It’s fine. Any food or supplies I had in there are likely gone now. Let’s just leave.”

“No, Steve! It’s our cabin! Whoever is in there needs to go! We need the shelter!”

Steve wasn’t having it. “No. Whoever is in there likely made that their home, and we’re not taking someone’s home. Let’s go. There’s still Dad’s houseboat over at the harbor. We can still try that, right?”

Kate sighed. “Yeah, yeah…” That’s when Kate noticed my truck. I had it hidden in the tall grass, but it’s not that hard to spot. “Hey, maybe that car has some supplies in it we can take! Hell, I need a car, myself!”

I tensed up. Oh, god, please, don’t take my truck, I chanted softly to myself. Luckily for me, Steve managed to steer his sister away from it like a champ. He reminded her that if she touched it, someone will likely come out and defend the car with their lives.

He’s wrong, but I’m glad she came to her senses, because with that, I heard them walk away, get in their car, and drive off.

Entry #46:
Strange Fish

I suppose the seasons changed early this year because it has to be at least 60 degrees right now. I was taking advantage of the bizarre weather by fishing. However, when I arrived to my usual spot by the river, I found a man there, half submerged in the water. It looked like he was nearly drowned, and had crawled out of the river by the sheer will to live.

Though scared, I ran up near him, but not too close for fear that it could be a trick. His breathing was shallow, and he had bubbles slowly forming in his nostrils each time he exhaled a breath. I stood there for a moment, thinking, weighing my options.

I could leave him there, or put him out of his misery. I could take him in and try to nurse him to health, but he could be a thief or another killer. I had no way of knowing.

Eventually, I realized that I couldn’t kill him or let him die, so I was left with only one option. I checked him to see if he needed CPR. He didn’t. So, then, asked him what he needed from me. To my shock, he actually answered back. “…Food. Starving.”

There was no hesitation. I helped him up and lead him to my cabin. Then, I laid him on my fur pallet, gave him a blanket, and served him an MRE. This one was Beef Stroganoff, Coffee and Mint Tea, with a cup of Lime Jello. He devoured it quickly, all while telling me how he had just escaped a gang of Marauders. After weeks of slavery, “Kevin” as he called himself, managed to liberate himself via the river, but nearly drowned in the process.

He won’t talk about what they made him do as a slave, but I think I can guess. There are thick bite marks all over his back. I’ve given him some spare sweats and socks, pilfered from the museum gift shop. I didn’t have any shoes for him, though. I would have given them to him if I had. He’s been through so much, it’s the least I can do.

Kevin told me to be careful. That with the weather change, it’s likely the Marauders are going to start exploring the woods and nature reserves, looking for Gatherer camps. He had overheard his jailors talking about it in detail over cards. After thanking him for the information, Kevin insisted that it was time for him to go.

I was shocked. How was he going to leave without shoes on? The stranger assured me that it was okay. That he’ll be fine. He says he’ll find a pair while Gathering, no doubt, but I have my suspicions that this will prove harder than it seems. All the same, he left, no matter what I thought about it.

Entry #47:
My Truck Was Stolen!

I can’t believe this. It’s literally the middle of the night right now, and I just heard the sound of my engine being hotwired. Too afraid to move, the bastard drove away with my only means of transportation. I swear to god, I fucking hate people. I’m almost glad I rarely have to deal with them. Every time I do, shit like this happens.

I wouldn’t be shocked if it was “Kate” from before. Fuck her.

Entry #48:
Joyriders

I can hear the thieves spending their night playing with my truck. Their mirth is echoing all through the forest. Jokes on them for when it runs out of gas. I have a gallon here, hidden in my cabin for emergencies. Once I located wherever they abandon it, I’ll have my truck back, with enough gas to get me to the pump at the museum.

My stomach just dropped writing that. Oh, god. I’ll have to go back there… My husband’s corpse will still be where I left it, too. I’m disgusted. I don’t ever want to go back, but I need the gas. Or at least I will once I return my truck to its rightful place.

Maybe if I’m lucky, on the other hand, I’ll never get my truck back, and I go on about my life without ever having to revisit the museum ever again. Either event is fine by me.

