|Cerulean Harbor can only be read on the forum or on fictionpress. It is available to read without an account.|
|A Few More Days Part 1|
|Written by RHunt|
It all happened so quickly. I don’t think that anyone anticipated how contagious the virus actually was. No one even knew where it came from until it was too late. Two weeks after the first outbreak nearly half of the world’s population was gone. It was the strangest thing to be standing there watching everyone I knew and love die. Somehow, the virus never spread to me. There were rumors that some people were just immune to it and I just happened to be one of the unlucky few.
The world is a much different place now. It’s been four months since it all began and I can’t put into words the bizarre occurrences. Many of the survivors have just gone insane because the virus did effect them, but in a non-lethal way. I have started to call these people zombies, but they aren’t really the walking undead. They can think, feel, and hunger just like the rest of us, yet they have bouts of dementia and some seem to be morally void.
My sister, brother, and I survived the end of the world. We had to watch our parents die and our friends wither away. Three weeks ago one of the zombies got my sister. She was raped and then murdered. We never got a chance to save her. We found her body two days later. She managed not to contract the virus, but she couldn’t live through the tortures that he put her through.
It’s just my brother and I now. Sometimes we walk through the street looking for food or water or anything that we could use. We barely talk to each other anymore. He and I were very close, and I would say we are even closer now. Of course, we have to be, since the other’s life depends on your trust.
We’ve been looking for others like us that didn’t become zombies. Though whenever we meet someone with potential, it turns out they were just trying to lead us into a trap. With my brother’s military training and my former employment as a police detective, we’ve been able to survive decently.
When the riots started, my brother called us over to his home. I remember his five year old daughter, Lesley, lying on a blanket in the cellar. Her skin was graying and her hair was falling out. She was infected with the virus that came to be known as the Judgment Day Virus. Her father’s immunity was not passed onto her like we had hoped, although she did fight it for a lot longer then most.
My brother practically had an entire arsenal in his cellar, and we loaded ourselves up on anything we could carry. Rifles, shotguns, handguns, and all the ammunition. We had been on the way to our family’s cabin out in the country, when they attacked our car. I had only shot two people in my life as a cop, and neither of them died. That day, in that single moment, I killed six people without hesitation. I had to. They were attacking the only family that I had left. My brother also took lives that day, one of them being his own daughter.
She was suffering so much. Blood splattered everywhere when she coughed. Our sister was more then willing to carry her, but Alec didn’t want his daughter to suffer anymore. He took her away from us and the only thing we heard was a single gunshot, and then he returned. We never talked about it again.
Because of the attack to our car, we were unable to use it. The people had set it on fire before we had a chance to react. So, now we were stuck here inside the city. Any cars that we came upon were set ablaze. I told Alec that I thought the zombies were doing it to keep people from escaping. He seemed to agree with me.
Anyway, that was the end of the world for me. Now it’s just me and Alec trying to stay alive, even though it would be so much easier to lie down and die. At least that’s what I think at night when I am laying there staring at the McDonald’s sign. Then it’s time to wake up and we have to go back out there. Safety in numbers type deal, so we have to find more people like us.
I don’t know how we manage to gather enough strength to even try. My mind keeps echoing, “It’s worthless. This is all in vain! Just let me die already!” Then we are attacked and I defend myself to live another moment. If I didn’t have Alec with me, I would probably have let them kill me. He can’t take another person dying on him. I can already see the surrender in his eyes. The only reason he goes on is because of me and visa versa.
Maybe if I just told him that I wanted to die, then he could tell me the same. No, I can’t let him kill himself. I am not by any means a religious person, but suicide isn’t the answer here. There might be a reason we were left on this earth. This might just be punishment for our sins.
My eyes scanned our surroundings. None of the buildings had a single window intact. We were passing by the mall as we usually do. After four months it had been picked dry of practically everything useful. I know as most of it was done by the rioting and the rest was done by me and Alec.
---***---Mornings just don’t feel the same anymore. I remember waking up with the sun shining through my bedroom window and the birds outside singing away. I felt refreshed and alive then. Going into the kitchen, my boyfriend, Drew, would be making us breakfast. He was a chef who owned his own restaurant. We had been discussing marriage and children, though we didn’t have any set plans. I was still pretty new to the police force and wanted to get firm standing in my career before I did anything else.
I don’t know why, but all these months later, I still expect to wake up in our apartment and find him in the kitchen. I hear the sounds of him humming his little happy tune while I take my shower. The smell of fresh coffee and pancakes fill the apartment and I can’t wait to start my day.
