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  1. Back To Top    #51
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    Chapter 51 “Bonding”
    Day 151; Group A&B







    An alarm clock buzzed, annoyingly loud, but effective. A slender, wrinkled arm reached out from underneath the thick blanket and hit the snooze button. After a few moments, the sheets rustled and Patricia peeked her head out from the cover, glancing out the window. The rain had barely let up since last night. If it wasn’t for the alarm clock, she would think it was still nighttime.

    Slowly, she rose from the bed and stretched. The old blonde slid her feet into her slippers and went to the closet, trying to find something to wear for the day. As she looked through her clothes, she realized there was a pair she hadn’t even touched since packing them away in the drawers when she first moved in. As she lifted the shirt, a necklace fell out and hit the ground. Her heart sank as she realized which necklace it was.

    She covered her mouth as she bent down and picked it up. Just as she had suspected, it was the necklace Otis had given to her for their anniversary the year before. There was a locket on it, with two heart-shaped diamonds on either side of it. Engraved on the back of the locket read, “our love is eternal.” Slowly, holding her breath, she put it on.

    When it was clasped on, she groped the locket. It felt unfamiliar around her neck, and a part of her wanted to take it off. She knew for her mental health, she should try to forget about Otis; to move on, and to keep herself sane. She had Mike now, who had been such a good distraction. Was that all he was, though? She didn’t know.

    The elder sighed and turned, tucking the locket into her gown as she undressed and put on fresh clothes for the new day.




    It was about an hour before noon, according to Caleb’s watch, and the rain was finally beginning to let down, much to his relief. They were going on a run with the new people today, and he didn’t want to have to train them while yelling over rain.

    He stood below the wall with Roger, Shawn, and Greyson, who were going on the run today. They were waiting for four more people had to show up, and then they would be ready to go.

    “It’s supposed to be the new ones, Andy, and Tavis today, right?” Greyson asked, slightly impatient.

    “No,” Roger shook his head. “Andy cancelled, so we asked Liam to step in.”

    “Why?” Caleb joked to Greyson, “Can’t wait to get back to your husband already?”

    The three men chuckled, but Greyson blushed in slight aggravation. “Firstly, he’s not my husband. Secondly, you can’t tell me you wouldn’t want to come back to your significant other, if you had one,” the boy dug at them, “as soon as possible. Lastly, I just don’t want to be trudging out in the mud getting trenchfoot for any longer than I have to.”

    “Someone’s on their period,” Caleb laughed, and Greyson wanted to punch him in the face. He looked to Shawn, who gave him a lighthearted smile in understanding, and Greyson understood: ‘I get it, but try to just let it go.’

    Greyson did not want to be there. They always did this when it was just one of the couple. The only time he actually got to enjoy his job was when Robert was there or he was paired up with one of the girls because no one said anything, and because he got to spend time outside the walls with his boyfriend.

    After a few more minutes of waiting, the two new recruits showed up in the now-light drizzle. Mark was much shorter than expected, but his face was weathered and hardened more than it should be for someone as young as he appeared to be. It was clear through his clothes that he was quite built, and it was easy to assume he did most of the heavy lifting in his group. Karen was about the same height, with olive skin and mid-length black hair.

    They went down the line, shaking hands with the newcomers. Caleb lifted a brow as his hand grasped Karen’s, sensing something strange he’d never felt from just a handshake before.

    Mark spoke with a gruff, serious voice, as if he was angry about everything. “Nice to meet you all,” he said, though it certainly did not sound like he thought as much.

    Karen’s voice was just as serious, but much softer. “Are we ready to go?”

    “No,” Roger responded. “We’ve got two more coming, then we can head out.”

    Karen nodded and looked to Mark. Karen contemplated leaning against the wall as the others were doing, but they remained standing, looking face-to-face at the four males.

    After an awkward extra thirty minutes of waiting, everyone was ready to set out. They loaded into a muddy, nasty-looking van and set out southward to hunt in the woods.

    Before long, they arrived at the edge of the land they hunted in last time. The hunters filed out and armed themselves with hunting knives and silenced rifles, as well as their own personal pistols they carried at all times and other hunting gear, such as fishing poles and nets.

    Greyson and Liam set out with the fishing gear, hoping to find a nice watering hole with aquatic life. Roger decided to take Tavis and Mark with him, and Caleb and Shawn took Karen. They parked the van in the woods, camouflaged from the road, and went their separate ways as the rain finally died.




    Runae sat in a large room with blankets, cushions, and toys of all sorts scattered across the ground. Two young boys sat in a corner, playing with plastic dinosaurs.

    “Be careful, Alexander,” Runae warned the oldest-looking one.

    “Yes ma’am,” the young boy dutifully responded.

    Runae looked down to her lap, reading a book in silence as light children’s music played in the background. The book was titled Fleece Navidad, by Maggie Sefton. “There’s no way it’s Claudia,” Runae said to herself.

    The creaky door began to open a few feet away from her, and she moved the book to her side as she rose, expecting it to be one of the boys’ parents to pick them up. Instead, Alexandra walked in looking stressed and upset, followed by Lizzie, Julia, Mia, and her own son, John.

    “Hello,” Runae greeted kindly.

    “Hi, Runae,” Alexandra spat quickly. “I’m sorry to do this to ya, but you gotta watch these kids; I can’t take it anymore.”

    “Of course,” Runae said, ushering the four kids inside.

    “Thank you so much,” the blonde sighed, relief filling her voice.

    “Is there anything else I can-” the door closed as Alexandra rushed out of the room, “...do?”

    Runae frowned and looked back to her book, then to the kids in the room.

    “Alright everyone,” she announced, joy filling her voice. Even if it was tough, she loved the kids. She loved taking care of them, and it showed. Her only wish was that the others would show her more appreciation. “It’s storytime.”

    She moved across the room and disregarded her open book, opting for a more child-friendly one.




    “You guys often hunt?” Roger asked Mark, attempting to make smalltalk.

    “Mila, Karen, and I usually hunt every other day. The most reliable way to get food anymore,” he said in his usual serious tone.

    “Don’t know about that,” Tavis laughed. “Most reliable way’s to scavenge in the city.”

    “Sure,” Mark scoffed. “If you want to lose half your group.”

    “No, no,” Tavis and Roger shook their heads. “You just have to know how to do it right.”

    Mark shook his head as well. “No. It doesn’t matter how ‘right’ you are; things happen, and an ideal situation can become a worst-case scenario much easier than you think.”

    Roger looked to Tavis nervously, then back to Mark, and they locked eyes. Mark didn’t look away, his gaze serious and intense. “I’m sorry, man,” Roger begged. “I didn’t know.”

    Mark didn’t reply and simply turned his focus back on his surroundings. His eyes were keen for prey, like a starving cougar. A rustle came from their right and Mark instantly turned and shot it. Before their eyes lay a large, fat, dead rabbit.

    Roger and Tavis stared at the man in astonishment. “Great job, dude,” Roger said holding out his hand for a high-five, but getting nothing in return. The leader awkwardly put his hand back at its side and they moved to collect the rabbit.




    Betty sat in an open room. The curtains were wide open and the whole room seemed to give off a good vibe and positive energy. The was a single chair, which Betty sat in, behind a desk, as well as bookshelves lining the walls and a long, Grecian half-couch, which was currently occupied by a frail black woman who has just sat down. She was quiet and reserved, and Betty was trying her hardest to get something out of her.

    Gale had her arms crossed in front of her, clearly uncomfortable. She seemed frightened and worried.

    “How are you doing today, Gale?” Betty asked kindly.

    The frail woman stared forward, looking to one of the bookcases. They sat in silence for nearly three minutes, and the elder woman kept a straight face, this not being her first time with a silent patient.

    “That’s perfectly fine,” Betty said warmly. “You don’t have to talk at all, we can go at your own pace. There’s no rush.”




    Uncharacteristically silent, Caleb led the way to the traps they had set for rabbits and other small game. Karen occasionally took the opportunity to study the backside of the robust man. As she looked at him, she realized how well-off the community must be. She laughed under her breath, louder than intended, as she thought about how undeveloped a survivor most of them must be.

    He looked back at the new girl, having heard her laugh. “You makin’ fun of me?” he joked.

    “What if I am?”

    He looked her up and down and smiled. “Then I’ll have to kill you.”

    Shawn rolled his eyes at the banter and kept his nose out of the odd flirting.

    “You better put up a damn good fight, then.”

    “You think I can’t?”

    “Probably not,” she laughed and made Shawn smile.

    “I could-” Caleb began, but was interrupted by a walker stumbling out from a tree in front of him. “Fuck!” he yelled instinctively, pushing it down onto the ground sideways. He quickly grabbed his knife and rammed it into the walker’s brain.

    He looked up just as Karen and Shawn lowered their guns, which were trained on the walker’s head. “You could fuck?” she joked once more after a short pause of silence, causing Shawn to finally laugh.

    Caleb smiled and wiped sweat off of his brow. “I sure could.”




    Greyson and Liam trudged through the woods, silent as they scanned the area for a source of water. All they could find was puddles and mud, so they did their best to keep their eyes out for animals as they continued their journey for a pond.

    “You alright?” Liam asked after a long while.

    Greyson, taken aback by the sudden question, stuttered. “M-Me? Uh, yeah. I’m fine. What about you?”

    Liam smiled, doing his best to keep a conversation going. “I’m doing pretty good. Wish we didn’t have to be out here after that storm, though.”

    The younger boy smiled at his companion, a muscular brunet white man with an oval-shaped face. Greyson hadn’t seen Liam around much since he had moved in, but they were always cordial to each other. “That’s exactly how I feel.”

    “Wish you could be back at home with your friends and keep warm?”

    “Pretty much,” Greyson grinned. “Wish I could be home listen to my boyfriend go on and on about how much he loves the rain, and how happy he is to be surrounded by loved ones in such beautiful weather.”

    “At least he’s happy,” Liam chuckled.

    Greyson met the older man’s eyes, and was delighted to see that he held no malice, no hidden meaning with his acceptance of his relationship. So many of the people in the community seemed to be put off by it. He blamed the fact they were in the south.

    “You have someone special?” Greyson asked.

    “Nah,” Liam replied. “Haven’t in a few years, actually.”

    “Do you want someone?”

    “Doesn’t everyone?” the older man laughed.

    “Not really.”

    “Right,” Liam corrected. “Well, you know what I mean, don’t you?”

    “Of course.” Greyson met his eyes once more and adjusted the strap around his shoulder, which was beginning to hurt. “It’s hard, not having someone. I wish you luck.”

    “Thanks, man,” Liam replied.

    “Thank you for being friendly.”

    The older man looked to Greyson, who now had his attention focused on a faint splash sound that Liam hadn’t noticed. “It’s all good. Don’t listen to those other guys, they just talk a lot of shit. Like to mess with the younger or newer ones.”

