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|A Few More Days Part 2|
|Written by RHunt|
In the morning, Vion seemed like a different man entirely. Perhaps it was because he knew he was now safe with us or that he was fed and not being chased by zombies. Either way, I was glad to have another male around and hoped that he would be able to over come his fears to help us in the future.
When I had first awoken, Vion and Mabel were sitting next to the fire. He was laughing at her as she made circles with her fingers and then placed them over her face like glasses. For a brief moment, I thought he might be mentally handicapped, but for some reason or another, I just couldn’t accept that explanation. Who was this man? And how did he survive for so long? Judging from the night before I couldn’t imagine him surviving on his own.
Standing up from where I had been sleeping, I sat down around the fire. Gina was on guard in the corner, though it seemed she had drifted to sleep during her shift. That was unacceptable, but I wasn’t going to cause a fuss. The last thing I needed was Alec to throw a fit. No harm, no foul, but I would talk to her later when we were alone.
“Morning, Elliot!” Mabel said cheerfully.
“Morning, Elliot.” Vion echoed, but with less enthusiasm.
I smiled at each of them, before noticing Vion’s incredibly light eyes. The center was a gray that was outlined with a dark blue, but I had never seen eyes like that before. There was something strange about this man with us. He was almost inhuman in the way that he looked, but on the same token he was most definitely human. I suppose the best way to describe him would be that he looked like an angel. If at any moment two dove-like wings popped out of his back, I wouldn’t have been surprised.
Looking over my shoulder, I heard Alec stirring from his slumber. At times, he could be hard to wake. I knew, though, that even though he was laying down, he could still hear us talking.
“Vion, how have you survived this long?” I gathered up the courage to ask over a few moments.
He looked at me with confusion, “Survived this long? I don’t understand.”
I hadn’t heard it the night before, but I could detect an accent this morning. I just couldn’t put my finger on where I had heard it before. “From the infected ones. The ones chasing you last night.”
“I stay hidden most of the time. They caught me while…” He stopped talking briefly as if he were thinking, “while I was digging through the trash for food.”
I brushed off his pause as embarrassment. I wouldn’t want to admit that I ate trash either, so I nodded. “Where are you from?”
“Here.” He responded quickly.
“Oh, you have an accent, I thought maybe…”
“No, I’m from here.” He snapped and looked at the fire before him.
“Alright, I didn’t mean to offend you.”
Alec came to sit next to me. He frowned at Gina, who was still asleep in the corner. “How long has she been asleep?” He growled.
“I told her to nap.” I responded before Mabel could answer.
I don’t think that Alec believed me, but he wasn’t going to argue with me in front of the others. He had told me and Olivia that we needed unity and that little things had to be allowed to slide. He was practicing what he preached in those moments.
He began to dig through one of our bags with the canned food, “Not much left. It might last us three or four more days if we stretch it.”
“We have to find meat.” I told him, “Rats, dogs, anything will do. There has to be something around here.”
“We should see an animal or two as we move out of the city. Speaking of which we should get moving.” His eyes wandered over to Vion. “You aren’t hurt, are you? You can carry some items, right?”
Vion’s eyes were blank as if he were trying to understand what my brother was saying, “Yes.” He answered right before Alec was about to repeat himself.
“Yes, you are hurt or yes, you can carry some shit?”
“He’s fine, Alec.” I snapped. “What the hell is your problem this morning?”
He didn’t answer me, instead got up and shook Gina quite roughly. “Wake up, we need to get moving.”
Gina’s eyes turned to me with annoyance as Alec walked past her and began to gather our items.
“We can’t have our shit spread out like this!” Alec barked, “We have to be ready to go at any moment!”
Mabel looked frightened from his sudden outburst. She clamped onto Vion’s hand. It surprised me to see that she would turn to this stranger for safety. From the look on Gina’s face, I think she was just as shocked.
Vion stood and dropped Mabel’s hand, “I will help.” He told Alec while he picked up one of the bags.
