Here it is: The final chapter. It had taken me a while, for that I apologize. It switched POV a few times, only to give you all sides of the story. Personally, I guess you can say I'm rather happy with how it came out, but I'll leave that for you to decide. I hope you like it, please leave a review!
I have a song to go with this. - 'I Can Barely Breathe' - Manchester Orchestra. I always listen to it when I work on this story. Check it out to see if you agree or not.
Weeks passed. It was the same thing every day. Wake up. Eat. Shower. Sit. Avoid people. Sit. Look for that mystery man. Sit. Eat. Crawl into bed with Ellis. The same repetitive schedule every day. Over and over. Though, no matter how hard I searched for that man I met on the first day, I could never find him. Had I forgotten his face? I was sure I could pick him out of a crowd. I needed to know what he meant.
I was definitely going mad in this place. There was nothing to do, nobody to talk to. Not that I was taking kindly to people just yet. It was hard to be in a group. I could hold one-on-one conversations fairly well, but any time there were more than four people around me, what I was used to, my anxiety would take over and I'd run.
Nick had been seen among the flocks of women who, by the looks of it, had never even seen a zombie in person. They listened to his stories and admired is battle scars with mouth's agape. I'd roll my eyes, chuckling nonetheless. Coach was often in the dining hall, taking back the fifty or so pounds he lost, give or take a hundred. Ellis was the only one I saw almost all day, everyday. Now, around all these people, I felt more alone than ever. And these were the times I needed him the most.
Rochelle was smitten with Louis. And that brought me back to my current problem. Louis.
As completely shocked and indescribably thrilled I was to finally see him again, it couldn't seem to fill the unmistakable emptiness I felt. After the initial tumult of excitement and tears of being reunited, we hid in the bathroom and I pressed him to remember as much as he could. He knew nothing about what happened to Francis. Hasn't seen him since. Said he spent days searching for me, but after assuming that I was dead somehow had a stroke of luck and found a ride with two strangers headed to South Carolina themselves. He had no idea of this refuge, didn't ask questions about where these strangers were headed, was just glad to be somewhere safer than the roads.
I remember my stomach dropping, all the hope I had fizzling out, when he couldn't tell me what happened to Francis. But for some reason, an idea was nagging me, a thought that started out small and steadily expanded with every question I asked. Louis wasn't telling me the truth.
(Louis & Ellis POV)
"Zoey's different." Louis said to Ellis, sounding factual, his eyes on Zoey sitting in the square, alone. He watched as she eyed all who passed her apprehensively, as if she was waiting for some reason to take defensive actions.
They were sitting at a bench table outside the dining hall. Ellis looked up at Louis. "Ain't we all?"
At first, Ellis had no idea what had Zoey so riled up when she returned to her cot one night a few weeks ago, but he soon found out that Louis, her old comrade, had somehow survived the crash and made it here safely. For some reason Ellis couldn't put his finger on, this irked him. It would only give Zoey more reason to dwell on that accident, the loss of her friends. With every revelation comes more hurt, Ellis came to realize.
And as much as Ellis fought to accept Zoey's past feelings for the man named Francis, and as much as he tried to comfort her over this loss, he wanted nothing more than Zoey to forget about Francis and focus on him. In an ideal world, Zoey would be over Francis and even look at the bright side, that she now had Ellis in her life. But Ellis knew he was overestimating her feelings for him, and all he could do was hope.
Louis returned his gaze wearily. "Not what I meant. I didn't know Zoey before the infection, but even afterward she still seemed to have a hold on herself. That's almost completely gone. She's a different person."
Ellis looked over at Zoey, her expression vacant as she stared off into the distance, lost in her thoughts. "Whatya mean?"
Louis just shook his head, unable to put it into words. They sat in silence for a while, before Ellis finally built up enough courage to ask the question that has been eating away at him. "Whose Francis?"
Louis' face turned cold. "Why do you want to know?"