    “Except when Robert’s around,” Greyson pointed out, causing Liam to frown.

    “It’s alright, though. You’ve got a nice, loving boyfriend to go home to. They’re just jealous. That’s what I think.”

    “You think so?” Greyson turned around, a knowing grin on his face. “Well, they’re about to be real jealous.”

    Liam lifted a brow in confusion as the younger man turned back to the woods before them. Greyson led them through a thick brush, and they came out on the other end to a huge pond, rippling and thriving with life.




    Seth stood in the cafeteria of the registration building, eating lunch alone as everyone else seemed to be busy. Lyrik handed him a plate and gave him a suggestive smile, to which Seth playfully rolled his eyes. He turned to find a place to sit. There were four long tables in the room, each with about ten seats on either side.

    Mike and his daughters sat together at a table, noisily slurping down their soup like sloppy pigs at a trough. A large, dark-skinned man sat at a table with Boyd, and their conversation seemed to be quite serious, as they were both whispering closely in the center of the table. At another table, many children and teenagers sat, loudly discussing trivial things only the youth seemed to be concerned with.

    The large, long-haired man sighed and sat down at the empty table in the far corner. He looked down at his food and recognized that the raviolis and green beans were canned. He didn’t know why he expected them to be better, or more organic.

    After a few bites, Seth became lost in his thoughts and was startled when the seat across from him was taken up by a familiar face.

    “Howdy,” Kevin said in his trademark southern accent.

    “Hi,” Seth smiled.

    “Hope ya’ don’t mind me sittin’ here. I don’t wanna intrude on Boyd and Kyle’s conversation. And if I sat at one of the other two tables, I’d feel like I’m in an animal farm.”

    “It’s totally cool,” Seth laughed. “I felt the same way.”

    Kevin ate a forkful of his raviolis and the sauce got in his mustache.

    “That happen often?”

    “What?” Kevin asked indignantly, his mouth full.

    Seth gestured to his own upper lip. “Flavor-saver.”

    “Oh!” Kevin grabbed a napkin and wiped off his facial hair. “I’m sorry.”

    “It’s fine,” Seth chuckled. “I just thought it was funny.”

    “Ya’ think that’s funny?” Kevin gave the larger man a questioning look. “I forget to wipe that thing down after every bite, I end up chewin’ on it in my sleep.” Seth bursted into laughter at the absurdity of the man. “It’s true!” Kevin claimed, beginning to laugh, as well.

    As his laughter subsided, Seth pointed a finger at the cowboy. “You’re a strange, funny old cowboy.”

    “Why, thank ya’,” Kevin grinned and shoveled another ravioli into his mouth, following it up with another wipe of his impressive mustache. “Well, what kinda man are you?”

    “What do you mean?” Seth asked, still smiling from the joke.

    “Ya’ said I’m funny. What’re you? Other than strong, of course.”

    “That’s pretty much it,” Seth chuckled. “There’s not much time to be funny anymore. Comedy’s kinda foreign to me now.”

    “You were out there just three months. It wasn’t that bad, was it?”

    Seth shrugged. “I lost my whole family in the first week. Dad, girlfriend...daughter.”

    Kevin’s eyes went wide, not realizing how hard Seth could have been hit. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t know. Ya’ seemed too young to have kids to me.” Seth smiled slightly, accepting the compliment. “If it makes ya’ feel better, I lost all my family, too. ‘Cept I didn’t have any kids.”

    “It’s a harsh world.”

    Seth carried on eating the food, and eventually came up with a remedy to the resulting silence, which had been prominent for about five minutes.

    “I never got to ask you,” Seth began, “I’ve just heard rumors. What’s up with you jumping from job to job?”

    Kevin grinned. “I’m kinda Jim’s right-hand man. And some would say I’m a jack of all trades, y’know? I ken do just about anything.”

    “Like fly a plane?” Seth joked.

    “It’s funny ya’ say that. Before all this, I was an airplane repo-man.”

    “You’re kidding,” the strong man bewilderedly said.

    “I swear on my life. In fact,” Kevin leaned in and whispered, “I found an airplane the other day when I was with the scavengers a few towns south. I think I’m gonna talk to Jim, ask him if he’ll let me go out and fix ‘er up. Maybe start finding gas fer her.”

    Seth stared at the man in shock and disbelief. He considered the possibilities; what this could do for him and everyone else in the group. Everyone in the world. “What slap do you plan to do with it?”

    Kevin shrugged. “Last I heard, Russia had it mostly under control. A lotta Europe was doin’ well. I think France was really well-off.”

    “You think we should use it to go to Europe?” Seth said out loud, earning an annoyed expression from Kevin.

    “Shhh!” Kevin whispered. “We gotta keep this a secret for now.”

    “Why?”

    “In case things go wrong,” Kevin said ominously. “That plane could be the difference between life and death fer some of us.”

    Seth’s head was reeling, and he didn’t know what to make of what he had just heard. Could it be possible? Might they be able to leave the country; the continent? They might even be able to find a place completely untouched by any of this. That plane will save lives, Seth determined.




    Spoiler Spoiler:

  2. Back To Top    #52
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    Chapter 52 “I Survived”
    Day 223







    Sierra sat on top of a school bus, a fitted black trenchcoat protecting her from the remaining cold of the winter night. The bus was painted shades of white, green, and brown as camouflage. The windows appeared to be blacked out, or perhaps black curtains were drawn. Dried blood stained the grill and wheels, a dark red tinting random parts of the bottom-sides of the large vehicle.

    The blonde on the bus looked down at her fingernails, dirt and blood intermingling grossly between them. Her stomach growled. She thought of her most recent encounter with strangers. It had to have been a week or two ago. She gazed into the woods, recalling all that she had lost, her dear friends and family members. She sighed, tired of the world she was enslaved in, but she remained alert in the morning light.

    A rustling could be heard approaching from her right. Quickly, she put her silenced rifle up and pointed it in the direction of the rustling. Expecting a walker, she focused her aim on the head of the figure. Instead, however, it was a man, and she tried to stop herself as she realized it, but she instinctively shot. “Dalton!” shouted a voice from the same direction as the collapsed figure, and Sierra cursed under her breath, her face painting the anger she had at herself for pulling the trigger.




    Taylor stood in the hallway of the large administration building, chewing contemplatively on a stale peanut-butter cracker. He looked on at the people in the building, going to or coming from their jobs, or making use of those on duty. They walked around carelessly, as if their lives really mattered.

    They don’t, Taylor thought. These people think that they’re so safe, so well-off. But they’re not. New people could show up today and sneak their way up the ladder of importance. Once they’re there, we’re all screwed, because they could do whatever they wanted to us. Everyone’s just seems so oblivious, he believed.

    He turned around, fed up with the dull, simple life before him. As he turned, he bumped into a pretty blonde, and he crumbled. “Sorry,” he attempted to say, but it came out more like a whisper.

    “It’s okay,” Lyssa laughed, brushing the bulky man’s arm and sashaying off to the cafeteria.

    Maybe they’re not that bad, Taylor rethought, watching her bottom as she walked.




    A young man sat on a bench deep within the neighborhoods of the community, playing with a small toy truck in his hands. He seemed impatient, or as if he did not want to be there.

    “Tyler,” Alexandra called to the boy from the kitchen window. The smell of stew seeped out from the window, and a loud simmering could be heard from behind her.

    “Yes?”

    “Where’re John and Sophie?”

    “They went to go get Stetson and Evan.”

    “Oh, alright,” the aging blonde conceded. “How long ago did they go?”

    “It’s been a while,” Tyler sighed and stretched. “They should be back soon.”

    “Good,” Alexandra said happily. “You know how I worry.”

    “Yup,” the teen called, then looked back down to the toy. “Except you didn’t notice my sisters aren’t here, either,” he said under his breath. “All you care about is your kids.”

    “Did you say something?” the woman called.

    “No, ma’am.”

    Tyler stayed seated, staring at the toy listlessly. Soon enough, Sophie came walking down the street holding her boyfriend Evan’s hand. She was followed by John, who was making jokes and laughing with a boy nearly as tall as Evan, but was clearly much younger than the teen.

    “You alright?” Sophie asked the boy, who was her cousin and adopted brother.

    “Just peaches,” Tyler said, easily pulling off a fake smile as he ruffled John’s hair and gave him back his toy. “You nearly forgot that, little man. You gotta be more careful.”

    “I will,” the innocent-looking little boy grinned. “Thank you, big brother,” John said, pulling Tyler down to hug him.

    “Of course,” Tyler returned the hug, and his heart wrenched in confliction.




    Robert exited the administration building, a basket full of food in his hands, giving him difficulty in walking. Others exited the building after him, taking their rations back to their homes, as well. He breathed in the frigid winter air as he stepped onto the road.

    It was cold, snow on the ground from the night before. The sky was a large gray mass of icy promises. Despite wearing three layers, Robert still shivered, and he smiled as he thought about the fact his house was on the opposite side of the community.

    As he made it onto the main road, he was distracted by the gates opening wide. In rushed Dalton, a large white bandage on his neck, blood staining his neck and clothes, going all the way down to his pants. He was held up by Roger and Dylan, who led the group. Following behind them was a sight Robert thought was impossible.

    A familiar blonde woman followed quickly behind, looking determined and concerned. Greyson and Seth ran closely behind her, looking desperately for other people around the place to help. Greyson immediately saw Robert, and smiled widely. He pointed his boyfriend out to Sierra, and she smiled, but remained with the group, focused on helping Dylan.

    Robert dropped the basket of food, his heart breaking into a race as he saw the sight before him. His face twisted in a mix of relief, confusion, and joy. Behind all of them, Caleb led in a large group of people, that looked to be made up of about fifteen survivors. It was hard to distinguish who all was there, but Robert immediately recognized Gabriel, Xavier, and Kelly.

    The rations spilled on the ground, the teen further disregarded them and made for a sprint to the group. Greyson ran ahead and met him and they embraced, Robert crying into his boyfriend’s shoulder, who was now crying once again.

    “We’re all back together again,” Greyson told Robert, pushing even more joy into his lover’s mind, who had missed many of the separated deeply.

    Greyson grabbed Robert’s hand and they walked to Sierra, and she immediately gave Robert a huge hug.

    “I’ve missed you so much,” the brunet sighed through tears. “All of you.”

    “You have no idea,” Sierra returned. She gave a final smile before breaking off the hug. “We’ll talk later.”

    Robert nodded, slightly confused, and he waved her off. He looked to the group being escorted in and then back to Greyson. “Can we talk to them?”

    “Not yet,” Greyson said. “You know how it is. They’ve got to get them all registered first.”

    Robert shook his head and looked back to the new group. He made out a few cute-looking guys, including a buff, tall blond, and a thin boy with green hair and blond roots. He made eye-contact with Gabriel and Xavier, and gave them both huge smiles and a nod, letting them know it was safe here.




