01 Feb We Discovered a New Island in the Pacific Ocean: Here’s What Happened Next
9 days. Apparently, 9 days, 11 hours and 23 minutes is all that it takes to destroy a nation and major world power. I’ve been calculating just how long it’s been since the first reports had surfaced of them first arriving on our shores and when they stormed the capital where I live, leaving a path of annihilation and untold suffering in their wake. No, no, these things aren’t zombies. They’re… so much worse than that.
Which nation am I referring to, you may be asking? Some call us the Emerald of the Equator, Nusantara or the world’s greatest archipelago, but I just like to tell Americans that we’re the Philippine’s older brother-nation. At over two-thirds of the population of America, we are certainly no small country, but I imagine many of you in the United States have never heard of Indonesia before, although we have certainly heard of you.
In Jakarta, where I currently make my abode, things seem darker than they’ve ever been before. While I write this, smoke wafts in through the cracks in my window and underneath my door, sweat drips down my nose and cheeks considering the power went out long ago and my hands tremble as I attempt to describe what I imagine to be the worst calamity to strike humanity in thousands of years.
Chittering, skittering, chattering noises echo across this city every single hour of every single day. During the dim daylight hours, but especially at night when I lay on the floor, wide-eyed and alone, I hear other things too. I hear the moans, the wails, the blood-curdling screams, the sounds of fires raging, cars crashing and alarms blaring. But by far the worst are the voices, human voices that come in all manner of tongues and tones: Indonesian, Javanese, Chinese, English. What’s universal about these voices is that almost all of them screech and cry and beg for mercy, but the horrible truth is it’s becoming more and more difficult to tell which ones to trust, if any at all.
Some sound fresh, others sound barely human at all anymore, but during some of the worst bouts of muffled shouting, sobbing, choking and vomiting I hear through my walls, I put as many physical barriers in front of my entryway as I possibly can, curl up in the corner of my filthy, wet, roach-ridden apartment, cover my ears and wait for it to pass in favor of a more acceptable level of verbal chaos.
How did it come to this?
I was in the middle of watching a rather goofy Malaysian film called KL Zombi one hot and stuffy December day when I decided to switch the channel, coming upon a breaking news broadcast over a new bout of rioting happening in the Eastern part of the country. The indigenous people of Papua had been in conflict with the central Indonesian government since our country’s independence, so this was nothing new to me and it also wasn’t news when I heard that the internet for the province was being cut off, however the recent developments that were captured by local journalists were quite unusual to say the least.
In another part of Papua, I saw as a news crew was gathered around the shore on a particularly cloudy day. A young female reporter walked along the beach while bathed in sunlight and pointed to a clump of what looked like a large dark mass of… something? It was hard to describe seeing as it almost appeared to be fleshy and lumpy in shape, at nearly 10 meters across and 3 meters high, yet with a smooth shiny texture. That’s when I realized that it wasn’t a cloudy day at all and the ocean wasn’t covered in the shade of clouds above.
The ocean was tainted black.
My jaw hit the floor. The entire ocean, all the way up to the horizon as far as I could see on my cheap television, was a very dark muddled gray, in contrast to the brightly illuminated anchor and the beach around her.
An oil spill perhaps? I mused, quickly looking up the keywords on my search engine, but I received no relevant results for this area or time, I didn’t even think there was oil drilling in this part of Papua.
My attention turned back to the TV and I watched with anticipation as the anchor walked up to the black mass with a t-shirt tied around her face (I assume for the stench) and, with a gloved hand, motioned around it’s center while talking about the dangers of pollution, and it was only then that I realized that the hulking, bloated and distorted monstrosity on the television behind the anchor was a beached whale. What kind of whale could become so deformed and what could’ve done this to it, I cannot imagine, but my attention, as well as the attention of the anchor was quickly drawn back behind her, as the carcass began to undulate, rumble and expand before it’s mid-section popped like a balloon, sending a spattering of black gunk and bile as well as a thick red liquid I can only assume to be blood flying in all directions.
