Chapter One

Amaya shifted in her sleep, waking me from my slumber. I yawned and sat up glancing around the small shelter.

We managed to find a small tree fort out away from the city when shit really started to hit the fan. People were killing each other, eating each other... No, not people. These weren't people anymore, they were... Well I'm not really sure how to put it. They are scary creatures that are categorized as sick cannibals. They're truly something out of a horror movie. We, meaning everyone on the entire fucking planet, have no idea how it started, or what it is. So far, I can safely say its some sort of disease that numbs your brain, wiping your memories, emotions, and pretty much everything that makes you a human being, and leaves you with the most basic of all needs... The need to eat, and feed. My younger sister, Amaya, and I are two of the few lucky survivors that made it out of the city before the jets flew in, blowing the place to bits. Apparently, this isn't occurring just here in Seattle, Washington; This epidemic is happening everywhere.

Amaya whimpered in her sleep and shifted once again. I rubbed her back and pulled the covers over her farther. Amaya shot up and looked around quickly. Her breathing was labored as tears welled up in her eyes. "Shhhh. It's OK Amaya, I'm here." I whispered softly. Amaya looked up at me, the tears trickling down her cheeks. "I had another dream about mommy." Amaya nuzzled into me. I hummed a quiet lullaby our mother used to sing to us and ran my fingers through her knotted, red hair. Amaya soon relaxed, and pulled away from me, sending a chill up my spine. I smiled and wiped any remaining tears from her face. "You ready for breakfast? Its..." I checked my wrist watch. "Almost six thirty." Amaya nodded and grinned, showing her missing teeth. I laughed and tussled her hair before standing up. The floors creaked as I crossed the room to my small red Jan Sport backpack. "You know we're going to have to leave soon... " I whispered. Amaya stayed silent. We weren't nearly as prepared for this disaster as I thought we would be, considering that its 2012 and all, but can you really blame us for not having enough food or water? When the virus, or whatever the hell this thing is, struck, it took my family and I completely by surprise.

One day, we were strolling down around Pike's Place when some woman screamed. My father told my mother to stay with my sister and I while he parted his way through the growing crowd. After waiting for nearly twenty minutes, my mother got anxious. She told me to stay with my sister while she went to fetch my father but...

Amaya tugged at my arm, pulling me out of my flashback. "You're shaking... Are you cold?" Amaya asked innocently. I smiled and nodded. "Yeah. It's pretty chilly up here don't you think?" Amaya nodded and smiled back. "Yeah, but I like it here. It's home." Amaya's words struck me like lightning. She had no idea how bad it really was in the outside world beyond our tree fort. All she knew is that Mom was sick, and Dad was "Napping" as she put it. Deep down though, I think she knew Dad wasn't napping, and Mom wasn't really Mom anymore, but she chose to hope for the best. "I was thinking Amaya..." I trailed of while handing her a poptart. Her eyes locked with mine, letting me know I had her attention. "I was thinking we could go on, you know, a road trip." Now, I know its not a road trip, but she's only seven, and I don't want to be the downer. Amaya's eyes lit up. "Really?ཀ" she gasped. I nodded and laughed. "Hurry up and eat your breakfast, I want to get out of here before the sun is completely up." Amaya nodded and chewed on a mouthful of poptart. She stopped chewing and gave me a puzzled expression. "Valerie, why aren't you eating?" I bit my lip and ignored the throbbing pain in my stomach. "I'm not hungry is all. And don't talk with your mouthfulཀ" I winked at her. Amaya tilted her head thoughtfully before shrugging. The truth was, we were dangerously low on food. I hadn't eaten a full meal for a good three days, but I kept my hunger at bay with a few pieces of fruits here and there. I knew we could make it somehow... No matter the cost.

Amaya looked up at me with her big baby blue eyes. "Do we really have to leave?" she whispered. I nodded. "We need to find a place that has more food, and maybe find some friends along the way." I added and nudged her. Amaya smiled and nodded. She took a step forward, but I put my hand out to stop her. "Let me go first OK?" Amaya frowned and nodded. Slowly, I descended the ladder made of ropes onto the soft dirt. I scanned the thick bushes and vegetation that grew everywhere. Early morning dew soaked through my socks as I brushed past the ferns. I shivered and exhaled slowly. The temperature had dropped considerably low for July, and it didn't help that we were near the Puget Sound.

