This story was originally an entry for the AOE Contest...and I know it definitely doesn't seem like it would be. I know a lot of people didn't think this one was "fitting" for the contest, but I love zombies and I love a bad ass, zombie killing family! If you love Twilight and The Walking Dead as much as I do, I definitely think you'll like this one! What can I say, I've always wanted to write a Walking Dead inspired fic! Enjoy!

Thanks to my betas Paige and Sherry! I couldn't do any of this without you!

Forks, Washington

June 27, 2031:

The scream of my alarm brings me back to consciousness. I groan, hitting my pillow, before I reach forward to touch the highlighted button on the screen floating above my face to turn off the outlandish sound. I stretch, enjoying the crack of my bones as my spine realigns after a fitful sleep. I rub a hand over my weary face as I turn my head to see the time. My eyes widen at the reflecting digits and I shoot up in my bed. Shit! I'm late!

"Masen!" I holler, as I barrel down the hallway in my pajamas.

His teacher must think I'm the worst mother in the world, constantly oversleeping and making my son late to school. I can't help it. Lately, I've had the most terrifying nightmares that make sleep impossible for me. I've been hoping things will get better, however there seems to be no end in sight.

"Mama?" Masen questions as soon as I reach his bed.

He rubs the sleep from his eyes and sits up to look at me with a confused expression. God, sometimes I forget just how young he is. It's so strange to see a six year old boy with all of my mannerisms. He's just as grumpy as I am in the morning- a stark contrast from his annoyingly bubbly classmates who seem to be bouncing off the walls by the time they get to class.

"Mommy overslept, buddy. Let's get you ready for school." I take his chubby, little hand in mine and lead him to the bathroom to get ready.

Thankfully, Masen was only twenty minutes late to school. However, that didn't stop his first grade teacher from giving me the stink eye as soon as I helped him get to his desk. She stops class, allowing her TA to take over, before she follows me out into the hallway. I roll my eyes at the sight of my son's prissy little twenty-something year old teacher leaving her classroom to give me parenting advice. I quickly look at my watch and cringe at the thought of being late myself. 8:45, Wednesday, June 27, 2031 flashes in my face and I start to recite lies for why I'm late in my head. You've told Jackson you've overslept too many times! He'll fire you if you say it again!

"Mrs. Black," Jane says in a tone that makes my blood boil. How dare this young girl take a condescending attitude me! She hasn't the faintest clue what I've been through!

"Ms. Smith," I say with a polite nod. "Was there something you needed to tell me? I'm going to be late for work if I don't get a move on."

She sighs as if I were wasting her time. "Mrs. Black, I'm sure you know Masen has been late several times this semester."

I give her a look which poses the question, "Yeah. Where are you going with this?"

"Well, this is the sort of thing we'll have to report, Mrs. Black. I'm sure you're aware of our rules at this school."

I don't need this right now! "I'm sorry he was late this morning, it won't happen again," I say through gritted teeth.

"Well," she pauses, cocking her head to the side as she looks at me as if I were some sort of exotic bird. "It's just that you've said that before. I don't want to have to get anyone else involved with this situation, but Masen has to be punctual."

The way she's berating me gets on my last nerve. Perhaps if I had a better night's sleep, I would be able to deal with this. Perhaps if my husband hadn't died two years ago I would be better suited to handle these sorts of situations. However, I'm a cranky single mother who might lose her job if she's not careful.

"Look," I practically spit out. "Masen lost his dad two years ago and things have been difficult for both of us. If you even bothered to read his file, you would know this, but you're too self-absorbed to do that. We're handling it the best we can, and I don't need his teacher breathing down my neck." I pause to breathe, enjoying the look of disbelief and embarrassment on her young face. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get to work before I lose my job. Since I'm the only provider for Masen now, I can't afford to be late."

I turn around and leave, not bothering to wait and hear her response.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I pull into the parking garage at five past nine with my heart beating rapidly in my chest, like a caged bird trying desperately to get free. I practically run toward the elevator, hoping to God that my boss doesn't fire me. I slam my finger down on the elevator button before I take a shaky step back and wait for the doors to open. Seconds tick on slowly, feeling like hours as I wait for the door. Growing impatient, I kick the stubborn door and run across the forth level of the garage to try the other elevator.

This is just what I need! After the shitty night I had, you'd think the universe would cut me a break! Suddenly, a busted-up car zooms past me, causing my heart to beat frantically. My eyes water as the realization that I was only a few inches from death sinks in. If I'd been walking just a tad faster, I would have been a lifeless body on the dirty floor of some parking garage. I scream at the car, my anger boiling over as I watch the vehicle continue on its route as if nothing happened. The car screeches to a stop and backs up, causing my eyes to widen with fear as I realize I must've pissed off the lunatic behind the wheel.

I step aside, as the car practically flies into me again. Is this man doing this on purpose? I peer into the car, trying to make out the driver's face through his tinted windows. However, he doesn't keep me wondering for long. As soon as he rolls down his window, I find the face of a sweaty, middle aged man. His eyes are wild and his expression is frantic, which makes me instantly uneasy. I retreat a step and try my best to look sangfroid while inside I'm reeling.

"It's a disaster!" He babbles, looking and sounding like some psychotic meth head. "Get out now! Get out while you can!"

"What?" I ask, sounding harsher than I intend to.