I wanted to say something to Alec about his attitude that morning, but in front of the others was not the best place. I would have to discuss it with him later.
We spent the next few days traveling out of the city and into the nearby farmlands. For the most part, we were safe from zombies outside the city. They seemed to be pack oriented, even though they hunted in small groups of no more then three. It was easier for them to find a pack once they were inside the city. I learned this from speaking with Gina, not from my own observations.
---***---I don’t recall the days that past by after that. I do remember thinking of that gun every time I thought negatively about my life. It wasn’t that I thought about killing myself but instead Vion’s voice would replay in my mind. He was right that the group would be better without me if I just wanted to end it all, but maybe there was a reason that I had survived. It may only be punishment for what I had done or perhaps it was because deep down inside I knew that I could.
With his words on the forefront of my mind, all I could do was focus on ensuring the group’s safety. Alec, Gina, and Mabel all needed me as much as I needed them. Any selfishness would mean the end of us all. So, we trudged on.
Eight days passed and we went through about the same number of cities. There were battles fought between us and the zombies when we were tempted to enter the city for food. We made fishing poles out of strings and branches, and we even shot a few dogs for meat. Every time we did, Mabel would break down in tears and we would have to persuade her to eat it. Now, Alec would yell rabid dog whenever he shot one so Mabel would think that there was a reason to kill it.
I remember having conversations, but forgetting what I had spoken about just moments later. My entire life was set on moving forward and nothing more. Most of the time I sat away from the camp, and prayed that they would leave me alone. They never did. Alec and Gina let me be most of the time, but Mabel occasionally would wander my way. It was Vion, however, that refused to leave me to my darkness. He would join me and we would speak on mostly superficial things. At times, I didn’t think he knew what I was talking about, but I had long ago stopped trying to figure out what was odd about him.
“Look!” Mabel cried out as we walked down a dirt road.
All eyes turned to a farm in the distance as we watched a frame for what appeared to be a barn being pulled up. My eyes turned curiously to Alec to see what he wanted to do.
“That can’t be zombies.” He mumbled to himself, but I overheard him.
“No, it can’t.” I replied.
Mabel took off towards them before we had time to discuss our plans. Gina called out her name before chasing after her. We had no idea who these people were or even if they were still people. I knew that zombies weren’t intelligent, but that was from meetings with them that lasted only a few minutes. They could have an intellect that I was unaware of.
Vion was soon running after Gina and the girl, which left Alec and I with no other option but to follow them.
“Mommy! Uncle Cole!” Mabel yelled out as we ran, though we were too far away to see the identities of anyone. Her arms were spread wide ready to hug her long lost family.
I saw a man near the old farm house drop some lumber and start running towards us. I couldn’t see him clearly enough, but I knew that he was heading towards Mabel.
“Mabel, stop! Please!” Gina cried out.
“Mabel! Mabel!” The man yelled out to her.
“Uncle Cole!” Mabel screamed.
Gina stopped dead in her tracks and stared at the man running towards them. Suddenly, she cried out in a voice that was full of tears. “Cole! Oh my god, Cole!”
Vion was still between us, but he slowed his pace so he could run with Alec and me. We watched Mabel being scooped up into the man’s arms and he hugged Gina when she approached. A group came over from the barn and some from out of the house. They ran towards us. A woman screamed Mabel’s name at the top of her lungs and when she reached the girl nearly squeezed her to death in her arms.
“My baby! My baby!” She cried when she ripped Mabel out of Cole’s arms. Her entire body shook with what I assumed to be overwhelming joy, and tears streamed down her face.
Vion, Alec, and I came to a stop a few feet away from the group. I couldn’t believe our luck, we could have walked right by had Mabel not spotted the barn being built.
After a few moments of the group welcoming their long lost companions back, I heard Gina speak. “Cole, these are the people that saved Mabel and me.” She touched the tall, tanned skinned, dark haired man on the shoulder to lead him over to us. “Alec and Elliot.” She introduced us when they reached us.