A twig snapped behind me, alerting me of my surroundings. I pivoted around on my heels and pulled out my pocket knife all in one swift movement. Amaya flinched and held her hands up defensively. "Amaya! Don't sneak up on me like thatཀ" I hissed and folded up the knife. Amaya laughed and laced her fingers with mine. "Don't be such a Scaredy Cat Valཀ" Amaya joked. I couldn't help the warm smile that formed on my lips. Amaya was like a little angel that always knew what to say when you were at the lowest point in your life. "Soཀ Were are we going?" Amaya asked enthusiastically. I pursed my lips. "Not completely sure Amaya... Thinking about driving down through Oregon, maybe stopping in Idaho... Find a place that doesn't have these creatures from Hell crawling about everywhere." I normally watch my mouth around Amaya. I fear that if I cuss too much around her, Amaya's innocence would be ruined, and I would most definitely go to Hell. Amaya giggled. "That's a bad word Valerie Shame, shame" she giggled. I rolled my eyes. "Don't repeat that or you're going to stand in the corner, understand?" Amaya nodded and pretended to zip her lips and throw away the key. I found myself giggling too. "You are so silly Amaya."

Amaya held her breath as I slowly parted out of the trees onto the road. I looked around slowly, checking every detail of every space before me. When I felt it was safe, I waved Amaya to come out of hiding. "See? Told you there was nothing to worry about" Amaya nearly screamed. "SHHHH!" I spat everywhere... Whoops. "Please whisper OK? I didn't mean to be harsh, but I need you to stay quiet. Just in case." Amaya's bottom lip quivered as she nodded. I smiled warmly. "Come 'er you!" Amaya grunted as I pulled her into a killer hug. "You're... suffocating me..." Amaya gasped. I laughed and released her. She narrowed her eyes but smiled. I looked both ways on the road then up at the sun. "What are you doing?" Amaya asked. "Trying to figure out which way is which..." I mumbled. "Don't you still have that map in your backpack?" Amaya raised an eyebrow. I laughed awkwardly and stood there dumbstruck. I slapped my forehead. "Yeah... Yeah I do actually." I muttered. I slipped my backpack off and grabbed the map I kept in my emergency kit. "Alright! We head that way!" I announced after studying the map. Amaya laughed and poked my side. "What happened to being quiet?" I shrugged. "I said I said I need you to stay quiet." Amaya stuck her bottom lip out and crossed her arms in a pout like she always does. I pushed her playfully. "I was just kidding Amaya, lighten up." I bumped her with my hip. "Lets get a move on."

"I'm tired." Amaya whined. "I know sweetheart, but we're almost there." I coaxed. When Amaya and I first escaped from the city, I remembered seeing a car that looked like it was still able to drive. Shortly after, my car ran out of gas, and was completely useless.

Before long, we made it up the giant hill we had been climbing, and spotted the little white Nissan truck. Amaya sighed in relief and smiled up at me. I squeezed her hand. "There's our ticket out of here." Amaya laughed and nodded. She ran up to the car and started pulling on the door. "AMAYA DON'T!" I screamed. It was too late though. She had been pulling on the locked door, and set off the ear piercing alarm. "Shit!" I muttered under my breath. Those ravenous freaks would be able to hear this from miles away; It was pretty much ringing the dinner bell saying "Hey! We're over here! Come eat us!". "Move!" I commanded, and Amaya immediately stepped out of the way still covering her ears. This is going to hurt... I thought miserably. I slammed my elbow through the glass and unlocked the door. Without saying another word, I grabbed Amaya and chucked her into the car. I followed and slammed the door shut. "Of course..." I growled. The keys weren't there, and I only had a matter of minutes to hot wire the damn thing and shut the alarm off. "Turn it off! Turn it off!" Amaya screamed. "I'm trying!" I shouted over the alarm. In my rear view mirror I could faintly see the figure of a man hobbling towards us. "Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!" I yelled in frustration as I worked to get to the wires. The man drew closer, and I could se there were others behind him... A lot of others. I locked my door, though I knew that would be of little defense against a hoard of those things. I was so concentrated of putting the right two wires together, I barley recognized Amaya's screaming. I looked up to see a woman pounding on her window. Half her face was missing, like it was chewed off, and blood was coming from her eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. It was hard to concentrate with Amaya's screaming, the car alarm, and those fucking cannibal things right outside our doors. Finally, after many attempts of putting two different wires together, the engine roared to life. "HOLD ON TIGHT KIDDO!" I yelled and slammed my foot on the gas. We pealed away from the things chasing after us, and watched in relief as they faded into specks. "That was too close Amaya... Don't you ever leave my side again, do you understand?" My knuckles were white from griping the wheel so tightly, and my eyes were glued to the road. I peeked through the corner of my eye to see if Amaya was OK. She was nodded, and crying. I sighed and looked away from the road to see Amaya's face completely. "I know you were scared but we're safe now, OK? I'll never let anything happen to you." I smiled and took one hand off the wheel to wipe her tears away. "VALERIE LOOK OUT!" Amaya screamed and pointed at the road. A lone figure stood in the middle of the street staring straight at us. It's eyes were glossy, just like the other things, and it had no flesh around its mouth, revealing its bloody gums and teeth. I swerved to avoid hitting the person, but it was no use. There was a thunk, followed by a crack when I hit him. He bounced off my windshield, and over the car. I glanced in my rear view mirror, and watched horrified as the man got up and tried to sprint after us. I sped up a little, leaving the man in the dust. I felt a warm liquid drizzling down my arm, and dripping onto my thigh. "Valerie you're bleeding!" Amaya gasped. I shrugged. "I'll be fine." I shifted my arm so I could get a good look at the injury. "I don't think it will need stitches." I muttered to myself.

