Not a sound
Something cold and wet landed on his face and awoke him from his sleep. His eyelids were heavy and his back ached as he moved to sit in an upright position leaning against the backrest of the couch.
The wet thing fell down into his lap. He wiped over his face and slowly opened his eyes to look at the thing that had woken him so rudely. He had to blink a few times to adjust his eyes to the light and then he saw what it was.
A dirty wet cloth. Nick grabbed it with his thumb and index finger and dropped it to the ground.
He looked up to the face of the person standing in front of the couch.
"Damn it, Ellis. What the hell is wrong with you?"
"It ain't my fault that you're so difficult to wake." said the Younger offended. Then he grinned.
"But you know, it's funny to see you gettin' up like an old man. How old are you again?" Nick took one of the empty food cans that were lying next to the couch and threw it at Ellis. Ellis ducked and the can hit the wall behind him, leaving red stains of tomato sauce.
"Great. Ro is going to kill me for that," remarked Nick.
As soon as the four of them had found the empty and habitable flat and decided to stay, Rochelle and Coach had started their mission to turn it into a ´home`. Rochelle took care of the flat and their supplies and Coach took over the cooking job and was actually quite happy with that. The food he cooked was really good considering that he didn't have any fresh vegetables, fruits, eggs or meat at hand. The cleaning and cooking jobs being taken Nick was left with no other choice but to do the supply-hunt with the mechanic. They went out every third day hurrying from building to building never staying anywhere for two long. Sometimes they found walkie-talkies or radios but they never got any responds or any sign that there were other survivors out there.
Nick started to get used to their new life. The flat wasn't that bad. Except for that damn couch. The flat had only three bedrooms. Two were children's bedrooms and the third seemed to be the parent's bedroom with a giant king sized bed. Rochelle had taken one of the children's bedrooms because she liked the Depeche Mode posters and the books she had found in the shelf. Nick had claimed the king-size bed but Ellis had refused to sleep on the couch which had led to a big fight. Neither of them would have told Coach to sleep on the couch because they knew about his old knee injury and they didn't want to make it worse. Ellis had suggested to share the bed but Nick stated that he would never be able to sleep because of Ellis' snoring that had kept him from sleeping numerous nights. When Nick had been in the middle of explaining why exactly he was worthier of the bed Rochelle had silenced him and made him and Ellis agree to simply sleep in the bed in turns. That was why this morning after a night on the couch Nick's back hurt like hell and he once again thought that it had been a stupid idea.
"Then you'll have to bring her somethin' nice," said Ellis.
"If you don't want Ro to kill you for that dirt on the wall you'll have to give somethin' nice to her so she won't get mad."
"I see. And where exactly am I going to find something for her. Maybe in the fridge, you little genius?"
"Nah. But we can search for somethin' when we're outside. Ro says we need water and bandages. We used the last one on that scratch you got from that hunter the other day."
"The one I got because you didn't cover me," said Nick angrily. Ellis shrugged and walked off to the kitchen.
"You better get dressed and come to the kitchen or I'll eat all the scrambled eggs by myself," shouted the young man over his shoulder. That made Nick move. Powdered eggs weren't that easy to find and he loved scrambled eggs. He grabbed his shirt and pulled it on not caring about the buttons. He tried to get into his pants and ran to the kitchen at the same time which nearly made him fall on the coffee table. When he was in front of the kitchen door he slowed down and walked in as if nothing had happened.
He took the seat across from Ellis and ignored him smirking at the sight of Nick's unbuttoned shirt. Coach placed a plate with eggs and a fork in front of him.
"I thought it would take you longer to get up," said Coach and laughed. Nick commented on that with a grunt and enjoyed the delicious breakfast. When he was finished Rochelle snatched the plate and the fork from him and handed him a small list.
"Only the water and bandages are important but you can bring some other stuff too. I don't want to hurry you but I think there will be a storm soon and you should better be back before it starts." No one ever questioned Rochelle's ability to forecast the weather. Working at the news station had taught her some useful stuff and Nick had lost several bets to her.
"Alright, Ro. You want anything that's not on the list? A new CD maybe?"
"Sure, if you find the time, bring me something. Gary Numan would be nice."
"Okay, I'll look out for it. Come on, kid." He went back to the living room and took his jacket from one of the chairs. Then he picked up one of the First Aid Kits, a walkie-talkie, a baseball bat and an assault rifle.
Ellis followed him and grabbed an axe, a pipe bomb and a hunting rifle.
"Do you think taking a pipe bomb with you is a good idea? Didn't we all agree to be as quite as possible when we're out so that we won't attract any zombies that could follow us here?" asked Nick.
"I know but… just in case. We might end up needing it. We should go now before Ro sees the mess on the wall."
