- Before the Outbreak.
I was born into a family of ranchers, my earliest memories were of feeding the poultry we had out back. My younger years were just like any other's in my opinion. The only difference was the hunting trips my father would take me on, well, they weren't really trips per se, just had a few hogs n' coyotes that threatened our herd. I never really liked killing them or found any joy in it, you get used to it I guess. It always tasted better than anything you could buy at Publix, the fruits of a sin I suppose. When I hit my teens I got signed up for bull riding which I was surprisingly good at! I'd compete at rodeos in Labelle, Okeechobee, and even as far up as Arcadia. High School was a breeze but I started to feel pressured around graduation. I had to idea what I wanted to do for a living. School taught me that most people usually go through 2-3 careers in their lifetime, but I still wanted to do something I loved. I was leaning towards military service or police work, I had enough connections to be well off in either one. I started thinking about it a lot and decided that I wanted to be a pilot. Every time I was out working in the field I'd look up at the red shouldered hawks and be envious of their freedom. I wanted to touch the skies and be above the clouds. I had a few cousins and uncles in the corp so it was an obvious choice. I went to see a recruiter in town and was set on the right course. I'd need at least a bachelors degree to even have a shot. I decided I wanted my college to be an adventure, so I signed up to study abroad in Ukraine. It didn't matter what I studied as long as I got a degree but I decided to study psychology. All my life I had been working with animals, they were easy to understand, but people? People were a little scary, you can never be too sure what they are thinking. It would definitely be a valuable skill to have in my life. Plus on top of it all it gave me a chance to change. I'd never experienced another culture or a different way of life, this would surely be fun!
- The Outbreak
At this point I'd have been studying for quite some time. I made some Ukrainian friends and learned just enough of the language to get by. I got a part time job at a gas station to kill time and have some source of income. There was a TV always playing in the station, not that I could understand half of what the news casters were saying. I wasn't dense though, the pictures and the looks on their face were quite horrifying. The mood just started changing, kinda similar to the whole Ebola craze back in the states. I'd get calls from my parents every so often, which I thought was insane, they were paying international fees just to see I was okay, which really started to scare me. They've never done this before so I knew it must be bad. Life for me just kept going, I wasn't too worried about anything. I knew I could handle myself in a lot of situations others couldn't. One night when I was working shit started acting up. My phone wasn't working, I couldn't contact anyone. The TV had one of those government PSA blue screens with Ukrainian text going across the bottom with a narration. A man came in later on in the night in a frenzy, sweating, yelling, moving frantically. Dude nearly knocked over a shelf grabbing food and drinks and didn't even pay. The next few customers were the same way. I thought I could be calm but holy shit! I really lost my nerve. I remember my boss piling wood around back and he told me (in pretty broken English) that if I ever needed it - it's there. I took it as a joke but thank god, bless his heart. I made some barricades on the windows and lowered the security gates. I'd let anyone in that came by and gave away products for free. If this shit was really popping off we needed to watch out for our fellow man.
- The Freemen
The group I had assembled in the station decided to band together and head into Russia. Our defacto leader Jeremiah is full of this energy that's just hard to spot. He's just the kinda guy you look up to. It all made sense to me, while others let the apocalypse get to them, this man was reinventing himself for the better. We could all choose to be whatever we wanted now. I knew that Jeremiah was ahead of the game, and I'd be close on his heels. I made sure to get on everyone's good side. I was in no way charismatic, I would just mimic their personality. It worked wonderfully! I was someone people went to for help, people trusted me, and damn it felt good. I was the glue that held this community together with Jeremiah. We'd occasionally get new members and our family grew a bunch. At one point we all got sick of constantly moving around and decided to settle. We fancied ourselves a nice farm with a wall rounding all the buildings with a comfy clearing in between. The couple who owned the farm had a few horses and I grabbed some more from the neighbors (They were missing, so it's not really stealing.) I spend most my time in the stables with a woman named Victoria. We would feed the animals together and just shoot the shit all day. She was sweet, caring, and one of the prettiest girls I've ever seen. I really opened up to her, she was the only person in camp that knew who I really was. I never tried to deceive her or anything like that, I just wanted something real for a change. After the little dispute with our neighbors that forced us to move again I noticed that she had been spending more time with another person, Boris. She had fallen ill and Boris was constantly at her side. I tried to help her myself but he was always already there. I never understood what happened, she said she liked me not too long ago and we promised to have a future yet here she is; barely talking to me anymore. I felt so fucking stupid for actually letting someone close to me. It got to the point where every time I so much as looked at either one of them I got angry. It was cold and miserable already, seeing Boris be happy with her just piled on to my own misery, I couldn't stand it. Just a constant, terrible feeling in my stomach. I started thinking about my place in this whole mess, was she a threat? If I was to continue leading this group with Jeremiah I needed her gone. I was not going to grow old being envious of these two and constantly reminded of it. Late one night I paid a visit to her tent. We talked for a good while and I tried to convince her to leave. All the methods I used to fool others and manipulate them wouldn't work on her. She just wouldn't leave. I pressed further on and I couldn't help my tone and mood becoming hostile when I asked "Why? Why won't you just fucking leave??" she replied in less then a heartbeat "BECAUSE I LOVE HIM." I just froze and so did she, the world just stopped moving. I tried collecting my thoughts and keeping my composure, freaking out just wouldn't be the right move right now. I moved to leave her tent, unzipping the entrance, I had nothing else to say. That's when she tested me, she had the gall to tell me that Boris would find out about this talk - she was going to tell him. Now this was a lot more then just a petty love triangle, it was an actual threat to my status. If this ordeal got out my authority might be questioned, and I couldn't have that. I slowly pulled the zipper back up to the top and turned around, a second went by and I lunged on top of her. She was weak, the illness had been handling that for me all this time. I pinned her arm under my knee and shoved my hand in her mouth to muffle the screams. Her teeth were sharper than I expected and she bit down awfully hard, I couldn't feel any of it at the time, I was far too angry. I reached to the back of my belt with my other hand and unsheathed my knife, then I slit her wrist. The expression on her face changed from panic to almost relief, it would have been poetic if her face wasn't covered in tears that made her mascara run. I held her there like that until she lost consciousness. The cut I made was wide and deep, I knew she wouldn't live much longer without help, not that I was going to give any to her. I started thinking about how to cover it up, my pants were covered in blood and my hand was all chewed up. I started thinking and decided to make it look like a suicide, no one would blame her right? After all she was very sick! I cleaned my knife off on her clothes, there was blood everywhere anyways. I cleaned the blood off as best I could with the snow outside, making sure to bury the packs I made red, I even went as far as to never take off my gloves, it was winter so I had a valid excuse. For my final act, after the body was discovered by Boris, I helped him through it all. I helped dig the hole to bury her, I said a few words, the whole shebang. I'm a good person, but she deserved it... My title was secure and my tracks were covered, no one would ever know what happened up in those mountains. It was all over, and I could focus on leading my people again.