Chapter 6: Chicago

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 90

His life clung to our world by a single strand, slowly being torn away as more and more blood began to pool up around his body.

 

"Anikan?"

 

All I could do was stand over his body, frozen in shock and fear. A sudden feeling of guilt was creeping over my body, overtaking my every emotion. My eyes focused on his body, more specifically the crossbow bolt sticking out of his body.

 

Andrew reached down, grabbing the bolt and slowly tearing it from his body. Blood began to bubble up, the bolt slowly sliding out of his head and making a squishy noise as it did so. He eventually tore the bolt out of his head and tossed it aside, watching as blood began to gush out of the hole. Hunter sat beside him, suppressing the pain to try and lend help.

 

"Anikan?!"

 

I turned my head, looking towards the body lying in the grass. The woman was certainly dead; that was certain judging by the amount of bullets Andrew plugged her body with. However, in her hands laid the crossbow she had used to shoot Quinn with.

 

My crossbow. The crossbow I bought with my own money. The crossbow I carried with me every time we went hunting. The crossbow I had neglected to lock away and left sitting out in the open.

 

She had taken the crossbow, and I hadn't noticed till it was too late. It was all my fault.

 

"Anikan!"

 

Andrew shouted at me and I turned, looking down at him. He turned to me and asked, "help me get him inside now!"

 

I nodded, kneeling down and grabbing his feet while Andrew grabbed his head. Hunter managed to fight his way back to his feet, stumbling behind us as he continued to clutch at his bloody wound.

 

The three of us burst into the cabin, sending both Space and Axel stepping back. They watched as we approached the table in the corner, lying Quinn down as his head slumped to the side. I checked for a pulse while Andrew relentless wiped up the blood with the rag, which had already been soaked a into a deep red color.

 

"He's breathing," I told them, "I-I don't know for how long though."

 

"What the hell is going on here?!" Maddie exclaimed.

 

"Bunch of pricks pulled up on us with their guns drawn," Hunter answered as he sat down against the wall.

 

"Oh my god," Space exclaimed, covering her mouth as she backed up against the wall. Maddie stepped forward, shoving a disoriented Spencer out of the way and knelt down, examining Hunter's wound. She then grabbed her blanket and began using it to clean the wound, pushing down against the hole in his shoulder to stop the bleeding.

 

Axel stepped forward, trying to get a closer look at Hunter's wound. I looked to him and then to Space, who rushed in front of him and pulled him and Julia back. The young girl was staring at the scene tearfully, scared and confused on what was going on.

 

"How is he?" I asked Andrew as he continued to apply pressure to his eye.

 

"The wound isn't terrible," he explained, "luckily it didn't go deep enough to damage the brain. That's the good news."

 

"And the bad?" I asked.

 

"He's losing blood fast, and I don't think anyone here has the expertise to patch up a crossbow bolt to the eye other than him," he told me, "so unless we find a doctor or a cloning machine, he's screwed."

 

Spencer reached down and picked up his GameBuddy, "well if you guys have an HDMI cord I can hook him in and-"

 

"Spencer!" Hunter, Andrew and Maddie all shouted in unison. The young boy jumped in shock, stepping back with a frown on his face, "sorry... just trying to lighten the mood."

 

Andrew gestured for me to take over and I moved forward, applying pressure to Quinn's wound as he stepped towards Spencer, "we don't need to lighten the mood little boy blue... we need to find a fucking doctor before he fucking bleeds out!"

 

Spencer stepped back, cowering in fear in response to Andrew's rage. He stood over him, glaring at him angrily before stepping away, scoffing at the boy's cowardice, "whatever, you're no help."

 

He frowned, rushing over to the bed where his bag was lying. He opened up his blue backpack and pulled out his laptop, quickly setting it up on the bed and powering it on. Both Andrew and I were confused on why he was doing so until he opened up his web browser, a list of nearby medical facilities popping up.

 

"We got Saint Quinn's hospital about thirty minutes away, or Etolan Medical Facility an hour to the east," Spencer told us.

 

"Whichever is closer," Andrew replied. Spencer nodded, grabbing his phone off the table to dial the number. But before he could hit the green button, something Quinn said came to mind.

 

I held my hand out, "Spencer wait!"

 

He stopped, taking his hand away from the phone. I thought back to what Quinn had said earlier.


 

"On the way here, I decided to listen in on police frequencies. All police in the area were being redirected to search for a damaged recreational vehicle with a broken left headlight and the plate starting with 7CS," Quinn explained to us.

