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Dear Lola

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Dear Lola,

I’m not sure if you’ll ever read this or even if you’re still alive. I need to believe that you are and maybe one day when we find each other again you can read this. Maybe you won’t need to. Then again maybe you will if this is all that’s left.

I would have written sooner but this is the first time I’ve been able to hold a pencil in ages. A month maybe? Has it already been a month? Feel so much longer. I arrived in Arklay but you weren’t here. If you were maybe you were laying low or catching rest. I know how that feels. I was so exhausted by the time I got here I slept for days, two days straight I think. I followed the signs to the hospital and met a woman, a nurse who worked there, but whose name escapes me now. She was lovely. She introduced herself and showed me around and gave me so much stuff; food and water basically, but it felt like Christmas. I almost hugged her. I didn’t. Was too tired. They have a wing set up for people, one for men and one for women, and showers of a fashion. And coffee. And chairs. Actual soft chairs; not the ground. It really felt so surreal after so long and I missed it all. I just slept. When I slept I didn’t have to think and be reminded how much I miss you and Doc. I wish I knew where you were. Both of you. I miss you telling me to get my face out of the computer screen and have some real fun. I miss your laugh. I miss your fashion tips; you somehow could make the most drab piece of clothing pop. I just miss having you around. I want to hear you tell me it’s going to be alright even if we both know it’s not. The pretending, and having someone to pretend with, is what I miss. The little things. Can’t even smile at people when you pass in the street anymore though in the early days I kind of forgot and asked every face I saw if they had seen you or knew you. Or Doc. No one had. I don’t think people really have the ability to care like they used to. The world’s a harder place now. It’s like everyone’s a potential thief or murderer or a breath away from turning into something else. It’s hard to keep up a brave front alone. But I keep going because I told Doc that I would. I made a promise. And I have to. Someone has to. Life has to go on no matter what.

I haven’t seen many of those things here; the former people. The island seems oddly free of them almost which again is so surreal after all the time it took to get here. We saw so many of them in the towns and cities that we had to wait sometimes days for them to pass. There’s been a few; a little girl was the last one I remember. She had bloodied feet and wore a red dress. I remember that for some reason because of the way the color stood out in the rain. I got away (obviously) and walked the island. There’s a lot of people here; the living kind. Survivors, like us. There’s a city area, well, a place with a bar and a few shops and a motel boarded up like Fort Knox. They even have stables here near where the Ferris wheel is. A kind of shanty town has been built in the woods but the suburbs are mostly empty. It’s a scary place to be especially at night just because nothing moves. There’s few if anyone left in the houses and not much left inside to take. I’ve seen a few other houses; the nice kind that look like they exist in a bubble where the world never went crazy like it did. I wonder who had the time to grab all the nice things before the world died? I wish I’d gotten the memo. I don’t even have a photo of you and it’s killing me! A lot of houses have big fences around them though am not sure if it’s to keep out the living or the dead – or both. People are mostly kind but the buildings aren’t. Mad Max would love it here if he were a real person I mean. Ugh celebrities. I miss those too. I never realized how constant the gossip and tabloids until there’s nothing there. Nothing to take my mind off, nothing to distract me from how hungry I am, or how cold, or how lonely and miserable. But for the most part so far I’ve kept to myself. After what Whitey did-

Never mind. None of that’s important anymore. Only have to think about getting through this day and then the next and then the next. Take each day as it comes. I keep waking up expecting Doc to be there squinty-eyed and sullen, but he’s not. I feel so lost without him. Did you know we got married? Crazy right? I mean, there weren’t any priests out Noah and no church of course beyond the one in the MC’s clubhouse, but we still did it anyway. I can’t remember if it was Doc’s idea or mine but we got married outside and had the rest of the MC as witnesses. I’d like to think he said yes because he wanted to, because he loved me, but I can’t shake the feeling he did it to protect me. You know the whole ‘hands off the Old Lady’ rule they all have there. Probably the only rule any of them ever followed if the stories they used to share were true (and I highly doubt that, haha). I miss him. I really do. Figures that I’d finally find someone after all these years with no-hopers and the world ends. But I’ll see him again. I know I will. I keep thinking maybe he’s wandering around not knowing who he is or where he is but he’s safe and by some miracle finds his way here. That whatever force let us survive all this will lead him here, and you, my dearest little sister.