    Shawn, Beth, Mika, Lyrik, Patricia, Selenis, and Malcolm ran to the administration building, led by Robert, Greyson, and Seth. They had all been pulled from their homes or jobs and were all excited and overjoyed, knowing that their old friends had arrived. They were excited to see their old loved ones, and were desperate to know who made it.

    “Did Otis make it?” Patricia yelled as she struggled to keep up.

    “Like I said,” Robert repeated, “I didn’t get a good look.”

    “So you don’t know about Ryan, either?” Beth chimed in.

    “Or Oscar? Or Shakira?” Selenis questioned.

    “No!” Robert yelled back to them all. “Like I said, I only saw Sierra, Kelly, Xavier, and Gabriel.”

    “What about you two?” Shawn asked. “You were both there.”

    Seth and Greyson shot each other knowing looks and bit their tongues. Their silence spoke a thousand words as they all began to feel worried.

    When they finally arrived, they stepped into the building to see Jim walking into his office with Xavier, just as Sierra walked out. Roger, who stood by, gave Seth a nod, and he turned to them all. “Looks like the registration’s been completed. We can talk to them now.”

    Roger spoke up with a laugh, “Thank God. Got a lot of catching up to do,” he smiled to Kelly, who gave him a half-hearted smile and gripped onto Amanda B.’s hand. “A total of sixteen people, huh?”

    Everyone in the two crowds began intermingling, having happy heartfelt reunions. Selenis and Gabriel shared a long hug; as did Amanda and Seth and Shawn; and Xavier, Sierra, and Kelly with Lyrik and Greyson.

    Patricia immediately began scanning the crowd. She spotted a large man in flannel and went right to him, praying it was Otis, despite being almost certain it wouldn’t be. The elderly blonde tapped the large man’s shoulder, and he turned to face her, revealing a large, white beard, and she instantly deflated.

    “You alright, ma’am?” he asked kindly.

    Beth took notice of Patricia’s plight and stood by her side. She wrapped an arm around her and gave Axel an apologetic, “I’m sorry.” She looked to Patricia, who seemed utterly devastated. “Did you know Otis?” Beth decided to ask the man.

    “I did,” Axel stated, and his eyes went wide as he realized who the woman must be. “Are you...Patricia?”

    The elder looked up to him as a tear escaped her eyes, which were now lit up. “Yes,” she said mousily.

    “I’m so sorry,” he offered her. She nodded, burying her face into Beth. “He was a great guy,” Axel said, motioning to put a hand on her shoulder, but deciding against it. “I didn’t know him for too long, but I learned something from him in the short time I did. He was a strong, passionate guy. Had such a big heart. This one time, we were out camping in the woods after our ride ran out of steam, you follow me? It was so cold, and the girls were shivering, and we only had a few blankets. He gave this woman who had just lost her daughter his blanket, and he gave his gloves, boots, and warm flannel hat to the other girls. He always was lookin’ out for everyone but himself,” Axel said, then looked down and was silent for a while. “He really loved you. Through it all, he kept thinking about you. Wanting to find you. You’re-...were...lucky.”

    “Lucky?” Patricia nearly screamed. “If I were lucky, he would be here. But I’m not. And he’s not. That can’t be fixed; I’m not gonna be easily consoled by some stranger who didn’t even know him.” She was crying ravenously, snot oozing out of her nose as she screamed furiously. She stared into the large man’s eyes and turned, leaving the building before he could speak again.

    “I’m so sorry,” Beth told him. “Thank you for trying. She’s just upset right now.”

    “It’s fine,” Axel nodded politely. “Tell her I’m sorry if I said somethin’ wrong.”

    “Of course,” the young blonde nodded before giving chase to her distraught mother figure.

    After this odd, yet sad, scene, Shawn approached Sierra. “Can we talk?” he smiled, gesturing for them to step aside from the crowd.

    “Of course,” she nodded.

    They stepped outside and looked out onto the mini town.

    “How have you been?” the farmboy began, offering the blonde a cigarette.

    The blonde’s eyes widened as she snatched the white stick from the younger’s hands. “Oh my god, you have no idea how bad I need this.”

    “I’m sure I do,” he smiled, lighting his own cigarette and taking a drag.

    “You smoke?” she asked curiously.

    “I do now,” he chuckled. “Helps me keep a level head.” Sierra nodded, recalling the man’s temper. “You didn’t answer my question. How’ve you been?”

    “Right,” the blonde breathed. “Well, it certainly hasn’t been a ball. At least I’m still alive, though. Today’s probably the best day of my life.”

    “You don’t even know,” Shawn smiled to his old friend. “It’s good to have you back.”

    “I would say ‘it’s good to be back,’ but I don’t even know where we are.”

    “You’ve been out there for how long and you still don’t pay super-close attention to everything?” Shawn joked.

    “Names aren’t what I was paying attention to. I was too busy reading these...your people.” Shawn chuckled and nodded, taking another puff. “How long have you been here?”

    “We got here just around two weeks after the herd ran through.”

    “Really?” Sierra said in surprise. “You guys got damn lucky, then.”

    “I guess so.”

    “Who did you all lose?”

    Shawn shrugged. “Well, first we were split into two groups. There was me, Seth, Selenis, Daniel, Greyson, and Robert. After about a week, Daniel went crazy over some drama between him, Greyson, and Robert, and fed himself to a walker.”

    “Damn,” Sierra cursed.

    “That’s how I felt. It was so unexpected. I kinda thought Robert killed him on purpose for a while.”

    “Really?” Sierra raised her brow. “I always felt like there was something off about the guy.”

    “I dunno,” Shawn sighed. “After that, we only lost this girl Sarita. Beth and them met her and these two guys, Malcolm and Taylor, not long after the herd. She’s dating Malcolm now.”

    “Wow,” the blonde said. “You approve?”

    “I mean,” Shawn puffed, “I guess. He seems like a nice dude. My only concern is that he’s like eight years older than her.”

    “I don’t know if that really matters anymore.”

    “So I’ve been told.”

    “Well,” Sierra breathed out, “you guys really did get lucky. We lost so many.”

    “Really?”

    “Yeah,” she nodded. “First, we lost Patti when the herd swept through.”

    “Oh yeah,” the brunet scratched his neck.

    “We went back and saw she had been put down.”

    “Daniel did that,” Shawn nodded.

    “Then, Oscar got bit, didn’t tell us, died, and killed Ryan.”

    “I knew it,” Shawn frowned.

    “Knew what?”

    “I knew that Ryan was dead. Mika and Beth got really close, and she adopted the girl. Beth asked if I thought Ryan was dead, and something just told me he was.”

    “He was pretty dumb. Not sure why anyone would think he’d last that long. But I’m lad to hear Mika’s doing well, and has a parental figure, too.”

    A loud laugh came from inside the building, and they turned to see Caleb and Roger making a joke, with Kelly looking embarrassed behind them.

    “Glad to see they’re all getting along,” Shawn laughed.

    “That’s the first time I’ve seen some of them smile in weeks,” Sierra said, a weak smile cracking on her own visage.

    They kept staring through the window, admiring the happy scene. Shawn took another puff of his cigarette and urged the blonde to continue. “You were saying? Ryan died.”

    “Right. Well, I put down Oscar and Ryan, and took over the group. Kelly and Xavier became official, and we carried on. Made it to Salem, where your group was supposed to be at, but found Steve instead. He’s that big blonde one there,” she pointed through the window.

    “He must have been a big help, right?”

    “Not at first,” Sierra chuckled. “We were all skeptical of him in the beginning and treated him like a prisoner. Kept him tied up and never left him alone. In retrospect, it was pretty harsh, but I don’t regret it. Just ‘cause he’s not a bad guy doesn’t mean he might not have been.”

    Shawn nodded, impressed with the knowledge exhibited by the blonde and her group. “No wonder y’all made it so long. I don’t think we would’a done that.”

    “It was just a precaution,” the woman shrugged. “Just a few days after we met him, though, we came across the majority of the strangers you see in there. The tables turned on us, and we became the prisoners.”

    “Talk about karma.”

    “You’re telling me. Only thing is, Steve was a prisoner with us.”

    “He was like, a double-prisoner.”

    “In a way,” Sierra laughed and pointed again. “That guy there’s Merle Dixon. He was the leader, and he was basically a dictator. Bullied and taunted most of his people, fed them lies and stuff to get them to comply.”

    “You’re kidding,” Shawn groaned. “Why’s he still here?”

    “Because when he saw no one was listening to him anymore, after his place was destroyed, he fell in line. He’s still pretty mouthy, but he’s a good member of the group now. He’s still got his problems, and can be a dick, but he’s really stepped up.”

    “As long as he’s not as bad as he used to be, right?”

    “Right.” Sierra locked eyes with Merle, and they shared a strange look. It was one of both hatred and respect. “He had more people. Four others. Robert, Sam, Mandy, and her daughter Poppie.”

    Shawn nodded, slightly saddened to hear another child had been lost to this world.

    “That mom and her girl...that was tragic.”

    “When isn’t it, when it involves loved ones?”

    “That girl died. She got burned and bit. When Amanda K. — that one there — put her down, Mandy fell into a hard depression. Wasn’t three days before she went out into the woods and just hung herself.”

    Shawn looked down to the ground, reminded of Maggie. He bit his lip and looked into the distance, watching Julia and Michelle running towards them.

    “It’s good to see there’s still hope,” Sierra stated, watching the two young strangers run into the administration building and straight into Jim’s office.

    “So what happened to Otis?” the farmboy asked hesitantly.

    “God,” Sierra frowned. “That freakin’ guy. He sacrificed himself for us. Some of them in there will say it was an accident, but his death saved us all. I’d like to believe he knew that… We were hiding out in this school. We’d been there about a week, and were pretty set up. We knew there were walkers in other parts of the building, tons of em, but we just didn’t have the strength to get them all. One day, one of our barricades fell. Otis was the first one to get up and start holding them all back. He yelled to us, woke us up, and gave us enough time to get most of our stuff and get out. Axel, Steve, and Gabriel were also trying to keep that barricade in place, but he yelled at them to help — that he had it. Of course they were hesitant, but they eventually let go like he’d asked. When it was just me, Amanda K., and Xavier, we yelled to him to let go and to come join us. He didn’t say a word. He just looked like he was in complete pain and shock. The barricade broke, and all of the walkers he’d held back began devouring him — we had to leave him. I could still hear his screaming when we made it out to the vehicle.”

    Shawn was staring up into the sky, attempting to keep himself collected and prevent any possible tears. “I loved him so much,” the farmboy stated.

