“May 16, 2042
Found this little journal while scavenging today. Figured I could use a hobby… I’ll be writing what I know about the Fissures, as well as what I know about the creatures that come from them. Kind of like a bestiary of sorts. Anyway, here we go…
It’s been 5 years since the First Fissure, and as far as I can tell, no one’s figured out what caused it. I mean, we don’t even really know what they are, just that if you see one, you turn the other way and run like hell. After the first, other Fissures sprouted up like weeds, flooding the land with creatures of all shapes, sizes, and degrees of nightmare fuel. After the initial Breach, the Fissures slowed down a bit. Nowadays I only see one every couple of weeks. Most call them Fissures because of their appearance. A crack, or maybe a rip in our reality. Their colors can change, but most characteristics remain the same. First, you can feel the static rise in the air, as well as a slight rumble, as if reality itself is combating the appearance of the abnormality. Then they appear with a flash, a surge of heat, and electric distortions similar to an EMP that scrambles nearby electronics. They also seem to displace anything that occupies the same space they appear in. When the Fissure disappears, whatever was in that spot previously is gone. I’ve seen a Fissure appear in the middle of a building, bringing the whole structure down. Sadly, that’s all I can really say about them. Anyone close to one, if not killed by the appearance of the fissure, were killed by the creatures coming out.
It’s getting late now. Fenix is curled up next to me and is snoring softly. When he sleeps, that’s my cue that the area is clear for now. I’ll try to remember to update this thing.
Joel closed the small, leather bound journal and switched off his flashlight. He knew that wasting battery on writing a journal that no one would likely read was foolish, however it gave him a hobby, something to do besides just survive. He would have to keep an eye out for more batteries the next time he went scavenging. “Good boy,” he said while gently scratching Fenix behind his large, pointy ears. He was the only one Joel had an emotional connection to these days, and the German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix had saved him multiple times, usually by alerting him to nearby dangers. They were family. They were survivors. Putting the small book in his jacket pocket, Joel relaxed, settled into the corner, pulled out his Colt 1911, and, with gun in hand, fell asleep.
The sun began to shine through the abandoned apartments east window as Joel gathered what he’d need for the day. His 1911, a SIG 716, a heavy duty machete, a .38 special in an ankle holster, a well worn olive backpack, extra ammo, and some food and water.
“Want some breakfast?” said Joel, pausing for an answer he knew he wouldn’t get from Fenix. The dog perked up his ears. “Spam or canned chicken?” he continued. Fenix wagged his tail in response. “Spam it is…” he sighed as he started the camping stove.
The apartment the two were holed up in was fairly safe, all things considered. Safe enough to cook small meals and sleep anyway. Joel had taken the old furniture from surrounding apartments and used them to fortify their third floor home base. The windows were boarded, with slats to allow light through. The door was reinforced with sheets of metal and extra slide locks, as well as a bar to cross the door.
Fenix watched the sizzling spam intently, one ear sticking straight up, while the right one flopped lazily forward. Joel gave him a pat on the head. “Almost done buddy,” he said, and removed the pan from the small portable stove. They ate in silence, and after finishing, Joel said, “Alright, let’s go.”
The two moved through the halls of the abandoned apartment building. While he was always vigilant, Joel wasn’t too worried about any conflicts. He had been set up in what used to be Fort Collins for about 6 months now, and had scouted and cleared out a pretty wide area. He hadn’t seen anyone since he arrived, none that were breathing anyway, but Pouncers still roamed around from time to time. When they reached the landing to the ground floor, a faint noise could be heard coming from outside.
“You hear that boy?” Joel looked at Fenix, who confirmed his suspicions by looking towards the main door, ears perked. The two ran out the door, and paused to listen for the sound again.
Tat tat tat tat
“That’s gunfire… Sounds military,” Joel pinched the bridge of his nose in thought. “S**t,” he muttered. “Alright Fenix, let’s go see what we’re dealing with. With me.” And with that, the two set off across the dilapidated landscape towards the sounds of battle.
