TW: mentions of death and killing zombies
First off, it’s important to know that you survive.
That’s right, you heard it here first (or...last?) you make it out of this hellish landscape alive. No bites, no scares, no turning points.
There’s a lot that I want to tell you but I’ll have to keep it short. We’re packing up to move camp soon due to another horde that’s been spotted along the eastern wall of the sanctuary. You know how these zombies get. So inconvenient.
Or maybe you don’t know. I suppose for you, nothing has changed yet. You’re probably still slaving away over your computer, pouring over textbooks for Mrs. Hahn’s Psych 101 class with big dreams of becoming a psychologist or a therapist. Wasn’t it always our dream to become a travel therapist?
I’m really sorry to tell you this, but nobody travels anymore. At least not by plane – we're always taking horses and bikes out, but cars tend to make a lot of noise and nobody in the compound knows how to fly a plane. On the bright side though, you give your friends therapy sessions in the dining hall and they all pay you with snacks, so it’s not all bad.
You know how there’s that running joke about the apocalypse happening and everyone’s searching for the last twinkie on earth? We just got one as payment last week, so I’d say we’re doing well all things considered.
Let me clear some things up right away because I know I’m droning on and you probably want the good bits. Mom dies. Uncle Zander dies. Emily might be alive but we lost contact back in Denver. No, you never kill another human. Yes, you get amazingly good at killing zombies.
We tried to be cool and use a gun once but we got scared so we decided to stick with knives instead.
I know you probably have a million other questions, but instead of answering any of those, I want to give you some advice. (You’re not allowed to say that you don’t want my help because I know that’s what you would say if I was standing right in front of you...because that’s what we always say.)
And I know us.
Number 1 – don’t leave the apartment until you run out of food and water. The first few months will be the hardest with the fear settling in and the anxiety that you might not be able to make it. Stay holed up in your place for as long as you can (don’t forget about all those cans of vegetables you bought last month when you were on a health kick).
When you eventually have to leave, find a good group of people and stick with them. Don’t try to run off on your own and fight every battle by yourself. Try to follow whoever declares themselves leader, but don’t ever let them dictate who you should and shouldn’t be. Trust them to tell you where to camp, not what to think.
If there starts to be inner-turmoil and tensions rise to the point that you think the group might split, find a person whose values align with yours and stick with them. Morals are the only things we have left here.
Number 2 – it’s okay to kill the zombies to protect yourself. It’s going to be hard on you at first to try to kill something that looks so incredibly human. There might even be a time where you doubt yourself and there are severe repercussions. It’s important to remember that everyone makes mistakes, but that you’re capable of more than you know.
Just recently, we got news that some scientists in Chicago were doing experiments on zombies. Do you remember reading that experiment where they measured the human body immediately before and after death and the weight dropped by 21 grams? Well, the same thing happened in a few of their trials and those 21 grams didn’t come back when the dead men got back on their feet.
We still don’t know if there will ever be a cure, but it’s been four years now and nothing has come out, so I think it’s pretty safe to say the dead are dead. If they’re trying to kill you – kill them.
And finally, number 3 – trust yourself. It’s going to be difficult and there are going to be times when you want to quit. You’ll curl up into a ball and sob, but not too loudly because you’ll be afraid of drawing the zombies to you. You’ll think about all the friends you lost and the people that you couldn’t protect and it’s going to be so painful that you’ll wonder if you can make it through the night.
It’s so important that you remember – you can. You’re so much stronger than you think you are.
Your gut is your best weapon, use it liberally. I can’t count the number of times I started doing something and then stopped halfway through just because of a funny feeling (note to self: don’t go into the shopping mall on the corner of Wabash and Central). As you go through the next few years, you’ll face dangers by the likes of which you’ve never had to face before.
It doesn’t matter what the others say or do, trust yourself to make the right decision. It’ll be tough at first, but keep practicing and you’ll be a pro in no time. Don’t keep putting other people first like you always do – there's a time and place for chivalry and you’ll know when it’s time to be a hero and time to think of self-survival.
Kayla, you are a survivor.
You are strong and courageous and you’re going to find a group of amazing people that will help you and you’ll help them. They’ll become your family and you’ll love them with a strange bond that only life or death situations create. Find them and they’ll help you become who you were meant to be.
You’ll become me.
And you’ll survive.
From one badass to another,
Your Future Self