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  1. Back To Top    #11
    Problem Child bertglamga's Avatar
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    Mar 2014
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    Chapter 11 “Stranger Road”
    Day 22

    As usual these days, very few people were getting any sleep. Lyrik, Otis, and Shawn were the only ones who got regular sleep tonight, not waking up at all throughout the night. Robert was constantly waking up throughout the night, being awoken by nightmares and noises he was probably imagining. Looking across the room, Lyrik seemed peaceful, and that was horrifying to Robert. It seemed so out of place, so unnatural. He grabbed his new machete and walked to Lyrik’s bed slowly, and quietly. He held his breath as he reached out a hand to touch her neck for a pulse, his other hand drawn back, ready to swing. He pressed three fingers against her neck and felt nothing, and he panicked for a moment, before he finally felt another heartbeat, and another a while later. She was fine. Robert ran his hand across his face and sighed. He felt so stupid. He went back across the room and fell down, lying back in his bed, and he drifted back to sleep, hoping he could finally rest.

    Hershel was having an equally difficult time sleeping, for the same reasons. So many things were going through his head, and he knew that soon another of his family would be dead. Things were getting stressful, and there was no way of making it any better. He was staring up at the ceiling, and he felt compelled to speak aloud. Not to himself, but to his wife. He felt as though she were lying next to him, as she had for the last seventeen years. As if she were there for him, as she always had been, to help him. Give him advice, tell him everything was going to be okay. Hershel could feel tears coming, but he fought them back. He sat up, accepting that he wasn’t going to get any rest tonight, and grabbed his Bible off of his bed stand. If anything could keep him level-headed, keep his mind off of sad things, it was the good book.

    After reading a few pages, and as the sun started to rise, he began hearing some very faint noises outside of his room. He assumed that it was just someone getting up to go to another person’s room, or perhaps for water, but he wasn’t going to take any chances. He grabbed his rifle and got up to check it. He stepped lightly to his door, and opened it as quietly as possible, which wasn’t very, as the door creaked open loudly in the quiet of the night, like a shotgun in an open field. Looking around, no one was in the hall, and he began to head towards the living room when the sounds started again, this time a bit louder. They were coming from deeper in the hallway. He started his way back down, listening carefully for the source. He made it to the end of the hall and realized that the faint sounds were coming from Arnold’s room. Hershel drew in a deep breath, expecting to find Arnold’s body, a knife shoved into his head, and Lee sobbing over his body. Instead, he was met with nearly the opposite. Lee was on the chair Hershel had sat in, completely dead, blood pouring out of his mouth and neck, unconscious, his weapons still in their holsters. Arnold was on him, eating into his body, a rabid animal. Arnold’s focus is then turned to Hershel, who quickly slams the door closed, panicking.

    On the opposite end of the hall, Seth turns the corner and enters the bedrooms hallway. He sees Hershel looking into Arnold’s room, and he was about to call out when Hershel slams the door in panic. He locks eyes with Seth, and he motions him to come over quietly. At the slam, Patricia and Robert peek their heads out of their respective rooms, and Hershel whisper-yells at them to get back in their rooms and make sure that they’re secure.

    When Patricia and Robert finally closed their doors, Seth was beside Hershel and he asked what was going when a thud hit the door. Arnold had thrown himself against it, searching for Hershel, craving his flesh. Seth desperately looked to Hershel, realizing what had happened. “Is that..?” he said to Hershel, his voice shaking. “Where’s Lee?”

    Hershel looked back and forth between Seth’s eyes and his chest, seeing it rise and lower more and more rapid as time went by, and as he got more upset. “I’m sorry,” was all Hershel could say. Then, Seth busted through the door, and raised his gun, hitting Arnold in the face, sending him backwards a few feet. Horrified at Seth’s sudden, impulsive movement, Hershel hurriedly lifted his gun and shot Arnold dead. Seth quickly noticed the wretched, disgusting mess of organs and blood lying in the chair. Lee’s corpse was sitting there, collapsed in on itself, and his eyes were opening, and he was reanimating. Seth gasped and lowered his gun. Hershel noticed and raised his gun to put him down, thinking that Seth was in too much trauma to do it, but Seth put a hand on Hershel’s arm. He looked to the older man and nodded. Seth slowly raised his gun and aimed it at Lee’s head. Lee’s undead eyes stared back at Seth, almost challenging him to pull the trigger. A single tear rolled down Seth’s cheek and he shot.

    It was dead quiet for two whole minutes, people coming out of their rooms with weapons ready, expecting walkers. They saw Hershel and Seth in the doorway, and they lowered their weapons, and gathered around the room, wordlessly taking in the scene ripped straight from a gory horror movie.

    After the silence, everyone had departed to their rooms to pack. There was no way they were going to stay here any more. The tragedies they suffered in such a short time in Albertville were too great, and staying would feel like torture, constant reminders everywhere.

    A funeral was held at noon, and Arnold and Lee’s bodies were taken to the back yard and buried next to where the young walker was buried by Seth. They planned to leave right after, so everyone was holding their bags and weapons, ready to go when it was all over. Again, Hershel headed the funeral. Once again, coincidentally, it was a funeral with one of his beloved relatives, and the equivalent of a stranger. No one spoke other than Hershel, who said the same thing he said at the last funeral, with an added, “You will never be forgotten. We love you Arnold.” Seth seemed like he was going to speak, but decided against it.

    They turned away from the graves, and went into their cars. The Greenes plus Patricia and Otis got into the van, and Robert, Lyrik, and Seth’s people got into the white car, leaving the blue car behind, though the leftover gas was siphoned out. They drove off, headed westwardly. As they were driving, a voice came over the radio, though it was hard to understand what it was saying through the static. “Anyone.. Nash-.. It’s.. go.. Nashville.” Shawn looked to Hershel, and they turned from going west on the road and went north, headed for Nashville.

    They made it into a watery town about thirty minutes after departing. Lyrik was the only one who paid attention to the sign that they passed when entering city limits, and according to her, the name of the town was Guntersville. “There’s too damn many ‘Villes around here,” Seth said in response. “We need to get out of the south.” The town was like an island, or more accurately a peninsula. There were many large bridges spanning across a large lake surrounding it, and in order to get off the peninsula, they had no choice but to turn around and take a very gas-guzzling detour, or cross one of the bridges. This wouldn’t be a problem, as the bridges seem very sturdy, but three of the four bridges are quite thin and are scary to many of the passengers. The largest one heads directly north, just as they are planning to go, but there are many cars cluttering the way through. They decided to just go to the north one, get out, and clear a path.

    They went as far into the mass of cars as they could, weaving between trucks and SUVs carefully, before they had to stop and make a path. Otis, Seth, and Shawn got out to push other vehicles. Seeing them out there as the only ones capable of pushing really hammered in how big the loss of Lee and Arnold was. If they were still here, they’d be able to help, was a thought going through nearly everyone’s heads.

    The three got a van out of the way, which allowed for Hershel and Jessie, who had taken over driving for Seth, to move deeper through the jam. As Seth, Otis, and Shawn turned around to follow the cars and unhinge the next obstacle, a voice behind them shouted, “Freeze!”

    Seth whispered under his breath, “Fuck,” and they stopped and lifted their hands compliantly.

    “Good,” the voice said. It was clearly a male’s. “Now, put your weapons down. All of them.”

    Angrily, Seth reached down for his gun and threw it to his feet. Shawn and Otis did the same.

    “If that’s not it, I’m not afraid to shoot,” a woman’s voice said.

    “Turn around,” the man said.

    The three turned around, finally able to get a look at the menaces. The man didn’t look nearly as tough as he sounded, and was quite thin; very little muscle mass. The woman looked even weaker, holding a gun that looked way too big for her. It appeared to be a fully automatic machine gun, which was quite intimidating to the boys. She had thin, blonde hair up in a bun, and her body was just as thin. She was wearing clothes that seemed to be too big for her, obviously having gone hungry recently.

    “We don’t want to hurt you,” said the woman.

    “We don’t want to hurt you,” echoed Seth cockily.

    “Look, we’re not here to kill you, or anyone with you. We will. But that’s only if you don’t listen to us,” the man said, a tinge of fear running through his eyes. He knew he and the woman beside him were greatly outnumbered, but they knew what they needed and wanted, and it seems like they were desperate enough to risk dying for it. “We just need some food. A little fuel, medical supplies, ammo, weapons. Anything that could help.”

    Seth smiled at them. “Oh, so you’re just nice people looking for help? Yeah, sure. That’s exactly why you drew guns on us and are threatening me and my people, huh? ‘Cause you’re just lovely folks who need some sugar.” He scoffed at them and quickly grabbed his gun and shot it at the woman, trying to take down the one with the most dangerous weapon, but she dodged it and hid behind a car. The man hid behind another car in the opposite direction, and he began firing it back at Seth, Shawn, and Otis, and they all took cover behind a van. The woman behind the car threw her gun to the ground and cussed, peeking over to make sure that her friend was okay. Luckily for them, they both were unscathed, though deathly scared.

    Inside the cars, people were ducking, covering their heads, doing their best to stay out of the windows. The smallest people and those in the front seats tried cramming themselves in the floorboards, and many people would occasionally peek up to see what was happening, like Jessie, Lyrik, Beth, and Patricia.

    Then, unexpectedly, a very high voice yelled, “Stop!” The gunfire instantly stopped because it sounded almost like a child’s. It was a child’s. A small white boy with light brown hair exited an RV they had weaved past back down the pile up, and ran for the blonde woman. “Sierra!” he said as he ran to hug her. Sierra quickly grabbed him and pulled him into cover behind her car, scorning him.

    “Ron, damn it, didn’t I tell you to stay in the RV! It’s too dangerous out here. Fuck!” she said and looked across the way to the man. He groaned and frustratedly threw his head back. He raised his hands, and Sierra sighed and did the same. Ron raised his hands as well, as a child might do, and Sierra gave him a dirty look.

    Seth squinted at the young boy, keeping his gun raised and he thought he had seen a ghost. He was about to yell back to the cars, but it would have been too late. Jessie had gotten out of her seat and ran for the young boy, hysterically screaming, “Ron! My baby, Ron!”

    Everyone aside from Seth looked on quizzically, either out of disbelief or confusion. Ron ran past Sierra, who was in shock and let him pass without thinking. She snapped back into reality and chased after Ron, not wanting him to be deceived and hurt. The man looked like he was about to cry, both of joy, and of a twinge of sadness that he may no longer be Ron’s guardian. Jessie and Ron were now hugging in the middle of the road, Sierra feet behind them, awkwardly watching them hug, looking stunned. They hugged for what felt like an eternity, crying and whispering “I love you,” to each other.

    They finally pulled apart from one another and looked into each other’s eyes. Reality painted itself back into view, and the stood. Ron waved his hand, gesturing for the man to come over. “Mommy, these are my friends. They helped me out, and took care of me. That’s Sierra,” he said pointing to the blonde, who awkwardly smiled at Jessie, “and that’s Xavier.” The man mirrored Sierra’s expression and waved.

    Jessie smiled genuinely back at them, seemingly already forgetting that they held her friends up at gunpoint. She shook their hands and with a big smile, couldn’t stop saying, “Thank you so much. Thank you, really, thank you, you have no idea how much this means to me.”

    “Of course, Ms. Anderson,” Xavier said in return.

    “Oh, please, really? Just call me Jessie,” she said, smilingly warmly. Sierra smiled back, things not getting any less awkward.

    Ron looked up at his mother with desperate eyes and plead, “Mommy, can we please come with you?”

    Jessie turned around to look at Seth, who shrugged. Seth turned around as well, to look to Hershel, who looked absolutely dumbfounded. He exited the van and got a good look at them. He bent down to the young boy, looked back up to Sierra and Xavier, and asked the boy, “Do you think these people are good people?”

    “Yes, sir,” the small boy tweeted.

    “How do you know them?”

    “When that one building in Atlantica g-”

    “Atlanta,” Jessie and Sierra said at the same time to correct Ron, and looked to one another slightly stunned.

    “Yeah!” Ron said, smiling that they both helped him. “Well, when it got destroyed, Sierra and Xavier were there watching over me and my friends, Ethan, Lila, Nellie, Louis, and Eliza. But I don’t know what happened to them. These two other guys were with us, but they got bit…” Ron trailed off.

    A few shots then rang with no warning as Seth and Otis had taken down a few stray walkers that were attracted to the gunfire from moments before.

    Hershel nodded solemnly to Ron, realizing how awful this world must be to children. “So, young man. You trust them?”

    Ron nodded happily. “Yes, sir. I promise,” he said, pointing his pinky at the elderly man.

    Hershel smiled and put his pinky out, accepting the promise, shaking fingers with the child. He looked to the two behind the boy and jokingly said, “Well, the man here says you’re all good,” and he smiled at them. “You’re comin’ with us.”

    Sierra and Xavier smiled to each other and Xavier tussled Ron’s hair, who looked giddy. Ron led Jessie and the two back to the RV, and said, “Look mom, come see my room.” Sierra and Xavier had obviously been taking turns sleeping on the floor and the couch of the trailer, and they had given Ron the back room for himself.

    Hershel and Shawn came up to them a few moments later, and they discussed how they would leave this place. Hershel said that they spotted another RV a little bit in front of where he had parked when they stopped the three they had out pushing, and that they could put all of their gas, plus gas from other cars in the pile up, into the two RVs and leave in those; but to do that, room would have to be made in their RV. Sierra and Xavier looked glumly down to Ron, knowing he would now have to give up, or at least share, his bed. Ron spoke up, “Okay. Mommy, Sierra, Xavier, and I can sleep in that bed!”

    Sierra looked to Jessie, who smiled at her. “That sounds fine to me, dear,” Jessie told Ron. Xavier and Sierra looked to one another awkwardly.

    Now, the group would be traveling in the two RVs. Jessie, Ron, Sierra, and Xavier stayed in Xavier’s RV, while Hershel, Maggie, and Beth stayed in the other, and everyone else shuffled in between.

    Spoiler Spoiler:
    Last edited by bertglamga; October 22nd, 2014 at 11:57 PM.

  2. Back To Top    #12
    Problem Child bertglamga's Avatar
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    Chapter 12 “Nashville”
    Day 24

    The group had been on the road, bunking with the new people, and not having to find houses to stay in anymore. They could finally just blend in, look like abandoned vehicles, and get a good rest without burning precious calories and risking their lives clearing out houses. Of course, there were many drawbacks. With a group this large, things got awkward, and sometimes disgusting. There was very little room to share amongst themselves, and often they had other people’s feet or butts in their face.

