Friday, December 20, 2013

2.5.9.9 Exodus


















The division of the group confused the horde, and after they split in two, more of them chased after Marcus’ group rather than Samuel’s group. Many got caught in the sand, or so confused that they stopped chasing all together and wandered back up to the boardwalk or even into the ocean. By the time they started to catch up with the survivors, only four were after Samuel’s group, unfortunately four times more were after B Squad. 

Samuel and Atticus kept luring the zombies on, long away from anything else. They left the town of Cape May and got into some wilderness as the sand dwindled to rock. Marcus and the others on the other hand walked up the beach which was the town’s back spine, wrapping them around to the bay. Chambers stayed behind and let the sixteen pass him. 

Chambers shot three consecutive arrows, cutting the number to thirteen and finishing the arrows in his quiver. He panicked. Lately Chambers had been distracted with the goods he got back during the church to maintain his ammunition. Now they were expended. luckily he took down the back 3 and the other dead-heads didn't seem to bother noticing. 

He paused to take his boots off and tread barefoot in the sand, tying his laces to his belt.  Chambers slid a blade out from under his vest. He sneaked up on the first one. It was a decrepit old thing, just some meat on a mobile skeleton. So Chambers popped his blade in its neck and snapped the head off, like an apple from the branch.

Chambers picked up its head and threw it at the next one.

Except when it hit they all turn around. By the time Chambers caught up with the group only one was left which Marcus took upon himself to chop to shreds with his axe. They wrapped completely around the Cape and were walking parallel to the bay when they came upon a restaurant called the Lobster House sitting next to a bridge. Behind the Lobster House was a yacht that was docked and serving as its bar and waiting area. 

 "There's our girl..." Chambers notified everyone, “Find a way to dislodge it.”

They began cutting the carpet and taking apart the floor. Chambers walked up to a statue of a pirate decorating the bar. He put his fingers around the statue’s black eye-patch. He popped off a clip around the back; it was a legitimate eye-patch. Chambers adjusted his headband back to his forehead and put the eye-patch on.

 The sails were dropped; Alice was nowhere to be found. Marcus left the boat and went to look for her inside. She was dragging stacked boxes of food from the kitchen along the dining room floor on a tablecloth. Marcus smirked as he walked around her and helped get the food to the boat. When they returned the yacht was now free from the deck of the Lobster House, but something was still keeping them docked. 

Marcus pulled the tablecloth over the gaped ledge and onto the boat, dragging it to the center of the bridge and letting go before going over to Chambers, “Hey nice, eye-patch. What a find!”
“Thanks. I know, right." 
"So what’s holding us up?”
“I don’t know…I’ve never been on a boat before…”      
     
Marcus laughed, “Some pirate you are…” He really thought Chambers was joking at first. But the blank look on Chambers’ face finally sunk in and Marcus realized.  “Well did you bring up the anchor?”
“Anchor! That’s right!”

Alice laughed as she leaned in on them by the doorway with her hand holding her elbow, and her finger hooked in her mouth, tooth under nail. Chambers ran out the other door, a little embarrassed, and went to get the anchor. Once it was wheeled up from the depths, the sails took the wind and carried them out of the docks. 

“Do you know what you’re doing, luv?” Alice asked him.
“Excuse me?” Marcus looked at her.
Alice kept forgetting he was American...that this was America, and she just used a non-threatening colloquialism on a man that she actually had feelings for. In short, Americans are so wound-up, even the men.
“My father had a yacht. He took me out on it every weekend of my childhood.” Alice explained to him.
“I think I can handle turning a wheel…darl-ling...” 

Alice blushed and walked out smiling. He was just as awkward as she was… What a refreshing notion. “Call me if you need me!” she yelled out from the deck, very casually, right? The Lobster House yacht left the bay and swept the beach from not too far out so they could look for the others.  

Once they got to the southern tip of Cape May, the shore got rocky and grassy with wild grown weeds and trees everywhere. That is where they caught up with Samuel, Atticus, Rebecca, and Tyrell, taking cover on a beach next to what looked like concrete wreckage but was really once a ship called the Atlantus.  