Ellis shrugged, staring down at his hands. "He meant a lot to Zoey, he must have. She's hurtin' bad over him."
At these words, Louis' face fell. It would make it that much harder to tell her the truth. He pinched the bridge of his nose, thinking over what to say. "I can't say exactly who he is. By the time I met up with them, him and Zoey were already a team, so to speak. Bill showed up later."
"Did she know him before?" Ellis wondered.
Louis shrugged. "They could have, but I doubt it. They were from two different worlds. And if you listened to some of their arguments, it showed." He said, smiling slightly.
Ellis was unsatisfied with these answers. "Were they in love?"
Louis met his eyes, seeing the anguish Ellis felt just asking this question. Louis was tired of hurting people. "Maybe? We never talked about it. They cared a lot about each other, and were always affectionate...But who knows? I didn't think it was possible to fall in love during the apocalypse."
Ellis wanted to tell him how wrong he was. But instead he remained still, mulling all this over. He met Louis' cold stare with a gaze just as penetrating. "You know what happened to him." Ellis stated, not asking questions.
Louis didn't break the stare. He was silent for a long time.
I was sitting in the square, letting my skin bathe in the sun. Aware of Louis and Ellis talking outside the dining hall, I pretended not to notice the glances they were constantly sending my way. They were in deep conversation, Ellis' brows furrowed. I wondered what they were talking about, and was about to walk over when I saw him emerge from the sleeping hall.
He looked exactly the same as when I first met him, but why when I was actually looking for him could I not find him? I bolted across the square, grabbing him by the arm before he disappeared through the doorway.
"Hi." I said breathlessly when he turned towards me.
"I remember you." He said, somewhat solemnly.
"Yeah. Could we talk?"
"By all means." He said, gesturing towards a chess table. We sat opposite each other, and I fiddled with the chess pieces absentmindedly, trying to phrase my questions. I decided to get straight to the point, no bullshit.
"What did you mean?"
He took a drink from his cup, smacking his lips. "About what?"
"When you said I made a mistake coming here. What did you mean?" I reiterated.
His face fell. He shook his head. "I don't know if I should tell you."
"The hell you shouldn't!" I snapped. He raised his eyebrows. "I didn't go through hell and back to get here only to find out it was a fucking mistake. Tell me, now." I said through gritted teeth, my temper getting the best of me. I was on a short fuse these days.
He stared me down for a couple minutes, before sighing. "Consider this place the Auschwitz of the zombie apocalypse."
(Ellis and Louis)
"Why didn't you tell Zoey this?" Ellis asked, befuddled at Louis' admittance.
Louis chuckled humorlessly. "Would you?"
Mulling it over briefly, Ellis agreed. If he had a part in the death of somebody close to Zoey, he wouldn't tell her. Which was why he was mildly surprised Zoey confessed to shooting his mother. He shook the thought from his mind, returning to the current conversation.
Ellis looked around the square for Zoey, and saw her sitting at a chess table with somebody he didn't recognize. They were immersed in conversation. "Aye, whose that Zoey's talkin' with?" Ellis wondered.
Louis turned in his chair, before waving it off to Ellis. "Ah, that guys a nut. Old conspiracy theorist."
"You reckon he's sharin' some of his theories with Zoey?"
"Probably. But if Zoey has a brain she should know not to believe a word of it. He's tried convincing me, but I know what's really going on so I call bullshit on him all the time." Louis shrugged.
"…what's really going on?"
"This doesn't make any sense." I said, shaking my head. "Why would they do this? The human population is already severely thinned out as it is."
"Do you honestly think a few hundred people make a difference to them?"
"It should! It's a few hundred people more than we'd have!"
"But that's not how they think. They're using this flesh-eating holocaust as an excuse to execute their fantasies, play doctor. Use the 'trying to find a cure' card."
I shook my head, unbelieving.
"And you know what else?" He prodded, leaning in enthusiastically.
"There's been an excess amount of refugees. More than they anticipated. They're playing survival of the fittest. You see how many people they're choppering out lately?"