    “So did we. He was a hero.” After a long pause, Sierra continued with her recounting of the events that she had been through. “Shakira died in the wildfire that burned Poppie and destroyed Merle’s train station. Sam died to starvation just a month ago. Times were really rough. It was depressing to see the guy go. Robert was killed by bandits who stole some guns from us a few weeks ago. Otis and Sam died about two months apart, and in between those months, we met those three,” she pointed to a blond teen missing his left leg, a man with green hair and blond roots, and a woman with short, frizzy light brown hair. “Dillon there,” she named the legless teen, “lost his girlfriend when he lost his leg. Her name was Emily. Sweet girl. She was funny and light-humored, despite the world around us. Once again, we made a mistake by underestimating walkers. We tried to cover ourselves in walker guts to make it through a herd. We got pretty far, but Emily tripped on a corpse and screamed. Walkers got her in an instant. Panicking and trying to save her, Dillon did everything he could, but ended up getting bit. We pulled him out of there and cut his leg off.”

    “Jesus Christ,” Shawn said, staring at the boy. “How old is he?”

    “Nineteen.”

    “That kid’s been through more than anyone ever should.”

    “You’re not wrong. He’s barely spoken a sentence since it happened.”

    “Can you blame him?”

    “I don’t suppose I can. I’m just impressed he hasn’t ended it. Seen it happen way too often now. But he gets it. He survived. I survived. We survived.”




    Spoiler Spoiler:

    Wow! Finally, everyone's reunited! Took long enough, haha. Too bad that we lost some people, though. They were all so kind. I hope you like this chapter; it was probably my favorite one to write in a long time.

    Sadly, however, this is probably going to be the last chapter for a while because it's finally summer for me! The biggest reason for this hiatus is because school has really interfered with my writing over the past month, and I'm quite behind. Plus, the non-stop testing had fried my brain. But, when I do return chapters 53, 54, and 55 will be posted; the last of which is a BIG chapter that I'm excited about. Spoiler alert: it's titled "Prison."

  3. Back To Top    #53
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    Chapter 53 “Adjusting”
    Day 225







    Sierra woke up and immediately turned her eyes to the alarm clock beside her, silent and glowing a bright green across the room. “A whole three hours this time,” she smiled and rose from the bed, still fully clothed. She drew the curtains just in time to see the sun come over the horizon. She walked out of her room and silently opened each of her housemates’ doors.

    She opened one door, and Dillon immediately turned, sitting in his bed with his knife raised. He saw that it was Sierra, and smiled at her. She returned the smile and shut the door.

    The blonde turned across the hall and opened another door. There, she saw the stark naked body of the frizzy-haired brunette. “You okay, Soren?” Sierra asked confusedly.

    “Yeah,” she replied without turning back.

    “I think we’re across the street from a family.”

    “It’s just boobs,” Soren stated carelessly.

    “Well, if we get complaints, that’s on you.”

    “I know.”

    The leader smiled at her friend’s abrasive attitude and went to the final door. Inside, the room was completely dark, the curtains drawn to create a pitch black tomb.

    “James?” Sierra called.

    The sleepy man moved slightly, his green head sticking pointedly out of the top of the blanket. He replied with an unintelligible groaning mumble.

    “Sorry,” she said lightly, and shut the door back.

    Soren and Dillon walked past her, Soren now wearing a silk orange robe, and went down the stairs to begin on dinner. Sierra smiled, happy with her housemates and the normalcy she was beginning to feel here.




    Xavier and Kelly sat in the livingroom of their new house. It was odd, having a home of their own and not piling in all together, crowing the house uncomfortably.

    “How are you feeling?” Xavier asked as they spooned cereal into their mouths.

    “Good,” Kelly shrugged, “I guess.”

    “You guess? I thought you’d be filled with joy to be back here.”

    “I am,” the girl whose purple was nearly gone smiled. “It’s great to be back, and to see that so many people I left are still here. That I still have a home. But it’s kind of bittersweet. Not all of the people I left behind are still here. Tyler and his sisters’ mom Elizabeth died. Jim’s wife Jenny died. Betty’s husband Michael died, and now she’s with Henry. Bella’s with Tavis. And Roger... Things have changed.”

    “Of course they have,” Xavier comforted, oblivious to her relationship with Roger. “You couldn’t have expected everything to remain constant. It never does.”

    “I know,” Kelly sighed. “Doesn’t mean I can’t be sad that they have, though. I’m really going to miss what once was.”

    “But you’re happy now, right?”

    She paused and took a moment, chewing contemplatively on her cereal. “I am,” she said finally. “I’m happy.” The two lovers shared a long, heartfelt stare. “I really love you.”

    “I love you too, Kelly.”




    Beth walked quickly in the streets, beginning to panic. She realized she had not seen Patricia since the day before, when she had ran off, and was worried something might have happened to the elder blonde.

    She made it into the yard of her neighbors and pounded her fist on the door. Lyrik opened it, clearly confused.

    “Beth?” she furrowed her brows. “Are you okay?”

    “Have you seen Patricia?” the blonde spat quickly.

    “No…” Lyrik stated. “Is she okay?”

    “I don’t know,” Beth said frustratedly. “I haven’t seen her in nearly twenty-four hours!”

    “Didn’t you follow her?”

    “I tried! I don’t know where she went; I lost her. I think she ran through someone’s backyard. I haven’t seen her since.”

    “Oh,” the dark-skinned teen sighed, “well, I haven’t, either. I don’t know where she is, I’m sorry.”

    “Are Robert and Greyson in?”

    “No, I think they went to Olga’s.”

    “When you see them again, ask about Patricia. I’ve gotta go, I’ll see you later.”

    “Alright,” Lyrik said uselessly as Beth speed-walked to the next house.

    She repeated her process, pounding on the next door, which was where Patricia lived. In retrospect, she realized she should have come here first, but it didn’t matter. If she was here, she could just go back to Lyrik and explain that she overreacted.

    Seth opened the door with groggy eyes, clearly just waking up.

    “Is Patricia here?” Beth asked.

    “I don’t think so,” Seth stated.

    “Have you seen her? Is Selenis here?” she interrogated the sleepy brute.

    “No, and...no?”

    “Well, let me know if you hear anything, then,” Beth stormed off.

    “Wait!” Seth called, and stepped out of the door, closing it behind him. “Let me help.”

    “Then you better keep up,” she yelled back to him.

    The large man struggled to keep up in his sleepy state, but soon managed to match the pace of the teen and they went from house to house looking for the old woman, picking up Selenis along the way, who they had found visiting with Gabriel, Allan, and Boyd.

    Eventually, they made it down the road to Mike’s house. Beth was certain if she was not there, she was gone. The blonde knocked, and got no response. She looked back at her friends, and Selenis gave an encouraging nod. Beth understood, and turned the doorknob.

    They all went inside and searched quietly together. Eventually, they made it to the end of the hallway and opened the door, revealing Patricia and Mike sleeping nude underneath a blanket together. In sync, their eyes all went wide.

    Immediately, Seth and Selenis began cracking up at the sight, a much less elegant composition than Patricia usually presented to the world. When Beth said “Ew,” under her breath, Seth couldn’t help it and burst out laughing.

    Patricia instantly woke up, a light sleeper, and saw the trio in the doorway. She grabbed a pillow and hid her face, curling her body up under the blanket. Mike groggily woke up and mirrored her humility, covering himself with the blanket.

    Beth, Seth, and Selenis left the building, laughing hysterically and uttering apologies profusely. For Beth, it was a horrifying, nearly traumatizing experience. For Selenis and Seth, it was the funniest thing that had happened to them in many months.




    Kevin exited his house in the Governor’s Estates, humming a tune as he walked. From a distance, he saw Allan talking with a few men in his yard and he waved to his younger friend. The day was a cloudy one; not particularly cold, but not warm enough to do a good job at melting much of the remaining snow.

    The cowboy smiled to himself, thinking about the good things that have been happening, and how well life seemed these days. Defenses were high, and there were very few threats to their way of life at West Little Rock.

    Today, his job was to check on residents of the community and gather information about how they are feeling about the community, or how well they are adjusting. Even if he only gets to do this job twice a month at most, it’s still his favorite one of all the tasks he’s assigned.

    His first priority was to make sure the newest people felt at ease with their new arrangements, and he made a beeline to the house Merle was supposed to be living in. As he made his way, he noticed a few interactions among the citizens. Robert walked with Olga, whose belly was getting larger now, and helped her carry groceries. Tavis walked Angel in his stroller to visit with another toddler and his mother. Taylor walked away from Lyssa, both looking depressed. Terrance and Tina stood, talking with Malcolm and Beth, who looked very embarrassed as hey boyfriend seemed to tell a funny story.

    Not long after knocking on the door to Merle’s house a man wearing a worn, dirty fishing hat opened the door tentatively.

    “Dan, right?”

    “Dale,” the old man corrected.

    “Dale, right; sorry,” Kevin laughed. “Don’t worry. I’ll learn yer name soon enough.”

    “Sure,” Dale said, an eyebrow raised. “Do you need something?”

    “Just wanted to check on y’all, make sure yer all doin’ well.”

    “Protocol?”

    “Nope,” the cowboy lied. “Just bein’ friendly.”

    When Kevin’s kindness was met with hesitation and a clear mixture of fear and distrust, the mustached man gave another of his warm smiles.

    “Is Merle here?”

    Dale gave the virtual stranger an odd look and nodded, opening the door wider to reveal Merle, who had been listening in the whole time.

    “How you doing, stringbean?” Merle asked condescendingly.

    “Pretty good,” Kevin grinned charmingly. “You all good?”

    “Yeah,” the gruff man nodded secretively.

    “Anything I can get y’all? More blankets, some clothes, more cleaning stuff?”

    “I think we’re all good,” Merle nodded.

    “You sure?”

    “Yeah.”

    “Well, if ya’ need somethin’, ya’ know where the administration building is. Someone there can help ya’ out.” Kevin turned as he realized they wanted him gone and waved a final goodbye.

    “Of course,” Merle said with fake kindness as he began to close the door. He turned to Dale and scoffed. “I don’t like him. Reminds me too much of Officer Friendly.”

    Dale half-frowned and walked away, annoyed. “He was more of a man than you could ever be.”

    Merle rolled his eyes, used to Dale’s bitterness.




    In the counselling room sat Betty, with her long gray hair in a bun. She sat, annoyed and frustrated, though she remained calm, and did not let her anger tint her voice whatsoever. She had much practice with holding back her frustration and refused to crack against such a rude young woman. Gale was lying in her normal spot, a cold statue, uncompromising her disdain and general disinterest in the world.

    “Have you been eating?” Betty questioned her patient. In response, the elder was given nearly five whole minutes of silence. “It’s okay to not be ready, Gale,” Betty said soothingly. “But you have to open up eventually. We will go at your pace, but I must emphasise the importance of you opening up.”

    “Why should I?” Gale asked, her voice high yet strong. “You’re on the leader’s council, ain’t you? You probably gonna tell everybody else what I say. Get me kicked out of here ‘cause you think I’m crazy.”

    “That’s not true,” Betty said, stunned. Gale had never been so frank; she had never spoken so much in the whole time they had sessions together. “This is a private, safe space. I’m only here to assist in recovery, or to simply listen. Nothing discussed here will be said to anyone else.”