    Thankfully, it has only been two nights that they have had to put up with this. On this day, things were looking up. All of this gross sleeping together in such close quarters was going to change. Everyone would get their own room, and finally be happy, and maybe even be reunited with friends and family. This would all be over.

    They were now about five miles out from Nashville, just passing through a town no one bothered to look at the name for. Rain was pouring outside the windows of the RV, creating a beautiful sound that calmed and soothed certain members of the group. Water hitting against the metallic roof of the vehicle, a familiar sound to the Greenes, Otis, Patricia, and Robert. Reminded them of home; of cold nights in with the family; of the countryside during storms. It was almost magical. In the distance, smoke could faintly be seen through the wet windshield. “Must be nice and warm. Maybe havin’ ‘em a barbecue,” Otis said, half-joking. “Must be a real big one,” Patricia added.

    At the couch, Shawn, Amanda, and Beth were in the middle of a conversation.

    “Wait, you used weed?” Beth asked, amazed.

    “Yup. Crack, too. Even heroin and meth. But it’s nothing to brag about, girl. That shit fucks you up.”

    Shawn rolled his eyes. “Alright, fine. But what made you stop?”

    “Well, it was Erin. She and I were friends, long before all this started. She really helped me out. I was in a bad crowd. Lots of assholes and addicts,” Amanda trailed off for a second, looking at scars on her wrists from years ago. “What got me was this one night, I.. my boyfriend at the time, he was throwing a party. I was there, and so were all of the cool people in my school. And all of the addicts. Was a great party. But, my boyfriend, he was really pushing me. He got me to take a cocktail of drugs and alcohol all mixed together. I don’t know how he got me to do it, but he did. I passed out, and I guess one of the kids saw me and called Erin, ‘cause they knew we were friends. She came over and helped me, when no one else would. Got me into rehab, got me all clean. God, I wish she was still here. She’s the only reason I am.”

    Shawn looked on, feeling ashamed for asking. “I’m sorry for-”

    “Don’t be,” she said. “I’m just glad I could finally get it off my chest.”

    Beth looked like she was about to cry, and reached over the table to give her a big hug. “No one should have to go through somethin’ like that. I’m so sorry” Amanda returned the hug and smiled. These were good people.

    In the other RV, Xavier decided to let Seth drive, as he had been quite nice to him, along with the fact that he was tired of always driving this hunk of junk. Now, Xavier and Sierra were lying in the bed with Robert and Lyrik talking about the world, while Jessie and Ron sat up front playing with the boy’s toys.

    “Yeah, I kinda used to be a model,” Sierra said. “I didn’t get a whole lot of work near the end, before this all started, but y’know. I was happy.”

    “I could totally see that,” Lyrik said.

    “Right?” Robert said. “She looks like a mix between Hayden Panettiere and Dakota Fanning.”

    Sierra laugh happily, blushing slightly. “Thanks, I guess.”

    Robert nodded to her, smiling. “Well, what did you do?” he asked Xavier.

    “Uh, well. I was an actor. Not a great one, obviously, but I got as much work as I could.”

    “Oh, so is that how you two know each other?” Lyrik asked.

    “Yeah,” Xavier said, glancing to Sierra and awkwardly looking away when their eyes met. “Um,” he paused. Robert and Lyrik smiled to each other, delighting in the two’s mannerisms. “My manager was really pushing for professional shots - photos, I mean. And he set me up with one of Atlanta’s most respected photographers, and apparently Sierra was there working with him that day. Originally, we were both going to have separate photoshoots, but the photographer thought we were a cute couple, so he made us pose together. One of the pictures we took together actually ended up on a magazine. From there, we just, you know. Started hanging out. Became really close.”

    “Okay, so, are you two a thing or what?” Robert asked, feeling almost thrilled to finally be able to gossip again. It made things seem almost normal. God, did he miss this.

    Sierra laughed to herself and looked to Xavier, inaudibly telling him to tell the story.

    “Well, not anymore,” he said coyly.

    Lyrik playfully gasped. “I told you so! You owe me five bullets, Robert,” she said, making them all laughed.

    “No,” Sierra said. “We’re not a thing. But we used to be. We broke up just a little while before this all started. It’s just a sick twist of fate that we were both given kid-watching duty in Atlanta when the shit hit the fan at our refuge.”

    “I’ll say,” Xavier nodded.

    “So, is that how you guys wound up with Ron?” Lyrik asked.

    “Yeah,” Xavier said and grew quiet, more serious. “There were others, too. Some we had, some we didn’t. There was six kids we were watching at the time, but there were many more throughout the place, but most of them were with their parents, so I can only hope they made it,” Xavier paused, looking out the wet window at the passing scenery of cars crashed in ditches, walkers eating things on the sides of the road, and what looked to be another group of survivors at one point, but they all went into the woods before Xavier could register it. He looked back to everyone and caught his train of thought. “We lost this pair of siblings. Names were Eliza and Louis, but we’re pretty sure they made it to their parents. There were two other little girls and a boy, though. Nellie, Ethan, and Lila. Ethan and Lila died to the herd that attacked, and Nellie was bitten during it. She, uh. She turned the next morning and we had to put her down in front of Ron. God, that was hard to explain. Hard enough to explain that we didn’t know where his mom was.” Xavier seemed to be on the verge of tears, and Sierra put a hand on his shoulder.

    After a few moments of slightly awkward silence, Sierra looked to Robert and Lyrik, and said with playfulness returning to her voice, “So what about you two? Are you guys a thing?”

    Lyrik and Robert looked to each other and laughed loudly. “Yeah, girl,” Lyrik said, still laughing. “Me and this boy are in love, makin’ babies an’ shit.”

    Robert laughed even harder. After a few moments, he finally stopped laughing and was able to speak. “No,” he said. “For one, I’m gay. For two, her? Really? She’s unbearable!”

    Lyrik scoffed playfully and smiled to Sierra. “Doesn’t mean I’m not a good catch, though. And neither’s Robert over here, huh Xavier? Huh?” Lyrik said, vocally nudging Xavier’s shoulder.

    Xavier chuckled lowly and awkwardly. “Nah,” he said. “I don’t swing that way. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, though! It’s just, you know, not for me.”

    Robert was smiling at Xavier, but when he said that, Robert was hit with the thought that he may never see another gay guy again. The people here could be the only people he ever sees again. Realizing he was being watched stare off into the distance, he quickly thought of a retort. “We’ll see about that. Change your mind, you call me first, baby.”

    Xavier laughed, attempting to think of something to say back, but the RV suddenly stopped, flinging everyone forward. “What the hell, Hershel?!” Seth yelled from the driver’s seat.

    In the front RV, Hershel was forced to put a sudden halt to the trip, interrupting everything going on in both of the vehicles and nearly causing Seth to crash right into the back of the leading RV. In front of them, a large mass of walkers was visible. The smoke was now clarified to be the city of Nashville, aflame and destroyed, in cinders and ruin, painting a devastating background behind the herd as rain poured down heavily onto it all. Many gasps were heard, and Hershel looked horrified. For him, this cemented that there was no safety. There was no sanctuary. Maggie put a hand on his shoulder, sadly looking at the destruction.

    Hershel kissed his daughter’s hand and composed himself. “I’m sorry, everyone,” he said to those in his RV. “I thought we would finally be safe. I guess I was wrong.”

    Patricia, Amanda, Otis, and Beth looked coldly at the remains of the city as Hershel made a u-turn, taking the group away from the awful scene. The rain seemed to intensify, the sound growing louder. It looked as if they may never catch a break.

    Spoiler Spoiler:

    Last edited by bertglamga; October 24th, 2014 at 04:36 PM.

  3. Back To Top    #13
    Problem Child bertglamga's Avatar
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    Chapter 13 “Fingers”
    Day 31

    It had been a week since the group found Nashville burned to cinders, walkers riddling the streets. The group had been on the road a lot, trying to find a permanent, steady shelter. So far, they had found very little, other than some supplies and a ton of walkers. They had found many new, great weapons, and even an old map that came in very useful. After inspecting it many times, Patricia discovered that they weren’t far from a national park in Missouri, the Mark Twain National Forest. There were many residences there, and it was a pretty open area where things could be pretty easily managed, very similar to Hershel’s farm. Getting there was proving to be quite difficult, however, as they constantly kept reading the map wrong, or the paths would be blocked off by massive pile ups of cars or crashes of trains or tankers, or bridges would be out and they would have to take a detour.

    Today, they were in a small town in south-eastern Missouri called Hayti. They were set up in a barn that they had set tents u around and used the RVs as a barricade. However, one of the RVs was currently gone, as a few members were on a run. Robert, Xavier, Seth, Maggie, and Otis had went out to scavenge for food and supplies when they stumbled upon an armory in a police department that had been untouched. In it was an armada of weapons: nightsticks, bats, an array of guns and ammunition, bullet-proof vests, pepper spray, whistles, and a few riot shields, but for some reason all of the riot gear was gone. Xavier assumed that the people who worked here took it out, responding to a mass emergency and not knowing they were walking into a party of reanimated corpses.

    Beth had noticed how strong those around her were, or were becoming, and she didn’t want to fall behind, or to be a liability, and she knew she could. She asked to be trained with the new weapons so that she would become less of a liability to the group, and no one was going to argue with her. Having more capable people is not a thing to be upset about.

    Seth, Xavier, and Sierra handled weapons training, transporting the group of learners to the abandoned police department to practice on dummies and use the firing range. Robert, Lyrik, Patricia, Beth, and Amanda were the trainees. Robert had gotten pretty good at shooting and using his machete, but he wasn’t going to miss any opportunities to get better. Amanda was a pretty good shot, but she never really had many chances to use any weapons, and she didn’t want to lose what little skill she had. Lyrik, Patricia, and Beth, however, had hardly even held a weapon, let alone used it.

    “Wait, so, where do I look?” Lyrik asked Seth who was helping her shoot. To her left, Robert was firing off shots, getting a few headshots. He had improved greatly since he first started. Amanda was on Lyrik’s right side, struggling nearly as much as Lyrik was. She used to be better, but that was when she was about ten and her dad would take her out to the woods to shoot at squirrels.

    “Where you plan to shoot, duh,” Seth said to her.

    “Oh my god, no, but like, how do I aim? Like, where do I look?”

    “Okay, well, focus on the gun. The ‘proper’ way to do it is to look at the gun and not what you’re aiming at. That little notch in the middle indicates any aim shift.”

    “Aim shift?”

    “Uh, it’s like, if the notch is higher than the two there, that means the bullet goes higher. If it’s a bit to the left, the bullet shoots a bit to the left. See, with this one, the notch is a little bit above them when you look at it like this. So, aim slightly lower than what you’re trying to hit.”

    “Okay,” Lyrik said, taking aim. She put her finger around the trigger and shot, a loud bang firing through the room. She jumped back, not expecting the gun to fire so easily, as the bullet went straight through the cut-out’s shoulder. Realizing what she had done, she jumped up and down giddily. She grabbed Seth’s hands and continued bouncing, happily yelling “I did it! I did it, I did it, I did it!”

    Seth smiled at her, amused by her childishness. “Did you aim for the shoulder?” he asked.

    “No,” she said, still smiling. “But I hit it!”

    Seth half-frowned at her. “Lyrik,” he said, sighing. “Good job hitting it, but that’s not something to celebrate about just yet. If you were trying to defend yourself against a walker and you got it in the neck, would you be celebrating about that like you just did? Just that you hit it.”

    Lyrik gave him a dirty look, feeling robbed of her joy. “Excuse me, sir, but that’s not what’s going on right now. Of course I wouldn’t celebrate like that out there. But we’re in a nice, safe place in this moment, and I’m happy that I’m making progress in shooting. Jesus,” she said, rolling her eyes. She put her gun back up before Seth could reply and shot, hitting the cut-out right in the left eye. She looked back to Seth sassily, her face telling him to suck it. He half-smiled at her, embarrassed and blushing, feeling like a total jerk.

    Xavier was currently helping Patricia and Beth with hitting walkers with knives and other melee weapons. Sierra was taking a break in the corner of the room cleaning her too-large machine gun. They were in a room that looked like a training room for a martial arts room, large dummies spaced evenly apart from one another.

    “I know you girls know how to cook,” he said, “but that’s not what these knives are for. This is much different. Ideally, you’re going to want your blades - or any sharp weapons, I guess - to be as sharp as you can get them. Any chance you get, sharpen them. Keep them clean, too, just in case you need to use them for something else that they’d need to be sanitary for, such as cutting food, or killing an animal to eat. You don’t want to waste food by slicing walker guts into it like that, do you? Anyways, sorry. Show me what you’ve got.”

    “What a monologue,” Sierra said as Patricia and Beth ungracefully began weaving through the dummies, attacking them like children playing with toy swords.
    Xavier shook his head, appearing frustrated, but actually struggling to keep from laughing. “Stop!” he yelled, startling the two. Slightly startled, Beth tripped and fell forward, dropping her knife. The knife, sharp as a butcher’s cleaver, fell to the floor and cut off the pinky and ring finger on her left hand at the knuckles. She screamed in pain and confusion, not understanding what had just happened, blood gushing all over her as she instinctively clutched it, staining her dull yellow shirt, squirting onto her neck and chin.

    Everyone in the room audibly gasped as they realized what was happening. Patricia ran to her and grabbed Beth’s hand. “Xavier,” she yelled, ripping off a large part of her dress and wrapping it onto Beth’s hand, “get over here and put pressure on this! Sierra, help me find something to get these fingers into.” The old lady handed the hand off to Xavier and grabbed up the fingers, running to the door where her bag was. In it was a little bit of alcohol. She looked back and said shakily, “It’ll be okay, Beth, you just hold tight.”

    Sierra had ran out of the room and to the firing range. “Seth! Get everyone out here and help me find something cold! Ice, cold water, anything! Beth cut off some of her fingers! Hurry!”

    Everyone quickly holstered their guns and threw their loose ammo into the gun bag by the door. They searched the department, looking for a working tap or a fridge. They had spent about three minutes searching before Lyrik had found a fridge, but there was just some rotten lunch in a paper bag with the name James written on it and a few cans of cream soda. After, the group came to the conclusion that there was nothing here they could use and Patricia ordered everyone to get in the RV they had brought to quickly get them back to the group so that she and Hershel could reattach the fingers.

    Beth was slouching on her side in the couch, hyperventilating and panicking. “Do you think she’ll make it?” Lyrik asked.