Samuel sent them out into the ocean one by one, as he, being last, made a run for it, lingering zombies caught them. There is nothing more terrifying than running from a zombie, other than having to do it in waves of water.  As Samuel fended them off they swam over to the yacht. Once he got to where they couldn't stand it was easy. They safely climbed aboard and set sail with food, free of zombies, for the South, and Florida; putting the nuclearized Northeast behind them, while completely avoiding the nation’s capital.

As they sailed away Alice sat on the deck, staring out at the drifting beach, growing smaller and smaller. Alice felt horrible. She thought he would come back. They said he always came back.
Samuel sat down next to her, and put his hand on her back, patting her. “I know what you’re feeling.” He went on, “Part of me wanted Jackson to get back before we left too, but I guess too much happened.”   
    
“Was he your dog?” Alice wiped away her tears.
“No, he was my neighbor’s dog. But my son loved him…And I thought…”
“What?” Alice turned to Samuel, who was choked up. “You can tell me.”
“I just thought Jackson would help me find my son…”
“I’m so sorry, Samuel.”

Samuel and Alice stared out at Cape May leaving them in the distance, as they drifted out east, deeper into the ocean, and safety. Atticus, Marcus, and Tyrell were inside, looking at maps, trying to figure out where to go, and how to get there. Chambers was getting sea sick off the edge of the boat with Quinn and Rebecca tending to him. 

Chambers had saved all of them on multiple occasions, now it was time for them to take care of him, even though he was a tweeker. Everyone got to spend that night fast asleep. It was the first night, for many in a while, that they didn’t have to worry about being torn apart in their sleep. The Lobster House yacht took them away, took them to safety…took them south.


Monday, December 16, 2013

2.5.9.7 The Next Great Scramble



















The first few were shot in the knees to slow the others down, but that just clogged the center and forced them up the winding staircases riding both walls over to Samuel, Chambers, and Marcus. They used their ammunition sparingly, only shooting one and then kicking it back on top of the rest behind it trying to climb the stairs. The mess in the middle let out and up the main staircase. Marcus looked back and forth at Samuel and Chambers nervously. He was the only one without a gun. and so he took a deep breath and stepped forward. Marcus felt the resistance of Samuel grabbing his shoulder and could have cried.

"There's no stopping them. Fall back...C'mon....let's get out of here."

They started retreating back, all three, unharmed, Samuel, Chambers, and Marcus, but the zombies were following closely. Alice hurried down the stairway and out the fire exit with Quinn right behind her. Outside the fire exit was the alleyway. Rebecca and Atticus were out in the adjacent street firing back towards the inn’s main entrance. Everyone else staggered outside in an all out sprint. 

Quinn left her pack behind, barely getting her glasses on to catch up with Alice. Tyrell and Jill on the other hand stopped to fix each other up and get their clothes back into their bags when Samuel, Marcus, and Chambers came rushing in to get them

Everyone shuffled out of the inn's fire exit. In the madness, Chambers knocked into Tyrell and Jill, landing all three of them on the ground. The zombies poured out of the stairwell right on top of them. Samuel grabbed Tyrell as Marcus grabbed Chambers; both he and Tyrell went for Jill, but it was too late. 

The zombies had her leg pinned down and now everybody was caught in a game of tug of war. 

Samuel pulled Tyrell, who pulled Jill along with Chambers. The rabid undead got stuck in the doorway behind them as they struggled. They crawled out to Jill and bit into her leg and side. Jill watched as everyone else ran away, too scared to face the door and what they were running away from. By now the zombies were too close. 

The pain was insurmountable, and so she just blocked it out, it was warm, numb, and wet. But the horror was real. People with feral eyes, and torn up faces eating her alive all the while Tyrell writhing like a madman in Samuel’s arms. Chambers forced himself to let go of Jill and dive at Tyrell before the zombies broke free from the door, helping Samuel get them out of the alleyway safely. Samuel, Tyrell, and Chambers left Jill behind and caught up with the others. 

