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Thread: Zps-14

  1. Back To Top    #21
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    Chapter 21 “You’ll See”
    Day 89










    Today was a break day. The previous days had been about plowing and tilling the land. Researching winter crops. Searching for more nearby houses to loot. Securing the house they were in. More weapons training. Mentoring and tutoring. School. Today was Tuesday by the calendar Patricia had kept, but they felt they had worked hard enough to earn themselves another lazy day, which was usually on Saturdays.

    It was about 10 A.M., much later than the group usually slept in, but the majority of the group was upstairs, fast asleep. Jessie, however, was awake, thanks to Ron. Ron was like a little alarm clock. He would always wake up right at 6 A.M., even though they usually let the kids sleep in as long as they wanted. Lizzie was awake, as well, unable to sleep, and Jessie decided to take the two outside to the lake to play. Jessie had brought a towel to lay on, and she read her favorite romance novel, Sense and Sensibility, letting the children play in the water on the warm autumn day.

    Otis was on watch that morning, but since Jessie had come out with Lizzie, he entrusted them to keep an eye out and stay safe so that he could sleep. He mostly trusted Lizzie to be the one alert, as she was good with her gun and Jessie and Ron were afraid to use weapons of any kind.

    The two children were in their bathing suits, playing happily, enjoying the last taste of summer they are likely to have for a long time. As they were playing, a walker came out of the woods, frightening Ron. The scared boy hid behind Lizzie and pointed at it past her. “It’s one of them,” he said, his voice shaking. “Shoot it!”

    Lizzie looked to it and smiled. The walker was wearing a sunday dress, like her mom used to wear to church. “She just wants to play,” Lizzie told Ron, who stared at her curiously. “Watch.” Lizzie trudged out of the water and began jumping around the walker like an excited puppy. “Can’t catch me,” she said, running back towards Ron.

    Ron began crying, and Jessie looked up over the top of her book as Lizzie ran into the water towards Ron. Jessie dropped her book and ran to them, thinking they were in trouble. “Shoot it, Lizzie!” she yelled.

    At Jessie’s words, Lizzie froze. “What?” she yelled, unable to hear what the mother had said.

    “Shoot it!”

    Lizzie turned around to see that the walker was catching up to them and she screamed playfully. “You almost got me!”

    Ron sat down in the water, crying even harder. He was afraid, and this felt wrong.

    Jessie made it into the water, her dress instantly soaking as she made her way to Ron and she picked him up. Jessie took the gun out of Lizzie’s pocket and shot the walker.

    Lizzie looked at the dead roamer, stunned. Sorrow swept across her face, and she felt around her pockets. She found her knife, and quickly turned around and stabbed Jessie in the leg, causing her to fall. “You killed her! You killed my friend! How could you?! What if I killed you? What if I killed you?! It’s the same thing!”

    Jessie had dropped Ron, who was now in the water, frozen, witnessing this horrifying thing. Lizzie, filled with rage, made another slash at Jessie. “Run, Ron!” The boy sat there in fear, soaking and upset.

    Then, Lizzie made a fatal slash, slicing open Jessie’s neck as she attempted to scream for Ron to run again but he remained frozen in fear as her yell became a sick, bloody gurgle. The teen turned to him, and time seemed to slow down. The life oozed out of Jessie, her blood mixing in with the water like food dye. “Do you wanna be one of them too?” Lizzie asked after a while. The boy was bawling, and could only fearfully stare back at the older girl. “No, shhh, don’t cry. Don’t worry. She’ll come back. It only hurts for a second, and then you come right back. You’ll see.”

    The boy looked up at her, his eyes filled with despair, and he looked down to his mother, bleeding out with a terrified expression on her face. “Mommy’s okay?”

    “Of course she is. I didn’t hurt the brain. She’s going to wake up in a little while, and you can both be the same if you want. Maybe I will be, too,” Lizzie grinned, thinking to herself.

    The boy’s tears slowed, and he hesitantly nodded. “I wanna be like mommy.”

    She smiled, said “Okay,” and slit into the boy’s forearm. He began to bawl again, loudly and harshly, piercing both of their ears and making a flock of birds fly out of the nearby trees. As he fell over, Lizzie smiled. Soon he would see exactly what she meant. And then her dad would see, too. Her dad would finally see what she had been telling him all this time. In fact, she could show him personally. She smiled even wider at the thought. She looked down at the knife in her hand, and had a heavy urge to ram it into her neck. Then, Jessie began to rise from the water, and she bounced with joy. She began playing with Jessie, running around the lake and playing chase, waiting for Ron to ‘wake up’ as well. Finally, after a while, Ron awoke and they began to play together, too. “Guys, I have to go show you to my dad,” she said, trying to get them to stop playing.

    A while later, Lizzie still running gleefully around the lake from the undead family, Ryan walked outside for fresh air when he saw Lizzie being chased in the distance. He smiled, thinking that Jessie and Ron were alive and that they were playing chase. As he walked closer, however, he noticed that they were turned, shambling about unskillfully. “Lizzie!” he shouted, and she slipped, falling onto her face in shock. Her dad had taken her off guard. “Lizzie, get up and run!” he screamed. “This isn’t a joke anymore, get the fuck out of there!”

    Lizzie, still lying on the ground, pouted at her dad. “You just don’t get it, do you? We’re play-” then, Jessie ripped into her arm, tearing of muscle and revealing bone, holding down Lizzie. Jessie and Ron had gotten down to Lizzie’s level when she wasn’t paying attention, and they were now taking full advantage of it. Undead Ron followed his walker mother’s lead, and ate right into Lizzie’s other arm, and Ryan began to run around the lake to get to his baby girl, reaching desperately into his pockets to get his gun. Before he could get it out, though, Lizzie had reached the no-hope zone as Ron tore into the teen’s shoulder blade. Lizzie was now unconscious and Ryan was in tears. He finally reached his gun when he took a moment to stop, still a ways from the three. He choked on the tears and snot, doing his best to remain composed. He raised his gun and shot Jessie and Ron down, and slowly, mournfully, walked to his daughter, now nothing more than a mass of wet redness, blood all over the grass and staining every fabric of her clothes, bones poking out every here and there. There was no hope. He raised his gun just as one of Lizzie’s fingers began to twitch, as she was reanimating. He couldn’t bare to see her like that, let alone like this.

    The majority of the group rushed out, weapons ready, investigating the gunshots underdressed in just underwear or in pajamas or a robe. When they saw what had happened, Ryan on his knees crying at the sight, Beth went to Mika who was just coming out and she shielded her eyes, leading the child back inside. This, of all things, was something she didn’t need to see. Ryan entered an hour later, and had apparently already buried the three without us knowing, as he was covered in dirt and mud and blood. “I’m not going on that run tomorrow,” he said stoically and retreated to his bedroom.



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  2. Back To Top    #22
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    Chapter 22 “Garden”
    Day 90; Group A









    The next day was a solemn one. There was very little joy, let alone even talking. Mika was distraught, confused why her dad was locking himself up and so sad, and wondering what had happened to Lizzie. She was no fool, and she knew that Lizzie had died. They would have told her something if she hadn’t. Of course, it was very upsetting to think about, but it was so surreal. She didn’t see Lizzie at all that day, and then to suddenly find that she had passed seemed like it wasn’t happening.

    Early that morning, Beth and Mika were sitting on the couch in the living room, and Beth was reading a story to the younger girl, hoping she would get some more sleep. Mika was wrapped around her right arm, looking on at the book sitting on Beth’s lap, using her still-bandaged left hand to turn it. “And the princess looked to the kingdom, who shouted happily seeing her. ‘I have returned,’ she said to the masses, ‘and I am here to stay. I vow’ — that means promise,” she said to Mika, “‘to never leave again. And they lived happily ever after, the princess safely back home thanks to the bravery of her knights. The end.’” Beth closed the book and kissed Mika’s head tenderly. “Still not tired?”

    Mika shook her head at Beth, the smile she had from the book fading. They remained silent for a few moments as Beth held Mika close, her own eyes getting heavy as she cooed at the girl calmingly. “Beth, what happened to my dad?” Mika asked the older blonde girl, who had been with her all day. Beth knew what it was like to lose a sister, and she didn’t want Mika to go through what she did.

    “Well, he’s just,” she paused, considering. “He’s had a really bad day, and he just wants to sleep.” Beth was slightly horrified. There were so many similarities between herself and Mika and their fathers that she was just beginning to see.

    “I know why he had a bad day. You don’t have to keep hiding it from me.”

    “What?”

    “Lizzie,” she said, cuddling deeper into Beth’s arms. “I know that she’s.. gone.”

    Beth frowned at the innocent girl. “I know, cupcake. You’re a smart girl. Your dad’s just not taking it well. But we can’t be mad at him for that. And you shouldn’t feel guilty if you don’t get upset as he is. Over anything. As long as you love and respect them, they’ll know you miss them.”

    Mika smiled. “You know everything, Beth.”

    “No, I don’t,” Beth said, looking up to Ryan’s room.

    “Well, you know how to be nice. How do you know all of that?”

    Beth met the girl’s eyes. “My daddy always used to tell me, ‘Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.’ You just have to always do your best to be nice. You’ve heard ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,’ haven’t you?”

    Mika nodded. “That’s what my mommy told me when I was little.” She looked to the ground. “I miss Mommy. And Lizzie.”

    “I know, sweetie, I know. It’s hard to lose people you love.”

    “Have you lost anyone?”

    “I have. My mom, my daddy. My cousin. And my sister, too.”

    “Were you sad?”

    “Every time. I think I was the saddest about my sister. I hated losing all of them, though. But she was just so.. selfish.”

    “Selfish? Did she not share?”

    “No, no. Not like that. She uh,” Beth said, beginning to regret talking about Maggie, “well, to be honest, she killed herself.”

    “Oh,” Mika said, looking sadly to Beth, and she kissed Beth’s cheek, who looked like she was about to cry. “It’s okay.”

    “It is.” Beth wiped a tear away and smiled to the young girl. “The scary thing is… I was thinkin’ about doin’ the same thing. When momma died, I wanted to do it, but Maggie and daddy were there for me. They didn’t know how I felt, but they made me feel better. Then when daddy died, I was really considering it. Shawn thought I wanted to do it. He wasn’t wrong, but I didn’t let him know. He helped me. Then, a few days after Daddy died, Maggie did it. It made everyone so upset. Even me. I saw how much it hurt everyone, even those who didn’t love her as much as some of us did. It helped me see how selfish I had been. I felt so stupid.”

    Mika sat there, taking it all in. She looked to Beth, seeing the strength in her. “But you’re okay now. You’re stronger, and smarter.”

    “That’s right,” the Greene said, smiling warmly with tears in her eyes to Mika. “I am.”



    Hours later, after they both got some sleep on the couch together, it was time for everyone to start working. Because of Ryan’s mourning, and it being so soon after a big loss in people, the group considered postponing the run, which was scheduled for this day, but Shawn took full advantage of Ryan being upset, and they headed out without him. He, Selenis, Robert, Greyson, Seth, and Daniel went early that morning in the RV that was in the best condition, which used to be Xavier’s. They were waved off by Beth, Mika, Amanda, Gabriel, and Allan.

    A while after they left, Patricia and Beth were at the table in the dining room after breakfast drinking coffee and discussing keeping the group busy in order to help distract them from their losses. “Maybe we could play board games?” Beth asked.

    “No, dear, I’m all board gamed out,” Patricia half-smiled, sipping at her coffee.

