Brad had an average life in a city of Queensland, Australia. He spent his days working hard to make a life for himself, In the final months of school one of his friends won a couple of tickets to go on a cruise around Europe, stopping in the ports of iconic costal cities for a few days at a time. Brad and his friends spend part of 2017, their gap year, going around Europe stopping in major costal cities. The group of friends were having a time of their lives with no cares in the world.
They started to see that an infection had been found in the eastern part of Europe and the ship was returning to port less often. They were in port one day and there were police preventing anyone from getting off the ship besides crew who were restocking the vessel. A few days after they set sail the one of the engines failed and there was a lot of metal on metal screeching coming from below deck. All the passengers were panicking on the deck. People were ordered to stay in the rooms. The ship descended into chaos as passengers were refusing and demanding to know what was happening. Some people were screaming about the infection. Brad and his friends returned to their rooms confused about was happening, they sat in their room with a horde of alcohol they had stockpiled to binge on. As nightfall descended on the ship a storm rolled in with the darkness. After drinking there all they had, they decided with their intoxicated minds it would be fun to use the pools slide while the deck was empty.
The rain was pelting down, the cool droplets were bliss compared to their stuffy rooms. After Brad hit the water at the bottom of the slide for the 3rd time he saw flashlights flick across the surface of the pool. When he surfaced, he here the shouts of his friends yelling to run, that it was security. The group of friends scattered around the deck of the ships desperate to make it to their room without been caught. Brad misjudged his footing as he was running, tripping and slipping under the railing. He was hanging on for dear life, he could feel the strain of his weary body. He looked up to see a hand reach down and grab him by his hair and pull him back up on the deck. He looked up his saviour, accepting his defeat as two members of the security team stared down at him.
There was a large cracking sound and the whole ship shuddered and started to lean to over. Brad, still on the floor of the ship started to slide towards the edge as the two security guards were hanging onto the railing for dear life, brad slipped right off the edge of the ship. His life flashing before him as he fell of the high deck of the cruise ship. While below the surface he could still hear the creaking of the ship, like a demented whales call. His heart skipped a beat as he felt a heavy thud and the surface of the water suddenly flash a bright orange.
When he surfaced, he could smell the stench of burning oil and burnt flesh. He looked around spotting some lifeboats in the water, and only a few of them occupied by small groups, though most were to far away now. He swam as hard as he could to one with a small flame on it. Dragging his aching body out he collapsed in the boat, as the fire died from the heavy rain falling into the wooden craft. He tried fighting his weariness, but with alcohol still coursing through him and no sleep for the past two days he lost his internal battle.
He woke with a splutter as water that had pooled in the boat washed over his face. He looked up and around, but he could see nothing but open ocean. He looked at the boat around him trying to see what he had with him. After his brief survey he spotted a small supply crate and a motor on the rear of the boat. He shuffled quickly over to the motor. But to his horror he realised that its motor was blackened by charcoal. He remembers their had been a fire the night before on the boat, but Brad didn’t realise that it had been the motor. He opened up the crate pulling out a blue tarp and wrapping it around his exposed chest, in an attempt to seal some of his warmth in.
Brad spent the next week surviving on the rations left in the boat, there were more creates hidden under the seats full of supplies that he hadn’t seen at first. It was a feast of dry crackers and odd tasting water. Late in the afternoon, as he sat in a boat that had started to reek of urine he spotted a column of smoke, it was lit up with the sun behind it. he watched it wondering if it was the ship still burning. He watched it till it got to dark to see.
A few hours later as he was laying on one of the benches in the boat, he heard a explosion off in the distance, he looked up alert all around, spotting the fading orange plume in the darkness. He spotted a few fires in the distance, it didn’t look to far away to him. With only a moments thought he abandoned his boat, that still had all his supplies. Bringing with him only an emergency floatation device he found aboard it. He swims as hard as he could for as long as he could.
Finally making landfall his muscles start seizing up as he stumbles towards the fire collapsing next to a burning petrol station for warmth. When he awoke the petrol station fire had slowed down only a large wood pile was left burning. Brad in board shorts, with his tarp started wondering the streets of a small fishing town trying to find someone to get help from. But the town appeared abandoned.
While in the town he spotted some people who looked all bloody and wounded stumbling after a man who was running and screaming. He watched as the man tripped and the bloody people descended on him tearing his flesh from his body and eating him alive. Brad thought it had to be the infection he heard about back on the ship.
Brad kept his distance from the attack and went about knocking on doors, some were left open, some were smashed in. Very few remained locked, but Brad set about stealing from the open houses, getting himself some warm clothing and food in a old hiking bag he found in the second house he entered. After he was satisfied, he hit the road hoping the next town would have normal people in it. A few hours into his walk he found a military roadblock that was abandoned with burnt out vehicles surrounding it. When he approached, he realised there were piles of bodies on the sides of the road, some looked like they had been rotting for weeks. He doubled over and vomited all he had eaten for the day.