After an hour or two of driving, the sun was out, and barley visible behind dense clouds, but hey- That's Washington. To my delight, Amaya found a case of CD's in the glove box along with a Monster Energy Drink, and a few power bars. Amaya popped in a Black Eyed Pea's CD and cranked up the volume. Pump It started playing, and right at the beginning we both made eye contact on the "Uh- Uh- Ahhhhhhhhh! NOW PUMP IT! LOUDER! PUMP IT! LOUDER..." I laughed and watched as she fist pumped and danced as best as she could in her seat. I sipped the sweet energy drink, savoring the flavor, then mentally scolded myself. Carefully, I placed the energy drink in one of the cup holders to save it for when I really needed it.

I checked my watch to confirm that Amaya's complaints of being hungry would be justified. "Well, I suppose you can eat... It's about twelve." I flinched as she mowed down on the last of our food, knowing it would be a while until we eat again. She reached for one of the power bars in the glove box but I stopped her. "Save that for later. Don't eat all of the food we have now. Who knows how long it will be until we eat again." Amaya frowned and closed up the glove box. "But I'm still hungry!" I sighed in sympathy for her. She was only seven and was already taking on so much responsibility. In our current world today though, it's not a choice. For example, I'm only sixteen, and I have to take care of my younger sister like she's my daughter; Not that I mind at all, it's just the whole fact that... My thoughts were interrupted by Amaya doing her "Potty Dance". I sighed and slumped my shoulders. "Amaya, I thought I told you to "go" before we left the tree." Amaya frowned. "I was scared to go out there in the woods- Look! There's a gas station, why can't we stop there?" I felt my heart drop into my stomach. I bit my lip and considered the options.

Option A) We do stop, have a possibility of finding food, Amaya could use the bathroom, and we could also fill up our truck with gas. However, there is a large chance that there are more cannibal freaks, and we could be eaten alive like most of


Option B) We don't stop, don't find food, Amaya pee's her pants, and we could run out of gas when it really counts.

I sighed in defeat and slowly pulled up to the small Stinkers. "Stay here, and honk the horn if anything bad happens OK?" I unbuckled my seat belt and slid out of the car. Amaya nodded and unbuckled her seatbelt as well. I kissed her on the forehead quickly and touched my nose to hers. "Be good, understand?" Amaya nodded and smiled back. I opened my door, and quietly closed it behind me. I had my pocket knife ready, just in case the worse happens, and slowly approached the double doors. I could handle at least one of the infected on my own, but if there is at least three, I'd be completely fucked.

I opened the door, flinching when the friendly bell rang, alerting anyone, or thing, that I was there, but slowly pushed on. I checked every aisle twice, and the bathrooms three times before walking back out to the car. My heart stuttered to a stop before picking up a rapid pace at what I saw... An empty car.

"Amaya! Amaya!" I screamed and sprinted over to the car. I swung open the driver side door and peered inside. To my relief Amaya was curled up beneath the dashboard in fetal position. "Amaya you scared the death out of me! Why are you down there!" Amaya whimpered and pointed behind me. Instinctively I grabbed my pocket knife and whipped around to stare down the potential threat. A little girl, who looked to only be about five, was slowly walking towards the car. She was obviously crippled, for she drug her right foot behind her at an awkward angle. Flesh was missing on several parts of her body, and blood stained her My Little Pony pajama's. The little girls hair was about as blonde as mine, and hung in ringlets around her head. My heart fell into the pit of my stomach. This is beyond cruel... I looked up at the sky shaking my head.