    Beth looked out the window and saw the land they had readied for farming. She smiled. “The garden. We could finally start on those winter plants.”

    “Now I think we’ve got something. Let’s go see who wants to help.”

    The two finished their coffees and rose to ask others if they wanted to help. Mika happily volunteered. Lyrik agreed to do it because she’d be with some of her closest friends and she felt like she needed more things to do around the place. Ryan, as expected, turned them down, even though his daughter was going to be out there as well. His stance didn’t change no matter how much Beth begged, and she didn’t want Mika to have to see Ryan the way he was. Otis agreed to do it for his wife, even though he would rather be sleeping or reading. They asked everyone else, but only Allan wanted to do it. They either wanted to sleep more, said they were busy, or just didn’t care.

    Out in the garden, they had just made it through the first row of cabbage and were about to begin on the next when Otis ripped his glove pulling out weeds that had grown in, and there were still many to get. He stood back for a few moments, watching the others work. Beth was showing Mika how to garden. Allan and Lyrik were doing their best as Patricia struggled to watch over the both of them and make sure that they didn’t mess up by planting seeds too close, or planting wrong seeds. Otis smiled at the site. “I’m gonna go look for a new pair of gloves,” he said to Patricia, who hummed in return.

    Not long after Otis left, some walkers came out from the trees. Allan scoffed as he got up, raising his gun to put them down. Then, more came. It was a herd. A massive one. As it got closer, it could be seen that they were coming from everywhere. All along the northern treeline, not a single place could be seen that a walker wasn’t coming out of, and many were making it onto the road leading back to the highway, which was the only safe way out of the forest.

    They panicked and began reaching for their supplies. The seeds, gloves, fertilizer; anything even moderately useful within their vicinity. Instead of heading for the house, Allan made a beeline for the remaining RV, causing everyone to follow. Smart, Beth thought to herself as she followed behind everyone.

    They loaded the RV with as much as they could and everyone except for Beth and Patricia piled in. Patricia was crying, and was beginning to get hysterical, screaming to go inside for Otis. Allan and Lyrik had to drag her inside the RV as Beth went to warn to the group, “Herd! Get out!”

    A clattering was heard from inside, but when the herd got too close and no one came outside, they were forced to take off. Allan drove them south, down a dirt road they had cleared for just in case they needed to make an escape. “We can’t just leave them!” Patricia screamed. “We can’t leave Otis!”

    “And what about my dad?” Mika asked, staring out the back window as the house faded into the distance.

    Though they agreed that they shouldn’t just leave them, they had no choice. If they had waited, the herd would have destroyed everything and killed all of them. All they can do is hope that everyone made it out. “I’d rather have sixteen die than twenty-one,” Allan said, almost heartlessly.




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  3. Back To Top    #23
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    Chapter 23 “Groceries”
    Day 90; Group B









    Shawn drove down the road, headed towards Salem. They had just left the safety of the house to go look for more supplies. They weren’t in desperate need for supplies, but the more they got the better. “It never hurts to stockpile,” Ryan had said about the trip a while back. He’s the reason for this whole trip, and he ain’t even here, Shawn angrily realized.

    In the passenger seat was Seth, who was pretty much his best friend these days. In the back of the RV, Robert sat at the table with Selenis and Greyson, while Daniel was in the bathroom.

    “I wish we had some more of that fish,” Selenis said. “Made a terrific breakfast.”

    “Seriously,” Robert replied. “Maybe we can find another lake somewhere that hasn’t had dead people crawling all around in it.”

    “Doubt it,” Shawn said from the front seat.

    “Just be thankful we got any meat at all,” Seth added. Everyone nodded their heads, slightly upset that would likely be their last meal of protein for a long time, and they remained silent for a few moments, thinking to themselves.

    “I’m so tired,” Greyson said after a while, putting his head down on the table.

    “Well, then why’d you come?” Robert questioned.

    “Because I promised Ryan I would.”

    “Well, he promised he would come. You don’t always have to do what he says, you know.”

    “He’s my leader.”

    “Not anymore.”

    Greyson raised his head slightly to meet Robert’s eyes. “He’s still my leader, Robert. Shawn may be yours, but Ryan is mine.”

    Robert began laughing. “So, Ryan’s yours? All yours?”

    Selenis burst into a laugh as well, and a smile crept across Seth and Shawn’s faces, who were listening in. Greyson’s eyes widened, slightly embarrassed. “You know what I meant, you weirdo.”

    “Hey, I’m not judging you here,” Robert stated, putting his hands up, smiling widely. Greyson couldn’t take his eyes off of Robert’s smile. Big and goofy, happy and warm. Stop, he thought, forcing himself to look out the window before Robert spoke again. “If you’re into Ryan, that’s cool,” Robert continued and paused to admire Greyson. From the side, with the morning sun shining on his face from the light outside, he looked like a gorgeous painting. Like something he had only dreamed up. Absolutely gorgeous. “Just don’t get too attached. ‘Cause I want me some lovin’, too,” Robert cooed, pulling himself closer to the boy across the table and puckering up his lips, and the freckled boy began to blush and feigned annoyance, keeping his eyes focused on outside the window as he made a frustrated face. He did a good job, though, because everyone truly believed that he was annoyed and upset, only Robert really noticing the blush.

    Selenis nudged Robert’s shoulder, signalling him to stop. Shawn wanted badly to speak up, but though it would be funny, it would only make Greyson feel more uncomfortable, so he decided to simply smile and keep it to himself. Daniel exited the restroom and was going to sit down at the table with everyone else until he saw Robert making kissy-faces to Greyson. He stopped himself and acted like he needed something from his bag, subtly using an excuse to retreat to the bedroom in the back.

    Robert noticed. He winked to Selenis, who smiled and began talking to Greyson, causing him to finally pull his eyes from outside of the window. When Robert felt that they had a strong conversation going, he pretended as though he had to use the bathroom and went to the bedroom, where he saw Daniel lying face-down on the bed. Robert closed the door, which caused Daniel to jolt upright at the noise. When he saw it was the younger boy, he rolled his eyes and grunted, “No.”

    “Shut up,” Robert said defiantly, crossing his arms. “You need to pull yourself together if you want to stay in the closet.”

    “Who said I wanted to?” Daniel said into the pillow.

    You did, you asshole!” Robert yelled. “That’s the whole reason we’re not together.”

    Daniel turned himself over, a harsh face of rage as he put a finger to his lips, telling Robert to be quiet, causing the teen to roll his eyes. “That’s not true,” Daniel said. “The whole reason we’re not together is because you can’t respect my decisions.”

    “Because your decisions are stupid!” Robert said, getting extremely angry. “You’re doing this because you think it makes you look weak. Because you think it is weak. No one around here judges me for being gay! No one! According to not only Selenis, but also Shawn, Seth, Patricia, Beth, Sierra, Xavier, and just about anybody, I am a valued member of this group. Sure, we may meet people who will judge me, but the people around us aren’t like that.”

    “Ryan is,” Daniel said.

    “Ryan’s not here. What is it with you and Greyson? Why do you two need his approval so much? Need to always be his right-hand-man?”

    “He’s a good leader, that’s why. He’s done his best to keep us together, keep us strong. You have no idea about the things he’s done for us.”

    “Well, our old leader Hershel did great things for us, but he understood if you wanted to change your mind about going on a run. If you didn’t want to be around a certain person for any reason. If you were gay!”

    “Robert, this isn’t about Ryan. This is about us.”

    “Right. Let’s talk about us, then. If you won’t come out, then this won’t work. It’s hard enough to not breathe in another person’s breath, how cramped and crowded we all are, but you expect you and I to be able to just run off and be in love? To not openly show how much we care for each other unless it’s in the middle of the woods at three in the morning? No, Dan. That’s not what’s going to happen here. This life is too damn short for me to only get appreciation and love in the dark. So make your choice. Right now. Come out to everyone, or move on.”

    Moments later, Robert exited the bedroom and headed straight for the bathroom. He looked in the mirror and splashed water onto his face. Get yourself together. He was doing his best to hold back tears and rage. He was furious and sad. When he finally thought he looked better, he peed, flushed the toilet, and left the bathroom as if he had been in there the whole time.

    Greyson’s head was on the table again. Apparently, he and Selenis’s conversation had ended, and he was getting some much-needed sleep. He sat down back where he was, right next to Selenis. “So?” she asked.

    “No,” Robert said quietly, looking down at the table until his eyes met Greyson’s hands, gently wrapped around his head. “He said no.”



    They had a fairly successful, uneventful run. They found much less than they expected in the grocery store, the only thing close to food being more seeds, candy, sodas, and a large array of rotten foods. “No groceries to bring home to mama,” Shawn commented. There were a few bottles of medicine and firestarters. They got luckiest, though, when they found an abandoned tanker that was transporting fuel crashed head-first into a house. The entirety of the vehicle seemed to be fine, so it was quite likely that the fuel had burned up or exploded. Though it was a bit confusing to figure out how the tanker expelled fuel at first, they siphoned out all that they could, putting most into the RV, and everything else fit into five red jugs.

    They headed on their way back home after nearly three hours of scavenging. This time, Robert was driving while everyone else sat at the table.

    “That tanker, though, man,” Seth said.

    “I know,” Shawn said. “Who ever crashed that was a dumbass.”

    “But also a blessing,” Selenis added.

    “Well, not for the driver,” Daniel smiled, trying to make a joke. “It’s just a blessing that none of it was taken.”

    “You don’t think we stole that, do you?” Seth questioned. “Like, the dude that crashed it was still alive and gonna come back for it?”

    “That’s not our problem,” Shawn said.

    “It could be, Shawn. You of all people should remember what happened the last time one of us unknowingly stole from someone,” the buff man said, reminding Shawn of how they lost the farm.

    The Greene boy frowned and shook his head. “Well,” he grinned, “we’re prepared this time. They want to get revenge, let ‘em.”

    Seth rolled his eyes. “You’re going to be the death of us.”

    The RV suddenly halted to a stop, taking everyone off guard. “What are you doing?!” Daniel yelled.

    “Shut up!” Robert whisper-yelled. “If you would look first, you’d see what I see,” Robert said, pointing to a herd of walkers visible through the windshield.

    “Wait, that’s not,” Seth said, his voice trailing as he realized where it was going.

    “It’s headed towards the house,” Selenis whispered, sounding horrified.

    “It hasn’t noticed us,” Shawn said. “Keep going. Just drive slowly and they won’t notice we’re moving. They’ll probably just think they’re not walking or something.”

    “Excuse me?!” Robert exclaimed. “They’re dumb, but I’m not suicidal.”

    “Exactly,” Selenis added. “We don’t know if that would work. And if it doesn’t, we couldn’t turn around without being buried in the herd. Road’s too narrow.”

    “Well, what do we do?” Greyson asked.

    “We leave,” Robert replied.

    “Okay, we need to be safe, but I’m not abandoning those people,” Seth said, annoyed.

    “Yeah, my sister’s in there!” Shawn exclaimed.

    “I’m not abandoning them either. We’re going to slowly back out of here before the walkers notice us, wait it out, and when it clears we’ll come back. Help any survivors. If there’s none, then someone had to have made it out. We’ll search. Follow any tracks we find. We’re not leaving them, no matter what.”

    Shawn looked to Robert, slightly stunned. “You know I’m the leader, right?”

    “I sure as hell didn’t vote for you,” Robert said, throwing the RV into reverse. Selenis, Greyson, and Seth smiled at this. Robert’s idea wasn’t bad, and Shawn needed to be put in his place. Yet again. The made it out of sight of the herd before Robert made a U-turn and went back to the old house, where they would lay low and wait out the herd.