Naturally, the woman, the crew and the lens of the camera were drenched in the disgusting substance, and I saw the cameraman lean down and attempt to wipe off the thin layer coating the only gateway that I had to view this bizarre occurrence. The microphone must have been coated too, because the sound was extremely muffled, but after the lens was somewhat cleansed with a cloth, I could see the anchor attempt to back away from the internal organs and viscera of the whale carcass that had just ejected themselves outwards from their natural holding place. However as the young woman was wiping the dark goo away from her eyes and off her face and stepping away from the murky surf, I saw her stop for a second before quickly glancing back with a look of panic, but before I could inspect further, I saw nothing but static as the feed was abruptly cut off.
Thankfully with the aid of technology, I was able to take my remote and rewind from before the feed was cut and pressed my face as near as I dare to the TV screen (ignoring the 2 inch long roach that was scuttling near the corner of the screen) and observed more closely as to why the woman stopped, and I was shocked to see that it almost appeared as if the fluid and gore that had splashed onto the ground at her feet had reached out and latched onto her ankle, keeping her from moving.
That’s when I noticed that these weren’t normal riots and this wasn’t going to be a normal December. As the death toll from the most recent bout of “rioting” began to rack up into the quadruple digits, I knew that the government and news agencies were lying to us about it’s true cause. It wasn’t until I started checking the news online that I found out what was truly going on as I saw videos of the infected.
From the city of Jayapura, to remote villages in the heart of Papua, it seemed reports of violence, hysteria and disease were breaking out all over the island, and seeing footage of these people made me wonder what could compel human beings to act in such a manner. I witnessed an entire village of Papuan locals go mad, babbling incoherently and tearing at their own flesh as well as that of those in their immediate vicinity, and every time they did, in addition to the red blood that would spill out onto the ground, that same black fluid would splash on their clothes, hands and feet.
This wasn’t just a native problem either, as I saw footage someone captured from their cell phone of a hospital in Jayapura where the walls looked almost completely black and slick, coated by the oily substance, with lunatics running around in the fray, who, as seen by their black eyes, veins and mouths, were all affected with the same contagion and all screaming. But I could actually understand what they were saying now, and found to my shock and horror that they were not ramblings of lunatics losing their minds, but rather cries of pain, pitiful sorrows and sometimes aggressive threats as they jumped on and ravaged any and all hospital staff that they could see who were not already infected. Right before the filming spectator was rushed by an infected doctor, the aggressive creature in the white lab coat said something quite strange.
“T-t-t-t-t-t-tidaaaak ada syuut-t-t-t-t-ting!” the madman clicked and bellowed as he whacked the phone out of the cameraman’s hand and onto the ground, cutting the livestream.
Other cases were filmed from helicopters, and although not quite as personal or frightening as the handheld footage, it was far more disturbing as you could plainly see the true scope of the disaster as it was clear that by this point they had taken the streets. Thousands of them screeched nonsense and violently destroyed everything in their wake, grabbing men, women and children out of cars and ripping out their throats or puncturing them with claw-like hands, only to have those that they had just dispatched rise up and join them, sometimes within less than a minute. Some of the infected were almost unrecognizable as human beings, nearly coated head to toe in that oily black slime, with legs and arms stretched far too long for their bodies and twisted into ungodly positions. I watched all this carnage break out from the comfort and safety of my home on my laptop’s screen… for a while at least.
Indonesia is an archipelago you see, a chain of islands strung across thousands of kilometers, and hence I thought I had enough time to get things in order before this contagion- or whatever it was, could reach my neighborhood in Jakarta on the island of Java. However, by this time I could receive no further updates as it appeared that the President had signed an executive order completely shutting off commercial internet access in the entire country, supposedly in order to curb “misinformation.” Even those trusty VPNs couldn’t seem to crack the encryption that’s keeping the world from knowing about the peril we 260 million souls now find ourselves in, although, truth be told, I have no way of knowing if the rest of humanity is faring any better than we are.