    “Well, she’ll obviously make it,” Patricia said condescendingly. “The question is whether or not her fingers will make it. If we had something to keep them cold, so long as we got back to Hershel within twelve hours, we’d be good. But we don’t have that luxury, so all we can do is hope.”

    Xavier was quickly driving along the road through the small town, trying to get back to their camp set up in a barn outside of town. However, they were halted. A large mass of walkers was coming their way, and if they stayed where they were, their RV might be trampled right over. “Does anyone know another way to the barn?” Xavier asked, swinging the RV around sharply.

    “I dunno,” Seth said, “why? What are you doing, dude?!”

    “Well, not to alarm anyone, but there’s a huge herd between us and the road to the barn, and it’s coming our way. For now, I’d be more worried about the people we left at the camp.”

    Sierra seemed very anxious, and worriedly said, “That herd could have swept over the barn and either killed them or separated them. If we’re lucky, that herd came from another direction.”

    Robert dumbfoundedly looked to them. “Herd? What’s that supposed to mean?”

    Xavier half-frowned to Robert. “It’s when a bunch of walkers converge. They have, like, a hive mind. They move as one. When one hears a gunshot, all of them follow. It’s devastating.”

    Everyone in the group looked on worriedly and prayed that everything would be okay.

    Beth screamed in agony, reminding everyone of the dire situation. Patricia bent on her knees, doing her best to reduce Beth’s pain and keep her calm. Amanda looked down at the wet paper towel she was told to hold and unwrapped it slightly to look at the fingers. They were beginning to turn purple, and Amanda held her breath, waiting for Patricia to leave Beth’s side, so that Beth wouldn’t panic any more than she has.

    Sitting next to Xavier in the passenger seat, Robert was trying to direct him with their map. “Turn left down 4th Street! It’ll put us on a path to a highway and we can swing back around to the barn.”

    They kept driving and turned onto the highway that Robert had pointed out, but were met with the herd. It was much larger than they had expected. “Get down!” Xavier said, turning off the RV and ducking into the floorboard.

    “What?!” Robert said, following Xavier’s lead.

    “We don’t have a choice,” Xavier whispered. “Everyone get your weapons at the ready. Beth, I’m sorry about this. If you have to scream, grab a pillow.”

    Everyone ducked down low, closing curtains and staying low under windows that it was too late to close. If they were lucky, they hadn’t been spotted.

    Soon, they could be heard. The moans and bumps of the undead were horrifying. Their groans were awful, and they could be felt falling against the RV or scratching on it occasionally. Some of the survivors inside held their breath, some of them cried, others braced themselves, clutching their knives and guns.

    It felt like a year of tense silence, but after about two hours, the noises died down, signalling that the herd had nearly passed. In that silence, Amanda had witnessed the fingers turn darker and begin to smell. When the herd had finally thinned, Amanda signalled Patricia over and subtly showed her the fingers. Patricia looked devastated, and looked to Beth, who had fallen asleep. Patricia shook her head, clarifying that the fingers would not be able to be reattached. She took them and put them on a cabinet across from the couch and went back to keep an eye on Beth. When Xavier was certain that they could move once more, he started up the RV and made a U-turn, headed back into town for the quicker way to the barn.

    They arrived to see that the camp was completely untouched, everyone doing their normal business as though everything was fine. Everyone in the RV breathed a collective sigh of relief that the herd had come from another direction. Patricia and Lyrik ran to Hershel, who had just come out of the barn looking very confused, with a drowsy Beth. They laid her down on a hay bale with a sheet over it, Patricia explaining the whole time what had happened. She shoved out her fist, a paper towel in it. Hershel, looking shocked and worried, hesitantly took the paper towel and unrolled it, met with two fingers turning an unnatural color. Beth was thankfully asleep again when he had to say, “There’s no way we can reattach these.”

    “Well, you need to help her no matter what!” Patricia said to Hershel. “Sew her up, clean the wounds as best you can, do anything and everything!”

    Hershel nodded, quickly getting to work. Thankfully, Beth was out cold, so she wasn’t awake to feel the pain or scream. He worked tirelessly and dutifully with the help of Patricia and Lyrik, with Robert, Sierra, Xavier, Jessie, Maggie, and Amanda watching closely, hoping to learn tips and things about how to handle situations like this.

    An hour of tense waiting later and Hershel announced to the group the progress that had been made. “The fingers were sewed up well, Hershel said. “I‘m sure she‘ll make a full recovery. Well, as full as you could expect,” he told the group. Of course, anything could happen, he thought to himself. It always seems to, these days.

    Spoiler Spoiler:

    Originally, I was going to post this on Halloween (Oct. 31st), to align with the day this happened in the story (Day 31), and also to create more tension. Make it seem like Beth might have died, or that the herd would have killed a few (or all) of them. But I got way too far ahead in my writing, so I decided, why not just go for it? You're welcome!

  4. Back To Top    #14
    Problem Child bertglamga's Avatar
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    Chapter 14 “Mark Twain National Forest”
    Day 33

    The group had spent another day at the barn on the outskirts of Hayti, just to make sure that Beth would be ready and able to go. Of course, with her hand a huge ball of bandages, she wouldn’t be much help either way, but there’s no good in bringing someone unfit to travel, especially if they’re in screaming agony. Thankfully, she was doing very well on this day, and they decided they would leave immediately.

    They made it to a perfect area in the park about four hours later, around 1 in the afternoon. It was a house in the middle of the forest, a few meters from a small river, and it was in the middle of a clearing, where the sides of the forest could be seen for about half a mile out all around the house.

    Robert, Xavier, Seth, and Sierra went inside to clear out the house, but found nothing. The whole house seemed to be completely intact, no signs of scavengers raiding it or even the people who lived here leaving it. Family photos were still in place above the fireplace and along the hallway. A jewelry box found in the master bedroom seemed to be untouched, stocked full of necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. “The residents must have been out when this all started,” Robert said, he and Sierra trying on some of the jewelry. “Maybe they were on vacation.” While trying on the jewelry, Robert looked at himself in the mirror. His facial hair was growing in and it was rough. It had been bugging him a lot over the past few days, being unused to the prickly hair. God, I hope this house has razors in it somewhere, he thought. Seth, Xavier, and Shawn look a bit overdue for a shave, as well.

    “Or just at the store a few miles back. At work. Maybe picking up their kids from daycare. Who knows,” Seth said.

    “Or they’re still alive,” Xavier said forebodingly.

    The house was moderately small, but it had two stories and a basement. Thankfully, the living room and the bedrooms were very large, and provided sufficient space for everyone to stay in comfortably.

    The yard was odd, though; the fence formed a right triangle around the house, with the side to the east having the farthest point, and three small buildings lining it. One was a tool shed, another was a chicken coop, and the farthest one was a small barn where hay, seeds, and animal food was kept. The fence surround the yard was tin beginning to rust, small streaks of reddish-brown spaced out along it. On the hypotenuse side to the northwest was a pre-plowed garden, with neglected plants growing, moderately drooping. Thankfully, it rained enough around here that watering it wasn’t necessary, and when it wasn’t raining, there was plentiful sunlight.

    Further exploring the less likely nooks and crannies (just in case; after Arnold, being too safe wasn’t a thing) Seth opened the fridge to find tons of rotten food, creating a foul, awful odor that made him gag. “Well,” he yelled to Xavier, “whoever lived here is definitely gone. Or a fuckin’ slob,” he finished, gagging once more before slamming the fridge shut. He hesitantly opened the deep freeze, not wanting to be confronted with such an awful stench, but not wanting to leave any stone unturned. There were many things frozen inside, such as bagged chicken, ground beef, harvested vegetables, and some lunch meats. He smiled, checking the expiration dates and determining that most of the food inside was still good thanks to the added lifeline of being frozen.

    The four took their findings back to Hershel, who had kept the group outside of the RVs, ready to fight or defend should they be needed, with Patricia, Lyrik, Jessie, Ron, and Beth still inside the vehicles to help anyone who got injured. They said that the whole place checks out, and that they found many things that the group could use, including fresh changes of clothes and the actually-edible meat. Hershel smiled happily and they began to unpack their meager belongings from the RVs to settle into their new home. Hopefully this time they could finally find peace.

    Spoiler Spoiler:

  5. Back To Top    #15
    Problem Child bertglamga's Avatar
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    Chapter 15 “El Río”
    Day 35

    The house had been quite nice to live in. It had a beautiful front porch where they liked to have breakfasts. They had really enjoyed having more meat in them, as well. It had been a few weeks since they had last had meat before now.

    Everyone got rooms and roommates they were happy with. Sierra and Amanda bunked in one room; Hershel and Maggie shared the biggest room; Robert, Lyrik, and Xavier shared a room; Shawn and Beth stayed together; Otis and Patricia got their own room; and Seth decided to stay with Jessie and Ron. There was one extra room, but everyone was too scared to sleep in a room alone.

    Two days after arriving, Patricia and Otis went to the river to check how clean the water looked. They wouldn’t trust it at all without boiling it first, but it did seem to be clear enough for them to wash their clothes in. They headed back for people to help them take their old clothes out and wash them. Later, they planned for everyone to bathe in the river if this proved to be a good. Obviously, they wouldn’t all bathe at once, but they also would not have anyone go alone.

    Jessie and Lyrik volunteered to help out with washing, and everyone aside from Jessie, who was refusing to learn how to shoot, took a gun with them. Now that Jessie had her son, she believed that shooting, especially at strangers, was the worst thing you could do, and that she would never fire another gun again. Despite many members of the group constantly reminding her that the gun is only for protection, she still refused to take or use a gun.
    At the river, the four were washing the laundry, making small talk.

    “And how Sierra and Xavier called walkers ‘D.K.s’?” Otis said. “I actually thought that was pretty cool, though.”

    “So did I,” Patricia said. “I like the different names people have for them. Allison called them lurkers once.”

    “Yeah,” Jessie said, half-frowning to herself. She wanted to change the subject to avoid getting sad about Erin. She remembered the razors Robert had found and asked, “Otis, why didn’t you shave with the other guys?”

    “I dunno,” he said. “I think I look kinda good with a bit of a beard, don’t y’all? Hershel, too.”

    Patricia laughed and reached over to put her arm around his shoulder and kissed him. “I think you look ‘kinda good’ any way, Otis. Hershel, too.” Everyone laughed.

    “God, I can’t believe what those other fools look like now,” Lyrik said.

    “Tell me about it,” Patricia said, laughing. “Seth looks the weirdest.”

    Jessie hummed an mm-hm. “I can’t believe how much of a difference shaving can make in a guy’s appearance.”

    “Well, at least some of them still look pretty cute,” Lyrik said. “Like Xavier. Yes, ma’am, he looks good.”

    Everyone laughed at Lyrik. The air of the group slowly dissipated, and just as Otis was about to speak, hoping to change the subject from gossiping about cute boys, voices could be heard in the distance. What they were saying was very hard to determine. Jessie and Patricia quickly gathered up the clothes in the stream and put them in their baskets, making an attempt to run back to the house. As they got up, Patricia grabbed her gun out of her pocket and put it on top of the clothes in her basket, ready to shoot just in case. Otis and Lyrik stayed behind, their guns pointed at the now moderately-visible figures. It appeared to be a group of five, and they could faintly be seen through the thick brush of the forest. They had large backpacks, and some were in clothes stained with blood. Though they looked like a very troubled group, they still seemed moderately happy. As they got closer and their voices got louder and what they were saying was more clear. “I think they’re speaking Mexican,” Otis said.

    “Spanish, you mean?”

    “Whatever. It’s not English.”

    As the group came through the thick forest, a very thin boy pointed Otis and Lyrik out, and they all drew their guns. The scene was very much like an unfair Mexican standoff, both groups on opposite sides of a river. A woman in the front of the group who appeared to be the leader spoke up. “Hola,” she said calmly.

    “No habla español,” Lyrik said.

    “Okay, sorry,” the woman said in reply. “Um, what’s this?” she asked. Soon, she noticed movement by a house in the distance, and it appeared that people were lining up along the fence of it with sniper rifles. “Put down your guns,” she quickly said to her people in Spanish.

    “Why?” asked a short, blonde girl. The leader pointed over Otis and Lyrik’s heads to the house where the group had their guns trained on the Spanish survivors. The members of the group immediately put down their guns, other than the blonde, who put hers down hesitantly after everyone else had. When she finally did, she looked very angry, as though she were a child in time-out.

    “No more Spanish,” Otis said. “We don’t need y’all keepin’ secrets, makin’ plans right in our face.”

    “Now, cross the stream,” Lyrik said, her voice shaking slightly.

    “You want us to just trudge through this water?” the leader said, looking a bit offended.

    “Well, if you don’t want to get wet, find another way around,” Lyrik said.

    Otis looked to her as if she were making a mistake. “Keep your hands up the whole time, though,” he said.

    The group trekked down stream, finding a part where the river thinned and they could easily jump across. Lyrik and Otis kept their guns trained on them all as they made their way across the river. The woman made it to them and introduced herself as Selenis. Her companions were a fat man named Gabriel, a thin teenager named Oscar, the blonde mouthy girl as Abi-Maria, and a very beautiful though short brunette as Shakira. “No relation,” she said after getting an inquisitive look from Lyrik. All of them were clearly Latino, and apparently fluent in Spanish.

    “Mr. Garza?” Lyrik asked, awestruck, to the fat man.

    He squinted, and then his eyes grew very large. “Lyrik?”

    Lyrik kept her gun up, but awkwardly smiled at him. “Uh, hi.”

    Otis took the weapons they had and Hershel came out to them, followed Xavier, Seth, and Shawn who were armed to the teeth, and the wall of snipers still in action. The Hispanic group kept their hands up, ready to be spoken to. “So, you haven’t fired at my group,” Hershel said. “You haven’t tried anything to resist. I’m going to assume you’re good people. But you need to answer to me. Where did you come from, where were you going, and what do you want?”

    “What do we want?” Abi-Maria yelled. “You stopped us!”

    Selenis looked to her, giving her a death glare and checking around for any incoming walkers. Just as she expected, a few materialized from the woods. “Mirónes!” she said to her group, who turned to the walkers, or mirónes as they called them, lifted their guns, and opened fire, all of them going down with nearly only one shot per walker.

    Seth whistled, impressed. “Hersh, you gotta let these guys join us. We need that kind of firepower.”

