Eight Little Things
After Louis's third week of work as a systems analyst, he'd started wondering about what kind of personal hell he'd walked into. He hadn't wanted to work at a desk... no one wanted to work at a desk. Mere minutes after these thoughts, he began quickly devising the easiest way to end the misery- a noose made of paper clips stolen from the stationary department seemed like a good idea at the time... but then he'd hit a better plan.
It would take Louis five years to work up the courage to do this- and the guts to shoot his boss when the man came bounding at him, claws outstretched.
He'd never settled down, something he'd always promised himself that he'd get around to at some point. Meet a nice girl, move to a quieter area, raise a family. There'd been opportunities, of course, but things usually ended the same way. His career was progressing. Life happened.
If he'd known how things would have wound up, he'd probably have done the same thing. Because, in a strange way, he was grateful. There were no corpses to mourn over, no quaint little house to flee as it burned to the ground.
There was just Louis, Louis's rifle, and Louis's flicker of hope that maybe once all of this calmed down, he could still get around to it.
He was the first one to run into Zoey.
He was alone, too. His previous group (a small party of people from his office- a terrified secretary, a determined personnel manager and a temp in denial) were long gone. They thought they could wait an attack out. They were wrong.
She had been scrounging for ammo in a small corner store, and she was more distraught than he'd ever seen her since. Her red jacket was still relatively clean. 'Miss- excuse me, miss. Are you okay? Is there anyone with you?'
She'd given a bitter half-laugh, the moonlight glinting off the tears that sprung to her eyes but didn't fall. 'Okay? Okay? We're in a freaking zombie movie, man! And unless I find some bullets fast, the chick is gonna die first as usual.'
He'd given her some ammo, and she'd calmed down quickly and given him the sort of grin he'd always imagined a kid would give her big brother when he replaced a fallen ice cream scoop.
Sometimes, Louis felt like screaming just like the others did.
He felt like giving up. He felt like telling them there was no hope, that they were good as dead, that rescue wasn't going to come, that a horde was probably right around the corner.
But he couldn't, because if the glass wasn't full for somebody, it wasn't for anybody. Zoey had seen one too many movies end with a final body drop. Francis was- well, Francis. Bill was experienced, and experience and realism walked hand in hand. So Louis smiled, and sometimes, he'd catch them smiling along with him.
And that made him smile even more, and that just tended to piss them off.
He never took off the tie. And after being asked so many times as to why, he still hadn't responded.
The truth was, he'd worn the tie on the subway that morning. He'd drank a cup of coffee at his desk wearing that tie, and started into a fresh bundle of paperwork in that same tie.
For Louis, that tie was reality, and kept him hooked firmly there.
He'd never known how much his life was worth until that old man decided it was worth saving. Bill was a tough old salt, desensitized and gruff, and he and Louis had interacted perhaps less than he had with Zoey or even Francis.
But the ex-soldier looked after his own, and Louis would never be able to repay him. It was something that would stay with him, niggling away for the rest of his life, even should it end tomorrow or some forty years from then.
Once he was properly healed, they'd buried the body. It was risky, out in the darkness with minimal visibility and shovels for protection, but it was a unanimous decision that it would be done.
None of them could say anything. Zoey had shaken her head, jaw clenched tightly so they wouldn't see how badly her lips were shaking. Francis had muttered something under his breath, expression serious before he turned away and ran a hand over his head, finished.
Louis had simply placed a pack of cigarettes into the hole, his face tense. 'Thanks, man.'
When Francis mentioned something about a 'hillbilly with the hots for Zoey', Louis had laughed and promptly joined in the teasing.
When Zoey shot back about Francis's transparent attempts to woo a pretty woman traveling with the other group, he'd laughed even harder.
He'd lived in Fairfield his entire life and was born, as he correctly remembered having been told, two months premature in Mercy Hospital on a warm morning in June. His mother often complained about the long, torturous labor, but never failed to send him a minute smirk to show him it had been worth every second.
Now, Louis loved his mom, but he had to reason that the hell he experienced in those wards outdid hers with relative ease.
Still, just like she'd always told him. He had to smile when things looked like they were going to shit.
Which even he had to admit... they most certainly were.
A/N: This has been milling about in the backwaters of my laptop's storage for a while now... thought it couldn't be any harm to stick it up here. Hope you guys liked it! I don't think Louis really gets as much love as he deserves. Anyway- I might continue this with other characters if I feel like it. I've got the starting points of a few other survivor's eight little facts written too. As for now, let's call it a oneshot. :)
Thanks for reading! :D