This Is Why We Fight: The Revival
Where I'm Learning
In the daze of the house fire and my near-death experience, I hadn't noticed the pain in my knee. It was only a small cut, not deep and barely bleeding. Mike, however, upon seeing I was hurt, called the group to an immediate rest at an old gas station.
"It's not that big of a deal," I protested. "I'm hardly going to bleed to death." Mike looked up to me, frowning. His dark eyes were circling my face, glazing over in memory. He shook his head clear of it just as quickly as it had happened.
"My uh...my wife, she's a nurse. She'd never forgive me if I didn't stitch you up." His face lit up at the mention of his wife, a genuine smile which was I had been hard-pressed to find anywhere since waking up in that bed.
"Oh yes," he blushed, avoiding my gaze and focusing on unwinding the bandage he had acquired from the first-aid kit that was hidden in Noah's backpack. "We've uh...almost two years now. I've known her for a long time though, almost our entire lives I guess."
"And you survived all this?" I questioned, my eyes scanning the deserted town we had entered. It was as familiar as all the other places we'd passed through. Dust and decay. Cars abandoned in the middle of roads; gardens overgrown; an ever deafening silence that crept it's way into your mind, playing tricks and making you think.
Mike was nodding his head, thoughtfully. "Yeah," he smiled wistfully. "We survived." He started wrapping up knee, slowly, carefully. It was the neatest bandage I had ever seen. Or so I thought. Had I needed a bandage before?
I lifted my head, trying not to think too hard. I found that trying to not remember helped. Of course, I knew I was lying to myself. I didn't remember anything whether I was trying to or not, but at least by not thinking about it, I wasn't upsetting myself either.
I tried to spot one of the group through the stained windows on the deserted building. They had disappeared to find food and supplies, but I was already starting to notice the empty-handed pattern that followed at every stop we made. Every store- no matter how huge or how remote- were always ransacked long before we arrived. I was starting to understand just how long this infection had been going on for. It wasn't a recent development, it had spanned over years.
The group was I was travelling with weren't a bunch of teenage misfits; they were a highly skilled set of people. I hadn't had a lot of time to process the fact they were an extraction team, and I wasn't entirely sure what it meant, but I got the logistics of it. They were deadly. They were sent out into the middle of a danger zone and told, not only to come back alive, but to bring other people back alive with them.
"What are you going to do now?" I asked, using my hand to shield my eyes from the sun as I scanned the area around us before resting back on Mike. He was kneeling on the dirt road in front of me, packing up the first-aid kit. "You mission failed, didn't it?" I asked. I hadn't inquired about it yet. My mind was reeling with the images of the flames growing higher, the screams of the innocent racking my brain. "Those people, the ones you were meant to extract, they had turned into...them."
He nodded, noticing my understanding of the situation. "They were infected, not yet turned, but it wouldn't have been long. It's a horrible process and it's kinder to kill them than to let them suffer it out."
"Isn't there a cure?"
Mike recoiled in shock. I hadn't expected such a brash reaction. He fell back onto one hand, staring open-mouthed up at me as if I'd told him I'd just murdered his wife.
"...There's no cure?" I tried to guess, but Mike didn't offer any kind of support on any theory I had. He continued to stare at me for a moment before getting to his feet, brushing down his worn jeans and walking away.
Halfway to the store, he turned back, his hands in his hair. I got to my feet but didn't dare move any closer. It was one thing for the rest of the group to be weird with me, but Mike was the one I thought I could trust. I understood he had to withhold information, it was part of the job. I didn't understand why he would act so weird over a small question.
"There was a cure," he said, swallowing hard. "But she...it...we don't have it anymore, Courtney. That's all. It's a long story." I wasn't going to press any further, but he added, "Don't bring it up with the others. Please. It was hard for us. For Gwen..."
My breath caught, my chest tightened. There was only one thought going through my mind and it was one I didn't want to think about.
"Is it my fault?" Mike finally lifted his eyes to mine. "Is it my fault, that there's no cure? Is that why Gwen looks at me in disgust all the time?"