There's something about crazy people… you become agitated regardless of how compassionate you want to be toward them. It's the fear of the unknown that frightens you, because you never know what outlandish move they'll make next. I retreat another step, as he gives me his answer. As he explains to me the horrors of what is outside, I can't help but watch the saliva that's falling from his chapped lips as they smack together. I don't want to absorb his words because they're so deranged.

"They're here," he says frantically, watching me as if I were some skittish animal that was looking for an escape. "You have to leave, now!"

"I have to get to work," I finally say, not knowing why I'm even entertaining his mental ideas in the first place.

"No," he says, as he swings his car door open.

My eyes widen as I take in his disheveled appearance. He's still in his pajamas… what the hell happened to this man? My heart skips a beat as fear grips me. The man's intention becomes obvious and I turn on my heel, breaking into a full sprint toward the stairwell, knowing a man of his size and stature will have trouble catching up with me if I take the stairs. I hear his footsteps as they bound across the garage floor, splashing into the many puddles created by the rain the night before.

"Miss, come back! I'm only trying to help!"

I take one look over my shoulder, and he's closer than I imagined. I feel the sensation of my skull cracking before everything goes black.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I startle awake. My breathing is erratic and my body is covered in sweat. I've awoken from the most bizarre dream! I move my neck to crack it, like I do every morning, and flinch as my head throbs. I put my hand to my head and search for the source of the mind-numbing pain, and come across a tender bump on the side of my head. It wasn't a dream! This realization is horrifying enough, but as I take in my unfamiliar surroundings I want to throw up.

I crawl off the bed and onto the floor, curling up into a little ball as my stomach heaves. I have to get out of here! The room is quaint with only the necessities. There is a metal door and a window that is far from my reach. This man is insane! If you don't get out of here, you will die! This thought brings a wave of determination. The window is a few feet from my head, but not impossible to reach. I look for a chair to climb on, but come up short. I grab onto the bed and yank it toward the window. It's heavier than I imagined, but I manage. I jump onto the bed and reach for the window, my eyes widening with fear and my heart filling with desperation as I realize that it's locked. Fuck! Fuck! Shit!

Of course it's locked! Could I truly expect any less? Suddenly, I hear footsteps coming down the stairs and I know that I only have seconds before that vile man comes back. I fall onto the bed and tear apart the sheet, wrapping a long strip of it around my right hand, before jumping back to my feet. I bring my fist back, so it's close to my right cheek, before throwing it forward, and against the window. I hear a crunch and tears of horror and frustration roll down my cheeks as I realize that the glass is much thicker than I thought. Adrenaline rushes through my veins as I hear the footsteps grow closer. I crash my fist against the glass, smiling as it begins to crack under the force of my knuckles. The door swings open just as the glass finally breaks.

This is going to be a tight fit Bella, but you can do this! I look back at him, gazing once at his outraged face before grabbing ahold of the window pane, cringing at the feel of broken glass as it pierces my skin, and hoisting myself up.

"You're going to regret this! You can't go out there!" He admonishes.

I have to get out of here! Masen isn't going to lose both of his parents! The man grabs one of my legs as I struggle to pull myself up, so I kick him with the other, practically losing my grip in the process. I focus all of my strength into my movements, and manage to pull myself up. Half of my body is on the grass, as I feel him grab my legs again. I begin to kick violently, having no idea whether I'm doing any damage or not. I'm kicking mostly air, but finally, I feel my foot make contact with something different. I hear his scream and I'm finally free.

I lay on the grass, taking a deep breath of the fresh air with a smile on my face. I know I've only been passed out a couple of hours, but it feels like days. The air feels so different and there's this feeling that irks me to my core. I open my eyes and take a look around at my surroundings, blanching as I realize that I recognize nothing. This man must live in the middle of nowhere! I look at my clock to see it's stopped working. I look over my shoulder, curious about where I was being held captive moments before. There's nothing visible besides the window I just crawled out of. Was that some sort of underground bunker? How bizarre.

I don't see an entrance to the thing, however, I know that this man could be coming after me at this very moment. I jump to my feet and run in a random direction, hoping I'll find a road or some help soon. I run as fast as my feet will carry me, my heart thumping loudly in my chest the whole way. I run through trees, looking for any signs of life and coming up devastatingly short.

My feet ache and my legs grow numb, but the adrenaline coursing through my veins propels me forward. My heart leaps as a road comes into view. There must be people driving by this area. There must be someone! My mind screams as I quickly become hysterical. I almost run into the street-I'm so excited-coming to life as a horn blares at me. I try to flag a car down, but no one stops or takes pity on me. Hell, no one even slows to see what is the matter. I see an electric car charging station down the street, and quickly make my way toward it. There has to be someone there who can help me and phone the police.

When I finally I reach it, I stop in my tracks as I find men looting the place. The station is razed as the men bust out of the place with food and drinks in their hands. I push past the crowd and make my way inside, too in shock to register what's happening. I've never witnessed this type of mania before, but it's inspiring me to go crazy too, herd mentality I suppose, but something in the air is definitely affecting my way of thinking. My eyes scan the demolished station for an employee, but I come up short. They must have left for the day. A man runs into me, almost knocking me on my ass, before he runs out of the store with cases of water bottles in his hands. What the hell is happening?!

I turn to leave, walking out of the shop dazed and confused as I search for a bit of normalcy. Everyone is going mad, and my eyes scan the crowd looking for someone who seems mellow and approachable. I find a car parked in the furthest spot from the store and a man is standing next to his car with his head down. I rush toward him, believing that he, out of all these people, can help me.

"Sir? Please!" I holler, shocked by how hysterical my voice sounds.

