Day 1:

This is my first time out of the city and I am equally nervous and excited. We departed early in the morning before the sun had risen above the city walls. The wagon moved slowly but steadily through the muddy ruts of those who had come this way before. After traveling south until midday, our guide Dermond, turned the party west into the heart of the darkening forest, leaving what passed for a road behind. Our progress from that point became considerably slower as we cleared a path for the wagon through the underbrush and around the larger trees.

It is evening now and we are near the caves that we seek. Dermond refuses to go any further until morning. Even with such a cautious distance, Dermond insisted that a barricade be built before we could rest. We are finally done and the sun is setting behind the thick trees. Dermond has built a fire and people are sharing stories about previous expeditions. I have been listening halfheartedly as I cannot wait to begin my research tomorrow.

Day 2:

I woke early on the second morning, before even Dermond. I was determined to see the cave and its inhabitants that Dermond had discovered on a previous trip. He claimed that when he had stood at the mouth of the cave, he could hear frightful moans and smell the cloying odor of death. His courage did not go any further, and it was only with a stipend from the University that I was able to get him to lead us here. I believe it may be the source of the strange corpse-like Zombies that have been whispered about. Many in the city believe they are a myth, but I have to find out. If they do exist, it could provide the breakthrough I so desperately need for my research.

We reached the cave just as the sun had reached the zenith and even at a good distance I could smell the air turn sour and rotten. Dermond tore a strip from his sleeve and tied it around his nose and mouth. I and the others did the same and then we made our way towards the mouth of the cave. I heard the Zombie before I saw her, and I believe I smelt her even before that. A putrescent face, with tight, shriveled skin, empty eye sockets, mushrooms and other fungal eruptions all over her body. I do not know how it saw, or if it was even capable of sight. She, for it was unmistakably female, shambled forward and as it did I heard my companions break into a run back towards the relative safety of the forest. They need not have run for the creature was unwilling to pass into the sunlight beyond the mouth of the cave.

I could see other Zombies shambling about further inside; some must have been more recently turned because their bodies were unblemished by rot although their smooth skin looked shrunken and dehydrated. Some still wore the homespun clothes of farmers or field laborers. Still further within the cave, barely perceptible in shadows, I spied slowly moving forms seemingly overtaken with the horrible fungal growth and I am glad that these figures remained in the dark.

To me it seemed only a moment had passed but then Dermond was pulling at my arm and dragging me back towards the forest. The sun was setting and Dermond had been clear that these creatures were not to be met in the dark. I protested, yanking at him and dragging my feet in the earth but my companions, who had never returned to the cave after fleeing earlier, were already back at camp. We shall return to the cave tomorrow and I shall be better prepared to document our findings. At the University there had only been crude drawings of Zombie forms based on the rare first-hand accounts. Now, after years of study and anticipation, I have seen them in the “flesh” as it were. I am filled with both horror and fascination. I can’t wait to get one up close.

Day 3:

I am bitterly frustrated with these cowards I have had thrust upon me. Dermond has proven himself an untrustworthy guide and these other companions are no friends of mine.

We were awoken in the night by the sound of scratching and moaning at the barricades. The stench was overwhelming. It appears that these shambling corpses are more active at night.

Dermond and the others cowered behind the barricade and would not let me get a closer look. This morning they have decided to flee back to the city. They will not allow me to go to the cave, even for one last look. I intend to slip away while they are loading the tents and run for the cave.

I have to see what is inside. I have to know what brings these bodies back to life. What species of mushroom has made it’s home in their desiccated flesh? How do they react to sunlight? I have to know!