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The Courage to Live

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March 18, 2068,

Well, at least I think it’s the 18th. I’m not entirely sure, but I’ve been trying to keep track of time ever since the world decided to end. It was a little over a year ago when global warming unleashed its wrath on everyone. The floods came first. They forced everyone in lower elevations to move to higher ground. A lot of people died, but not nearly as many died from that as they did from the plague. I remember listening to the reporter’s calm but urgent voice like it was yesterday, telling us that from the recently melted polar ice a virus had been unleashed and had taken refuge in any kind of fish it could find. As you could imagine, the virus spread fairly quickly, and once it had infected the human population it spread like a wild fire on steroids. The only symptoms that let you know that you have the virus are excessive coughing and your skin turns an ugly blackish yellow. After that you either get nasty puss-oozing sores everywhere, you bloat up like a puffer fish, or you lose weight until you’re barely skin and bone. Oh yeah, the virus also causes people to lose their mind and attack almost anything.
My dad and I gave each different type of infected person a name. When someone gets those nasty sores we simply call them the Nasties. When they blow up like a balloon we call them Bombers because they tend to randomly explode releasing more of the virus plus a bonus of sticky yellow goo that is impossible to get off. Finally the ones who just seem to shrivel away are called Creepers. Their name is literally what they do. They creep up on you and wait for the right moment to attack.

Anyways, my dad and I have been living in Catskill State Park in New York for just about a year now (Geography of New York). How are we still alive? Well, we think we might have some sort of mutated gene that makes us immune to the virus. Anyhow, we have two camps in the state park, one within the narrow winding valleys, and one up high in the forested mountain region (New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation). Spring time is here and that means we have to move up to our camp in the mountains so we don’t get stranded by the rising floods from the melting snow. So now we get to pack up our tent, pack up what little food we have, pack our only knife and a grenade my dad refuses to get rid of, and walk all the way up part of the 300 miles of the ankle-twisting trail to our second camp (Geography of New York).

We are leaving at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning so I will soon prepare myself for the balmy 40 degree night to snuggle into my tattered sleeping bag, listen to my dad teasingly ask, “You need me to tuck you in Chloe?” and give him my usual reply of, “Dad, I’m sixteen. Go to bed.” (New York State Climate Office).
March 21, 2068,

We finally made it to our second camp that is nestled along a high ridge in the Appalachians (Geography of New York). Along the way we came upon a little speed bump and were attacked by a creeper. One moment my dad and I were quietly walking up the path and then the next a creeper launches itself out of a tree and on top of my dad. Thankfully, creepers aren’t very strong so my dad could easily throw it off of him and kill it. Its stuff like that, that always keeps you on edge and on the lookout. After that I swear I could hear every rustle of every leaf, every flutter of a bug’s wings, and every footstep the bobcat took that was checking us out. You would be surprised at how many bobcats there are in this park (Geography of New York).
Once my nerves calmed down my dad suggested that we should probably try and hunt another mink so we could regain our strength after this day long hike. Minks really aren’t that big, or that good tasting either, but they’re plentiful and food is food (Geography of New York).
I don’t know what I would do without my dad. Actually, yes I do, I would curl up in a ball and die. Yep, that sounds about right. I mean I know the four basic rules to survival: warmth, water, food, and rest, but it’s just the comfort of knowing that my dad is always there to protect me that keeps me going (Wilderness Survival Guide). Albert Camus once said, “In the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.” (Good Reads). I just hope that I have enough courage when that time comes.
Now that my dad and I are all settled in and it’s starting to get dark out we can both finally rest. It doesn’t seem like I’ll be getting much rest though; it looks like a thunderstorm is about to roll in.
March 23, 2068,
I am alive. I shouldn’t be but I am. The night of the 21st was the worst night of my life. I woke up that night to a loud explosion of thunder and a sizzling crack of lightening. But that’s not what scared me. It’s what I saw when the lightening flashed that scared me. There were at least six Nasties and two Bombers right outside our camp probably looking for shelter from the intensifying storm. I remember feeling my heart quicken, pounding in my ear, as I slowly nudged my dad awake. I knew he saw them too because I saw him freeze in place and go rigid all over. I remember him carefully giving me our only knife and whisper, “Whatever you do Chloe, stay strong and don’t give up.” After that he took a makeshift spear he had made, and put something in his jacket pocket that I couldn’t see, and slowly crept out into the stormy night. Of course I wasn’t about to stay in the tent like some little girl. My dad had taught me how to defend myself against the infected and I know that I could kill one if I really needed to.
I carefully peeked out of a hole in the tent and just as I did a flash of lightening illuminated my view and right there was a Nastie with its surprisingly normal looking eye right by the hole. I flung myself back and stifled a yelp. Thank God for the thunder, otherwise I’m sure it would have heard me.
After that close call I decided to slip out the back of the tent by carefully unzipping the tattered door. I stealthily crouched down and peeked around the corner for my dad, and found him sneaking around behind the infected. I started to slowly creep forward, as silent as a cat, so I could get to him when I bumped into one of the infected. Stupid! How could I have done that!? I remember the Nastie whipping around and planting a kick square in the middle of my chest. Stunned and gasping for air I erratically slashed out with my knife and I remember making contact with what felt like a shin. The Nastie screamed out into the cold, stormy air, sending an alert to all infected nearby. This meant that more were going to come.
Now this made me mad. I not only had run into one of the infected, I had made one send out an alert call. I remember feeling the blood boil inside of me, my heart quicken and pound with a force so strong that I thought it was going to blow right out of my chest. My senses sharpened and I could feel each and every innocent rain drop fall on my grimy scarred skin, I could see like I had the sharp night eyes of an owl looking for prey, and I could hear every hazy breath the Nastie was taking. Adrenaline pumping, anger boiling, I was ready to round house kick this Nastie so hard it would make Chuck Norris proud.
I took in a deep breath, gathered all my courage and anger, and I landed a kick to the back of the Nastie’s knee bringing it down howling. I took this chance to finish it off. Adrenaline still coursing through my veins I called out for my dad. He had shouted for me to come by him so we don’t get separated. I sprinted over being careful not to slip on the slick ground and we fought the infected with our backs to the cold hard rock wall until our arms were as heavy lead and breathing seemed like an impossible task. Then my dad had an idea.
He shouted over the storm, “Chloe when I count to three I want you to run. Don’t wait a second longer and don’t hesitate. Look for an opening and just go.”

He said those words with such a stern voice I had no choice but to obey.

“One!”

What could he possibly have in mind?

“Two!”

I noticed he had pulled something out of his pocket that looked like an oddly shaped rock... The grenade.

“Three!”

He charged forward with a battle cry that seemed louder than the thunder itself. An opening appeared and I bolted towards it. A few seconds later I heard a deafening explosion that seemed to shatter my bones. I kept on running just like my dad had said and I swear I sprinted for two miles straight.
Now I’m hiding out in a small cramped cave, tired, hungry, and alone with nothing but a hunting knife and this raggedy old journal I always keep stuffed in my pocket. It’s not the same without my dad here.
This journal is my past, and dwelling in my past will guarantee my death. I will no longer keep this journal because I no longer have a need for it. After these last few words I intend to find a nice high up place and throw this journal into the black bear infested woods to be lost forever (Geography of New York). If another survivor finds this and reads about my adventures always remember this, “Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” Senecca (Good Reads).
Oh yeah, my birthday is tomorrow on the 24th. Well at least I think it will be the 24th, and not only will I celebrate another year of my survival, but also the start of my new life.





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