Chapter 7

"Lou! Please! Help! Help me!" Kyle's voice pleaded. I spun around in the darkness, trying to find some speck of light, of hope. The pitch black was strangling me, the fear keeping me rooted to the spot.

"Kyle!" I managed to scream out. "Kyle! Where are you?" He let out a pain filled cry, and I shrieked back in response.

"Lou!" The voice was different. Deeper. Familiar. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew deep down who owned that voice. "Lou! Please! Don't let him die! Don't let our boy lose his mommy."

Ben.

"Ben!" My voice was filled with pure fear. This was just a dream. Kyle wasn't lost in the darkness. I was just sleeping, and it was a horrid nightmare, brought on by killing all those innocent people.

"Mommy," A young voice whispered.

My eyes snapped open, and I started awake. My hands were shaking, and I felt the tears pouring down my cheeks. My torso ached when I moved. I gasped out as I tried to use my arms to lift myself up.

"Hey, don't move too much, honey." I heard Mr Douglas whisper. I felt his large hand on my head, stroking my hair, soothing me. "You're probably still very sore. How are you feeling?"

"Tired," I replied. I relaxed into the hand combing through my hair, and sighed. Just a dream. Just a dream.

But something didn't feel right.

"Tired? You slept for a day," the old man chuckled, but then his smile fell, and he looked at me, his eyes searching mine. "Are you sure you're alright?" He asked. His hand left my hair.

I sighed and laughed at his persistence. "Yes! I'm fine," I went to laugh some more, but something in his dark eyes told me that he was serious, and that he was worried. "Why? What happened?" I started to panic. Had they found Toby, dead in a ditch somewhere? Had Ellis been horrifically injured? Had something bad happened to me? Then something clicked at the back of my mind, and the horrible memory hit me:

"Kyle!" Molly was screaming at the top of her lungs. "No! Kyle, no!" She began crying. I felt my eyes flutter open, but my vision was swimming, and everything was just colourful blurs. I tried taking in a deep breath, but the throbbing ache in my chest told me to keep it shallow. I watched as the shape that was sobbing – obviously Molly – bent down over a – what is that? It was just a big red blob. Shapeless.

"Louise?" I heard Ellis clearly, even over Molly's heartbroken sobs, as he was screaming. I saw his shape moving rapidly towards me. "Louise!" I could tell he was hovering over me know, as his voice was in my ear, and his breath was on my face. "Not dead. She's not dead... Is she?"

I felt large fingers on my neck, and I took in a sharp intake of breath as they pushed down on the painful area were the tongue had been constricting me. "No," Coach. He removed his fingers from my neck. "She's alive. Just."

A devastated shriek ripped through the air, and I saw a grey haired shape pull the Molly figure away from the red mess on the floor. Why did she want to get to the mess so much? Was it important? I tried to remember, but I kept coming up blank.

I felt large hands reach under my body, and I heard myself whimper as they lifted me up, and carried me towards a blue box: the car.

I saw a white shape move towards us. It looked like an angel. I tried to reach out and touch the angel, but I couldn't get my arms to move. That wasn't good.

"Is she...?" The angel had a rough voice, and it was definitely a man.

"No. She's alive, but we need to get her out of here." Coach replied, and I saw the angel relax a bit.

"What about the kid? Kyle?" The angel asked.

"Nick, if you can't see that he's had his insides ripped out, I think you need to have your eyes checked out," Coach snapped. He sighed, and shifted as he struggled with my weight. "Sorry. I just... He was a kid... My daughter is his age, and that's not something I want to see..."

"I understand," I wasn't fooled anymore. This was no angel; it was Nick, and I had no trouble with the differences now. "Here. Give her to me. You go... Deal... With the body."

My body was passed between the two men, and I felt the smooth fabric of Nick's suit against my cold skin, and I moved so I was more comfortable in Nick's strong arms. He walked me the rest of the way to the car, and I could hear him whispering, but if he was talking to me, I wasn't listening.

"Is she-?" I heard Rochelle as we got nearer to the car.

"She's not dead." Nick didn't sound in the mood for Rochelle at the moment. He pushed past her.

"What about Kyle?"

"He's been ripped apart," Nick didn't sound like he cared. "You can't even tell it's him anymore, pore son of a bitch. He just looks like a huge, bloody mess."