His eyes widen as he watches me approach and he runs to get back into his car with the intent of shutting me out. I break into a run and manage to grab the door before he can close it. It's then I see what he's trying to hide. My heart stops at the dreadful sight. Buckled into the passenger seat is a woman… at least, it looks like a woman. Her face is busted and deformed and her eyes are jaundice. She doesn't look entirely human and I let go of the door and back away instantly.

"Please, it's not as bad as it looks!" the man begs hysterically. "She's alright. I swear she's alright. She's just sick, is all."

Tears fill my eyes as I take another step away from his car.

"Here, I'll show you. I'll show you she's alright," he insists. Jesus, he's going mad too.

The man gets out of the car and grabs my hand, ignoring my efforts to try and escape from his grasp. He reaches forward and unbuckles the woman's seat belt and holds out his free hand to her, as if she were in her right mind to take it. She doesn't take it, but she lunges at him instead. I scream, trying desperately to pull away from him as the woman sinks her teeth into his neck. Blood splatters on my face as I finally manage to pull my hand away from his grasp. I turn to run but the man bumps into me, sending me crashing to the ground. He falls on top of me and she falls on top of him. I scramble to get underneath his body completely, using it as a shield as she goes to town on him. I sob underneath him, feeling his body as it's being tossed side to side like a rag doll. This is it… I'm going to die here!

Suddenly, I hear a gunshot and feel the weight of his body being lifted off of mine. My eyes are clenched shut. I don't want to see what fate awaits me. I feel a large hand grab mine and it hoists me from the ground. I open my eyes in shock as they met the most beautiful emerald eyes, an amazing juxtaposition from the horror that surrounds us. Something in the depths of these eyes makes me feel like I can trust this random stranger.

"Let's go. You're coming with me!"

His voice is low and rich, and shakes me to my core. I follow him toward his truck, transfixed by his muscular frame and handsome face, before I finally gain control of my mind.

"Wait, I can't go with you! I don't know you!"

He gives me an incredulous look before his face breaks out into a crooked grin. "Miss, during times like these, going off with a stranger is the least of your worries."

He doesn't break his stride during any of this and continues to pull me toward his truck. He opens the door and lifts me into the passenger seat, quickly buckling my seatbelt as I ask, "Times like what? What's going on? And what in the hell was that back there?"

He shuts the passenger door and jogs around the front of the car to hop into the driver's seat. As soon as he's buckled up, the car is turned on and the doors are locked, he answers me.

"No one knows yet, but whatever it is, isn't good. It was all over the news an hour ago when a man was attacked by some deranged woman. They originally thought it was someone with copious amounts of drugs in their system, but then more stories just as strange and similar began to surface, and they decided to evacuate some of the cities."

I sit for a moment in shock; this all seems so unbelievable even though I witnessed it for myself moments before.

"If these people aren't on drugs, then what is it-what are they?" I ask, not sure if I want the answer.

"I'm not sure," the man answers as he pulls onto the street. "Whatever they are, they're fast and they're ruthless." He pauses for a moment, as if he were judging whether he should comment further. "Have you seen Night of the Living Dead?" He asks, with an awkward look on his attractive face.

"Yeah, of course."

"Well, some people think those things are... Well, they think they're the living dead or something."

I laugh at the absurdity of this. "The living dead? That's insane!"

"All of this is insane," he says seriously. "We have to go to Seattle."

"Seattle? I can't leave without my son!" I need to get back to Masen. Oh, God! My little boy better be all right! "Masen needs me! I have to go pick him up from school!"

The man shakes his head and gives me a small smile that's filled with pity. "All the schools have been evacuated. They're being taken to Seattle."

"How can you know this!?" I burst, feeling helpless and angry at the same time. "How can you know he's all right? How can you know that my little boy is on a bus to the city? He needs me! He's too little to go anywhere without me."

"What's your name?" The man demands, abruptly changing the subject.

"Bella." It comes out as more of a question.

"Well, Bella. I swear to you that we'll find your son."

"Masen," I provide.

"Masen," he says with a sad smile. "I swear we'll find Masen."

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The drive to the city is brutal and traffic is backed up for miles. The roads are chaotic with multiple crashes everywhere. The handsome man beside me, Edward, drives through the maze of motorists and abandoned cars without any fear or anxiety. I grip my seat until my knuckles are white, terrified that some erratic driver will crash into us and end our trip. As we drive, Edward listens to the radio, his brow furrowed as he analyzes the latest updates.

The news talks about road closures, arson and murders in the city, as well as more sightings of these "living dead" creatures. I try to relax in the passenger seat, but who on Earth could relax while hearing such horrible things? Edward places his hand on my knee to reassure me, but nothing can take my mind off the fact that the world is coming to an end as we know it and my son isn't with me.

I learn to tune out the radio as the hours tick by. I can't stomach listening to any more of it, but I know it's relaxing for Edward as he drives. It's nice to know about the road closures before we're stuck in a traffic jam we can't get out of. Night falls and the feeling of desperation looming in the air becomes palpable. I look outside the passenger window at the cars surrounding us. Everyone looks so frantic and desperate, as if they know this is it, yet haven't accepted it. I look at the little girl in the car next to ours, who looks too young to truly understand the gravity of what is going on. She's playing with her stuffed toy while her parents have an argument in the front seat. I smile at her and she smiles back. God, I hope she makes it. Tears fill my eyes as I think of Masen, and I close them, not wanting to look at the little girl anymore.