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  4. Back To Top    #24
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    Chapter 24 “Gone”
    Day 90; Group C









    Everyone in the house was enjoying sleeping in. Yesterday was stressful, and today they were going to rest. In many cases, to mourn. Ryan was completely torn up over the loss of Lizzie. So torn up, in fact, that he unintentionally completely disregarded Mika since the incident, shutting himself in his room, blocking out all reminders of Lizzie. He knows Mika’s still alive, and that he should be thankful for it. He knew Lizzie wasn’t all there, but he didn’t expect it to be like this. He thought he could keep her safe forever — that he could protect her from herself. What upset him most was that he couldn’t seem to blame anyone but himself. He wanted to blame those newcomers. He wanted to push the blame on them so, so badly. But he couldn’t. They were innocent. They didn’t know Lizzie needed special care. He didn’t want them to before this happened, either. And that’s all his fault. Even if it were at all their fault, he was the one who brought them here. He was the one who uprooted them forcefully and greedily from their place. This wasn’t Jessie’s fault. It wasn’t Ron’s. It wasn’t anyone’s but his. He knew that now.

    Everyone around the house was asleep, other than Beth and Mika who were in the living room, Ryan who was with his thoughts, and Oscar and Shakira, who were lying in the room they shared with a fast-asleep Gabriel, whispering to one another. They did this often, as they were usually unable to sleep. They would talk to each other until one of them fell asleep. They were both very quiet people, and they had a lot in common. It became a comfort, and it helped them deal with the things they’ve had to witness and experience.

    “Don’t even get me started. I’m Mexican, but I can’t stand Mexican food,” Oscar whispered.

    “Really? How does that happen?”

    “I don’t know. My mom cried when I first turned down her menudo,” he shared, causing Shakira to smile. “I was never much of a Mexican food kind of guy. I’ve always preferred Italian.”

    Shakira laughed before quickly covering her mouth as to not wake up Gabriel. “Well, whether you do or not, I love me some tapas and mojitos.”

    Oscar made a joking gag, sticking out his tongue. “Sign me up for pizza and limoncellos.”

    “Isn’t Ryan Italian?” Shakira asked, suddenly reminded of the large man.

    “Hell if I know,” Oscar shrugged. They paused for a moment. “Do you think he’ll be okay?”

    “I think he’ll be fine,” Shakira whispered.

    “Eventually.”

    “Well, yeah. He’s not just going to wake up tomorrow and be over it.”

    “I know I couldn’t.”

    “I know I didn’t,” Shakira said, remembering when her little brothers died. Oscar grew quiet, and they remained silent for a while.

    “I’m sorry,” Oscar finally said.

    Accepting the apology, but not that concerned about it, Shakira realized something. This whole time they’d been together, though all of this, Oscar had never told her what had happened to him. He’d shared everything with her. His first crush, first kiss, dream job, favorite things, places he wanted to go, even girls he found attractive. But he had never spoke a word about what happened to him. To his family and friends. She turned onto her side to look at Oscar, who remained looking at the ceiling, and she spoke in Spanish. “I’ve told you what happened to me. How one of my brothers turned, and he killed his twin. How my parents were so upset about it that they just shut down. You saw them in Lubbock. They were wretched messes, and they wouldn’t leave with us. When we went back, they were there, wandering around the same place we last saw them. I bet they just threw themselves at the walkers. I told you everything about them. How much I loved and missed them, and how much they meant to me. How this all changed them. But you have not told me a single thing about what happened to you. You showed up at the refugee center basically in rags, covered in blood and dirt. They thought you were a walker at first. What happened?” Oscar didn’t say anything, keeping his focus on the ceiling. He turned away from Shakira just in time so that a tear could escape his eyes without her noticing. “Why won’t you tell me? We’ve shared so much.”

    Oscar’s crying only intensified, and soon he was struggling to hide how his body was quivering with sadness. “Good night,” he said, pulling his blanket up over his head.

    Shakira sighed, unaware of his sobbing, and closed her eyes, turning away from Oscar. “Good night,” she echoed.



    Later that day, they were going to have a small breakfast before the scavengers left to go clear out Salem. Kelly and Patti were the two in charge of cooking it. “So what you thinkin’?” Patti asked the purple-haired girl.

    “How cute Xavier is,” Kelly said airily, a big smile on her face as she focused on her chipping red nail polish.

    Patti gave the girl a questioning look and laughed. “Honey. I’m talkin’ ‘bout the food. What are we gonna make?”

    “Oh,” she said, straightening her stance, “right. Uh, well, we still have some fish left from before the lake got all contaminated. Why not make that? They could definitely use that ot on the road.

    Patti nodded her head. “We got some cabbage and carrots, too. Could make a salad to go with it.”

    Kelly nodded, and they began preparing the fish. Things were getting too quiet as they were descaling the fish, so Kelly decided to talk about the things that’s been on her mind most these days: boys. “So, which of the new guys do you think are the cutest?”

    “Oh, I don’t know,” Patti bit her lip.

    “I know that face. You always do that when you’re lying.”

    “What?” Patti asked, suddenly aware of what she was doing.

    “You bite your lip when you lie. You did that when Ryan asked if you thought we should leave West Little Rock.”

    “Can you blame me? We all knew that was gonna be a big mistake. Lost Rex, Dante, and Harry ‘cause of that fool makin’ us leave.”

    “I know,” Kelly said. “But we met Greyson, Daniel, and Amber because of him, too. Lost Amber, but she wasn’t much help anyways.”

    “Don’t talk like that!” Patti said, slicing deep into the fish in annoyance. “Every person we lost was important. Do not talk ill about them.”

    “Okay, I’m sorry,” Kelly whimpered, carrying on with her own fish. After a very tense pause, she continued, trying to continue to justify Ryan’s decisions. “We also met these new people because of him. Without these people, we’d be in real bad shape. That Patricia is a smart old lady.”

    “That she is,” Patti said. “The people we met is probably the only good thing that came out of all of Ryan’s crap, though. We had it good there.”

    “Yeah, but we couldn’t just let him take off with his two girls alone. He was leaving, and there was no stopping that.”

    “I know. Don’t stop me from missing havin’ my own home, though. A warm bed, in a bedroom all my own. Miss the people we left, too. Boyd and Kevin. Laura, Elizabeth, Tavis...”

    Thinking of the people they had left behind, Kelly thought back to Roger. She missed him immensely. She thought of the fond memories of them together, when they first made love. Then, she remembered the day she left with Ryan. The only reason she left was because she and Roger were fighting. If she had simply thought with clarity, she would have never left. She and Roger would have made up, and she’d still be happy. Truly happy. When Patti spoke Tavis’s name, though, she was snapped out of her thoughts and pushed back into the present. Roger was over. That was in the past. The purple-haired girl recalled Tavis. His big brown eyes, his toned muscles, his luscious dark skin. “Ooh, Tavis was cute, too.”

    “Those big ol’ muscles? Fine as hell.”

    Kelly burst out laughing. “Finally! I got it out of you.” Patti rolled her eyes, smiling from ear to ear. “So who else is cute?”

    “Alright, I’ll play. Seth’s gorgeous. Xavier and Shawn aren’t too bad, either.”

    “Xavier’s mine, girl. But you can take one of those other two.”

    “Maybe not Shawn. That Amanda girl’s got her eye on him.”

    “Well, Seth sure look like he needs a lay. Big, strong man like that’s bound to need some assistance.”

    “I bet. But I don’t think he’d want me, of all people. So many pretty little mannequins runnin’ around here.”

    “Don’t talk like that,” Kelly said, feeling guilty for having pushed this out of her, as she now understood. “Why don’t you ask him?” Kelly smiled to her.

    Patti half-smiled back. “Maybe I will.”

    “Right after breakfast.”

    “No. After he gets back from the run.”

    “Deal.”



    Hours later, Ryan was sitting on the back porch, staring coldly at the place where his daughter died. This was the first time he had left his room, which gave everyone hope, but he had simply gotten leftover salad and sat on the lawn chair, not speaking a word to anyone. He exited a while after being asked by Beth whether or not he had wanted to garden. The back porch was on the opposite side of the house as the garden, so he wouldn’t have to be seen by Mika. The last thing he wanted was for her to ask anyone more questions about why daddy wouldn’t talk to her.

    Otis passed him, who took a step back, slightly puzzled. He then said something about gloves and went inside. Ryan wasn’t really listening. He came back into focus when a yell was heard coming from inside and Otis ran to the back for him. “Ryan, we have to go, somebody just yelled that a herd’s coming.” Upstairs, everyone was packing what they could, panicking and running about the place. Ryan was only staring at Otis, unable to process what he had just said. Frustrated and running out of time, Otis slapped Ryan, who fell out of his seat at the sudden jolt. “We don’t have time for this!” Otis grabbed Ryan’s arm and dragged him inside to get their things. Ryan snapped into it and unleashed himself from Otis and ran upstairs. Otis ran outside the front door, cursing Ryan for taking up his time, and he made it to the doorway, met with a herd of walkers just a few meters away and an absence of people and the RV. He cursed under his breath, slammed the door shut, and ran back upstairs, grabbing the suitcase he had pre-packed, along with his wife’s and Beth’s. Ryan, Amanda, Shakira, Xavier, Gabriel, Kelly, and Sierra came out of their rooms, and Otis motioned for them to follow him. As they ran down the stairs, Kelly yelled back to the people still in their rooms to hurry up.

    Patti was in her room, grabbing Greyson and Daniel’s belongings, who she shared a room with, trying to shove as much as she could into her backpack. Oscar was in the room he shared with Shakira and Gabriel struggling to get dressed, his belongings at the ready. When he finally got his pants buttoned up well enough, carrying his belt in hand, he found Patti. “Hurry!” he yelled, following behind the others, who were halfway to the cars parked outside of the house down the road. Patti made it out, feet behind Oscar, struggling to catch up. Just as she made it outside of the house, a walker grabbed at her foot and made her fall down. She turned around and shot the walker in the head, and attempted to get herself back to her feet, but at this point, she was surrounded. The herd was too thick and too quick. She kept shooting at the walkers closing in on her and missed a few times, hitting one only in the chest, and missing another completely. Oscar had turned around, pulling his knife out of its holster as the gun was buried in his bag. He took down a single walker, but before he could pull the knife back out of the walker’s head, the walkers had completely surrounded the woman. Her screams could be heard from inside of the pack of walkers on her, and Oscar’s only choice was to turn around. He sighed and took off running back to the house. At least she would slow the herd down. For that, he was thankful.

    At the house down the road, they had began siphoning all of the gas out of the smaller, dustier vehicles in favor of putting it into the two vans; one black, the other blue. Just as they got all of the gas out of the useless cars, Oscar had made it to them, out of breath. “Patti didn’t make it. We have to go now.”

    “Wait, what?!” Kelly yelled, running with a can of gas to the black van.

    “You heard me,” Oscar said, throwing his stuff into the back of the blue van and beginning to put his belt on. “Where’s everyone else?” he asked, noticing they were missing a few people.

    “Gone,” Otis said, speaking between heavy breaths. “Patricia, Beth,” breath, “Mika, Allan, and Lyrik,” breath. “Were out gardening,” breath. “Took the RV. Don’t know how many made it. Have to catch up to them.”

    “I’m sure they
    ’re fine, everyone,” Ryan commented as he climbed into the driver’s seat of the blue van. “We’ll find them. But right now, we gotta go!