“I… I don’t know how to thank you.” He shook Alec’s hand and then my own. “We thought that both Gina and Mabel were lost to us.”
“You saved my baby!” A short, dark haired women pushed through them and hugged both me and Alec around our necks. “You two are angels! Sent from heaven!” She kissed us both on our cheeks which left some moisture on our skins. “My heart was broken when I watched them take my baby away and I could do nothing. You two, you are my heroes.” She pinched our other cheeks.
Alec and I stood flabbergasted at the reception that we had just received. It didn’t end there either, almost everyone came up to thank us. The words heroes and angels were repeated multiple times. By the time that everyone had thanked us the sun was beginning to set. Vion had also disappeared but to where I was uncertain. I had seen him over by the barn trying to help them, but lost track of him as time went on.
Finally it was just Alec, Gina, Cole, and myself standing down the road from the farmhouse. Everyone else was finishing up their chores.
“You two… and that other man with you are more then welcome to stay.” Cole told us. He kept touching my arm when he spoke and looked at me with curiosity whenever our eyes met.
“We will have to think about it.” Alec told him.
“You can’t be serious!” Gina squealed, “Where else would you go?”
“She’s right. We are trying to create a community here. Along the way we found around twenty people, so we are around fifty strong now. We left notices in all the cities we passed for any survivors to come here.”
“We never saw any notices.” I told him.
Cole rose an eyebrow, “Then how did you find us?”
“Dumb luck.” Gina answered. “Mabel saw you putting up the barn.”
He looked over his shoulder at the barn and then back to us, “If I didn’t believe in miracles before I am a believer now.” He joked.
Gina giggled and squeezed his upper arm.
A somber look returned to his eyes as he turned his gaze back to Alec and me. “You must stay here, we could always use more people. We have prepared gardens and there are plans to start building cabins for each family next summer. We found cattle along the way and the nearest zombie infested city is days away.”
“I said we will think about it.” Alec growled.
“Alec, come now!” Gina snapped.
“It’s alright, Gina. We can’t force them to stay if they don’t want to. Give them some time to talk it over.” He put his arm around her shoulder, “Let’s go help with dinner.” He looked back to me, “We will call you when it’s ready.”
I nodded my head before I watched them make their way back to the farmhouse.
“What do you think?” Alec asked me.
---***---After dinner was over, I volunteered to help with the dishes. It seemed that most people ate and slept outside unless the weather did not permit. They all brought their dishes back in while twelve individuals began washing them. The two bathroom sinks and both sides of the kitchen sink were in use.
I found myself stationed next to Cole with several others behind us. They were drying the dishes with some towels. I noticed that Cole would briefly look over at me but quickly divert his eyes back to his sink full of soapy water. I wanted to ask what his problem was, but thought it was better not to cause trouble in front of the others.
“We can finish up in here. Have a goodnight.” Cole told the others.
They gave their goodnights and headed out the door. Mabel’s mother, Melinda, informed us that we would be sleeping in the house. Two others had given up their beds so Alec and I could have a room. We insisted that it wasn’t necessary, but they were avid about us not sleeping outside.
“What happened to your neck?” Cole asked when everyone was out of the room.
“Zombie bit me.”
He rose an eyebrow, “Zombie?”
“Ah, yeah, one of the infected people.”
He chuckled for a moment, “Zombie, I like that.”
I nodded and looked out the window in front of me. I could see several people who were recently in the kitchen heading towards a bonfire in the distance. The kitchen had been exactly what I had expected. The outside of the farmhouse was red and white, and the kitchen was decorated with yellows with several pig and cow ornaments. It was just like any farmhouse that one would see in the movies.
Turning around I laid the dish down on a towel and returned to my sink. Cole remained silent beside me as he scrubbed a dish, but I caught him looking again.
“I could take a look at that for you.” He offered.
“Gina already took care of it. Besides it’s been a while since it happened.” I swallowed and continued to scrub. He was making me uneasy.