"They're getting rid of them. Dropping them in heavily infested territory or lining them up against the wall, who knows. But they're not taking them to any kind of safety, that's for sure."
"Are they taking any specific type of people?" I wondered.
"Sick, old, young. Anybody whose not of genetic benefit to mankind. Who won't be useful in the new world."
This was sick. This was wrong. This couldn't be true. But I absorbed every word of it.
(Ellis and Louis)
"I'm just gonna be straight with you, Ellis. Because chances are we're not going to be in this place much longer."
Ellis leaned in. "What are you talkin' 'bout?"
Louis' voice dropped a few pitches, his eyes holding Ellis'. "Do you know why so many people have been choppered out lately?"
Ellis shook his head.
Louis looked around them to make sure nobody was listening before continuing. "There have been relatively consistent outbreaks within the camp."
Ellis' mouth fell open.
"They've still got a hold on the situation, but not for long. Not everybody is immune to the airborne strain. They've been getting as many people out as possible, the old and young first, the ones who can't protect themselves if it gets too severe."
"Where they goin'?" Ellis asked.
Louis shrugged. "I hear there are a few other refugee towns that have been reclaimed. So, one of those I'm guessing. The problem is, there aren't enough helicopters to take everybody, so pick-ups are rather far apart. And it's kept hush-hush, because if the people found out, well…let's just say most people here have yet to experience a zombie up close."
"And they gon' take all of us?"
"I hope so. Before it's too late."
I stood from the table and walked away. I couldn't listen to any more. It was absolutely mind blowing how inhumane he said the things the government were doing here. Almost too hard to believe, but I did anyways.
I crossed my arms tight over my chest, making my way to my cot for bed when Ellis ran up to me.
"Zoey!" He exclaimed, stopping in front of me. "There's somethin' I gotta tell you 'bout this place."
He knew, too? "I already know, Ellis."
"What, you do? How?" He shook his head. "Never mind. So y'know we gotta get outta here soon!"
"Why, what's the point? Whether we leave or stay we're going to end up in the same place."
Ellis' brow furrowed, his face contorting into a confused expression. "Huh? Zoey, what'chu talkin' 'bout?"
"Nothing." I said, pushing past him. "I don't wanna talk about it, I'm tired."
I pushed open the doorway into the sleeping hall, leaving Ellis standing there.
A couple hours later and I was still lying wide awake in my cot, going over and over everything I was told. If they were taking away the young, the sick and the old, why would they drop them in infested territory? Why create more zombies? Unless of course, you only turn into a zombie if you're bitten, not ripped completely apart by thirty infected…and I doubted the people that were being killed off couldn't very well run away.
I almost gagged at the thought.
Somebody came into the sleeping hall, and I immediately knew who it was.
"Zoey," Ellis said, sitting on the edge of my bed. "we gotta talk about what we're gon' do! What if we ain't picked?" He asked in frantic whispers.
I turned over in my cot, my back to him. "There's nothing to talk about, Ellis. Just…let the chips fall where they may."
"What the hell is the matter with you, Zo? Do you know what you're talkin' 'bout? We have a chance to get somewhere safe!" He almost shouted, shaking my shoulder.
I sat up. "Ellis, just stop it. We don't have a chance so just shut the fuck up and let me sleep." I growled, falling back onto the bed and pulling the blanket over my head. Ellis sat there for a moment, speechless, before silently standing up and walking away. I didn't look to see where he went.
What was he talking about? Get somewhere safe? Did he honestly believe that when they were taking people out of here they were taking them to safety? What idiotic beliefs were those?
Ellis slammed open the exit to the sleeping hall, ignoring the guard behind him telling him it was past curfew. Hand's balled in fists, he plopped down on a bench in the square, grinding his teeth.
Now, Zoey was just being a fool. She knew what was going on, so why the hell was she acting so fucked up about it? Didn't she want to survive any more? They hadn't fought through hell to get here just to give up at the first sign of trouble. Why was Zoey so indifferent, now? Had she found out about Francis?