I'm jostled awake and while I'm still in a sleep-fueled haze, I hear Edward ask, "Do you want to get out and set up camp for the night?"

"You want to sleep outside?" I ask incredulously.

"I think it's best. We can get off the road, park in the middle of nowhere and take turns sleeping. I'm afraid that people will get desperate and try to hurt us or take our vehicle and supplies if we stay on the road."

I suppose he's right. Despite how the idea of sleeping outside in this mess turns my stomach, I find that I'm agreeing with him. We have to stay away from everyone else. I wish we could band together, but who can you trust when the world is burning around you? I trust Edward, even though the reason why is beyond me, and while I'd like to help others, my first priority is getting my son.

"Let's get off the road," I agree.

Edward gets around traffic and manages to get off on the nearest exit. We drive out of the city, until we reach a less populated area that's already been abandoned. Edward veers off the road and drives into the woods, and as it gets darker as we venture into the thick trees, fear blossoms in my chest.

"Are you sure it's safe out here?" I ask, my voice unsteady.

"It's safer than being in the city right now."

I nod, but I'm still unsure. Just the thought of being out here is making me nauseous. It's so open, leaving us completely vulnerable to nature and whatever horrors surround us out here. However, I know Edward's right. Those things are probably going to be attracted to populated areas, not places in the middle of nowhere where people are scarce. I trust Edward… for now. The look in his eyes when he promised to take me to my son was so severe and honest, that it shook me to my core. He means what he says. I may not know him but I know this. It's all a matter of getting there.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Sleep does not come easy. I spend most of my turn wrestling on the cold and unforgiving ground, before I insist Edward take his turn. He hands me one of his guns and lays down to rest. He sleeps for a few hours and I think of my son and wonder where he is, and if he's scared without me. I just want my little boy back. Masen hasn't gone a day without me, and since Jacob's death, I'm pretty much all he has left. My father is a cop in Atlanta, but he's only seen Masen a handful of times due to his busy schedule as well as the distance. I can't fathom how Masen must be faring without me. I hope he's somewhere warm and safe, with a stomach full of food and a toothy grin on his face. However, I know that's just wishful thinking.

"You look exhausted," Edward comments as soon as he's fully awake. He throws me an askance look before patting the space beside him on the ground. "Come here. I'll hold you while you sleep."

I normally wouldn't do this sort of thing, but nothing about today and our situation is normal. I want to find comfort in someone, and this beautiful man has the power to put me at ease. I crawl toward him and he lies back down, allowing me to place my head on his chest. He runs a hand through my ratty hair and I close my eyes, allowing the rise and fall of his chest to relax me.

"Rest now, Bella. I'll stay awake and keep watch."

I close my eyes and relax against his chest. I fall asleep hoping that when I wake, I'll find this was all a horrible nightmare.

I wake up hours later, disappointed to find that this isn't a nightmare. This is reality now. The sun is breaking over the trees and I flinch at the sight, wanting to go back to sleep and never wake up. Edward helps me to my feet and insists that we get a move on. We each take our turns relieving ourselves, before we get into the car and back onto the road. Unfortunately, I feel worse now that I've slept. My adrenaline has worn off completely and I feel every ache and pain in my body. Edward doesn't seem to be fairing much better but he pushes through. We don't have much of a choice.

Traffic is worse today than it was yesterday and the people have become more wary and frightened as the second day of this hell on Earth begins. I try to not let the horrible vibes get to me, but it pierces my heart to see the world like this.

I remember getting into a crash on the day of a new moon. There was something in the air that day as well, and you could feel it mess with all of your senses. My deceased mother had been driving the car and I was asleep in the passenger seat. I was so relaxed one moment, only to be thrust into the air the next. I flew out of the car and as I was soaring through the air, there was this weightless feeling and time seemed to stand still. I felt as though I was being jolted into another dimension. I felt the same way yesterday when I saw that "zombie" for the first time. And I feel it in the air today as everyone around me becomes more and more desperate and fearful. It's this calming feeling before complete destruction.

A city that is only three and a half hours away has taken over a day and counting to get to. It feels like it takes an hour to move a mile in this traffic, and I watch in the rearview mirror as many people get out of their cars behind us and start walking. They have the right idea. I nudge Edward and insist we start moving on foot.

"Bella, shouldn't that be our last resort? We have a lot of supplies in this car," he says quietly, lost in thought.

"We'll carry them on our back," I say, finally finding my voice for the first time since this madness began. "We have to get to the city soon and traffic hasn't let up. People are walking, Edward. We have to follow them."

Edward frowns, but I know he's accepted what I've said. If we don't start moving now, who knows how long it will be before we reach Seattle. Edward punches the steering wheel, in frustration, before turning off the car and popping open the trunk. He jumps out and I follow him, watching as he starts grabbing our stuff, putting everything into a backpack and a small bag, leaving only the jugs of gasoline behind. He hands me the bag to carry and shuts the trunk, giving his car one last look before we follow the crowd.

The first hour of our journey is uneventful, but as twilight hits, the mood in the air seems to change. People around us grow more antsy and I feel a sense of dread bubbling inside of me. I reach out and grasp Edward's hand, holding it tightly in mine. The feeling of his warm palm against mine is so soothing, and I feel reassured until I hear screams ahead. I stop in my tracks, causing Edward to stop with me. I tug on his hand, urging him to get off the road because I fear what's ahead. He doesn't move, with his eyes forward he looks on the scene with morbid curiosity, causing me to do the same.