    The fiery blonde Latina turned to Seth, looking angry as ever. “What makes you think we want to join your little group?” she said, her accent noticeably thick.

    “Well,” the fat man apparently named Gabriel spoke up, “staying in one place for a while wouldn’t be the worst thing.”

    Selenis and Shakira nodded their heads. Abi-Maria crossed her arms angrily and continued trying to convince her group to move on. “Fine, let’s stay here with these complete strangers and let them kill us in our sleep.”

    “Abi, we’re all strangers. Stop it right now.” Selenis turned to Hershel, “So, can we stay? Promise I’ll keep an eye on this one here for you,” she said, pointing to Abi-Maria, who angrily gasped.

    Hershel turned to his people. Seth and Otis shrugged, Lyrik and Shawn nodded, and Xavier shook his head no. “They may be kind of useful, but I don’t trust that mouthy one.”

    Hershel nodded and turned back to Selenis and her group. “Well, so long as you don’t make trouble. But if any of you hurt any of my family, my people, in any way, we are not afraid to kick you out, or kill you if it comes to it.”

    The group of five nodded understandably, aside from Abi-Maria, of course. Hershel narrowed his eyes at her and she groaned, “Sí, I get it.”

    Hershel led the group back, with the same gut feeling he had about letting in the past two groups. Those two groups had proved to be good people, though, so he brushed off the feeling. ‘Third time’s the charm’ is just a dumb old saying, right?

    Spoiler Spoiler:

  6. Back To Top    #16
    Problem Child bertglamga's Avatar
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    Chapter 16 “Friendly”
    Day 37

    The new group seemed to be great, all but the obvious one being very friendly. Selenis and Gabriel seemed to be the nicest, with Oscar and Shakira seeming to mostly keep to themselves, like shy children. Abi-Maria stayed to herself, as well, but she literally stayed to herself. No one spent any time with her, and when they did, she would either complain or insult them. To her group, she tried to convince them that it was time they got moving. She would taunt and tease some people of Hershel’s group. Originally, she tried to convince a few of them - namely Robert, Xavier, Sierra, Jessie, Patricia, and Beth - that they should leave with her and her group, often promising things way too great to be real, such as a huge, safe community up north, and reunion with people they had lost.

    It was really quite pathetic. Even the people she had been traveling with had grown to hate her and spent as little time as possible with her. She absolutely hated it here, and loathed the thought of staying here with a bunch of hillbillies - or ‘heelbeellies’ as she called them. She hated Otis, Shawn, and Hershel the most. They were three hicks that she didn’t want to spend the rest of her life, let alone five minutes, with.

    Lyrik had realized that Gabriel was in fact her and Robert’s old Spanish teacher from Hobbs. “So, how did you get here?” Robert had asked him, the three of them eating breakfast on the front porch.

    “Well, back in Hobbs, things quickly fell apart. Marina,” his wife, “and I got out of there with Emilia - you know, Ms. Navarette - and we made it to a survivor refuge set up by the government in Lubbock.”

    “So, you were in Hobbs when it happened?” Lyrik asked, curious about the state it and others were in.

    “Yeah, I was. I saw a lot of people die before I left, though,” Gabriel said sadly.

    “I know it’s hard to think about, maybe even to remember, but,” Robert said hesitantly, “do you remember seeing anything? People we know getting out, or even dying? Or getting bit?”

    “Um,” Gabriel began. “I know I saw LaRissa’s parents die. They got devoured. Mya got out with her mom and little brother, but I think her mom was bitten. Ryan and Tanner got out, but I'm not sure about their parents. Anastasia’s parents died, but I know she made it out with some of her friends. I think maybe her brother, too. I know she had Skyler with her. Lily’s family got out. Robert, I’m sorry, but I think your mom died. I don’t know what happened to your dad. Lyrik, I can’t remember if I saw any of your family. I saw Tari and Kari and their whole family die, though, along with a pretty much everyone else. They were in Walmart and a lot of walkers were on the way, and somehow the whole place went up in flames. Hundreds of people must have died there. It was awful to watch,” Gabriel said, drifting off.

    He was obviously haunted by these things. They couldn’t imagine what it must have been like for him. Robert slightly regretted asking about it, and was tempted to apologize, but there was no reason to. He was just thankful that he knew how things turned out. “So, you were saying? About Lubbock?”

    “Right. Lubbock. That’s where Marina, Emilia, and I met Selenis, Oscar, and Shakira. We left a few days before it was apparently destroyed, because we went back and it was in ruins. Us and about seven other people made it out of Texas, and we met Abi-Maria and one of her friends not long after. We stayed with another group of people, but we found out they were murdering innocent people they met, for no reason. We tried to escape, but they killed my wife and a few friends of ours. We barely made it out, and we’ve been on foot ever since, sleeping in small houses or making little camps at night. Everyone else died as we made it this way. How did you guys get here?”

    “Well,” Lyrik started, “it was kinda my idea. Not sure how smart it was, though, thinking back on it now.”

    “Lyrik planned for me, her, Lily, and LaRissa to have a senior trip. We left like a week before this all started. We were in Georgia when it happened, and we met Hershel and his family. Then we met Seth and some of his friends, and he was followed by people he had apparently stolen from. They burned down Hershel’s farm, and forced us out onto the road. We were constantly traveling ever since, and we met Xavier and Sierra, and they had apparently taken care of one of Seth’s people’s kids. Ron in there. They were at the same refugee camp Jessie was in, and they were the babysitters. They took care of Ron ever since the place was overrun.”

    “Wow,” Gabriel said. “I guess we’ve all been through a lot, huh?”

    “Yeah,” Lyrik said.

    “So, where are Lily and LaRissa?” Gabriel asked casually, and regretted it instantly when he saw their reactions. “Oh, no,” he said. “I’m so sorry.”

    “It’s fine,” Robert said as Lyrik grabbed his hand to comfort him. “We’re not the only ones who lost people. You lost your wife.”

    Gabriel solemnly nodded his head. “I did,” he paused, and thought back to it. “She was shot right in the back, trying to help one of our friends who had been shot in the ankle. I had no choice but to leave her. I still wonder sometimes, what if I had gone back? She could have made it. I was so selfish.”

    Robert stared blankly at Gabriel, understanding the pain. “You can’t blame yourself,” Lyrik said. Gabriel wiped a tear from his eye and looked down to his food. He wasn’t hungry anymore.

    “LaRissa was the first to go,” Robert said, blankly looking into the woods behind Gabriel’s head. “Some jackass basically threw her to walkers. Let them bite her.”

    “But he sacrificed himself to them right after,” Lyrik said. “So that we could escape safely.”

    Robert stayed silent for a few more moments as Gabriel and Lyrik sadly looked on. “Lily died about three weeks later. We went scavenging in a supermarket, and we made the mistake of all splitting up. Solo. Lily was attacked by two walkers. She died with this,” Robert said, pulling his white-handled machete out of the holster he never took off. “She found it in there, and tried to use it to kill the walkers, but I dunno. I guess she just couldn’t get it. So I put her down, and I took the knife for myself.”

    Gabriel nodded his head and pulled out a pistol from his holster. He turned it around so Robert could see it had a pink trigger. “Marina found this in the armory of the place we were staying. She used it to kill her first walker. She put it in my bag when we escaped. ‘For just in case,’ she said. Now it’s the only pistol I use. Gave mine to Oscar.”

    Robert smiled slightly to Gabriel. “Recycling,” he called it. “I think that’s beautiful.”

    Lyrik smiled, and jokingly said, “When you die, Robert, I’ll take your machete and that semi-auto you always carry around. Recycling!”

    Robert and Gabriel laughed. “That sure is comforting,” Robert said, smiling. “That’s dark, bitch.”

    “Is that a black joke?” Lyrik said, and they all shared a laugh.

    Spoiler Spoiler:

  7. Back To Top    #17
    Problem Child bertglamga's Avatar
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    Chapter 17 “After”
    Day 45

    Over the last ten days, things had been going just about as well as would be expected. Abi-Maria brought in a lot of drama for a while, but then seemed to have just given up. Everyone else carried on as usual all throughout it. Beth’s fingers had healed to the point that touching them no longer hurts, but she still had to keep it wrapped while the skin healed back. Selenis had been given a lot of trust in leading a scavenging group a few days ago, and it went successfully. They had found many supplies in a town about seven miles south of them named Bunker, and even scouted out a few places around it in case something went wrong.

    Abi-Maria had seemed to be keeping to herself for the past few days, and everyone had assumed that she had given up. That is, until she began stealing and breaking things that belonged to people in her group and blaming it on the people she despised. She broke the glass of a photograph on one of Oscar’s pictures of his family, ripped a hole in Shakira’s favorite sweater, and stole Gabriel’s pink-triggered pistol and Selenis’s makeup box. They found the gun and makeup box hidden behind a few bales of hay in the barn, and the glass fragments from Oscar’s photo in the trash can in the basement, where the group stayed. She tried framing Hershel and his people, but she was doing it so carelessly and obviously.

    “Hershel, I know you don’t believe in killing people like that,” Selenis told Hershel, the two sitting privately in the room he shared with Maggie, who was currently in Shawn and Beth’s room, “and neither do I, but we have to do something. I thought once she realized that none of us wanted to go with her she would just leave on her own, or give up and become a part of the group, but apparently I was wrong. I’m afraid of what she’ll do if we keep her around any longer.”

    Hershel looked grimly at Selenis. “I know she’s dangerous,” he said hesitantly, “but is there any chance she could change? We can’t just throw her to the walkers, and I certainly won’t have her killed,” he said firmly, clenching a fist at the thought of killing another living being.

    “I don’t think we have much of a choice, Hershel. I’ve known her long enough to know that when she thinks something, when she’s truly set on it, she’ll do whatever it takes to get her way. You can try to talk her down all you want, but she just won’t get how wrong she is. She’s like a wolf desperate for food, even if that means killing her own. I would know,” she said, drifting off.

    Hershel worriedly stared at her. “Has she.. has she killed her own?”

    Selenis looked into his eyes, silently conveying that she had.

    “Are you sure?”

    “Yes,” she said. The middle-aged woman was hoping she wouldn’t have to say it, but it now appeared that she must. “We met her with this girl she apparently grew up with. Her name was Rosa. A week after they joined our group, she shot Esmeralda in cold blood after a huge argument about whether or not we should leave that place we were in. Esmeralda may have been on a side that promoted, or more accurately just turning a blind eye to, killing of innocent people for survival, but Abi-Maria actually did it. She just took her down, right in the middle of their arguing. And when she was asked about it by Oscar later, we thought she was gonna kill him, too. She even said that Esmeralda was a huge bitch, and that she didn’t regret it at all.”

    Hershel looked into her eyes in fear. “I guess we have to get her out of here, then. Do you know how, though?”

    “I have an idea. There was this town we scavenged a while back. The one you made me lead at. Bunker. We could tell her we’re going on another run. Pack her some supplies, fix up a car we find out there, and eventually break it to her that she’s out of the group. Leave her with the supplies and car and she’ll go on alone. She’s strong enough to survive on her own. She’ll probably find other people, they might be like her.”

    Hershel nodded his head. “Alright,” he said. “Let’s get this show on the road, then. I want to do this as soon as possible.”

    The two left the room, and Selenis winked at Gabriel, signalling that the plan was in action. They went downstairs to the basement and began to pack Abi-Maria’s stuff while she was in the bathroom, along with a bit of food and medical supplies. When they were done, Gabriel sat in the living room as though he had no idea what was going on and Selenis waited outside of the bathroom for Abi-Maria. When she exited, Selenis told her in Spanish, “I know you don’t want to be around them, but you better get ready. We’re going on a run, and I want you to come with us. Me, Hershel, Gabriel, and you. Maybe some others that Hershel wants to bring.”

    Abi-Maria looked both angry and slightly puzzled. “Hershel’s going?”

    “Well, he is the leader, after all. He just wants to finally feel like one.”

    “It’s about fucking time he pulled some weight around here.”

    “You’ve been whining, crying, bitching, and sleeping in this room for ten days straight. Shut the fuck up.”

    Hershel came down the stairs and listened. “Still speaking in Spanish? Not hiding any secrets, are you?”

    “Sorry, Hershel,” Selenis said. Abi-Maria rolled her eyes, picked up her gun, and headed upstairs to wait at the door. Selenis and Hershel followed her up. “Come on, Gabe,” Selenis said, and Gabriel pushed himself up, slightly struggling to stand.

    As they were going out the door, Maggie came down the stairs. “Daddy? Where are you going?”

    “Sorry, dear. I almost forgot to tell you. I’m going on a run. We’ll be back in a few hours.”

    “With them?” Maggie asked, looking to the three Mexicans. “Alone? Are you sure, Daddy?”

    “Yes, dear, everything’s fine.”

    “But,” Maggie began, looking right to Abi-Maria, who immediately scoffed when she realized what Maggie had implied. “Daddy, I don’t care what you say, I’m coming with you.”

    “Well, alright,” Hershel said, not wanting to argue too much. Selenis and Abi-Maria speaking in Spanish made him a little bit nervous that they could have been plotting against him, and he took comfort in knowing he’d have someone he trusted with him, even though it was his daughter, who he wanted to stay at the house, safe. He yelled into the kitchen where Patricia and Robert were making dinner, “We’re going on a run. We’ll be back in a couple hours.”

    “Okay,” Patricia and Robert said in unison, then looked to each other, confused that Hershel was going. Patricia nodded her head to Robert, gesturing for him to go ask about the situation.

    Robert ended up with the same story Maggie was told, and when he offered to go, Hershel made a strong, resounding “No, damn it,” that he was not about to argue with. Hershel made an apologetic look after yelling at Robert, who nodded nervously in return. He felt guilty about yelling, but he knew Robert could take it. He just didn’t want too many people put at risk, and not everyone needed to know what they planned to do to Abi-Maria.

    The five got into Hershel’s RV, and he drove into Bunker. Just outside of town, a van that looked to be in pretty good condition, though a bit dusty, was parked on the side of the road. The group got out and took down a few walkers around it. Gabriel got to work immediately after the walkers were taken care of. “Why the hell are we on the side of the road, fucking with an ugly old van?” Abi-Maria asked, complaining as always.

    “Well, we can’t always use the RVs,” Selenis said. “They aren’t very practical for runs like this, now are they?”

    Abi-Maria rolled her eyes and watched as Gabriel tweaked with the van. Hershel finally got the van to start up, and he went into the RV with Maggie. Gabriel pretended that he still had to work on the van while Hershel was in the vehicle explaining what this run was really about to Maggie. She nodded, and finally understood. They exited the RV, Maggie carrying the bag they had packed for Abi-Maria.