Then I open my eyes and it’s all over. I remember Drew’s body being wracked with pain so unbearable that I couldn’t hold back my tears. He would scream constantly and beg for it all to end. His face that always carried a smile was moist with sweat and contorted to look like the agony he was feeling on the inside. I remember his red hair falling out in my hand as I stoked his head trying to let him know that I was there.
Most of all, I remember him dying. He didn’t even know who I was in those last days. Not that he could talk at all through the pain, but I could see the unfamiliar stare in his eyes when he looked upon me. I think what hurt the most was when he started calling out the name of his ex-girlfriend when he was in the most pain. What could I do, but sit there and accept that he had no control over his mind anymore. I even pretended to be her a couple times so he would stop screaming.
With his last breath, he said, “I love you.” I don’t know if it was directed at me or towards the ex-girlfriend, but I like to think he had a moment of clarity before he died. Maybe I am just fooling myself. It’s still a nice thought.
We don’t get too many of those now. Happy thoughts or endings seem like they are so far out of reach that they are impossible. Luckily, I can always remember being happy even if it was only for a moment.
I knew Alec did the same as me, as I would see him smile or laugh while he slept. On one occasion, he actually said his daughter’s name and I knew that he was in a happy moment. It had been my time to wake him, but I decided to give him a few more minutes in that dream. He had done it for me before.
Now all that prior happiness had to wait for another night, because Alec and I had to make our way across town. We should have done this months ago. The hospital is probably picked clean by now, but we have to try. Besides a hospital is a good place to hide in, though most of the sick were there. So, if it isn’t a place where people like us have made a home then it is where the zombies have.
Alec and I loaded up everything we owned. Our tents, weapons, and all of our food. We looked more like we were going on a hunting expedition in Africa then crossing a city in the USA. I took a couple pills before we started, knowing that all the extra weight would begin to toy with my back. My brother tried to take as much as he could and he did have most of our canned goods.
It must have been two hours into our trip before we said anything to each other. Of course, that was only to tell him that I saw something move in the building beside us. We weren’t going to investigate, but instead we kept on moving down the street. However, we prepared to shoot anything that might jump out on us.
Keeping a close eye on our surroundings we hurried our pace. Walking in this unfamiliar territory was dangerous, but a risk that we had to take. Alec and I had pretty much claimed the area around McDonald’s and we didn’t have to worry much about intruders. The zombies apparently realized that we were hazardous to their health and stayed away. Now, we were in their territory and the rules had changed.
Most of the buildings were without windows from the riots, all cars had been set on fire, and were nothing more then charred remains now. It wasn’t uncommon for streets to have from a couple to a hundred dead bodies littered about. The smell of death was always around us, and the rains from yesterday only made the odor worse.
Our footsteps were heavy as the streets were slightly flooded with water. Both Alec and I knew that we were making too much noise and tried to ease our footsteps even as we hurried. The sounds of a little girl crying forced me to stop and look around for its source. This was a trick both Alec and I were all too familiar with, but it would guilt us if we didn’t at least investigate to make sure it was indeed a trap.
I looked at my brother who seemed almost reluctant to check out the cries. It was both safer and easier to just walk away and pretend we never heard the child. However, if it was indeed a human girl with resistances like our own then we would be leaving her to death. I seriously doubted that this far into the apocalypse that she would have survived without adult help, but maybe she had gotten split from her group. That was another reason that we had to look. She might know where more people like us are. We couldn’t just walk away from that.
After a couple minutes of search, we narrowed down the cries to an alley. In the distance we could see a metal trashcan with a fire burning inside. Alec motioned that he is going in and that I was to cover him, which I acknowledged my understanding by nodding.
He began down the alley towards the trashcan with his gun barrel pointed towards the sky. I didn’t even notice that he had removed the items he was carrying and dropped them beside me. There was no time for me to do the same, my job was to watch out for his safety. I did, however, unlace a couple bags that are attached to my belt.
Hiding behind a dumpster, he raised his hand and waved me over. I dropped the rest of my supplies and made my way down the alley to kneel down beside him. There was a small camp ahead of us with four men. Their clothes were tattered and they were eating what appeared to be a small dog of some sort. Their diet was the least of my concerns right now, because behind them was a young girl. She looked to be of Latin descent with her tan skin and straight black hair and was no older then nine. Her hands were bound to her ankles. Blood covered her bright blue shirt and jeans.
“Not a trap.” Alec whispers to me as if that needed to be said.
He headed back down the alley to our supplies and found himself a rifle. When he positioned himself next to our items, I knew that he planned to take his shots from there. My job would be to shoot anyone who came past the dumpster. To be on the safe side, I looked at the group of four men again. I was pretty sure that they were zombies by their grayish skin and their grunts. What they wanted with the little girl is something that I was afraid to ask myself. I knew what they did to women, and I hoped that hadn’t befallen her.