That would be the only explanation.
Ellis shook his head. No, if she did know, she would be raising a lot more hell than this.
All Ellis knew, was that the next time a helicopter showed up to take more refugees, no matter what Ellis was going to get him and Zoey out of here, even if it means tying her up and dragging her.
I couldn't sleep, no matter how hard I tried, how much I willed myself to slink into unconsciousness, it wasn't going to happen.
What Ellis said had barely phased me, I knew he had no idea what he was talking about. The signs were all over the camp. The elderly and sick being taken out, people becoming paranoid and ill with anxiety, earlier curfew, tighter restrictions. It made sense.
Every time I thought of the children and the grandparents being dropped into a mob of undead, a pit so deep formed I my stomach. I, as a human being, couldn't let that happen. It was so against everything I've ever lived for, ever fought through hordes of undead for.
I didn't make a mistake coming here. Because the next time a chopper takes more refugees, I'm getting in there with them, and I'll make damn sure they survive.
A week later and my chance presented itself. I was sleeping on my cot when I awoke to a guard entering the sleeping hall. It was midday and not many people were in there, but I spent most of my time sleeping those days.
A woman was laying in a cot a few down from me. The guard bent over her, and when she got over her coughing fit, he began talking quietly. She nodded along with him.
They were close enough for me to hear. He was telling her she was on the list for the next pick up and drop off, to have her things ready and be waiting in the square by tomorrow afternoon. If she failed to make an appearance, she would fail to be extracted at all, for this was the last known extraction to take place for some time. As he was walking away, he seemed to check her name off of a list.
The door slammed upon his exit. She was sick, they were getting rid of her. A ball formed in my stomach.
By the time I fell asleep, I already planned my course of actions.
According to Stan, as I learned his name was, the passengers weren't carded and stamped until they were already aboard the chopper. There was my chance to get aboard.
Since there was no need for military personnel to have to physically exit the helicopter, there would only be a couple guards escorting said passengers. A couple guards easily overtaken by somebody who knew what they were doing.
And a pilot, who would easily oblige to any off-record demands with the barrel of a gun pressed against their skull.
Every shred of the person I used to be was gone. I couldn't find a problem having to kill a few to save a hundred. I had no problem rebelling against the authorities in this case because authority had ceased to exist to me. I was the authority in what I said and what I did. And if these people were destined to die, I was going to make sure it wasn't under the military's command.
In the time humanity was threatened with extinction, was the time humanity ceased to exist at all.
It was hard for me to find a reason not to go through with this. I felt more reckless with my own life. As if I was preventing my death, but then again would welcome it if it came knocking on my door. I was tired of this. And I wanted to go down with a purpose. Protecting those who couldn't protect themselves.
I was still fuming over this the next morning. I sat outside, eyes unfocused in the distance, going over and over my plan. The part I couldn't seem to tie up was where I would take these people, how I would keep them alive.
The best idea would be to somehow get them to stay in the camp. But this couldn't be done without a considerable amount of force and threats of violence on my part, inevitably leading to incarceration and probably leaving me subjected to some of their sickening experiments. And if they couldn't get rid of the sick and the weak one way, they would do it another. I was their only chance.
Lost so deep in this idea, I almost didn't feel Louis tapping on my shoulder.
"We need to talk." He said, sitting across from me.
I glanced at the clock in the square. A couple more hours to go, until it was all set in action.
"What about?" I wondered, chewing on my nails.
This one word changed everything. Immediately, all else that was occupying my thoughts diminished, opening the door to the flood of Francis, the door I fought to keep locked at all times.
"Go on…" I said, hesitantly
Louis stared down at his hands, staying silent. Eventually he looked up at me, and after taking a deep breathe, continued. "I lied to you, Zoey."
So my suspicions were plausible. "About?" I asked, smirking. I had no idea the immensity of his lie, thought it only about a few minor details, not the entire course of events…
"About what happened to Francis." He admitted.