Entry #49:
Out of Gas

The joyriders were driving around, when I heard the truck sputter and stop. The fuel had ran out. I could hear bitching and moaning, before the sound the doors opening and slamming shut. I stayed inside, but listened carefully for any sound.

For several minutes, it was just quiet until the familiar sound of a snap trap goes off, followed by a man’s wails of pain. Unlike last time, though, this guy has buddies with him. Buddies who sound furious. I can hear them inch closer to my cabin, arriving in no time. They tried breaking in, but couldn’t get the door open. They rattled the windows, but I have them secured tightly, boarded with nails and fortified on the inside.

This didn’t deter them.

The man’s wails were hideous and loud, echoing through the forest like a beacon for predators. His friends became more desperate. Finally, one did something I didn’t expect. He knocked.

“Excuse me,” a voice from the other side of the door said, fear in his voice, “We’re sorry about the truck. Our friend is hurt. He’s scared. We all are. We won’t hurt you, we promise. Please, don’t hurt us. We just need first aid for our friend.” His voice was sincere. He sounded young. My heart went out to him, but I wasn’t going to open the door that easily.

I finally said, from the safety of my cabin, “I can’t trust you, but I can help you. The river down the way is very clean, and I have clean clothes hanging to dry. Wet a t-shirt and wrap it tightly around the wound. Then, take one of my sheets, and make a litter to carry him on. Just lift the corners and get him out of here. Go back to your camp, and pray that you won’t have to amputate his foot.”

One of the voices scoffed. “Man, fuck you, bitch.”

His reasonable buddy shushed him before answering me. “You’re safe. I’m not letting my boys attack you, okay? There are 5 of us, but we’re nice guys, just very scared right now. I’m P. With me here is Ian, Paul, Timmy, and the injured dude is Tom Tom. We aren’t going to hurt you. Please, just help us. We don’t know if they are more traps out there. Is it safe to walk through these woods?”

“No,” I answered honestly, “No, it’s not safe here. Those aren’t even my traps. I can see the Hunters are getting closer. I might have to leave here soon, myself, if they come any closer. If you stick to the paths, you won’t step in traps, but you risk being seen. If you go off the beaten path, stay away from tall grass with broken stocks. You’ll likely find traps there. Be safe, guys. I wish you nothing but the best. Sorry I can’t do more.”

“Thank you,” was all he said.

I heard them rushing to my laundry area by the river, likely following my directions. Then, listening carefully, I could hear them slinking away using a beaten path I follow almost daily. If they follow that, they’ll be out of the woods in no time. Their buddy needs to learn to be more quiet, too. Especially in the darkness. In pain or not, he’s putting everyone else at risk with that belly aching!

I’ll retrieve my car in the morning.

Entry #50:
Phineus Kelly

One of the boys from the other night had just caught me by surprise. The “reasonable” one, as I called him before. He found me rock picking in the garden, completely unaware of his presence. I was deep in thought, digging up a rather large rock when I suddenly hear: “Hey. I’m P, or Phineus Kelly, if you feel fancy. Remember me? We met the other day.”

I nearly jumped out of my skin, turning around quickly to look at him. Phineus laughed and apologized for scaring me, but that he needed to thank me for my kindness. Under one arm, he had my sheet folded up neatly. In his other hand, a bouquet of freshly picked flowers. He apologized for the stains of the blanket, smiling fondly all the while.

Phineus is very handsome. Clearly in his 20s, and clean shaven, his long, dusty blond hair is tied back into a black bandana. He looks well fed and clean for someone who’s surviving in the apocalypse.

I didn’t trust him.

I turned to look at my cabin, just in case he was a distraction, but the coast looked clear. When I turned back to look at him, Phineus was nearly pressed up against me, his face inches from mine. His eyes were darker than they were only seconds ago. “I’m sorry. I just haven’t seen a woman since… You know… You’re pretty, do you know that? I did not expect you to be so beautiful.”

“Um, thanks?” I mutter, stepping backwards, tripping on a stone. I lost my balance and ended up falling down in the dirt. Before Phineus was able to do anything, I jumped up and bolted, running to my door. Without looking behind me, I slammed the door shut.

“Go away!” I screamed, but he began to knock on my door with the ease and poise of a Kirby vacuum salesman.