As the girl neared closer, her breathing was labored, and raspy. She held her hands out clawing at the air, like a wild animal. Blood trickled from her tear ducts, staining her perfectly round cheeks. I noticed that a few of her fingers were missing when she was within feet, and so was her left ear.

Amaya whimpered once again, reminding me just how dangerously close the infected girl was getting. I tsked and slammed the door of the truck closed. "Amaya lock the doors and don't come out until I say so." Amaya nodded and did as she was told, though I have no idea what defense a locked door would be when the window was shattered.

I said a silent prayer before approaching the girl myself. The girl's breathing intensified as I came at her. Her lips were twisted in an innocent smile, showing her missing two from teeth. I'll make this as swift as possible. I ran at the little girl and knocked her over. Stunned the girl sat there staring at me with hate filled eyes. Now's my chance. Without a second thought, I pinned the girl down onto her back with my knee at her throat. She clawed at my legs and growled in outrage when I showed no reaction. She let out a shrill scream and began thrashing underneath me. Her chin lifted at just the right angle, and I brought my knife down on her throat. The gurgled screaming ceased as the life left the girls eyes. I frowned and stepped off of the girl. The door clicked and groaned as Amaya slowly stepped out of the truck. "I told you to stay in the car until I said you can get out!" I hissed. Amaya shrunk away from me and stared up at me with her big blue doe eyes. "I'm sorry..." She whispered. I shook my head but smiled. "You've got to start listening OK?" Amaya's face brightened up again as she smiled and nodded. "OK!"

There wasn't much food to scavenge, but there was plenty of gas in the pumps. I was able to top off my truck, and get three large gas cans full. Amaya used the bathroom plenty of times, and took advantage of the mirror and soap in the private restroom. We both got all washed up, and ready to go. I even took a few boxes of Twinkies from the back that I found as a treat for later.

I hesitantly looked in the small bathroom mirror. I didn't look too bad, but what did I care? I'm not running a fashion competition, I'm trying to survive in this Hell Hole of a place called Earth. My hazel brown eyes seemed a little bit frenzied from all the close calls I had today. I found a few rubber bands I used to pull back my messy blonde hair that needed a good brushing. Satisfied with my reflection, I exited the bathroom and met up with Amaya in the truck. I giggled and watched as she ate the Twinkie I gave her. She had so many emotions cross her face at once I couldn't help but laugh; Excitement, confusion, pleasure, and best of all happiness. "Ready to go Miss Piggy?" I teased. "Mmmfff." Amaya's mouth was full of golden spongy mush so I was sure what she said exactly. "Don't talk with your mouth full. I believe we've been through this." I nudged her and she muffled what I believed was a laugh but once again I couldn't tell with the mouthful. I rolled my eyes and studied the map for the gagillionth time. The fastest way to get to Idaho was taking the main highways, but I wasn't so sure I wanted to go that way... There must be thousands of cars stacked up for miles blocking the roads completely. If we were to get in a jam, there could be dozens of infected just waiting to pick us off. Amaya glanced over my shoulder curiously. I tussled her hair and smiled. "Buckle up, we're heading out." Amaya sat down and attempted, in vein, to buckle her seatbelt. I finally got frustrated and swatted her hands away. "You're killing me smalls."

Taking the main highways wasn't the best of options, but we only had so much gas, and it was the quickest way to Idaho, so I figured "Fuck it"; Worth a shot.

I sat up slowly, and looked around dizzily. My head was throbbing, and by the odor, I was covered in vomit. I muttered fowl vanities as I tripped over the empty bottles of whiskey and beer. "That's the last time I drink with Will..." I glanced over to search for the little brat. Will was still passed out on the sofa from last night, and his little brother Gunnar was laying next to him on the floor. For a fifteen year old, the kid can hold his liquor. I laughed quietly to myself and tiptoed to the bathroom.