“Has she looked at it since? Have you changed the bandage? I have medication…”
“I’m fine.” I growled, then immediately remembered myself. “Thank you for your concern, but I am alright.”
Cole nodded, “I was asking because Gina’s wound was infected. With your injury so close to your neck…” He shook his head, “You said you were fine. I’ll take your word for it.”
We both fell silent again. I decided that Cole’s stares were from worry of my wound and hoped they would stop. That was until he did it again and this time it was for a moment longer then he normally held his glance.
“Why the hell do you keep staring at me?” I snapped my eyes over at him.
His cheeks reddened and words seemed to fail him. “I’m… I’m sorry.” He placed a glass cup on the towel on the table. When his hands were back in the dishwater, he cleared his throat.
His dark brown eyes looked up to me while he cleared his throat, “Ever meet someone so attractive in your eyes that you keep trying to steal a glimpse of them?”
My cheeks reddened at that point, “Oh.” I turned my attention back to the dishes.
“I normally am quite the charmer. Those aren’t my words but Gina’s and some other people that I know.” He scrubbed one of the pots, “Normally, I would just give you a greeting and try to find out about you. After a little talk, I would ask you out on a date.” He chuckled, “Where would we go? Out to pet the cows?”
I giggled in return. Not a humorous giggle either, but one that I hadn’t used since I first met Drew. It was definitely one to cause flirtations. I recoiled my laughter when I realized and returned to my chore.
As Cole and I scrubbed the last of our dishes, I looked at him out of the corner of my eye. He had an Italian look to him. His eyes were a dark brown, his hair black, and his skin was olive tone. Though his features were smooth they were definitely masculine, but his height was no more then one or two inches more then my own.
The glimpses that I had gotten of his hands looked to be of a doctor. They were soft, but it was obvious that recent hard work had begun to roughen them. My own hand was growing a callous and I was quite certain that Alec faired no better.
“What kind of doctor were you before all this happened?” I asked.
Cole pressed his lips together and seemed to cringe as if the thought hurt him. “I mostly did research work. What were you?”
“Police officer.” I responded quickly.
“I would have thought you were a college girl. You just have that look about you.”
I nodded, “Some cops have degrees.”
“I didn’t mean to imply…” He sighed.
“I quit college after I got my associates in psychology. My true calling was police work. I guess I always knew that, but my mother hoped that at least one of her kids wouldn’t end up doing dangerous work.”
“What was your brother?”
“He was in the military and my younger sister was a skydiving instructor… among other dangerous sports. She was basically an adrenaline junkie.”
Cole snickered, “Not my family. My mother would have died had any of my brothers and sisters picked those professions. Two doctors, a lawyer, an electrical engineer, and a business owner.” He raised his hands with two fingers sticking up on each and made the quoting gesture.
“What type of business?”
“Oh, the import/export business, at least that’s what he told us. I think he sold drugs or joined the mafia. We never asked and I don’t think my mother wanted to know. She liked the fur coats for Christmas that he gave her and she didn’t question where he got the money for it.” Cole smiled.
I returned the smile and our conversation died down for a moment, “What were you researching?”
“Before the outbreak? I worked on…” He paused in his speech as if trying to decide upon the correct words, “various projects. Afterwards? The virus.”
I was about the ask him what he had learned about the virus, but the kitchen door opened at that moment. Vion’s slender form entered and he grinned.
“Hey.” I smiled, “Where have you been?”
“Looking around.” He walked around the table to stand behind me and began to massage the small of my back. I normally would have jumped away, but he hit a spot that had been aching for weeks now.
“Find anything of interest?” I asked and noticed Cole staring at Vion’s hand touching me.
Vion laid his chin on my shoulder and shook his head. He had never been extremely touchy with me before and it was beginning to creep me out. I didn’t want to over react in front of Cole, so I allowed him to continue. Perhaps, it was the new relaxed atmosphere that brought out Vion’s true self. It had done so for Alec and myself to some degree, so this may have been the true Vion. That was the logic I decided upon to make myself comfortable.