 

I turned around to look at the RV across the campsite, eyeing both the broken headlight and the 7CS on the license plate.

 

"If I am correct, the police are after us. For what, I do not know, but I believe it may have something to do with the bombing. Being the only survivors, it is only natural that we are considered suspects. However, considering the state of this corrupted country of liberals, I have a feeling we may end up being blamed for this incident to cover up the true perpetrator’s identity," he told us.


 

"Quinn mentioned it to Space and I earlier but... I think the police are looking for us," I told them all.

 

"What?" Andrew, Maddie, Hunter and Spencer all exclaimed.

 

"Are they coming to help us?" Julia asked in a soft tone, sniffling and wiping away her tears.

 

Andrew walked over to the duffel bag, snatching another clip out of the side pocket and reloading his silver pistol, "more like coming to gun us down. How close are they?"

 

Spencer began rapidly typing into his laptop, attempting to find a way to listen into their frequency like Quinn had done. Andrew stood in front of his computer, tapping his foot impatiently.

 

"Come on kid we don't have all day! Pick up the pace!" he shouted.

 

"Alright alright calm down!" Spencer shouted back.

 

A few seconds later he opened up the page, raising the volume as a police officer began to speak through the badly crackling microphone. We all stopped, listening to try and determine what they were saying.

 

"Shots fired at Silver Lake Recreational Campsite, wait for backup or should I move in?" a woman spoke.

 

"Suspect from the GreenBrooke bombing was last seen in the area. Lock it down and wait for backup. Proceed with caution," another voice replied.

 

"10-4, moving in through the south entrance to establish a perimeter," the woman answered.

 

Andrew cursed silently, slamming his fist against the wall, "dammit!"

 

"I-I think they're on their way," Spencer said in a scared tone.

 

"Well no shit sherlock! We gotta get out of here before they get here or we're screwed!" he shouted at Spencer.

 

Space stepped forward, "relax Andrew, maybe if we just stay calm and surrender then they'll realize we're not responsible and release us."

 

"Not likely," I told them, "Andrew, Quinn and I all engaged in a fatal shootout and Luis' probably still has weed stashed in the RV somewhere. If they find it they'll never let us go."

 

"Well then where do we go? Just keep driving?" Maddie asked.

 

"We can't, we need a doctor," Space replied.

 

"If we can't stop at any hospitals, and we can't stay here, then what are we supposed to do?" I asked.

 

"Stop the bleeding, clean the wound, bandage him up and hope for the best?" Andrew suggested.

 

Spencer shook his head, "that'd never work. Without proper medical attention he won't live more than a day."

 

Andrew glared at him, "Well I don't see you suggesting anything. What, do you wanna call Mercy? Shoot him with a bandage bazooka? Do you have any actual fucking ideas?"

 

"Maybe I do, and maybe if you shut up I'll just-"

 

"Typical Spencer, still can't admit that you’re wrong and can't think of a-"

 

"Both of you!" Maddie screamed, "shut the hell up!"

 

Both Spencer and Andrew froze, turning to look at Maddie. Andrew scoffed at her shouting and stepped away, while Spencer continued to sit on the bed with an awkward look on his face.

 

Maddie crossed her arms, "Andrew, continue with Quinn's treatment. Spencer, tell us your idea."

 

"I uh... I forgot," Spencer said in a defeated tone.

 

Maddie facepalmed, turning around to face Hunter as she shook her head in disappointment, "are you kidding me..."

 

Andrew sighed, pushing me aside as he stood over Quinn's body. He grabbed his hand, keeping his thumb over his neck to feel for a pulse as he stared down at his friend. His entire body was shaking, his lips quivering as he tried to think of something.

 

Spencer stood up, approaching Andrew with a frown. He reached out to grab his arm, "hey man... I'm sorry about before... are you oka-"

 

*WHAM*

 

Andrew suddenly swung backwards, knocking Spencer to the floor before he could grab his arm. He spun around, shouting at him angrily, "touch me again and I'll beat your ass!"

 

"Hey!"

 

I instinctively jumped between the two, holding out my arm to keep him from doing anything else.

 

“Not here… and not now,” I told him.

 

He stopped, turning around to look back at Quinn. Spencer meanwhile brushed himself off, flicking a small spider off of his arm.

 

"So we're out of ideas then? That's it?" Space asked.

 

“We can cauterize the wound,” Andrew suggested.