I dreaded my reflection, and pictured what I would look like in my mind; My hair would be knotted and messy, green eyes dilated, and I probably needed a shave. I felt my chin and neck for any stubble and dared a glance at my reflection. I didn't need a shave, and I looked quite decent besides the vomit stains on my shirt and boxers. Will strolled in nonchalantly and raised an eyebrow. "Good morning sexual, shall I fetch you a camera? A picture will last longer." Will's accent was really starting to annoy me. There's something about his English accent that just made me want to punch the guy. I chose to be the mature adult and ignore the little twirp. Will ran is fingers through his wavy blonde hair, and peered up at me with a mischievous look in his blue eyes. "Nice going with the drinking contest last night. I thought you were doing rather well until you vomited all over yourself." That does it. I towered over Will and grabbed him by his collar. "Listen here punk-" Will tsked and laughed in my face. "Temper, temper." He teased while wagging a finger in my face. "Will?" A quiet voice sounded from behind me. "Ah, Gunnar, how did you sleep?" Will smiled down at the boy as I released my grip. The little nine year old smiled and walked over to embrace Will. Gunnar was a spitting image of his older brother, but he was the exact opposite in personality. Gunnar was sweet, and gentle, as where Will was an ignorant asshole that I'd love to punch in the face.

Gunnar's stomach growled as Will ended the hug. "Lets get you something to munch on shall we?" Will's facial expression was kind and caring as he spoke down to Gunnar. Gunnar nodded and smiled brightly. Will's gaze met mine, and his expression returned to snobby and snood. "Well don't just stand there gawking; Fetch us some food." he snapped. I clench and unclenched my fists, trying to remain calm. "I'm not your servant." I said as politely as I could manage. Will raised an eyebrow. "I never said you were; I just told you to get me and my little brother a meal. Is that so much to ask?" Once again, I swooped in and grabbed him by the collar of his shirt threateningly and raised a fist. Who cares if his brother was watching? Someone cleared their throat standing in the door way. "Fighting already are we?" Melissa smirked. I groaned and released Will. My day was getting better and better. "You're all going to be the death of me." Melissa's jaw dropped and she glared offended. "Well someone is in a cranky mood." Glaring, I stormed over to her. "Maybe if you didn't talk me into drinking last night, I wouldn't be." Melissa flicked her brown hair into my face. "If you weren't so cocky, you wouldn't have responded to my teasing, and therefor wouldn't be suffering from a hangover." She winked at me. I bit my tongue to keep from cussing her out. "I need some air..." I muttered and walked out of the bathroom. "I'll come with you." Melissa offered. "No." Not stopping my pace, I walked out the front door.

After descending the three flights of stares, I was finally away from everyone. The apartments we were residing in were fairly secluded, and far away from the main downtown Boise area. I watched the sun rise over the rigged mountain tops directly in front of me. It was a warming sight to see the sky painted with light pinks and yellow. I tensed at the sound of silent footsteps behind me. I peeked out of the corner of my eye to see non other than Melissa walking down the steps. "Good God Melissa! Leave me alone!" Melissa smiled a coy smiled and waved her hips slightly. "Don't act like you can resist me forever Kilee." Gagging I looked away from her and back at the sunrise. Melissa's hand grasped mine in a python like grip. "Get off." I tried to pull away put she was a strong little prick. "Why don't you like me anymore? We used to be so in love..." she trailed off. Venom seeped from my words as I spoke. "Why don't you ask all the guys you slept with while we were going out Melissa." I ripped my hand from hers and stormed back towards my apartment. Melissa easily kept pace with me. "I said I was sorry." She said it like she was apologizing for stepping on my foot! "Get lost Melissa. We're through, period." I spat and slammed the door in her face. "You can't ignore your feelings Kilee! I know you still feel for me"Melissa followed in after me, and stomped to her room. "Never again..." My voice was reassuring, but my heart ached. I was in love with her, and would have taken a bullet for Melissa, but now, I'm not so sure.

As far as sleeping arrangements in my two room apartment, Will and his brother shared a room, and Melissa had the master bedroom all to her self... I get to sleep on the couch.

Will was resting on the sofa once again, and Gunnar was playing with his toy cars. Sighing I walked into the kitchen and opened the pantry door. "We're running low on food..." I muttered. Will looked up from his seat and smiled wickedly. "It's your turn to make the food run Kilee." I shrugged and pulled on my running sneakers. "I need to blow off some steam anyways."

An alarming grinding noise woke me up, and I swerved back onto the road. I had been driving for hours now, and was about half way through Oregon. A sign reading "Baker City" passed by, giving me new found strength. Amaya slumped against me in her sleep and sighed in content. "We're almost there..." I whispered, a smile crept onto my lips. I had made it to the Oregon border in record time, and would soon be in Idaho. It did help with the fact that there were no other drivers, traffic laws, or Po-Po's to stop my speeding. Just as I had suspected, however, the main highways were treacherous. Abandon cars littered the streets, and every now and then, I'd race past an infected horde or group of the things. Amaya slept most of the way, which I was grateful for. I love my sister to death, but sometimes she just doesn't know how to shut the hell up.