“Don’t be like that, baby!” He said through the door. “I just want to talk.”

“Please, go away! I have a rifle, and I know how to use it!” It’s true. I did. I had gotten it out and had the piece aimed directly at the door where he was standing. I was ready for war should the bastard break in successfully, with no intention of holding back.

“Sweetheart, you’re making a mistake. We’re apart of the “Tuft Boys,” a gang of Marauders named after our college before the apocalypse. There’s dozens of us, sweetie. If you have my protection, they won’t come for you. All I have to do is say you’re mine, and I can assure you that you won’t lose your nice little home. What do you say?”

There was a pause. I couldn’t fully understand what I was hearing.

After a moment, I slowly opened the door, and he was standing there with the most smug looking expression on his young, handsome face. He knew he had me, and he had me good. The question, however, was what was he going to do with that power? I didn’t have to wait long to find out the answer.

Phineus had pushed his way into my cabin, backing me against the wall while closing the door behind him. “Nice place you’ve got here. You’re going to need me to keep it safe. Do you want to be safe, little lady?”

God, I hated how he spoke down to me. I’m likely 10 years older than this asshole, but I played along for the sake of survival. Using a soft, vulnerable voice, I answered “Yes… Please.”

He smiled, “Oh, she even has manners! That’s adorable. I like that.”

“You’re going to tell them not to attack me or rob my cabin, right?” I chirped, terror etched in my voice.

“Yes. Of course.”

I asked “What do you want from me?” Only I already knew the answer. I didn’t need to ask him to know it. His choice of words and body language said it all. He wanted a submissive little innocent chick to take advantage of. Fucking sicko. I’ll play into his fantasy, if it’ll save my neck, so that’s exactly what I’m going to try to do.

My eyes tightened shut the moment I felt Phineus’ hand cup my breast. He teased my nipple through my shirt, forcing my entire body to cringe in disgust. Fighting the urge to recoil, I stood firm, only whimpering in response to the intimate invasion of my personal space.

When his hand went up my shirt, I gasped, and asked him to stop. Only he didn’t. His hand became more bold as he pressed his body to mine, pinning me place against the wall.

“With a single word, I can take this place from you. By tomorrow morning, it’ll be my new cabin in the woods. Do you want that?”

I cried out “NO!” I felt so foolish. What’s stopping him from taking it anyway? When I told him to do what he wanted, then leave, he moaned darkly, saying in a threatening tone that he “fully intended to.”

Phineus Kelly proceeded to spend the next several hours raping me. It was all a blur, but I’ll try to break it down. This seems like the kind of thing I need to record whether I want to or not. This information might be useful later.

Quick Observations:

He raped me a total of 4 times over the course of maybe 6 hours. I had no way of keeping track without a clock.

Birthmarks: 2 cm in diameter, oddly shaped, inner thigh / Cluster of birthmarks on his hip

Circumsized

Tattoo of a 4 leaf clover on his rib cage

Entry #51:
The First Time

The first time was the worst one by far. After forcibly teasing and sucking my nipples, Phineus practically threw me to the ground, dragging me to the fur pallet by my hair. I was terrified as he forced my legs apart and pulled out a knife, promising that if I stayed still, I wouldn’t be cut.

Then, I heard the sound of my leggings being cut at the crotch. My underwear followed. All I could do was close my eyes tight, and tuck my head into my shoulder as if to hide from what was happening to me.

I heard his zipper. Then, a moan as he slammed himself in me without an ouch of kindness or dignity. I was dry, and screamed out in pain as he stabbed himself inside me over and over like his member was a knife, and that he was trying to kill me with it.

Crying…

I remember a lot of crying at first. Then, I was focused on my breathing. I daydreamed of going on vacation to Africa before the grid went down. I thought of playing Mario 3 on Nintendo when I was just a child. I thought of the taste of peppermint ice cream, and how much fun it is to eat out of a waffle cone…

While my brain flipped through the channels that were a lifetime of memories, I wasn’t able to hide from the horrors of what was happening to my body. I was still painfully aware of everything he was doing to me.

