Rain, humidity, smoke, and ash is a disgusting combo, because rain will soak you before ash and dust cake the skin and clothes. I have to peel black-streaked clothes off when I am changing. Then I can’t really clean very well because all the plumbing is down. Water is rare.

On top of that, the smoke obscures the blue sky and wonderful scenery. Well, there used to be wonderful scenery. There’s nothing much to look at. It’s all haunting tree silhouettes that burned in the recent fire.

Smoke still lingers from the recent forest fire. The fire is burning else where now. The smoke is blending with the rain clouds, so the rain clouds can’t exactly clean the air. This has been the climate for a while, so I just kind of live with it.

I am climbing up a metal stairway going up with about fifty other sweaty smoke odored people. We are in an air traffic control tower near the Gulf of Mexico. Homer, the leader, thought it was a good idea to holdout at the control tower once we could get a clear pathway to it. The tower should help provide a vantage point to see any of them coming.

Them. I don’t even know what to call them. They were humans once. Of course they still look humanoid, if you disregard the maggots eating rotten flesh. They don’t have any regard for personal space among themselves. They huddle so close to each other when they start swarming normal humans. I’m not sure they even care if they bump into each other. They just swarm, and when they swarm they eat. I don’t want to go further. It’s horrible, so I’ll leave it at that. And that’s why us normal humans had to flee. They don’t act like humans.

What’s wrong with them? I’m not sure if I understand it myself, but I’ll try my best. They are infected with an unknown virus, and it is observed that the virus slowly high-jacks the motor functions of the body. To give a better picture of what this looks like, they resemble as if they have Parkinson’s when they are first infected.

But later in the infection cycle, it gets much worse and different from Parkinson’s. People infected with this virus tend to not faint. They do wobble on their feet, but they never fall unless pushed. If they do fall, then they pick themselves up again. As mentioned previously, infected people’s skin starts to rot. The most major symptom is that the infected people become less like themselves. They become rabid almost. When these rabid-like stages set in: jugular veins start to bulge, so they look mad all the time; eye lids shrink, so they look like they are glaring; and their lips and gums shrink. They look very very mad in essence.

The group ascending the stairs stops. I bump into another’s backpack with a klink. The person who has that backpack snaps, “Careful! Don’t break the mason jars!” I don’t know her name. “Sorry”, I mumble. Don’t want to break those. I shuffle my steps as I wait. We’ve been walking all day long.

“Why did we stop?”, someone calls out.

Homer’s voice responds, “Gotta open a door! This is where we’ll stick it out!”

I wait with the group as there is some grunting ahead. Eventually a loud squeak of a heavy door disrupts the rustle of humans. We enter a large round room with old carpet flooring and glass walls. Some of the glass walls are shattered; there is a slight breeze coming through the broken walls. In the middle of the room is a hole with caution signs surrounding it. There are some computers on the far side and some more stairs on the other side of the computers. The stairs probably go to some administration offices. Ash and dust cover everything.

I wait for the rest of the group to wander into the large room and claim different spots. Looking to the entrance, a large industrial refrigerator was blocking the door. That must have been the heavy sound. A few people start walking up the stairs, and I decide to follow them. This round room is too crowded.

The room above is smaller than the one down the stairs. It looks like it used to be a break room. There are filing cabinets, more fridges, and overturned tables. Papers are strewn everywhere. I look at the papers near my feet. They’re announcing an office party for Angelika’s birthday. I wonder if that party ever happened. I hope it did even with everything going downhill. A birthday party could lift anyone’s mood.

I pick a spot that’s open and far from anyone else. Right as I sit down to go to sleep, Homer appears from the stairway.

“Don’t forget to drink skull juice before you sleep! It’s about time that everyone takes another dose.” Homer says. Everyone goes to their backpacks and pulls out mason jars that are full of disgusting green puke liquid.

I reach into my bag and pull out a sports drink bottle with the water, a mason jar with the skull juice, a snack bar, and a bowl. I’ve found the flavor of the skull juice is less noticeable with mixing the snack bar, water, and skull juice. The dinner is very unappetizing. The water isn’t quite so sanitary, the skull juice is viscous, and the snack bar is very dehydrated. We have to be as resourceful as we can, and this is the best we got. As I eat the awful meal, there’s a faint taste of skunk. Once I’m done, I lay down in my chosen spot to go to sleep. I’m utterly exhausted.