I slowed to a stop about ten feet away from a gas station that seemed clear, but I still had Amaya wait for me in the car. The last gas station looked like it was clear too, but looks can be deceiving.

After doing a thorough inspection of the area, I allowed Amaya to come inside, use the bathroom, and wash up again. All the while, I filled up my truck, the gas cans, and was lucky enough to find a small handgun stashed beneath the counter. I turned the weapon in my hands, trying to figure out the model. By the looks and size of the thing, it was a Springfield XD-S. I removed the clip to see a full magazine of ammunition. This will come in handy. I thought happily, and slung the gun in my front pocket, making sure to turn the safety on first. I had to be cautious with how I used the bullets though. It was only a five round magazine.

I decided to not tell Amaya about the gun, just in case she got any stupid ideas. Not that I didn't trust her, I just am fearful that she might blow her own finger off. She's certainly clumsy enough...

My thoughts were once again interrupted by a small tug at my sweatshirt. I looked down at Amaya who was peering up at me curiously. "Why do you space out like that so much? It's so weird." I smirked and flicked her on the forehead. "Why must I have a sister with a big mouth?" Amaya stuck her bottom lip out and crossed her arms over her chest in a pout. "I was only kidding Amaya, now come on. I want to make it to Boise as soon as possible."

"What's in Boise that is so important to you?" Amaya questioned, trailing behind. "That's where we lived before you were born Amaya. I know that place like the back of my hand." I said winking. "Ohhhhhhhh." Amaya laughed.

We reached Boise in no time with my driving expertise. I pulled up to a small Albertson's and looked around warily. We needed to gather more food, and this was one of the best places to look. On the contrary, there could be dozens of infected inside, just waiting to ambush us.

After wagering the options, I finally decided it would be best to bring Amaya in with me. If I left her outside alone in the car, there was a possibility of an infected spotting her, and making a meal out of the defenseless girl.

The automatic doors creaked and groaned as they slid open. I was surprised they were still working. Amaya gripped my hand tighter as we walked through the final set of sliding doors. Most the shelves were cleared of any supplies, or food. Empty cans and bottles were scattered acrossed the floor, and the place was a mess. Amaya and I made our way towards the pharmacy first. Hopefully, there would be some medicines left that could help if either of us got sick.

At first I was discouraged when I saw how few medicines there were, but looked on the brighter side. At least there are SOME medicines... It wasn't really that bad of a score; Two large bottles of Ibuprofen, a bottle of Children's Tylenol, and a measly cheap brand of cough syrup.

After raiding the medical supplies, we scanned the aisles for any food items. There was a clatter of bottles in the next aisle over making me freeze were I was standing. Quiet footsteps followed, heading towards the end of the aisle. I retrieved the gun from my pocket and turned the safety off. I kneeled next to Amaya so I was making eye contact with her. "Stay here, and if I say run, run and hide until its safe, OK?" Amaya nodded, tears pricking her eyes. I smiled. "I'll be right back OK? I promise." With that I stood up and jogged towards the other end of the aisle, gun in hand. I took a deep breath and turned the corner into the next aisle over... Except there was nothing there. "Strange..." I murmured.

I patrolled the aisles several more times before deciding it was just an animal. Amaya found the candy aisle, and a big bag of skittles, which she reluctantly shared with me. "I wonder what kind of animal that was..." I muttered. "Maybe it was a doggy." Amaya suggested. I shrugged. "Maybe."

We decided to take shelter inside the store that evening since it still had quite a lot of food available. I pitched up a tent set that was on display inside the storage room for Amaya to sleep in. She retreated inside with a few of her Barbie's she found in the toy aisle. I laughed quietly as I listened to the story she made up.

After Amaya fell asleep, I tucked her in and kissed her forehead. I dimmed down the lantern we had, and grabbed my gun from my backpack. I tiptoed out of the storage room, and into the dimly lit store. Something set me on edge about the place. There was something here; I could feel it in my gut. We were not alone.

I arched my eyebrow curiously. The truck I parked by wasn't there the last time I visited the store... Will is probably just screwing with me... I decided and grabbed my baseball bat. We had guns back home in the apartments, but only used them for emergency purposes. I could take on a few of the lil' fuckers without a gun easily.