    “How do I know that? I’m not payin’ for this, I didn’t ask for this. There ain’t no laws anymore sayin’ you have to keep my word secret, either. If there was, it’d be Jim you’d have to answer to, and he’s the one you’re probably tellin’ all our secrets to.”

    Betty was becoming genuinely offended, and she held a hand over her chest. “Do you really believe that I would do that? That I am doing that?” Gale remained silent, staring up at the ceiling. “Just because I have some sort of power in this town, and because I talk to people personally, does not mean that I would hurt people like that. I’m a therapist; I have been doing this since before the world ended. This is my passion. Not some ploy to get information; to betray those who put trust and hope into me.”

    Gale sighed, her face still expressionless. She turned her head to the clock on the wall. “It’s half-past four,” the frail woman said as she rose. “I’m off the clock. I had a wonderful time again, Mrs. Keating.” Gale walked out noiselessly, leaving Betty in shock.




    Kevin entered Jim’s office, finally allowed in by his secretary. “Thanks, Tracey,” he winked to her. The middle-aged woman nodded offhandedly.

    “Hello, Kevin,” Jim said politely. “Everything go well?”

    “Howdy,” the cowboy responded. “Well, as good as can be expected. Dalton’s recovering nicely, and he and Dylan are fitting in great. Everybody loves ‘em. Shawn’s old people seem pretty good. Xavier, Sierra, and Kelly are great. Steve, Alicia, and the Amandas are all okay, too. I don’t know about the rest of that bunch, though. Everyone likes Axel and Dillon, but something seems off about Axel to me. He seems almost too nice for someone who’s apparently been through as much as he has.”

    “Maybe that’s his coping mechanism,” Jim suggested as he shuffled through documents before him. Not once had he looked up to Kevin since he had walked in, opting instead to focus on his work.

    “You may be right,” Kevin shrugged.

    “Doesn’t mean you stop watching him, though.”

    “O’ course, sir.”

    “You’ve done good,” Jim stated, pushing his papers to the side and finally meeting Kevin’s eyes. “Remember, this is for the good of us all. You get lazy, or you don’t pay enough attention, things will go wrong. People will die. And do you know whose head it will be on?”

    “Mine?”

    “Wrong,” the leader said glaringly. “It’ll be on mine. They’ll come for me. They’ll yell that I’m a bad leader, and attempt to overthrow me, if not outright kill me. But you’re also right, in a way. If something like that does happen, especially if it hurts me or my family, then it is on you. And it won’t be the people that will come for you. It will be me. As long as I still breath, I will find a way to exact my revenge. And I’m not just going to kill you, no, no. I’m going to torture you. I’m going to hurt you worse than anyone ever will be able to again. After I’m done, you will want to die, you will beg me to kill you.”

    Kevin stared at the man before him, seeing him in a completely different light. Jim had always been cold, but he had never been this threatening. He had never openly voiced something like this to him, and Kevin felt paralyzed. He was taken aback, and suddenly very afraid of the man he once considered a friend.

    “But of course,” the plump man grinned and sat back in his chair, making it creak, “this is all hypothetical. I don’t believe you have anything to worry about right now. These people seem menacing, but not deadly. For now, you’re gonna walk out of this room unharmed. And you’re not going to reiterate a word of this, if you know what’s good for you. Like I said, this is about protection. This is about keeping the people safe. If anyone is harmed, you know better than anyone that you would deserve what’s coming to you. And isn’t this kind of me? If we didn’t keep this job of your’s on the D.L., you would be the one everyone would bum-rush! Instead, I’m willing to take the fall for you. It’s because I care about you. And I care about this community.”

    Kevin shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot and gave Jim a nod, acknowledging his leader’s words and trying to accept them.

    “I’m glad you understand,” Jim nearly laughed. “Now get outta here, Kev. You’ve got work to do.”




    Spoiler Spoiler:

    Surprise! I'm back! Although, this is much later than I intended on returning with the story. Nevertheless, I'm back, and so is the story, just in time for Fear The Walking Dead to begin. Two more chapters will be posted throughout the weekend, so stay tuned!

  4. Back To Top    #54
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    Chapter 54 “Repetition”
    Day 267







    Selenis walked into the kitchen, ready to start the day with some of Lyrik and Tavia’s homemade pancakes. It was going to be a long day, and she wanted to start it off well with her favorite breakfast.

    She walked into the room, disregarding those sitting at the tables as she made a beeline for the cafeteria counter where Lyrik and Jessica stood ready to help make plates.

    “Thank you girls,” Selenis grinned with joy as Lyrik handed her a plate she had made just for the admirable older woman.

    “Of course,” Lyrik and Jessica said in unison.

    The Latina turned, feeling better already, and spotted a familiar face eating at a table. She grabbed a seat right next to Gabriel and gave him a heartfelt grin.

    Things had changed between the two of them since Gabriel had returned, but it was understandable. Nothing lasts forever, and bonds are not always strengthened by distance. Often, they fade away if it lasts for too long. Thankfully, Selenis and Gabriel still shared a bond, and still cared immensely for one another; they just simply are not as close and do not get along as well as they once had.

    “How are you doing today?” Gabriel asked kindly, wiping syrup off of his mouth.

    “I’m good,” the woman sighed and smiled to the others at their table, giving a nod to Axel, Merle, and Sutan. Merle glared at Sutan when he smiled back, but Sutan mostly brushed it off. “I have a feeling it won’t last long, though.”

    “Why not?” Gabriel asked, and Selenis was met with caring eyes across the table.

    “Firstly, Runae wants me to help take care of the kids, because her spine’s been killing her for the last few days. When the parents decide to show up, I have to go help Kevin with some things. On top of it all, I have wall duty today.”

    “Damn,” Gabriel said, slightly shocked. “Are you always this busy?”

    “Not really, but it happens.”

    “You’re kidding,” Axel responded, awkwardly inserting himself into the conversation.

    “Uh,” Selenis laughed at him, “I’m not.”

    “They must really trust you,” Gabriel stated before swallowing a mouthful of pancake.

    “I suppose so,” Selenis shrugged. “I think they trust me just as much as anyone else.”

    The Mexican man nodded and held his tongue, opting not to voice his idea that his new group was being treated differently. Though certain members like Sierra, Kelly, and Xavier were held in high regard, others like himself, Merle, Axel, Sutan, and Soren were overlooked and disregarded, or treated as if they were much less important or trustable.

    “You all feeling good today?” the Latina asked, trying to be considerate.

    Sutan and Merle nodded nonchalantly, almost as if they hadn’t heard her. Axel let out a loud yell of joy, followed by a gleeful “Yes ma’am!” Soren, Gabriel, Dillon, and Amanda B. all laughed at the man and gave Selenis acknowledging gestures that they were on the same page as him, even if it was a bit of a lie.




    Bella walked down the sidewalk, pushing her young son in a stroller in front of her. She walked joyfully, enjoying the world around her and the beautiful day, the sun finally coming back out again after two long weeks of clouds.

    She made it to the Governor’s Estates and pushed the gate open, continuing on through the neighborhood. The houses there were beautiful and large. They were clearly well-groomed by the rich people that once inhabited the area. There were about twenty-five total houses within the estates, and nearly ten of them were empty, remaining as such since the members of the group who once lived in them had died.

    At the end of the block, Bella had made it to her destination. It was one of the smaller houses in the neighborhood, but it was still a gorgeous home that was beautifully designed, painted, and decorated.

    The door opened wide when she approached, held open by a bald black woman with a large smile on her face.

    “What took you so long?” she asked, a smile on her face, but her voice clearly impatient.

    “I’m sorry, Auntie,” Bella brushed it off. “I got tied up with Angel here.”

    Auntie bent over and pinched the toddler’s cheek, but he swatted it away and cried, “Owwwwwww!”

    “He’s so precious,” the elder woman said. “Come on in, y’all. You’re family now.”

    Bella pushed the stroller inside and turned it to the side before grabbing her young son out of it and carrying him into the kitchen, where Tavis stood cooking over the stove.

    “Hey, baby,” Tavis kissed her as she approached. “We just got all of your stuff unpacked. And dinner should be ready in just a few minutes.”

    “You’re too good to me,” the teen grinned as she put Angel in a highchair to eat his dinner.

    “Yes, we are,” Auntie joked as she opened up the baby food and handed it to Bella.




    Olga sat at her kitchen table, stroking her small baby bump. It was quiet, silent. The room was empty, and she was alone. She sighed, keeping her head down as she stared at her belly. Blackness clouded the edges of her mind, doubt and fear and depression. A loud, unpleasant male scream could be heard in the distance.

    Afraid, she pulled her head up and snapped back into reality. She met her eyes with Greyson and Robert, who were looking at her with concern.

    “Are you okay?” Greyson asked, placing his fork on his plate and beginning to stand.

    “You just kinda...left us,” Robert stated, putting his silverware down, as well.

    Olga jumped with slight fear as she felt a hand grab her shoulder tenderly, and she turned to see her housemate Britney looking at her inquisitively.

    “I’m fine,” the pregnant woman laughed, brushing them all off. “Really guys, I’m fine, I just got lost in thought for a second.”

    “You sure?” Greyson asked, half-standing from his seat. Robert and Britney’s eyes shot confidence into Olga, and she nodded.

    “Yeah,” she grinned and picked her silverware back up, “we’re good. What were we talking about?”




    Kelly walked quietly alone into the administration building to see Tracey, Jim’s secretary, who had asked to see her.

    “Hello,” Tracey called joyfully to the barely-purple-haired girl as she walked in, filling the mostly empty room with her voice.

    Slightly taken aback by her jubilance, Kelly stuttered a “Good evening,” to her.

    “Kelly, I wanted to talk to you about your job.”

    “I don’t have one,” Kelly confounded.

    “I know,” the secretary nodded as she found a paper and handed it to her. “One of the new recruits from last week gave us the idea of having a crafting group. Mostly, it’s knitting and sewing, but it sounds like something you might enjoy.”

    Kelly nodded perplexedly, taking slight offense to the woman’s words. “I’m...I can handle being a scavenger or wall duty.”

    “Oh,” Tracey said, her eyes growing wide, “no, no, I didn’t mean anything like that. I’m sure you can handle yourself perfectly fine, I just thought you might like something that allows for more creativity. You don’t have to take the job, it was just a suggestion.”

    “Ah,” the young woman laughed under her breath. “So, what, they just sit around and play arts and crafts? Knit like old women?”

    “Of course not,” Tracey smiled, sensing frustration. “Joshua, who runs it, is super fun. He just set everything up the other day, and he asked for things like an MP3 player, and speakers, and he decorated it all beautifully. And it’s not just knitting, but it’s mostly creating stuff for the community to use. They’re making clothes, jewelry, and even handy things like pencil holders and backpacks.”