 

“That’s too big of a risk, and other than Quinn, I don’t think anyone knows how to,” I replied.

 

Axel then stepped forward, "um... does anyone know any doctors? Maybe someone who won't give us up?"

 

Andrew turned around, giving him a look that he hadn't given anyone in a long time. A long of both shock and brilliance.

 

"Shit kid... I think you're onto something," he exclaimed.

 

"What are you talking about?" asked Maddie.

 

Andrew pushed past Spencer, rushing to his laptop where he pulled up the social media profile of a young girl on Quinn’s friend list.

 

"I got it... Isabella Navarro, student at the Indiana University School of Medicine," he read out to us, "he told me a few months ago that she was studying to become a doctor."

 

"Does that mean she can help?" I asked.

 

He shrugged, "maybe... I hope so.”

 

I announced to group with determination in my voice, "then pack up your stuff muffinsacks, we’re going to Indiana.”

 

One by one we began grabbing our things, and I helped Andrew pick up Quinn’s body and carry him to the RV. One by one we exited the cabin, supplies in hand, as sirens echoed throughout the campsite. We could hear them in the distance, so they had to be close.

 

Andrew and I set Quinn’s body down in the back before he raced to the driver’s seat, starting up the car almost immediately after sitting down. He then backed us off the grass and we sped off out of the campsite, leaving Silver Lake behind.

 

***

 

Hours flew by, and soon we were speeding down the vacant road with a single quest in mind: getting Quinn to Indiana.

 

Maddie and Spencer sat in the back, keeping a close eye on Quinn's body resting in the back seat. He was alive and stable, but the wrong movement could mean certain death. The kids were there as well, Axel playing on Spencer's GameBuddy while Julia watched with interest.

 

Up front, Space and I were sitting in the booth while Andrew and Hunter sat in the driver and passenger's seat. Andrew sat in the passenger's seat, cleaning off the silver handgun I recognized as a Desert Eagle with a wet rag. Hunter was beside him driving the RV, groaning with every bump in the road. Maddie had cleaned and patched up Hunter's wound, hopefully enough to keep him going until they got proper medical attention. 

 

Space was sitting across from me in the booth, skipping through a light novel and every once in awhile glaring up at Andrew. While we were all a bit sick of his attitude, Space had never been around to see the brunt of it. 

 

“Hey Ani, is Chicago on the way to Indiana?” Space asked as she poked at her phone, which wasn’t loading anything. We had all turned our cell service off and removed our SIM cards just in case the police could track us.

 

I checked the map from Quinn’s bag and nodded, “about an hour or two before Indianapolis. Why?”

 

“No reason,” she replied unconvincingly.

 

I shrugged, putting the map back. I then turned to the side to see Spencer stood up, walking across the RV and approaching Andrew and Hunter. He asked politely, "hey do you guys know where the water is?"

 

Hunter turned around and answered, "it's over in the footlocker under-"

 

"Up your ass and around the corner," Andrew interrupted.

 

Space suddenly stood up, stomping over to Andrew and shooting him a glare. Spencer stepped back as Andrew sighed, staring back at the road with a fixed look of irritation.

 

"What is wrong with you? You are such a dick to Spencer and everyone else around you and I'm sick of it!" Space shouted at him.

 

Andrew threw down his gun, getting up and standing over Space. Space was a whole foot shorter, though it didn't intimidate her one bit.

 

"That damn kid has no right to touch me or even be here!" he whispered to her angrily.

 

"Well excuse me, who went up and made you god?" 

 

"I may not be god, but I know damn well enough that someone like him shouldn't be with us! He's spineless, scrawny, and he can't take any of this shit seriously! He should've died, not Luis!" Andrew shouted, "maybe if Luis was here, then Quinn wouldn't be-"

 

*SMACK*

 

Andrew stumbled backward, Space huffing with her balled fists at the ready. None of us had ever threatened Andrew, nonetheless hit him.

 

"He’s gone, but he is still our friend. Disrespect him again, and you will regret it,” Space told him in a slightly intimidating tone.

 

She stomped back over to me, sitting next to me and picking back up her book. I frowned, sinking into my seat as I continued to read the manga that Maddie had lent me from the small collection she had bundled in her backpack.


***

Hours passed, the moon slowly lowering down over the horizon and being replaced by the sun, which slowly rose over the other side. Daytime had come, and Quinn was still alive. Though judging by the lapses in breathing and his slow pulse, not for very much longer.

