Disclaimer: I own nothing (obviously) of this world, just my OC collection. Bless 'em.
You can tell a lot about a person by what they tack to their fridge. Their relationship status. Recent adventures. How much they love their pets or children. Which of those they favor the most…
The current Frigidaire under scrutiny was a collage of photos and newspaper clippings.
An attractive pair of blonde people smiled out of most of the pictures. The settings varied, but their contented smiles echoed across the metal face of the fridge. Newly weds, obviously, many of the photos were freshly printed, still glossy and stiff. Likely to be from a recent tropical honeymoon.
There were two photos that stood apart from the theme of blonde hair and new love.
One held an image of a smiling family, the blonde man of the couple appearing as a young teen, his arm around a freckly girl with a wild golden-brown mane. Both had the same dimple as they smiled at the camera. The parents were smiling down at their children's excited faces. The mother's vibrant blonde hair the same shade as her sons, while the father's thinning brunette buzz was reflected in his daughter.
They looked happy, standing at a snow-covered trailhead in heavy coats and leather boots. Scrawled across the base of the photo in what looked like sharpie read "Last Christmas in Alaska."
The second was smaller and appeared care worn, bent corners and fading ink, like it had frequented a pocket or a wallet for a good number of years. It showed the girl from the family photo. She was older, probably 20. Her face all freckles and teeth as she beamed at the photographer. She was dressed in all white; her wavy mane barely contained in a bun at the back of her head, under her arm was a white hat with a black bill and a gold anchor. Navy Dress Whites.
This photo had also been scribbled on, the fading pen ink reading: "Quinny's Graduation, Annapolis." The two photos shared a magnet, a large sturdy-looking gold thing. An eagle grasping a musket and trident around an anchor. The SEAL Trident.
On the kitchen counter across from the fridge a man was sitting, staring at the two photos under the Trident. He was tall, very tall. With strong broad shoulders and long muscled limbs.
"Wesley, we need to leave. Now," called a stern feminine voice from the depths of the apartment.
The man's brows creased together as he let out a frustrated sigh. He dragged a hand through his shaggy golden hair and pushed himself off the counter top towards the fridge. Carefully he tugged the photo of the girl in Navy Whites off the stainless steel and slid it into the back pocket of his jeans.
"We should be waiting for her, Claire," he growled to the blonde woman who had paced into the kitchen, "Quinn said she would come to get us." The woman, Claire, placed her hands on her hips and gave him a hard look. Mouth thin, brows drawn. She was set on leaving now, and in the end his new wife always won.
Claire rounded the counter to stand beside her husband, tucking her small hand inside of his as they looked at the picture of his family. She could see the corners of his eyes pricking with tears.
"She didn't think it would get this bad this quick, but it has Wes. We need to leave now, or we won't get out at all," she pleaded, "I'd bet they'll bomb the city soon, too much of the population is infected for a quarantine."
Wesley nodded sadly, she was right. Desperate measures would definitely be necessary soon. The infection had spread more quickly than any disease he had ever seen in his 10 years with the Red Cross. The sick were everywhere, and the symptoms were terrifying. The emergency alerts rang that the dead rose again, and were after the flesh of the living.
His colleagues had sent him film footage from California of a dead man coming back to life and eating his wife who had been clutching his lifeless body. The email had read: "this isn't a joke. Grab your guns and get out of heavily populated areas. God help us all."
Wesley grabbed a scrap of paper from the counter and a pen and began scribbling quickly on it. "I'm going to leave her directions to follow us. Hopefully she won't risk coming here after she sees the state of things, but Quinn is a little too fearless for her own damn good," he murmured, as Claire hugged him tightly around the middle of his tall frame.
She was crying now, head buried in her husband's shirt. "That fucking sailor better keep herself alive," the blonde woman sniffled, " this baby needs her aunty. Damn it, I wish she were here. We would be safer, she's trained for this nightmare."
Quinn had told them to leave weeks ago. Her rank and Special Naval Warfare status had allowed her information on the disease before most. When the blonde pair had refused, (they had the baby to think about) Quinn had called him and ordered without room for argument: "I am getting you out. Don't do anything stupid. If you have to leave before I get there, get on base and use my name. My men will protect you. No one is fucking eating my family."
Wesley finished the note and tucked it under the Trident magnet next to the smiling faces of his mother, father and sister.
He pulled Claire into a gentle hug, allowing her to spill tears on to his chest. His hand drifted to the bump on her belly, feeling the life inside move slightly. "Lets go honey," he whispered as his own tears began to fall, "She'll find us, Quinny will find us. No matter what."
They pulled two large back-packing packs off of the couch and swung them onto their shoulders. Wesley bent down to the coffee table and grabbed the two handguns that were there waiting. Handing one to his wife, he slid his into the holster at his hip.