Tyrell punched and shook his way free of Samuel and Chambers. With the boardwalk cleared, it took the added force of both Atticus and Marcus to get Tyrell to calm down and give up going back.
“SHE’S DEAD, MAN!” Chambers kept yelling as they dragged him through the sand. 

“We have to go, Ty” Samuel insisted.
“I can’t leave her,” Tyrell cried as he clutched his own head in agony, and let them drag him away.
They were on the beach now; Alice was showing them the zombies stuck in their own quicksand, as they loosely navigated around them.
“I don’t see a boat anywhere…” 

Everywhere they looked down the beach there were no signs of boats or docks, just lifeguard benches and dunes. Now the day would get them, with all the options and chances failing, the zombie horde stormed over the boardwalk and onto the beach. 

“We need to choose now!” Atticus yelled. 

Nobody had ever been to this place before. The only reason they came here was because of a hunch. A hunch which turned out to be like every place else, desolate.  Back when Corey and Jill were still alive. That’s when Samuel realized; splitting up often ends in death, but is necessary to their survival and the greater good. So Samuel split the group in half: Samuel, Rebecca, Atticus, and Tyrell, and then Marcus, Alice, Chambers, and Quinn. One group went up the beach and one group went down. 

Samuel fell back and let Atticus lead their group in search for a boat. He needed to make sure Tyrell was alright, along with Rebecca who was back in doctor mode, making sure Tyrell wasn’t scraped or bit. “He appears to be clean.” She told Samuel, “But I don’t think he is okay…emotionally…”
“Who would be?” Samuel logically deducted. It is normal to be shocked or devastated when you lose a loved one. If any two people could relate, it was Samuel and Rebecca.

 “In time... he will get better."
 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

2.5.9.5 Never a Dull Moment




















Marcus would hold this thing up by the neck until his arms gave out if he had to. As the other got closer he hoped it would knock his screwdriver back over but that never happened. Instead the walking corpse was on one knee leaning in for Marcus.

A wave of kicks freed Marcus of both zombies. The girls came to his rescue while he grabbed the screwdriver. He swiped it up and immediately put down the one that he had by the neck. Before Marcus or any of the other men could tend to the last one Rebecca had bashed its skull in with her pistol.

Chambers laughed and clapped for his girl. Rebecca looked unimpressed and Atticus' blood-pressure was rising. But Chambers had it out for someone else. "You see, Marcus, that's a girl. Not some worthless limey chick."


 “I wouldn’t say worthless,” Marcus said as he lodged free the axe in the wall and the kitchen door unlocked, and opened. Alice popped her head out as it swung open, looking for someone in particular. Once she found who she was looking for she turned and ran back inside leaving the last one to close the door.   
        
Tyrell closed the door and locked it with time to spare. The door was solid, you had to put your entire weight behind it to move it; and you had to crank the lock. As Atticus and Samuel finished locking it, there was no need to barricade the door. But they did it anyway, pushing one of the refrigerators in front of the door. 

Alice took them upstairs. There were two corpses on the floor in the lobby, with a shattered chandelier covered in blood all around them. Alice laughed as they walked by, and blushed, “Yep. That was all me.” She laughed again flexing her arm. 

“There’s food and hot water. But the electricity goes in and out.” Alice told them all about the Inn, having made it her home as of late, “I think it’s not coming back every time, but so far it has…”
Everybody dispersed to go indulge, all except for Chambers who looked around at all the glass windows and doors. Mostly everybody went upstairs to the rooms for a shower, before the hot water was all gone. Alice stayed downstairs with Chambers. 

Whot’s wrong?” she asked.
Chambers put his hands on the glass windows that were only a couple of feet off the ground outside. “We can’t stay here.”
“Why not? I’ve survived here for over two weeks now…or was it three?”
“They didn’t know you were in here. One girl, not making much noise, we led a whole horde of them to this place. In a couple of minutes they’re gonna smell their way around here and get to these windows. We need to get upstairs and get everyone out of here now.”

“What if they’re all taking showers…”
“…You warn the women, I’ll warn the men…”
Marcus walked down the stairs as they were running up them. “What’s goin’ on?”
“We gotta go now!” Chambers yelled. “Get them out!”