My curiosity peeked once again at the sound of hushed whispers in the next aisle over. I leaned in closer to hear what they were saying. I couldn't quite make out the words, but I could tell they were both female. My foot slipped, and I reeled backwards, tripping on a few soda cans in the process. "Shit..." I muttered and quickly retreated to the freezers. Since I had no idea who they were, or if they were friends or not, I decided it would be best to watch from a distance. For all I know, they could be escaped convicts with machine guns and vicious intentions.

I moved from the freezers to the pharmacy, and waited until nightfall to investigate. I moved swiftly and silently through the store, weaving in and out of the shadows. My knuckles were white from gripping the baseball bat so tightly, and my palms were sweaty. I heard footsteps coming from the direction of the storage room, confirming my suspicion. They were still here, and weren't planning on leaving any time soon by the looks of it. I couched down and waited for the intruder to pass by. I would have to do away with the people staying here. There wasn't enough food to go around, and we were here first. The footsteps stopped just before reaching the corner I was waiting at, and started heading in the other direction. I stood up silently and peeked around the corner. Whoever she was, she was wearing tight fitting jeans, and a dark blue jacket. Her long blonde hair was pulled up into a messy pony tail, and she seemed to be around my age. I couldn't tell exactly since I only got a back view of her, but I guessed by her height. I shifted my weight, getting ready to move, but something caught my eye. A large man, about three inches or so, taller than me, shuffled out from an aisle behind her. The girl didn't notice this, and turned the corner going down a separate aisle. The man was obviously infected, for his leg was twisted at an awkward angle, and there was blood staining his clothing were bite marks remained. Looks like my work is going to be taken care of for me. I thought satisfied. I turned to leave, and felt guilt over take my emotions. I don't know for sure if she's a threat or not... No! Now is not the time to be a softy! I shook my head and turned to leave when I heard a startled scream. I squeezed my eyes shut trying to ignore it and pushed forward. Five gun shots echoed throughout the store, taunting me further. I cussed and punched a wall. I can't just leave her here... I pivoted around and started running back towards the commotion. I hope I didn't change my mind too late.

I turned the corner at a leisurely pace and strolled down the aisle happily. My luck is finally starting to change. I felt a hand grab my shoulder and I jerked away in surprise. I turned around to see the biggest man I had ever seen staring down at me. He had coarse, black hair that was missing in a few spots, and cold, glazed over brown eyes. Bloody bite marks covered his entire body, confirming he was defiantly infected. A scream welled up in my chest as he reached fir me again. I felt a strong pair of hands grab my hair, and yanking me back. Screaming I twisted from his grip, pulling out the ponytail and a few strands of hair. I started running down the aisle, leading him away from where my sister was sleeping, and came to an abrupt stop... The aisle was a dead end. I whipped around to stare down my attacker. Limping, he was still quite fast on his feet. Frantically I searched for an alternative escape. I could climb the shelves! Without a moment to lose, I began scurrying up the small platforms. My attacker let out a frustrated growl and reached out for me. I kicked his hands away as best I could while trying to keep my balance. I had managed to pull myself halfway up the wall of canned food items when a strong hand gripped my ankle. I thrashed violently, but the Infected, I decided to call them, have unnatural strength. My grip slipped, and I tumbled to the hard floor pulling everything on the shelf down with me. The man towered over me grinning in triumph. His hesitation to attack gave me just enough time to grasp hold of a canned corn. I hurled the corn at his head, hoping to catch him off guard. Surprised the man stumbled backwards and gave me a murderous glare. He charged once again, and I continued to throw the cans surrounding me. This time, the man ignored them, and kept coming at me. I squeaked and tried to stand up, but I sprained my ankle when I fell. I closed my eyes in defeat, waiting for teeth to sink into my flesh, and nails to dig into my skin. This is it... I thought sadly. I could sense the man right in front of me, when I heard other footsteps sprinting towards us. I dared to open my eyes and saw a boy around my age running down the aisle. The man sneered and turned his attention to the boy. With a grunt, the boy swung a heavy looking wooden bat into the man's face. There was a sickening crunch when the bat made contact with the man's face, and he dropped to the floor instantly. The boy threw a couple more swings into the guys head before looking up at me. His eyes were a startling, bright green, and his chest heaved heavy breaths. The boy stood up at about six foot one, and had pitch black hair that came down to his ears.

After silently studying each other for a moment, the boy spoke up. "Are you OK? You weren't bit were you?" I blinked and stared dumbstruck. My entire body was shaking, and I couldn't muster the strength to speak. The boy crouched next to me, and swept his gaze over me, taking in my features.

