[Except taken from a journal located in Ogden, UT. Year of the events is unknown, however records indicate that the author, a -REDACTED- was taken prisoner by the Appalachian Defense Force in Erie, PA, in 7PA. (Post Ashfall)]
>Day 12. Deep in the Ashlands now. Never seen anything like it before. Land's all twisted and tore up. Hundreds of miles from Yellowstone and still looks like a giant's jammed a spade into the earth and auger'd it up. Gray, too. Not an ounce of color. At least there's still some green back home. Sky's gray as slate, never stops shitting grit ash. Ground's same color as the sky, can't hardly tell where one stops and the other begins. Easy to see how a man can go nuts out here. Men are gray too, ash in our hair, ash in our clothes, ash sticking to our sweat like plaster. Ash as deep as our knees, as our shoulders. Ash in our eyes, our mouths, our lungs. Ash in our food, ash in our water. Us gray ghosts in gray fog.
>Day 15. TEF labor party. POWs they call us, though I weren't never part of their war. Passed from ADF to SCC to RGC to TEF like a hunk of meat between mongrels. Prison trades, labor for goods. Carter was all uppity bout it. 'Old Fart' Carter, old enough to bitch 'bout the Geneva Convention. ADF bellyshot him outside of Pittsburgh, let him bleed out as an example. Seismo's tore up the rail line just west of Salt Lake City. Got us out layin' the new tie and track, get the trains running to Carson City again. Guards are nervous. One says this don't look like any seismo damage he's ever seen before. Looks deliberate, he says. Did two tours in the occupied zones and knows what sabotage looks like, he says. Rest of the guards don't like that bit of info none at all.
>Day 16. Four klicks of track down. Ash getting heavier. Keep getting chills like something walking on my grave. Keep seeing shadows moving in the ashfall, but they're always gone when I look back. Don't think I'm hallucinating them, hope to Hell I am.
>Day 18. Laid three more klicks of tie and track today. Always hungry, always thirsty, always tired. Never gonna get this grit taste out of my mouth. Gray inside now, too. Snot's all gray, teeth are gray. Starting to think guard might be right. Rail's all bent up and twisted, ties are cracked, but rail bed is still solid. No sign of seismo damage. Someone pulled these rails on purpose. Don't like that none either. Everyone's on edge.
>Day 19. Mormon's gone. Made off with. 15 paces behind him and I didn't see shit, ash storm was so thick. No tracks, no nothing. Guards are shittin' bricks now. No idea if he ran off in the storm. No idea if he keeled over and I walked right by him. They got us on half-rats tonight as punishment. I think the guards know that he didn't escape, but they don't want us to know that. Heard one of them mention Arkansas before the others shut him up.
>Day 20. We shouldn't be here why the fuck are we here. Keep hearing things in the distance. Sifting ash with no wind. Shrieks that sound like coyotes. But WHAT IS LIVING OUT HERE? Even guards getting freaked out. Arkansas is fighting with CO to turn back. Says they're out there, gonna kill us all. Says the rail line's not worth it. CO beats him down, puts him on half-rats.
>Day 22. Found Mormon. Didn't keel over miles back. Rails are twisted into the sky like beckoning arms, all bent and corkscrewed. NOTHING HUMAN DID THIS. Mormon's been strung all over them like fucking dried jerky on a line, guts and muscles all gray and caked with ash. So hungry for meat I start drooling. Guards argued for about thirty minutes then had us cut him down and start fixing track anyway. I tore off a piece and ate it when no one is looking. Almost cried from how good it tasted...
>Day ??? Guards are gone. Others all gone. Heard a voice calling. Sounded like Mormon but not quite right. Arkansas just lost his shit. Started screaming, shooting at nothing. I SAW IT GET HIM. Came out of the ash like it was BORN from it. Saw the bullets hit home, walked right through them. Tore Arkansas clean to shreds with its claws. Limbs everywhere. Blood so red against the ash it hurt to look at. Hadn't seen color in weeks, forgot what it looked like. Too tall to be human, skin pulled taut over bones, limbs stretched too long. Face like a skinned deer, mouth full of fangs, knotty antlers. Eyes white as an exposed bone. Gray flesh. Gray as ash. Gray as mine. Heard the others screaming. Heard shrieks that weren't man. JUST RAN. Lots of gunfire behind me, stopped real fast.
>[Author stops separating entries by date at this point. Unknown what length of time these events take place over.] Still out there. Can smell them, now. Hunting? Watching? They talk to me after the sun goes down. Mormon's voice. Arkansas voice. carter's voice MY VOICE THEY HAVE MY VOICE. Following for days but WHY WON'T THEY COME FOR ME??! [Illegible.] So hungry. eat meat they leave me but never full. Can see ribs now tight against skin. Sick but can't puke. Know meat must be from guards from prisoners but so hungry can't help my self. [Illegible.] feel so warm inside now. fingers are bleeding now blood so bright so red so bright so red so bright so
[Handwriting continues to degrade from this point until it is completely unintelligible. Pages are increasingly soaked in what appears to be blood, though forensic analysis concludes that it is not human in nature. Interesting to note that given the location the journal was discovered in, the author was heading north TOWARDS the Dead Zone when the journal was discarded.]
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