Marcus followed them back upstairs and they ran into the rooms. Alice heard a tapping on the windows as she made it to the top of the lobby stairs, but she could not brave a look back. Marcus and Chambers got Atticus and Samuel out before they even made it to the bathroom. They were also still on alert like Marcus and Chambers. 

Alice had trouble though, as Quinn was already in the shower, and Jill was sharing a shower with her man. Rebecca was the only one not caught off guard when Alice came in. She was sitting in a chair silently looking out the window at the ocean. Alice recruited her help in getting the rest out when suddenly a noise was heard. Muaaaaaaargh! 

They're inside. 
Atticus and Samuel charged out of the rooms followed by Chambers and Marcus. 
But how?

“WAIT!” Rebecca commanded them.  “Is there another way out?” she turned to Alice.
“There’s another staircase at the end of the hallway that leads to a fire exit.”
“And we need to get Quinn, Tyrell and Jill…”
“Okay, okay…” Samuel had to think, “You gotta get them out, get to the boardwalk, find a marina, find a boat…” He told Atticus, Alice, and Rebecca.  

Samuel turned to Chambers and Marcus, “We hold them back.” 

Everybody nodded their heads in agreement of the impromptu plan and they split up. Rebecca ran to the other end of the hallway as Alice and Atticus got Quinn, Tyrell, and Jill out.  Samuel and Chambers both held their guns out at the top of the grand staircase with Marcus wielding the axe between them. From every corner of the lobby windows branching cracks disassembled the glass after a bludgeoned hand made final contact. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

2.5.9.3 No Way Out

 
















There was something about her that could not be explained. The dog loved her from day one. Jackson got his furry neck snapped back as he uncontrollably urged for the strange girl. "Aw!" Alice squeaked as Jackson barked frantically while Marcus reeled him in. Alice soothed the pup and scratched his head. Jackson stopped barking, he loved it. The first thing Alice couldn’t help but think upon meeting Marcus was what a dashing man he was… As far as first impressions go; she had trouble looking at him directly in the eye, and blushed when he smiled at her.

Samuel ran over to Alice. She was smiling and crying all at the same time and looked at him, waiting to say hello. Samuel did not look her in the eye. Instead he examined her from head to toe. “Are you bit? Are you hurt at all?”

“Nope,” she squeaked in giddy excitement, “I’m the last living human in this lovely capetown.”
“Your…accent…”
“Oh! Roight! I’m British. Weird, huh? You’re probably thinking… How did this brit get all the way to Jersey? I’ll tell-”
“Who’s this?” Atticus interrupted.
“Hi! I’m Alice. Plesha!

The rest of the group surrounded Alice and she laughed. She was nervous and excited. Alice went from feeling like the last person in the world to the new girl in town. She remembered what it felt like to be special, a feeling she had lost with her fiance. Everyone introduced themselves to her.

Quinn loved Alice's curly brown hair, having straight hair herself. Rebecca acted like a mom and a doctor as she immediately felt Alice’s forehead for a temperature. She was very careful with her behavior after the bridge incident. Rebecca felt terrible about Corey’s death, taking responsibility for his sacrifice and blaming it on her causing conflict within the group.

Chambers looked like an ‘80’s hairband guitar player and scared her a little when he strung his bow with an arrow and shot it right at her, just narrowly missing her face and colliding with the head of a zombie leading a full-on charge at them. . .

“RUN!”

The zombies from in front of the hotel had heard all the gunshots at the cemetery and made their way around the town to the road before the hill. There were so many of them. Samuel turned to Atticus. “We don’t have enough ammo!”
“What do we do!?” yelled one of the girls.
“RUN!” Chambers screamed again as he got in between the horde and the survivors.
The dog took off from Alice’s side and she didn’t start running with the rest of them, instead she just stood there, yelling, “HERE BOY! COME BACK! NO!”
Marcus grabbed Alice’s hand and told her quickly, “Don’t worry, he always comes back. Right now 
he’s the safest out of all of us.”