    “What the fuck is this?” Abi-Maria said in Spanish to Selenis.

    “This,” Selenis said in English, “is where we give you the news. As of today, you are no longer a member of this group. You’ve caused too much trouble and pain, and you obviously don’t want to be there. So now you get your wish. You get to leave. We packed you a bag with all of your things in it plus some food and medicine to help you survive.”

    “This is bullshit, are you kidding me?” Abi-Maria said angrily. She grabbed her bag and began crying, but she still looked more angry than sad. “Are there any tissues in here?”

    “There are rags,” Hershel told her.

    Abi-Maria opened the bag and began looking, pretending she was looking for the rags, but actually looking for a gun. Grabbing the one in her holster now would be too obvious, so she had to make use of the bag. Her finger slid against something metal, and she smiled slightly to herself. She quickly pulled it out and began firing it. Panicked, Selenis took cover behind a large rock as Gabriel ran off into the woods in the direction of the road back to the house. Maggie and Hershel attempted to run for the van, but Abi-Maria shot Maggie in the leg, causing her to double over in pain. “Maggie!” Hershel yelled, stopping to attempt to help her stand. “Come on, baby,” he said, bringing her to one knee. He wasn’t going to leave his daughter, his flesh and blood. He was trying his hardest to get his daughter up and to safety, and if he were strong enough, he would have just picked her up and carried her.

    Behind the rock, Selenis had her gun and was firing it at Abi-Maria, who was now taking cover behind the van. As Selenis shot again, she got Abi-Maria in the left shoulder after she had shot Maggie’s leg, causing her to scream in pain and fall back behind the van. After a few minutes of peace, Selenis considered leaving cover and going to make sure Abi-Maria was dead, hearing Hershel scream for his daughter and attempted to help her, when suddenly another shot rang and a loud thud hit against the RV. Hershel had been shot right in the chest, and had fallen over dead onto the side of the vehicle. Maggie screamed as his dead corpse fell on top of her. Luckily, his body shielded her from further bullets from Abi-Maria. Selenis realized as the gunshot was becoming slightly softer than Abi-Maria was running away, into the woods. Selenis peaked past the rock just in time to see Abi-Maria engulfed by the trees, wearing the backpack they had packed for her, her left shoulder sloppily bandaged and obviously bleeding a lot. She had left the van behind running south, closer to Bunker.

    Selenis raised from her position, firing a few parting shots in Abi-Maria’s direction, and ran to see what had happened. Gabriel was nowhere to be seen. Around the side of the RV, she was shocked to see two lifeless bodies. “Hershel,” Selenis said, her voice quivering. “Maggie…” Selenis dropped to her knees. This was all a huge mistake.

    “Help!” a small, muffled voice said underneath Hershel’s body. Maggie’s alive! Selenis happily thought as she rolled Hershel’s body off of Maggie, who was bleeding profusely from the right leg. Selenis helped Maggie to her feet, and they struggled into the RV. Selenis laid her down on the couch. “My daddy,” Maggie said. “Please tell me he’s still alive. Still breathing. Has a pulse. Answer me, damn it!” Selenis sadly looked away from Maggie, and she began crying violently. “Stop! He’s okay! He’s going to be okay!” Selenis solemnly stayed quiet, doing her best to disinfect and wrap Maggie’s wound. “Get him. Go get him. We need to take him back. Get him help.”

    “Bury him,” Selenis stated. “We’ll see what help we can get him, if any, but I don’t want you getting your hopes up. He’s dead, Maggie. We’re going to take him back to bury him.”

    Maggie lifted her arm and sobbed into it, weeping desperately. Selenis finished treating the wound and stood up. She looked down at Maggie sadly and exited the vehicle, dragging Hershel’s lifeless body into the RV, onto the floor in front of the couch Maggie was lying on. Maggie grimly looked down at her father, speaking to him quietly, searching hopelessly for a response.

    Selenis wordlessly went to the driver’s seat, started up the RV, and drove back to the house.

    Not ten minutes later, Selenis spotted a large figure on the side of the road, headed towards the house. It was Gabriel. She pulled over the RV. “What’s going on?” Maggie asked as Selenis opened the door to let Gabriel in. He was smiling happily to her, not knowing how darkly things had turned out. He thought that everyone was fine. That no one had died, at least. As he entered, he nearly stepped on Hershel’s hand, and he saw the tragedy that had happened to the father and daughter. Selenis went straight back to the driver’s seat, remaining silent. Gabriel sat in the passenger seat next to her. He didn’t push her to talk. He knew Selenis. When she was ready, or when she needed to, she would speak. They quietly drove back home.

    About a mile out, Hershel began to move, and Maggie screamed happily, scaring Selenis, and making her drive off the road, shaking everyone up. Selenis and Gabriel got whiplash, and Maggie had fallen on top of her father and was hugging him gleefully, crying into his chest. She looked up at him with a huge smile to see that he had turned. He was a walker. Maggie’s smile flipped. Her world crashed down around her. Not only was her father dead, he was a walker, too. She rolled off of him and pushed him back. He began crawling near her as she bawled, her hands over her head in shock and sorrow. Seeing her dad like this, for such a dumb reason, for a reason that could have just been taken care of some way else, was the worst thing that could happen to her. She though about how alone she was now. As her undead father came closer, she began to give up. She reached out her left hand, giving Hershel what he wanted. If he wanted her to turn so badly, she was going to give her dad one last wish, even if he was no longer truly himself. He chomped down onto her hand, digging into the flesh and bone, blood splattering around, and Maggie screamed in pain.

    Then, a deafening bang went off, amplified by the metal on the walls and the enclosed room. Selenis had put down Hershel, and she went to Maggie to checking her. Her hand was a mangled, disgusting mess. “Fuck,” Selenis said. She looked back to Gabriel and began to take off her belt and she put it around Maggie’s arm.

    Gabriel looked at her in shock. “Are we really going to try that?” he said, sounding very panicked.

    “I don’t think we have much of a choice. Honestly, what have we- what does she have to lose?” Selenis said, her face looking as unsure as Gabriel’s. “Get me something we can do this with.”

    Gabriel got out of his seat and looked through his bag and handed her an ax, coming around to also put the wooden handle of a knife into Maggie’s mouth. “Bite down if it hurts, and do your best not to flinch, please. We don’t want anything to- well, just don’t flinch,” Gabriel told Maggie, looking very nervous. He got behind her and held onto her, bracing her for what was to come.

    Maggie began to panic, not knowing what they were planning. In an instant, Selenis swung her ax down on Maggie’s hand, severing it halfway through the wrist. Maggie screamed hysterically, biting into the wooden handle as Gabriel did his best to hold her and keep her still. Selenis swung once more, hoping to finish off the job, but because of Maggie’s panic, her aim was slightly off and it only went a few inches deeper. “Maggie, calm down,” she said. Selenis took one final swing, and the hand came off. Gabriel immediately began cleaning up after her, attempting to stop the bleeding. Selenis threw the hand out the window and quickly got back to driving to get Maggie to better help with Patricia.

    They drove up into the yard, parking as close to the house as possible, and Selenis quickly ran in to get people outside to help. Gabriel picked up Maggie, using one hand to hold a once-white sheet over her arm, and began to carry her inside. He was met halfway to the door by Seth, Shawn, Patricia, Robert, and Lyrik, led by Selenis. Seth and Shawn took Maggie from Gabriel, and they carried her into the living room and onto the couch. Patricia bent over her and with the help of Robert and Lyrik, they stopped the bleeding and did their best to sew it up as best they could.

    Much of the group sat at the kitchen table looking confused at first, creating a familiar scene, but then they realized that it was Maggie and that she had been injured, and they did their best to help, fetching towels and water and other such things for Patricia. “Where’s Hershel?!” Patricia asked, swamped.

    Selenis was reminded of what had happened, and she grew silent once more. Gabriel whispered to Patricia that he had been killed, and Shawn went outside to the RV to check for him, where he found Hershel dead, blood all over the RV, and a gunshot right through his head. Shawn began crying and clenched his fists. He stormed back into the house and punched Selenis right in the face, Gabriel being too far away, and she fell to her knees. “You killed my father!” Selenis looked up at him in shock, and rose back up, punching Shawn in the face, and they began to wrestle, punching, kicking, and biting. Seth and Gabriel finally managed to broke it up and they both had bruises on them. Shawn had a black eye, and Selenis had bruises beginning to form on her cheek, and scratches and more bruises were scattered across their bodies.

    “I didn’t kill your dad!” Selenis said, spitting at Shawn, who furiously threw another punch in response, and Seth tried to hold him back, but he managed to get Selenis right in the nose. “You motherfucker!” she yelled, and Gabriel and Seth struggled to keep them off of each other as they resisted once more.

    “Fucking stop it!” Seth screamed, pushing Shawn into a wall and turning to do the same to Selenis. “Now both of you assholes calm down and explain what happened, civilly.

    Selenis took a deep breath, and decided to just say it. “We were kicking Abi-Maria out of the group. Me, Gabriel, Hershel, and Maggie went to go leave her in Bunker. But when we told her, she tricked us by looking through the bag of supplies we gave her, saying she needed a rag, but pulling out a gun, shooting Maggie in the leg, and then killing Hershel. She meant to kill all of us, but she got them.”

    “And why the fuck is that?!” Shawn asked angrily.

    “I don’t know! To be honest, they didn’t make the smartest move. Gabriel ran into the woods, I hid behind a large nearby rock, and they tried to run a good thirty feet to get to the RV.”

    So you’re saying it’s their fault?!” Shawn questioned, absolutely furious.

    “Would you please take this somewhere else?!” Patricia asked, trying to concentrate and keep Maggie calm.

    “No,” Selenis said. “I’m saying it’s my fault. I should have pulled them behind the rock, or helped them more somehow.”

    “You’re damn right it’s your fault! Yours, too, Gabriel! Pussying out like that, really? Fuck you both! My dad’s dead because of you assholes!”

    “I’m sorry,” Selenis said.

    “Stop that,” Seth said. “That could have been anyone, Shawn. It wasn’t their fault. It was fuckin’ Abi-Maria. Fuck that bitch, not this one.”

    Hesitant to speak, Lyrik, who was helping with Maggie, asked, “Um, but what happened to Maggie? You said she got shot in the leg, but that’s already been doctored. What happened to her arm?”

    Selenis grimly turned to her and spoke with solemn seriousness. “When Hershel died, he turned. And he wasn’t even bit. We’ve all seen walkers around that hadn’t been bit, right? Well, I think I know why. When you die, no matter how you die, you come back.”

    Everyone looked on, horrified. Shawn worriedly looked up to Seth, who was still holding him. Seth let go, his mouth open in disbelief. “You’re lying, aren’t you?” Seth asked.

    “You think so? Go look at Hershel’s body. Does that just look like death to you? Like he hadn’t turned? You know how Maggie lost her hand? Hershel bit it off. And we amputated it to save her.”

    Shawn looked like he was about to punch her again. “You amputated her arm? Are you fucking crazy?!

    “No,” Selenis said. “We’ve met people who survived like that. In that place we were at, where we escaped from. Some of the people there had survived walker bites through immediate amputation.”

    “Well, you better fucking hope it works, or I’m going to kill you for both of their deaths,” Shawn warned.

    Selenis and Gabriel nodded grimly, hoping to whatever gods may be out there that this worked. Not just for their sake, but for everyone’s.

    Spoiler Spoiler:

  8. Back To Top    #18
    Problem Child bertglamga's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    NM, USA
    120 Post(s)
    Chapter 18 “It Worked”
    Days 49 & 50

    It was a cold, foggy day, and it would be an even colder, foggier night. It has been four days since the group lost Hershel, and nearly lost Maggie. From an outsider’s perspective, things were looking up for her. She had recovered from her wounds as best as one can in four days, the group has considered branching out to nearby houses, and the garden in the back yard has been extended and new winter crops have been planted just in time for autumn.

    The group had an election that morning to elect a new leader after Hershel’s death. The three candidates were Seth, Shawn, and Selenis.

    Robert, Gabriel, Oscar, and Shakira voted for Selenis, as she had proven to them to be a quick-thinking, capable leader. For the people in Selenis’s group, they had been around her a very long time, and trust her with their lives. It was a no-brainer. Robert didn’t have nearly as much experience and closeness, but he had just as much faith in her. She had saved Maggie’s life, and knew a lot about surviving out there. Though she shut down a little bit under pressure, that flaw was not bigger than Seth and Shawn’s to him. Seth was very flippant, which could be funny in conversation, but it wasn’t great for leader material. He often acted on impulse, and his ideas changed easily and quickly, like how he went from shooting at Xavier and Sierra to shrugging his shoulders and letting them in without protest, or any uneasiness. Of course, Xavier and Sierra proved to be great people, but there was always the chance that they weren’t, and if they had been bad people, Robert would have blamed Seth. Shawn was a hothead, and if something set him off, he could be deadly. Under pressure, he would be an awful person to have to turn to for advice, as his mind was always fogged with rage when something set him off.

    Jessie, Xavier, Sierra, and Lyrik voted for Seth as leader. Jessie, just like with Selenis’s group, trusted her ex-leader with her life. To her, he was great, and was very capable, though he did brush off her son, but who could blame him? That was in the past now. Ron didn’t get to vote, as Jessie thought that Ron didn’t need to be reminded of the world outside of these walls anymore than he had to when he was away from her. Xavier and Sierra voted for Seth because they saw his potential, and believed that he would make a great leader if he needed to. Lyrik voted for Seth because she thought he was hot. Thanks, Lyrik, Robert thought sarcastically.

    Otis, Patricia, Beth, Maggie, and Amanda voted for Shawn. Otis and Patricia had watched Shawn grow up, and being raised by Hershel, they knew that he could lead the group to greatness. Beth and Maggie had a similar point of view. They knew he had a temper, but when it was necessary, their brother could really help the group out and had a good grasp on how to keep them together. Maggie originally didn’t want to vote, but decided to give her opinion since otherwise, it would be a three-way tie. The four believed that he was the only appropriate choice, since he was the son of their previous leader, after all. Amanda voted for him because over the past few weeks, ever since she opened up to him, she had developed a crush on him. She thought he was cute and thoughtful, and that if worst came to worst, he could be their best hope.