This was the turning point that set the entire city into panic mode as civilians razed stores, looted small shops and stole any and all supplies they could in order to barricade their homes and prepare for the worst, all while local police and soldiers either stood by and watched or often joined in, abandoning their posts in order to be with their families and loved ones.
Like the procrastinator I am, I stayed at home until it was too late, and by the time I finally exited my 16th floor apartment, I was greeted with utter bedlam on the streets below me and even in my own apartment building as families dashed back and forth, some of whom were clearly infected as seen by black veins running up their necks, but had not yet fully lost their minds.
I was able to grab a handful of supplies from a local market; a few dozen bananas and plastic bag-full of canned goods, but it was an extremely treacherous and risky journey as I witnessed dozens of infected shambling in the streets. Several actually attempted to approach me, while others still shouted out to me before growing increasingly frustrated and angry when I ignored them, but thankfully they directed their aggression at other uninfected passerby.
It’s a goddamn miracle I made it back alive and uninfected. After this, I strictly relegated myself to the inside of my apartment, pushing my mattress, drawers, TV stand, TV and anything else against the only door in the home, but after several days of isolation curiosity got the better of me. I had taken up people watching from the safety of my apartment, looking down at the chaos and destruction taking place down below.
The sole window located in my apartment faces out from the front of the building and one evening I looked down in bewilderment and terror as I saw my neighbor from across the hall (a Dutch expatriate named Jens) stumbling down the street, clearly infected as seen by the light trail of black ink droplets left behind in his wake. He careened and shuffled from side to side, desperately asking fellow infected pedestrians if they could help him get home to no avail. One large infected man he drunkenly bumped into reacted aggressively, shoving him across the street and onto the ground, sending his head smacking against a nearby mail drop-box.
The drop-box was solid steel to keep thieves at bay, and hence, when he hit it, I could see from my window that a large tear had opened up on the side of his skull, sending a fresh wave of blood and tar dribbling down the side of his face. That’s when his head slowly drifted up and his eyes met with mine. I immediately ducked my head back into the seclusion of my 2-room home.
“Wait-t-t-t-t-t-t! I found it-t-t-t-t-t!” Jens stuttered out ecstatically as I imagined he began pointing out directly towards my apartment since I was one of the few neighbors he would recognize.
I cursed myself for my recklessness, and waited with baited breath for the inevitable. It was only a few minutes before I heard the awkward gait of the creature that used to be Jens making his way to and fro down the hall, and I nearly yelped in shock and fear as soon as I heard the same stuttering/clicking noise I had heard him make earlier on the street. It was approaching, and fast.
I braced myself against my makeshift blockade as quickly as I could before I felt and heard a series of belligerent knocks in rapid succession on the other side of the flimsy thin wooden door. Knowing that the thing that once was Jens was only inches away on the other side was profoundly panic-inducing, but I knew I had to stay absolutely quiet.
“Neighbor!” he called out in an almost jovial tone. “Neighbor! I think something’s wrong. I need t-t-t-t-t-to go home.”
My eyes began to well up with tears out of fear and pity, and I gritted my teeth as I saw the doorknob begin to turn and felt a much greater pressure coming from the other side of the door. You fucking idiot, I thought to myself. In my haste to block off the entrance, I had completely forgotten to even lock the front door in the first place.
“Everything hurt-t-t-t-t-t-t-ts,” he let out in a sorrowful plea, but I refused to budge even an inch or exhale the breath I had been holding for a good half minute now.
By another extraordinary miracle, I heard the door on the opposite side of the hall open up, and the mounting pressure against my door immediately ceased, as my aggressor was now drawn elsewhere. My eyes drifted downwards and I saw a pool of black goo and red blood had seeped through the crack of my door, which I made a quick mental note of to keep away from at all costs.
“Please help me home,” Jens screamed at my unknown savior. “Please get-t-t-t-t-t-t-t me home!”