I shot up, trembling, tears streaming down my face, as I remembered the Hunter tearing apart my youngest friend, his screams. But Ellis got to us, didn't he? He should have saved Kyle. Maybe he was too late. Maybe the damage had already been done.

Rochelle, Molly, and Nick all woke up, and I noticed that I was lying on them. I looked at them: Rochelle looked understanding, Nick looked tired, and Molly... Molly just didn't look like Molly at all. Her eyes were bloodshot, but there were no more tears. Her hair looked bedraggled, and her skin was pale. But her appearance wasn't what scared me. It was her eyes, past the redness, they were empty. Nothing lay behind them. She'd lost her happiness, her bubbly personality, but the scariest part was there was no more fight in those brown eyes.

She'd given up. There was nothing left for her to live for anymore.

"Where's Kyle?" I asked. I watched Molly flinch, and Nick's eyes dropped, and my shoes were suddenly oh-so interesting.

"There was nothing we could do." Mr Douglas sounded sad, and he started rubbing my back, trying to calm me.

"He can't be dead," I whispered. They ignored me.

Molly started shaking, and emotion filled her eyes. "That's not fair... How can someone so young, so good die like that?"

"He's not dead," I said it louder, but everyone was focused on Molly, as she lost that flash of emotion in her eyes, and her tone turned trance like. It was steady and slow, but there was no feeling behind the words.

"He was so bloody." She didn't care that no one wanted to remember, and I didn't want to know, so she continued. "All that blood. It was everywhere. On the floor. On my clothes. Even on my hands." She looked at her hands, as if she could still see the boy's blood on her palms. "It just wasn't where it was supposed to be: in his body."

I couldn't speak. My stomach was doing somersaults, and I knew that if I had something in my stomach, it would now be all over the back of the car. Nick, also looking pale, put an arm around Molly, and white-hot fury ripped through me. He was jumping into Kyle's place already, was he? The kid hadn't been dead long, and here Nick was, trying to get to Molly.

Molly didn't move, so I couldn't tell whether she liked him touching her or not, but he took it as a good sign to continue to 'comfort' her. He made me sick.

"Its okay, Moll. I understand what you're going through," he didn't. "I'm here for you," if you want to 'talk' that is. "I'm gonna miss him as much as you, but we all have to let go –"

"Kyle. Is. Not. Dead!" I yelled into the confined space of the car, causing Nick to shut his stupid mouth. Molly lifted her head, and looked at me with pity. Did Molly, the girl who builds her life on false hopes and beliefs, pity me for not believing them? "He's only a kid. You're all just playing a sick joke on me, you bastards!"

Yes, I was aware I sounded harsh, childish, and even a little (a lot) crazy, but I couldn't let them say he was dead. I couldn't allow myself to believe their lies.

Mr Douglas fished around in his pockets for a moment, and then he found something long and thin. It glittered when the light that was on in the car hit it, and I could see that it was dark and dull in places. He handed me it, and I realised it was a chain. I remembered seeing it around Kyle's neck a couple of times, and he never removed it.

"Why are you giving me Kyle's chain?" I asked, and I looked at it closer, and I noticed the dark patches on the gold were dark red. Blood red, in fact.

"Remember," Mr Douglas' voice wavered slightly, and I could see tears in his eyes, "when we were all sitting in that first safe house with just us four and I said 'I can see us lasting longer than the rest of those dipshits'?" I nodded; I remembered it well. "I was right, wasn't I? We lasted so much longer without those poor bastards around. But you brought up the fact that if you died, we would have to get there and give your son that photograph of his family. That brought us on to what we wanted to happen if we died in battle. You were so stubborn; you wouldn't even accept the possibility that something would go wrong. I said as long as you saw your son, I would be happy. Molly has her Mom's ring, and she wants that to get back to her. Kyle, he had this," he closed my hand around the chain, "and he wants his Dad to have it. We have to get that back to him, now."

I was silent as I stared at the chain, and I could feel the tears pour out of my eyes. The chain felt heavy in my hands, and some of the blood smeared onto my hands, and I could feel the ache in my chest.

I mumbled something about needing air, and I clumsily fell out of the car, apologising as I heard the gasps and hisses, protesting against me putting my weight on wounds and injuries, and on places that would normally hurt. I forced open the door, and I took in a gulp of the fresh air as it hit my face. The coldness of the air made the tears that leaked out of my eyes feel freezing against my warm skin. I made sure I walked far enough away from the car, so I could allow my sobs to grow louder. I was holding onto the chain so tight, that it was starting to break the skin, but I didn't care. Kyle was my friend, and in this time, having friends was hard, but I thought that he'd be safe. I thought I could keep him safe.