“We’re close,” Joel panted. The pair had run for several blocks, and were getting winded. “Let’s get a good vantage. With me boy.” The wander stepped through a broken window into a storefront and began looking for a roof access. After finding the stairs, the duo made their way onto the roof and Joel unslung his rifle. He pointed at the door and said, “Fenix, guard.” The dog stood sentry at the roof access while Joel found the source of the gunfire. Sure enough, a military convoy had attracted attention due to their noise, and were under attack. The newly appointed sniper unslung the rifle and began assessing the situation.
“Holy s**t…” Joel muttered, scoping in on a massive monstrosity whose focus was the now overturned lead vehicle of the convoy. He called these things Juggernauts, and they were nasty. Standing 15 feet tall, bipedal, having slimy red skin, and what seemed to be a dark purple exoskeleton as hard as steel, Juggernauts were very difficult to take down. They also seemed to hold some control over Pouncers, which the Marines were mid-skirmish with. Joel saw one of the Marines, a large black man, get tackled by the dog like monster and was struggling to fend it off. Joel took aim with the SIG, and fired at the attacking creature. It’s chest exploded from the exit wound of the 7.62 round, and after struggling through its final death throes, fell still. The soldier looked around before locating the stranger that had saved him. Joel, who was former military himself, redirected the man’s attention to the battle by pointing to his own eyes with two fingers, then pointing to a pack of advancing Pouncers. The wanderer took aim at towards the soldiers right flank, where two more Pouncers were advancing. Joel fired, striking the first monster in the head. It fell lifeless immediately. He fired again at the second, hitting it in its front leg. One of the Marines noticed this, and finished of the hellish canine with his own rifle. Joel then turned his sights to the Juggernaut. It was beating its large fists into the side of the overturned Humvee, trying to get to the soldiers trapped inside. Joel slowly let out a breath, looking for a weak spot to take advantage of. The joints had less covering, and the convoys new sniper started looking for red flesh hiding between the dark armor. He fired at the neck of the beast, his bullet ricocheting off its thick shoulder plate.
“God dammit…” he said under his breath as he fired another shot. This one pinging off the monster’s chitinous head plating. The giant turned its large head towards the source of its new irritation, barked a series of loud grunts, then turned its attention back to battered vehicle. Joel began looking for another soft spot, but at that moment, he heard Fenix’s snarling bark and knew he was in trouble. As he turned around, he saw a Pouncer had crawled up the side of the building at the Juggernauts behest.
Pouncers were the most common creatures to come from the Fissures. They’re hairless, soft skinned, and have round, bulbous heads. Their clawed forelegs are longer than the back, while the back legs themselves are very muscular. When these creatures pounced, they could propel themselves forward 20 to 30 feet. They have exemplary hearing, but their vision is s**t, so usually they’re pretty easy to distract. But this one had the advantage. It was close enough to see its target, and launched itself forward with a high pitched roar. Joel held his rifle sideways to block himself from the deadly claws of the creature, whose full weight crashed into him. He realized he was now much in the same situation as the soldier he had saved earlier. The creature roared again, saliva spattering over the survivor as he fought. The weight of the monster was soon lifted as Fenix, ever protective of his partner, tackled the threat off of Joel, biting into its flesh. Now free, but with his rifle knocked a few feet away, Joel pulled his 1911 from its holster under his worn leather jacket and fired 3 shots into the beast.
“F**k!” he said, wiping off the slimy substance as he scrambled to his SIG, holstering the Colt. He again took aim at the behemoth and slowed his breathing. The brute had torn the door off the wreckage of the truck, and pulled out a marine in its gargantuan hand. Joel heard the man yelling insults as he unloaded his service pistol into the creatures face. The giant roared a deep, ferocious roar as it wrapped its other hand around the tenacious soldier and tore him in half, blood and entrails pooling on and around the Juggernaut. But as he roared, Joel saw an opening. The fleshy red neck of the beast was exposed. He took the shot, and the throat of the monster exploded into a black, bloody mess. The Juggernaut looked weakly to the roof where Joel was perched, who took the opportunity to fire another round into one of the beasts black eyes. The giant toppled over, hitting the ground with an earth shaking thump. With their leader gone, the remaining Pouncers became uncoordinated, and some began to retreat.