    If you can’t count, or just didn’t pay attention, Shawn won by one vote. Everyone congratulated him, some giving him hugs or kisses. Maggie gave him the longest, most heartfelt hug, which surprised Shawn a bit. What’s got her so emotional about this? he thought. The whole situation just dug a knife deeper into Maggie, a huge reminder of just how gone Hershel was. His absence was so big that they needed a formal election for someone to fill his role. After kissing her brother once more, she went up to her room.

    Selenis was moderately relieved that she didn’t have to have all of these people’s lives on her shoulders as the leader. Seth, however, was actually very jealous of Shawn, and he thought that he would be a much better leader than young, dumb farm boy ever could be. He was even mad at Amanda for not voting for him. I’ve been nothing but a great leader to you, he thought. So what if you were like the last person to join me? So what if that whiny bitch you called a friend died? I’ve always protected you. If you think I can’t now that there’s more people, you’re damn wrong.

    That afternoon, Maggie waited until everyone was beginning to lie down or get ready for bed, right after dinner. She was upstairs in her room that she used to share with her father. His stuff was still littered about the room. She couldn’t bare to move anything around, or to let anyone move in with her. Thankfully, no one had asked her to do any of that.

    In her hand, she was holding a rope her father used to use around the farm that he kept in the back of the red truck. She was tying it into a noose, which proved to be very difficult using just one hand. She used to practice making ropes into different knots, including a noose, when she was younger. She compared it to how Shawn used to whittle wood with his father. It was like a child in the scouts, learning how to do things that usually wouldn’t prove to be very useful, but were definitely interesting to them.

    Looking at her missing hand, she thought of her father. She thought of her sister, too. This was the same hand that Beth had lost fingers off of.

    “Now we’re kinda like twins,” Beth had said the day Maggie woke up.

    “Sisters wasn’t good enough for you?” Maggie had replied jokingly.

    She had this plan in mind for a while now, and tonight cemented it. Everyone else would be fine without me. They have a leader now, and no one would really care too much, she thought. Of course, Beth and Shawn will. But they’re family. They have to care. Beth is growing up, becoming strong. She’ll understand. She’ll move on and be okay… God, I feel so alone. I’m sorry, Daddy.

    The night was perfect. Foggy and cold. No one would notice, and they’d have no reason to just be going outside with how cold it was. They wouldn’t have to know. Plus, she had said her goodbyes. Sort of. She gave Shawn his congratulations and a kiss. When Ron was playing with Robert and Lyrik, she had told them to take care of themselves, and to look out for each other. She told Beth how much she loved her just a few moments ago. Se wished Otis and Patricia a great marriage and to never lose one another, and thanked them for always being there for her, basically being aunt and uncle to her.

    Once the noose was secure, she knew it was time. She grabbed the rope and shoved it down into her pants, hoping it wouldn’t look too obvious. She exited her room, and was upset to see Jessie talking in the hall with her son. Clearly, he wasn’t ready to go to bed just yet. Maggie smiled to Jessie and made her way downstairs and sighed. Thank you, Ron, she thought to herself.

    She made her way downstairs and noticed that Shakira and Oscar were in the living room, talking to each other inaudibly. She pulled back the sliding door slowly and went outside, silently closing the door behind her. She sighed once more, relieved that no one had noticed her go outside. She made her way to the small barn and began to shiver, clutching herself.

    The barn was ajar, and she slightly slid it open enough to where she could squeeze through without it being too blatant from the backdoor. She peaked to it, and could barely see anything through it from the fog. She turned back around and peered into the darkness, which was only getting darker as time passed. She looked around for the beam nearest to a hay stack or other thing of easy elevation. One had nothing beneath it, and she would need to stack up many things in order to reach it, which would just waste time. The other had a few too many haystacks underneath it. She took the lesser of two evils and went with the too-high one, doing her best to kick down a few levels of hay. Finally, after what felt like ages, she managed to get enough down to where she could only reach the beam if she raised her arms all the way up.

    She pulled the rope out of her pants and noticed that it had slightly burned her leg. No matter, she thought, and she tossed the rope over them beam and fastened it as tightly as she could. She stuck her head through and let go. She let go of her pain. Let go of her anguish. Let go of her mourning. Let go of her suffering. Of this cruel world. Of her loneliness. Of this miserable existence she now was forced to call life.

    It was painful, the air being forced out of her in such a painful, neck breaking way. She almost regretted it. Almost wanted to take it all back. Almost felt foolish, regretful. But it was too late.

    The next morning, no one could find her. Shawn, being the leader, took charge of the situation. He called the group together for a meeting, and Jessie and Ron mentioned that they last saw her going downstairs, looking a little bit nervous. None of her stuff was missing at first glance, so it could be assumed that she hadn’t ran away. Shawn took Seth, Xavier, and Sierra and headed out with them to search the areas she could be at. The river, the road to Bunker, and the edges of the woods. When they returned to the house, the group was back in the living room. If he hadn’t seen them get up when he had left, Shawn would have assumed that they had never moved. Many people were in tears.

    “What happened?” Shawn asked.

    Patricia was hugging Beth, who was bawling. Patricia looked up to Shawn. “She’s in the barn,” she said darkly. Shawn smiled for a half-second, and Patricia shook her head. She wasn’t in there doing chores. “Otis found her when he was going to tend to the garden.”

    Beth looked to her hand, her missing fingers. At first, she thought it would always remind her of the love she and Maggie had. Of Maggie herself. But now, she feared that it would just haunt her. That it would be an inescapable reminder of the family she had lost.

    Shawn wanted to ask what had happened to Maggie, but decided it best that he saw for himself. He took the same group he had left with to the barn, their weapons at the ready. He slowly opened the door and heard a familiar groaning sound. An unhuman, awful noise that only one thing made. He braced himself as he swung the door the rest of the way open. There, Maggie was turned, suspended in the air by a rope, snapping and clawing for him. He needed no more proof that you turn no matter how you die.

    Beginning to shed tears, Shawn raised his gun and fired it. Stunned, he missed. “Fuck,” he whispered to himself. Xavier stepped forward, ready to put her down in case Shawn couldn’t do it. Shawn fired it once more, and got her right in the head. Instantly, she fell lifeless, no longer scratching and clawing at the group, and blood began to trickle down her face through the bullet wound.

    Too upset, Shawn left the barn and went inside to his room. He just wanted to be alone now. The other three took down Maggie’s body and dragged her out to the area they had arranged for burials. They had a funeral for her immediately, putting her in the ground right next to her father.

    Spoiler Spoiler:

  9. Back To Top    #19
    Problem Child bertglamga's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    NM, USA
    120 Post(s)
    Chapter 19 “Neighbors”
    Day 74

    Things had been relatively peaceful since Maggie’s departure. Though it was morbid, Maggie’s death could be seen as a new door. She and her father demonstrated important information to the group about death. Made them more aware of themselves at night, and gave them better information on how to conduct themselves. They made more plans, and everyone was armed at all times. Even Jessie and Ron, though every chance she got, Jessie took Ron’s gun from him and locked both of theirs up in a closet in their room. Jessie didn’t believe that she would ever need her gun, and that Ron was much too young to have to be exposed to the horrors of the world. Not anymore. Especially after the things he had gone through. To her, he needed rest. Time to recover. They all did, truly. Soon, she thought, this world will be set back into place. There will be no more walkers and mindless killing. We’ll never get our loved ones back, but we can move on.

    Despite a few members of the group saying that the group should not be split up (namely Robert, Xavier, Sierra, Patricia, Selenis, and Gabriel), Shawn declared that the group would be spacing out. “There were other houses in the forest, and we don’t have to cram ourselves into this one for the rest of our lives,” he said, defending his case. “I really don’t want that. Do you?” he asked the whole group. The members who wanted the group together even admitted that not having to share rooms would be nice, but stood firm that it was not wise.

    Shawn made Sierra and Xavier come with him, and Amanda and Seth volunteered to help out when they decided to go clearing out houses. They set off on the road leading towards Bunker and went down a dirt road that they didn’t notice when they were first searching for a home.

    At the end of the road was a pretty small house, much smaller than the one they were in, and they went inside to clear it. Shawn turned the handle of the front door and it immediately fell off at the hinges. He sighed, and led them in. This house was definitely not suitable for people to live in. It seemed to have been abandoned long before the apocalypse and nature was definitely reclaiming it. Windows were broken, there were large holes in the ceiling and walls, grass was beginning to grow between cracks in the wall and the floor, and vines were pushing into the home furiously, bursting through windows as if Medusa were trying to break glass with her head alone. They decided to still check it for supplies, but the best thing they found was a lighter and a few matches that must have been left by some kids who sneaked in to smoke.

    Amanda spotted something that obviously wasn’t familiar to the other people as they looked it over, probably assuming it was a weird forest plant. Amanda picked up the marijuana when they left the room and stuffed it into her pocket. She felt slightly guilty, but she was more content than anything. She would finally be getting a little bit of downtime. Some nice, good, familiar distraction from not only the tragedy around her, but also herself.

    They left the house with only the matches and lighters, and a few things here and there. This house was a bust. They continued down the road and found another dirt road that led to a large plot of dirt. It was clear that either the house there had been demolished or the land was just being prepared to be built on.

    “Yeah, Shawn,” Xavier said. “Whole lotta houses around here, huh?”

    Shawn rolled his eyes. “Well, the map showed a lot more offshoots, and I was pretty sure they all led to homes. What else’d they be for?”

    They continued driving, and eventually made it to the outskirts of Bunker, passing right by the place where the others tried to drop off Abi-Maria. They didn’t even realize that this was the place, though. As they passed, they saw nothing where a van once was.

    The town seemed to be quite clear, as it was a very small place. As with everywhere, there were plenty of walkers, but there was much less than previous places they had been to, such as Albertville, Palmetto, and Guntersville. They didn’t want to actually live in Bunker, though. It was a town, and they were wary of staying in those, especially one as crowded as a town. Not after losing three people in a row in the last town they stayed in. Plus, it was too far away from the house they were staying in for them to comfortably put others inside. However, in order to get to other parts of the forest without driving an RV into a deep river or impossibly weaving it through the thick forest, they had to pass through Bunker to make it to a highway that led around to the western side of the forest.

    As they drove, they found three more roads off the side of the highway. One led to a dead end, that only made the people in the RV angry at the waste of gas. Another led to basically another dead end. It was a charred lot, with ruins of a very large house left behind. It had been burned down, which again made them angry. It appeared to be much bigger than the one they were in, and it would have served them well. The other led to a house similar to the other one, but not nearly as overtaken by nature. It didn’t have nearly as much plant life growing in it, though some was beginning to sprout. There were no holes or cracks in the building, and it seemed moderately sturdy, along with it having more usable things than the other, similar house, but it was quite small and only one or two people could live in it, so they brushed it off for now. They weren’t quite ready for the group to split up into factions as small as that. As they looked through it, in the back room they found two dead bodies propped up on a wall. One was wearing a brown dress, the other shorts and a very stained white shirt. There was very little skin left, and it was mostly just bones. They both had a gun in their hands, and it was clear they had killed themselves, which made Shawn look down at the ground, reminded of Maggie. Seth bent over and took their guns, both fully loaded minus a single bullet.

    “You’re just going to loot their bodies?” Amanda protested.

    “Well, it’s not much use to them now, is it?” Seth said factually. “Clearly, they don’t need these anymore.”

    Finally, they found a road that looked quite promising. The road was dirt, but it seemed to be very worn and often used. Thus, it must lead to a house. “There could be people there, though,” Xavier said. “The tracks look fresh enough.”

    “Well, we always welcome new friends, don’t we?” Shawn said, slightly sarcastic and bitter about the last group leading to the deaths of his father and sister. No one laughing as he had hoped, he coughed. “Look, if they’re any trouble we can handle it. It’ll be fine.”

    “We don’t know how many of them there are,” Amanda said.

    “Can we stop?!” Shawn yelled, getting frustrated. “We don’t even know that there are people there, but y’all are talking about this like we’re about to face the mafia!”

    Everyone in the RV shut their mouth tightly. Xavier and Sierra looked slightly annoyed, while Amanda seemed to feel guilty for causing Shawn to get so angry. She fingered the substance in her pocket. Maybe he could use some, too, she joked to herself, trying to remain calm.

    “Like I said,” Shawn continued, driving slowly down the road. “If there’s trouble, we can handle it. We’re pretty much the strongest people in the group,” Shawn said, before remembering that they had brought Amanda and he broke a smile. The group took it as him continuing to reassure them, and the tension faded into silence as they moved down the road, keeping their eyes peeled. They stared out of the windows and down the road, looking for signs of other people being around. A turn came up, and around the bend a large building with a red roof could be seen, with a gorgeous, triangle-shaped lake a ways behind it. The road continued past the house, and a building that looked very similar to it could be seen with about five cars in front of it, though most looked like they hadn’t been touched in a while, being dusty old models.

    Everyone grabbed up their weapons and bags, prepared for walkers, to simply scavenge, or potentially the worst: humans. Shawn parked the RV outside of the first building and everyone got out, guns and knives at the ready. They walked around the perimeter of the house, and Amanda noticed a few curtains shutting. She looked to the group, and they worriedly looked back, clutching their weapons, hoping this wouldn’t have to end in a bloodbath.

    Shawn didn’t notice it, however, and though that Amanda was lying to convince the group to turn back. He rolled his eyes at her. Pussy, he thought about her. They went back to the front of the house and Shawn put his hand on the doorknob and twisted it. Locked. “Of course it is,” he thought aloud as he backed up and threw himself against the door.

    “Shawn, what are you doing?!” Seth yelled to him, beginning to worry as he raised his gun to the windows, making sure they weren’t going to be sniped.

    “Getting in,” Shawn said, backing up again and running at the door once more. “What does it look like?” he said after another unsuccessful throw.

    On his third try, the door flew open before he could connect with it, causing him to fall ungracefully to the floor. He heard a click over his head like a gun being cocked and he scrambled to his feet, his gun raised back at the noise. Dimly lit, he could see that the person holding the gun was in fact a very young teen with long dirty blonde hair who looked ready to pull the trigger at any moment, her gun pointed right at his head. Behind Shawn, another gun could be heard. It was a rifle, and it had been cocked. He looked back quickly to see a tall, thin man in flannel pointing his rifle at the people outside.

    “Who the hell are you people and what the fuck do you want?!” he yelled, his voice a mixture of anger and fear. Sierra and Xavier had their guns pointed at the man, while Amanda had her gun pointed at the young girl, ready to take the girl down if she tries to hurt Shawn. Seth kept his gun locked on the windows, making sure there weren’t more that would easily snipe them.