Claire did a final sweep through their small apartment for anything else they may need. She had already done it several times, so she found nothing of value. Knowing that they were finally really leaving, Wes reached for the rifle that sat on the mantle. His dad's gun. Wesley glared down at it in his hands, wondering if the old Marine was looking down on his two kids now, watching the world go to hell. The Devil Dog would have laughed, Wes was sure.
With a final glance at the small note on the fridge, the pair left the apartment. They would leave Atlanta, now, before the refugees swarmed in and it became over-crowded and infected. The city was a death trap.
We had to leave. The sickness was spreading to quickly. I had to shoot our neighbor in the head yesterday when he tried to eat me, so naturally Claire is a bit panicky. We're heading for Fort Benning, it's the closest base, and I know Rasta is there from your platoon so we'll be able to get in. Thank god my baby sis is the baddest LCDR around. The dead don't stand a chance. Come find us. But try and help any folks you find along the way; people don't know how to handle this shit and they're all going to fucking die out there.
Love you baby sis,
A small and callused hand closed around the corner of the quickly written note, handling it carefully so that the drying blood of the dead that covered it wouldn't smudge the words.
It was a woman's hand. She was standing close to the fridge, grimacing in frustration at the note. Most of her body seemed to be coated in a layer of dirt and blood. Some dried, some fresh, none of it her own.
The apartment was empty. Quinn had been so hopeful when she found the heavy door double bolted, thinking that her brother and his wife were safely locked up inside. But they had left, or at least she couldn't find their bodies, and none of the reanimated dead she had killed on her battle to their apartment had looked like them. Which was somewhat reassuring.
She had searched every crevice of their small apartment for signs of life before ending up in front of the stainless steel Frigidaire that held the picture of her family, and that damn note.
Quinn lived in DC between deployments, and the drive to Atlanta wasn't exactly short. That's why she had implored her dumbass of a brother to leave earlier. They would have dodged the mosh pit of panicked civilians turning the highways into parking lots. Damn the lower 48.
She had come as fast as she could but battling the traffic and the hoards of crazed civilians meant basically idling her way to Georgia. She had just parked her Subaru on the city limits when she heard the bombs dropping. The chaos forced her to drive a bit back and cower in a suburb until the smoke lifted, wasting almost a whole day.
The city was lost now, full of corpses waiting to eat the living. God she must have killed fifty since she entered the city limits on foot, she thought as she briefly glanced at the gore caked to her body. At least they were slow. Men weren't slow, that's whom she was trained for.
Quinn snatched the photo of her family off of the fridge and folded it around the note, tucking both into her back pocket before sliding onto the cold tile floor. She leaned back against the fridge, trying to plan her next move. "Damnit Wes," she muttered to herself in a gravelly alto voice.
Her brother had done the right thing, leaving when he did. Quinn knew that they might not have survived the explosions if they had been around during the bombing. But she needed them to be with her, safe. If there was ever a purpose for her years of military training it was keeping her fucking family safe in this apocalypse. Years of misogynistic assholes trying to keep her from becoming the best damn sailor she could, years of marksmanship practice, and hand to hand training.
She pinched the bridge of her nose, brows drawn together as she thought of potential reunion scenarios. The freckles on her face were more prevalent then they had been in her graduation picture, time deployed in desert climates had increased their count. But apart from that she looked the same woman, still young and full of exuberant life despite the stress of the job and the weight of command. An eternal youth her father had passed down to her in his Alaskan blood.
She pulled one of her duel combat knives from its sheath at her lower back, using it to slice moodily at a callus on her hand that had ripped open during a particularly hairy bought with a large dead Guardsman.
She would head towards Fort Benning soon. But she wasn't quite mentally prepared for the sea of dead she would have to weave through to make it back out of the city. Quinn smoothly slid her knife back into its sheath and began re-braiding her long mane of wavy hair. Seeking the therapy of familiar motion. She delighted in the fact that it had remained somewhat gore-free.
Her Subaru was hidden in the woods just outside of the limits, figuring it would draw less attention to her if she went in on foot. The dead seemed to flock towards any loud sounds. This little theory unfortunately meant she wouldn't be able to use her glock on the return journey. The handgun strapped to her hip would have let her stay a little further out of harms way. She had forgotten her handgun silencer in her car, something she would be sure to never do again. Knife fighting meant she was always in range of the things hands. Their clawing, cold, dead, blood covered hands.
She shuddered, leaning her head back against the stainless steel behind her. She had finished her braid, the classic French styled rope hung to her low back. Quinn briefly wondered if her hair might be a safety hazard soon, with all of those hands constantly reaching for her.
She pushed the thought away, she would deal with her own aesthetics at some point when she wasn't stuck on the third floor of an apartment building surrounded by reanimated corpses.