As the crowd begins to separate and veer off in different directions, I can see the source of their fear.

Although the thing is twenty yards away, I can see that it's not fully human. Its skin is translucent to the point of being blue, its hair is hanging from a deformed face, and its body is contorted like a wooden puppet as it walks toward the crowd with a brutal look on its face. One man separates from the crowd with a baseball bat in hand, and tries desperately to be the hero. However, he's taken down swiftly and easily as soon as a scream from a little girl in the crowd takes him off guard. The thing bites him and while it's occupied, Edward steps forward with a gun in hand. I'm about to stop him, when another man, closer to the problem, beats him to it.

"Let's get off the road," I suggest, pulling on his hand to drag him away.

He takes one last look at the scene before he relents and follows me. We walk away from everyone else, not wanting to get stuck in a crowd since we are so unsure as to what that could mean. We walk in the general direction of the city as darkness falls. When the forest becomes barely visible in the darkness and walking further seems useless, we decide to set up camp for the night. Due to exhaustion, I'm becoming absolutely delirious. So much so, that I can't tell if my eyes are playing tricks on me, or if there really are monsters in the woods surrounding us.

As if sensing my fear, Edward looks up from what he's doing, sees my expression and sighs. "Bella, we're all alone out here. At least we are for now," he adds as soon as he sees my look of disbelief. "Besides, we have weapons and we'll take turns sleeping. Everything will be okay, I swear to you. We'll find your son soon enough."

Thinking of Masen never fails to bring tears to my eyes. What if we don't find him? What if we make it to the city and he's nowhere to be found? I'll go mad if I can't find my baby, I know I will. Masen is all I have left. He's my reason for living… my everything, and I don't even want to think about a life without him in it.

"Bella, Masen needs you to be strong. He's waiting for you."

"You don't know that," I say weakly, masking a sob with my hand. "He could be in danger. He could be crying out to me right now and I'm not there to hear him!"

Edward nods, his face turning grim. "He has a strong woman as a mother, so I can only assume he's strong as well."

His words are so sweet that a few tears fall from my eyes and I smile, hoping that he's right. Masen is strong, and he's smart as well. He'll find a way to survive. He'll find a way back to me.

"Is there anyone you need to find?" I can't help but ask.

Edward looks away, looking into the dark night as if it were the most interesting thing in the world. He's silent for a long time, before he finally decides to answer me.

"I had a wife and daughter once," he says quietly, not looking at me. "This was a few years ago, but it feels like it was just yesterday. We lived in New York City at the time, and they were waiting for the subway on the way home from my daughter's ballet recital. I missed it, because I had to work… something I've always regretted. As they were waiting, a man approached them with the intention of stealing my wife's purse. Apparently, my daughter tried to intervene to save her mom, and the man shot them both before fleeing. I never got to say goodbye to them."

Edward looks at me now and with his solemn expression he looks years older. I walk over to him and sit next to him on the ground, taking his hand in mind.

"I'm so sorry, Edward," I say, wishing I could do more. "My husband died a few years ago, so I can understand your pain."

Edward rests his head on my shoulder and I wrap my arm around him, holding him close. In these dark times, all I desire is comfort. I want to feel another human being so I know that all is not lost. It seems as Edward feels the same way. I just want some sort of contact, something real, while the whole world is falling apart around me. Edward wraps his arms around me and we stay like this for a very long time, enjoying the comfort we can provide each other.

To my dismay, Edward lets go of me to set up our tent for the night. We crawl inside and have a small dinner consisting of protein bars and water. We talk about lighter topics and fond memories we have of our life before all of this. It's crazy, how your entire life can change in an instant. You never understand how good you have it, until the good times are over. We each take our turns relieving ourselves, before settling in for the night. It's my turn to sleep first, but I find that it's hard to close my eyes, because I fear waking up to a world that's even worse.

I rest my head on Edward's chest, enjoying the comforting lull of his breathing, and hoping that it will gently rock me to sleep. When I close my eyes, all I see is my son and suddenly, the emotions become too much. Tears prick my eyes and I quickly reach up to wipe them away. However, they don't stop and I feel Edward raise his head to look at me.

"Come now, Bella. Everything will be all right."

How I wish that were true. The tears continue to come and I feel so weak, crying in front of Edward, but I have to let it out. So much has happened! More than I could ever fathom! Edward wraps both of his arms tightly around me and rocks me back and forth, whispering things in my ear that I'm too upset to make out. His voice is soothing, but it doesn't relax me, my mind remains on my son, who's God knows where. I need a distraction, I need comfort, and I need to pretend that the world isn't over. With teary eyes, I turn to look at Edward, enjoying the shape of his handsome face. He's truly incredible, with his sculpted jaw, high cheekbones, a straight nose, and bright emerald eyes. I could grow used to staring at him. I don't know him well, but I feel like this horrible experience has brought us together, somehow. He gives me a questioning look, but my gaze doesn't waver. I throw every thought I have out the window and act on instinct, bringing my lips to meet his.

His lips are salty, soft, and perfect as they work against mine. I want to feel every inch of him, I want him to make me forget. I haven't been with a man since my husband passed away. Sure, I've wanted to act on my desires a few times, but nothing felt right. However, with the world coming to an apparent end, I have nothing to lose. Tonight, I just want to experience pleasure as if it was my very last chance to do so. I allow Edward to undress me, and I quickly do the same to him, marveling at the fact he looks better naked than I could've ever imagined. Even in the darkness, I can appreciate how magnificent he is. He seems to appreciate my body just as much. He bends his head to take one of my nipples into his mouth, while he rolls the other with his fingers. It feels incredible. I can't remember the last time I've had a man touch me, which makes all of my senses go into overload as Edward sucks on me.