I wondered when it would end. It felt like the asshole was taking his precious time, just to ensure that the last of my self respect was dead and buried by the time he made his final exit. Instead of ending however, Phineus would slow down, pace himself, then only speak up again once he knew he wasn’t going to cum yet.

Finally, after an eternity of edging himself, I let out a moan of relief has he pulled out, and jerked himself off onto my chest and belly. It was the strangest comfort that he pulled out. I’m not going to lie. Especially after what had just happened with Dan. Despite everything, I was thankful at least, for that small mercy of him not finishing inside me.

I pulled a blanket over myself as he got up off me, and I laid back into the furs in silent relief. I thought surely he’d be leaving, but instead, he helped himself to an MRE that I had sitting out on the side table by my bed. Phineus then proceeded to make himself comfortable on my mattress. I knew in that moment that I was in for serious trouble, and it was nowhere near over.

Entry #52:
The Second Time

Phineus pulled out a bag of weed and started breaking down the buds on my side table. He had finished his food, so I had gotten up to throw his MRE trash away, the blanket wrapped around me like a makeshift toga. He laughed and said he could get used to this. All I could do was force a smile and kept cleaning.

As he lit his glass bowl with a match, I asked “So, where did you get weed?” Phineus chuckled and explained how his gang has their own plants. Dozens of them that keeps “his brothers” in constant supply. That’s when he ordered for me to come to him. Helplessly, I walked over, sitting down next to him on my bed.

He then passed the bowl to me. I took it, and looked at him, locking eyes for the first time. He looked mischievous, as if he had a plan I knew nothing about.

“Hit this,” Phineus commanded sternly.

“No…” I responded. When I tried to stand up, he kept me in place with a hand on my thigh. I tried handing it back, but he forced matches in my other hand. “I really don’t like weed. Please. Please, Phineus. Don’t force this issue. I’m begging you. I hate weed. I hate the way it feels. I’ll do anything you ask, I promise. Just don’t make me do this…”

“Did I stutter?”

I sighed, and removed a match from its box before striking it, and raising the bowl to my mouth. As commanded, I took a deep puff, and instantly began to cough my lungs out.

“Again!”

A whimper of protest escaped my lips before he forced the bowl back to my mouth. Another strike of a match… and I inhaled again, far too afraid to disobey him.

Once again, I coughed, and he patted my back softly in a half assed attempt to comfort me. I was woozy. Disoriented. I couldn’t seem to hold any thoughts. Everything I’d think about was instantly forgotten, and it terrified me to no end.

It took me a moment to realize that Phineus had placed the weed on the side table, and had slid his hand inside my blanket toga and under my shirt. He was massaging my breast softly, teasing the nipple in between his thumb and index finger. I had barely even noticed until I looked down and saw him doing it.

“What are you doing to me?” I squeaked out, panicking. I remember thinking it was weird that my voice sounded so high pitched as I cried out in protest.

“I’m not doing anything to you!” He said almost defensively. He was so convincing that I had even believed him for a moment, despite watching him touching my breasts right before my eyes. I was fucked up, and we both knew it. “Doesn’t it feel good, baby?”

“No… I hate this…”

“Well, too bad, baby. Learn to like it, or you’re going to lose everything you hold dear. All I have to do is draw our symbol on your door, and you’re safe. Do you want the symbol, eh?”

This is when things began to get really foggy. I can’t remember the exact dialogue between us, but I was trying to figure out what his endgame was. I can remember that much. I wanted to know what he had planned for me. Phineus had a long explanation, but I don’t remember any of it. The byproduct of being completely stoned.

The next thing I remember, he had pulled my breast out and was sucking on it, teasing it with his teeth. I hissed, and he laughed with my nipple still firmly captured in his mouth. I tried to tell him I didn’t want this, but I knew there was no point. I was going to be abused. If I wanted to live, I had to submit to it.

“Tell me you’re going to be a good girl, and I’ll take good care of you. I promise.” His voice was so serious, so scary that it etched itself in my stoned memory.

All I could do was nod. In response, he let me go.

Phineus stood up, and went to my door, reaching into his pocket. He produced a knife, and after opening the door, he carved a symbol on it for anyone to see. A ram’s head with bones crossed behind it. Then he wrote “PROTECTED BY:” on top, and “PHINEUS KELLY” on the bottom.