How are you? Where are you? Wherever you are I hope you are fine, you are safe and warm and dry and not alone. Being alone is hard when you’re used to having someone. I know you like to be independent but you need someone too. I know you probably still miss Corban. I wish I could have made things right there between you before you left for Vegas. I’d like to think if Corban’s still alive that he’s one of the good guys we used to think he was, that you used to say he was, before all of what happened at camp. That’s a long story. I’ll tell you about it when we meet up again. If we do. When we do. And Doc can fill in the gaps that I miss with his southern slang and drawl. You know I never heard him swear so much or even talk as much as he did while we were on the road. You’d never believe it. And he’s racist! I never knew! I mean, he was good friends with Vito, the Mexican guy at the MC that used to think he was like some Italian mobster? The one who seemed to live in the cook-house with all the drugs; remember him? He didn’t make it. Got taken outside of Flagstaff but at least he isn’t coming back; Whitey saw to that. Piece of shit. I’m glad that prick’s dead. Again long story. It can wait until you get here. And maybe even longer than that. At least the world’s ending had one benefit beyond end of taxes with his death. I know after all this we shouldn’t take death so lightly and I don’t. I just wish he could have suffered more first. Make him live as one of those things chained in a pit somewhere forever to starve to death where he can’t hurt no one else. At least I know now that he can’t. Still if anyone deserved to end up one of those things it was him. I hope he’s rotting in hell. I’m sure of it.

My hands are so sore they keep cramping around the pencil. Have you ever tried sharpening a pencil with a knife? I’m not Bear Gryls. This is hard! I miss my laptop and my smart phone! I found a teddy bear in one of the trash cans. He stinks so bad. I washed him down by the docks a few times and he still smells funny but he’s warm and gives me something to cuddle into. I named him Henry. I think you’ll like him when you see him. He’s like a little taste of home and when we were growing up. Then again I loved all the stuffed animals; you were too busy playing dress-ups and getting into mom’s makeup. Anyway, I got off track. I was trying to tell you I’ve built a place for us here in Arklay. Well I didn’t build it, it’s just a tent in the woods, but I’ve put up a fence using bits of tin and wood and drum barrels. It doesn’t sound safe but it’s pretty secure. I’ve spent weeks at it; dragging things back here and using a brick like a hammer to bash the poles in. I was worried about the noise bringing those things to me but I had a lot of luck. Like I said, there’s not many of them in Arklay. It’s the safest place I’ve been in so long and it’s feeling a little safer every day. I really need to be careful though. The camp is on the other side of the bay; if you get here and make it to the hospital look past it and you’ll see ships. I’m on the other side of them, behind the cliffs. Sometimes I sneak down there when it’s quiet and take a few things. I know I shouldn’t but I do. After taking a man’s life taking a bucket or a fishing rod doesn’t seem that big a deal. But saying it that way… I passed a church the other day. It made me think I should go in and pray for forgiveness for what I did. I can’t. I did what I did and God will forgive me or He won’t. I did it to save Doc’s life. I did it to save any other life that passed through the city on the way to Arklay and walked into his trap. I know I can try and justify it all I want but his blood is still on my hands. I try not to think about it. I think about what I have to do and what I can do and pray that if God’s still up there He’ll judge me with more mercy than he showed the rest of the planet. I dare say God’s answering machine is pretty full right about now anyway. He can wait.

Anyway I dig in the bins every day, several times a day. Sometimes I find things that could be useful. I’m starting to build a collection of crap that makes your shoe collection look meagre in comparison, haha. Oh! And I’ve started fishing! Most days I don’t catch anything but one day I caught FOUR FISH! You’d have been so proud. Or disgusted, I’m not sure which. I don’t know if they’re safe to eat but I decided to take the risk. I boil the water and I have buckets and pots out to collect water when it rains. Food is low though. Even clean drinking water. Even boiling the water here doesn’t take the smell away and it makes me sick if I have too much. A few times when I was working on the fence I was so focused I forgot to eat and drink. It sounds crazy but I didn’t have time. I pushed myself to breaking point. My hands were bleeding. I had diarrhea. I was sick and shaking. I curled up behind some tin and ate a candy bar and I slept. And I used bits of clothing to bandage my hands and kept going. I used rags for toilet paper. Damn I miss the little things. The fence isn’t finished but it almost is. The tent is another thing I stole. There used to be a house across the road from me. It’s not there no more. People picked it clean, even the frame and the stumps. There’s literally nothing but empty land there now. People are like vultures now and I am one of them. I steal a lot of things I know I shouldn’t but I have to. I have to get the camp ready for when you and Doc make it here. I have to make it safe so we can all be a family again.

I want to keep writing to you sis, but my hands won’t let me. I’ll write you again soon. Hopefully I won’t need to because you’ll be here. I miss you and I love you with every piece of my heart. Stay safe. Stay alive.

Your big sis,