As soon as his fingers find that sensitive spot between my legs, I know it won't take long for me to come. I close my eyes and allow myself to bask in the feeling of absolute pleasure. I stifle my cries, worried that they will attract attention, and come hard around Edward's long fingers. I feel Edward's cock brush against my thigh and I don't have to look down to know it's an impressive length. Edward kisses me until I don't remember my name, and pulls away to give me a look that asks, 'Are you sure this is what you want?', as he lines up his thick cock with my entrance.

"Make me forget, Edward," I say, as I watch him slide into me, stretching me to the point it's almost painful.

I'm about to cry out, as his hand covers my mouth. I nod, silently telling him I'll remain quiet, and as soon as he believes me, he lets go of my mouth and begins to thrust into me. His thrusts are slow and careful at first, as if he worried about hurting me, but they grow more and more wild as time goes on. I close my eyes and try my best not to make a sound as he gives me more pleasure than I've felt in a long time. As I grow close, I open my eyes, wanting to look at him so I can feel that connection burning between us. His eyes are wild and fierce as he begins to pound violently into me, no longer holding back. I grab onto his ass and urge him to take me, enjoying the delicious pain it brings.

"I'm going to come," I whisper, causing him to buck erratically into me as his hand finds my clit.

My vision goes white as I reach the most powerful release I've ever had. Edward continues to thrust as I ride out my orgasm, before quickly finding his own. He stifles a groan, by biting my shoulder, as he explodes inside of me. He stays buried deep inside me for a while afterward, allowing his cock to soften completely before pulling out of me and pulling me against his side. He kisses my forehead and wipes some of my hair out of my face. I give him a small smile and relax against him.

"Well, that took some of the edge off," I say conversationally. "That was the first time I've done that in years."

Edward's quiet beside me, and I wonder if he's taken the plunge, himself, since his wife's death.

"For me as well," he finally answers.

I don't know why this makes me feel good, but it does.

"You sleep first," he says, running his hand lazily up and down my spine. "I'll keep an eye out."

I yawn as I nod, and rest my head on his chest before falling fast asleep.

I'm jostled awake, what feels like minutes later. Edward's pants are back on and he's crouched down by the door of the tent. I squint my eyes in the darkness to get a better look at him, but all I see is his back.

"Edward?" I ask quietly, only to have him quickly shush me.

My heart begins to race as the gravity of what this means slowly sinks in. Has someone found us? A human who wants to hurt us, maybe? Or even worse, one them... those monsters that seem too vicious to be dead.

"Wait here," Edward says as he begins to unzip the tent.

I quickly get out of the sleeping bag and throw my clothes back on before looking for a weapon in Edward's backpack. I grab the smaller of the two guns he has, and quickly check to see if it's loaded before following after him. He can't do this alone. Reminiscing on what happened earlier, I know Edward will need some type of backup, despite his strength.

It's so dark I can barely see more than a few feet in front of me. I follow Edward's form as he searches for the source of the sound. I try to hear it, but I can't. I stop walking for a moment, and quietly urge Edward to do the same so we both can listen. It's then I hear the crunching of leaves coming toward us. It doesn't sound like just one set of feet, but multiple sets. I gulp, bringing my gun up with a shaky hand and pointing it in the general direction of the sound. I try to calm myself, because I know we can't just fire off rounds into the darkness, especially considering these sounds could be coming from a group of humans. As terrible as other people can be sometimes, I'd much rather take my chances with them then I would a horde of the living dead.

However, my hopes fall on deaf ears and fear cripples me as I see what's coming toward us. Edward tells me to stay calm and shoot, but I'm frozen in place. How could he be so calm in such an unimaginable situation? How can one possibly prepare for this? I remain frozen until one of them gets too close for comfort, and then I fire my gun, too blinded by fear to see where the bullets are going. Time seems to stand still as the sounds of gunfire and the smell of gunpowder fills the air.

"Bella!?" I hear Edward shout, as I remain stiff in my place. "Bella!" He calls again, finally causing me to snap out of it. "Bella, don't look down. They're all gone, but we need to get moving. With all the gunfire, I'm sure we have attracted some unwanted attention."

I nod, feeling my body grow cold and tears fill my eyes as I go into shock. Edward gives me a sympathetic look before helping me into a sitting position. As soon as he knows I'll be okay alone, he quickly dismantles the tent and gets all of our supplies together. I rock back and forth, trying to get the images of those things out of my head. If this is what the future is going to be like, I have no idea what I'll do.

"Are you ready to move on, Bella?" Edward asks, holding his hand out for me to take.

I nod and take his hand, knowing that the only place to go from here is forward.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

It's very different, navigating through the woods at night. I follow Edward's lead, in hopes that we'll reach the city before dawn. It's eerie, being out here all alone. However, considering what happened only an hour before, I don't know how alone we truly are. As I finally start to relax from that traumatic experience, we hear another rustling in the woods and become instantly on guard.

I raise my gun and keep my eyes peeled, expecting the very worse after what happened earlier. This is a new world now, and I feel as though I'll never be able to relax again. There's a rustling coming from the bushes, and Edward takes a step forward, but makes sure not to block my shot. Whatever is coming, it isn't moving as fast as those things were. Their movements were choppy and contorted, but the movements coming toward us now are fluid and natural. Whatever is coming, I hope it has good intentions.