"Yah. I think you're right, kid." He turned to the kitchen and shouted: "Ro, we're leaving." Then he and Ellis pushed away the wardrobe that blocked the door and left the flat. They could hear steps from the other side of the door and then a scratching as Coach and Rochelle pushed the wardrobe back to its former position.
"Take care guys!" they heard Rochelle call. Followed by a "Holy crap! What happened to the wall?"
"Sorry, Ro." Nick replied loud enough for her to hear and then hurried downstairs followed by Ellis.
"We should probably bring her two CD's, Nick."
"Yes, I think that's a good idea."
Four staircases later they were on the first floor and unlocked the building's door with the keys they had found in the flat. Ellis went out first and inhaled deeply while Nick locked the door behind them.
"So, where are we going?" Ellis wanted to know.
"Well, we already emptied the shops in that direction," he said and pointed north. "So I suggest we go that way." He pointed in the opposite direction. "And on our way back we can have a look at that CD store over there."
"Sounds good." The young man smiled. "I ever tell you about the time my buddy Keith owned a CD store for a day? You would think it was fun but then there were those two guys who tried to rob him and Keith didn't wanna give them any money. So they smashed all the CD's with a baseball bat and then they hit Keith with it until he was like half dead and Keith swore he saw a light and…" Nick interrupted him.
"Ellis, please! I know you like to tell those Keith stories but I really don't want to hear them right now. And with right now I mean ever."
They walked in silence for a few minutes. It was weird that there were no noises. No cars, no machinery, no people and not even birds. He had never liked silence. Silence makes you think about stuff. Your past. Your future. Your life. And who wants to think about that…
He could see a male zombie trying to get into a bar in the distance. He ran against the door again and again and scratch on it. Maybe it used to be his favorite bar where he met with his buddies. Nick shook his head. It would not help him killing zombies to think about the fact that they were human once and that they had a life. Just like he did. He nearly burst out laughing. Actually he didn't think one could call his existence a life. It was more like a series of failures.
When he realized he was thinking about his 'life' again he turned to Ellis.
"Do you have any other stories? Some that don't include Keith?"
"Not that many. I spent nearly my whole life with him. We're friends since we were like six I think."
Ellis smiled as if he remembered how they first met but then all of sudden the smile was wiped of his face and he looked…sad. Nick raised his brows. He was surprised. After all that time they had spent together Nick couldn't remember ever seeing Ellis truly sad. Not even once. He didn't know what to say in this kind of situation. Especially because he had never been the supportive type.
"Do you miss him?"
Ellis shrugged and looked away.
Nick sarcastically congratulated himself for making it even worse.
He sighed. It was annoying to have chatterbox-Ellis around but mute-Ellis was even harder to deal with. In particular when he needed a distraction.
"Alright, kiddo," he said. "If you like to talk about Keith that much, why don't you tell me how he got out of here?" This was the best Nick could think of. Telling a Keith story most likely would make Ellis happy again.
Ellis dart a glance at Nick and then looked away again.
"He didn't." he simply said, so quite that Nick nearly didn't hear it.
"Huh?" This time it was Nick who stopped. Ellis kept on walking so that Nick soon had to catch up.
He walked about one meter behind Ellis, brows furrowed in confusion and cleared his throat.
"But I always thought… and you never mentioned… I mean… What happened?"
"Remember that armored truck I told ya about? Well, me and Keith tried to get to some friends, who didn't have a car, to get out of here and when the truck crashed Keith got himself injured quite bad. So we tried to get to the evacuation center because we knew that we wouldn't make it to our friends." Ellis stopped talking and Nick who drew closer to him could see him swallow. "We didn't hear them comin' you know… but suddenly we were surrounded and we soon ran out of ammo and then Keith… he got bitten and… I tried to help him but there were so many… so many… and we got separated by them…and I…I couldn't reach him… and then he was down and didn't move anymore… and I screamed his name but he still didn't move… and then… then I… I ran…"
Nick saw the mechanic's eyes getting wet but he pretended he didn't. Suddenly it made sense to him that Ellis would not stop talking about Keith. Of course they had all lost their families and friends. They had either been evacuated or infected. But other than Ellis they had not seen them dying which meant that they could still pretend, they could still hope that their families and friends had been saved. Ellis however knew that Keith was dead and that he would never see him again. In all that chaos he did not have the time to properly mourn his friend. And still he had been so motivated all the time and had told them so often that they would all get out of here. Why hadn't they realized that on the inside this cheerful boy was broken? Nick suddenly felt really bad for teasing Ellis about his Keith stories. He swallowed.
"I'm sorry, Ellis." Ellis simply nodded.