“Well, I’m done. I just have to finishing drying these off.” Cole announced.
“I’ll do that.” Vion told him with his head still on my shoulder.
He nodded, “ Thank you. I’ll be down in the basement all night if you need anything. Either of you.” Cole seemed to rush out of the room.
Vion continued to rub my back and lifted his head away from my body.
“You are acting strangely.” I told him.
“It must be knowing that we won’t be ambushed at any moment. It allows one to relax.”
His fingers on the small of my back left a tingling sensation as he worked his way upward. His touch was unfamiliar to me and for the most part uncomfortable, yet it felt very relaxing. After a few moments, I was almost completely comfortable with the idea of his ministrations.
“Looks like he left his reading glasses.” Vion pointed to the glasses in the window sill.
“I don’t recall him wearing glasses before.” I turned my face towards him and found him just inches away from me.
“He had them on his head when we first met him.”
“Your memory is better then mine.”
Reaching out, he plucked them off the window sill and handed them to me. “Why don’t you take them down to him? I’ll finish up in here.”
I knocked gently on the basement door and when no reply came, I cracked the door open slightly. Calling out his name softly, I waited for him to respond but there was none. For a moment I stood staring down at the wooden stairs and wondered if it would be alright to head down there. I decided that Cole didn’t seem the type to hide anything so I stepped onto the first stair. When I was in far enough, I was able to shut the door behind me and continue down to the basement.
---***---When I awoke the next morning, I was laying on a sleeping bag that Cole had out next to the bathroom door. During the evening I had gotten tired and decided to take a nap. Cole had promised to wake me up, but from the look of sunlight shining through the small window, he had not.
“Morning.” I heard Gina’s voice chirp.
Sitting up, I rubbed my eyes, “Good morning.”
“There is some breakfast upstairs for you.” She told me.
When I stood up, I could see her sitting in the chair that I had previously occupied. Cole was no where in the room and I figured that he had probably gone to sleep. Gina was looking over some paperwork as I left the room.
Upstairs, I found Alec sitting at the table. He was eating the last of his breakfast that looked like some sort of soup with green leaves in it. There was a bowl on the counter waiting for me. I picked it up and sat down across the table from my brother.
“Did you sleep late?” I asked him. Seeing how there was no one else eating breakfast, I figured that he must have slept in as well.
“First time that I have slept in a bed for months. I milked it for as long as I could.” He grinned.
I hadn’t seen him smile in a long while, and it did my heart good to see some humor return to him. Alec was the jester in the family growing up. We never thought he could make it in the military, but the military actually gave him some maturity. He still goofed around a great deal whenever we saw him. After all that we had gone through, however, I was beginning to wonder if all his humor had gone.
Of course, I didn’t really have much of a sense of humor myself in the past few months. It felt like we were acting more like robots then human beings. We should have done something to relieve the stress and the pain, but there was no time to mourn. I think we were finally able to feel safe enough here to realize our losses and let ourselves begin to heal.
“Vion keeps getting weirder.” Alec mumbled to me as I took a bite of the creamy soup.
“Blah, this soup tastes like shit!” I stuck out my tongue.
“I think it’s some sort of spinach soup. I’ve eaten worse.” Alec lifted up his spoon and allowed the soup on his spoon to drain back into his bowl.
“I’m sorry, what did you say before I interrupted?”
“I said Vion is a strange man.”
I rose my eyebrow, “Why do you think that?”
“Last night, Gina and I went out to the bonfire after dinner. He was walking around and rubbing people. Someone would complain about an ache and he would massage them. Not like he was trying to make it feel better. Hell, it barely looked like he was touching them and he would lay his head on them.” Alec frowned, “Then the strangest thing happened. I was telling Gina about your back so I could find out about the medications they have here. Vion asked me how you hurt your back and I told him. After that, he didn’t say anything to me. Just stood up and headed back to the house.”
My eyebrows came together, “That’s odd. He came in here and was rubbing my back last night. Cole thought that he and I were a couple because of the way he was touching me.”