Alec took his first shot and it was right on target. With a loud thud, the man who was shot fell over. The other three looked confused and began to look around to figure out where the attack had come from. I noticed that the little girl was now looking around. There was a small glimpse of hope in her dark eyes.
There was another shot and one of the standing zombies fell. This time they had a vague idea that it was coming from down the alley and looked towards the dumpster. With my handgun ready, I waited for them to come around to inspect it. One did make his way and I began to pull the trigger, but Alec spared me the kill with a bullet to the zombie’s head.
The last one doesn’t seem to like his odds and ran down the alley away from us. My eyes wandered over to Alec when he motioned for me to go help the girl and he would keep watch.
She was shaking fiercely when I approached her. Not wanting to look at me and trying to scoot away the closer I got.
“It’s alright.” I said in my most pleasant, calming voice. “We are here to help you.” Kneeling down beside her, I pulled a knife from my belt and cut her ropes. “My name is Elliot, what is yours?”
“Amabel.” She mumbled the name and when the last of her bounds fell to the ground, she turned her dark eyes to me. “Everyone calls me Mabel.”
I helped her to her feet with a grin, “You can call me Elly.”
My brother Alec must of decided that there was no more danger about and came to see how we were doing. Mabel grabbed my hand and pressed her body against mine when she saw him. Obviously, she wasn’t sure if he was a zombie or not.
“This is my brother, Alec.” I informed her and pointed at him.
She didn’t say anything, but did nod at him with acknowledgement. I can’t say that I blame her. Alec was tall and muscular, and for such a sweet man, he always looked like he was angry. There was a scar across his forehead from an encounter three months earlier, and the scowl that he carried didn’t add any pleasantries to his face.
“Where is your family?” Alec asked her, and kneeled down in front of her to lessen his intimidating stance.
“We were going out to the country. My Uncle Cole, he’s a doctor, said that we needed to start a farm and…” She frowned, “I was suppose to stay in the middle of them, but I saw a kitten.”
I rubbed her shoulder, “We’ll find them, don’t worry.” My eyes went to my brother allowing a little bit of hope to shine through.
Alec asked, “Do you know which way they were heading?”
She pointed towards the north, “I think. The infected ones took me so far away, maybe they went another way.”
“How many of them were there?” He asked her and reached out to touch her hand in a reassuring manner.
Mabel shied away from his touch, “I don’t know.” Her hand that held mine was shivering, which informed me that she was terrified of my brother.
“How long ago did they take you?” He continued his questioning despite my glares that were trying to tell him to wait until later, when the girl had calmed down.
“Two days.” There were tears welting up in her eyes, “We are never going to find them, are we?” She was looking up to me for the answer.
“We are going to try.” We had to try. There were others out there like us, and our only hope would be to find them and join our forces.
“Should we still go to the hospital?” Alec questioned me. I don’t know why he was asking, since it wasn't like I was the one in control of what we did. Yet, it was another big sister responsibility that I had. He and Olivia, our sister, had always believed that I had all the answers and knew what to do all the time.
“I suppose. I am very low on pain meds.”
“Uncle Cole has lots of medicine!” Mabel chimed in, “We were at the hospital when everyone started dying.” She frowned, “We left cause we didn’t have any food and the infected ones were starting to break into the morgue.” With a shake of her head, she returned to her original thought, “Uncle Cole took all the medicine that we could carry. He said we might be able to trade it for supplies.”
“I like your Uncle Cole already.” I told her and it brought a smile to her face.
Alec grabbed my arm and excused us both from the girl’s presence. He walked me over to the dumpster so that we could still see her, but we were far enough away that she couldn’t hear him whispering. “We should check the hospital anyway. What are the odds that we will find this girl’s family?”
I nodded, “You’re right. She said that zombies are all over the hospital. We can’t take her in there.”
“We’ll find her a hiding spot and come back for her when we are done.”
“No, near the hospital.” He sighed, “Besides, I don’t like the idea of blindly following a nine year old.”
Mabel didn’t like the idea of going back to the hospital, but she didn’t argue with us either. She obviously was use to allowing the adults to make decisions and following through with them. It was also nice to have another person carrying some of the items. She was small for her age, which turned out to be ten and not nine, so she couldn’t carry much. Alec refused to allow her to carry anything of his and had her take some of my load. We hadn’t asked her to carry the tents, but she insisted on being of some use.
---***---I couldn’t believe our luck. We had been holed up in that McDonalds for four months now, and hadn’t seen a single soul. Other then the zombies, of course. On our first day out of our territory, we received four new members to our group. With any luck, we would be able to find Mabel’s family and the odds for our survival would increase.
