Arnold heaved a breath as he and Gerald ducked into the apartment. They had destroyed the remainder of the flimsy wooden staircase with an ax they'd taken from beside a fire alarm switch a few days. Arnold now had the axe firmly grasped in in hands. It was only fair that he have the axe since Gerald had the baseball bat. They shut the door and locked it, bolting it shut. Without speaking a word to each other, Arnold moved to make sure there weren't any broken windows, mostly to keep the cold out. Up this high with the fire escape out of reach it was impossible for the walkers to get to them. Not that walkers were the smartest creatures. Meanwhile, Gerald rushed into the kitchen. It had been three days since they'd found food and water, and their last bag of beef jerky wasn't going to last much longer.
Arnold went into the bedroom and found a disheveled mattress, probably undone from the apartment's original owners. He went to the dresser, hoping to find some new clothes. He hadn't changed since a week after the outbreak. He frowned when he found the dresser empty. That was odd. He heard Gerald step back into the living room and he shut the drawer before moving to meet his friend. Gerald looked just a battered, dirty, and tired as Arnold did. It wasn't too surprising. Arnold didn't like thinking back. He and Gerald had thought that they would be safe in the boardinghouse. Arnold hadn't expected to find its former residents undead. Even Abner hadn't made it. Mr. Hyunh, Mr. Potts, the Kokoshkas, even his grandparents. He knew that they were old and would die, like all grandparents did, but that didn't mean they deserved to be walkers. He knew that they weren't his grandparents anymore, and they never would be again, but it had still been impossible to kill them. They weren't like other walkers. He knew them. It eventually became easier, their faces became a blur, but it still wasn't easy.
"Someone else got here before us. They cleaned out the fridge and the pantry." Gerald said bluntly, an almost military air to his voice. It couldn't be blamed, after what they'd been through. At this point, the important thing was to survive. There wasn't much time for Gerald to be his suave devil-may-care self.
Arnold nodded, not surprised, "They took all the clothes too."
Gerald frowned, "Why would they take the clothes?" Arnold shrugged, just as confused about it as Gerald was. "Well that's not the only weird thing about this place, come on."
Arnold cocked a brow, but followed his friend into the kitchen, unsure of what he was in for. Whatever he was expecting, it wasn't what he saw. It was a massive speaker with a wireless connection facing out the street, held up by an air conditioner rack outside the window.
"What in the world." Arnold said, considering reaching out to touch the speaker. "Why would someone leave this?"
Gerald shrugged, "I don't know, man, but look." Gerald handed him a pair of binoculars they had snagged from a convenient store a few days after the outbreak. There were similar speakers set up all along the streets in every other building. "It's way too organized to be an accident."
Arnold frowned. Gerald was right. "Should we go?"
Gerald shook his head, "Let's just disconnect the wireless controller. There could still be stuff here. Besides, it would be nice to sleep on an actual bed tonight."
Arnold smiled faintly, "We aren't spooning again so we'll have to flip for the bed or hope and pray that there's another one."
Gerald smirked and disconnected the speaker, "You're on, bubba."
"What's with that beeping?" A gruff man questioned bluntly.
A young Japanese girl pushed her glasses up her nose as she leaned in towards the computer, her fingers tapping away on the keyboard. "One of our decoys has been disconnected." She answered. "It looks like...the one on 32nd and 9th, apartment twelve."
"Walkers?" he asked, leaning over her to look at the screen.
She shook her head, "Negative, sir. The building was secure when we left it. It could be nothing, but it's still worth looking into."
"Well let's get someone out there." He grumbled.
The girl nodded and smiled faintly, "I'll send out our best."
"You don't do humble well, do you?" He asked, a smirk toying with his mouth.
The girl shrugged, "What's the point in being humble when it's true?"
He shook his head and rolled his eyes, "Just get both your butts back here safe."
"What is that?" Arnold asked, still half asleep as he lumbered towards the bedroom window. He had won the coin toss, leaving Gerald on the sofa. From the bedroom window he didn't have a good enough view so he jogged into the living room and pressed himself against the window with Gerald. "What is that?" he repeated.
"Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin." Gerald answered, still looking in the dark streets with the binoculars.
Arnold rolled his eyes. He knew what song was playing. He'd heard it plenty of times whenever his grandpa told him the story about how he'd crowd surfed at their concert back in the '70's. Phil Shortman was quite the man so in his teens, Arnold found his grandpa's stories more fascinating than he had when he was a kid. "Is there anyone down there?"
"I don't see anything." Gerald answered shortly.
There was a loud bang at the door and the boys turned for the window, nearly jumping out of their skin. "I thought you knocked the stairs down." Gerald whispered.
"I did." Arnold retorted, holding his ax firmly against his chest. The walkers shouldn't have been able to get to them. Not unless they sprouted wings, and if that was they case they had a lot more problems.
"Fuck this, man. Let's get our shit and climb the fire escape. Most of them'll go back into their holes by morning and we can wait them out."
Arnold nodded in agreement and there was another bang at the door. They collected their bags and opened one of the windows, not bothering to shut it before scrambling up the steps.
Arnold and Gerald did their best to not panic as they rushed up the steps. Arnold suddenly remembered the window and cussed aloud. He had doomed them all because he had been in too much of a hurry to shut the damn window. Arnold almost fell over when he ran into Gerald, who had halted abruptly. Before he could ask Gerald what the hell he was thinking he saw the figure, covered head to toe in black, only their eyes visible and two katanas in their hands. Arnold took a step back, stopping when he felt a cold round pipe against his head. He shut his eyes and raised his hands, all too familiar with the feeling of the barrel of a gun against his head.
"Breathers." The one on Arnold stated, annoyance clear, though their voice was distorted. "Should have known."
