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Journalist's Guide to the End - Christopher Faulkner

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(This entry needs a real touch-up. I used this for my backstory, but also wrote it with a friend's backstory in mind, as we are related, so some details and plot-points are left unexplained and flimsy.)

     The fact of the matter is, I never foresaw myself in this situation. I never foresaw myself in combat of any type, much less a life-or-death struggle halfway across the world from my comfy hometown of Knoxville, dealing with various bandit factions and the living dead of all things. One thing's for sure, this would be a hell of a story if I ever found my way out.

       While this piece (pieces? Who knows how long I'll live to write.) isn't necessarily about me, if this is going to be the last thing I ever write, whoever reads this is damn well gonna know about the author. Leave a legacy and all that, you know. I'm Christopher Faulkner – a journalist in way over his head. I was born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1991. I lived there until 2010, when I moved with my younger brother and my mother to live with my father in Chenarus. My father and I, we were never on good terms. He was an accomplished military man, and wanted me and my brother to be the same. Our interests conflicted. To be fair, journalism is not a stable career, nor is a journalism degree very useful. The backlash was somewhat understandable, but following your dreams is important right? Or maybe I never grew out of being rebellious teen.

     Either way, I ended up leaving my home, getting that degree, and moving on to greener pastures. Well, actually, brown. Not too longer after I got my degree, I went to cover the conflict in Takistan, or more-so the effects on civilians, like I said, not much of one for conflict or combat zones. I generally stayed out of direct combat, and in the refugee areas. It wasn't glamorous, going was tough making it day to day out there, but it was even worse on the innocents caught in it.

      Even though I was living out a dream of mine due to that choice, I now regret storming out of my families lives, if only for the fact that I'd not see them again before everything spiraled out of control. It had been a few years since I last talked to any of them, my resentment for my father had long since faded, but my pride kept me from visiting or calling, from making up and moving on. As much as we differed and argued, I was my father's son, I got my stubbornness and pride from somewhere, and it sure wasn't from my sweetheart of a mother. He never made the move to make up either, due to our strong-willed natures, we were caught in a stalemate that would sadly last until his disappearance. My father was reported M.I.A. at one of the quarantine zones at the center of the outbreak.

     I received a call from my brother, Cade, as the first reports broke about the infection. Wasn't too long after that call I packed up my laptop, camera, and the other few necessities I had and rushed off to check in on my family. Life always finds a way to kick you when you're down, to pile the crap further and suffocate you. I had barely arrived when Cade had decided to dive into the quarantine zone to find our dad. My words fell upon deaf ears, or rather, the ears of an understandably panicked teen whose common sense was noticeably absent in the moment. I wanted to follow him, an older brother's protective instinct you could probably call it, but I stayed home to be with my worried mother.

[align=left]     My brother returned not too long after, bearing the news of my missing father. Worry gave way to grief, and I found myself in a nearby bar, drowning that grief in cheap booze. Loss is never easy. Especially the loss of a parent, doubly so with a parent you never got to make amends with. Alcohol is the cure-all for emotional trauma, I suppose, though the pain is never gone, only ever dulled. Still, as soon as grief had replaced worry, a blissful oblivion had followed close behind the buzz of the drinks, whisking me away from the cruel world I had known into an even crueler one. Waking up, I find myself in a hellish mockery of the life I once had, and stuck with an even more hellish hangover. First lesson in the Journalist's Guide to the End; only drink what you can handle.

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     I'd say it's nice to have someone watching your back, but in the situation I've found myself in, most of the eyes on my back belong to a glassy-eyed, blood-covered freak, or an infected. Well, actually, thus far I've not had the displeasure of happening upon any bandits, but I've heard the horror stories. When in a savage land I suppose it's only natural to “go wild”, so to speak. Maybe in time I'll be no different.

     Unfortunately, the first of my apocalyptic exploits are rather, well, dull. The days meld together in my memory, a fleeting blur of constant scavenging and hiding. I had no real objectives aside from survival. It wasn't until I was securely stocked on food and water, and got more than a few fitful hours of rest, that I got my wits about me and set my priorities. First goal was to find Cade. I had no certainty as to whether or not he was even alive, but pessimism isn't conducive to morale. My second goal was to find a secure place to settle.

     It was reinvigorating to set out with goals, my days of aimless wandering over. Now it was just wandering. Days once again blurred into an indistinct haze of scavenging and hiding, but the routine was soon broken with a terrifying close-call. It had always been chilling to be caught even in the vicinity of an infected, but to be face-to-face with one is nearly indescribable. Let me lay the scene out.

     The groans and growls of the infected echoed about the streets. I had spent hours diving in and out of buildings and homes, sneaking past the shambling messes scattered about the town. I set my sights on another deserted home, hopefully housing some untouched treasure to aid my survival. I slowly turned the brass knob, attempting to mitigate any noise. The door slowly creaked open, shedding light into the musty interior. I stifled a gag as the staggering scent of decay and stale blood hit my nostrils. It's a pungent mixture that still churns my stomach no matter how much exposure I have.

     The home was mostly barren, either cleanly scavenged, or lacking much to begin with. After a less than fruitful search, I was about to make my way out through the screen door in the kitchen when my hair stood on end. A feral snarl sounded out behind me, and the world went still. I turned around to face what would should probably have been my demise, and as the infected began its sprint towards me, the world slowed and I grasped the first object within reach, and swung with all my might. The first swing staggered it long enough for me to gain my bearings and ready for another swing. Before I could bring my arm down for another attack, the infected lashed out and scratched me dead-on, drawing blood. I recoiled, but then quickly followed through with two quick strikes to the head. Thankfully, three blows to the head sufficiently caved its skull in and dropped it for good. Caught in the moment I raised my newly found meat tenderizer to the sky in victory. In that instant, dripping blood and powered by adrenaline, I was Thor, and this simple meat tenderizer was my Mjölnir.

     As the adrenaline ran its course and pain set in, I set about cleaning the wound and stemming the bleeding. Lacking painkillers of any kind, I cracked open a can of awful beer I found. Nothing nearly enough to numb the pain in any meaningful capacity, but I get points for trying, right? After depleting the can rather quickly, I ate a portion of the tin of beans I had in my bag, and made my way upstairs. Night was going to fall soon, and so I decided it was just best to spend the night upstairs in a room barricaded to the best of my ability. Also thought it an apt opportunity for writing my second entry. The lesson for today; meat tenderizers are surprisingly effective at dispatching infected, or maybe never discount an item's usefulness? I don't know, mind isn't clear enough for this. I'm going to rest now.

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