My eyes jerked away from the fire to the three men who were sleeping across the room from us. All three of them had dark hair and some sort of facial hair, obviously not being able to shave. My brother had a razor and would probably offer it to them before long. Our new guests had tattered clothing with blood and dirt smears all over them.
Hal wore a red and black flannel shirt that was faded. Will, the thinnest and youngest, had a blue jacket that looked like it use to have some sort of patching on it. Perhaps it had been his employee jacket as it did look similar to the ones that the electric company handed out. Tim was the cleanest of the three. I noticed that he would spit in his hands and rub out the dirt into a cloth in his pocket. His clothing seemed to be in a better state then the other two. His jeans and black jacket were dirty, but not nearly as coated.
I had given up on being clean a long time ago. I use to be obsessed with my cleanliness, especially with my hands and nails. Now my nails had dirt caked under them and my hands looked like I had been playing with ashes.
“You thirsty?” A voice asked me from near the fire.
When I looked up from my hands, I found those dark eyes on me. “No, thank you.” I answered Tim, who took a swig from his canteen.
“You going to sit there all night?”
I shook my head, “Alec and I trade off every two hours.”
Tim looked over his shoulder at his two brothers, “You should of set us up as part of the watch. We would of helped.”
“We don’t trust you three enough with our lives.” I didn’t mean to say that the way that I did, but I wasn’t going to apologize for it either.
He was quiet for a moment and took another drink of water, “You are lucky. Your husband and kid surviving this.”
I don’t know how he could of mistaken me for Mabel’s mother. “Alec is my brother and Mabel is a girl that we found today. We rescued her from some zombies.”
I forget that the term isn’t what they are commonly called, “The infected ones.” I corrected.
Tim smiled, “Zombies, I like that.” He laid his canteen down and stretched out his arms. “So, why are we heading to the hospital?”
We had explained what we were doing and they had agreed to come along, though we hadn’t been forthright with our reasoning. “We just want to check it for medication. I doubt there will be any left, but it would be good to have something just in case.” I lied. I didn’t want these men to know about my back.
He nodded, “And then we look for that group ya’all were talking about?”
“Yes.” I answered and felt Mabel move beside me. I thought she would wake up, but instead she had just turned over.
“You look familiar to me. Did you ever visit McCoy’s?”
That was an Irish bar that my partner loved to patronize. Sometimes after we solved a case, he would take me there to celebrate. “A few times, my partner was a regular there.”
“Partner? Wait, don’t tell me. Detective Jason Ronson, right?”
I nodded, “Yes, he was my partner.”
He smiled, “I believe I asked to buy you a beer a couple times and you always turned me down. Said you had a boyfriend.”
“Ah.” Being one of the few women who ever entered the bar, I would receive at least eight offers every time I went in. I would hardly remember one man asking me.
“You know if Jason made it?”
“No, he died.” I remember it clearly because it was the same day my mother had past as well.
“He was a good man.” Tim looked into the fire and grinned, “You know, he use to tell me that he was lucky that you were taken. Because he didn’t know if he could of kept himself off of you if you were single.”
“Well, he certainly flirted enough for a man that was trying to keep himself at bay.”
Tim laughed. “Well, goodnight. I should probably get some shut eye.”
By the next morning, we were again walking the streets. Alec didn’t trust the three new men with any of our supplies, so it was up to Mabel, him, and me to carry it all. Tim, who walked uncomfortably close to me, kept asking if he could lighten my load, which I would always decline. Something in my stomach told me that these men were not to be trusted, and I was glad that my brother was feeling it too.
---***---We slowly approached the hospital with our guns drawn and our backs to each other. I could tell that Alec was terrified of the situation from the way he breathed heavily through his nose. He had a habit of almost snoring when he became scared. I turned my head to him and pointed at my nose, which was a signal to him that he was making too much noise. He gave a firm nod before taking a couple deep breaths to stabilize himself then we continued onward.
Once the hospital had several bushes around the parking lot, but it seemed the zombies had ripped them out. They now laid in a pile of branches and dried leaves a few feet away from where they had once been planted. I decided that this was done so they could see incoming threats, though they hadn’t seemed to notice us yet.
My heart began to throb when I noticed movement in a second floor window. I gave a motion with my hand towards the window so Alec would know I had seen something. He looked towards the window briefly and didn’t see anything to be concerned about. He motioned me forward though he would look up towards the second floor occasionally.