. My heart still pounded in my ears, and my breathing was labored. The girl staring back at me reminded me somewhat of a deer caught in headlights. She sat there motionless, besides her obvious shaking, and seemed to never blink. "Are you OK? You weren't bit were you?" The girl only blinked in response, and stayed frozen. I crouched next to her to get a better look. She had blonde hair that ended about mid-back, and hazel brown eyes who's stare was unwavering. Her lips were a natural red color, and trembled as she spoke. "M-My ankle... I think I sprained it when I fell." she stuttered, and broke her stare. "Can you stand?" I coaxed and offered her a hand. "I think so..." The girl took my hand and slowly got to her feet. An expression of pain and frustration flickered acrossed her face as she tried to remain standing. She took a step and winced. "Here, let me carry you." I reached down and scooped her off her feet before she made the injury worse. "I'm not a helpless damsel. I can take care of myself." She hissed, but did not protest when I held her there. "Yep. Sure seemed like it back there." I said sarcastically. The girl scowled up at me and remained silent. "My sister... I need to go check on her." The girl pointed towards the storage room. I grunted in response and started walking in that direction. "Thanks by the way..." The girl stared at her lap and twiddled her thumbs. I chuckled. "Well I couldn't very well leave you there. It would only result in adding to the infected population." The girl stifled a laugh, and rubbed her eyes. "So, what's your name?" I pressed on. "Valerie. And yours?" Valerie countered. "Kilee." I said simply. "Keelee? That's an unusual name." Valerie murmured. "Yes Kilee, K-I-L-E-E." I confirmed. "K-I-L-E-E? It sounds like its spelt K-E-E-L-E-E. Hm. Odd." Valerie muttered to herself. I decided to let the comment go for arguments sake, and stayed quiet.

We pushed through the double doors silently and approached a small tent. "I think Amaya is still sleeping..." Valerie whispered. "Amaya? Is that your sister?" Valerie nodded. Gently, I set her down on a chair set up next to the tent. Valerie looked at her small watch and sighed. "What?" I quietly sat down next to her. "It's almost midnight... You should stay here with us." Valerie dropped her gaze to the floor and waited for me to answer. I pursed my lips in thought. "I suppose I should... I bet the others are worried." Valerie raise an eyebrow. "Others? There are more of you?" I smiled and nodded. "Well, there are four of us, myself included. We take up a residence in an apartment not far from here... Speaking of which; I saw you had Washington plates on your truck. Why come out here to Idaho?"

"Washington is crawling with the infected. Amaya and I came from Seattle. Before she was born, I used to live around eastern Boise, but the place has changed considerably over the years." Valerie cocked her head to one side thoughtfully. "Well, if you guys need a place to stay, we have room." Valerie smiled sadly and shook her head. "We aren't planning on staying here... I decided to stop in Idaho and restock on supplies, catch up on rest, then pack up and leave."

"Leave? Where to?"

"We're heading for the coast... Find a boat, and sail to wherever this isn't happening..." Valerie had a far away look in her eyes as she spoke. I furrowed my eyebrows confused. "Well Seattle is close to the ocean, why not take a boat from there?" Valerie looked away from me and shook her head. "When the infection broke lose in the city, jetsflew in from every direction and bombed the hell out of it... All sea transportation was restricted for fear of the disease traveling acrossed seas." I nodded in acknowledgment. "How do you know the same hasn't happened in Cali? If that's your general direction." Valerie looked back at me with glint of excitement in her eyes. "That's the fun part; I never know what's going to happen with each decision I make, but I know, somehow, we'll make it out OK... I have a stroke of luck I suppose. For an example, I decided to camp out here in the store, and almost got eaten without expecting it, yet I am still alive, for by a stroke of luck, you happened to be here." I laughed slightly and nodded. "I like the way you think Valerie." Valerie smiled and tried to stand up again. She flinched and sat back down muttering vanities under her breath as she did. "Perhaps you would consider staying until you've recovered at least." Valerie sighed and relaxed into the chair. "It would be the smarter move to do that... I can't protect Amaya injured." Valerie yawned and stretched. "I need a good sleep... I've been driving for hours.." She mumbled and slowly closed her eyes. I laughed quietly and walked over to her. She strained to keep her eyes open as I approached. "You go ahead and go to sleep... I've had good rest so I will keep watch." Valerie smiled slightly and nodded. "Thanks Kilee... " Her voice was so quiet I had to strain to hear her. I smiled. "Not a problem."