    Xavier, with a strangely calm voice - as though this was something he’d been through a lot - spoke up. “We thought the house was empty. We’re only here to scavenge and make room for the rest of our group.” As Xavier spoke, Seth noticed one of the curtains of the windows open, and a man could faintly be seen looking out at them. Before Seth could decide whether or not to shoot, the curtain closed and his chance disappeared.

    “The rest of your group?” the boy said as he looked around the woods nervously before he drew himself closer into the shadows of the house.

    Then, a loud thudding sound could be heard from deep inside the house. Shawn peeked away from the young girl once more to see a very robust man walking across a platform that the stairs led up to. The fat man was walking towards him down the stairs, his gun pointed between Shawn’s eyes. The farm boy gulped. The large man looked very intimidating. He made his way to Shawn and stood beside the girl.

    “Lizzie, you know what I told you,” he said. Shawn smiled to himself. Little girl’s gonna get told off for not staying in her room, he thought. Serves her right, pointing a gun at my head, small as she is. “Only aim for the head,” the fat man finished, causing everyone in the group other than Xavier and Sierra to look on confused. This man let — taught, even — his daughter to shoot? To use guns at such a young age? They thought he must be a savage, or insane. Xavier and Sierra, however, completely understood, and were even a little bit envious that this stranger got a child that was willing to fight — to help. Ron was just like his mother: incapable of even contemplating violence, and thus, incapable of protecting himself.

    Soon after, a black woman and two thin, white young men appeared on the platform. The black woman was a bit pudgy, wearing a grey top and tight brown pants. One of the thin men was shorter, wearing tight black pants and a stained orange shirt. He had moderately long brown hair and freckles lightly sprinkled across his nose and upper cheeks, and appeared to be around Robert and Lyrik’s age. The other was taller, with very short brown hair, wearing blue jeans and a loose blue plaid shirt. The black woman and the youngest-looking boy came down the stairs and stood beside the man and his girl. All of them had guns pointed at the group, striking Shawn and the others with fear. The two that had joined the man clicked their guns, and Shawn gulped deeply.

    Fearing for his life, the farmboy dropped his gun and raised his hands. “Do it!” he yelled to the others, who angrily sighed, and followed his lead. Their guns were collected and they were brought inside.

    The fat man sat them down at a couch, their hands tied up in rags, and he sat across from them in a big, red chair. He spoke to them as though they were criminals. “So, what were you really here for?” he began, looking down the light at them, meeting each one of their eyes. “We know one of you saw us close a curtain, but you still tried to get in.”

    No one spoke, all of them looking to Shawn, some with anger. Amanda spoke up, not wanting them to hurt or endanger him. She was beginning to care a lot about him, and losing him now would be awful. Not only on her, but the whole group, and Beth. Especially Beth. “I made them do it,” Amanda said shakily. “I saw the curtain and I decided that we should come in and loot it anyways. Take you all down.”

    Everyone looked to her, stunned. Why had she lied? And why would she say something like that? Shawn looked down at the ground in guilt as the large man stood up and began making his way to her. “She’s lying,” Shawn said. Everyone turned to her. “She did see the curtain move, but I’m the one who forced them to come inside.” The fat man raised a brow at him, and opened his mouth to ask a question, but was interrupted by Shawn, who continued to say, “We’re here to clear out houses for our group. Spread out.”

    “Spread out?” the man said. “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Might as well just split up and make it official.”

    “What do you mean?” Amanda spoke up once more.

    “What I mean,” he said pointedly, “is that if you spread out, you might as well just agree to not communicate, travel, or be together in any way from then on. To separate. These are unsure times, and it’s not smart to split into groups. A pack could come through, or a group could attack - sorta like y’all did. And then you’d be split up anyways.”

    Shawn looked to Xavier and Sierra, who were glaring at him with very intense “I told you so” faces.

    Suddenly, a woman with very light purple hair and dark brown roots who made Xavier’s eyes go wide came down the stairs, chasing after a short blonde girl in a brown dresswho was in tears, crying “Daddy!” She ran to the man, and hugged onto him. “I didn’t hear anything, so I thought they got you.”

    “Kelly! How could you let her get out like this?!” the man yelled, furious.

    “I’m sorry, Ryan - sir, I mean. I just, she said she was going to go to the bathroom, and I didn’t realize she was running off until I heard her feet banging off across the floor.”

    Ryan sighed, and looked down the young girl. “Mika, do you not get how dangerous this could have been? You aren’t even armed. What was the plan here?”

    “I’m sorry, daddy. I just thought that maybe they’d stop if I asked nice enough.”

    Ryan sighed and looked back to Shawn and his people. Now that they all seemed to be aware of their mistakes, the man looked at them. “Well,” he said, “what should I do with you? You didn’t hurt any of my people, though you did point two guns at my daughter.”

    “To be fair,” Seth said, “she pointed a gun at us, too. We were only backing up our friend, covering our bases.”

    “Smart,” the man replied. “But dumb. ‘It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt,’” Ryan quoted from Mark Twain. Funny, he thought, that of all the place I wind up and of all the quotes I remember, it’s of this guy. Must be fate. Fuck you, fate. “Don’t speak up like that.. uh? What’s your name?”

    “What’s yours?” Shawn gritted his teeth, furious about the quote Ryan had used against him.

    “Ryan Samuels. Now tell me yours. All of you.”

    They went down the line, introducing themselves. Then, returning the motion, Ryan’s people introduced themselves. The thin boy who was originally at the door’s name was Allan, the black woman’s name was Patti, the girl who pointed her gun at Shawn is named Lizzie, the other girl’s name is Mika, and the two are sisters. The woman who came down the stairs with Mika is in named Kelly, and the other two thin boys are Daniel and Greyson, Greyson being the younger of the two who had freckles and walked down the stairs with Patti.

    The whole time everyone was speaking, Xavier was unable to take his eyes off of Kelly, admiring every little feature of her. Her stance, her attitude, her appearance. She was like perfection to him. Kelly and Sierra both took notice of this. When Kelly noticed, he quickly turned his eyes away, shy and afraid. But she returned the stare, and they smiled. Sierra noticed the contact between the two, and felt a strange mix of jealousy and grief. She was sad that she and Xavier would likely never be together again, but she was relieved that she could move on with her life. That Xavier wasn’t crazily attached to her anymore. They could all move on.

    “So, what’s going to happen from here?” Shawn asked.

    Ryan smiled. “Now you get it. Kinda. You still spoke out of turn, but you know I’m the one in charge here.” Shawn glared at Ryan for a split second, moderately angry about being talked down to like that. “Well, me and some of my people are going to go back to your place to check it out. From there, we’re going to live together at whoever’s place is the biggest. Don’t want us splitting up now, do ya’? We’d be settin’ you loose to regroup and come back and do whatever you want to my people, and we can’t have that.”

    Shawn looked to the others, moderately angry, and was met only with shrugs. Xavier normally would be angry as well, but he was too interested in Kelly to object. Sierra didn’t want to ruin that. Seth didn’t care either way. Amanda wanted to feel angry for Shawn, but like Seth, she didn’t care.

    After a little bit of indecision of whether or not to bring the leader, Ryan took Shawn and Xavier with himself, Patti, and Daniel back to the house, much to Xavier’s disappointment. He didn’t know what it was, but he was passionately, scarily attracted to her, and he didn’t want that at all. Not in this scenario, tied up as hostages. Not even in this world, where death lies around every turn. Everyone else would stay to watch over Seth, Amanda, and Sierra. Ryan kept them all tied up still as he led Shawn and Xavier to the black car they would be taking.

    They arrived back at the house within a few minutes and were met with Robert, Selenis, Gabriel, Beth, and Otis standing along the house, pointing their guns to the unfamiliar car. When Shawn was pushed forcefully out of the car with a gun to his back by Daniel, Beth and Otis instantly put their guns down. “Don’t shoot!” he yelled desperately, and the same was done to Xavier by Patti. The five at the porch looked among themselves and lowered their guns.

    Ryan stepped out of the driver’s seat with his hands up as a show of good will. “Your friends are perfectly fine. There is nothing to worry about. They haven’t been hurt. The other three are with the rest of my people - surprisingly close to here.”

    “He’s not lying,” Shawn said.

    “Jesus, Shawn, have you learned nothing?” the fat man said, irritation punctuating his words thickly. “Let ‘em loose,” he said.

    Patti and Daniel swiftly swung knives down onto the ropes binding Xavier and Shawn’s hands, startling them greatly. Shawn jumped, afraid his hands might have been cut off, while Xavier merely cringed and held his hands to his face when he was sure they were fine.

    Ryan led them to the house, and they examined the place. It seemed fine for a group as small as theirs. However, it wouldn’t do to move in eight more people. “It’s settled,” he said, not having to look around much. “You all have a new home!”

    Beth looked worriedly to Shawn, just as others did among the nearest people. Shawn grimly nodded his head. “So, we have to leave?” Shawn questioned, and his voice began to fill with anger once more. “We can’t stay here? My family is buried here! We have crops outside! When do you expect us to leave? Now?! We need to get everything, and you made us leave our strongest man behind!”

    The large leader was simply smiling in response. “You really are just a little stick of southern dynamite, aren’t you? I thought I told you all of this before we left. Either we all move into the biggest house, which is clearly ours, or we have to execute you all. Take it or leave it.”

    Shawn was greatly tempted to risk fighting for this house. There was only three of them, and they could totally take them on. In fact, they were almost guaranteed to win. But the problem was, as experienced with previous shootouts, people could die. People would die. And there’s no telling who could go. Even if a good number of them survived - even if just the strongest did, they would still have to go back and rescue Amanda, Seth, and Sierra. That would be another, much more dangerous shootout - and on top of it, they had disposable hostages. The risk was too big, so Shawn turned to his people. “Pack your things. It’s this or death.”

    Ryan smiled greedily. He had won. He and his people helped the others pack, and they made their way back to Ryan’s house, taking everything they could with them. The majority left in the RVs while Patti drove the car they had brought here back.

    Spoiler Spoiler:

  10. Back To Top    #20
    Problem Child bertglamga's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    NM, USA
    120 Post(s)
    Chapter 20 “Bikers”
    Day 85

    Just as all the past new groups that had meshed together with the other, they had grown together. This new group, just like Seth’s had, had new information and tips to share on surviving and living long-term. When this first began, Daniel learned how to open cans without needing a can opener. All you had to do was put the top part against the concrete and rub it until it softens enough that you can simply squeeze the can to pop the top off. Patti knew a lot about herbs and natural ailments found through plants, and she passed on some of her knowledge to anyone that wanted to know it; mainly the medics like Patricia, Lyrik, and Jessie.

    They had began to get used to each other, and to bond. Xavier and Kelly, especially. Nothing has happened yet, but there have been many tense moments and a lot of flirting between them. They were both very attracted to one another, and Sierra had felt a freedom she hadn’t experienced in a long time.

    More great feelings of attraction were brewing among many others, as well, but they weren’t as successful. Ryan found Beth and Sierra very pretty, and made a few flirtatious comments, but they both denied him quickly. He even tried Patricia before he found out she was married to Otis, which caused him to blush furiously before running back downstairs, looking like a complete fool. Though she didn’t feel the same, Patricia was very flattered.

    Ron had a crush on Mika, and once she even let him hold her hand. Mika was about two years older than him, and she saw him as a baby compared to her, but she let him continue to flatter her.

    Jessie found Ryan to be quite handsome, and thought he could be great husband material, but she kept those feelings to herself. There was no use in being so up-front with him just yet. He could be anybody.

    Patti was into Seth, but like Jessie, she kept it to herself. Her reason, though, was more based on her insecurity, to be honest. Why would a huge, muscular sex god like him like a short little fat old lady like me? He may not even like dark meat.

    Robert became extremely attracted to Greyson and Daniel, and he constantly flirted with the two. Daniel occasionally flirted back, and revealed that he, too, is gay, but asked that Robert keep it quiet. Daniel wouldn’t date Robert, though. Robert had hinted at it often and even asked a few times, but Daniel always turned him down. Daniel wanted to be looked up to by the stronger survivors. He wanted to be seen as an equal. He believed that if they discovered he was gay, he would be looked down upon, even though Robert was seen as valuable by many of the other survivors. To Daniel, they simply pitied Robert. He didn’t want to be pitied. With Greyson, Robert had little luck, as well, as Greyson constantly pushed himself away and protested. He would sometimes even say to Robert that he was straight, but something about the way he said it, his actions, seemed like he was lying and, like Daniel, was insecure. Robert was beginning to grow desperate for attention, and tonight, he was going to make a move.

    He would be going on a run soon with a few other survivors, so he had to act fast. An hour before Ryan and Shawn announced that they would be leaving, Robert sat in the living room, patiently awaiting the moment that Daniel would be alone. He was currently in his bedroom slightly down the hallway from the living room with Lyrik and Beth, who were also apparently in on his secret, talking about who-knows-what. Robert didn’t care about that right now. Instead of the two leaving, Daniel instead came out, which surprised Robert a little as he pretended to read a book on the couch. Daniel still had a smile on his face, obviously having fun with the two girls. He headed for the bathroom on the opposite end of the hall, closer to the living room where Robert was sitting. As he entered, Robert quickly raised from his seat and pushed the door open as Daniel turned around to close it. Daniel raised an eyebrow and dropped his jaw slightly in confusion and shock. “What-”

    “So you won’t be with me,” Robert stated. “But will you be with me?” he said suggestively.

    Daniel widened his eyes at Robert speaking so openly, with others likely nearby. He swiftly grabbed Robert by the arm and pulled him into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. “Look, I don’t know what you’re playing at, but-” Daniel’s words were cut off as Robert pressed his lips against the man’s. Robert kissed Daniel and opened his mouth, tonguing the other boy’s lips, asking for entrance. Daniel’s eyes were wide open, and the sensation was enough to drive him crazy.

    Robert pulled out of the kiss just as Daniel was about to succumb. “Look, you and I both need this. You know it, I know it. So let’s just get to it.” Daniel looked to the floor, conflicted. He looked back up to Robert after a moment, and he smiled. They started kissing once more and Daniel turned on the shower. The house miraculously still ran water, though there was no heat to it, which was going to be awful as winter approached. They began to strip one another’s clothes and slowly entered the water, where they would continue.

    An hour later, right on time, it was time for the run. Robert, who seemed to have a new glow about him, was the first one ready, and he reported to Ryan and Shawn, who were waiting in the car that was used to check out the old house.

