"What is this?"
The question came from the entrance of the tent; Louis' voice was gentle yet slightly amused. Zoey turned her head to regard him with a smile, beckoning him into the room to join her. When he came to sit beside her on her bed, she turned the song she had been listening to up a little more and leaned back, sighing.
"Bill says I'm looking for affirmation of life," she explained, Louis arched an eyebrow. "He said… he said that it's not alright to feel angry and bitter; but it is alright to grieve. He pointed out to me that yeah, I'm young, and there will be other boys."
"But?" Louis murmured, Zoey giving him a funny look. "I sense a 'but' in this statement… 'You're young, and there will be other boys, BUT-'" He opened his mouth and held his hand out to her, willing her to complete the sentence.
"But there will never be other boys like Ishmael," Zoey finished quietly, looking away from him and back at the CD player she had managed to snag.
"Who sings this song, anyway?" Louis refrained from touching her, not wanting her to feel uncomfortable, but thought she looked like she could use a hug or a pat on the shoulder or something.
"… Seriously?" They looked at one another; beginning to snicker which soon reached a crescendo of laughter. Francis and Bill returning to the tent to find them laying together on the bed, clutching their stomachs with tears streaming down their faces; laughing like they would never stop.
Three days passed since Zoey returned to normal, five days since their roof top rescue; the survivors had finally found their lives picking up a content routine around the base.
Bill often assisted the leaders with battle tactics or security measures; his experience both in the war and in the city being a great asset to them. Francis made friends with some of the others there; playing poker and pool in the evenings to wind down.
Louis assisted in technical stuff: keeping things working and even managing to rig up a network and the internet on some of the computers in the base much to the delight of the younger tenants.
Zoey, on the other hand, kept mostly to herself when she wasn't spending time with her boys. She spent a lot of time walking around the base, humming or singing to herself, but a smile was never far from her face. She would sometimes join Louis and some of the younger men while they played video games, laughing at their jokes and telling awful ones of her own.
It was almost as if she had made the choice not to grieve for Ishmael, but to celebrate him instead. When asked why she was so happy, she would smile and shake her head; no amount of prying able to get the real reason out of her. Bill didn't push it, Francis did relentlessly, and Louis poked and prodded, but didn't push too far, not wanting her to get uncomfortable.
The depressing Hanson music disappeared to be replaced with happier, more upbeat songs; one in particular able to be heard playing in their tent over and over again.
Bill frowned about it at first, but decided the girl needed to deal in her own ways.
"The part of you that's part of me will never die, will never leave… and it's nobody else's but mine," Zoey sang softly across the tent as they readied for bed on the fifth day; cheerfully making her bed while wearing the pink pyjamas they had managed to find for her.
Louis chuckled, Francis rolled his eyes, but Bill remained silent.
It didn't seem fair that the three men who were obviously crazy about Zoey, were around her at most times; yet she seemed stuck on the one that had come to the party late and left before last call.
Perhaps he just didn't know how young women worked anymore.
"I think we lost them."Lungs heaving, a woman crawled out of the hole at the top of the ladder; glancing around at the barren roof of the hospital. The sun was beginning to set, and they were so high up that they couldn't hear the sound of the infected from below; which was a blessing in her books. "It's clear."
"Good, move. I want to get out there and maybe sit down for a minute; whoever busted up the elevator is going to eat bullets when I find them. Fuck." A man's voice filtered from below her, and she smirked, dragging herself out of the hole. She stretched and admired the sunset for a minute, hearing him huffing a little behind her as he struggled up to join her.
"Damn, nice view." She murmured, receiving a grunt of irritation in reply, she chuckled and shrugged it off. "There's the landing pad, let's try and find a radio."
As she hopped down from the platform they now stood on, he paused, looking around very carefully. He wasn't about to take any chances with an ambush up here, not after they had narrowly escaped the horde below. Something else had distracted them, causing them to rush away; but there was no reason to drop their guard just yet.
Karma had a funny way of kicking you in the teeth when everything is going well.
"Found one!" His female companion shouted from across the roof, he hurried down to join her with a smile splitting his face.
"Good job. Alright…"
As he contacted the helicopter pilot, she wandered off to take a look at the damage that had been done to the roof: There was the corpse of a giant, mutated infected they had come across a few times and plenty of the normal infected scattered about as well.
The big one was covered in burns, and smelled worse than anything she had ever smelled before so she kept her distance; her head suddenly snapped to one side and her gun was raised when she heard something from over the edge of the building.
"What is it?" Her partner called, his gun also raised, a look of panic on his face. "What is it?!"
"I think…" She began, creeping towards the source of the noise. There was another noise, almost like delirious laughter, and she frowned. "I think it might be a survivor."
"Another one? Up here?" He came out of the building with the radio, moving cautiously towards her. Both of them pausing at the edge of the building, but only the woman dared to look over. "What is it?"
When she looked downwards, the first thing she saw was a face mottled with infection, blood stained and exhausted; the eyes pleading with her. She swallowed a few times, hand moving to the safety on her gun, both the humans startling when the unthinkable happened.
"Hnn. H-hnnk…" The Hunter panted for breath, letting out a soft growl. "H-hellll…p."
Think of this ending as the perfect ending to a video game sorta deal… it's a little teaser-type thing that leaves it open ended for a sequel.
What's that; a sequel you say?
Yes, that's right! A sequel! I love my cliffhangers, but I'm no monster! I wouldn't leave you hanging like poor Ishmael here…
Thanks for reading; I hope you will continue to do so when the adventures of the survivors and Ishmael continue!