Alice was already taken by Marcus and unbeknownst to him she would have most likely done whatever he said anyway. Atticus and Samuel led the front of the group with Rebecca close in-toe.
The zombies were slow but not as a horde. They seemed to gather energy from each other and in masses were often unstoppable. Outrunning them now was not an option; they needed a shelter or means of escape.

“Alice! Where did she come from!?” …Yelled out Samuel from the front.
“Is he talking to me?” Alice asked Marcus, all in the rush of running.
“She must have been held up somewhere, right!?” Samuel went on when he got no answer from Atticus, who was a little preoccupied putting down a couple zombies trying to flank them on the right.

“I think they are,” Marcus answered Alice, “Is it nearby…your hideout?”
“The Cape May Inn! I closed the door when I left. It should be-”
“Tell them!” Marcus interrupted.
“It’s the Cape May Inn!” Alice tried to yell with her polite British accent.
Marcus amplified with his own shout, “CAPE MAY INN!”
Samuel and Atticus looked back at them, “WHERE?”
“Down the market, and up to the left, right before the boardwalk!”
“…DOWN THE MARKET!” Marcus yelled, “…TO THE LEFT…”
Marcus gave up trying to scream it all, “Can you run?”
Whot?”
“I mean…are you tired…can you run faster?”
“Why? Are you…”
“We need to lead them there; we should lead them…right?”           

Alice was confused and scared, but not tired, “…Roight…Yes!”  They sprinted while still holding hands and together passed Tyrell and Jill, and Quinn. Alice was almost having fun. They got to Samuel and Atticus, with Rebecca now slightly in front of both of them.

“She can show you!” Marcus let go of Alice’s hand, and she ran up to Rebecca who was turning a corner. “No, it’s this way!” Alice grabbed her shoulders and they both ran across the street to an unseen path. It looked like a town-block too small to be a road. It was the marketplace. And it served as a funnel for the horde following them. 

The brainless undead had a lot of trouble in the marketplace, comically tripping over all of the benches, tables, and chairs from outdoor dining restaurants. This gave the survivors some much needed time and space as they left the market and crossed the street. The last block before the beach and boardwalk was sparse with zombies.

Alice showed them down the alleyway to the back door. Before they got to it, Alice climbed up the fire-escape, into a window that was slightly propped open, and inside, letting the window close and lock behind her. When the rest of the group got to the back door it was locked. Everyone caught up to each other and took time to catch their breath.
“What are we gonna do now?” Jill panicked.
The zombies turned the corner down the alleyway.

 “NO!”

Chambers pounded one last time on the door before walking away from it and Marcus. The girls backed away as he stepped forward with Marcus, Samuel, and Atticus, all wielding their melee weapons. Chambers clipped his bow onto his quiver and unsheathed his machete. Marcus threw one up against the wall and stuck a flat-head screwdriver up into its cranium. Atticus used his tactical knife to put the zombies down that Samuel knocked over with his shotgun.

Marcus let the girls bang on the door while he stood between them and the fight. Too occupied to help it, one slipped by... Marcus held the fire ax tight. The axe closed in on the grotesque face and implanted into the wall. The fire ax wouldn't come free, as the strike was too high, and the zombie was starting to wiggle free, its bottom teeth still biting for Marcus who was unwilling to leave the ax behind.

Their feet got tangled and Marcus fell back with it on top of him. He freaked out with it squirming above him, blood pouring out everywhere. Marcus broke free and moved back only to find it nipping at the girls' legs. Mustering what strength he has left, Marcus pulled the carnivorous corpse by the pants back towards him.

It's a good thing zombies are not picky, because it came right back for him.

With one hand keeping its head above him by a firm grasp of the neck, his other hand frantically searches for his screwdriver. His fingers wrap around the screwdriver caught in a tear of his jeans. It slowly shakes free, sliding out from his belt. Unable to focus it slips through his fingers and rolls away on the floor towards the feet of another approaching zombie.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

2.5.9.1 One More Reason



















"Don't do this...please...I don't know what I'll do..."
"It's the only way I can be sure you're safe. We've seen what happens. I know how they act now. Don't leave, stay quiet, and no matter what always-"
"STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP! I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT!" She banged into his chest as she cried, "...You're! ..saying! good bye..."