    “Someone looks happy,” Shawn commented, smiling to Robert.

    “Maybe I just got used to the whole apocalypse thing,” he replied.

    “Uh-huh, sure,” Shawn said, looking cheekily at the younger boy through the rear-view mirror. “Greyson finally give you some head?”

    Robert coughed awkwardly, trying to change the subject. “So, who all’s going?” Robert asked.

    “Well, uh,” Ryan began, glad the subject was changing, and taking a moment to think. “There’s us three, Patti, and I think Greyson? Right?”

    Shawn nodded, smiling deviously to Robert in the mirror again. “Yeah, Greyson.”

    Robert frowned to himself slightly. Though he was quite sure he now had it on lock with Daniel, he cared for Greyson much more. Robert knew how damaged Daniel was, and he wasn’t sure he could take that kind of baggage. That kind of secrecy, all because of the gender roles Daniel still believed in, even though things had changed so much. The world around them was in no way what it used to be, but people still clung to their old morals like desperate housewives who still followed their abusive husbands despite all of the pain they put them through, simply for the joy that they once had with them. Or the happiness and kindness that was only shared with them in rare, small moments. It was sad.

    Within the next ten minutes, the two had joined them and they made their way northwest. Today, they were scouting out an area they were planning to make an even bigger run to later. In about five days, maybe. For now, they just needed to make sure that the place was generally safe and clear. They were about a mile out from the city, where they learned its name was Salem. They parked the car on the highway going and disguised the car into the woods, camouflaging its usefulness. They were going to rummage through other cars and slowly make their way into the town to scan for other signs of life and survival.

    After about thirty minutes of walking and stopping to loot cars, they had gotten a pretty good bit of supplies. They had found a car seat obviously for a baby that completely empty, but a bag was left next to it and it was filled with baby formula and diapers. “You never know,” Ryan said, and Shawn grunted. Someone getting pregnant could be disastrous.

    Shawn naturally led the group, walking a few paces ahead of them and giving them orders as well as taking out walkers ahead of the group, but Ryan was trying to change that. Ryan had never been anything but the leader since this began, and he wasn’t going to change that now. He wasn’t used to following, and he didn’t like it, so he would constantly jog a little bit to catch up to Shawn, and any time Shawn got distracted by something or took too long or stopped to talk, Ryan would take his place leading the group farther down the highway.

    Suddenly a loud rumbling could be heard quickly approaching as the were nearing an intersection on the highway. Ryan turned to the people behind him and whisper-yelled, “Hide!”

    They all scattered. Robert and Greyson hid inside of a car they were searching, pressing themselves into the floorboard and pulling things on top of themselves, hiding in the cramped space. Patti ducked for the woods, finding a nice place behind a large rock. Ryan and Shawn were in a pretty open place, and they ran back towards where everyone else was. Shawn, being closer and much quicker, made it behind a tipped-over van. Ryan was running as fast as he could to get there as well, but the noise was only getting louder. It was clearly recognized to be motorcycles. Just as the leader of the biker gang made it onto the highway where the group was, Ryan made it behind the van just in time. Until he slipped and his foot skidded into view just as the leader of the biker gang turned onto the highway.

    The leader was a very buff man with a black mohawk that was peppered with grey hair, and his face was neatly groomed into a perfect mustache. They obviously had a base.

    He smiled to himself, noticing the tripping foot, and slowed to a stop, putting his hand up as his people followed in behind him, stopping as well. There was about twenty of them, all on their own bikes, looking menacing and tough, with scars and tattoos and beards and very large weapons. Everyone held their breath hearing the engines stop, getting their weapons ready, aside from Robert and Greyson, who could only place their hands on the general area of their weapons. They had made a bad call hiding there.

    “Eddy, Hunter,” the leader said to the two men nearest him. One was very thin and was wearing a black helmet with matching leather suit, his entire appearance invisible. The other was a slightly larger man, wearing a similar helmet, but not the suit. He was wearing a leather jacket and had a large beer gut with grey hairs all over it. “Get ready. Eddy, get the sniper.”

    The man with the beer gut then stepped back to his bike and unloaded a large sniper rifle off of it, aiming it for where Ryan’s foot was.

    “Fuck,” Ryan said as Shawn looked angrily at him.

    “This is all your fault! Trying to act like a leader, but then you can’t even run back to the group. On top of that, you go and trip like some kinda Mary!”

    Ryan narrowed his eyes at the younger man, growing furious. “How dare you,” he said with a horrifying calmness. “You come to my home, attack my p-”

    A loud string of bullets began attacking the van they were behind, and the two snapped to their senses, pressing themselves low on the ground against the van, their guns prepared. “I know you’re back there,” a voice said, halting the bullets. “Come out and we’ll let you go. Stay back there and we’ll have no choice but to open fire.”

    Ryan looked to Shawn, asking silently for advice, but the farm boy looked just as conflicted. Dad would raise his hands. Surrender. Maybe they’re good people. Fuckin’ scary, but it wouldn’t be the first time another group has been misunderstood, he said, thinking of Xavier and Sierra and the shootout they had. But Seth wouldn’t. Selenis wouldn’t. Xavier and Sierra wouldn’t. There’s too much risk in surrendering… But we have others! Patti, and Robert, and Greyson. They’ll back us up. Shawn looked to Ryan and nodded his head. They would surrender, and if anything went wrong, they had secret allies. There can’t be that many bikers, can there?

    Shawn and Ryan began to walk around the van, and the moment Ryan’s arm was visible coming out from cover, it was shot at, and a bullet passed right through the side of it. He drew his arm back in agony, and the gunfire commenced. Shawn began shooting back, and the biker gang didn’t let up, following their sniper Eddy’s lead. Patti could see Ryan and Shawn from where she was, and Ryan was struggling to get himself bandaged. They had hurt her leader, and she wasn’t going to forgive them. She drew her gun and began firing, killing three bikers and injuring two before they even realized where the shots were coming from. “Damn it, they took down James!” the leader yelled, as they began to shoot in both directions. Taking her off guard, a walker came up behind Patti as she fired at the gang. She heard it moaning, and turned around and took it down just as she realized more were coming. She had nowhere to run that was in good cover, so she threw caution to the wind and ran for the car Robert and Greyson were hiding in. She stuck low, trying to do her best with the little cover between her rock in the woods and the car, and she made it in a place where she was sure walkers couldn’t easily see her. The dark-skinned woman knew Shawn and Ryan were still in the open for the walkers, and there was very little luck for them to get to cover without further injury.

    Out of the woods came a large mass of walkers, all drawn to the sound of gunfire. The thin man in leather, whose name was apparently Hunter, was the first to notice. “Darrell, we have to go,” he yelled to the leader.

    “Goddamn it,” the leader screamed furiously, unleashing another string of rapid bullets from his machine gun to the general area everyone was hiding in. Behind him, his people collected what supplies they could from their fallen friends, loaded up their bikes, and headed out, back in the direction they were headed before they turned onto the highway. Darrell was the last to leave, as he fired a few final bullets at vulnerable spots in the cover he thought Patti was still behind.

    When Patti was sure they were gone, she looked over to see the walkers were getting very close to Ryan, whose wound was now being tended to by Shawn, attempting to get him help before they ran. She shoved herself into the drivers seat of the car she was in, yelled to the back seat, “They’re gone, we have to go! Get up, now!” and began trying to start the vehicle as Robert and Greyson pushed the blankets and other objects off of themselves, looking disheveled as they dragged themselves out of the cramped space, attempting to bring feeling back to limbs that had fallen asleep a short while ago. “Hurry and get those two fools!” Patti shouted.

    Robert looked up and realized what was going on, seeing the herd coming and Ryan injured. He got out of the car, Greyson hurrying quickly behind, running to help Shawn and Ryan. Shawn and Robert helped Ryan to his feet as Greyson grabbed up what few of their dropped supplies he could before the herd got near, forced to leave some behind.

    They made it into the car and drove it the only way they could: into town. They decided to hide out in a house in Salem far from the highway for a few hours until they were certain the herd had passed. “So, those guys,” Greyson said, referring to the bikers. “You don’t think they’re from around here do you? Or that we might see them again? Have to run?”

    “No,” Patti said, being the one to speak up.

    Ryan, trying to seem in charge, continued for her. “They were coming from the west, headed east. We were coming from the southeast headed northwest. Unless they’re well-stocked for wandering bikers, their base is in one of those two directions. They don’t live here, I don’t think.”

    “I’d be surprised if they do,” Patti added. “An’ there’s nothing to worry about,” she said, looking to Robert and Shawn. “They didn’t head towards our people. I think they’re okay.”

    They loaded back up in the car an hour later, just to be sure, and they headed back south towards home. They found more supplies they had dropped because of the attack, including the baby bag. Father down, they found their original car and they took both vehicles back home with them.

    While all of this was happening, back at the house, Amanda had finally found some peace and quiet. She had been waiting almost two weeks to finally make use of the stash she had found, but was always too occupied. This time, the group was doing just fine. All of the work and chores were done, and the kids were napping. It was time to relax. To finally light up and forget about her worries for the first time since this started. For the first time in years. Even if it was just for a few moments, it would be worth it.

    She stuffed the green substance into her pocket along with her lighter and a piece of paper she stole from the kids’ coloring book and made her way outside, claiming she was going to get fresh air when questioned by Shakira. She went to a spot she had found a few days ago when taking down a stray walker. It was a spot close to the lake, underneath a large yellow tulip tree, out of sight unless one were to be looking from in the lake or from a perfect angle in the woods. It was better when she first found it, but now leaves were beginning to fall, and the spot was more visible thanks to the thinning of cover. It was still the best spot she had found, though.

    She sat down and pulled the paper out, followed by the weed. She rolled the paper up around the marijuana with ease, remembering the way to do it from ages ago. Once she decided it was just right, she pulled out her lighter, lit the loose end, and put the other in her mouth, inhaling deeply. “Ahhhhh,” she breathed out happily. The familiar scent encapsulated her, and brought back fond memories of getting high with her friends. She began thinking of when things took a turn for the worse with her addiction, and of Erin crying as Amanda lied on the ground, half-conscious, laughing about a hallucination. She took another hit.

    “Amanda,” a familiar voice said, startling the woman, and she quickly hid the joint behind her back. It was Beth, and she looked very disappointed. “I thought you were done with that,” she said, her voice not masking her feelings of betrayal at all.

    Amanda opened her mouth to respond, forgetting momentarily about the smoke in it. A cloud of stench rushed to Beth, and she coughed. Amanda sadly looked up as Beth, who now looked annoyed. “I’m sorry,” she said. “It’s just… I found it in a house we were going through a while back. This is all I have, it was only a one-time thing.”

    Beth half-frowned, looking down at the bottle-blonde. Amanda’s roots were now showing a lot. At least an inch or two of brown had grown back. “Do you promise?” she asked.

    “I do, Bethy. I’m sorry. I really am. I promise.”

    Beth nodded, awkwardly. Though she had just lectured Amanda on it, she badly wanted to try some herself. “Um,” she muttered, then looked back to the house.

    A smile crept across Amanda’s face, but she did her best to hide it. Teenagers, she thought. “You want a drag?”

    “No,” she said hesitantly and looked back down to Amanda, and then to her own hand. Maybe it could help with the pain. Losing a few fingers doesn’t always make your hand feel that great, and right now it hurt quite a bit. Plus, she had always wanted to try weed.

    “Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company,” Amanda said, holding out the weed.

    Beth nodded hesitantly, and flashed a smile at the older woman when she was handed the joint. Beth sat down next to Amanda and did as she was told. To breathe in deep, and to hold it in for as long as she could. Predictably, Beth wasn’t that great at it and coughed it up almost as soon as it went in, causing Amanda to laugh.

    They continued to share it, and they sat there for a few moments, both feeling quite buzzed. Beth turned to Amanda, a dopey smile across her face. She inched closer, and Amanda took notice with an inquisitive visage. Then, Beth reached out for Amanda and kissed her, sloppily kissing with tongue. Amanda, though shocked, returned the kiss. It lasted for a little bit too long, and Amanda reached for Beth’s hand but accidentally touched her injury, and they pulled away, and couldn’t look at each other afterward. They remained there, silent. Their buzz began to wear off. “I’m sorry,” Beth finally said.

    “I,” Amanda began. “Uh. It’s okay. I’m sorry, too. Did I hurt you?”

    “No. It’s just that, well. That was my first kiss.”

    Amanda looked to the younger girl with faint surprise. “You kissed Jimmy, didn’t you?”

    “You were my first actual kiss,” she clarified. “With tongue.”

    “I see,” Amanda stated. The mood was tense. “So, do you… Do you want me to be your girlfriend or something?”

    Beth’s eyes grew large, and she blushed. “Uh,” she began, trying to carefully choose her words. “Not.. really. I was hopin’ that would be just a one-time thing. I thought maybe, but I realized during it that I didn’t like it. I’m sorry.”

    “No, don’t be,” Amanda said, half-laughing. “I’m glad, actually.” There was a pause, and then Amanda realized how her words could be interpreted. “No, wait, I don’t mean it like that. You’re great and all, I just. Y’know. I’m straight. Plus, I’m more-” she stopped herself, shrugging it off.

    “More what?”

    “Nothing. I don’t know.”

    “Yeah, you do,” Beth said, and began poking at her ribs.

    Amanda laughed at the tickling. “Alright, alright. I’m, um. I’m more into your brother.”

    Beth smiled. “Really?” Amanda put her face in her lap, feeling her face turn bright red. Beth giggled gleefully. “You two would be so cute together,” she squealed.

    Amanda looked to Beth, her face red as a tomato. “You think so?”

    Beth laughed, holding her stomach with her injured hand. “Well, yeah.”

    “I don’t know.” Amanda began playing with this grass, unable to stop smiling and blushing. “I don’t think he even likes me like that.”

    “Oh, come on. He doesn’t even know you like him like that, does he? You should talk to him sometime. When he comes back, maybe.”


    They continued talking about Shawn, and then off about other things, such as the crops, and what could be taking the group that was on the run so long. Selenis found them a while later, and they held a meeting to decide whether or not to send out someone to search for them before the sun went down, but thankfully they arrived in the middle of the meeting. They let the group know that the town seemed to be worth it to check out, and that they should go within the next few days. Then, they shared the story of their encounter, and many of the group became worried. It reminded some of them of the group that attacked the farm, and they thought that the same thing could happen if they are found.

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