My name is Arland Wright, Ph.D., and I am writing this in Savannah, Georgia, twelve miles into the quarantine zone. Despite having ample opportunity to journal the progress of my experiments elsewhere, I have, of late, felt the need to keep a journal of my more personal thoughts. Being confronted on a daily basis with the whimsy of my own mortality, it has also occurred to me that I should leave a more complete recordings of not only my work, but also my life and motivations for posterity.
Since I was a young boy, I must admit some morbid fascination with the Georgia Quarantine zone. One of my guilty pleasures in my youth were the tawdry dime novels that espoused tales of great adventure within the confines of this location. Despite the thousands killed every year by the red plague, the disease's ability to persist at all, let alone spread, after a hundred years of quarantine has made it a point of some interest in the mind of your average American. Therefore it is of little surprise that I, after attaining my credentials in biology, would jump upon the first chance offered to study the zone.
When the Biohazard Research Unit approached me with the opportunity of actually entering the zone, I had some apprehension, but no hesitation. I straightaway prepared what meager belongings I could not bring into the zone with me for storage near my home in Arizona, and flew to the BRU headquarters in Atlanta. To say that I was immediately disenchanted with the general clime would be an understatement, but a certain determination set in, a stubborn refusal to be defeated on my journey by something so small as an inclement environment.
While there I received training in the use of their particular style of hazard suit, which seemed to me to be somewhat heavier than I had ever used before. Perhaps it is an additional precaution due to how little is yet known about the plague. After being trained, and given a brief radio introduction to the team already within the zone, I was off to the edge of the quarantine zone. Along the way, I rode with an equally enthused Lieutenant Rocweiler, and discovered that he, as well, had read all those terrible dime store novels that had so colored my youth.
The final portion of our journey, the Lieutenant and I undertook alone in full hazard gear, driving an ancient military truck full of supplies to the facility in Savannah. Along the way I caught my first sighting of the so called vampires. I was quite taken aback by the sight of it, despite the distance having obscured it somewhat, for I had been given no prior warning as to their existence. In fact I was not given a full briefing on the poor creatures until I arrived at the facility.
I am still somewhat struck that such a polemic name as vampire was given to a race that has so little in common with the myth. From our observations, despite their looking like nothing so much as a pale human, that is where the similarities end. These creatures are carnivores, not liquivors, as well as being diurnal, and if anything seem to have a shorter lifespan than a human, not longer. They do appear to have established some sort of social order within the zone, producing their own clothing even, but it is in some doubt as to how they communicate or if they maintain the spark of human intelligence as opposed to having brains more of a size with our Neanderthal ancestors.
While I have been assigned to other important tasks of environmental study, the vampires have become a growing personal interest of mine. Doctor Shelby, who is in charge of their study, and I have spent many long nights discussing and theorizing as to their great potential. We are still in some debate as to what relation they have to the virus, as Shelby persists in the notion that the virus has somehow changed normal humans into these supposed vampires. To my mind however, it appears to me that it is more likely that the first "vampire" may have, in fact, existed before the plague. Various crude paintings I have seen while gathering show some sort of conscious knowledge of a time when they were not the unquestioned rulers of this small area. Perhaps, they were by luck immune to the effects of the disease, or of a hardier immune system than humans. In this case the disease would have not been the catalyst for their existence, but rather for their proliferation as the resources that had been previously taken by the humans around them were opened up to easy consumption.
As to more recent events, the Lieutenant has been assisting me in my constant forays into the zone for specimens. For now I am wrapped up in the exploration of various fungi. Spore borne transmission has not been ruled out yet, and while I do have my doubts in the hypothesis, it's solid enough to warrant a more thorough investigation. Nothing has resulted as yet from any of my cultures, except a slight differential in growth pattern of a single culture. That culture however shows no signs of the virus itself, making any meaningful deduction from it's behavior almost impossible.