Before I knew what he was doing, Phineus was on top of me, forcing my legs back open, this time on the bed. “Tell me you want me inside you.” His voice was deep and menacing. There was a threat in his tone, and a silent promise to harm me if I didn’t give him the correct answer. I had no choice but to give him what he wanted.

“I want you inside me, Phineus. Please… Please… Fuck me…” I choked on the words, but he seemed more than pleased by my attempt to gain his favors. Once again, he took me and all I could do was close my eyes, and think of anything else. Anything at all other than the horrors befalling my body.

Phineus might have been defiling my body, but he had no idea I was far, far away from this cabin right now. I was dancing at a party in my head, pre-apocalypse. Micheal Jackson was playing on an old 90’s boom box for some reason as a bunch of us are badly imitating the “Thriller” dance. The scenes in my head shift to random thing after random thing as a purposeful distraction, giving me a momentary reprieve from the anguish of the real world.

A method of escape that very nearly worked…

While swimming with the sharks, I felt a sudden series of small slaps to my face, as if to wake me up. I could hear Phineus cooing at me… “Oh, no you don’t, pet… Stay here with me… You’re not going anywhere…” I was confused and didn’t know what he meant at first. It was then that I realized that he was still having sex with me. During which, he had noticed that I was no longer with him, so to speak. “Wake up, pretty girl…”

I was awake. Or, rather, NOW I was. The bastard was still thrusting inside me, pumping hard and fast, moaning lasciviously in my ear as he forced me to feel every second of it. To my horror, I began to cry. I don’t remember much from here, but I do recall that he didn’t stop. He was speaking to me, but I blocked it out. I think that’s for the best, honestly.

All I know is I remember his orgasm. It was degrading. He had pulled out again, but this time aimed for my face and hair. I felt defiled, but this somehow wasn’t worse than the first time, at least. I think it’s because of how stoned I was at the time. I think the weed worked as a pretty legit emotional buffer.

Entry #53:
The Third Time

I thought to myself that surely he had to be done now. This couldn’t not continue much longer. He already came twice now. Too afraid to move, I was lying on my bed, my blanket wrapped protectively around my shivering body. I wasn’t cold, though. I was scared and humiliated.

Once again, Phineus smoked a bowl after raping me. I curled up tightly, my head hidden from his view. “Are you going to leave now?”

He grunted. “No.”

“When are you going?” I couldn’t hide the disgust in my tone, as desperately as I tried.

“Soon. I’m not moving in, if that’s what you’re afraid of. But just so you know, never, EVER refuse your doors to me. If I knock, you answer. Do you understand me?”

“May I make a special request, Sir?”

He moaned softly. “You can make it. I may not grant it, though.”

“Just you? Only you, please… I don’t want anyone else touching me… Only you… Please, Phineus… I’m begging you.”

He thought for a minute as he took another hit of his bowl.

“I’ll let them know you’re my girl, but you better behave like it. Don’t embarrass me in front of the boys, or you’re alone. Feel me?” When I nodded, Phineus put his bowl down, and sat at the foot of the bed next to me. “What do you say, hm? If you want my protection, you’re going to have to be mine fully. I’ll give you everything you need, but never, ever question me, flirt, or start a secret affair with any of my brothers without my knowledge. Cuck me, and you won’t want to live to regret it.”

I could only nod and look down, avoiding eye contact. He scared me, but I felt as if I didn’t have a choice but to submit to this mad man’s whims. Randomly, Phineus grabbed my chin and made me look him in the eyes. “Take off your clothes.”

When I scoffed and bemoaned with “Again? Really?” Phineus answered my despair with a slap to the face hard enough to make me see stars. I felt him ripping the rest of my clothes off while I was trying to recover from such a brutal strike to my cheek.

My senses were numbed as he rolled me over onto my belly, and took me from behind. Once again, I have to say I don’t remember much from this. Either I blocked it out, or concussed, or both, I couldn’t tell you. I just knew I had to focus. I needed to figure out a way to survive.

Would this stranger ever actually leave? I thought to myself. What if he tries to take over the cabin? I cried hard enough to hurt my chest, but it wasn’t being raped that made me crack. It was the horror of not knowing when it would end… Or if it ever would.