 

I yawned, stretching my arms as I awoke from a short nap. I sat up, turning to see Space get up and approach Andrew and Hunter. In the back, Spencer had curled into a ball beside Maddie who was stroking his head calmly. She was also watching anime on her phone while she kept an eye on the still unconscious Quinn.

 

"Where are we?" Space asked curiously.

 

"About to go through Chicago, only another three hours till Indianapolis," Andrew answered.

 

Space took a deep breath before asking, "is there any chance we could maybe... stop in Chicago for a bit?"

 

Andrew frowned, turning around and giving her a look like she was crazy. Both Hunter and I looked up as well, confused at her request.

 

"Stop? You're kidding right?" he asked.

 

"I'm not kidding Andrew, there's something I need to do and I'm not leaving this country until I do it," she explained.

 

"Well sorry princess but the only thing that'll make me slow down now is a police car with a missile launcher attached to the hood or a hot dog stand because I'm pretty hungry right now," Andrew answered.

 

"Fine," she said, "if you won't stop then just drop me off. I'll meet you guys in Indiana."

 

To our surprise she turned around, grabbing her small pink backpack off the ground. She grabbed her book and cat beanie before approaching the door, and before she could try and open it, I grabbed her hand.

 

She turned around to face me and I asked her, "what's going on?"

 

"There's something I need to do, and I'm not going to let anyone stop me from doing it. And if a man's life is on the line, I don't want anyone to wait for me either," she said, "just keep on going. I'll find a way out of here."

 

"No way," I told her, "you're our friend and I'm not letting you go on your own. I'll come with me, and once you're done we can meet back up with them."

 

"Would you really do that?" she asked.

 

I nodded, "for you, definitely."

 

***

 

When we arrived at Chicago, we expected to be greeted by a bustling and crowded city full of wonder. But instead, we found a dreary bundle of buildings and blank sidewalks.

 

“The hell? Where’d everyone go?” Hunter asked as he glanced out the window.

 

“Oh oh! Maybe they were abducted by Aliens!” Spencer exclaimed.

 

“Or,” Maddie interrupted, “everyone is hiding because of the damn virus spreading around. I told you guys that thing is serious!”

 

Hunter scoffed, “nah that thing is just another bug! It’s not like it’s actually gonna kill someone!”

 

“Actually, according to the latest news report, eleven thousand people have died from it,” Spencer replied.

 

Hunter scoffed in a defeated way, “yeah well… you suck dick.”

 

“Stop arguing and shut up,” Andrew told us as the RV slowed down, “we’re here.”

 

The RV pulled over on the side of the road, the door opening to let Space and I out. We took our backpacks and I took my revolver as well, which Andrew referred to as a colt python. I stuffed it into my waistband, covering it with my loose brown jacket. I also took one of Luis’s four machetes, shoving it into my bag just in case.

 

“Are you sure about this?” Andrew asked, “I mean we let you make popcorn once and you stuffed three bags in the microwave at once.”

 

“Just because I burnt popcorn once two years ago doesn’t mean I can’t navigate around a city,” I told him.

 

“Fine, but you two better be back before we leave Indiana," he said, "and if you're not, I won't hesitate to drive off."

 

"Same to you," I said, "stay safe."

 

Space walked away, but before Andrew closed the door he handed me something; a thick black military dagger with a sharpened blade.

 

"Just in case," he said, "don't use your phones and if you run into trouble don't hesitate to take a life."

 

"How is it that you were able to do it so easy last night? You shot two people like it was nothing," I asked.

 

"It's not the first time I've taken a life," he answered. Obviously, he didn't want to press the issue and neither did I in fear of losing my life.

 

"Alright then, I'll see you soon," I told him.

 

He nodded, closing the door before driving off down the road. The RV drove around the corner, disappearing from sight. We were on our own now. 

 

Space and I turned around, walking down the street as we entered the large city known as Chicago. Somehow, I felt like it was different. The sky was bleak, a light rain showering down upon us. It wasn't much, but I still felt the small drips coming down on my shoulder.

 

The main difference was the people. There weren’t many out and about, but the few that were out were wearing white facemasks.

 

“Must be because of that virus thing Maddie said was going around,” I whispered to her.

 

"Maybe. You think they recognize us?" she asked.

 

"Our faces shouldn't be on the news, should they? It's not like we're the biggest news story in the country right?" I asked as we passed by several old stores.

 

Space sighed as she turned her head, "you jinxed it..."