    “Pencil holders?”

    “Oh, come on,” Tracey laughed. “The room’s the fifth door on the right down that hall there. Just go in, take a look. Wait for Joshua if you’re not sure. He should be here in about ten minutes.”

    Kelly bit her lips and shifted on her feet.

    “Please?” Tracey asked in one last desperate attempt.

    “Fine,” Kelly shrugged. “But no promises. If it looks dumb, I’m gonna work on a more productive job.”

    “This job’s pretty product-”

    “Pencil holders,” the younger woman interrupted.

    Tracey held back a giggle and conceded. “Okay, whatever.”

    Kelly smiled slightly and went down the hall, counting the doors until she found the fifth one. She turned the knob and entered to see Terrance at a sewing machine, making a simple pink top. His head shot up to her, his face turning red in embarrassment.

    “I’m sorry,” Kelly quickly said before noticing the man was in a wheelchair. “I didn’t know anyone was in here.” She closed the door and looked back down the hallway, hoping to shoot Tracey an angry glare. To her disappointment, the secretary was not visible from where she stood.

    “It’s okay,” the man shouted from inside the room. “You can come in, I’m sorry.”

    Kelly opened the door back up and let out a sigh as she realized how awkward the situation had just become. She reentered wordlessly.

    “I didn’t mean to make you feel like you did something wrong. I just wasn’t expecting anyone to come in.”

    “I’m sorry,” Kelly said, giving the man a kind smile and trying to avoid looking at the wheelchair. She instead focused on the room, getting a good look at the projects others were working on and the overall feel of the room. She hadn’t noticed that “Love Is Like A Butterfly” by Dolly Parton was playing lightly in the background. She also didn’t notice that in the farthest corner from her was a thin, young man with a mohawk and dark, tired eyes was working silently on what appeared to be a pair of pants. She made awkward eye contact, and he instantly looked away from her. Trying to turn her focus away from him, her eyes locked on a beautiful silk purple dress lying on a table in front of her.

    “Beautiful, isn’t it?” Terrance chuckled. “That’s Joshua’s. He’s a really talented kid.”

    “How did you guys get silk on such short notice?”

    “Well, they’ve had the fabric lying around in a storeroom for a long time now. Tracey’s roommate Belinda made them keep the stuff because she likes to make quilts and things. So, we just brought out everything when this was all set up.”

    “Did you guys raid a fabric store for these?”

    “Actually, yes,” Terrance laughed. “A lot of the older people insisted that they were vital for our survival. Can’t say I disagree.”

    Just as Kelly picked up the purple dress, the door opened and a tall black man entered the room. He had dreads and a red hat with studs on it, and looked like a gangster.

    “Kelly?” he asked, revealing a very deep voice and terrible teeth.

    “Yeah,” she replied hesitantly. Instinctively, she wanted to grab for a gun, but resisted it like Xavier had begged her to. Giving the community a shot was very big for him. “Joshua?”

    “Yes, ma’am,” he smiled at her. “Sorry it took me so long,” he said to Terrance and the man in the back, “You all good back there, Kevin-O,” he asked the mohawked stranger, saying the word as if it was all his first name. The strange kid gave a kurt nod. “Good. I was with Alice and Adrian, so...you know,” he laughed and Terrance gave him a suggestive wink and big grin. “So you decided you want in?” he asked the brunette-rooted girl.

    “Not yet,” she said, putting the dress back down. “Sorry for messing with your dress.”

    “That’s fine,” he said and stood next to her to pick the garment back up. He held it to his body as his eyes lit up at the potential he saw in it. “How does it look?”

    “On you?” Kelly asked, confused in the man’s actions.

    “Well, I mean, I guess. In general.”

    “It looks beautiful. I used to own something kinda like that, but I only wore it once. It was too precious to me to risk ruining it.”

    “Sounds like you love clothes,” Joshua grinned. “Why haven’t you decided if you want to do this or not?”

    “Well,” she shrugged, “is making pretty dresses really helping the community?”

    “It’s making sure they’re not naked,” the creative man chuckled.

    “But is it helping them stay alive? Protecting them and their kids? Or even testing their skills, teaching them how to survive in case this place goes down?”

    “No,” Joshua shrugged. “But it is helping them stay sane. Giving them things to do and to occupy their minds, like Belinda and Runae. It gives them an escape. And to everyone not involved here, they get new things. Terrance here is making a gift for his wife, Tina. He’s spreading happiness, and helping to keep morale high. It helps them feel like everything’s fine and normal again, and that they’re getting treats. Really, don’t they deserve a treat?”

    “I suppose so,” Kelly said, a smile forming weakly on her face at the idea of making others happy, and ideas were popping into her head of things to make for her friends.

    “So are you in?”

    Kelly looked to Terrance, who gave her an inviting smile.

    “Yeah, of course.”




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  5. Back To Top    #55
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    Chapter 55 “Prison”
    Day 300







    Shawn slammed the door shut behind him, an apple in his hand and a bounce in his step. It was a sunny, beautiful day and the farmboy felt good about it. He was on his way to get prepared for a run. Today, they would be going into the heart of Little Rock, attempting desperately to get the remaining supplies from the city as resources elsewhere ran low.

    He arrived at the walls within fifteen minutes, having thrown the core of his apple off into grass on the side of the road after eating most of it. Xavier, Roger, Mark, and Ken moved around the two large vehicles they planned to use for that day, getting their supplies in order and going over their plans.

    One of the planned vehicles was their heavy-duty truck, devotedly taken care of and upgraded by the hardest-working scavengers and hunters. It was big and black, with orange, red, and yellow accents and armor decorating it. The truck was designed to successfully run through and decimate a small herd. The other vehicle was a simple, sleek white car for backup in case they needed a quick escape.

    “There you are!” Roger exclaimed upon seeing Shawn. “I almost thought you weren’t coming.”

    “What, you thought I’d miss the most exciting run we’ve ever done?”

    “Yeah,” the scavengers’ leader laughed. “I thought you might’a let everyone fill you with doubt and worry, hopefully scare you shitless of going into the city.”

    “I went into it once and we were fine,” Shawn shrugged and was thankful no one he had been in the RV with at that time was around to object.

    “Good,” Roger laughed. “Maybe you’re a good luck charm.”

    “Maybe I am, smartass.”




    Jim sat at his desk, puzzled, as he flipped through his records. He looked through all of his documents and was beginning to realize a trend. As time went on, the frequency and amount of new people in the last few months was on a steady decrease.

    Near the beginning of the end, groups of nine or more were not uncommon, and they might show up nearly every week. Now, getting just five within two weeks was a miracle. The largest group to arrive in the past two months was Joshua’s, a group of five. Before that was Sierra’s group, and before that, Shawn’s.

    “Tracey,” Jim yelled to his door.

    “Yes?” Tracey opened the door not long after and peeked her head in.

    “Is Kevin busy right now?”

    “I believe so,” she claimed and looked back to her desk, hoping to get a good look at her schedule.

    “Doing what?”

    “Just a sec,” the blonde begged and waddled to her desk. “Medic duty,” she yelled to her leader after viewing her schedule.

    “Great,” Jim sighed, knowing he would likely be busy. “Are Rosa or Esmeralda on duty?”

    “Yup. Both.”

    “Fuck,” the leader moaned in frustration. “Well, send somebody over there and tell him he needs to get over here as soon as he’s done training those two putas sucias. I’m not sure he’s taking his real job seriously enough.”

    “Do you want me to keep that part in?”

    “What part?”

    “The part where you called them dirty whores.”

    Of course not!




    Shawn walked through a trashed room, furniture overturned and aged garbage rotting across the floor. There was the odd dried blood stain, likely from a walker being clumsy, on every other wall. A corner in the side of the room was clearly designated for bodily waste, human feces sitting on newspaper, soaked in urine and creating a foul odor that made the farmboy want to vomit.

    He had been left alone as the group separated in the building tall building, which clearly once served as a refuge for some people after the world ended. Shawn moved to a window and looked out at the scene of the city. The tallest building in Little Rock was blackened and charred. There was a large hole near the top which spanned across nearly five floors. It looked as if an explosive went off from inside of the building, nearly decimating the whole structure. It seemed to be a miracle that it still stood tall.

    The lone Greene turned from the window and sighed, seeing the disaster and feeling the hopelessness wrought by the walkers. Life could not continue in a world like this, and Shawn would nearly be convinced that the whole world was screwed if it was not for what he found in West Little Rock.

    As he took a step he heard a sharp creak. At first he thought it was his own step, but he realized that the sound came from elsewhere in the building. He let out a quiet sigh, irritated by another walker in this infested building. For the past three floors, however, he had found none, likely due to a few huge broken windows, and he was quite thankful for that.

    He stepped toward the noise slowly and silently, his machete at the ready. He turned through an open doorway, finding a dull white room brightly illuminated by a large open window. A rope made of stained sheets hung out of the window, tightly tied around a support beam in the middle of the room. Shawn recalled seeing the same rope outside of the windows of the other floors, often next to open windows, and he cursed himself for not thinking much of it before then.

    Putting the pieces together, he realized the sound was likely not from a walker and he readied his pistol, moving his blade to his left hand.

    He made it to the only other door in the room making as little noise as possible. His weapons prepared, he stood at the side of the portal and took a breath to collect his nerves and listen for more sounds.

    Despite hearing no further noises, he quickly turned and shoved the door open, instantly yelling “Hands up!”

    Shockingly, the stranger he had heard already had his hands up. He was tall, with a long, scraggly brown beard with graying hairs. He wore an old trucker’s hat and had a mustache that made him look like a hideous extra from a vintage pornographic movie. The mysterious stranger was dressed in a ragged green trench coat, and looked overall like a generic homeless person.

    Noticing Shawn’s upturned eyebrow, the man half-smiled. “Not as stealthy as you thought, are you, kid?”

    Shawn shrugged it off and attempted to use what he had seen and heard from the recruiters. This was the second time they had found people on a run since he had arrived at West Little Rock, but it was the first time that he was the one up front doing the talking.

    Shit, Shawn fatally realized. I didn’t even let anybody else know about any of this. If he tries something, I’m fuckin’ dead.

    “Do you have any weapons on you right now?”

    “I’d be a fool if I didn’t,” the stranger replied coldly, as if Shawn was an idiot.

    “Can you show them all to me?”

    “I ‘spose,” the man scoffed and pulled a crowbar out of the back of his pants, followed by a glock in either pocket. He then turned slightly to the side and showed off a large rifle with the sniper’s scope clearly broken off fastened onto his body by a strap.

    “How long have you been here?” Shawn then asked, taking note of every fact about the man.

    “Right here? About a week. This building, though? Many months.”

    “How’ve you been eating?”

    The man paused for a moment before saying, “I get by.” For a few moments of tense silence, the man shiftily looking around the room before locking eyes with a pile of emptied cans of food. He then gestured to it, and Shawn looked to them before nodding.