    They took off in the vans, forced to abandon the gas they didn’t have time to put in. As they started up, they realized they were much lower on fuel than expected. They weren’t going to get far with this little gas. The secret to getting ahead is getting started, Ryan thought, assuring himself that they would make it through this.




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    Chapter 25 “Run”
    Days 90 & 91; Group A









    The gardeners had drove for a long time, far away from the house and the herd, driving directly south. “We must be twenty miles away, Allan!” Patricia complained “We passed Bunker like an hour ago.”

    “Patricia’s right,” Beth chimed in. “We need to turn around.”

    “Turn around?” Allan mocked. “There’s no chance in hell we’re turning around. We gotta run.”

    “Run? We don’t have to keep going. Can we stop?” Beth asked, very annoyed. “We’re in the clear. The others could be following us, and if we keep going, they might never find us.”

    Allan sighed. He knew she was right. He kept driving for a while until they made it to a small log cabin. He slowed and pulled up in front of it. “We can wait here, then. Few days, maybe.”

    “A few days?” Mika said, sounding sad and scared. She hadn’t stayed anywhere but the house they had just been ran out of for months, and she hated clearing out houses. A lot of people she was with had died clearing out houses, such as Amber and Rex and Dante. “Can’t we just stay in the RV?”

    Allan frowned. He knew what Mika was afraid of, vividly remembering his friends dying to walkers because of having to clear out houses. If something like that happened here, it would be devastating. There was only five of them, and besides himself, none of the others were exactly the types of people he’d have clear a house. “I’m not sure about that, Mika. What do you guys say?”

    “There’s pros and cons on both sides,” Lyrik said, running both options through her mind. “If we stay in the RV, we won’t be outside risking our lives and if something happens we could easily just take off. We’d be easily spotted, though. If someone — or the walkers — are strong or angry enough, they could easily tip us over and we’d be dead.”

    “If we took the house, though, we’d have to clear it,” Allan began. “It could be holding a number of things. Walkers, traps, and even other people. But if we all make it, it’d be great. Warm, and probably safe. We’d have more space and support.”

    “How about we vote?” Beth suggested. “All who want to clear the house, raise your hand.” Allan and Lyrik raised their hands. “All opposed.” Mika, Beth, and Patricia raised their hands.

    Allan shrugged and drove farther down the road until he found a place surrounded thinly by trees, not too far off the road and they parked there, where they stayed for the night.



    On Day 91, Mika woke up early in the morning, screaming from an awful nightmare, waking up Beth and Lyrik, who were on either side of her in the bed. Patricia was up front sleeping on the couch, while Allan slept on the floor beside her.

    “Mika, shhh,” Beth whispered. “It’s okay, you’re okay. I’m here, you’re okay.”

    Beth wrapped her arms around the girl, who was sobbing into her chest. “Now I really wish we had some coffee,” Lyrik joked, but Beth flashed her an warning face. She raised her hands and rolled over in response, hoping to be able to get some more sleep.

    “Mommy, I had a really bad dream,” the girl said, surprising Beth.

    “Mika, I’m… I’m not your mommy.” Mika pulled back from Beth, her face full of fear.

    “I-it wasn’t a dream…” Mika said, saying it like a question.

    “I’m sorry,” Beth said, pulling her back into her arms. “I know, cupcake. It’s hard. But we’ll make it. I’m here for you. No matter what, I’m here for you.”

    “You promise?” Mika asked, a muffled sob.

    “I promise.”



    Later that day, Allan had done a sweep around the area they were in, checking their surroundings in the morning light. He had found another, smaller house to the south and a river about a mile west. Patricia and Lyrik went down to the river that afternoon to get water to boil on the fire, having finished off the remaining water from their watering cans. They were both armed with a machete and a gun.

    “Mika’s not okay,” Lyrik said after they both made sure there were no walkers around and they were bent over at the river.

    “Well, can you expect her to be? She’s ten years old, just lost her sister, and for all she knows her dad is dead, too. The only one of us she really knows that well is Allan, and she doesn’t seem that close with him.”

    “She’s got Beth,” the black girl shrugged.

    “Yeah,” Patricia said, putting down a water bottle and picking up another. “She does. I think if Beth wasn’t here, that little girl would be lost.”

    “What do you mean by that?”

    “I mean she’d be a goner. Shut down completely. I don’t know if she’d really think about it, but she might even kill herself if she felt bad enough.”

    Lyrik nodded her head grimly, switching out bottles. “So do you think anybody made it out of there?”

    The old woman sighed as she put a cap on her last water bottle. “For our sake, I hope so.” She looked to the sunset, thinking about Otis. “Realistically, probably not.”




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  6. Back To Top    #26
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    Chapter 26 “Wait”
    Days 90 & 91; Group B









    Robert drove the RV around through Bunker and back to the house they originally settled in when they came to the national forest. The metal fence surrounding the property was now very rusted, brown and red. The crops in the back had wilted, and the house seemed cold and empty.

    “So this is where you guys stayed?” Greyson asked, an eyebrow raised at how bad the place looked.

    “Used to look better,” Shawn told the teen. “Looked more homely. Felt less empty.”

    “Not by much, though,” Daniel said, recalling when he, Ryan, and Patti brought took them from this place.

    Shawn scoffed, annoyed. “I’m gonna go outside for a bit,” he said as if he were going to urinate. Everyone knew what he really was going to do, though, as he slipped out the sliding glass doors.

    He stood over the graves of Maggie and Hershel. “I miss you guys. More than you know. I really wish you were here now. You weren’t supposed to die. You didn’t have to. If it wasn’t for that Spanish bitch, you’d both still be here. I’m sorry I didn’t do more. That I didn’t hunt her down and avenge you, Dad. That I didn’t do more to let you know how much I loved you, Maggie. And now, Beth might be dead, too. If she is, I don’t think I can take it. I don’t think I can bear to know that I’m that last standing Greene. I wouldn’t kill myself, but I just,” Shawn began crying, thinking about being alone. About losing everyone he’s loved before this. “I don’t know if I could function without you all. And Patricia and Otis. I know I wanted to be leader, but I don’t think I can do it. Not alone. Not like this. I’m sorry, Daddy, but I don’t think I can be the man you wanted me to be. Not anymore.”



    Hours later, Daniel, Selenis, Seth, and Greyson were in the dining room, waiting on Shawn and Robert to finish preparing their meal for the day. They only had enough food for two days if they had a single meal per day.

    “I hope my friends are okay,” Greyson said.

    “Aren’t we your friends?” Seth asked, trying to make light of the situation.

    “You know what I mean. I’m talking about my group.”

    “Ryan, Patti, and Allan,” Daniel listed off. “If any of them are alive, it’s those three.”

    Seth shrugged. Greyson was obviously distraught mostly about his own people, and Seth couldn’t blame him for that. Their two groups had been a bit hostile since they had united, and Greyson didn’t socialize very much with anyone in their group other than Robert, and that wasn’t what Seth would call ‘socializing,’ on Greyson’s part at least. Daniel didn’t seem to like anybody. He and Allan were very distant people.

    “I don’t know about that,” Selenis replied to the Daniel. “But I understand. I feel the same way about my people. Gabriel’s the only one I really expect to have made it, and even he’s probably not that likely. He’s the strongest and smartest, but he’s definitely the slowest.”

    Seth half-frowned. “The only person left from ‘my group’ is Amanda, and she and I kind of hate each other. I’m sure if some of them made it, she’s with them. Stronger than she looks. And acts.” As everyone seemed to do these days, they grew quiet, but not for long. “Actually,” Seth corrected, “I don’t think that’s fair to say. About ‘my group,’ I mean. I met Hershel and his people pretty much at the start of this whole mess, and they mean as much to me as anybody else. I’m not sure who would be strong enough to make it though. I mean, fuck, I thought Robert was pretty weak, but did you hear the way he talked to Shawn? Boy’s got some guts hidden away. So who knows who made it. Beth and Lyrik, who I thought were goners from day one, are likely still standing.”

    They both nodded their heads, and Greyson once again found himself thinking about Robert. Seth had a point about how strong he was, and it both concerned him and made him feel better. Flattered, even. It made him realize how weak he was by comparison. All this time, he had never really done much of anything besides take orders. First from Daniel, and then from Ryan. The most brave thing he ever did was kill the five walkers that devoured Amber, and that was only because he was blind with rage and depression. But it comforted him knowing that he was with such strong people. That he would be so safe with such capable friends. He was flattered that a person like Robert wanted him, on top of it. That Robert could lead and protect people, and yet he still wanted to be with someone as weak as he was. Was it just for his appearance? Did Robert only flirt with him because he thought he was cute? Or did Robert truly like him? His reverie was halted as Daniel and Robert walked out carrying plates of candy from the run and stale beef jerky and vegetables they had loaded up in the RV for the mission, with sodas on the side. “Sort of like a child’s dream feast,” Robert said, laying plates in front of Selenis and Greyson. “Kinda. A little bit.”

    “Not at all,” Seth jokingly finished, bringing a smile to a few faces.



    The next night, on Day 91, everyone was sitting in the living room by the fireplace. They were silent, having just eaten what little food they had left. Their focus was on the fire, clinging to the warmth in the cold autumn evening.

    Seth walked in shivering, letting in a chill as the door opened, and he quickly closed it behind him and settled in next to the fire, wrapping himself deeper into his grey hoodie he had brought for the scavenging trip. “I think we’re gonna have to stay here a while longer. That herd’s too big. It’s starting to thin out now, but I’m not gonna go back there in the middle of the night. We have to wait. It’s still headed south, so first thing tomorrow morning, we head to the house. Check for survivors. Get any supplies left behind at the least.”

    Some of them nodded and they all understood. If anyone was still in there, they might leave before they got there, but it was too cold and too much of a risk to go out there now. They all snuggled up together under some thin blankets they found upstairs to get some sleep, their stomachs growling and their minds filled with worry; wind blowing heavily against the house, which was blowing in lightly through cracks in the house, causing a high-pitch whistling sound. Shawn sadly rose from his spot on the couch for his shift of lookout duty. It was going to be a long, cold night.




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    Chapter 27 “Hide”
    Days 90 & 91; Group C









    The group drove as far as they could down the dirt road, which winded long and far through the woods. The downside of that was that the road quite often forked into dead ends, where trees had grown into the dirt road, making it impossible to keep driving through, or the road simply ended or led to a house, which was not what they needed. What they needed was to escape. To find an actual road and get as far away from the house as quickly as possible. They didn’t know where the herd was, exactly how massive it was, or even if it had changed directions. “Finding a house and staying there,” Ryan had said about it, “would be the dumbest thing we can do. We have to keep moving or the herd will catch up and kill us all.”

    They were finally on a good path that hadn’t lied to them yet. They had been driving without having to stop for about thirty whole minutes now, which was pretty much a record. Then, just as their luck would dictate, the gas ran out. Ryan, the driver of the leading blue van, groaned as his van sputtered to a stop. He got out and slammed the door in rage, opening the back to get everyone’s packs out of the back as they all followed him out of their seats.

    “We’re on foot now,” he stated.

    “At least now we can keep headed straight for the highway if we hit another dead end,” Sierra said, pointing out the upside to this.



    They kept walking for the rest of the day, stopping occasionally when their feet began to hurt, when some walkers needed to be taken care of, or when they needed to stop at a stream for water.

