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Martin Hooijmans | Lars de Ruyter

“…and so I conclude this entry as I do every day: one can only hope.”

Jim closed his journal. The cover of it read ‘2013: Three Years After the End’. He did not like the title much, but it was the undeniable truth. Besides, if anyone found it in some far-away future, they would probably recognize it as a worthwhile read. He opened the drawer of his kitchen table and put the journal in it, then got up to pour himself a cup of coffee. If that was what you could call a serving of instant powder with cold water. Heating anything up had been impossible after Jim’s makeshift generator broke down three months ago. He did not have the parts to fix it and cursed himself for forgetting about stocking up on them ever since. All his preparations had been so thorough, yet he had neglected this small, but oh so important item. His first sip of the ‘coffee’ made him grimace. It tasted awful, but Jim would continue to drink it until the end of his days. These little rituals were needed to maintain his sanity, or so he believed.

Cup in hand, Jim got up and went into his second bedroom, which now served as a storage area. Layers and layers of sturdy wooden shelves had been put up, each one filled to the edge with little metal cans. The original labels had been torn off every single one, replaced by simple white labels with handwritten dates on them. Jim’s hand moved towards the shelf marked December, 2013 and a moment later enclosed around the can that said December 7th. He noticed the little balloons drawn around the date, marking his thirty-eighth birthday. For a while he simply stared at this remnant of a time in which a spark of positivity had still remained. Birthdays had meant something back then, were in a way a confirmation that you were surrounded by people who loved you. These days each birthday only meant another year lived alone. Survived alone.

One can only hope. For this reason, Jim forced himself to go onto his balcony every morning, to check up on his situation. Opening the door immediately introduced the horrid smell of decay that he would never get used to. Peeking over the edge revealed a sight that had been familiar for almost three years. Stretching out for hundreds of meters in the streets down below was an army of the creatures that had kept him confined to his little flat all this time. There they stood, motionless, patiently awaiting the day he would crack and open his barricaded apartment door to finally attempt a grand escape. Then they would be swift in devouring him or, even worse, making him into one of them. Jim always figured that at least in such a case he wouldn’t be on his own anymore.

A little gargling sound made him look to the right. A few meters away stood his neighbor, Mrs Avery, or what was left of the old woman. The thought alone of being eaten by that old cat lady was enough reason to keep going. Behind her undead body stood another group of the zombies, filling the balcony to capacity. Behind that, most probably her entire apartment was filled with them, then the flat’s corridors, staircase, lobby, perhaps even the elevator shaft. Jim was completely and utterly surrounded. The only possible help could come from outside, but each day the army down there grew bigger and more fearsome. This increased the feeling that perhaps there was no one else for the creatures to hunt down.

Maybe he was the only living being left.

Jim shook his head and went back inside. He would not allow himself these kinds of thoughts, close to reality as they might be. After all, his sanity was at stake here.

He sat down on his couch and opened the decorated can in front of him. It was filled with peaches, his favorite fruit. He forced a smile onto his face and said out loud “Happy birthday, Jim.”, then started eating, clearing his mind of doom scenarios.

Maybe help was out there. Jim would wait, he had time. The problem was that the creatures surrounding him had time as well. All the time in the world.

About Martin Hooijmans

Martin Hooijmans is a writer, a traveler and the founding editor of Story Shack. He has a profound love for storytelling and a mind overflowing with ideas. Currently, he's based in Munich and working as a SEO and front-end developer. Also check out his new project: relgrowth

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