A man walks into the clearing, finally revealing himself. He looks to be a few years older than me, in his early thirties perhaps, and has stringy blonde hair that falls around his jaw line. He'd probably look handsome, if he weren't so exhausted. I lower my gun, but just slightly, not sure if this man is trustworthy just yet.

He raises his hands and gives me a shaky smile as he takes a step forward. "I'm not here to harm you. You can lower your weapon."

I look at Edward, who still has his gun pointed in the man's direction and decide to do the same. While he doesn't sound dangerous or look threatening, I don't know what to believe anymore. And in times like these, it seems to be every man for him or herself.

"So, you're just out for a stroll in the woods in the middle of the night?" I ask, in a voice that's not as confident as I'd hoped for.

"I could ask you two the same thing," he comments with a small smile, slowly lowering his arms until his hands are at his shoulders. "I'm sorry I frightened you two. I wanted to make sure this route was safe for our hike tomorrow. We have a lot of small kids in our group, so I just wanted to check ahead of time."

When Edward and I don't respond right away, he continues. "Is it just the two of you?"

Edward and I look at each other, silently asking if we should tell this man the truth or not. Would it be wise to tell him that we're alone?

"How many people do you have at your camp?" Edward finally asks, taking a step toward the man.

"Nineteen," he answers right away. "There was a big crash on the interstate, and a lot of us banded together."

He gives us an unsure, but friendly smile, and Edward and I lower our guns. He doesn't seem threatening… perhaps the past few days have put me on edge. I used to be so trusting of everyone I met. I never had a reason to think poorly of anyone, but the way our world has changed has made me weary of everything and everyone in no time at all.

"You can come back to our camp," the man says, with a nod of his head in the direction he came from.

Despite the exhaustion that overwhelms me and the weariness of my muscles, I have to keep moving. I have to get to Masen as soon as I possibly can. What if his life depends on my decision to move forward? I can't stomach the thought of him spending another day without me. Edward looks at me, and I can see he's weighing his options. His eyes are so filled with grief, I suddenly become scared. What if he wants to go with this man? He doesn't have any real ties to me. What if I have to move forward on my own?

"Can you give us a second?" Edward moves to stand near me, but doesn't take his eyes off of the man, apparently still not trusting him. "Bella, we're both exhausted and we're not sure if we'll find Masen straight away when we arrive in the city. Everyone has evacuated there…" Edward trails off.

I know he's just being reasonable. I know there's definitely truth to what he's saying. As much as I don't want to admit it, as much as I don't want to think about the possibility, I understand it will be hard to find Masen. That's if we can find him at all. Understanding this truth and accepting it are two different things. I understand the difficulty we'll most likely face, but I can't bring myself to accept it. I can't allow myself to lose hope. At least not yet.

"Bella, it would do us some good if we get some rest."

"How do you know if we can trust him?" I spit out, directing all my anger and frustration at him.

Edward sighs and gives me a tired smile. "How did you know if you could trust me?"

Despite my anxiety, I smile back. "I don't know… I could just feel it."

"I felt I could trust you," Edward reasons, giving me a warm look before his eyes return to the man standing mere feet away. "And I feel like I can trust him. If things go badly, or if there's even a whiff of anything strange going on, we'll get out of there, I promise."

He's right about everything, I know he is. If I'm going to venture through the entire city to find my son, not knowing what dangers lie ahead, I know I'll need my rest. Sleeping under the stars with a group of strangers wasn't what I had in mind, but it seems as though it's what my life has become.

"Fine, but promise me we'll leave if we get any bad vibes from the group. I'd like to find my son while I'm still in one piece."

We stare at one another for a long moment, configuring whether we made the right decision, before we both nod and make our way toward the man who has been patiently waiting for us. He allows us to keep our guns, as he directs us to his campsite. This calms me down significantly, because the thought of giving him our guns was something that did not sit well with me at all. Sure, I would understand his reasoning for it, but with our new environment being what it is, it's every man for himself. If he wasn't honest, he would rob us of our weapons and supplies and leave us behind. However, it seems like that's the last thing on the man's mind.

We walk in silence for a long time and my mind drifts from one thought to the next, each image in my mind worse than the last. Shaking those thoughts from my head, I decide to spark some quiet conversation to keep me distracted.

"I'm Bella and this is Edward," I began conversationally. "I don't think we caught your name."

"I didn't give it," he replies, sounding friendly enough. "I'm Jasper."

"Where were you when it happened?" I ask, unable to help myself. I was passed out in a bunker when the initial hysteria began.

"I was driving on the interstate with my wife. She had a doctor's appointment in the city. The announcement was on every radio station and you could feel the panic in the air. They spoke of different attacks and as the panic grew, they began telling people to evacuate to the city, so they could care for the sick… whatever that means."

"So, these are sick people then?" I question in disbelief. They don't seem like they could be saved! They look so… dead.

"Infected," Edward chimes in.

"Infected with what?" I question, although I know there isn't an answer they could give me.

My son is out there somewhere! He could get infected too! Oh, God!

We continue our journey in silence. I'm left feeling more aghast than before. I try to focus my thoughts on something positive, and as I'm doing so, I realize the future looks rather bleak. So, I think about my past, remembering what it was like to spend the past few years of my life blessed with such a wonderful son. Masen's always been good, so good in fact, I wonder what I did to deserve him. He's so well-mannered and never has a bad thing to say about anybody. Like many kids his age, he's so idealistic and positive, and I hope this new world doesn't change that. If he's still alive, I hope he'll hold onto his optimism and youthfulness. Although this new reality has just recently shown itself to us, I'm sure surviving in this type of world would age anyone. I feel like I've aged a decade these past few days.

