Chapter 1 refugee


My face slammed into the murky puddle as another strong blow hit me in the back. I couldn't feel from my waist down, if there was any of it left. The tank roared above me angrily, the noise deafening me.

My heart was hammering inside my head. I lifted my head wearily. I could see the tank heading towards the saferoom. Thank God it had left me, another attack from the mutant beast and I would've been a goner. I could see the bright light of the saferoom and was just able to hear the screaming voices from inside.

"Dude we can't!" Francis screamed, standing outside the door looking for me, his voice strained. "We can't leave her there, we need to go back!"

"Francis!" Louis screamed back at him, grabbing his arm. He seemed just a distressed. "She's gone, she's fucking gone Francis!"

The tank roared and ripped a huge chunk of concrete out of the cobbled road and as it soared in the air, the saferoom door closed. That was it.

Although I could see the tank charging into the distance, probably thinking I was dead, I would either die of excessive bleeding or a hunter would find me like it had earlier. I had a huge gash on my stomach and deep scratches on my chest and thighs. I wasn't going to make it.

My eyesight was blurry and my hands were going numb. I sighed raggedly, rested my head on the cobbled stones and said my prayers. Tears began rolling down my cheeks. I knew it was no use crying and it wasn't something I did often but it was a release. There would only be Francis and Louis left, Bill had already gone.

The blood from my chest had just touched my cheek, so I knew I didn't have long. And then a wave of deep, heavy black overtook me and my face slammed to the floor, defeated.

I thought I was dead, but being dead wouldn't hurt this much. My stomach ached badly but as I tried to lift my hand to cradle the wound, I couldn't move.

I believed I had been unconscious a long time because the heavy rain had stopped and I could no longer see a hint of light through my eyelids. And then I heard a voice. I had no idea what I was hearing, perhaps my mind was playing tricks on me but when I heard it again, slightly clearer this time, I knew it was real.

"Hey look!" the voice cried, deep and hard, "there's a girl here!" Footsteps headed closer to me, followed by more until they stood so close I could feel a shoe next to me.

"Is she alive?" A timid voice asked. It was a girl's voice, thank God. A hand touched my back and the shock bolted through me.

"Aghh," I choked, finally being able to move again. A searing pain ripped through my chest. I felt them jump back.

"I don't know, should we bring her along?" a deeper voice asked.

"Yeah, yeah we gotta man," a shaken southern male voice said, he sounded younger. " I ain't leaving her."

I was scooped up in warm, sturdy arms, trying to ignore my pain.

"Aw, man she's real pretty," the southern voice said. I was in his arms, his neck vibrated as he spoke and his breath washed over my face. I curled up to his warm chest, a relief from the cold, hard, wet stones.

"The safe room's just up here," the deepest voice said, "we'll stay for a few nights." The jolting of the southerner's body as he ran made my stomach ache but I tried to ignore it. If I wailed, he'd probably drop me with fright.

I kept my eyes closed but I could tell we were in the saferoom, it was warmer and I could hear the door being bolted.

"Ellis honey, we're going to get food and blankets. There's a store around the around the corner-well what's left of a store. We won't be long, Nick will be sleeping downstairs," said the girl's voice.

"Okay then," the southerner said, who I guessed must be Ellis, "I'll take her upstairs n' patch her up."

Ellis's heavy footsteps filled my head as he trailed up the stairs with me still clinging to him. I didn't want to open my eyes, I couldn't physically bring myself to do it, but I felt myself slowing drifting into the familiar feeling of unconsciousness. The last thing I remember feeling was strong, tender hands prying my fingers from their shirt.

I didn't know how long I'd slept but I suddenly felt very awake. I sat up swiftly and opened my eyes, relieved I had the strength to do it. I was lying on a double mattress, with one pillow under my head and a thin blanket pulled around me. The room was small, with just the mattress and a lamp that was our only source of light, it seemed.

There was a bottle of water next to me and some pain pills. I took them eagerly, but soon regretted it. I wasn't in as much pain as I had been before and so the pills were simply going to keep me up.

The window was simply a square hole in the wall, the glass replaced with a metal grid. I shivered as a cool breeze came through the window and although it was refreshing, it was cold. I lifted up my blood stained tank top and gasped. My wounds were now covered in heavy bandages, even the ones on my chest. I pulled my jeans down slightly. Even the ones of my thighs. I blushed at the thought of someone patching my chest up.