 

We both turned to see a TV playing a news article, where a man was discussing the bombing of GreenBrooke City. On the side of the screen were seven pictures. Our pictures. Me, Andrew, Spencer, Quinn, Space, Hunter and Madeline.

 

"We believe they are traveling across the country in a white recreational vehicle, last seen early this morning at Silver Lake Recreational Parks. They are armed and dangerous, having fatally wounded three civilians so far and are most likely out to take more lives," the man said.

 

I cursed under my breath, "shit."

 

"On other news, the deadly outbreak known as the Z-Virus is spreading across the country, having infected most of California, Utah..."

 

"Is that the same thing we were watching yesterday?” I asked her.

 

Space nodded, and we stopped to look at the screen.

 

"New York City can officially be added to the list of dangerous cities, after large horde of these mysterious mutants having broken out of Saint Barcley hospital. Luckily, they were unable to do any massive danger before local superhero, The Jade Stranger, intercepted and recaptured them inside an abandoned building," the man continued.

 

A small video appeared in the corner of the screen, showing what looked to be some sort of human-like creature with grey skin, sharp claws, pulsing purple veins, and blood dripping from his eyes being surrounded by police. They gunned him down, firing round after round at the creature until he dropped dead.

 

“What are those things?” one woman standing nearby asked as she eyed the TV.

 

Everyone was worried about the monsters, but there was a more urgent thought coming to mind: Lydia.

 

“I wonder if she had come across them, or if she had become one of them. She had mentioned before she knew The Jade Stranger, but never said more than that,” I thought in my mind, “I hope she’s okay…”

 

“The CDC is recommending all individuals to wash their hands and self-isolate in an attempt to stop the virus from spreading any further. At the time of this broadcast, we are unable to pinpoint the source, but research is being conducted on infected test subjects.”

 

"Jesus... so it's not just the nuclear attack, it's an outbreak too," I said to her.

 

She nodded, "mhm... this is how America dies."

 

“Los Angeles, Atlanta, Evansville, Houston, San Diego, and several other cities listed on screen have been dictated as off-limits by the government due to health concerns and are in the process of being evacuated. New York City and Indianapolis may be added in the coming days if the situation does not calm down,” the man said.

 

“Indianapolis… that’s where the others are going,” Space whispered.

 

I nodded, “let’s get this done soon then.”

 

A police car drove by behind us and I briefly turned around, eyeing them closely. Luckily, they turned the corner instead of stopping.

 

"Just follow me. Let's get in and out before the police find us," she said, pulling her cat beanie further down her head. I reached into my backpack, pulling out a black cap I equipped to try and hide my face.

 

She led me down the sidewalk and across the street, stopping in front of an old graveyard. However, the gates were blocked off, a big fat silver lock keeping them shut. The paper taped to it informed that the cemetery was closed for maintenance.

 

"Seriously?" she asked, slightly tearing up, "why today of all days!?"

 

Frustrated, Space kicked at the door before turning around, sitting down on the curb and burying her head in her face. I frowned, turning around to try and find a solution. I eyed an old church down the road, the fences connected to it.

 

"Hey, get up. Maybe there’s a way inside over there," I said as I tapped her on the shoulder. She looked up at me sniffling as I grabbed her hand. The two of us walked down the road, approaching the small chapel.

 

I observed the building closely, eyeing the chipped paint along the walls, the dusty and boarded up windows, and the rusted doorknob. There was a mess of fliers and posters pinned to the side of the building all on top of each other as well and lying on the ground below it were several smashed bottles. Beside the door was a potted plant containing bright blue flowers.

 

“What is it?” Space asked.

 

“Well judging by the look of this church, it seems to be pretty old, circa 1800s, and the workers around the graveyard don’t seem to tend to it. Most likely an old building they aren’t bothering to tear down due to the cost, but one that isn’t in use anymore,” I explained to her, “the amount of posters on the side supports that theory, and the broken glass beneath it gives me an idea.”

 

“An idea?” she asked curiously.

 

“Cheap alcohol,” I said as I picked up a piece of glass and sniffed it, “most likely neighborhood kids coming around here and using this place as a short of makeshift hideout to drink behind their parents back.”

 

“How would you know that?” she asked, crossing her arms.

 

“Because, I snuck out with Hunter and Luis once when they went to go do it. Hid out in that empty house down the street from Spencers, the one with the broken gazebo out back,” I told her.

 

She scoffed, “s-so you actually went out drinking with them? You’re only seventeen!”