"You said you didn't know." I stated, probably seeming much less angry than he anticipated.
"I…I do know. Not only that, but…" Louis bit his trembling lower lip. "I-I could have stopped him."
This was going in a totally different direction. I leaned towards him over the table, my voice low and even. "Stopped him from doing what?"
Louis shook his head, his eyes watering. "He wouldn't listen, but I don't think I tried hard enough. I thought I did all I could, but looking back on it-!" He slammed a fist on the table, covering his eyes with his other hand.
"Louis, what happened?" He didn't respond. "What the fuck happened to Francis?" I shouted.
"H-he thought you were dead, Zoey. He c-couldn't think of any reason to keep going. There was no light at the end of the tunnel for us."
It felt as if somebody was holding me underwater. I fought to understand, to make sense of what he was telling me, to even breath right. "What are you saying, Louis…?"
"I didn't do as much as I could, as I should have. If only I tried harder…I could have tried harder…to convince him…but by the time I woke up, he was already gone."
The world around me blurred. It felt as if I was hovering above myself, watching my own reaction. I was stone, absorbing these words. Deciphering what they meant. Francis killed himself. The images that flashed through my mind, the words and the memories, faded as if I was watching from behind a thin curtain but suddenly torn open to be viewed in one sudden onslaught. Francis putting a gun in his mouth. Francis saying my name one last time. Francis pulling the trigger. Francis' body falling in a lifeless heap. Because of me.
The world started to rotate again. I fell back into my body with a jolt, and my breath came in one pitiful sob with this revelation. I didn't know what the fury I felt meant, or who it was directed at, but before I could stop myself, I had lunged at Louis, beating any part of him I could find.
He didn't fight beneath me, just lay there and took it. I don't know who plucked me off of him, but I was thrashing in somebody's arms, dragged away from Louis in a state of emotion I couldn't begin to describe.
Sitting on my cot, everything I had worked through my mind was falling apart. I couldn't figure out, remember why I had wanted to get on the chopper in the first place. I was in a trance, a state of lack of emotion. I couldn't seem to feel anything.
All I knew was that, I was still going through with it. But only because I had lost all will to live, and I might as well go down in a way slightly more dignifying than pulling the trigger on myself.
At this moment I hated everything and everybody around me. I wanted to get on that chopper as just another victim, not their savior.
I felt somebody sit down on the bed next to me, and I half turned, expecting it to be Ellis.
"Nick," I said, surprised at how I felt at seeing him.
"I haven't seen you around, kid." He said softly. Something was the matter with him, I could tell in his eyes. His look almost always held a certain satire, holier-than-thou gaze. Now I just saw dread.
"It's crowded here." I said dryly. "How are Coach and Rochelle? Have you seen them?"
Nick nodded. "Yeah, they're alright. Coach is better than I've seen him, and Louis has seemed to have struck Rochelle's fancy…"
I chuckled once. I looked Nick over. It was weird not seeing him in his trademark suit. I wondered the purpose of his visit. I almost hadn't talked to him at all since we got here. "What brings you, Nick?"
Nick opened his mouth to say something, but snapped it shut again. He just shook his head, reaching forward and tucking a strand of hair behind my ear, his warm hand resting on my neck. The gesture was so unanticipated and uncharacteristic that I couldn't when my lip began to tremble and my eyes began to sting.
Nick pulled me by the neck into his chest, wrapping his arms around my torso and resting his chin on my head. His hand moved up and down my back in an attempt to comfort me. I closed my eyes, imagining the arms of somebody else. The brunt of it all overwhelmed me in an unforeseen emotion onslaught, and I let my tears stain the collar of Nick's shirt.
I didn't tell him why I was crying, and he didn't ask. I didn't tell him about Francis, what I was planning to do, how I was going to leave all of them. I didn't tell him how much it hurt to be around Ellis, knowing how much he meant to me and what it would do to him if he knew. I sure as hell didn't say how much I wanted to die, and how I couldn't wait for that helicopter to drop me in a pit of undead.