    “Do you have a name?”

    The man looked away from the cans and met Shawn’s eyes. “It’s Kenny.”




    Caleb sat in his living room, indignantly scratching his belly as he absent-mindedly skimmed an old fashion magazine. The images and words meant very little to him, and his mind was a blur as he simply tried to pass the time. He looked up to the clock on his wall and smiled. Finally, five in the afternoon. It was time. He rose from his seat and made his way to the fridge.

    He pulled out a large plate of cheesecake and dug in, joyfully partaking in his favorite treat — treats! It was no secret that the big man loved his sweets, and he made quick haste of vacuuming the large pastry.

    Half-way through his feast, there was a knock at the front door and he scrambled to wipe the crumbs off of himself and his surroundings before quickly shoving the cake back into his fridge and speed-walking to answer the door. To his delight, it was Karen, who stood in the hallway of his apartment.

    “Hey, babe!” he chuckled and pulled her into a kiss.

    She laughed into his embrace and they exited the hall, their kiss continuing into Caleb’s livingroom. Picking up the smell of the room and the taste in Caleb’s mouth, Karen broke the kiss for a moment.

    “Have you been eating that cheesecake again?”

    Caleb guiltily shrugged. “I couldn’t help it.”

    Karen laughed and poked his nose with her finger. “That’s okay. I’m just glad you like my cooking, sugar bear.”

    “You know I love it when you call me that.”

    “You know I love you.”

    The two kissed passionately again, this time Caleb’s hands wandering. Despite trying not to, Karen pulled away a bit and Caleb gave her pleading eyes.

    “Please?” the large man asked. “Can we finally have our first?”

    Karen blushed and stared at him intently. She realized how much she truly did care for him, and how badly he really wanted it, and she obliged, nodding happily as she shoved her tongue down his throat. Caleb picked her up and opened his bedroom door, slamming it shut as he tossed her excitedly onto his bed.




    It was very dark, the sun having set many hours ago. It was nearing midnight, and Boyd began to grow nervous. “You think they’re alright?” the old black man asked.

    “Of course,” Allan stated calmly, taking a sip of alcohol.

    Boyd sat in silence, looking grimly down at the cards in his hands.

    “Really, man?” the younger man asked irritatedly. “You know them, they’re all just fine. Why wouldn’t they be? Everyone out there right now is skilled. I personally know three of them, and they’re awesome, capable guys.”

    “But this is the first time in ages they’ve gone into the city. We don’t know how dangerous it is now.”

    “Trust me,” Allan ginned with another gulp of moonshine, “they’re just fine.”

    Right on cue, the familiar, large armored truck slowly pulled into the gates of West Little Rock, followed closely behind by the comparatively small white car. As the two men on wall duty opened the gates, they parked in their usual spots, and Allan gave his older companion a condescending look.

    Mark, Roger, and Xavier jumped out of the large vehicle, beginning to unload their intake of supplies, which was quite large.

    Boyd and Allan looked to one another, slightly confused, as the people in the white car did not move at all. Looking through the windows, it appeared that Shawn sat in the passenger’s seat, facing the backseat and talking to someone the duo could not see from their high position on the wall.

    “Hey, assholes!” Roger yelled up to them. “We got a newbie.”

    Allan nodded his head, suddenly understanding it all. “See?” the young white man assumed, patting Boyd on the back. “That’s what took ‘em so long.”

    Finally, Shawn stepped out of the car, followed by the driver, Ken. The farmboy stood awkwardly by the car for a moment before opening Kenny’s door for him.

    “You alright?” Shawn asked the new recruit.

    Kenny wordlessly nodded, obviously clamming up and becoming nervous as he observed the large community. He saw the long street leading to many large apartment buildings on the left, and a beautiful neighborhood with huge houses on the right. Many of the homes had their lights on, and the small town was thriving with life.

    “Welcome to prison,” Shawn joked. “I’m sorry. I know, it takes a while to get used to. And don’t worry about forgetting names, I still do that sometimes. Everyone’ll understand.”

    As Kenny remained wordless, something seemed off. The farmboy frowned, interpreting the strangeness as fear and confusion.

    “I promise you, man,” Shawn said, putting a hand on Kenny’s shoulder. The stranger jumped slightly, and locked eyes with the farmboy. Despite jumping, his face did not have fear in it. “You’re safe here. Nobody’s gonna hurt you. This community was built to keep people like you — like us — safe.”




    Spoiler Spoiler:

    And here we are, the last chapter for this weekend! There won't be an update next week, but after that, the chapters should come regularly.

  6. Back To Top    #56
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    Chapter 56 “Volunteers Ain’t Sinners”
    Day 305







    “You know,” Jim said angrily to Kevin, “I’m growing very frustrated.”

    “At me?” Kevin asked indignantly.

    “Yes,” the leader said seethingly, but turned his face down to his desk, staring at the documents before him. “But it isn’t just you. It’s everything. We’re getting so few people now, and I’m worried there might be a point where we don’t get any. And then we’ll be stuck.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “I mean we’ll have hit the bottom. We’ll have very little reason to expand, and we’ll be weak.”

    “I don’t know about that,” the cowboy shrugged. “We got lots of kids and babies ‘round here. We’re gonna keep growing.”

    “But slowly. And while we wait for the brats to get big enough to know the difference between a gun and a knife, we’re vulnerable.”

    Kevin raised a brow. “Can I say somethin’?”

    Jim looked up at his right-hand man in confusion, but ended up being quite impressed that he was becoming so obedient. “Fine.”

    “I think you’re being real paranoid. We’ve got plenty people, we’ve got happy families, and we ain’t had somebody die here in nearly two-hundred days. And that was just ‘cause one of the older folks didn’t tell us how bad their cancer really was.”

    “And it’s a miracle that you were there to check on him that morning, or else someone else might have found him as a walker and this whole place would be gone. I don’t think you get the gravity of this situation. Any person could keel over at any moment and, best case scenario, result in the death of probably five people. Where does that leave us?”

    “Weaker.”

    “Exactly! So it’s what?”

    “My job to make sure everything runs smoothly,” Kevin replied robotically.

    “There you go.”

    “But, does that actually relate? People can be comfortable, but that doesn’t stop them from unexpectedly dying.”

    “No, but it keeps their minds off of it.”

    “Is...is that what we really want, though? Shouldn’t we be training them how to deal with that kind of stuff? Or at least the people who work patrol and wall duty?”

    Jim sat in his chair, furiously rubbing his temples. “Okay, look, they already know what to do. That’s their basic training. Whatever, look. My point is: this all falls on you in the end.”

    “I know…” Kevin sighed, annoyed by this repeated threat.

    “I don’t think you do. What I’m saying is, if you want to keep everyone safe, you do it.”

    “Wait,” the cowboy contemplated. “Are you making me leader?”

    “No. I’m putting you in charge of this place’s well-being.”

    “And...why is that?”

    “You act like you know what’s best, what to do, all that shit. You think you know how to lead, do it.”

    “So I’m the leader of WLR now?”

    “No, you idiot. I’m still the leader; the position’s still mine, and you still obey to me. To these people, I’m still the leader. All this means is, if shit goes wrong, it’s now completely on your head.”

    “So...I do the work, you take the credit? You get all the perks, while I sit right where I am, working harder than ever.” Jim nodded with a devious smile, waiting for Kevin to connect the rest of the dots. “But, if something goes wrong, you’re gonna throw it all onto me?”

    “There you go! You’re not the dumbass redneck I once thought you to be. You can do some thinkin’ here, can’t you?”

    Kevin was boiling with rage beneath the surface, wanting so badly to harm the man he once called a friend.

    “Now run along, partner. Sounds like you’ve got some cattle to herd.”




    Tracey sat at her desk, doodling in an old notebook that had clearly been around for years. The figure she drew appeared to be of a young boy in dark blue sitting in a school, surrounded by empty desks. Despite the gloom around the image, it still seemed quite happy, and the boy in the drawing seemed to be delighted. It was an odd juxtaposition.

    Pulling her attention from the piece, Kevin speed-walked past her desk, clearly in a rush. She looked back toward Jim’s office to see the door slowly shutting as he leaned back in his chair, looking content, yet angry.

    The secretary had the urge to go after Kevin, or at least to call out to him, but she knew it would not be a good idea. Jim would not be pleased with her. On top of it, there were people around, and she did not want anything about the private affairs in West Little Rock leaking to the public.

    Sighing helplessly, Tracey put her head back down and looked at her work. She stared at it, attempting to mentally continue, but could not think of anything pleasing to add to it. She shrugged, having lost her inspiration, and decided it might as well be complete. She titled it “Clay” and closed the notebook just as two Hispanic women approached her desk.

    “Hello, ladies,” Tracey smiled to them. “Rosa and...Emerald, right?”

    “Esmeralda,” the younger, plumper girl replied flatly.

    “Excuse me. It’s a beautiful name.”

    “Thank you,” Esmeralda smiled as genuinely as she could muster, but still could not do convincingly.

    “What can I do for you two?” Tracey asked, remaining friendly and maintaining eye contact.

    “Well,” Rosa began, “we just wanted to know if you had anymore towels, and sheets, and things.”

    “Oh,” Tracey said, expecting a job inquiry, “uh, yeah. The first door on the left there’s where we keep all of our toiletries, and the washer and drier.”

    “Gracias,” the gray-haired Hispanic woman smiled and turned down the hall, Esmeralda right in tow.

    Tracey smiled, happy to see the women beginning to open up more. They had been here a whole month, but barely spoke to anyone other than the people they arrived here with. Who were they again? the secretary asked herself.

    She rolled backwards from her desk and opened a drawer, pulling out a large binder. She opened it and grabbed a yellow notebook. After flipping through the pages quickly, she found the page she was looking for. It was a messy page, with simple scrawlings made for different groups. They were separated by boxes, and some names had special symbols or underlines that all meant different things. The page was titled “New People Cheat Sheet” in Tracey’s beautiful handwriting.

    “December twenty-first,” she said under her breath and inwardly frowned as she thought once again about how their dates may be way off, “Dylan and Dalton, no… January second, the Asian couple… January eleventh, Sierra’s group… February sixth… There it is! Rosa’s group, February twentieth. Oh, duh: Joshua; then Rosa, Esmer, and Theresa and Meghan. Of course. Geez, how did Joshua handle being the only guy?”

    Rosa and Esmeralda closed the door to the storeroom, the sound bringing Tracey’s attention back to the world around her. As she looked up, she realized that Kenny, who sat silently in a seat near her desk, had heard every word she said to herself as he looked back down to the old magazine in his hands subtly. Tracey cursed herself for not even realizing he had been there the entire time.

    “Come back anytime,” she called kindly to the two women while not breaking her stare at the grayed new man. He did not even flinch, continuing his reading innocently.