My tears seemed to fuel his passion, and the harder I’d weep, the more brutal he’d become. I hated everything about this. I hated him. I hated myself for getting into this mess to begin with. I chastised myself for not running while I had the chance, but none of that really mattered. Regardless of what I could have done, I was here… and this was my reality.

I felt Phineus’ hand strike my ass. Then again, and again, and again… I closed my eyes, and curled up the best I could into myself as he raped me from behind like an animal, beating me the entire time. Every few seconds, another painful strike would come down hard enough to make me scream. He only laughed and did it again, moaning and grunting like a sex fiend.

The insults pouring out of his mouth were nauseating. He called me a whore, a slut, a “fleshlight.” I was actually starting to feel like it by the time he came again. This time, however, Phineus didn’t even bother to pull out. He collapsed on top of me, shaking in ecstasy as I fought hard to keep from breaking down into hysterics.

I cried softly from under him, barely able to breathe from the weight of his body on top of mine. “Are you done yet? Please, please, tell me that you’re done… Tell me that you’re leaving soon.”

Phineus started to stroke my hair softly, but in an almost mocking fashion. “I’ll leave tonight, after dinner…”

Entry #54
The Fourth Time

I had to watch as Phineus ate the last of my pudding cups. I was saving those. Not even my husband knew I had them. They were hidden, being saved for a special occasion, and Phineus found them. Each empty plastic cup was licked clean and discarded to the floor for me to clean up. Once he had finished, I assumed that the bastard would be on his way, but he wanted one more thing first…

He waited until my back was turned before coming up from being me, wrapping his arms around my waist. I cringed as Phineus then sniffed my hair like a dog. “I missed this… The scent of a girl’s hair…” When he growled again, I instantly knew what I was in for. I simply stiffened my body in preparation, and prayed that it would be over quickly.

It wasn’t.

This time, it was weird, as though Phineus was trying to be sweet, or something. He kissed my neck softly from behind. In response, I pulled the sheet around me closer to my body, as if to protect what little dignity I had left. I was emotionally drained. I didn’t want to fight anymore.

It was a blur as he pushed me back down on the bed, slipping between me and sheet that covered my body. “I never told you that you’re allowed cover up!” he growled softly against my ear as the sheet flew across the room, landing in a pile on the floor.

Once again, I let my brain wonder. This time, I thought about London. In my mind, I wandered the streets, exploring an imaginary version of the city. I focused on textures and construction materials.

I’ve never been to London, so I’m sure that none of my observations were correct, but it was something to do. I needed to think about anything else, because my reality was slowly driving me insane.

I was through with crying. There simply weren’t any tears left. I let him do what he wanted to me with zero resistance. I just wanted this to be over as quickly as possible. Surely he didn’t have much left in him?

Lucky for me, I was right. The fucker didn’t take very long. Midway through my imaginary tour of the Tower of London, I felt Phineus begin to spasm and shake on top of me, before collapsing, his full weight forcing the air out of my lungs.

Shortly after, Phineus was dressed, and loading some of my food and supplies into his bag. “I’ll be back later,” he said coldly. “If anyone messes with you, tell them you’re under my protection. As long as you don’t break any laws, like Gathering our shit, you’ll be safe.” I gagged as he kissed me goodbye and left.

Immediately, I began to boil water. I needed to wash his noxious smell off of me as soon as possible. That was a few hours ago.

Presently, I’m in bed, journaling.

Side Note: I’m running low on candles, so I’ll have to stop writing at night soon until I can replenish my stock. The concept stresses me out. Nighttime is when I love writing the most. I’d hate to give it up. This is how I get my pain and anger out. This is how I’m able to function every day. I don’t know what I’m going to do without it.

Entry #55
Screams in the Night

Marauders have set up camp nearby. Likely in one or more of the large mansions that line the nature reserve. It’s probably Phineus’ crew.

I woke up this morning to a megaphone blaring. A deep male voice explained “Here, the condemned are lined up before the people and before God, to atone for their crimes. Emily Forte, Don Cartright, Gene Cartright, Andrew Lux, and Miles Johnson, you have been sentenced to death for Gathering. Men, raise your weapons!”