    Ryan checked his watch, and found that it was 10:21 P.M. He sighed, knowing they had no choice but to stop. They couldn’t carry on like this, but stopping was dangerous. They would be sleeping in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night after having just escaped a herd that may very well still be following them. He froze in place, sighing as the others caught up to him. Apparently there’s nothing that can’t happen today. “We have to stop,” he finally said.

    “Do we, though?” Otis asked.

    “We might find a place to stay if we keep going,” Xavier said. “We don’t have to sleep in the middle of the woods.”

    Ryan rolled his eyes. “Keep going?” he asked. “You fucks keep stopping and slowing us all down. Getting tired after only thirty minutes of walking,” he glared at Otis, Shakira, Amanda, and Gabriel. “We can’t keep stopping. We’re faster than walkers, but not if we keep taking thirty minute breaks.”

    “So your solution is to make us stop for three or more hours, instead?” Xavier questioned.

    “No, it’s to get you people some actual rest while the big dogs keep watch. Me, you,” referring to Xavier, “Sierra, and Kelly will take turns while you others get the sleep you so obviously need. We can also boil some of the water we got back there.”

    Not wanting to continue the argument and waste more time, they began to set up camp, pulling out the four tents they had in the packs for the night. Shakira and Oscar decided to take one, Otis and Gabriel took another, Kelly and Xavier were given one together, and Sierra and Amanda were left with the last one.

    “Let’s let the lovebirds have a little bit of luck tonight,” Sierra had said about Kelly and Xavier sleeping together.

    “Wait, what?” Xavier asked.

    “Is it that obvious?” Kelly whispered to Xavier.

    Those around her, including Xavier, laughed as she stood there looking confused. “Obvious?!” Gabriel laughed.

    “You two never take your eyes off of each other,” Amanda giggled.

    “Kelly, you practically announce to everyone you’re alone with for more than three minutes how much you like that crazy-haired mess,” Sierra smiled, pointing to Xavier’s brown hair that had grown long and wild since this all began.

    Xavier and Kelly were blushing profusely, unable to look each other in the eyes as they entered their tent, earning “Ooh”s from a few people.



    Ryan was the first one on watch, circling the camp with a sniper rifle in his arms and his favorite machete in its holster, his shirt tucked behind it for easy access.

    It was a slow, dark, quiet night. It was getting colder, and that was easy to tell. He knew that it was only going to get colder, as well. Maybe even quicker than he thought. He shivered and stood closer by the bright fire, illuminating much of the camp very well. Strangely, he had seen very few walkers throughout the night. Maybe they’re all up in that herd, he considered.

    As things grew quiet and lonely, he was left with only his thoughts as he kept a watchful eye on the woods. He remembered his daughters. He thought about Lizzie. How he had only lost her just recently, and was forced out of mourning. He remembered the shots he took that put down she, Jessie, and Ron. Did those shots bring in the herd? he wondered. I think they must have. They were on a direct collision course for our place, and this all only happened yesterday. He then realized that he had no idea where Mika was; if she was safe, who she was with, or anything. His heart began racing as he considered the things that could be going on with her, and he felt like he was about to cry. He had purposely let her leave him, he realized. He pushed himself away from her because he thought he needed time, but because of that, he may have lost her forever.

    Snapping him out of his thoughts, a few noises could be heard coming from the south. He knew it wasn’t the herd, so he sneaked towards it as quietly as he could, his gun held up at the ready.

    Then, a walker came out of the bushes, a young teenage girl with short black hair and glasses. He grabbed his black machete and waited for it to come closer, but it hesitated, which struck Ryan as odd. It opened its mouth, and Ryan swung his machete down on the young walker’s head, and before he could stop the swing, it yelled, “Please!”

    He didn’t register that the girl was actually alive. His eyes were wide, his hands still on the machete now plunged deep into the girl’s skull. Her eyes looked sad and desperate. He took a step back as her body fell over, the machete still encumbered in her head, and he put his hand over his mouth in shock and regret as he stared down at the teen. She had to be about fourteen years old, not far from Lizzie’s age. She was covered in walker guts from head to toe, dirty and messy. He looked past her corpse, now lying lifeless on the ground, to see walkers headed towards them. She had sneaked right past them, and they had now noticed Ryan. How did she do that? Was it the guts?

    He raised his sniper that had a silencer attached to it and took down the four walkers that were on the way. After they went down, he turned his attention back to the girl, and he began to cry. Then, many voices could be heard calling from the woods, whisper-yelling, “Sarah? Sarah, where did you go?”

    Ryan panicked, wiped the tears from his face, yanked the machete from the girl’s head, and threw her body into the trench they had dug for taking care of bodily functions, that could also double as a biter-tripping pit. Slow them down, at least.

    Sierra exited her tent to check on Ryan after hearing the faint shots, and she took her shift. Ryan simply told her it was a few walkers.

    She was approached by a man in walker guts many hours after taking shift. It was now quite late, and the wind was intensely strong and cold, but she had no choice but to keep guard, or else she would be putting everyone in danger. He was a bit pudgy, and looked smart. He had his arms wrapped around himself, desperately clinging for warmth under his wet, thin white jacket. Stepping out of the woods, he said, “Hello?” in a thick Mexican accent to Sierra. She raised her gun and refused to talk to him, plugging her nose with her fingers. “I’m just looking for my daughter,” he told her. “I don’t know where she went. Please, I just want her.”

    “Firstly, why are you covered in guts?” she asked, seemingly uncaring about this man’s daughter. For all she knew, he was lying. Plus, people lost their kids all the time. This was nothing to cry and get upset about now. Just a day in the life of the world of walkers.

    “Because I lost my weapons along with most of my supplies.”

    “What does that have to do with anything?”

    “You don’t know?” the man asked, getting a lifted eyebrow in response from Sierra. “If you put their guts on you, you’re basically invisible. They can’t tell the difference between you and any other old walker. You can hide. Now, have you seen my girl?”

    Sierra pondered the validity and sense of what the man had just said. There were more important things to worry about, though, as he was obviously very worried about his daughter. “I don’t know where your daughter is,” the blonde said, her hardness cracking. “I’m sorry. I haven’t seen her.”

    “Well, thank you anyways, I guess,” he said, turning back to the woods.

    “Wait,” Sierra beckoned. “Are you sure you don’t want to stay here with us? We can help you in the morning.”

    “No,” the man said, his voice suddenly very cold. “I don’t want to stay with you. I don’t know you, and I need to get back to my people.”

    Sierra nodded her head, slightly confused. As he walked off, she considering shooting him so that she could loot him, but decided against it. He walked right past walkers, who barely sniffed at him before checking him off as a fellow undead corpse, and Sierra stood, astounded that he wasn’t lying.

    Hopefully he finds his girl, Sierra thought, and she was unaware of the corpse rotting in sewage a few feet behind the tents she was standing in front of; and Ryan sobbing in the tent he was now sharing with Amanda, who was wide awake, listening to the man she really didn’t like mourning, presumably still over Lizzie.



    “Yeah, but she still would have been useful if she were here,” Oscar said to Shakira, the two of them once again whispering to one another in Spanish before they slept, pushed close against one another on their backs for warmth in the cold night.

    “True,” Shakira shrugged. “She was a great shot, and she was so smart. I am going to miss Patti so much.”

    “It is that way with a lot of people, though.”

    “Yeah.”

    They remained quiet for a few moments, watching the light of the fire flickering on the door of the blue tent, wishing it were a stronger, warmer flame.

    Oscar was thinking about all of people he had lost. All of the people he had seen die or just leave. Marina, Emilia, Rosa, Abi-Maria, Hershel, Maggie, Lizzie, Ron, Jessie, Patti… and his family. Now was the time. He didn’t know how much longer they would have. His group had plenty of experience being on foot, but not running from a herd. Not with such a large group, after having lost so many people. Things now were more uncertain than ever.

    “We were in Lamesa,” he began in English, and Shakira looked to him, shocked. “My dad was sitting on the porch, getting fresh air.”

    Shakira stopped him. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

    “I want to,” he assured her, turning his head to look her right in the eyes. He continued, “He was disabled. Couldn’t walk without our help, and we were too poor for a walker. Madre had just put him out there and she went to the bathroom, then was going to bring him food and they were gonna to eat outside. It was summer, so they usually ate outside, watching the sunset. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but when I got there, I found my dad being devoured by some of the turned neighborhood kids. He was screaming in pain, couldn’t move or fight back in any way. He kept screaming, ‘Kill me, mijo! Kill me! Save me from this, goddamn it!’” Oscar stopped talking for a moment, his eyes beginning to water. He blinked rapidly, trying to stop. “I just,” he said, beginning to sniffle. “I couldn’t. I ran inside, found my mom hiding in the bathroom. She was hysterical. She told me I had to kill Papa. She handed me his rifle, and told me she’d be right behind me. I could hear him outside screaming the whole time.”

    Shakira whispered, “Here,” not trying to interrupt the boy as he continued telling his story, as she rolled up her sleeve and wiped at Oscars tears, then pulled him into her arms.

    “Thank you,” he said, crying hard. “So, I went out there, put the kids down. Then, I had to kill my dad. He looked so miserable. He died in front of me, and I waited so long to shoot him. He started moving again. Madre thought he had survived. She got really excited, jumping up and down, and she pulled him into a hug. He bit into her neck, and it was just...it was gruesome. I shot him in the head, and Madre broke down. She clutched her neck, bleeding horribly, and ran off. I found her a while later,” he paused once more, his voice now a whimper. “She was throwing herself into a crowd of walkers.” His eyes met Shakira’s, tears flowing steadily from his eyes. “And she was dragging my little brother in with her by the hand… I blacked out. Killed so many walkers…so many people. I slept outside, and was just a shell. That’s why I was cover in dirt, blood, and in rags when I showed up at the refugee center. I killed so many people…”

    He sobbed into Shakira’s chest, and she had never felt closer to him than now. At the same time that she felt happy Oscar finally trusted her, she felt engulfed in guilt and fear. She had pushed so hard for Oscar to tell her what had happened, and now she was worried the boy was never going to stop crying. Never going to get better. Was he insane? She knew him intimately. He was no murderer. At least, not anymore…



    Xavier and Kelly were awkwardly trying to ignore the thick sexual tension between themselves as they entered the tent, hearing the resulting “Ooh”s and simultaneously turning as red as tomatoes.

    They laid there silent for a while, facing away from each other and attempting to sleep as everyone else filed into their own tents. As time passed, the wind picked up and they became much colder.

    “Xavier?” Kelly eventually called, hoping he hadn’t passed out yet.

    “Yeah?” Xavier sounded.

    “Oh,” she said, slightly regretting speaking up. She really didn’t have anything planned to talk about, and now she would be the one to break the tension, which made her slightly nervous. She just wanted to talk with Xavier. Maybe I could talk about what all had happened? “Uh, I don’t know.”

    “What’s wrong?” he asked, turning over to see her, and she did the same.

    Now lying on her side, Kelly thought. “Nothing,” she said. “I was just thinking about Patti.”

    “You going to miss her?” the messy-haired man asked.

    “I am,” Kelly said. “I feel really sad about everything.”

    “Yeah,” he said, remembering the way Jessie, Lizzie, and — most importantly to him — Ron, had died. He got intensely sad thinking about Ron going down like that. He couldn’t help but blame Jessie, at least a little bit. She wasn’t suitable for this world. She didn’t know how to protect her boy in a life this dangerous. Xavier did, though. Xavier knew what had to be done, and had he been there instead of Jessie, he knows Ron would still be alive. He loved that kid, and he would always miss him. “I do, too.”