He pushed her back by grabbing her wrists. With enough force he got her safely inside, and closed the door behind her, remaining on the outside.  All she could see out of the small window panel on the door after it was quickly covered by blood were their shadows coming down on him from the alleyway.

After that, only one constant reassurance allowed her some glimmer of comfort: not seeing her fiance turn up as a one of them.

Alice woke up. It was a beautiful sunny day. She put her plush robe on and walked out onto the balcony. The breeze felt nice. She had no problem appreciating the smaller things, mostly because she had to. It had been 3 weeks since she’s seen another living person. The kettle whistled and she went back inside. She returned to her deluxe oceanfront suite balcony at the Cape May Inn with a nice cup of earl grey tea. 

Alice was on the second floor, watching the waves come in, trying to ignore the persistently inconsistent swamp of zombies between her and the ocean. It was one solid block packed with roaming zombies, too hot to go far, and every so often catching Alice’s scent in the ocean’s salty winds kept them lingering. Alice tried to look past them, over the boardwalk arcade, through the sandy beach with spotted trapped ghouls in the sun cooked sand.

The past few days she made a show out of it, watching the undead soak into the bed of sand and then not being able to get out before it dried. Some would give up and sit down, some would never stop trying to break free, and some fried in the heat, becoming a mound of carcass, the way death was originally intended to be. But Alice could not go on like this forever.

She knew there were other people out there, but she was too scared to go looking for them. The last time Alice was out there she lost her fiancé, before that she lost contact with her parents, brother, and best friends over in Britain. She had lost everybody in her world to this plague. Alone and imprisoned, she made her final attempt at keeping her sanity.

As far as she knew, there were no zombies in the hotel. With his dying breath her fiancé barricaded the doors from the outside as they gnawed him to pieces. Out of twenty six people, Alice was the only survivor to make the trip. Between each death along the road she was not too damaged, for her dear beloved was right by her side the entire time. They never let each other out of their sights and always kept their guard up. Every time the camp was attacked or they were overrun, Wilfred kept Alice safe. Even in the end, he was her saving grace; and now he was gone.

Alice sipped her tea and heard a feint scream inland. She instinctively jumped up, ran inside, out of her hotel room, and to the roof. She looked into the woods, where the continual screams were coming from. Something was moving in the ground behind the church along the old road. It was a fenced lawn on a hill, with rows of age-old tombstones. Alice could hear the screams. And there was no mistaking; they were the screams of living people.

Samuel ran through the cemetery with a shotgun he had picked up along the way, and Rebecca and Quinn by his side. Everything was different for Samuel now, after Corey. He would not lose control of the group again. Chambers followed up behind them with his ax out. From across the way, the church doors blasted open and Atticus ran out with Marcus, Tyrell, and Jill.

Although Marcus had trouble taking care of the dog, a promise he reluctant made with Corey, Jackson didn’t need his late master anymore to go out and scout the road ahead for the group. He was comfortable with Samuel, who was always a familiar face. Once in a while, Samuel’s family used to dog-sit for Corey, so Samuel, and also his son Warren became close with Jackson back before the outbreak.          

Alice heard the dog bark at the cemetery. That one bark compelled her to leave her hotel sanctuary; a safe place she thought she would never walk away from. She snuck out the kitchen door in the back alleyway and ran quietly away from the horde in front of the hotel. Alice was terrified, but she kept thinking about how scared that dog must be. She ran down the old marketplace, so tight and close together that there is no room for cars to drive through. Luckily for her there were no zombies in her way, until she came to the street before the ridge.

Jackson ran back to Marcus who struggled to grab and pet the dog. Jackson awkwardly dodged Marcus' attempts at affection and ran to Samuel who was turning down the street. He put the scattered few zombies down with his shotgun, from right to left and came upon Alice standing still in the street, last on the line. There was no blood on her, no bites, no scrapes, she was…alive.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

2.5.8.5 Water Under the Bridge





















Looting became a part of everyday life. There was an unspoken agreement between the survivors: take only what you need. Chambers Khan seemed to find a niche in the nuances of necessity, collecting the most obscure items like a morning star that he pulled off a Comic Con-nerd too fat to escape the horde.