"She does not-"
"Yes, she does. And this is why. It makes sense now, I guess." I threw my hands in the hair, turning on the spot, scoffing at the sky. It's not something I would have guessed easily, but it did make sense. There was probably some drama behind it. Someone close to Gwen needed the cure and I'd gone and destroyed it.
Was I that horrible of a person? I couldn't say for definite. I didn't know who I was, still. There was surely a reason behind it. I doubt I had done it for the hell of it. Even if I didn't know who I am, it still didn't sound like something I would do.
"That's not it, Court," Mike called out, pulling me back in with his words. "There's so much more to the story and you deserve to know the truth...just not know."
"Mike!" Gwen was standing in front of the open door behind him. I'd been too focused on myself to notice her at all. She looked exasperated. "It's clean."
Clean was code for this place is empty- it was something I'd picked up along the way- but I'd noticed that Mike thought it meant this place is empty but you should still check it out yourself anyway, because as soon as Gwen had said the words, he was at the doors in front of her.
That, unfortunately, meant Gwen and I were alone for the first time since our meeting. She let the door swing shut behind the only person I kind of trusted and suddenly I could feel the Texas heat harder than before.
I didn't want to be the first to speak between us, but it was awkward enough for me to lose the tense battle.
"I-" But Gwen wouldn't allow me to say anything.
"I don't know what stories Mike has been filling your head with, and I don't really care," she stated in her usual too cool for you way. "How's your head?" I nodded, my throat too dry to speak. "Do you remember anything?" I shook my head.
Gwen sighed, starting to walk towards me. She put her hands on her tool belt and for a moment I tensed, scared of what weapon she was about to pull on me, before realizing she was removing it all together. I watched her drop it onto the turned over crate Mike had sat me on.
"I didn't do that, by the way," she said, her back turned to me. "Your head, I mean. I know that's what you think but you're wrong- I don't want to know what else you think," she persisted on when I opened my mouth to protest.
"What's the plan?" I asked instead, not wanting Gwen's wrath down on me. Whether she did try to bash my skull in with a rock or not, that wasn't something I wanted to get into at that moment. "Mike confirmed your mission failed but he left before he could tell me the big 'What's Next?'"
She was silent again and I didn't have to see her face to know she tossing back and fore the idea of telling me the truth or not. It was becoming a tiring game not knowing whether I was coming or going with the information I was provided. I had very little proof that everything the group said was truth or not, but after the attack, I was feeling a little uneasy to tell them I could make it on my own from here.
"Our comms are down," she said, tapping one well-chewed nail on what appeared to be a walkie-talkie attached in her tool belt. "We can't get hold of base or, well anyone. It all went quiet just before we picked you up. Not that I blame you, before you jump to anymore stupid conclusions-"
"Stupid conclusions?" I questioned. "I think they're all perfectly rational."
"Oh you would, wouldn't you?" She snorted, turning around to face me. I wanted to come back with a smart-alec response, knowing that there was just something tugging at me to fight back against her, but the look on her face had me stop. We hadn't been this close to each other yet. I hadn't had a chance to see her face this close up. She was young and tired. Her eyes were dark, but not black like I'd thought. They were green and beautiful, drawing me closer in a way that felt familiar yet new. Like falling in love all over again...
"I got us a truck!"
I shook myself clean of that thought, taking a step back and clearing my throat.
Trent was standing a short distance away, a broad grin on his face as if he'd won gold at the Olympics.
"I hot wired it all myself."
"And now the student becomes the master," Gwen joked, a grin spreading through her solid face. I watched the two of them as they laughed together, exchanging words in a way I had never seen before. A comfortable way, a familiar way. It just wasn't familiar enough for me to understand it.
A/N: Oh poor Courtney...when will she learn the truth?
When will we learn the truth?
Oh how I've got things planned :D :D I never plan things but this story is definitely my favourite one I'm writing right now, hence why updates will probably be quicker on this than the rest of my stories. But, have no fear if you're reading my others as well, I haven't forgotten about them!
Thanks for reading, please review (: