As we near the building, all I could think about was how much I envy the dead. They no longer felt the pain of having a Hunter pretty much rip you apart, or feeling the tongue of the Smoker slowly crush you're bones as he dangles you 10 feet of the ground.
But apart from the physical pain that all survivors of this epidemic had to endure, there was the emotional stuff that will never actually leave you, and won't be a mere flesh scar in the years to come, but it will be a pain that is with you forever. An example of this unendurable pain is losing all of those you hold closest to you, maybe even having to kill some of them to save yourself and others. Everyone in my group had lost at least one person they cared about to the 'flu', and we know that we will miss them forever, seeing as their deaths weren't at all fair, but, hell, life isn't fair, so why should our deaths be?
I know the man I loved had an unfair death.
He's the reason why, instead of hiding, I'm fighting these things until the day I die. Well, mostly...
"Lou," I hear Ben say, bringing me out of my dream, "Louise, sweetheart, are you awake?"
"Yeah, I suppose I am," I groan, smiling at him, looking at him through half open eyes. My eyes open wider as I take in his appearance. "Ben? What's wrong, you don't look well at all."
His beautiful face looks pale and drawn, but panic is alive in his sparkling green eyes. "I've been attacked," he explains, "some lunatic rushed at me in the street, and he pushed me to the ground."
"Oh my God! Did he hurt you?" I ask, and my eyes search over his body. They rest on his right arm, which he is holding behind his back. He notices my staring and hides his injured arm further. I try to pull his arm around so I could look at it, but he gasps in pain, so I stop. "Sorry sorry sorry," I apologize, leaving his arm alone.
"It's nothing. I swear," Ben says, but he holds his arm out and shows me the wound. I gasp. "Don't be worried, the guy probably just fought dirty."
His arm was covered in blood, all seeping from a bite that was too small to be an animal bite, but too deep to be done by human teeth. I go to tell him to call the police, but he stops me. "There are members of CEDA outside, they got the guy off me, and he's now in been locked up somewhere for being a complete psycho," he laughs, but he sounds like he's in pain. "Hey, take Toby to the medicine store and go get me something for the pain. Maybe bandages as well, to stop the bleeding," he adds, and he pulls me out of bed with his good arm.
"I think you should go to the hospital with that arm," I say, but he ignores me, and pulls out some clothes from the wardrobe. "Well, I'm not taking Toby with me," I say. I see Ben freeze, but I continue. "What if another lunatic attacks me? CEDA can't follow us both around, protecting us from people, like the one who attacked yo-"
"TAKE HIM WITH YOU!" Ben yells as he whips around and grasps my wrists in his clammy hands. I wince at how close he is, at how hard he's grabbing my wrists. "IT'S SAFER FOR HIM OUT THERE!" Ben releases me, and turns back round, pulling out clothes faster than before. I'm silent, trying to hold back tears of fright. Ben truly looked like an animal when he turned around. He sighs and turns back around, "I'm sorry, it's just... Something's happening, and... I don't think Toby's safe around me anymore," Ben turns back around and pulls a pistol out of one of the drawers. "Here," he hands me the gun. I stare at it, wide-eyed, for a moment, "take it. If anyone tries to hurt either of you, you are to shoot. Shoot until you feel safe."
I shake my head. "I can't," I sob, "not with Toby there. I can't let him see his Mummy kill a person. What's that going to do for him?"
"Take the Goddamn pistol!" Ben yelled back at me
"FINE! I'll take the bloody gun!" I cried, suddenly furious, "but I'm not gonna use it if Toby's with me."
"Leave him then. Risk your son's life!"
"When I come back, you can pack up your stuff," I hiss. "I don't want you anywhere near us anymore."
Ben suddenly lost the little colour left in his face and he stared at me in disbelief. He began to mutter random things. "But I'm not gonna see you... we can't leave it... But I love..." He sighs before closing his eyes. I see a single tear slide down his cheek. "Fine, then. I- I love you though, Louise. Never forget that, and whatever happens whilst you're gone- I'm sorry."
I almost kiss him, but my stubborn side stops me, and I leave without a word. There is no way in hell that I'm getting him his medicine now. I just need to be out of the house. Give him time to pack.
I see Toby standing in the doorway, looking up at me with his big blue eyes questioningly. "Mommy, where are you going?" He asks.
"I'll be home soon sweetie," I say, walking over to him, planting a kiss on his cheek. "Just do as Daddy says, and when I come back, you can go to your friend's house, okay?"
Toby just nods and I know he knows something's wrong.
I leave the house without saying goodbye to Ben, and at once, I notice that I was right not to have Toby with me. Chaos is the only word I can use to describe it. There are people everywhere in hazmat suits, ushering people into trucks and shouting things like: "Bring all valuable possessions. I repeat: We are evacuating everybody. No one is to remain in town. Bring your families, call relatives; we are taking you all to safety!"
I head off down the streets, searching for somebody to tell me what's going on. I see my neighbour, Mr Douglas, standing at his gate, shaking his head at a CEDA official. The official doesn't like what he's saying and begins to yell. "Sir, please, this is for your own good. Don't you want to live? For your family."
Mr Douglas just stares him down before he starts talking again. The CEDA guy eventually leaves and I approach Mr Douglas. "What's going on?" I ask him. Without looking at me, Mr Douglas just shakes his head.
"I dunno," he sighs. "Some damn flu apparently. Not much to start evacing everyone, is it? I reckon there's more to this 'flu' than they're letting on."
I nod and look away, not really listening to Mr Douglas. I stare down the street and see a huge crowd of people. "I wonder what's going on down there," I say, partly to myself, but Mr Douglas answers anyway.
"Probably someone else refusing to go, but putting up a more interesting fight."
I hear a woman scream, and I run off down the road towards the gathering. I skid to a halt at the back of the crowd, and gently push my way through the people so I could see what was going on. A CEDA worker was trying his hardest to push people away from a man, who was being held back by two other men in hazmat suits in the centre of the circle. The man didn't look normal. His eyes were a very deep yellow, and his skin was very grey, like the colour of a dead body. He was randomly crying out and he was thrashing around a lot.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please back away from the infected individual. We need to take him away to our specialist camps, so we can contain him safely until he is ridden of the Green Flu."
I start to leave, thinking it's better if I obey the guys who think they're saving us, and many join me, but then we hear a pained yell, and we all turn around. The infected man had bit one of the guys who had been holding onto him. His mouth was latched onto his arm, and blood was oozing out of the bite. The others were trying to get the man off him, but he wasn't moving.
"Get this freaking thing off my arm!" the man cries, and then one of his helpers lifted up a gun and positioned it at the head of the man. I looked away, but my ears couldn't escape the sound of the gunshot and the splatter of blood. I covered my nose against the smell.
The injured worker was moaning in pain, and his colleagues were arguing over something, and I could only make out small segments of conversation.
"He was given the vaccine-"
"The vaccine was FAKE! It was just to get us to go out into this world-"
"It was fake? What the hell! We're completely unprotected by this thing!"
"Don't worry. It's been proven some people are immune to it. Maybe we're one of the few lucky people who are."
"Good point, but-"
"But nothing. She's listening to us," The workers turn to look at me, and I turn around and walk away, severely shaken about what happened. I was glad Toby didn't see what happened.
Wait. Wasn't Ben bitten this morning? I began to run back to the house. Of course that's why he wanted us both out of the house. So we could survive. That's why he gave me the gun. He wanted me to kill him when I got back.
I couldn't though. I loved Ben. But if he's hurt Toby... I have no doubt that I will kill Ben.
I race off home, pushing past all the CEDA workers pleading with me to get on the truck. I tell them where to go, and finally reach the front door of my house
I hesitated at the front door, toying whether to call someone from CEDA to deal with Ben, but I realise Ben wanted to be put to rest by someone who knew him and would remember who he was before everything happened.
I took a deep breath and entered the house.
"Ben?" I called into the dark house. Everything was just as I'd left it, but all the warmth in the house had left, leaving it a ghost of the family home it used to be. I heard soft groans from upstairs, and lifted up the gun, preparing myself for the task I was about to do.
"Ben? Toby?" I call again into the house. Only groans reply. No Toby. Oh, God, what if I'm too late and Ben has killed him. Even worse, what if he's one of those things, and if I don't kill him, CEDA will. I begin to have all the emotions fill me up; spilling out of me in sobs and tears. I can't kill my baby, but I can't let him be killed by some stranger. It's like agreeing to the murder of my child. It's morally wrong.
I slowly began my ascent to torture: killing someone who has been there for me through thick and thin. Every step made a creak that made me wince in the silence of the house. I knew things were only going slow because I was dreading this moment, and time seemed to be against me, probably making it more torturous for me. Every breath hurt, and every heartbeat was painful, killing me. I was sorely tempted to take my own life, then and there, but the thought of leaving Toby was almost as painful as the thought of killing him. I finally reached the top of the stairs, and I enter my bedroom first, searching for Ben. The room is trashed, showing that Ben must have been in a struggle when he finally lost his hold on this life. Blood pools in certain places, and crimson hand prints have appeared on the wall, leading out of the room.
I hear the moans coming from further down the hall, and I follow them, slowly at first, but realising they came from Toby's bedroom made me speed up, and suddenly all I could think of was how I was going to kill Ben.
I pushed open the bedroom door slightly, and saw a large figure standing in the centre of the room, swaying gently, emitting soft groans. I aimed the gun at the back of his head, and prepared to shoot, when Ben turned around.
I gasped and stumbled backwards, whipping my arm out of the way in a flash, dodging the onslaught of his teeth. I backed away as he advanced on me, crying out unintelligibly, but he was too fast, and I tripped at the abrupt closeness of him. He was going to kill me. I raised the gun and aimed square between his eyes. "I love you," I whispered, before pulling the trigger. The creature fell back and landed with a thud on the ground. I sat there for a while, looking at the body and the pool of blood that slowly grew larger and larger until the blood was on the bottom of my shoes. I stood up in a daze, and began walking to the bathroom to clear my face up.
The bathroom is in more of a mess than the bedroom was, and on one of the mirrors, written in blood, was the message 'TOBY NOT HOME'. I read the message over and over in my head, trying to feel something other than the numbness that seeped between my bones and ran through my entire body. Toby wasn't around when his father turned, but had left the house. He can't have gone far, unless he got on the truck.
I ran out the room, past the body of my fiancé, down the stairs and outside, desperate to get on a truck or to find someone who could help. But there was complete silence outside. Not a single person remained, and all the trucks were gone.
"No," I whisper. "Please! Somebody! I need to find my son! I need help!" I call out into the empty streets.
I collapse on the floor, and stay hunched over for a while, quietly crying to myself, wishing someone will come for me. I hear footsteps, and I look up, expecting another infected person to come and attack me.
"Louise? What're you still doin' here? I thought you'd have left with Ben and you're son," Mr Douglas says, looking down at me with pity in his eyes. I look at him, grateful to see a friendly face.
"Ben's dead," I say, and my voice cracks from the endless tears that pour from my eyes, "and Toby's missing. Please, help me find him."
Mr Douglas just looks at me for a while, trying to think of a worthy excuse not to save an innocent child. He sighs and holds out a hand. "Well, I saw him get on the truck with that friend of yours... I forget her name, but if we can get you to an evacuation centre, then I'm positive you'll find him when they take you wherever they take the people smart enough to get on the trucks." I grasp his rough old hand and he lifts me to my feet.
Then we headed down the road, ready for a long walk that wouldn't be easy for us at all.
I had became a 'survivor' simply by my fiancé protecting me, and I know he'd have preferred it much more if I'd hopped on one of the trucks and left for one of those CEDA camps that have been set up to hold all of the smart survivors up until the last of the infected dies out, or they find a cure. But that could tell decades, and I can't wait that long to see if my child has survived or not.
But I wasn't alone in my search, as Mr Douglas, although he's old and a bit of a loner, has stuck with me the whole way. He's quite handy with a gun as well, and taught us how to use the guns efficiently. He's now like a father figure to me, and the others and I look up to him and treat him with the respect a crew might give to their captain.