Rebecca watched him carefully; not only as a doctor would with a post-op patient, but as a guilt-ridden woman looking for the right moment to apologize for possibly infecting him. Through all of Chambers' findings he never looked satisfied, as if he had still not found what he was looking for. Dr. Pratt was reminded of his condition when she operated on him, replacing his eye back in the city. He had all the textbook signs. Now exacerbated through time and withdrawal, it was quite clear to her. The strung out hair, the withered face beyond his years; Chambers Khan had all the trademarks of a junkie.

The Garden State Parkway was packed full of cars on both bounds. People were confused, evacuating in every direction. Once the government fell it was every man for himself. Just like in the city, Atticus was the only one able to maneuver around the snaking parking lot of abandoned cars. That was until they reached the bridge into Cape May County, or what remained of it. Pillars with blackened tips stuck out of the river with concrete and littered vehicles drowned all around them.

Under the bridge was a smaller crossing still held together by cast iron train tracks. Samuel told them to take only what they could carry. They would have to leave the cars and cross over on foot. Fortunately there were no undead in sight. Unfortunately the sky above was clouded and thunder could be heard slowly approaching from the coast. Only Samuel and Atticus knew what that meant, exchanging nervous glances, unwilling to share what they already knew with the rest of the group.

One of the biggest churches any of them had ever seen was on the other side. Samuel brought them all in to hold up while Atticus and Corey, along with Jackson, scoped out the perimeter and searched for new rides.

 "Wait!" Chambers stopped Corey, "Take this, bro" He handed Corey the morning star, a giant metal mace from medieval times, lined with sharp spikes all around its head. A death machine.

The inside of the church reeked of death. Dead bodies lined the benches before the altar. Samuel, Marcus, Chambers, and Tyrell put down the rising dead with ease. Once the church was clear they split up and foraged for new supplies.

Rebecca kept a close eye on Chambers. Marcus and Quinn wandered into a side room out of sight. Samuel stood by the window above the front doors and watched the rainfall sweep over the church and highway. Tyrell came up behind him. Samuel knew he had to tell them. He would start with Tyrell.

Rebecca found a new pair of glasses that had her prescription. She hadn't seen clearly since she lost her glasses when they crashed the War Bird. Upon finding and putting on the glasses, Rebecca had lost track of Chambers. A soft tangle of smoke rose from behind the altar. There she found Chambers sitting down, basking in the light of the stain glass windows. He was huddled over a burnt piece of tinfoil. He had found his fix.

Rebecca sat down next to him. Chambers quickly put it away and held in the smoke.

"It's okay..." Rebecca gave way, "I just wanted to...apologize..."
Chambers exhaled, "Apologize for what, Doc?"
"Putting that eye back in your head." Tears welled up, "I didn't think- there was so much going on at the time, I-"
"Don't worry about it, Doc" Chambers smiled with his dilated pupils, "Water under the bridge."

Chambers offered her the grounded up oxy on the tinfoil as an olive branch. After a brief hesitation Rebecca thought to herself why the hell not? Rebecca got through school on scholarships and dean's lists. She never partied. She never experimented. She was the perfect student turned perfect doctor. Her whole life she lived by society's rules, never pushing any bounds. Rebecca always played it safe. She reached across, took the straw piece from his dirty fingers, and inhaled while Chambers heated the tinfoil.

Jill walked up on them while Rebecca was partaking, causing her to startle a coughing fit. Chambers laughed while Jill appallingly read Rebecca the riot act, "You're a doctor! You know that shit'll kill you!"

Rebecca looked up at Jill as the blue from the pain glass glazed over her, "Better this than them..."
"Here here!" Chambers raised an open can of beer.
"Where did you find that?" Jill shook her head.

Rebecca leaned into his shoulder and swiped it from him. Chambers' laugh masked the screams coming from the side room. Samuel rushed down from the balcony with Tyrell and Jill to meet Marcus and Quinn dragging a man in with his wife and baby trailing behind them.