Whether the person who served as a distraction for my dangerously insane neighbor was infected or not was not my concern, I couldn’t have helped them even if I wanted to. Thankfully, that was the closest call I’ve had since I’ve barricaded myself here in my home, but I haven’t gotten any more hopeful. It’s been weeks, or maybe even months now since I lost power, and I’ve all but since stopped keeping track of the days. I doubt it’s even the same year I think it is.
They’re NOT zombies. Zombies don’t make conversation with themselves late at night in the middle of the street or yell obscene rants at the top of their lungs in the apartment above or beg for assistance while alone in an alley, only to turn and attack you once you come near, switching from begging for assistance to begging for forgiveness. All this I have witnessed and more, leading me to the conclusion that the minds of these infected people are at least still partially intact, and they still maintain some degree of autonomy over their movements. Although the contagion seems to have a greater control over their physical bodies, their brains (however poisoned) are still very much alive and fighting (and losing) for control.
I don’t know what this thing is or where it came from, but it’s changing people. They act erratically, and sometimes seemingly without purpose, but the one thing they have in common is the desire to spread the contagion, which is why I imagine there’s so much vomiting, bleeding, weeping and even spitting going on with the infected, spreading that disgusting foul-smelling black sludge onto all surfaces within sight.
I cautiously took a glance out of my window earlier for the first time in weeks, and I’m starting to see things; new, fascinating, wondrous and terrible things. To inspire wonder is not always for the best however, as the only emotions the revelations of the outside world could muster in me were complete and utter horror and anxiety of the highest magnitude.
The sun no longer shines through the never-ending stream of dark clouds that have enveloped the city. The clouds, a thick and unnaturally dark shade of black, release black rain onto the streets below from time to time, and I can only imagine what would occur if myself or another healthy human were to be exposed to even the smallest drop. It seems that the contagion which is causing all this is beginning to mutate, or perhaps this was the evolutionary end of it’s life cycle the whole time.
Fleshy black tissue is now bursting out of the windows and doors of building and homes of all shapes and sizes. I made the mistake the other day of looking at the skyscraper next to my own building and saw a patchwork network of slimy revolting organic appendages branching all across the structure, almost like overgrown vines or plant life. In the center of this new unnatural mass is the most puzzling, though not the most disturbing alteration; a large blue-tinted collection of translucent flesh is now visible, gently pulsating and contracting back and forth. Some nights, it even emits a bright neon blue light, bathing my small apartment in it’s horrific splendor, forcing me to bury my head in my knees in order to avoid this constant reminder of my torment.
Some buildings are even connected by strands of stringy black flesh that almost looks like ropes of black snot strung together after a sneeze. Without question, the worst part though is the collection of arms, legs, hands and faces that lay embedded in this black flesh, their skin fused into the new walls of what were once great skyscrapers. All of them are still alive, gasping for air to fill lungs that likely no longer exist, yet many are still capable of talking, shouting and bawling, with black tears flowing down their twisted faces. All this happens in complete darkness, or worse, illuminated by the pale blue light of the new sun that formed in front of my building, giving me a shockingly clear view of the pain, desperation and regret etched across the thousands of faces of infected that litter the walls.
Java is a crowded isle you see: over 150 million people, a size nearly half that of the US, all crammed onto an island the size of Florida. Imagine a seemingly endless sprawling city with countless people to use and consume as biomass for whatever sick and demented endgame this contagion is working towards, not caring about the mental and physical collateral it inflicts on it’s victims. The collective human suffering on this island must by far eclipse that in all of Asia during WWII. By the time this is over, I have a feeling that the entire city of Jakarta will be alive with the flesh of human beings and other animals, infected and converted into these dreadful strange new life forms that litter the area, all the while the last remaining unassimilated infected roam the streets against their will and the assimilated infected scream in agony and confusion while conjoined with the greater hive.
It’s been 4 days since I ran out of food, and although, when I dared to take a peep at the streets it seemed like they had mostly calmed down and cleared of infected individuals since when I last looked a few weeks ago, those large swaying black tendrils that are growing out of the buildings and storm drains are possibly even more horrific.
I think I can say with confidence that this island is currently the closest place to hell I can think of on the planet.