We reached the entrance, but with no electricity they didn’t automatically open when we moved in front of the motion sensors. Alec threw his gun strap over his shoulder and gently pushed on the doors until they opened for us. A cool gust of air hit us as if the air conditioning in the building was still working. We hadn’t been able to find any buildings with electricity, but the hospital most likely had their own generator. How it was still working was a mystery to me. I was beginning to wonder if the zombies were smarter then I had given them credit for.
As we stepped into the hospital waiting room, I looked around at the littered floor and the benches that had been destroyed. The glass window the receiving nurse would normally sit behind was still intact, though it looked like someone had tried to throw one of the benches through it several times. The room smelt of feces and it wasn’t until I moved towards the hallway ahead of me did I see the decaying body underneath a pile of litter.
“Think it’s someone from Mabel’s group?” I whispered to Alec when he noticed it.
He stared at the half face and arm that was sticking out before he shrugged his shoulders, “Looks fresh.”
“Doesn’t smell fresh.”
Bringing his index fingers to his lips, he silenced me. Mabel had given us directions to the pharmacy though she mentioned that she wasn’t entirely certain they were correct. We wanted to get in there, grab what we needed, and get out before Hal and the others had a chance to get away with our supplies.
“No!” A woman screamed from down the hallway.
My eyes turned to my brother to see what he made of this new obstacle. It could be a trap set up by the zombies to lure us towards them, or a woman might actually need our help. I didn’t believe that the zombies would keep anyone alive and it wasn’t like them to bring someone back to their hive. I cursed myself inwardly when I knew that I couldn’t leave this unchecked. Alec seemed to be doing the same, before he began down the hallway to the door we suspected the scream had come from.
“Please, stop!” She cried out again.
I was the first to the door and I quickly swung my head around the edge of the door frame to look inside. It was an office room and there was a naked woman tied with her arms hugging the top of the desk. Behind her was one of the male zombies who didn’t take any notice of me, while he used the dark haired woman.
I realized that the zombies obviously didn’t know we were in the building. That would make it easier for us to get in and out of the building. It was a strange thought to have while I watched a woman being raped. It was only after I thought it did I shun myself for thinking selfishly. I yanked my eyes away from the attack and looked at my brother. I mouthed the word rape to him and he gave a nod.
Alec pulled out a handgun and attached a silencer to the barrel. I moved around him so he could have access to the door. Before I was even aware of the plan, Alec raced into the room and fired once. I entered in behind him in time to see the pale zombie stumble back with a gunshot wound to his forehead. He collapsed against the wall within seconds.
The woman gasped then seemed to realize that we were here to help her. She began to cry in relief but her big brown eyes could only see me. I walked over to the desk and kneeled down to untie her, while Alec removed his coat.
As I approached I looked at the dead zombie that was lying against the wall. His eyes were still open, but they seemed so void. Not empty of life, but instead of humanity. It wasn’t like looking into the eyes of a human being, but instead more like an alligator or a shark. An animal that was created for the sole purpose of survival and death.
Returning my attention to the woman’s rope, I was surprised to see that the knots were rather simplistic. If she had tried, she could have easy gotten out of her bounds. I looked up into her face as I pulled the knot free. She slinked to the floor and began to rub her wrists with tears in her eyes.
“Thank you.” She sniffled.
I gave a nod and felt a gentle breeze at my side. When I turned to look at what had landed there, I found Alec’s coat. “Here.” I offered the coat to her and she promptly put it on.
Her voice shook as she spoke, “Did the other’s send you?”
“Others? Are you part of Mabel’s group?”
“Mabel? Cole’s niece? Yes, I am. I am Doctor Gina Denholm.” She seemed to become aware of her appearance then and began to stroke her fingers through her dark brown locks.
There was dried blood under her nose and caked at the corner of her lips. Her hair looked like it hadn’t been brushed in sometime, and I had seen small wounds on her back and chest. She didn’t look much older then me, probably in her early to mid thirties. Though she may have aged dramatically in the last four months, I know that I did. I grabbed my canister and offered it to her.
“Thank you.” She said as she took it and began to drink down its contents. When she finished, she handed it back to me. “Did Cole send you?”
I shook my head, “No, we came here in search of medicine.”
“How do you know Mabel then?”
“She was separated from her group and we found her with some zombies.”
Gina choked up for a minute, but gained her composure. “Is the rest of the group alright?” She shook her head, “How would you know? I’m sorry.”
“What are you doing here?” Alec asked her in a low voice that silently told us to hush our voices.
She seemed to notice Alec for the first time, “I was here with the others when we tried to escape the hospital. The contaminated group had been trying to get into the morgue for a while and we knew that it would only be a matter of time. When we escaped they caught my daughter. I threw myself at the man that had her and he released her for me. Enrique tried to save me, but I told him to get my daughter out of here.”
