May 12, 2036 – Year 12

Remember when school was the biggest worry? Detention for talkin back in Mrs. Henderson’s class felt like jail time then. Now, jail’s a luxury, ain’t it? I was 17, same age as most of these “walkers” lumberin around outside. Didn’t care much for learnin then, but sure as hell wish I paid more attention in Mrs. Henderson’s biology class. Maybe I’d understand how this whole messed up thing started.

The first sign was Dad screamin at the TV one night. Said the news was talkin about some kinda “rage virus.” Remember the riots downtown? Turned out that was just the warm-up act. Things went sideways real fast after that. Mom disappeared on a grocery run – never came back. Found Dad holed up in the basement, lookin like a different person overnight. Didn’t recognize me, just kept moanin for Mom. Had to put him down myself. Shotgun blast to the head. Still remember the smell.

That was the day I learned the new rules. Rule #1: Trust nothin. Rule #2: Always carry a weapon. My trusty .22, a birthday gift from Dad before things went south, became my best friend. Learned to hunt, learned to track, learned to stay quiet. Found a decent hideout in the old abandoned library downtown. Surrounded by books I never cared about before, filled with more knowledge than I ever thought I’d need.

Met Sarah six months in. Skinny, scared kid with eyes that mirrored mine. We teamed up, scavenged together, learned to survive as a unit. Lost Sarah two years ago. Runner horde. Didn’t hear her screams, that’s the worst part. Just the moans after. Now, it’s just me and the silence, punctuated by the occasional walker banging on the library doors.

They say there’s others out there, pockets of survivors. Maybe someday I’ll find them. But for now, I keep scribbling these stories on scraps of paper, a message in a bottle for whoever might come after. Remember us. Remember the world before the dead walked. Remember, even when it feels darkest, there’s gotta be a flicker of hope somewhere. Right?