"… but you know, Keith wouldn't want me to be a sad. So… I say we go get that stuff and get back to the flat before the storm starts." Ellis eyed the sky that was starting to cloud. The smile was back now. He took off his cap, ran his fingers through his hair and put the cap back on.
"What do you think?" he asked Nick with his head tilted. Nick had just wondered how this boy could go from sad puppy to Cheshire cat in less than a second and replied a bit too slow.
"Yes, I think we should do that." Ellis smiled at him and shouldered his axe.
"Hey, there's a grocery store over there. Looks like it hasn't been robbed, the windows are still in one piece. Wanna try it?" the mechanic asked. Nick nodded and followed Ellis to the store's door. It was open. Inside, it was half-dark because there were no other windows than the two next to the door and all the lights where out. Ellis positioned himself next to the door and Nick went in first, his weapon locked and loaded. He switched on the weapon's lamp and directed it into the corners of the store. Like this he sneaked from shelf to shelf followed by Ellis who backed him up. Five minutes later they had searched the whole store and hadn't found any hints of zombies. Ellis took two of the dusted shopping baskets and they walked over to the shelf with the water bottles. After filling his own basket with water Ellis handed the other to Nick.
"I get the bandages and you look out for the other stuff on Ro's list," said Nick and handed Ellis the small piece of paper.
"Alright." With this Ellis disappeared behind a shelf.
It didn't take Nick long to find the medical supplies. He was in the middle of stuffing as many bandages into his basket as possible when he heard steps coming closer.
"Found something?" he asked Ellis, not moving his eyes from the shelf he was emptying.
There was a tug at his sleeve and he turned around to face Ellis.
Only that it wasn't Ellis he was facing.
"Holy crap!" He stumbled backwards, away from the zombie that was staring at him and dropped the basket. It was a small girl. Or at least it used to be a small girl. One half of her face looked like other zombies had tried to eat it and she had only one eye.
Nick reached for the weapon he had attached on his back with a strap while fixing his gaze on her. She tilted her head and smiled with a half mouth. There was blood dripping from her lips. Suddenly she ran towards him and screamed. Nick was still struggling with his weapon and when she was right in front of him he had no other choice but to hit her with the baseball bat.
She stumbled and hit a shelf that fell over with an enormous noise. It was silent. She didn't move anymore and looked like a broken doll with her pale skin and the blue dress she was wearing.
Nick slowly drew closer. She couldn't be older than 7. Why hadn't they evacuated her?
He heard Ellis scream something from the back of the store and his steps as he ran into Nick's direction.
There was a slight movement in that tiny hand. Slowly the girl got back up and started to walk towards Nick again.
Nick aimed… and shot. Right in the head.
Ellis arrived just in time to see her falling to the ground.
Nick was breathing heavily.
"You're okay?" asked Ellis and came closer.
"Yes." Nick said and wiped the sweat off his forehead. He looked at the mess on the floor. Then he walked over to the shopping basket, grabbed it and walked out of the store. Ellis followed him. Nick walked a few meters before he stopped.
"Actually, no. I'm not okay!" He grabbed his weapon and threw it on the ground.
"I'm far away from being okay!" He hadn't realized that he was shouting until now.
He turned to look at Ellis.
"I just shot a small girl with a half face!" he screamed and waved his hands around.
"I shot a girl because she tried to eat me!" Ellis wanted to say something, probably to calm him down but Nick didn't let him.
"This is crazy! I mean, why was she even there? Why wasn't she evacuated? Why weren't WE evacuated?" He ran his fingers through his hair.
"I can't deal with this anymore, Ellis! They won't rescue us! No one will come for us! We're all going to turn sooner or later and then we will have to shoot each other! I don't want to shoot you, Ellis! ...But this is the fucking apocalypse! It's the end of the world! So how am I supposed to be okay? TELL ME! HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO BE OKAY, ELLIS?"
He picked up a bottle from the ground and threw it against a brick wall as hard as he could. Shards rained to the ground.
Nick took a deep breath.
"I'm sorry," he said to Ellis and picked up his assault rifle.
"Don't be." replied Ellis and patted him on the shoulder. He understood that in a situation like this Nick had to blow off steam.
"You feel better now?"
"Yah. I think I do."
"Then let's get that CD and go back home."
"Yes, let's do that!"
For a second Nick was angry at Ellis for calling the flat their 'home' but when he thought about it, it was exactly that. A home. And it felt damn good to have one.
Well, this is my first Left 4 Dead 2 (Nellis) fanfiction and any kind of criticism and help is appreciated.
I put a lot of work into this and tried to stay as close to the characters as I could so I hope you like it.
If you have any questions or you don't undestand something feel free to ask! If you find any kind of mistake please let me know. English isn't my native language and I want this story to be understandable. It also helps me improving my English :)