“And the zombies… err, contaminated people, they kept you alive all this time?” I asked and took her hand. For some reason I thought she needed some sort of contact in those moments.
Gina nodded, “They tied me to the desk. Once in a while they would bring me food or water, mostly the ones that wanted to… to use me.” She swallowed. The flex of her muscles showed the outline of her cheeks and jaw, she hadn’t eaten in a while. “I don’t know how long I was here.”
“Is there any medicine left?” Alec asked and ignored her sad tale.
“Possibly, the…” She looked at me, “What did you call them? Zombies?”
Her eyes returned to Alec, “The zombies don’t seem to have any use for them or perhaps they just don’t know what it’s for. I can take you to the pharmacy if you let me stay with you.”
“Of course.” I held out a gun to her. “Can you use a gun?”
“I’ll learn if it means my life.” She snatched the handgun away from me. “Thank you, thank you both for saving me.”
Alec groaned, “Adding another person to the group is going to be a burden, and who is to say that those assholes haven’t stolen all our supplies yet.”
“We will worry about that later. We can’t just leave her here.” I stood up then offered my hand to Gina, who used it to stand up along side me.
“I promise to stay out of the way…”
“Its hard enough trying to feed me and Elliot, let alone you and the girl.”
My jaw dropped briefly, “What has gotten into you, Alec? We saved her and now she is our responsibility. Now we should hurry. Mabel is waiting for us.”
Gina surprised me with her strength. She must have been in horrible pain with all those cuts, bruises, and the rape, but she acted as if nothing was the matter. Perhaps she didn’t want to appear weak to Alec who had made it obvious that she was a burden. Had I been in her shoes there would have been tears and I don’t know if I could have gotten up.
---***---As we entered the abandoned building, we made our way to the room where we had left the others. Our eyes met with an empty room, which had been no surprise to either Alec or myself. There were a couple bags left, no doubt filled with clothing or other items that the group didn’t want to drag about.
Neither Alec or I said anything, as we knew we had made the decision to leave the items with them and that it was our own fault. I made my way over to check the bag, while Alec went to fetch Mabel. Gina kneeled down beside me and was looking at all the footprints in the dust.
“Look there.” She said as I pulled out a pair of pants for her.
When I looked up, I saw a message in the dust. ‘So Sorry - Tim’ was how it read and I pressed my lips together not believing the message.
We had explained to Gina about the men traveling with us as we left the hospital parking lot. She knew there was a good chance that they wouldn’t be here when we returned, along with our food.
I said nothing about the message, “Here, these pants are mine. They might be a little big for you, but I have a belt you can cut another hole in and you can roll up the legs.”
She took the black slacks and pulled them on. They had at least another eight inches on leg length that she couldn’t use, but was only a couple inches too big around the waist. “Could I cut them?”
I nodded, “Sure, I won’t be wearing them again.” I turned my eyes away from the slacks to find her a shirt. All I could find was one of Alec’s white undershirts, which I offered to her. “You could tie it around your waist. We used all my shirts as rags and bandages.”
Pulling off the jacket that Alec had given her, she yanked on the shirt and knotted it in the front. She looked rather frumpy, especially when I gave her a pair of my sister’s shoes. We had removed some of the items from Olivia’s corpse, that which wasn’t covered in blood. Our sister had smaller feet then I did, but they were still too big for Gina so she had to stuff the toe with newspaper from the ground and put on a couple pairs of socks.
As she was stuffing her shoes, Alec returned with Mabel. They both were carrying a bag of canned food. I grinned when I realized that Alec had hidden some of the food with her. It wouldn’t last us long, a few days at most, perhaps longer if we ate less. Not that we weren’t already eating the minimum.
“Gina!” Mabel cried out and dropped the bag of canned goods when she ran over to the familiar person.
Gina hugged her back, “Oh, Mabel, what happened?”
The girl ignored her question, “Uncle Cole said you were taken by the zombies!”
“I was, but your friends saved me.” She stroked the girl’s hair as Mabel laid her head against her chest.
Alec brought the canned foods over to me, seeming to ignore the touching moment that was happening before us. “Take a couple Hycodan, so Gina can stitch you up. It’s still going to hurt like hell though.”
He held out the large bottle to me and I took it from him, “What about the bullet in her arm?”
“She’s going to have to walk one of us through the removal of it. Going to hurt like hell for her too.”
As I swallowed down two of the pills without water, I looked up at Gina who was watching us. Mabel was crying a bit at the reunion, but probably rather happy to be around a familiar person again.