There was a pause before finally, he yelled “FIRE!”

Bullets pierced through the silence as I buried my face into the blankets in horror. They are now close enough for me to hear their executions. I have to leave. I don’t know where I’m going to go, but I need to figure this out quickly or I’m going to die here, too. I’ve got to brainstorm, and come up with a strategy before I try anything, though.

Question: Should seriously consider leaving?

PROS:

No Phineus.
Brand new beginning.
I’ll be away from the Marauder’s camp.
The unknown seems like a safer bet to my current surroundings.
If Phineus is a rapist, his brethren likely are, too. I need to flee ASAP.

CONS:

I won’t be able to take all of my supplies. Only what I can carry.
I can’t take the truck without being heard.
I’ll have to do all of this on foot.
Once I leave here, there’s no way I can ever come back.
I have to start over.
I really do love this little cabin. It’s grown on me.
I’d have to leave my garden behind.

Conclusion: Leave. I can’t stand the idea of ever seeing that bastard again.

Question: Where can I go?

My Old Tomb

PROS:

Solitude
It’s far away, but not too far away.
It’s surprisingly comfortable for a tomb.
Room in the cemetery to make a garden.

CONS:

Hunters are all over the place.
Cold during the winter months. Lots of furs, blankets and layers will be needed.
Increased upkeep in hygiene due to the dankness of the tomb.
It’s dusty and damp as fuck.
Dead bodies.
The bodies of the Mother and Baby are nearby, and I’d have to avoid it daily.

My House:

PROS:

I locked it up and made sure to keep the key securely hidden. I feel safe going back.
I could finally sleep in my own bed again.
It’s easily secured with enough firepower, which I have.
My boy’s graves are in the backyard, and it’ll be easy to visit them.
Fresh water source on the property in the form of a creek and rain barrels.

CONS:

My boys died there.
There’s a lot of bad memories attached to the place.
For all I know, someone has already broken in, and have taken over the house. I have no way of knowing until it’s too late.
I can have another garden there.

The Museum:

PROS:

Solitude.
Supplies: We left a shitload of clothes, etc.
Gas, until the supplies run out.

CONS:

My husband’s body is likely still laying on the basement floor by the gas pump.
No fresh water supplies nearby. I’d have to retrieve it from elsewhere.
No place for a garden.

Conclusion: I think I should go home, and try my luck there.

TO DO LIST:

-Cull possessions into a single backpack, fanny pack, and a duffle bag. Be mindful of the weight so it doesn’t slow me down too much.

1 T Shirt (Wearing)
1 Sweatshirt (Wearing)
1 Pants (Wearing)
1 Ball Cap (Wearing)
2 Underwear (Wearing 1 – The Other is in the Book Bag)
2 Bras (Wearing 1 – The Other is in the Book Bag)
Hoodie (Tied Around My Waist)
6 MREs (Duffle Bag)
3 Jars of Preserved Fruit and Veg (Duffle Bag)
Thousands of Matches (Duffle Bag)
5 1/2 Candles (Duffle Bag)
First Aid Kit (Duffle Bag)
My Guns / Bullets (Holster/Pockets)
Rope (Duffle Bag)
My Journal and Stationary (Book Bag)
Blanket and Spare Sheet (Duffle Bag)
Knives and Leatherman All-Purpose Tools (Fanny Pack)
Various Tools (Fanny Pack)
Water Bottle + Extra Water (Carrying By Hand)
Pots/Pans (Duffle Bag)

Entry #56
The Prodigal Son Returns

I made a grave mistake today. My sentimentality had gotten the better of me. There is no other explanation for my overall lack of judgement. Normally, I keep my journal on me, but for some reason, today of all days, I decided to leave it at the cabin when I went to say goodbye to the forest and river, so to speak.

All I wanted to do was wander down those scenic trails one more time before I had to leave. Just one more sunset. That’s all. Now I feel foolish for it.

When I returned, Phineus was sitting on my bed, reading my journal. I screamed and began to cry. Too scared to lunge at him or try to take it from him, all I could do was beg for him to give it back. Needless to say, he didn’t listen to me. In fact, I started reading it out loud.