    “You know,” she said after watching the light of the fire on the tent for a while, “I talked to Patti this morning. When we were making breakfast.” Xavier nodded. “She told me she liked Seth. I convinced her to try to talk to him. She was going to do it when he got back this afternoon from the run.” Kelly’s lip quivered as she held back tears, and Xavier scooted closer to pull her into a hug, both to comfort her and to get warmer. “And now she never can,” she said, her voice hollow.

    They laid like that for a long time, and Kelly nearly fell asleep in his arms, the warmth soothing her. Xavier eventually became uncomfortable and tried to pull away, but she pulled him in tighter instinctively. She looked up to him, her eyes slightly glazed. She looks so perfect, Xavier thought. He slowly moved his head down to hers, motioning for a kiss, and she followed. Their kiss became intense, and Kelly began to wake up. One thing led to another, and soon they were on top of one another, tossing and turning in the tent, making love. Comforting each other with their bodies.

    Sierra noticed, and she smiled to herself, but also felt a small hint of jealousy inside of herself. She shivered into her jacket and brushed it off, going back to keeping watch. Things are more important than love, she reminded herself. Keeping herself — these people, everyone she loved and had left in the world safe was her priority now.




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  8. Back To Top    #28
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    Chapter 28 “Awkward”
    Day 92; Group A









    It was morning, and everyone was hungry and cold from the night that had passed. The RV was cold at night, and last night they all slept in the bed, desperate for warmth.

    They had a little bit of food they had kept in the RV in case something like this happened — referring to being separated — and they had found a few berries and nuts around the area, but most were gone or dead as fall ripened. They were now out of food, aside from a few leftover nuts. Lyrik, Allan, and Patricia were at the couch, talking quietly as the sun rose to not awake Mika and Beth.

    “We need to go on a run,” Allan said, eating a pecan and tossing the shells into a bag they used for garbage.

    “I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” Patricia said about it.

    “We don’t have much choice,” Lyrik said. Allan nodded his head, causing Lyrik to smile at the confirmation that she was correct.

    “Either way, we’re not strong enough. What if we find a whole house full of walkers? We’ve only got maybe six rounds between the five of us. Maybe about seven each, actually, since Mika can’t shoot very well.”

    “Then we run. There’s no shame in running. We turn around with what supplies we have and run back to the RV and drive off.”

    “What if someone steals the RV while we’re in there?” the older woman questioned.

    “Okay, well, how about we take shifts, maybe? Three go into a house first, while one of us shifts out to watch Mika and the RV.”

    “That could work,” Lyrik said. “Could,” she emphasized.

    “Let me guess, though,” Patricia said, sighing. “You, of course, won’t be taking shifts along with the rest of us. Because you’re ‘the most capable one of all you ladies,’” quoting something he had said often to them.

    “Look, I’m not trying to be mean or anything, but I’m the best shot out of all of us.”

    “I’m pretty good, too,” Lyrik pointed out.

    “Well, yeah, but you’re not the best,” he declared, and Patricia and Lyrik gave him a dirty look. “Wait, I didn’t,” he said, trying to find his words.

    “Save it,” the dark-skinned girl said. “I know what you meant. None of us here are nearly as good as you are, and we could never be, either.”

    “No, I just,” the man in dirty, stained flannel frowned, and rethought his words. He truly didn’t mean to come off so self-centered and entitled. “I mean that I’m the surest chance we have of making it if we go scavenging, or get into any trouble. I just want to be there to make sure that no matter what we face, I can help. I can be there to keep you all safe, and make sure we don’t lose anybody. I didn’t mean to offend you guys.”

    “Whatever,” Lyrik finished the argument. “It’s settled, though. We’re going into the nearest town, and we’re taking shifts.”



    They headed out a few hours later after Beth and Mike woke up. They spent some time looking for more food, but had very little luck, only finding some more pecans and walnuts, further fueling the need for a run.

    They loaded what supplies that had set up around the parked RV and drove it far south, past Bunker, past the next town called Ellington, and into the heart of another small town. As they drove in, they saw a sign that read, “Welcome to Winona! Small town, big people!”

    “I hope that doesn’t mean fat walkers,” Allan joked, earning a chuckle from Lyrik and Patricia. “Those are the worst.”

    They drove in and began with the nearest house, working their way deeping into the town. For the first house, Allan, Lyrik, and Beth were the first ones in. In the second, Allan, Patricia, and Lyrik. In the next, Allan, Lyrik, and Patricia. The cycle continued for hours, and they got a good amount of supplies. They ended up with enough non-perishable foods to last them for the next two weeks, so long as they were careful; a lot more gas they decided to siphon from the cars they parked next to; and many non-food supplies, such as cotton swabs, matches, lighters, a few more bullets, and a few more weapons, along with other miscellaneous things.

    They were on their last block, on the corner of 5th street, and everyone was complaining. “Allan, haven’t we had enough close calls for one night?” Patricia asked, referring to the dozens of walkers they encountered inside of the houses, which were usually hidden or in great number, thus horrifyingly dangerous.

    “Just one more building,” he promised, leading them to the last house on the block as Lyrik went back into the RV, switching off with Beth. It was quite a large house, and as they approached, the moans could be heard from outside. There were many walkers.

    “Can you hear that?” Beth asked rhetorically. “We should just go.”

    “With that many in there, they’re bound to have tons of loot. Coulda been survivors. One died, it carried on, and they’ve been dead in there with things we need.”

    They both frowned to each other. Allan had a really good point. “I still don’t think it’s a good idea,” Patricia said.

    “It’s fine,” Allan said. He observed the house. There was a large, elevated porch leading up to the door. The house was a single floor, and wide. All the rooms were likely connected, so they couldn’t take it room-by-room. “We’ll open the door and let them slowly come out,” he decided. “I’ll hold the door, one of you put the first one down, I’ll open it enough to loose its body, and we’ll repeat. Simple.”

    “How’d you come up with that?” Patricia questioned.

    “I did it long before I met you all. It was me, Kelly, and this guy, Dante trying to get out of a trailer we were stuck in for a few days. Dante thought it up. Smart man.” He made it to the door and pressed himself against it. “Not smart enough to still be here, though.”

    He opened the door and whistled, attracting the walkers to them. He closed it just in time for the first one to get caught between the door and the outer wall. Beth went up to it and easily stabbed it through the head with a screwdriver they found a few hours ago. Allan opened the door slightly, letting the body fall to the floor and repeated the process. Patricia used a small gardening shovel to kill the walker and it sliced right through the undead redneck, cutting off the top of its head, its skull and rotten brain falling grossly to the floor and rolling around for a moment. Beth turned around and gagged.

    “Please don’t be like Arnold,” Patricia said, gagging as well due to Beth’s. “If you puke, I’m gonna puke.”

    Allan rolled his eyes, pretending as though none of this bothered him. “I can’t hold all these walkers back on my own,” he said, pointing out that he had already gotten another one hinged. “One of you get over here and put this bitch down!”

    Beth picked her screwdriver back up and shoved it into the walker’s head, her left arm over her mouth as she swung down. When she tried pulling out the screwdriver, she struggled. It was stuck. She began to panic as more walkers came, visible through the crack Allan held open, and they were piling up on the door. She attempted to use her left hand to grab the screwdriver, but only ended up hurting her fingers, still bandaged from when she cut them off.

    “Just leave it!” Allan yelled, putting all of his weight against the door.

    Beth continued to grab for the screwdriver, desperate. The weight of the walkers proved too much, and it burst open, causing Beth to scream in horror as she fell to her rear, the screwdriver still not loose. Allan was pushed back, and he reached for his gun. Allan and Patricia opened fire on the mass of walkers as Beth pushed herself backwards from them. Lyrik exited the RV to see the scene, and immediately ran to help, taking down a few. Allan and Patricia found themselves with only two bullets each as Lyrik easily got headshots on many of them. As it thinned, they took down the remaining few walkers physically.

    “Is everyone okay?” Allan asked, panting.

    “I think so,” Beth said, cradling her injured hand.

    Patricia went to the walker dead by the door and yanked the screwdriver out of its skull.

    “Was it really worth it?” Allan asked, clearly angry about this.

    “Shut up, you ass,” Patricia warned as she handed the screwdriver back to Beth.

    After taking a few moments to recollect themselves, Allan finally remembered the whole reason they did this. “Well, are we gonna clear this house, or what?”

    Patricia sighed as the sun began to set. As she looked around the area, she noticed three figures approaching from the treeline to the west. “Aw, hell. More walkers.”

    Allan squinted at them, and became confused. “I’m not sure about that. Look at the way they’re moving.”

    “Well, that one’s missin’ a hand,” Patricia pointed out.

    “That’s why I’m not sure.”

    As they came closer, it was clear that they were in fact not undead. It was two male figures and a female. The man in the middle was large, with big, toned muscles, short black hair, and a chiseled chin with a matching, short beard. To his left was another man, not near as buff and a half a foot shorter than the middle man, with long brown hair up in a ponytail and only a bit of stubble. Everyone immediately noticed how attractive the two were, including Allan, who even could admit when he found a man attractive. The girl to the large man’s right had short brown hair, and was at least a foot and a half shorter than the muscled fellow. She had very tan skin and appeared to be of some sort of middle-eastern European descent, such as Indian or Arab, and she was missing her right hand. They were all wearing quite dirty clothes and their hands were dark with dirt, but that was to be expected in these times.

    They approached with their hands up, but they obviously had guns and knives holstered. “Hello!” the man in the center called.

    Allan, Beth, Patricia, and Lyrik held their guns up, untrusting. “Who are you?” Allan yelled.

    “Strangers,” he said.

    “Can I have names?”

    “Well, my name’s Taylor,” the strong man said. “This is Malcolm,” he shrugged his head to the smaller man, then to the woman, “and she’s Sarita.”

    “Well, what do you want?”

    “At this moment, your names. If we have to, so do you.”

    Allan rolled his eyes. “I’m Allan. The blonde’s Beth, this is Patricia,” he gestured, “and that’s Lyrik. What do you want?

    “Companionship. Camaraderie. Friends. Numbers. For us to pool our supplies and strength. Clearly, you folks need it.”

    “Who says we don’t have more people? That we don’t have a camp with tons more people?”

    “Well, if you did, clearly none of you would be out on a run this dangerous for this long.”

    “You’ve been watching us?” Beth asked, slightly worried.

    “Don’t twist it around and make it awkward. We wouldn’t have approached you without getting to know a little bit about you first, would we?” Allan frowned, suddenly nervous. He wondered how much they knew. If he knew they only had a few bullets left apiece. “Switching out like that, huh? Clearly you’ve got someone or something in that RV that needs guarding.” Beth bit her lip. “What is it? Someone disabled? A prisoner? Child?”

    “It’s,” Beth paused, considering. What could she say that would scare them into leaving? Or that would let them know they are trustable and to not hurt them? She decided there was no way to know what they would want to hear, what would keep them safe, so she told the truth. “It’s a little girl.”

    Taylor seemed to soften, and Beth was put at ease with telling the truth. “Well, in that case, please. For her sake, join us. No offense, but you need us. Sarita here’s smart with medicine, if none of you are a doctor and need help. Me and Malcolm are strong. Good with all sorts of weapons.”

    “What do you get out of it?” Allan inquired.

    “I already listed everything I would get. Friendship, all that. It’s been just us three for a while, and we need numbers bad. You all may not be the best, but you’re definitely capable. Useful. Cleared out three whole blocks of houses and an overrun house all on your own.”