“With my arm the way it is, would be better if you sutured both of us.” She said to Alec. “I’ll have to walk you through it, but I don’t know if I could have a steady, precise hand.”
“It’s stitches not surgery.” Alec said as he sat down beside me.
“Fuck, Alec, it’s my neck.” I hissed, “If she says she can’t do it, then she can’t do it. You’ll just have to suck it up and do it yourself. You are the one who shot her after all.”
“It was an accident!”
“You shot Gina?” Mabel asked.
Alec turned his eyes to her, “On accident.”
My brother made his way over to Gina and handed her two Hycodan. She seemed reluctant to take them, perhaps due to there being no water or something else.
“We didn’t grab any surgical equipment.” Alec told her as he kneeled down to look at her wound.
“I grabbed some surgical knives and a couple tweezers. They are in the jacket that you gave me.” She pointed to the camouflage jacket beside me.
Picking it up, I pulled out some items that were wrapped in gauze. She probably wanted to keep them clean. There was also two small bottles of Hydrogen Peroxide and Iodine.
“Who goes first?” Alec asked.
“Elliot. She is bleeding profusely and we need to get that under control first.” Gina stood up with Mabel still clinging to her.
In truth, I think Gina wanted to see Alec’s skill with the needle before she let him dig a bullet out of her arm. I really didn’t care at the moment as I was beginning to feel ill, and having touched my bandage I knew that it was soaked with blood.
“Remove your jacket and shirt.” Gina told me.
I did as she asked, which left my bra as the only cover for my chest. The last time that Alec had seen me without a shirt on, we had been kids taking a bath together. He peeled back my bandage and I felt a few blood droplets fall free of the gauze.
“Eww.” Mabel cried. She was still holding onto Gina.
“It looks worse now.” Alec said, there was a slight choke on his words like he was trying to stop himself from gagging.
“It’s swollen up a bit.” Gina nodded, “It’s amazing to me that this was done with a human mouth and in such a short time.”
I was beginning to feel left out of my own wound. Not being able to see it and the way the others were reacting was beginning to make me nervous.
Gina used her uninjured arm to touch my wound, “It doesn’t look like the artery was cut.”
“Why is it bleeding so much then?” Alec asked the question and I remained silent.
“I don’t know. It doesn’t look like it’s clotting. Maybe there is something in the saliva of the zombies that does that or maybe...”
“Will you two stop chatting about it and sew me up already?” I barked.
“Damn, you are grumpy today.” Alec teased as Gina began to explain how he should create the stitches and how far apart they should be.
It took him an hour to stitch me up, mostly because some of the stitches didn’t please Gina and she made him try again. The hour had to be the longest and most painful in all my life. The Hycodan did little for me as Alec poked and stabbed me with the needle. I kept calm and tried my best not to move.
“You did very well for your first time.” Gina patted his back. “You should have become a doctor.”
Alec chuckled, “I failed science.”
Gina giggled, “Maybe not then.”
I tried not to roll my eyes as the two had been flirting since they began torturing me. It was just harmless banter, but something about a happy conversation being had while I was in pain made me annoyed.
“Alright, my turn to be tortured. I’m feeling pretty good from those pills now, but from the look on Elliot’s face, it’s still going to hurt.”
Gina tried to pass Mabel off to me, but she didn’t want to let her go. I finally pulled her away with a can of pineapples slices, so Alec could begin removing her bullet.
---***---The next day we began to move. Gina remembered that the group was going to head west, and she had a pretty good idea of where the ranch was. She told me that she had been there once before with Cole. We began our journey and by the next evening, we would be out of the city. Though there would be other cities ahead of us. We had been discussing taking the long routes around the cities, as we knew large groups of zombies would be within. With as little food as we had left, we didn’t know if we could survive the long routes.
We had made camp in an alley that had a dead end. This way they could only come at us from one side. The four of us had to share a can of beef stew. When it was obvious that one can wouldn’t be enough for us, Alec opened a can of sauerkraut. It was disgusting, but we ate it as that was all we had.
Gina and Mabel were the first to fall asleep and for the first time in a few days, Alec and I were relatively alone. I knew that he wanted to talk to me from the worried stares he tossed my way.
“What is it, Alec?” I asked when I could stand no more.
He cleared his throat and shook his head, “Nothing, it’s nothing.”
With a roll of my eyes, I crossed my arms. It was something that I had done all my life that told my siblings that I knew they were lying.
A gentle sigh of defeat released from his lips. “You don’t think that virus will effect you now, do you?”
“What?” I asked with my eyebrow up.
He nervously pointed at his own neck to indicate my own.
I touched the bandage that was wrapped around my neck, and shook my head. “They aren’t really zombies, Alec. It’s just a nickname, a joke, remember?”