“Saved my a*s again, Fenix,” Joel sighed, as he fired on another stubborn monster, which fell lifeless with the shot. The rest began to flee, and soon all that remained were the marred soldiers, Joel, Fenix, and corpses. “Well, let’s go see who owes us.”
Joel reached the bottom of the stairs, but hesitated before greeting the soldiers.
After the collapse of the government, the remaining military split into two factions. Those that marched forward, trying to save and protect as many as they could, and those that saw this as an opportunity to use their superior might to raid, pillage, and kill other survivors to bolster their supplies. And given the state of the world, both were understandably trigger happy. The initial division was bloody, and even still the two groups clashed when they ran into each other. Joel, as of yet, was unsure of which faction he was dealing with.
“Alright Fenix, stay put,” he whispered to his canine partner, then turning towards the broken window yelled, “Friendly, comin’ out!” Joel exited the rundown storefront, hands slightly raised in a gesture of non-aggression. Two of the remaining Marines raised their weapons in defence, but were quickly addressed by the man Joel had saved from the Pouncer.
“At ease! This is the guy that saved our asses,” he said, walking towards the group. “Thanks for the assist my friend,” he extended his hand towards Joel. “I’m Gunnery Sergeant Jackson. And this is what’s left of the 23rd. 1st Battalion.” Nodding towards his men behind him.
Jackson was a tall, imposing figure, and slightly reminded Joel of John Coffey. He came off as genuinely friendly, but had a sadness to him that was evident. Joel took his hand saying,
“Joel Knox. Sorry about your men Gunny.” Jackson cocked his head at the remark.
“You a Marine?” he asked.
“Where’d you serve?”
“23rd. 3rd Battalion. Is this really all that’s left of you guys?” Joel knew it was an insensitive question, but he was prying for information on his guests motives.
“Unfortunately, no,” Jackson sighed. “About a third of our Batt broke off with some gear to survive on their own. They turned their back on the Corps. Last I heard, they’ve been killing innocent folks and stealing their supplies. But that’s what you’re really asking, isn’t it? If we’re the good ones?” Jackson was a clever guy. But his demeanor when talking about the traitors told Joel that the Sergeant was indeed one of the good guys.
“Sorry Gunny. Guy can’t be too careful these days,” he whistled for Fenix, who came trotting out of hiding and sat next to Joel.
One of the remaining Marines ran up to Jackson. The name on his breast pocket said Cortez. “Sargeant, we’ve finished our assessment. We lost McKnight and Wilcox; Lucky, Martinez, and Cruz are pretty beat up, but they’ll make it; and our lead vehicle is toast.”
Jackson sighed. “Dammit… Load up the wounded, help them get patched up. Bag up the dead, we’ll bury them at home. It’ll be a cramped ride back, but I’m not leaving anyone behind.” Although Joel wasn’t the biggest fan of people, he still felt a responsibility to the corpsmen.
“Hey Gunny, some of the vehicles here still have fuel. There’s a couple trucks I keep working if I need to get out of here. Take one, get your guys home. I do have a request though.”
“Nothing for free huh? What do you need Knox?”
“Ammo. 7.62 and .45’s if you got it. A couple grenades, and some MRE’s if you have any to spare.”
“You’re outta luck on the .45 ammo. I can give you some 7.62, and I’ll give you McKnight and Wilcox’s MRE’s. And if the truck starts, I’ll give you 3 grenades. Deal?”
“I’ll go get you the truck.”
“Hey Marine,” Jackson said, making Joel turn halfway around to look at him. “Why don’t you come with us? We have a small settlement just south of Pueblo. We could always use an extra gun.”
“I’m retired Gunny. And I’m better off alone. Thanks for the offer, but I’ll go get you that truck now.”
Joel began walking towards where he kept the truck before turning back and asking, “Hey Jackson, you got any batteries?”
Joel and Fenix walked back into their safehouse, tired from the days excitement. Joel put away the new box of 7.62 ammo, the four MRE’s, his three new grenades, and a box of AA’s. He then made a couple cans of chicken, which the two ate, then laid on the floor. Joel almost got ready to sleep, before remembering the journal. He wrote a new entry into the small book, then, finally, pulled out his 1911, and fell asleep.