The one with the swords slid the blades back into sheaths crossed across their back. "We should take them back to base."
With a groan, the gun was taken away from Arnold's head. "Let's get this over with."
Arnold and Gerald sat uncomfortably in the back, feeling exposed and helpless without their weapons, which the two figures had taken. Nothing could be said of them, save for their powers of persuasion. Still, the thoughts of a base with other normal living breathing people sounded almost too good to be true. This could have been nothing more than a trap. But even that didn't make sense. They had said something about checking for more breathers before heading back. They scanned a few blocks before they proceeded on their route.
When they finally arrived, Arnold and Gerald glanced at each other skeptically. "Big Bob's Electronic Emporium?" Gerald whispered to Arnold, "This is where I got my iPod, not where a base should be."
Arnold frowned. Gerald did have a point. Still, a warehouse did make sense for keeping walkers out. Big Bob must have been paranoid about thieves because of the bulletproof glass and barred windows. Still, his paranoia had paid off for those living here. Or at least the ones that their captors claimed were living here. They pulled the hummer around to the back and through a garage. Arnold and Gerald gaped in awe at all the cars parked in the massive space. There were even six- no! seven- motorcycles. But there was still one thing missing…
"Where are all the people?" Arnold asked cautiously as the driver parked the car.
The Hummer jolted when the brake was set at the driver pulled the keys out of the ignition before they got out.
Arnold and Gerald looked at each other, "Do we get out?" Arnold asked.
His answer was received in the form of one of the black-clad strangers opening his door and the other opening Gerald's. "Keep up." The one with the rifle ordered shortly.
Arnold and Gerald obeyed, still unsure of where they were heading. They walked through a set of doors and found themselves in what could only be described as an armory. Arnold and Gerald stared at the place in awe. There were grenades, dynamite, bows and arrows, even a bazooka wedged in the corner. The one with the gun put the rifle back in its place, but Arnold wasn't oblivious to the two handguns on their belts. The one with the katanas dug into their pockets and put a few grenades and five sticks of dynamite back in their designate area, but made no move to remove their swords.
"About time you two got back." A large man with graying hair snapped as he stepped through the armory, "What in the hell took you two so long?"
"Relax." The one with the firearms retorted, removing their headgear and shaking out their long blonde hair, combing through it with their fingers to make it more presentable. "We found some breathers. That's why we're so late."
Gerald and Arnold stared at the girl in shock. A girl!
The big man looked at Arnold and Gerald, who were both in such a state of shock that they didn't realize they were gaping at the girl. It was just so unexpected that she was a girl. "So you have."
The other took off their mask and revealed silky, raven black hair that draped down her back and a pair of dark rimmed glasses on her nose. "We could always use the help around here, Mr. Pataki." The other girl piped up.
Gerald stared at the girl, enamored by her. Arnold was just too shocked, and impressed to do anything but gawk at both of the girls.
"Shut your damn trap before I put a bullet in it." The blonde snapped menacingly.
Simultaneously, Arnold and Gerald both obeyed.
The Asian girl laughed and shook her head, "I'm Phoebe, this is Bob Pataki."
"I run this place." Bob informed them briefly.
Phoebe nodded to confirm this before motioning to the blonde girl, "This is Helga."
Helga grunted a greeting to them before peeling off her heavy black jacket and hanging it on a hook nearby, "I'm going to bed."
"Helga, we have to send them to the infirmary and then show them to their rooms." Phoebe chided gently.
Bob shook his head, "You girls have been up all night. I'll get them in."
Phoebe raised an eyebrow, "Are you sure, Mr. Pataki?"
Big Bob nodded, "It's not like I sleep anymore, anyway."
Helga glanced back at Big Bob with a frown before Phoebe agreed and the girls linked arms and moved away. "The black one is kind of cute, don't you think?" Phoebe asked in a whisper.
Helga laughed lightly, "He's not really my type, if you know what I mean."
Phoebe frowned and glanced back at the boys, who were now being lectured about the armory by Big Bob, "Do they look a bit familiar to you?"
Helga shrugged, "I guess. I can't really put a name to their faces."
Helga pulled her lips into her mouth and did her best to not laugh. The blond boy had gotten separated from his friend and he looked like a lost puppy. She chewed the rest of her sandwich before swallowing it. "Hey, new kid." She called. He looked over and she waved for him to sit down across from her. Arnold swallowed a lump in his throat, placing his tray on the table across from her before tentatively sitting. It was only natural for him to be cautious around her. She had put a gun to his head not long ago. "How're you liking our little base?" She asked before taking another bite of her sandwich.
Arnold stirred his chili with his spoon before saying, "It's…it's a change."
Helga shrugged, "It normally is. Dad should be able to find somewhere for you and your friend if you've been surviving on your own since the outbreak."
Arnold arched a brow, "Dad?"
She nodded, "Big Bob Pataki."
"Oh." Arnold was genuinely surprised. Helga looked nothing like her father. With her hair combed and without so many weapons on her, she was actually quite pretty. Still blunt and a bit brutal, probably traits she'd acquired from her father, he'd guess, after having spent so much time with Mr. Pataki.
"So where's your friend?" She asked, taking another bit out of her sandwich.
"Gerald?" Arnold said, "He's looking for Phoebe."
Helga snickered, "Oh Pheebs' is gonna love that."
He raised an eyebrow, unsure if she was being facetious or not. Then he realized…he hadn't introduced himself, "I'm Arnold, by the way."
Suddenly, he was showered by a spray of spit and sandwich. Helga stared at him, horrified. "What?" He asked.
She didn't answer, only stood abruptly and rushed away, leaving Arnold alone, staring after her and feeling lonesome.
Hey guys. Hope you liked it…or…something. Don't forget to review if you want me to continue….k bye.