The page he was reading was a hard one for me to listen to. It was about him, describing my rape in detail. I regret writing that, I’ll be honest. Phineus used my own words against me, cursing at the top of his lungs that “I should be more thankful that he’s protecting me.” That I was “an ungrateful slut for trying to run away from him.”

Phineus then laughed. “You know, since you’re already packed, you should just come back home with me to our little homestead.” I recoiled at the thought of living with him. I had to think fast.

“No! I won’t try to leave again, I promise. I won’t go anywhere. Just let me stay here, please. I love my cabin and I don’t want to go anywhere.”

He asked me why I trying to leave if I loved it so much. I didn’t have an answer. All I could do was stare at the ground in bitter sadness. It was then that he offered the compromise that I can’t ever leave. Ever. Not unless it’s with him. I have to be available to him at his whim, and in return, he’ll bring me food, supplies, and will protect me from his fellow Marauders.

Phineus also promised to be kinder to me. He said he won’t stop raping me, but he just won’t beat me to get what he wants. He’ll try his best to be gentle, he says. His confusion on why I laughed at his statement only made me laugh harder. What a fucking swine.

To my disgust, he continued to read from my journal, this time to himself. I asked for my books back, but he scoffed at me rudely. “No! I’m learning so much about you!” Phineus ordered me to make him an MRE, so I begrudgingly got to it. “Pork and Beans, Cornbread, Coffee, and a can of carbonated orange juice.

I can’t express to you how much I hate this man. As I served him, he began to eat over my papers, getting bean juice everywhere. I didn’t say anything, and could only watch as he made a gluttonous fool of himself while reading my private thoughts. This man just couldn’t seem to stop violating me, one way or the other.

Phineus then ordered me to unpack my things. He continued to read my journal as I obeyed, putting each item back in its original place. Once I was done, I sat down on my pallet of furs, and watched the pig eat his meal.

He looked enthralled while reading my memories. Each time he chuckled, I wanted to throw something hard at his head. I wish I had. I really do, but fear paralyzed me. I don’t know or care about why he was chuckling. I just know I didn’t like it. My journal is not a joke to be laughed at.

I think I must have been practically snarling, because he stopped laughing, asking me “Why are you so angry?” Before I could answer, the bastard was on top of me, pinning me into my fur pallet with ease. I spat in his face only to be struck in the mouth hard enough to taste my own blood. I’ve had just about enough of this fool.

As he forcibly pinned my fists over my head, Phineus kissed my neck, whispering taunts into my ear. His tone was low and cruel. “Baby, you have no reason to be angry. I mean, I practically saved your life just now. You had it all planned out, didn’t you? You were going to run off back to your old home, but you were never going to make it. The day my boys find you without me as an escort, you’ll be sucking their cocks for weeks, even months, chained in a basement.”

I believed him, feeling my eyes closing in fear, thinking I knew what was going to happen next. His taunts continued. “Do you actually think I’m going to rape you again, babe? No. Not today. Right now, I’m just reminding you who’s your daddy.”

I fought his disgusting kiss the best I could, but he overpowered me, forcing my mouth to press against his. Quickly, he pulled away and stood up. “No, I don’t have time to waste fucking that tight cunt of yours all day again. I have actual work to do.”

As soon as he left, I crawled into bed and cried.

Entry #57:
Allies in Weird Places

It was mid-day. I was sleeping off a depressed state of mood when two men arrived at my door. They tried to enter without knocking, but when met the lock’s resistance, they decided to try knocking instead. I called out, asking them to identify themselves. A deep, gravelly man’s voice responded in a friendly tone, saying they had my truck.

I had nearly forgotten about it during all of the insanity going down with Phineus.

Confused, I asked what they were doing with my truck. Last I saw, it was abandoned by thieves, and I’ve been too preoccupied to retrieve the vehicle. A different voice this time, another man, told me that they’re with Phineus, and he told them to get my ride in order for me.

They said they had even replaced the spent fuel.

Carefully, I cracked the door open. Standing there were two men. One, a taller, older gentleman in full camo gear, and beside him, a shorter man with silver hair and glasses, wearing a parka and jeans. “Hi,” the taller man said with a voice that tells that he must have been a two pack a day for 30 years kind of person before the apocalypse.

…To Be Cont.

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