    Allan smiled, proud of himself for being what he thought to be such a good leader. If I didn’t make them clear out that last house, we might never have been approached by these people. That could be bad, but if it’s good, I’m the reason we got us more useful people.

    “We’ve got a place really close to here,” Taylor stated. “Right down the street, actually. If you’re all in.”

    Allan looked to the other three, almost ready to agree. Beth nodded. Lyrik shrugged. Patricia took a moment, but put her gun down. “We’re in, then,” he finally said, making sure everyone agreed.

    They all got into the RV, where Beth introduced Mika to the new people. Malcolm sat up front with Allan, pointing him to the place they were staying.



    The place they were staying used to be a store. It had a sign above it that once read, “Winona Hardware & Building Supply,” but had been crossed out and written over with the words, “NO HOPE,” made in something red. They weren’t sure if it was blood or paint, but either way, it was a sad thing to see.

    Outside it, a few dead walkers were littered about near the treeline. “Helps keep other walkers away,” Malcolm claimed.

    That night they had dinner together, eating meat they had gotten from a few squirrels Taylor and Malcolm had hunted that morning and the rest of the nuts and berries Patricia had kept in the RV. They sat at the counter that was previously used for checking out customers, which reminded Lyrik of the day this all began; losing LaRissa, and later Lily, and now Robert. She pushed the thoughts away, though, to this moment. Observing the new people, and celebrating the friendship they were forming.

    Throughout the meal, the girls couldn’t help but flirt with Taylor and Malcolm, as they were both very attractive men to them.

    “I don’t know how you’ve kept your hands off of them,” Lyrik joked to Sarita.

    “Who says I have?” she retorted with a coy smile.

    “Ooooooh,” Lyrik said as everyone laughed. “Which one’s yours? Or is it both?” she smiled widely.

    “It’s both,” the Indian woman said flippantly, and Malcolm and Taylor both looked on with uncomfortable smiles. It felt strange being talked about like they were meat, and like they weren’t even there, but they didn’t want to come off as assholes the first night they spent together. After the laughter eased, she noticed their faces and corrected herself. “I’ve actually not been with either. I’m not exactly ready for anything like that yet,” she said, drifting off, returning her focus to the berries and squirrel meat in front of her.

    Beth and Patricia frowned, realizing she probably meant she had lost her significant other. Small talk continued among everyone once more, but Beth couldn’t take her eyes off of Sarita’s limb, her right arm cut off at the elbow. It reminded her of Maggie, and she became quite sad thinking about it. She wondered if the darker woman’s arm had been cut off due to a walker bite. She had to know. When the conversation around her died a little bit, she took her chance. “Ma’am,” she began.

    “Sarita,” the older woman corrected. “Just call me Sarita. No need for formalities.”

    “Right. Sarita, what happened to your hand? Not trying to be rude or anything, though.”

    “Oh, it’s fine,” she half-smiled to the blonde. “There’s no offense taken. Everyone asks me about it. Do you really want to know? It’s a long story. Kinda awkward.”

    Beth looked to the others, who looked just as curious. She nodded her head to Sarita.

    “Well, it was a long time ago. Back when this all began. I was in Louisville, Kentucky, where I used to live. When it happened, me and my boyfriend Burton locked ourselves in his apartment building. We were forced to leave after a while, and when we escaped there were so many of them. One of them bit me, and I did my best to pull myself off of it. Burton panicked. We had watched other people turn after being bitten through our windows. I don’t know what it was but he just acted on impulse, and instead of chopping into the walker biting on me, he swung down on my arm. At the time, I thought he had missed, or had gone mad. He had emotional problems, and I knew that. He feared being alone more than anything, and had severe anxiety. But he saved my life. We made it out of there, and I never turned. I was afraid of him for a while, but I see now that he was just desperate. That he was trying to help the one person he loved. He apologized so many times…”

    “So, what happened to him?” Lyrik inquired.

    “He’s gone now. Obviously.” Beth nudged Lyrik with her shoulder, giving her a scolding look for making Sarita sad. “It’s fine,” she said, noticing the guilt on the two young girls’ faces. “After he cut off my hand, I got really sick. We made it to this group sometime after, and he convinced them to go on a run to get medicine for me. He talked to me the night before he left when I was asleep, and it woke me up, but I pretended to still be out. I still hadn’t forgiven him. He talked about a lot of things, and how sorry he was. Made me realize he wasn’t crazy. That he truly did care for me.” She stared down at the table, clutching her arm. Malcolm wrapped his arm around her, pulling her in close and she smiled to him. “Anyways, he left on that run. He and five other people. Only two men returned, and Burton wasn’t one of them. They had the medicine, though. And I made it. They told me about the things he did, and how they had to leave him behind. A walker snuck up on him and ate into him. It wasn’t savable at all. He asked them to leave him. Let him turn.” Her voice quivered, “And they did.”

    As they continued eating, things eventually lightened up. The small-talk resumed, and they all ended on a positive note. That night, it rained, and they were thankful as ever that they were out of the RV, in the nice, warm building, all around a fireplace with people who would hopefully become friends.




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  9. Back To Top    #29
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    Chapter 29 “Aftermath”
    Day 92; Group B









    They awoke late that morning, getting much-needed sleep as they huddled together from the cold. The herd had passed long ago, but they were much too cold and exhausted to get themselves going. Daniel drove for today, with everyone in the couch of the RV. They pulled into the road to see the house around noon, the lake behind it glimmering beautifully, just as it had the day they first found this house. Seth and Shawn sighed, seeing the clear difference between then and now. The house was now clearly decimated. Doors were off their hinges or scratched, windows were broken, everything was dirty and trampled. There were seeds and tools scattered around the garden, and all of the plants and soil had been flattened. They quickly noticed that the RV was missing, and after a while, they realized that the vans down at the house down the road were missing, as well.

    “This is the aftermath,” Robert said under his breath, only heard by Selenis and Greyson.

    “I think they got out,” Greyson said hopefully.

    “Or they died and were looted,” Seth grimly stated.

    “Well, let’s go find out,” Shawn said.

    They exited the RV, weapons at the ready. They entered the house to see many walkers around. “Put them down silently if you can. Don’t hurt the face, we need to know if it’s one of ours.”

    They took down the walkers in the house using their knives, axes, and screwdrivers. They found a total of seven walkers in the building, and not one of them looked familiar. Slightly relieved, they fanned out and took what supplies were left of the house, which was quite a lot. Anything that wasn’t out in the open, thus wasn’t trampled over by walkers or at least fondled by them, they decided was good and took it. The only things they took that were out in the open were inedible things, such as weapons, medicines in their bottles or packaging, and other such things.

    They found their belongings, aside from Daniel’s and Greyson’s, along with Allan’s, Mika’s, Lyrik’s, and the remaining belongings of Jessie, Ron, and Lizzie.

    “Why didn’t they take any of their stuff?” Robert questioned worriedly.

    “Maybe they just didn’t have time,” Greyson reasoned. He knew Robert cared greatly for Lyrik, her being his only remaining friend from before all of this. The freckled boy envied Robert a little bit for that. His own friends were all dead or gone. He had seen much of his family and friends die early on in St. Louis when this all began. The rest, he had no idea where they were. All he had was Daniel, who was a neighbor he didn’t even know. They lived a few blocks from one another, but they never spoke before this began.

    Seth put a hand on Robert’s shoulder. “Come on, we need to keep moving.”

    Robert nodded, grabbing up the left behind supplies of their friends and throwing them into the RV.

    Outside, Daniel was keeping watch. They knew the herd was still close, and it might not take a whole lot to turn them right around to sweep this house once more. He headed around to the back porch, and he saw another walker from behind. He smiled and pulled out his axe to approach and put down the walker. He whistled to it, and she turned around.

    Standing before him was a dead, mangled corpse of one of his closest friends. Undead Patti stood in front of him, snapping her teeth. Daniel pursed his lips, overwhelmed with sadness. He gripped the ax in his hand as she approached, limping. There were holes and bites all along her skin, many places, including her entire right arm, were missing, gnaw marks left in their place. It was clear that the herd had gotten her.

    He pulled the axe back and swung it when she got too close for comfort, jamming it in her neck. Annoyed he had missed, he lifted his leg and kicked her off of his axe. Freeing it, he drew it back once more and got her square in the head. Her body fell limp, and he yanked the axe out of her head using his feet to push her off once more. He sighed, and noticed she was carrying many bags. He put his shirt over his nose to try to keep the smell out, bent down, and grabbed the bags of from around her shoulders. They were her own, his, and Greyson’s. She had tried to get their stuff for them… Or was simply trying to get as many supplies as possible. He sighed yet again and continued his watch.

    When everyone seemed finished gathering supplies, Daniel told them what happened, showing them her corpse, and then pointing to his and Greyson’s bags, explaining that she had probably tried to take them to keep their things for just in case.

    They mourned, but did not bury her. They needed to get going. Too much time had already been wasted, and a proper funeral would only slow them down more. They had an impromptu service with Daniel, Selenis, and Seth vocally expressing their sadness to see her pass. When Greyson looked like he was about to cry, Robert pulled him into a hug. For once, Greyson did not fight back. He hugged Robert back, taking the comfort and caring Robert was offering to him.

    After a few final moments, they loaded up and made their way south, following the tracks left behind by the vehicles, though they were quite flattened. Along the way, they found the abandoned vans with no signs of being recently used. They were empty of people and supplies, no signs of blood or a fight.

    “What do you think happened?” Selenis questioned.

    “Maybe they ran outta gas,” Greyson suggested. “Had to pick up and leave.”

    “Or maybe someone stopped ‘em,” Seth said. “Took ‘em hostage.”

    “Seth, shut up,” Robert said, looking worriedly to Greyson.

    As they continued down the road, they saw a large hole dug, and clearly a body was in the sewage. Everyone held their breath, both because of the stench and in case it was one of them, as Shawn used a large fallen branch to face the body towards them. They didn’t recognize it, and thought it to be either Shakira or Mika at first, due to the size of it. They eventually decided that it must be a walker, and they continued on. They noticed small holes in the ground and the ashes of a fire. “They’ve definitely been here,” Seth said.

    They made it a ways further down the road, but saw the back end of the herd and sighed. This thing was going to be the death of them, they collectively thought as they backed away from the walkers silently. They kept driving around the herd, getting back to the other side of the path, where they found more, clearer tracks. They hadn’t been trampled over, and it was clear that they were the tracks of the other RV.

    They followed after it until it ran onto a road. They looked around the surrounding treelines and dirt roads, but only found animal prints and another track of tires, but they were clearly made by a large pickup truck and appeared to be old. They had no choice but to move on, and they found a log cabin to sleep in for the night, taking nice refuge from the coming rain. They cleared it out, only finding the walker of an old man constrained in a wheelchair in the back room, which was quickly and easily taken down and disposed of.




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  10. Back To Top    #30
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    Chapter 30 “Again”
    Day 92; Group C









    The group woke up early that morning. They packed everything back away and did their best to cover their tracks, though they overlooked the latrine and the holes they used for their tents. When they left, they attached small branches to the back of the three in the back’s feet to cover their tracks, fearful of the Mexican man Sierra had told them from about the night before.

    They had left shortly after sunrise. Ryan was at the front, leading the group. He was thankful Shawn wasn’t there, or else they might currently be fighting. He was also thankful no one from the scouting group he was with on the day they met the biker gang was there, or else they might have something smart to say about him being a leader, as well.