With a slow nod, he again cleared his throat. “I know, but… you know, it has me worried.” He poked the small campfire that we had built with nearby debris. “If you start to feel sick or anything, you’ll tell me, won’t you?”
“Yes, of course.” I swallowed. I had felt light headed and sick to my stomach, but I had thought it was due to blood loss. Now, Alec had made me concerned, but I wouldn’t say anything until tomorrow evening. “I wouldn’t put you or the others in danger. You know that, don’t you?”
He continued to nod in a way that informed me he was still nervous. I decided that I didn’t want to prolong the conversation, so I ignored his behavior. I chose to look into the fire and ignore the gaze that Alec was giving me.
“I see them when I look at you.” Alec said.
My eye rose from the flames, “Who?”
“Olivia, Lesley, Mom, and Dad. They are all there in your face.” He ran his dirty hands over his face while he sighed, “At first, I hated it. Now, I am glad to have you around to remind me of them. I don’t want to lose that. You’re all I’ve got, Elliot.”
I grinned sadly, “I won’t leave you.”
“I know you won’t mean to, but if it comes down to you having the virus, I… I…”
“Will kill me. I know and I appreciate that you won’t let me suffer.”
Alec returned the grin that I had given him, before turning his eyes to the fire.
“You remind me of them too. I’m glad you’re here with me, Alec. I don’t know if I could have made it this far without you.”
Before he could respond, we heard a blood curdling scream in the distance. It was so loud that both Gina and Mabel awoke. Mabel jumped into her arms, while Alec and I stood up to guard the entrance of our camp. We pulled our guns and prepared for an attack.
We saw a man running towards us. He was bald, thin but muscular, and wore nothing but a pair of pants. The look in his eyes told of the pure terror that he was experiencing, neither Alec nor I rose our guns to him. He ran past us, leapt over the fire, and crouched down in the corner. With his head in his hands, he started to mumble to himself.
We turned our attention back to the darkness in front of us, and found two zombies running down the alley after him. Lifting up our guns, we fired at them. It was strange that we didn’t hesitate as we normally did, or even question if they really were zombies. Both men fell dead before they reached us. Once we were certain they were dead, we turned our attentions to the stranger in our camp.
He was still mumbling to himself in the corner.
“Are you alright?” Gina asked him, still holding tightly to Mabel.
The man didn’t answer her.
I stepped closer to him and he shuddered as I approached. He knew that we could help him, but seemed terrified of us anyway.
“It’s alright. We aren’t going to hurt you.” I said as I kneeled down in front of him.
I noticed then that his age wasn’t much more than my own, but the strange thing about him was his bald head. It didn’t look like he had any hair follicles on his head, nor hair on his arms. I ignored it for the time being, and reached out to touch his arm. I excepted him to yank himself away. Instead, he looked at my hand and then into my eyes. He had pale blue eyes, and was strangely handsome.
“Are you hungry?” I asked and took his hand into my own. Standing up, he followed me and I placed him around the fire.
Alec was opening a can of kidney beans, he offered it to me when I settled down beside the man.
“Here you go.” I handed it to him and before it left my hand completely, he was already digging into it with his other hand.
“What is your name?” I asked him when he had eaten half the can.
He mumbled something that I couldn’t understand.
“Sorry, I didn’t hear that.”
“Vion.” He said slightly louder, before shoving more food into his mouth.
“What did he say?” Gina asked.
“He said Vion.” I responded to her then looked over my shoulder at my brother, who looked as confused as I was. “Vion is a strange name, where are you from?” I asked when I turned my attention back to the stranger.
He looked at me like I was speaking another language, before slowly scooping another handful into his mouth.
“Elliot, I need to speak with you, now.” Alec growled and walked down the alley.
I followed behind him and we stopped near the bodies of the zombies we had just killed.
“This guy is really strange. He might be a zombie, I think we should ditch him or kill him.”
I looked over at Vion, who was drinking the liquid from the kidney bean can. “He seems foreign to me and perhaps a little shocked. I think we should give him a day or two to come around.”
Alec frowned, “We have others to care for, Elliot. We can’t…”
“We can’t just ditch people because they seem weird. I won’t let you do it. One of us is always awake so we can watch him. Just give him a day or two, and then we will talk.”
“Why do we have to keep every person we come across. We barely have enough food…”
“Safety in numbers, Alec. The zombies don’t attack people in large groups, we will just have to figure it out.”
“What about food?”
I sighed, “If we have to eat dogs or rats than we will. Hopefully, we will find Gina and Mabel’s group soon. Now, let’s go to bed.”