When he finally gathered himself back together, he looked around, and spotted some people coming down the road, clearly having followed him from the past town. He approached them, as they kept coming towards him. One of the groaned as it got close to him. Taking a uncoordinated swing at him, It was clear to him, from the sores over the man’s bodies and the bloodshot eyes that there was clearly some sort of infection affecting him.
Brad made a run for it off into the woods, ditching his plan of finding help. He just wanted to escape the horrible plague that had taken over the minds of the villages behind him. Collapsing to his knees, he thought over what had happened to him over the past two weeks, the pain he had suffered, and now the horrors that he had witnessed. The friends he had lost, the ones he had completely forgot about while he had been clinging to life on the raft. He remembers hearing how the infection had spread through Europe, at the time Brad had played it off, assuming it was some new flu, that would be wiped out soon.
Brad picked up some old tree branches and clustered then in a clearing. With the aid of some Firestarter he had a small campfire burning in front of him. Brad sat in the forest studying everything around him. Continuing his routine until his supplies started to run out.
He watched the small animals of the forest, he would follow little foxes from a distance as they led him to the burrows of rabbits, or a small rodent. Everyday was a fight to get food. Brad just wondered the woods with the clothes on his back and a blunt hunting knife. Days, and months flew past as he continued his little hunts. He just saw himself as another animal of the woods now. Trying to survive with teeth and claws. He had long since stop bothering with fires and opted to eating his catch raw.
One night, two years after the ship had sunk, brad was sleeping. Until a flashlight shone through the woods, settling on him. Brad stayed still having waked up as soon as the light had flashed onto him. He was listening carefully as his unsuspecting prey tried to creep up on him. As his prey stopped less than a meter from him, Brad sprang into action. Jumping on the man and tackling him to the ground. Brad sat atop of the man looking down at him with confused eyes. Who was this silly man, why was he so stompy? Brad tilted his head as he looked at him confused by the strange man. The man reached to his side grabbing his pistol form his belt and pointing it at Brad.
Brad still sitting on the man, just looked at him and the weapon. Not knowing what he was meant to do. Using his spare hand the man pushed brad off him, and they both sat there staring at each other. The man asked Brad his name, but brad was already feeling hungry was distracted and turned back to his breakfast, which was a rabbit he had caught the day before and said “Fluffy” as he thrust the dead rabbit at the man.
Brad pulled out his old hunting knife to skin the rabbit, Brad looked up confused as he saw the man tense up, but he looked back down, quickly skinning the creature and cutting of a fleshy leg and put it out in a open palm towards the man. They shared a confused look, brad wasn’t sure why the man didn’t want food. The man asked with a funny accent if he was going to cook it, which Brad thought was strange. He didn’t know why the man wanted to cook it, it was nice and fresh now.
The man grabbed some wood close by and started a small fire and stuck the rabbit leg on the end of a stick. After cooking it the man gave it back to Brad. Brad tried the meat and liked the warmth of the rabbit flesh, the smoky flavour from the fire swirling through his mouth over his tastebuds. “mhm nice fluffy” brad said and moved to lean against the stranger, who again tensed up. “name?” Brad said as he looked up at the man who had tensed up again.
“Ah, Michael,” he said in his funny voice. “uh um, Fluffy, what are you doing?”
Brad looked up confused, I am not fluffy, he thought, it was the rabbit that was fluffy. Brad moved away from Michael while he kept looking at him. They both sat there as the fire crackled and popped for some time, but Brad/Fluffy started to feel weary and curled up next to the fire and went to sleep. After having one of the best sleeps he had had for a long time, he woke and saw that the man, Michael was gone. He looked around not seeing him, but it was clear to Brad/Fluffy which way he had gone, every creature left a trail, and the man had left a clearer one than a lot of the animals do.
After only a hour of following the trail which brad noted went in circles a couple of times he came across Michael leaning against a tree drinking from a canteen. “Michael?” Brad/Fluffy said looking at him confused.
“Fluffy?! What are you doing here, why did you follow me?” Michael questioned, Brad/Fluffy just stared at him. “Never mind. How do I get out of here, where is a town? A road?”
Brad looked him, tilting his head and giving a goofy smile, “House,” he said pointing off into the trees and started walking. Michael quickly stored his canteen and followed. They spent the next few hours walking through the forest until they came to small wooden shack with an old dirt road attached to it. Michael thanked Brad/Fluffy and offered him a spare map, showing that he lived in a town called Vishnoye, bellow a castle called Zub, and told Brad/Fluffy that if he needed help, he should come there.
After another week in the woods Brad/Fluffy started to miss talking. He hadn’t done it for years till he met Michael. He decided to go find Michael, he set about going through towns in the cover of darkness. After he found the town from the map, he even saw Michael down in it. But there were other people around him. He watched for a couple days and decided most of them must be Michaels friends, but sometimes bad men came and tried to hurt them.
He checked in on Michael from a distance every few days watching where he moved his camp every time. Brad followed from a distance going around a strange land he only started to expose himself to. He was waiting for the right day for existence to be known to the world