"I'm going to miss you, Zoey." Nick suddenly whispered into my hair.
I pulled away. There's no way he could have known. "What are you-?" I began, wiping my eyes.
"There's something I have to tell you. About this place. Ellis said he tried, but you wouldn't listen."
"I already know." I said, standing from the bed. I wanted to avoid the subject at all costs, to keep Nick from getting the slightest idea.
The blades of a helicopter from outside grabbed my attention. I disregarded anything Nick had just said and bolted from the hall, out into the square. My eyes scanned around me, searching for it, and I saw the helicopter lowering onto the landing pad in the military sector. The gate to the sector, that was usually sealed to prevent trespassers, was open to allow the line of people to the helicopter.
Nick appeared behind me. I had to get him away, so he wouldn't try to stop me. "Nick, go get Ellis. Quickly!"
He nodded, and ran off. He obliged all too easily. I stared at his retreating figure questioningly, before turning and darting towards the military sector.
(Ellis & Nick)
"Ellis!" Nick yelled when he burst into the dining hall. "Ellis!" He cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled for him a third time.
He saw him stand from a table in the middle of the crowded cafeteria, looking around for who was calling him.
"Fucking hick." Nick muttered to himself, and weaved his way through the crowd to Ellis.
"Nick, was that you callin' me?"
"Yeah, dumbass. Zoey wanted me to come get you. She said she knows everything, and the helicopter is here. So if we wanna get the fuck out of here, it has to be now." Nick said quickly, already pulling Ellis towards the door.
A sudden scream permeated the usual chatter around the cafeteria, and everybody fell silent. Nick and Ellis froze, looking around.
"FUCK!" A young man shouted, climbing over the tables and running for the exit. "THEY'RE HERE! THEY'RE FUCKING IN HERE!"
Nobody even dared looking for 'them', they just leapt from their seats and bolted for the exit like a bat out of hell. Ellis and Nick pushed themselves against the wall to avoid being trampled by the wave of people. Everybody was being shoved and kicked, stepped on. Ellis stood on top of a table, looking over the heads of everybody, and saw why.
The lunch lady's were on the ground, their insides being torn out at the hands of infected. There were only a few, who were currently too preoccupied with their present meal to chase after the people dashing about them.
It was when five more suddenly burst from the kitchen, their black, vacant eyes taking in the all-you-can-eat before them. They pulled themselves over the counter, and when they howled in unison it drowned out the screams of the civilians around them.
"Fuck, fuck fuck." Nick said, pulling Ellis down from the table. "We gotta get to that helicopter!" Together they shoved through the crowd. The two of them were used to running through thick crowds, just not of healthy people. They bounced off of the people around them, everybody almost piling on top of each other in the exit.
Ellis dared a look over his shoulder. The undead took to the trampled first, the easy prey. The one's who were mercilessly stepped on.
A round went past Ellis' ear, and everybody instinctively lowered towards the floor. Some to avoid the bullets, some from being hit by bullets.
Nick shoved Ellis hard, ushering him back behind the wall, and they dropped to the ground.
"What the hell are they doin'?" Ellis shouted over the shouts.
"They can't get in to kill the zombies."
"So they're shootin' down healthy people who are just tryin' to get out?"
"It's either that or let the infected get 'em! Listen, forget about that. We gotta get to that helicopter. I think Zoey's already there."
"What about Coach and Rochelle?" Ellis asked desperately.
Nick stared at him. They had to lower their heads when they opened fire once again, more people dropping dead on the floor around them. "If we see them, we'll grab 'em. But we can't waste time looking for 'em, kid. I'm sorry."
Just then, a group of soldiers were finally able to make it through the doors. It took them a matter of moments to take out the few infected that were feasting on the trampled and the lunch lady's. The civilians didn't waste time getting the fuck out of there as soon as they got the chance.
"Let's go." Nick said, jumping to his feet and running towards the exit.