A small sigh next to me made me jolt in fright and allowed realisation to dawn on me, remembering it had been Ellis had taken me up here in the first place. He was facing me, his hands curled up into fists. He had caramel curly hair which was covered by a cap with a little blue truck on. His face was relaxed while he slept, the most relaxed I'd seen someone in a long time.

He didn't look very old, maybe the same age as me. He had light stubble which surrounded his parted pink lips. He was wearing a yellow shirt on which you could see previous blood stains that were faded from what looked like a hand wash. He was actually pretty cute.

I stood up carefully and headed over to the window, wanting to get some more air. The sky was a heavy black outside, I guessed it was around early morning. A few lifeless zombies wandered around aimless under the faint glow of the failing streetlamps, their muttering and groans an all too familiar sound.

I inhaled a shaky breath and had to hold on to the grid for support. I was still tired, I needed more sleep but I knew I couldn't do it. I was also starving with my last meal being well over three days and it added to the weakness my wounds were causing me. Suddenly, through the thick bars of the window, a desperate hand grabbed my arm, causing me to yelp and step back, patting my pockets for my pistols.

"God dammit," I muttered. They weren't there. The zombie climbed further up the railing and continued to stick his hand through the railing, screeching loudly. I stepped further back when what could only be Ellis in his faded yellow shirt jumped in front of me and nudged the zombie with his pistol, making it loose its grip and fall to the streets below, landing with an ear-splitting crack.

"Hey, you ok?" He asked, turning to face me.

I nodded silently in reply.

"My name's Ellis," he said, rubbing the back of his head. "Some people call me El but I don't really like that 'cause I think it sounds like a girl's name, but you can call me El if you wanna." He seemed pretty nervous. A strong pain tore through me and I gasped raggedly.

"Woah hey," he said coming over to me with his arms outstretched. "You ok there, miss?"

"Yeah, yeah I'm fine," I lied. It seemed I had needed the pain pills, but they weren't working yet. I fell to my knees and laid face down on the old mattress. Ellis sat down next to me, where he'd been sleeping.

"You were in pretty bad shape when we found you," He said, his eyes focused on the dim light the lamp gave out. "You were all covered in blood n stuff, I thought you were already dead when we found ya."

I tried not to remember about any of it, not wanting to recall the pain or my friends.

"Do you see anything?" I whispered as Louis stared through a pair of dirty binoculars a ambling zombie had carelessly dropped.

"Mm, not yet," he muttered. He stood up shakily, "I'll try the other side."

We'd managed to get on a high roof and we were looking for any sight of a saferoom. I shuffled over to Francis who was sitting behind an air vent, looking the saddest I'd seen him. He was holding Bill's hat in his hand, turning it around aimlessly. Everyone was upset over his death, I had tried not to think about it unless I was reminded of it. I blinked and wiped the tears out of my eyes, not wanting to look weak.

"Come here," Francis said weakly, holding his arms out to me. I leaned into him silently, my breathing ragged.

"It'll be ok," he sighed, stroking me hair. It wasn't like him to be affectionate or show weakness but it seemed everything was pretty hopeless lately.

"Yes I found one!" Louis cried, jumping up excitedly, still trying to keep his voice low. "Come on, let's go!"

As we climbed carefully down the rusted ladder that hung from the side of the building, it began to rain heavily. It was hard to see, the rain pounding against our faces as we headed to what we hoped to be the right direction. As a faint light grew in the distance, the cobbled road beneath us began to shake.

"Shit tank!" Francis screamed, but I could hardly hear him. "Quick let's go!"

We ran forwards, unable to see any kind of light at all. I heard a distance roar which made me run faster. Still, I wasn't able to catch up with Francis and Louis. A hunter had found me and torn me to shreds.

When Louis found me and eventually shoved the hunter off and blasted it with a shotgun, I was a mess. None of us had a first aid kit and so I had to wait until we found one. That's why we'd climbed onto the roof, to get a better sight of were we were headed.

Louis and Francis were able to run ahead but I was practically limping behind them. I lost my balance and fell hard onto the street, not being able to get up. Francis came back for me but just as he went to pull me up, I felt the first, sharp hit into my back.

"Hey," Ellis said, waving his hand in front of my face, "urr miss?"

"Yeah," I said suddenly, realising I was still here and that I'd been staring at the wall for 3 minutes.

"What's your name?" Ellis asked, taking his hat off and twisting it in his hands.

"Zoey," I yawned, laying carefully back on the mattress.

"Zoey hmm," I heard Ellis say, "well that's-"

But I was already unconscious before he could finish his sentence.