    Hours later, Kenny walked down the street toward his home, his hands deep in his pockets as he shuffled contently along the pavement. He earned a few stares from people whose homes he passed, but he seemed to not even notice.

    As he approached his home, he saw the figure of a familiar man; one he had pegged to be quite important in the community. It was Kevin, who smiled upon making eye contact with the man of similar age.

    “Hey, Kenny!” Kevin greeted, extending a hand to shake.

    Kenny stopped in his tracks and stared at the cowboy’s hand. He remained wordless, and just as he nearly pulled his hand out to reluctantly shake, Kevin put it down with an understanding smile.

    “I’m sorry, man,” he apologized to Kenny, “I shouldn’ta done that. Everyone opens up at their own pace, I didn’t mean to make you feel like you had to do something you didn’t want to.”

    The new man nodded, his face remaining slightly scornful.

    Resting bitch-face, I guess, Kevin thought to himself. He looked behind him to Kenny’s door and grinned back to the man. “I don’t mean to keep you outta your home, but I just needed to talk to ya. Jim — you know, the leader — has honestly been gettin’ a few...complaints — wait, maybe that’s the wrong word. Point is, between us, a few o’ the people ‘round here are a bit scared a’ya.”

    Kenny nodded, giving a slight shrug and resisting the urge to smile.

    “Now, I’m sure there’s nothin’ to worry about with you. But I think it might go well if you get a job, be around some people, get to know ‘em, and show ‘em you ain’t that bad. ‘Cause right now, just bein’ as honest as I can, a few people want you out.”

    “Which ones?” Kenny asked bluntly.

    “I’m afraid I can’t tell ya,” Kevin suspiciously laughed. “But take my word. Like I said, I’m sure yer’ not a big bad villain, but ya gotta let people see that. Jobs are optional here, but it’d prolly be best if ya get one. Fer yer sake. Be friendly an’ all. I hope five days was enough time for you te rest.”

    The helpful cowboy looked through his pockets and pulled out a piece of paper with the list of all the jobs available in the community on it. Kenny finally took a hand out of a pocket and eyed the list.

    “Just look it over, think about it. It’s yer choice, but this is a democracy. If the people think yer’ a threat, we may have to get you gone.”

    Kenny was already crossing off many of the jobs, deeming them too stupid or annoying for him to participate in. He gave a curt nod, expecting Kevin to finally leave.

    “Also,” Kevin gave one last bit of advice, “you might want to say you volunteered for this. Keep me and Jim out of it, say you wanted to help around town. Remember: volunteers ain’t sinners,” the cowboy laughed and waved goodbye.

    Kenny looked down at the list and angrily crumpled it up, throwing it into a trash can as he entered his house.




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  7. Back To Top    #57
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    Chapter 57 “The Apocalypse Didn’t
    Just Go Away”
    Day 362







    Lyrik bounced happily around the kitchen, washing her hands as music playing lightly throughout the house. She was dressed in her favorite pink dress, sewn especially for her by Joshua, who she had grown quite close to in the last two months.

    Robert soon came down the stairs, dressed only in a black silk robe, another of Joshua’s creations for Lyrik. He had caught ear of the music and didn’t want to miss out on the party his best friend seemed to be having.

    “I’m here with all of my people,” they both gleefully sang along with the music. Lyrik turned around, frightened. She had not expected Robert to be awake, let alone behind her singing along to the music.

    “I’m so sorry,” she apologized to the white boy, “I didn’t mean to wake you up.”

    “No, no, you didn’t,” he laughed, dancing to the music as he grabbed an apple.

    “Grab me one, too, please?”

    Robert tossed the young chef a crisp red apple and moved to the living room, continuing his awkward ‘dancing.’

    “When you going to work?”

    “I was just about to,” she replied, turning from the sink and flicking water off of the apple she had just wrinsed. For the first time, she caught sight of Robert’s frantic movements that he considered dancing and she burst into laughter. “I thought Greyson was showing you how to dance?”

    “He is!” Robert put a hand to his chest in mock offense.

    “He must not be that good,” Lyrik laughed and moved toward Robert, imitating her friend’s gesticulation.

    The male couldn’t help but laugh as he realized just how terrible his dancing truly was. “Nah, I’m just a bad student.”

    “Clearly,” Lyrik said, then began to actually dance to the song. “I’m here with all of my people,” she sang, moving her body quickly yet seductively in tune with the music. “Locked up with all of my people~ So let me hear you scream if you’re with me!”

    Robert stood with his hands on his hips, offended. “I hate you.”

    “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful,” she grinned.

    “I don’t. I hate you because you’re terrible.”

    Lyrik laughed, pretending to slap her friend. She stopped dancing and headed towards the door. “I’ll see you in a few hours. Happy Mother’s Day!”




    Patricia and Mike entered the cafeteria earlier than the Mother’s Day party was scheduled for, but not on accident. Mike’s youngest daughter was currently in school, and his other one was here helping to cook everything for the party.

    “Dad!” Jessica called happily. “You’re early. Where’s Alana?””

    “I know,” he grinned then looked to Patricia. “She’s still at chool. Patricia here thought we should come help you, though.”

    The old blonde grinned and elbowed her boyfriend in the ribs.

    “Oomph,” he coughed, then looked to her. “Oh! I mean, ‘we.’”

    Everyone chuckled at the pair and they entered the kitchen. Mike kissed his daughter on the forehead as he entered the kitchen and she stuck her tongue out in mock disgust.

    The elder couple proved to actually be quite a big help in the process, especially Patricia, who loved cooking.

    “You should consider joining us,” Tavia casually said to the woman. “You’d definitely be a big help, and we’d love to have you around. Right, y’all?”

    The cooks, Lyrik, Jessica, and Kyle all praised the elderly woman, and she couldn’t help but smile as she stirred the cupcake batter. “I’ll think about it,” she laughed. “Want me to dump that?” Patricia asked as the head chef finished washing the dishes.

    “I’d appreciate it.”

    The old woman struggled to pick up the large container full of heavy dish water, but insisted she had it. Unbeknownst to them, Kenny had entered the cafeteria and was silently watching them from afar.

    As Patricia headed to the backdoor, she tripped and dropped the bucket of dishwater, nearly falling over in it as well. Tavia and Mike rushed to her side to make sure she was okay and to help clean.

    Kenny grinned and took his opportunity. He moved quickly and quietly and peeked into the kitchen. All of the chefs who remained in their place seemed sufficiently distracted by their individual tasks. Kenny surveyed the nearest counter for something good to use for his plan. He spotted a bowl of batter, but for what, he was unsure.

    Stealthily, he unscrewed the cap to a small bottle he had concealed in his trenchcoat and reached around the doorway to pour it into the mixture. It seemed to blend in well enough, but just to be sure, he carefully mixed it in, keeping an eye on everyone as best as he could. Before anyone noticed what he had done, he was already out of the door.




    It was nighttime now. The community seemed empty, scarcely any people around. The streets were dark, and only people on wall duty remained. Everyone else was at the Mother’s Day party, celebrating with their friends and loved ones and enjoying all of the delicious foods made specially for the occasion.

    The only ones who didn’t come were either physically unable to, mentally unable to, had other obligations, or had no reason to show up. Thus, Kenny was around at the party. Of course, it was almost as if he was not, simply because he seemed to refuse talking with others. He sat in a corner on an old, metal chair, silently drinking a bottle of Mike’s homemade moonshine. Everyone noticed him, but only the bravest dared talk to him. Kevin had attempted to coerce the loner into joining in on the party, but simply got a solemn shake of the head and an excuse that his feet hurt. Jim had made eye contact, and often looked over to make sure he was still present. Despite recent claims that Kenny had actually been friendly and helpful — words that certainly did not come to Jim’s mind immediately upon thinking about Kenny — he held onto the belief that Kenny was a threat.

    Kenny could not help but grin when he caught people staring at him, laughing inwardly at them. Joke’s on you, he thought to himself as he ironically lifted his bottle in a sign of cheers to someone who he had locked eyes with. Thankfully, most people interpreted his smiles as being friendly. The general consensus seemed to be that he was actually quite a nice guy, but having been outside alone for so long had hardened him, and he had a hard time socializing now. Of course, most of this is rumor that had spread with the help of people like Olga, Patricia, Beth, and Kelly, who believed in giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    The loner subtly looked over to the snack bar every chance he got, and he had it narrowed down to two dishes. He had put his liquid into either the pink cupcakes or the lemon cake, but he was unsure which it was, as the batter was yellow, but could easily have been dyed pink. He hoped it was the cupcakes, simply because of the irony he found in it. Cupcakes were the last thing he ate before the outbreak. On top of it, he had them with his wife.

    He pushed the memory out of his head, shaken by the thought of his wife. He focused instead on where the food was going to. He couldn’t keep his eyes glued to the pastries, or else it would become apparent to those staring at him why he was when the secret ingredient kicked in the day after. This of course meant that he missed quite a few of the people who would grab some of the food and walk off. It was also difficult to see everything that people were grabbing when there was a significant crowd around it. However, he had noticed Rosa grab both a cupcake and a slice of cake, and he grinned as he mentally marked one confirmed person onto his list.

    A shaggy-haired teenager grabbed two cupcakes and took them to his mother, but she refused hers, rubbing her stomach. Instead, he gave it to his younger sister, who had long, beautiful blonde braids.

    Kenny witnessed Mark grab a cupcake before moving into the crowd. Shawn cut off a large slice of cake and sat it before Patricia, who gave him a warm smile, surrounded by her family of the Greene siblings, Mika, Malcolm, Mike, and his family. Seth nearly went for a slice of cake, but opted instead for a kebab before going to stand next to Taylor, irritating Kenny.

    Tina rolled her crippled husband over to the table after having a long conversation with Alexandra, and Terrance instantly pointed to the cupcakes. She moved him closer and they both grabbed one, toasted, intertwined their arms, and dug in.

    Robert cut off three slices of cake, one very thin one for himself and two of average sizes, then carried the plate back to his table, where he sat with Greyson and Olga. “Happy Mother’s Day,” Kenny could hear the two boys say in unison to her before giving her a big hug. The loner’s stomach turned and he wanted to gag.

    As the night went on, he did his best to remember who ate what, but it became more and more difficult to remember, let alone to pay attention as he grew tired. He cursed the comfortable bed he had been spoiled to. Despite the exhaustion, though, he stirred with excitement. This is the moment he had been waiting for. This is what he had sucked up to everyone so long for. Tomorrow, he would finally start having fun behind these walls.

    When most of the room had emptied, Kenny rose from his seat and shook Jim’s hand, then bid him goodnight. As he exited, he noted with pleasure that the entire cake had been eaten, and only four of the total thirty cupcakes were left.




    Spoiler Spoiler:
    Officially, no more promises. Chapters will come when they come. I'm sorry for that, but life has ramped up immensely, and I don't have much time for this story. My only promise is that I know how this story ends, and the end will come.

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