Then there's Molly, a nineteen year old girl who was out with her boyfriend when this struck, so she had no one to tell her that they were getting evacuated from their town, so when her boyfriend chased her back home, looking unlike himself, she was confused why no one came out to help her. Then Mr Douglas blew a hole in her boyfriend's stomach, which, understandably, Molly wasn't too happy about, but when it was all explained to her, she forgave him pretty quickly. I knew Moll because she used to babysit Toby until she decided that she couldn't stand having half of her Saturdays taken up. In her words it was a "crappy way to spend the weekend". Gorgeous, funny and rather smart, Molly was the most popular girl at school, and all the boys wanted her, but she was always a bit of a child, and now she's had to grow up pretty fast. At first she was opposed to killing zombies, but when one of them tackled me to the ground, she had to face her fears. She had pretty good aim as well, which shocked me, because she had quite shaky hands when she shot the zombie off me. But she prefers using things that don't have triggers and barrels, stuff like baseball bats-which are very common- and, rarer, ninja swords.
Then there was Kyle, a seventeen year old who I had never met before the infection hit. I adore Kyle, and he's just like a little brother to me. He runs off a lot though, because he thinks he's the best fighter in the group. He's not. He tries to be graceful and quick, but he will always end up alerting the Horde one way or another, and then we have to count on him to get us out if the place we're in quickly. We count on Kyle because he has some way of finding the nearest exit. He's the genius in that sense, and he's always got a plan. But he needs to always have plans to get us out of a mess because he's the one who's getting us into them.
Like right now, Kyle has broken away from the group and is chasing after a Jockey that has just tried to jump on Molly. He is making random shots at him, and is mimicking his annoying laughter.
"HAHA! Look at the little bastard run!" He laughs, about to turn round the corner. I chase after him, running as fast as my tired legs could carry me.
"Kyle!" I cry, grabbing him just as he rounds the corner. He yelps as I drag him back, muttering angrily at his stupidity. "You could have gotten yourself killed! There could be all sorts round there. What would you have done if that Jockey was leading you towards a bloody Witch, and you were laughing too much to even hear her crying?" I hissed at him.
Kyle's face went pale and he looked frightened, but he regained his composure and grinned. "I'd give that bitch somethin' to cry about."
I yanked the collar of his shirt back, and he choked a little. "Language," I snarled.
We approached Molly and Mr Douglas, who was both chuckling at Kyle's shocked expression at being slightly strangled by his own shirt.
"Boy," Mr Douglas laughed, hitting the back of Kyle's head lightly," you're gonna be the death of me."
Kyle rubbed the back of his head and grinned at Mr Douglas, not saying a word. I rolled my eyes at his apparent lack of noticing the danger that the situation could have caused. "You are all just pains in the arse. I try my hardest to keep everyone safe, but you just don't give a shit do you?"
Everyone is silent, staring at their feet. I sigh and lead the way into the building. I approach the entrance, and I look up at the large sign that is placed right above the doors.
"The Vannah," I read out-loud, "four-star hotel. Hm, do you think this'll do?" I ask. I look up at the setting sun and decide for the group. I open the door, and usher everyone inside, glancing around making sure no zombies were approaching. The last thing we needed was to fight off a freaking Horde.
I followed the group inside, locking the door behind me, and began moving the furniture in front of the door. Mr Douglas and Molly helped me, but Kyle searched for something to eat in the cupboards. He made a disappointed sigh as he opened each cupboard, finding absolutely nothing there. He looked behind the desk, and groaned.
"So, I'm guessin' we ain't eatin' nothin', then?" Molly asked, turning large, sad chocolate eyes towards Kyle.
Kyle fidgeted nervously, like he always did when Molly spoke to him. He had fancied her since the day they met, and Molly knew that, but she didn't want to embarrass Kyle, so she played dumb. "Uh, well..." he struggled to get his words out, so I decided to save him by going over and looking behind the desk.
"Why did you sound so unhappy? There's food here," There's a loaf of bread and some cheese, the only things left behind by the other survivors. Mr Douglas hands me his pocket knife, and I cut the cheese, careful not to use it all so any other survivors who come this way can eat something. I make very poor sandwiches and hand them out to the group. I hear Kyle grumble and I roll my eyes. He can't stop complaining about the food, even though he should be grateful there's food at all.
Once we were all fed and watered enough to get us through another day, we all settled down for sleep.
"Guys, try and get some rest, okay, 'cos we're gonna fight our way up to the roof tomorrow, first thing. We have to make this one. It's one of last centres in Savannah," I hear snores before I even finish speaking. I close my eyes and drift off, knowing that after tomorrow, I never have to kill another person ever again.