There's one memory of Masen I would never forget. It was our first Christmas together after Jacob passed away. I did everything in my power to make it as special for him as I could. At the time, I was so worried I'd come up short. Despite the long hours I put in at the office, I couldn't manage to get Masen everything on his list to Santa. I had been so disappointed, however Masen loved it all. He loved me.

"Mama! I play snow now! I play snow!" Masen babbles as he jumps to his feet, swaying a moment before gaining his balance.

"Okay, buddy! Let mommy get her camera and get you a jacket!"

"No, Mama." He pouts, not wanting to be warm apparently. "No need jacket," he says, waving his hand in front of his little face.

"Well, mommy says you need one, mister." This makes him giggle, and he waits patiently for me to return.

He's out the door the second I get him all bundled up. I smile as I watch him, and hope that this Christmas is enough for him. My dad lives hours away, my mom died when I was a teenager and Jacob's family lives in Florida and I couldn't afford to get a plane ticket for this time of year. So, it's just him and me. He seems to be enjoying himself, but I wish that I could give him so much more.

"Mommy, make angel! Mama!" Masen hollers at me, before falling to the ground and moving his arms and legs in the snow to create a snow angel.

I take a few photos of him, before dropping to the ground at his side and making snow angels with him. He giggles as he watches me, and abandons his angel to jump on my belly.

"I love you, mommy," he says, his rosy face only inches from mine.

"I love you too, Masen." I kiss his cheek before pulling him onto my lap and rising with him in my arms.

"Down!" He yells as he wiggles his body in my arms. I smile, suppress a laugh, and set him on his feet in front of me. "I run mommy!" With that, he begins to dart around our back yard. "I fast!"

I laugh and take my camera out of my pocket to snap a few more pictures of him. He begins to run my way with a huge smile on his freezing face.

"Mommy, fast!" He hollers as he darts toward me. "Mommy! Mommy!"

"Mommy!"

A little body crashes against me, yanking me back to reality. I look down at the little boy who's wrapped around my waist and tears fill my eyes at the sight. Oh, God, I must be dreaming! This can't be real! Maybe I'm dead! God, if I'm dead, please don't make me wake up!

"Mommy!" A familiar voice cries with a sob.

Tears are coursing down my face and I grow angry, thinking this must be a cruel trick. My exhaustion must have made me absolutely delirious. Edward nudges me, and my eyes dart to meet his. He looks at me in confusion, before a giant, teary smile appears on his face.

"Is that him, Bella? Is this Masen?"

He sees him too? I take the pocket knife out of my back pocket and prick my palm with it, smiling as I feel the pain and see the blood flow from the wound. I'm not dreaming! Edward looks at me, aghast, before pulling the knife away from me. I drop to my knees to take a closer look at the little boy crying for me. I see his tanned skin, brown eyes, and spiky brown hair and smile as I finally see the face of my little boy.

"Masen! Mommy's here," I sob, wrapping my arms around his small frame. "Mommy's here, baby. I'm here and everything is going to be all right."

"Mommy," he continues to sob against my neck. "I missed you!"

"I know you did, baby. Mommy missed you too! I thought of you every second."

"Promise?" He asks, looking up at me with wide, curious eyes.

"Of course, baby. I love you so much."

"I love you, Mommy," he answers me, as I hug him close to my body.

As my tears begin to dissipate, I can finally see the rest of the camp clearly. They are several other small kids that look to have come from Masen's class and a few families and couples. They all seem harmless. Hell, they must be harmless if my son's all right. I don't know how I'll ever be able to properly repay them for what they've done.

"Thank you," I say to Jasper, who's hovering with Edward at my side.

"You don't have to thank me. We only did what's right. Masen's a wonderful kid."

A woman steps forward and puts her hand on Jasper's shoulder. She's petite, with dark, almost black, hair, and bright blue eyes. My stomach drops as my gaze continues down to her body, where her hand rests on top of her pregnant belly. Oh! To be pregnant at a time like this! I try to keep the horrified expression off my face as I meet her gaze once more.

"Bella-Edward, this is my wife, Alice. Alice, this is Bella and Edward, I found them while I was making my rounds tonight."

She smiles at us both and we reply with a friendly nod.

"I'm so glad Masen found you. You've been all he talks about, day and night."

I smile, but inside my heart is breaking. I can't imagine my little boy, all alone, asking about where I am. My eyes fill with tears at the thought, but knowing he's safe keeps them at bay. Alice ushers us toward the fire and as I sit with Masen in my lap, listening to people's stories, I forget that the world around us is falling apart. For just a moment, I'm able to pretend that the world is just as it was just a few days ago. I lean back against Edward, who has quickly become my rock in all of this, and rest my head on his sturdy chest. I feel his smile against my hair, and smile as well when he wraps his arms around me. I feel so safe like this. With Edward wrapped comfortably around me, and Masen sitting comfortably on my lap, I feel at peace.

In this new world, I know this feeling of peace won't last forever, so I savor it. Letting the contentment I feel put me at ease, if even for just one moment.

A/N: I'm really excited to expand this story! Especially since the first episode of The Walking Dead is only a week away! Thanks to anyone who liked this one! See you next update... and stay safe friends ;).