There are three kinds of people in this world.
There are those that give up, crumble under the pressures of this new age. Leaving themselves to do nothing more than to decay like the remains of the structures that surround them. Skeletons of the dead, half-buried in dust, punctuating the bleak wasteland that once was a bustling metropolis of human activity. We call them The Forgotten.
There are those that give in, to the madness around them. The fear and anxiety turning them into monsters no better than the bloodthirsty undead that wander the ruined landscape. They shelter themselves from human contact. The human mind causing them to resort back to a primitive state of mind. Stealing and burning. Killing and raping. Psychopaths who themselves have become just as big a threat on the continuation of humanity as the Returned themselves. We call them The Ragers.
And then there are those, well, there are those that give ‘em hell. The rest of us who refuse to give in when things look their worst. Fighting back against the horrors that devour what’s left. Pulling together and maintaining the hope that they feel defines them as human beings. Pushed into concentrated camps, these people seek to span out and rebuild their society. Knowing in their hearts, that someday the plight will end and all will be restored. We call them The Future.
Oh, and I guess there is one more. I guess you can just call him… The Exile.
Tripping over a metallic mountain that used to be a Coca-Cola machine, The Exile stumbles his way out of the Texaco gas station and back into the cool, crisp morning air. Taking a deep breath, he quickly remembers that said cool, crisp air has been replaced with the smell of rotten flesh and smog. Coughing and choking, he quickly pulls the American-flag-turned-bandana around his neck back over his mouth and nose.
“Another empty haul, Bruno. Guess I’ll just fry you up and have myself a delicious snack.”
Lifting the strap of his canvas messenger bag over his head and back across his chest to rest on his opposite shoulder, he zips open the top just enough to let the furry critter poke it’s tiny head out of the opening. Letting out a chatter in The Exile’s direction, it quickly retreats back into the comfort of it’s bag.
“Ah, come on! I was kiddin’, lil’ buddy. Lighten up!”
The Exile could feel the ferret curl itself up and settle in for the next leg of their journey. He couldn’t help but envy the creature for not having to walk. Being carried around the post-apocalypse in a bag. Must be nice.
Maggie bent in her shoulder, pressing her head against her upper arm and pushing in for more leverage. Angling her legs and digging into the ash, she struggled against the heavy object. No matter how much she shoved, it wouldn’t budge.
“Well, I guess getting in there is out of the question. Barricaded themselves in pretty good. You have any other ideas?”
Wilson shrugged. Grasping the wheels of his rusted-over manual wheelchair, he carefully maneuvered around the broken up pavement and rolled over to glance around the corner of the abandoned church.
“Hey, wait. I see a window!”
Maggie stepped carefully over to see what he was looking at. Towards the roof of the structure was a tiny window, no more than a foot and a half tall and maybe three feet wide. The cracked glass glistening in the morning sun on the ground, roughly twenty feet, below.
“Bite me, Doc.”
“Come on. If you use that dumpster, you can get up there! You can fit, I know it.”
“I do suppose the ‘Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse’ diet has worked wonders on my figure. But you can’t be serious. We can find a better place to go.”
“Churches were the best hold out during The Crisis. You know this as well as I do. If there are survivors, supplies, food, anything, this would be a pretty solid place to look. Everything else has been gathered up already. We’re out of supplies, Margaret, we have no other choice.”
“Ugh, fine. If I get stuck though, I’m tire-jacking your wheelchair and leaving you here up on blocks!”
A loud crack, followed by the ever-decreasing echo of said crack, blew across the streets of Faith. The Future survivors inside didn’t look up from their morning choirs.
“Head shot! Hundred points!”
“Bull shit, you barely grazed him!”
Hunter punched Jackson on the arm. The marine’s well defined muscles showing no signs of strain from the swing of the once-computer programmer.
“Give me a break, Jax! You always win! Which isn’t surprising considering only one of us had any formal arms training and field service record prior to all of this. In fact, I barely even left my cubicle! Grazed or not, I got that decaying bastard in the head!”
Jackson half-laughed as he grabbed the riffle from Hunter’s stick-like arms. He pulled the gun comfortably up to his eye line and aimed out into the field beyond the wall.
“Whatever. Let me show you how a pro does this. Pick a target.”
“It’s much more fun if I have a specific Returned to aim for.”
“Um, alright… how about the really fat one in the purple stretch pants! No, no, too easy. I got it! Get the zombie midget, oh man, get the zombie midget!”
“Zombie midget it is…”
Only an instant later, the snarling face of the undead little person was replaced with a bloody hole.
“Holy shit! Hah! Alright, alright, you win!”
“Hey! Will you two idiots stop wastin’ ammo!”
The large frame of Commander Quentin Brask cast a shadow over the two men. The mid-morning sun eclipsed by his massive body.
“Right. Sorry, sir…”
“I know this is boring, but we have Civies down there that need us to protect them. We can’t really do that too well if we ain’t got bullets. Now get back to your posts.”
“I feel so much safer knowing those bumbling idiots are protecting the wall…”
Granny Izzy glanced up from the tiny flower garden she was tending to only briefly to acknowledge she heard what Raven said. And then, as was the usual with the mute old lady, she returned to watering.
“I swear, they’re probably more of a danger to us than the Returned!”
“Give them a break, will ya, kid. They’re just as fucked as we are!”
Granny Izzy sneered over at Clank with enough heat to burn through him. He shivered, and dropped his one good eye so as not to make eye contact.
“Eh, pardon my language, Granny… But the point is, everyone is in the same situation, Raven, and we’re all a bit scared. If they need to blow off some steam, I say let ‘em. Keeps their head clear for when a real problem comes up.”
“That is if you see the Returned as a problem…”
“Ah, don’t start with that sympathy shit you creepy darkling! AH! Hey, cut it out…”
Clank leaped from his chair and sprinted out of the way of the hose water coming from Granny Izzy’s direction. The old lady dropped her weapon back to the flower bed.
“Crazy old bat…”
The tin box with the red cross on the front rattled faintly.
“Yeah, we’re runnin’ low on medical supplies. And medical know how for that matter. If one of us gets hurt or sick, we’re toast.”
Billy tossed the first aid kit on the old oaken desk in the town hall, previously a strip club.
“You’re quite the alarmist, Billy. I suppose that’s why I let you help me run this little settlement. But how’s about you let ol’ Edward worry about that kind of thing. You worry about finding a nice gift for my daughter’s birthday!”
“Wha… well… yeah, I guess it is Ella’s birthday tomorrow and… Oh crap, that also means it’s our anniversary!”
“Exactly! So the present has to be extra special. Now why don’t you piss off, I got me some Mayorin’ to do!”
Billy frantically turned to rush out of the dimly lit room, narrowly missing the pole and tumbling off the stage. Popping back up, he hurried out the front door. Edward rolled his eyes.
“Dumb ass. I have no idea what my Belle could see in such a stupid little shit. I guess he is right about the medical supplies and lack of doctor though…”
The Exile’s hand rested gently on the handle of his pistol, fingers slowly curling their way around the duct tapped grip. Drawing slowly, so as not to alert the Returned standing back-turned a few paces in front of him, he brought his weapon up. With a quick jerk of the finger, he dropped the undead to the pavement. Bruno poked his head out of the bag, and after a few chatters crawled out and fought it’s way up to rest on The Exile’s shoulder,curious about the commotion.
“I’ll tell ya, that never gets old.”
He turned and stared down the remains of the highway. Miles of cracked pavement, trashed cars, and hot sunlight. And not entirely too much else. Holstering his weapon, he began his decent down the exit ramp and into a new day.
“Well, guess we’re heading this way today. I could really go for a cream soda right now!”
His companion chattered in his ear lightly.
“Ah, yeah, I suppose I could go for some not being constantly surrounded by the undead too. But hey, you know what they say about beggars and choosing!”
Stepping out onto the open road, The Exile lifted his head up high.
“Only a few more miles until home sweet home… or at least what’s left of it.”
The Exile continued onward.