Ellis was at his heels, but just before he made it out, something in his peripherals caught his attention. One of the bullet victims was beginning to reanimate. Somebody who was previously bitten and had tried to hide it. It gained it's footing, and immediately targeted a young woman limping towards the exit, her leg bleeding profusely.
The soldiers were barking orders at each other, guns pointed as they scouted the rest of the cafeteria, disappearing into the kitchen. Ellis heard more gunshots from within.
The zombie lunged towards the woman, and she screamed. Ellis didn't hesitate, grabbing a chair from one of the tables and smashing it over the creatures head. The chair broke into pieces, and the zombie fell onto the ground. Ellis took a piece of the jagged chair and casually pierced it's skull.
"Ellis!" Nick said, rushing back into the dining hall, an anxious look on his face. He had probably thought Ellis was still behind him.
"Thank you, thank you!" The woman said in a shaky voice as Ellis helped her to her feet.
"Don't worry about it, now run!" Ellis said, shoving her out the door. Nick was running backwards, waiting for Ellis to catch up.
They jogged for the military sector, Ellis quickening his pace when he spotted Zoey in the crowd around it, wrestling with a guard. They had to hurry, before the military closed off the gates to prevent the riots of people from forcing their way onto the helicopter.
Louis had warned him, and Ellis didn't want to believe it. They should have gotten out earlier. They shouldn't have come here. Now all hell was breaking loose, and there seemed to be no end in sight.
My eyes darted around anxiously. I hoped Nick couldn't find Ellis, to buy me enough time to get out of here before they noticed. I'd be dead by the time they figured out what happened. They'd be safe here. They'd be okay. I shouldn't have to live when I didn't want to. They'd only try to stop me.
The guards ushered us over towards the helicopter. I merged into the line, disappearing into the crowd of people. There was excited chatter around me. Some were relieved, some were worried. I caught bits of conversation from behind me.
"What about all the people they're leaving behind? What if they don't get out in time?"
"Don't worry, they'll take care of it. You see how many soldiers they have here. They'll be okay for the time being, don't worry."
"I just don't know."
Intrigued, I was about to turn and ask what they were talking about when the all-too familiar drone of automatic weapons pierced the air. Everybody simultaneously turned towards the sound. It was coming from the dining hall.
People were running, terrified looks on their faces. Some were being trampled in the doorway. What they were running from, I didn't know. But I had a sickening idea growing in the back of my head, only I refused to believe it at that moment.
I found myself moving out of the line, taking small steps towards the gate, only trying to get a closer look.
"RUN! THEY'RE HERE! THEY'RE IN THE CAMP!" Somebody yelled when they made it out of the dining hall. His clothes had footsteps on it, and he was limping.
More gunshot echoed around the camp, except it was coming from the great steel gate that sealed us off from the rest of the world. The guards on top were shooting, only not at things from outside the gate as they usually were. I looked, horrified, at the square to see people dropping dead.
A closer look confirmed they weren't people. They were in the camp.
It suddenly became clear to me.
"Everybody on the chopper, NOW!" The guards shouted, ushering everybody onto the helicopter. Nobody hesitated, everybody obliged without a moments thought.
"No, no, no!" I shouted, and tried to run towards the gate. I had to get Ellis, I had to find Nick. I was wrong. I had it all wrong. Ellis had tried telling me, but I wouldn't listen. I only saw what I wanted to believe. What Stan had told me. It all made sense, now. All the signs I had thought were pointing to the crooked ways of the military were really pointing to this. To the outbreaks within the camp. That's why Ellis wanted to get out. These helicopters were taking the sick and old to safety first. The ones who couldn't protect themselves. Why was I so stupid? I had never felt more deserving of death, but I disregarded that at the moment because all that was coursing through my mind was the need to go find Ellis, and get him on this helicopter.
I tried to run, to get into the square. Everybody was running around, people falling dead. Fire had broken out in the dining hall and was reaching out of the windows.