But I was wrong.

Now he's dead, and all I have to remember him by is this chain. I shook as I wept harder, the pain overwhelming.

I heard footsteps behind me, and I knew that if it was one of the infected, they wouldn't be so quiet. I turned around to face the person, and felt my cheeks grow hot as I noticed it was Ellis. How long had he been stood there?

"You okay?" he asked, not really looking me in the eye. I smiled and nodded, lying to both of us. He looked me in the eye then, frowning, and asked, "Really?"

I turned my nod into a shake, and I felt my face crumple. Wrapping my arms around him, I began crying heavily into his shoulder, which stank of sweat and death. And smoke.

"Ellis," I regained control of my sobs enough to speak again. "Did you... Deal with his body?" I looked at his face.

His eyes were tortured as I looked into them, until they closed, and he nodded. "We burnt him." He said it as if he was ashamed, but he shouldn't be. Burning was the most respectful way to 'deal' with the dead. We couldn't bury them, because we still didn't know whether the zombies will just dig up the bodies for lunch. If we had time, we'd usually have a make-shift funeral as the body burnt, but I didn't like that. You could smell the burning flesh. You could watch the skin char.

I shuddered and pictured Kyle, burning to a crisp, and I heaved at the imaginary smell. Ellis cautiously held me at arm's length, and waited until he was sure I wasn't going to throw up over him before he pulled me closer for a hug.

"Kyle shouldn't be dead." I mumbled into his chest. "He was just a baby." I tried to remember what my last words were to him, and I wailed in anger and devastation. "The last words I'd said to him were about his use of profanity." I pressed my face against his chest and screamed at myself. "I am such a bitch!"

"I'm so sorry Lou... I really am." Ellis whispered into my hair. I caught my breath.

"It's not your fault" I reassured him, smiling at him; he was really too sweet.

"It is. I shoulda saved him first."

"It's oka- What?" I pulled back to look at his face. He wasn't looking me in the eye again. "What do you mean?"

"I shouldn't have saved you first." His words all fell out in a rushed confession. "You'd have been fine another few minutes, so I should have shot that thing off of Kyle before I shot the Smoker's tongue."

I felt myself shake. Ellis had saved me first? But Kyle was bleeding to death! Was he out of his freaking mind? "How dare you! That little boy is dead because of you, Ellis!" I pulled out of his embrace and stormed off towards the car. I heard his rapid, heavy footsteps behind me as he chased me. He grabbed my wrist, and tried to hold me back.

Pulling my hand away from his, I spun round so that my face was centimetres from his. "Listen here, you little shit. You stay the hell away from me or I swear to God I'll -" My threat was cut short by Ellis' mouth on mine, trying to bring me back to him. His arms held me close and they were tight, stopping me from moving away. I screamed into his mouth, but he didn't let go. I beat my hands against his chest, but he didn't get the picture. I raised my hand, and with as much force as I could muster, I slapped him right across the face, so that he staggered back, half from pain, and half from shock. "Keep away from me Ellis. I can make your death look like an accident." I growled at the traitor in front of me.

I'd never threatened to murder someone before, but Ellis made me so angry!

What scared me, was how much I meant it.

I wanted Ellis to die.

I trudged back to the car, threw open the door, and climbed in. I avoided everybody's wide-eyed stares as I lay across them in the seating arrangement which made awkward situations that little bit more awkward.

After standing outside for a good 10 minutes, Ellis got back in the car. His eyes were red, as was the hand shaped print on his cheek. He glared at the open road in front of us as he started the car. The rumble of the engine made the car vibrate, and the growling didn't stop.

Coach was the first to speak, gingerly asking, "So how we getting to New Orleans?"

Ellis didn't look at him, but smiled darkly at the road. "I wanna go past a place I used to go to as a kid." Carefully, I watched his eyes dart to a sign that said 'Whispering Oaks Amusement Park- 900 miles'.

Well, this was going to be a long journey...

Next stop, Whispering Oaks! I'm trying to get these out quickly, 'cause I don't want to be writing these for the next couple of years, and I'm sure you guys don't want to be reading them that long either :)

Please review!