    Directly behind him was Sierra and Otis, who were keeping an eye out in the trees surrounding the path they were walking, both holding sniper rifles. They both worried for their missing loved ones, but they couldn’t let those thoughts overwhelm them. Their purpose right now was to escape the pursuit of the herd and survive.

    Following them was Amanda, who was lost in thought as she held a butcher’s knife she had grabbed from the kitchen when they left. She couldn’t stop thinking about everyone else. About Beth, and if she was okay. If her missing fingers hindered her and became the death of her. About Seth, and if he even cared about her. She knew he was still alive. He was the biggest and strongest out of all of them. If anyone made it, it had to be him.

    Behind her was Xavier and Kelly, who were awkwardly making small-talk, dancing around the subject of what had happened the night before.

    Finally, Gabriel, Shakira, and Oscar rounded out the back of the group, twigs tucked into the back of their socks and shoes to brush away their tracks. Mostly, they remained quiet, but when they did speak, it was in Spanish, and usually just comments about the conversations they could hear.

    “So,” Xavier hesitantly began. “Was last night just sex to you?”

    “No,” Kelly said, not wanting him to think she didn’t care about him, or was easy.

    “So, then,” he hesitated once more, very nervous. “Are we… together?”

    Kelly smiled to him. “I dunno,” she teased.

    “So…?”

    “We’ll see,” she grinned. “I’m not sure I’m ready to settle down just yet,” she joked.

    Xavier lifted a brow and looked very concerned. “Wait, what?” He looked around at the others in the group. “Are you having sex with some of the other guys?”

    Kelly laughed at how jealous Xavier got, and decided to tease him more. “Who said it was just the guys?”

    Xavier’s eyes grew wide, and Kelly laughed even harder. “I’m just kidding,” she finished. “I just...don’t think I’m ready for another relationship just yet.” She thought of Roger, and considered the possibility of ever seeing him again. She still loved him, but she knew he was probably long gone. Even if he wasn’t, would he still love her? Would he still want her? He could have moved on, found another person to love.

    Xavier half frowned at her as she looked at the ground, but feigned a smile when she looked back up. “I understand.”



    After about an hour of walking, Xavier leaned in to kiss the purple-haired girl, and Amanda in front of them yelled “Break?” to Ryan, interrupting them. They blushed and got in the formation, a row along the treeline facing the street.

    Ryan made Xavier and Sierra get up and go scout the area around them, both to check for food and to make sure the herd wasn’t too close. They were both very strong, capable survivors, and have been for a very long time. They’ve had to claw their way up from nothing to get jobs in the careers of choice, and along the way they experienced many things that have helped them adapt to this world. Now, though, things were strange between them. They were once together, and they had a huge fight that broke them up. They didn’t talk at all, and a few weeks later, they were forced to be around one another once again, and taking care of a child. Then, Xavier finds a new girl. And there is obviously tension over it. Originally, Xavier wanted to ask Sierra if she was okay while they were out, but he decided against it. She seemed very focused now, and he could only assume she was doing well, so they only spoke sparingly.

    They found many chestnuts, walnuts, and pecans, along with a few raspberries, but there was very little of it. They moved west, following the food on the trees, and then, the trees opened up into a field and they could see a house. It was quite large, and seemed like it could be useful. If the herd wasn’t following them anymore, they could stay there for a while.

    They began heading south, finding cover once more in the woods. As they got further south, they grew more quiet. Then, they heard it. The sickly, disgusting moans of walkers.

    They looked to one another, eyes wide, and turned around, and when they got far enough they fell into a sprint, trying to get back to their group as soon as possible. They exited the brush, hearts pounding hard. “The herd is just a bit away. We have to move!”

    “You’re shittin’ me,” Ryan said, annoyed, as he quickly pulled himself up to his feet.

    “No,” Xavier panted, “I’m not. Let’s go!”

    “Where?!” Gabriel asked, grabbing his stuff up as everyone did the same, quickly rising.

    “We found a house on the other side of the woods not far from here,” Sierra said, pushing Xavier to lead the way as she helped everyone get their bags. “We can get there and hide if we hurry.”

    Clouds began rolling in, darkening the sky as they ran through the woods. After running for about fifteen minutes, many were getting winded and exhausted. Thankfully, they were very close to the house. When they exited the woods, they saw Xavier at the door, attempting to pick the lock.

    “Just bust it open like we usually do!” Ryan yelled as they caught up.

    “Are you an idiot?! If we break down this door or bust open a window, we might as well just keep running! Not much of a house without doors!”

    “Well, what do we do?” the large man asked between breaths, feeling very exhausted.

    Sierra looked around nervously, and noticed windows on the top floor. She then looked around, searching for the person who seemed the least tired from running. Oscar, Xavier, and Kelly seemed to be in the best condition. She couldn’t take Xavier because he was probably the best lock picker. She decided on Oscar, assuming he might have the best upper-arm strength.

    “They’re comin’!” Otis yelled as walkers came out of the northern tree-line in the distance.

    Sierra jumped into action and grabbed Oscar’s wrist. “We’ll find a way in! You all stay here and get that lock done!”

    She let go of him as he began to run in time with her as she led him around the house, looking upwards. She was searching for a low, large, or open window. Luckily, she found one wide open around the back of the house, and a bench was underneath it. She helped Oscar in, giving him a boost. When he was in, before even looking around, he turned back to the window to grab Sierra’s hand and help her in. As she began climbing holding Oscar’s hand, he screamed in agony and she fell onto her rear, hurting her foot on the bench on the way down.

    Oscar had been bitten, a walker in the room snapping into action as he entered it and faced away from him, chewing into the boy’s left shoulder. The boy screamed and let go of the blonde in response to the unexpected pain, and quickly grabbed a nearby lamp to hit the walker in the head and smashing the bulb into the undead woman’s head. When he was sure it was dead, he turned back to the window. “Sorry! Get to the others, I’ll open the door!”

    Sierra nodded hesitantly in response, quickly limping to join the others. Oscar went to the closet in the room he was in and put on a coat to cover the bite. They didn’t need to deal with this on top of everything else. He sprinted to the door, wincing as his wound moved every time his arm swung. He opened it up and Xavier stumbled in, Kelly’s hair clip stuck in the knob. He yanked it out and they all followed in, beginning to close curtains and pile objects in front of windows and doors. Sierra was the last one in, and she locked the door behind her. She looked around, but couldn’t see the Mexican boy, so she began helping with barricading the doors.

    Oscar had gone back upstairs to dispose of the walker’s body before the herd got too close, and before others in the group saw it and began asking questions. He threw it out the window, struggling. When it finally fell, he eased back into the rest of the group and assisted them with the barricades.

    Shortly after, the walkers could be seen getting very close through a crack between boxes put in front of a curtainless window, and they filed upstairs. Sierra had already gone upstairs and found the biggest room with the fewest windows, and she led them all in. Most of them huddled into the large walk-in closet. Ryan and Sierra, however, stayed in the main part of the bedroom, taking occasional peeks at the herd, and remaining ready in case of walkers making it in.



    Hours and hours passed, and it was now raining, obscuring their view of the walkers, but definitely not doing a lot to quiet their haunting moans. Many noises could be heard from downstairs as time passed. Scratches on the walls, some glass breaking. Kelly had fallen asleep after staring at Xavier for hours, contemplating. Quickly, everyone but Ryan was asleep, lulled to rest as the rain beat down on the house. The large main remained attentive, subtly looking out of the windows every few minutes to look for signs of the herd clearing up, as well as keeping his ears trained for just in case the walkers began attacking the house.

    Oscar had managed to get Sierra to mostly forget about him dropping her, focused more on guard duty and allowing the boy to get rest. He and many others had moved out of the closet as the night drew nearer, feeling more comfortable and safe in the room.

    It was now a quarter to 11:00 PM, according to Ryan’s watch. He coughed, and sighed, realizing he was coming down with a cold.

    Feet from him, leaned against the wall outside of the closet, Oscar’s breath slowly halted.

    Only twenty moments later, his fingers began moving. His eyes opened, milky and unknowing. His mouth opened, letting out a small moan that could easily be mistaken for a sigh or a cough. He turned and looked to his right, seeing the steady breath of Shakira, who was lying on her side, and the undead man was inches from her neck before Ryan coughed hard. Why does this always happen to me? the large man thought to himself.

    The reanimated corpse of Oscar stood to his feet and made his way to the noise. He opened his mouth, ready for the food, and let out a groan, getting Ryan’s attention, who turned to the thin, now deceased, boy, and kicked it in the legs, hoping to make it fall to the ground, but instead, Oscar fell forward and bit right down into the leader’s belly, ripping out intestines, tearing into the stomach, eating the ribs, clawing for the lungs, destroying veins. Ryan quickly perished, blood pouring out of his mouth and pooling onto the bed. Sierra, lying on the other side of the bed was awoken moments later, as Oscar’s intense growls became louder and the sloshing of Ryan’s guts continued.

    She opened her eyes and held her breath, using the hand she was lying on to grasp her knife. The other was in front of her, now slightly damp with Ryan’s pooling blood. She grimaced and quickly rose, swiftly ramming the blade of her knife into the familiar walker’s head. When it was down, she looked to the others and debated what to do. She looked out the window. Walkers were still coming, so she couldn’t shoot Ryan, and she couldn’t get rid of his body no matter how she put him down.

    “Guys,” she announced, trying to wake them without being too loud. Those nearest to her opened their eyes, hesitant and groggy. Shakira looked up to meet eyes with a very sympathetic-looking blonde. She was confused at the face Sierra was making, her eyes then suddenly going wide as she saw the scene behind her. Oscar’s corpse was lying on the floor next to the bed, a stab wound in his head and covered from nose to chest in blood. On the bed was Ryan, his face barely visibly as he was basically a large lump of red, his guts everywhere around the room, soaking the bed completely.

    Everyone began to wake one another up, and they all stood around Ryan’s body. Sierra had explained what happened, and what she assumed had caused Oscar to turn. When no one else would, Sierra was the one to put him down, slowly sliding the knife into the large man’s head.

    They covered their bodies with a blanket and quietly moved into the next-largest room across the hall, where they would try to get more rest. Shakira did not sleep, tears in her eyes the whole night. Gabriel held her, trying to comfort her and get her to rest, but he just ended up falling asleep on her. She didn’t mind, though. She was thankful someone cared.

    She wasn’t sure she would ever be able to get over losing Oscar. In her thirty-nine years of living, losing a twenty-year-old she had only known for a few months hurt more than anything else ever had. Losing her parents, her siblings, her friends, her husband. For some reason, nothing could compare to the pain she was feeling now. Maybe it was because of how gruesome it was. Maybe it was because he was her last remaining friend. She still had those she loved around her when she met Oscar, and she easily transferred her love for them into him. Now, she felt so alone. She realized how screwed up she sounded. How awful it all was. She blamed it on the stress, the sorrow, and everything that came packaged in the apocalypse.




    Spoiler Spoiler:

    Today, I'm uploading TWO chapters! Chapters 29 & 30. I've done this because I've got a lot going on in my life, and in order to keep going, I'm going to have to take a break. I've written to chapter 31, and that's not far enough to be able to keep posting regularly. I have finals coming up and writing the story is quite time-consuming. Further, I've received a few complaints (on other sites I've published this story on, because for some reason I get no feedback here) that I write too quickly for people to keep up, so this is your chance to catch up.


    I apologize. Worry not, though; my next chapter will be out on January 15th! I hope to see you all then. Also, edits (spelling corrections, fixing weird wording, etc.) may happen to a few chapters if I have time.

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