No time for goodbye he said
As he faded away
Don't put your life in someone's hands
They're bound to steal it away
Don't hide your mistakes
'Cause they'll find you, burn you
Then he said
If you want to get out alive
Whoa-oh, run for your life
If you want to get out alive
Whoa-oh, run for your life
-Three Days Grace "Get Out Alive"
Ellis woke with a jerk that shook the whole bed, causing Nick to groan in irritation. "Overalls, this bed will not stand up to that kind of wiggling." The older man had one white clad arm over his eyes and the other draped under Ellis' shoulders. "If it could, do you really think either of us would still be dressed?"
"You're OK!" Ellis blurted out, grabbing Nick's arm and pushing it off of his face. The now familiar green eyes blinked at him in confusion.
"Of course, I am, Kiddo," The many ringed fingers cupped Ellis' stubbled jaw and held him so he could see his face. "What are you talking about?"
Ellis blushed and pulled him face away looking away. "The Smoker. . . "He stumbled over his words, "your ribs, the blood. . . ": He stopped, embarrassed. "It must have been a terrible bad dream." He mumbled into his shoulder, not meeting Nick's eyes.
"That damn Smoker was back at the amusement park from hell, Kiddo," Nick tried to sound firm, bit the kid's concern touched him. He couldn't remember the last time someone had cared enough about him to be upset if he died. In a dream or otherwise.
Ellis jerked, looking back at Nick. The last words had been Nick's voice, but the broken rasp from the dream. Nick pulled himself up to lean back against the wall behind the bed. "You shouldn't look at me like that, Ellis," He said. "You are starting to creep me out."
"Sorry, Nick," Ellis said sheepishly and gently stroked his lover's face. "It was just a real bad dream is all."
Nick grabbed the mechanics hand as Ellis started to pull away and placed a quick kiss on the callused palm. "Well, stop it; I don't like to think of you dreaming about me being dead."
Ellis gave another shy smile and moved to grab his hat from the waterlogged night stand, but Nick had other ideas.
"Not so fast, Overalls," He grinned in a decidedly feral manner. "We have a real bed all to ourselves; you think a nap is the only thing I want?" He had pulled the younger man closer to him, until they were almost nose to nose. "Surely there is a better use for this bed."
Ellis closed the couple of inches between them, placing their lips together just as Rochelle cleared her throat at the door. "I think Nick was right the first time, Sweetie. That bed can't take it."
"Neither can I," Coach added from somewhere behind her in the short hallway. "The rain has let up for now, we need to get moving again."
Ellis blushed a furious red color, but Nick just gave him one gentle kiss and pushed him back. "You heard the man, we have to get moving. I guess I will just have to wait until we are back on the boat." It was clear that the man had no idea how to be embarrassed.
Ellis was certain that if he got any reader, he would begin to glow and bring down a hoard, but Nick seemed almost un-phased by Rochelle's interruption. The man in the formerly white suit just stretched and put his legs back down into the muddy water that covered the floor of the tiny bedroom.
Ellis followed Nick's lead, but shuddered as the cold filthy water covered his feet and lower legs again, wicking up along the fabric of his overalls. He was beginning to hate water.
"Run, Ellis." Nicks ragged voice again. Once again Ellis turned quickly to see Nick simply stretching his arms and checking his inventory.
"You say somthin'" Ellis asked, knowing what the answer would be.
"Ellis, don't crack up on us now," Nick said gently, but firmly, looking Ellis in the eye and holding his slightly frightened gaze. "We have to keep it together at least a little while longer." He sounded genuinely concerned.
"I'm alright, Nick," Ellis tried to sound cheerful. "It was just such a bad dream; it still got me all bothered. It'll go away once we start moving again."
Nick gave a tight smile, and cupped Ellis' head as he walked out of the room, giving him one last kiss.
The rain had eased up, but it was not gone. The flood waters were also still rising. Flash floods will do that.
As the small group of survivors fought their way back toward Virgil, and the boat, they found out several unpleasant facts: Zombies didn't notice they were submerged and were just as dangerous under the muddy water as above it, and zombies weren't the only dead things around. A sickening tide of dead animals, rats, dogs, chickens, and possums floated by on the filthy water.
As they struggled toward the Burger Tank, Ellis couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong. He had suffered from dreams that felt too real before, but this one was worse. He kept hearing Nick's voice, wheezing from the strain and the rattle of his chest as he fought to get air into lungs that would no longer inflate.
It was always the same. Nick kept telling him to run. Telling him that if he wanted to survive he needed to run and not look back. But Nick wasn't saying anything. Well, not anything other than his usual stream of invectives and curses about the residents of the rural south.
The Burger Tank was in site, but the storm chose that moment to flare back into angry, violent life. Rochelle and Coach ran ahead to see if the weapons were still in the dining room of the little greasy restaurant, yelling for Nick and Ellis to turn on the sign for Virgil.
The ladder to the roof was not stable under the best of conditions, and Ellis called Nick over to have the other man hold it while he turned on the lighted sign. Nick wasn't behind him. The howling wind and almost painful rain made it hard to find the man.
A dim figure staggered toward him. The white suit and blue shirt slowly emerged from the storm, but something was wrong. Nick walked like a man not familiar with his own body. Like one of the shambling dead things that had plagued them since the beginning of this whole ordeal.
"Not funny, man. Quit screwin' around and hold this ladder for me." Nick kept the same slow uneven pace toward him.
"Nick, stop it," Ellis heard the whine in his own voice, but was powerless to stop it. "We don't have time for this."
"Ellis, you have to run." Nick's voice, but this time, it was from the Nick in front of him. Nick's face was bowed down, out of site, and his hands were empty and slack at his sides. "You have to RUN!" Nick lifted his face and the slack jawed visage of one of the walking dead stared him in the face as lighting flashed; turning the world into a demented disco.
Ellis woke with a jolt so violent is shook the small bed. He struggled to get his breathing under control, but failed. The storm had stopped for now and the room was quiet. Very quiet, just the lapping to the water as it filled the sad little house. The bed felt soggy and wet underneath him, the water had risen enough to begin to soak the mattress under them.
Nick lay next to him.
In the new quiet, Ellis realized what had woken him. Nick wasn't breathing. The ragged gasping, the gagging cough, all of it quiet.
Rochelle and Coach came in at sound of Ellis screaming Nick's name over and over. They had to pull him form the bed and shut the door behind the distraught young man. They didn't have to see the still body as it sat up from the bed. No longer Nick, but dressed in his white suit.