Alec didn’t look like he was keen on the idea of Vion rubbing my back. “That’s not even the worse part. This morning, he left with a few others to go fishing for dinner tonight. He kept saying how he had never gone fishing before or seen a live fish.”
I shrugged my shoulders and looked back down at my shoes, “Something isn’t right about him.”
“Ya think?” He said sarcastically.
“Good morning.” Cole walked into the kitchen. He had some pajama bottoms on and looked as if he still needed a couple more hours in bed.
Alec glared at him as he entered the room. I couldn’t be certain, but I thought my brother was aware of Cole’s affections towards me. Alec never approved of any man in my life. Even Drew was a good friend of his, but he threatened him to keep him away. “I promised that I would help with the barn.” Alec stood up and gave me a look that told me to be careful.
Cole took Alec’s seat with his own bowl. He slid Alec’s bowl to the center of the table and examined the contents of his breakfast. “Mmm, puke.”
I giggled, “Do I even want to know what this is?”
“What? You think that I know?”
“Well, it is your sister that cooks.”
Cole smiled, “She must have just thrown some things together and prayed everyone could tolerate it enough to swallow. We don’t yet have enough food to be picky about what we eat.”
“I think I was eating better when I was eating dogs.”
He suddenly burst out with laughter. For a moment, I thought he would dip his face in his food, because he was laughing so hard. As quickly as he had started laughing, he stopped. His face reverted back to his serious stare, “Did you really eat dogs?”
“Yes, I really ate dogs.” I must have sounded insulted, because he apologized immediately.
“I didn’t mean to offend you. I thought you were kidding.” His cheeks reddened slightly as he stared down at his soup, “Did Mabel eat them?”
Cole bit his lower lip, “Do me a favor and don’t tell her mother that.”
I stared at him in a confused fashion for a moment, “Why not?”
“Let’s just say they are both dog lovers and leave it at that.” Cole took a couple bites of his breakfast. “I think that’s enough for me. Time to get back to work.”
“How long have you been asleep for?”
He shrugged as he stood up and placed his bowl in the sink, “Two or three hours.” Before I could respond he started to talk again, “I am sorry that I didn’t wake you up. You looked like you really needed some sleep. When I went to bed, I didn’t think that you would appreciate me waking you up to sleep upstairs.”
I ignored his apology, “You can’t work on two hours sleep.” I put my own bowl in the sink.
“The hell I can’t.” He looked offended.
“No, you can’t. As a doctor you should know that people need…”
“I know what people need. At this time, however, my health is irrelevant. I need…”
“To sleep for another six hours. Gina is down stairs. She can take care of things. Go back to sleep.”
Cole lifted his index finger near my lips, as he opened his mouth to say something I snapped at his finger with my teeth. Alec use to stick his finger in my face when he was upset and I would always pretend to bite it. My brother would always move his finger just in time before my teeth met with his flesh. Cole was not as quick. I always wondered if I would actually hurt someone if I bit them. The answer turned out that I wouldn’t.
He watched as my front teeth gently placed pressure on the tip of his finger. I was slowly applying more as the moments ticked by. A grin formed on his lips and he dropped his hand, “Alright, I guess you win. But only because you resorted to violence.”
With that said, he turned around and went back upstairs to his room. I was pretty sure that I shocked him which had left him with nothing to say. My ego, however, wanted to believe that I had somehow excited him. I giggled to myself and washed the three bowls in the kitchen. Afterwards, I went downstairs to see if Gina needed any help.
Days past into weeks, and I found myself up all night with Cole and spending the afternoons with Gina. She did not seem interested in speaking with me. I heard that her daughter had died shortly after she was captured and thought this was the reason for her behavior. I thought that she had engrossed herself in her work to forget her loss, but after some time I noticed her glares. I continued to rinse out and dry some of the vials and beakers that Cole had asked me to clean. Upon occasion, Gina would look my way with a stare that was less than friendly. I would return our eye contact with a grin.
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