"We found a garage and a bus along with these three," Marcus explained, "He has the fever, but I can't find a bite anywhere. What does that mean, Samuel?"

"Where's Doctor Pratt?"
"She's occupied," quipped Jill.
"What happened here?" Samuel asked the woman.
"It...it was a refugee camp until...well, we were overrun from the inside, someone must have gotten bit, I don't know, it all happened so fast..."
"Was it raining?" Samuel asked. Everyone but Tyrell looked at him.
"What does that have to do with it?" Quinn asked, almost insulted.
"...Oh no..." Marcus realized incredulously.

"Remember Ed's theory...atomizing the virus...The fallout particles in the rain clouds could have infected them."
"But it's raining right now..."
"Atticus and Corey are still out there!"
"Everyone calm down, don't worry, Atticus knows, he won't get caught in the rain."

"We have a problem!" Atticus yelled, throwing his coat back outside of the front doors while Corey and Jackson ran in ahead of him, still dry.
"The acid rain, they know," Samuel informed him.
"No, not just the rain," Corey rebutted.

They had stirred up a hornet's nest outside. The horde was gathering on the parkway and making its way towards them.
"Everyone to the bus!" Marcus led them all to the garage.
"We can't take him!" Jill protested.
"Where's Rebecca?" Atticus inquired.

She heard her name and needed Chambers' help getting to her feet. He was still laughing. She was still high. Rebecca could barely make sense of what was happened. She could barely put a sentence together. But Chambers took care of the first timer, practically carrying her to the bus.

After one look at Rebecca "WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO TO HER!?" Atticus' temper took over.
"Nothing! The lady did it to herself..." Chambers grinned.
"You scumbag!" Atticus tackled Chambers in the bus aisle, exchanging kicks and blows.
It took Samuel, Marcus, and Tyrell to break them up.
"What the hell is going on!?"
"He's a tweeker, Sam!" Atticus reached out again to attack Chambers, "Look what he did to her!"
"I didn't do anythi-"

"We don't have time for this!" Marcus yelled while he got in the drivers seat and started the bus. In all the commotion the man with the fever had slipped away with his family. When Corey opened the garage door they ran out into the rain for their car. "WAIT!"

The woman and her baby were covered. But the man was too fevered to be careful. The rain brought him down before the horde could. Once inside the car the woman cried out for her husband, "GEORGE!"
He must have had the keys. Corey watched this all go down while the group battled within the bus. He took the leash out from his pack, the leash that he never used, and clipped it onto Jackson's collar. Corey brought the pup into the bus and handed the leash to Marcus before stepping back out.

"What are you doing?" Marcus questioned his obvious intentions.

"We can't just leave them out there to die" Corey said, maintaining eye-contact with Jackson, accepting the fact that this was the last time he would ever see his pet "Close the door, Marcus, and... look after him for me..."

Marcus obeyed regretfully. Corey ran out into the acid rain with Chambers' morning star and plowed a path to the fallen husband. He rifled through his pockets and got the keys, cringing as the rain burned through his bare flesh. The horde surrounded him, but they could not get close as he swung the spiked mace. Inside the car, the woman got into the driver's seat and cracked the window.

Corey threw the keys to her, while her husband rose behind him.

"George..."

Corey felt the teeth sink into the skin between his shoulder and neck. He already knew this was his time. The fallout rain had sealed his fate, now the zombies came to claim him. He managed to stumble back, attracting most of the horde away from the garage.

Atticus tended to Rebecca, who was uncontrollably sobbing after she realized what an unwitting mess she had become. How her harmless attempt at recreational experimentation had gone terribly awry, pitting the group against itself. Samuel walked up to the front of the bus where Marcus was driving to witness Corey's sacrifice. He rubbed Jackson's head while the pup pawed at the door with a broken whimper and helplessly watched his neighbor's final selfless moments, wondering if his end would be so noble.

The bus and the car drove off in separate directions leaving Corey behind, the center of a feast in his honor. The dead picked away at him for so long that by the time they were done the fallout rains had melted them all together into one grotesque pile of waling death before the fallen church. In his fleeting consciousness only one thought could escape through all the pain of dying...

Where was God?