Somebody grabbed my arm, dragging me back to the helicopter. "Where do you think you're going? We gotta get you people out of here!" A guard shouted at me.
"NO! NO, let me go! I have to go get them! We can save them!" I hollered, thrashing in his arms. I don't know how I did it, but somehow I was relieved of his hold on me and was dashing back towards the gate. There were only a few more people who weren't on the helicopter.
My heart was pounding, every part of me shaking, as I ran towards the hell I had always fought to escape.
I saw him. Ellis. He was running towards me, Nick at his side. They were dirty and sweaty.
"ELLIS! NICK! RUN!" I screamed, after seeing the military rushing to seal the gate to the military sector. "RUN!"
They were nearly here. There was enough time. We could make it. Coach and Rochelle suddenly popped into my head, I worried about them. But there was nothing I could do.
The chain-linked fence suddenly slammed close just as I made it. "No, open it! Open the gate!" I shouted at the guards who were standing on the watch posts. "Please, open the fucking gate!"
"Zoey!" Ellis said, breathlessly, as he nearly collapsed on the gate. Nick fell, defeated, on the ground at his side. I reached for his hands through the gaps in the fence.
"There's no way they're going to let us in." Nick said.
"No, no, no." I argued. "Then they'll have to let me out." I looked up towards the guards. "Please, I'm not supposed to be here! I'm not supposed to leave!"
"Zoey, stop! You can make it! You'll survive!"
"No!" I nearly sobbed. "I don't want to survive without you, Ellis! No!" I squeezed his fingers tighter, ignorant of the chaos in the square, the authorities still trying to get a hold on the situation.
"You'll make it, Zoey." His voice dropped. "I love you, alright? Remember that, no matter where yah are," His voice broke, tears falling from behind his lids. "remember that I love you." His eyes fell on something behind me. "Don't hurt her!"
I turned just as two pairs of arms seized me, tearing my hands from Ellis'. "Please!" I begged with the guards, falling to my knees to keep them from taking me. "I'm not supposed to be on the helicopter! You have it wrong! Please, it's a mistake!"
"Zoey, stop it! Stop fightin' it! Just go!" Nick shouted. He flinched when the guards began shooting at a few infected who were darting towards the military sector. And I screamed, fighting so hard I winded myself after a couple moments. They were going to die, because of me.
"I'm sorry!" I yelled. "Ellis, Nick, I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!"
I was almost at the helicopter. I just saw Ellis shake his head, his hands still gripping the steel gate tightly. My view of him was cut off when they threw me into the chopper, along with fifty other people. They shut the door before I could leap out, and I beat my fists against the window. "No!" I sobbed into the glass. "No, no, no!"
This was all my fault. If only I had listened to reason, instead of the insane conspiracy theories Stan fed me. Ellis would be here with me, Ellis would make it to safety with me. He was going to die because of me. Him and Nick were going to die. Another person was going to die because of me. Louis, Francis, Bill, Coach, Rochelle, Nick, Ellis…All because of me.
If I were ever to see Stan again, I was going to kill that bastard. I swore that to myself at that moment.
As the helicopter rose into the sky, my sobs became louder, more uncontrollable. I still had Ellis in my sights, Nick leaning against the fence tiredly.
There was more gunshot. A lot more. A small army of soldiers appeared in the square, shooting at an enemy I couldn't see. The helicopter rose over the buildings, revealing a horde of undead leaping over the walls, overtaking the civilians. People and infected falling dead everywhere, fire burning down the buildings, spreading quickly.
My eye's fell back towards the gate, for one last look at Ellis. Except he had disappeared. A mob of undead beating at the gate had taken their place, the guards that were posted there had been overtaken.
I didn't see what happened. I didn't see if he made it.
I couldn't see him. I was too high in the air.
The helicopter swiveled around and the distance between the camp and I grew.
They were gone.
Well, that's the end of the road, folks. Keep checking in for the sequel, which I aim to have up within the next couple of weeks, if not less. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. PLEASE review!