As for me, The three of us survived the night. We spent hours on the little island. We tried to sleep, but couldn't. We would look across the river to the banks, and see the lumbering forms against the lights and flames. When we closed out eyes, we could still see them. Half way through the night we heard a helicopter. I broke out my flashlight and signaled. 3 short flashes, 3 long and then 3 short again: Morse code for "SOS." It got their attention, and showed we were too intelligent to be zombies.
The Helicopter was military. two armed soldiers got out and and questioned us, asking the our names, the date, and anything else they could think of to make sure we were all concious, thinking creatures. The said they were searching for survivors, and would bring us to an outpost to await transport to Fort Dix. Before we could get on, they made us put on some collars, and locked them on. They told us they would monitor our vitals. We told them we were fine, and they told us everyone tells them they are fine. We found four more survivors and made our way to the outpost. On the way, our armor became the subject of light conversation, at least until someone asked if they were completely zombie-proof. I when we mentioned how we found out that the cardboard loses it's protective ability, silence overtook our companions.
When we got to the outpost, we were coralled into an office building and directed to a room that acted as a makeshift infirmary so we can be examined. My friends check out fine, but they noticed my burn. I tried to explain that it was just a burn, but they said the rules were clear, I had to be held in the observation room room overnight and check my blood in the morning. If everything checked out, I would be shipped on the next transport where I would be reunited with my friends at Fort Dix.
The observation room was a glass conference room with some military cots, and two additional survivors. at about 4 am, I found out what the collars were really for. I woke up to hear the collar on the cot next to me buzzing. A soldier opened the door, gun raised, and shouted for me to get the hell away from the cots. withing 30 seconds of the start of the buzzing, the gentleman sat up with a dead, glossy stare, and an explosive charge within the collar went off, killing him again. We were moved to a second observation room while a hazmat team rushed in.The other survivor dragged out cots to the opposite sides of the new room, and we watched each other from across the room until exhaustion overtook us.
We were allowed to awake on our own. When we did, we were sent for a second physical that included a blood test. Both of us were declared safe and loaded onto a transport. Throughout the trip, the collar began to itch and irritate. It was purely psychological, I wanted it off. After pulling at it once or twice, a soldier leaned over and said "trust me, you don't want to play with it" he then showed me the one he was wearing "we all have to wear them outside the base, you'll get used to it"
When we landed behinf the gates of Fort Dix, we were greeted, and liberated from our collars. Before I could get oriented, I was asked to go to the office of one of the base commanders.
"I've been told you were in training to be a clinical psychologist before this all started."
"You haven't been conscripted, you don't have to call me 'Sir.' At any rate, we're short staffed and need people to work with the soldiers and refugees, We need to keep them stable."
"I'm still just a student. I've had all of two clients on my own. I'm not qualified to do this."
"Fine, tell me who is qualified to deal with the emotional stress that arises from an apocalypse involving the walking, animated dead, and I'll fly them in. Until then, we need people who have at least some training, and we have some people to supervise as well."
"I'm still not sure..."
"It would be in your best interests to help."
"In thought I wasn't conscripted."
"Let me put it this way. right now we have food in our freezers, and a relatively small population. A week from now, we'll be surviving on rations. Resources will be doled out according to how likely you are to help us survive. The more crucial you are to the base, the better we can afford to feed you and your friends. You have a chance to both help your race survive and do so with a little comfort. What do you think?"
"Who is the supervisor?"
So now I'm part of the small team keeping an Army base full of refugees sane and stable.
Now who's going to keep me sane and stable?