 

“I didn’t actually drink anything, the two of them did. After seeing what five bottles of beer a day did to my stepdad, I decided to swear off drinking unless I was around people I trusted,” I informed her before kneeling down to the potted plant beside the door.”

 

“Is there something wrong?” she asked.

 

“It doesn’t match,” I told her, “the chapel is old, run down, dead. But these flowers look brand new.”

 

I reached out, brushing the flowers against my hand before confirming my suspicions, “fake. Just like the flowerpot it’s stuffed inside.”

 

I turned the pot around, revealing a small compartment on the back. I opened it up, revealing an old bronze key sitting inside. I snatched it up and approached the door, shoving the key into the lock.

 

“Well damn Ani… I never knew you were a regular Sherlock Holmes!” she exclaimed in awe.

 

I blushed, “n-no I’m really not. I just watch a lot of crime shows, a-and I took a forensics class online.”

 

“Interested in becoming a detective then?” she asked.

 

I shrugged, “maybe someday, if this whole end of the world thing ends up blowing over.”

 

The lock clicked and I pushed the door open, revealing the dusty inside of a church. 

 

A large hall sat in front of us, one that reminded me of when I was a kid. When my mom used to bring me to church. On each side of the long carpet were those wooden seats where people would sit and stand to sing and pray. At the end of the hall was a white podium, and a stained glass window dimmed by dust. Light was shining through the other windows, one of which was cracked.

 

"I-I don't think we should be here. Maybe we could find someone who works here," she suggested.

 

"Calm down, this is only mildly illegal," I told her with a joking grin.

 

"I didn't take you to be a troublemaker," she said.

 

I shrugged, "when you spend a lot of time around Hunter and Luis, you pick up a few things and learn to run free."

 

Space began wandering through the small chapel, admiring the old fashioned vibe it gave off. When she got the podium, she looked back at me and giggled.

 

I scoffed, “what’s so funny?”

 

“A bit more sad than funny. But I was gonna say that even if we do die, at least we got a chance to walk down the aisle,” she told me with a giggle.

 

“Haha,” I said sarcastically, “we’re gonna live through this, and we’re gonna get married... I-I don’t mean to each other of course though!”

 

She giggled and set down her backpack, “oh Ani, think before you speak.”

 

Space looked away from me and back towards the wall and ended up walking into a cobweb. She shrieked, swiping it away and spitting it out of her mouth.

 

“Then you watch before you walk. I have a bad feeling about this place,” I told her as I stepped up towards the podium.

 

A voice echoed throughout the room, “you shouldn’t.”

 

Space went to the gun in her waistband and I gripped my revolver, aiming it towards the door. Beside the front entrance was another room, where a man was standing in the doorway. He didn’t try anything and didn’t seem dangerous. Just a simple young man, but certainly not a pastor or religious type.

 

He was maybe in his late twenties or early thirties, and his skin was an almost vampiric type of paleness I had never seen before. He had messy brown hair and a pair of black spectacles hanging on his nose, along with a pair of deep red eyes. He wore a black suit with a red tie and was leaning on a dark black cane.

 

“Who are you?” I asked him as I gripped the revolver tightly.

 

He shrugged, “someone far from home. Same as you.”

 

Space stuttered, “h-how do you know that?”

 

“I’ve seen you every time you come. Last year with your mom and dad, the year before with your uncle and aunt.,” he told us.

 

I rose the revolver and growled at him, “stay back! Who the hell are you?”

 

He sighed, “my name is Erick. I’m a sort of... slave to graveyards. I have the most important job here.”

 

“So, you work here?” I asked him.

 

He smiled, “you could say that. I keep intruders like you from trespassing.”

 

“Well why are you here? Isn’t this place closed?” I asked him.

 

“The graveyard may be closed, but that does not mean my duty is over. Teenage kids always come around to spraypaint the graves, and it’s my job to keep them out,” Erick explained.

 

“Alright then... now leave before I shoot you!” I shouted at him.

 

“Shoot me? I’d like to see you try. You’re too scared,” he said, “I have other matters to attend to anyways, so I will leave you here. There’s a gap in the wall behind the podium, if you’re looking to get inside the graveyard.”

 

Erick then turned, walking back into the other room. He didn’t bother to close the door, but we heard no noise. It’s almost like he vanished. 

 

“That was weird,” I told her, crossing my arms after holstering my gun.

 

“Eh not the weirdest thing I've ever seen,” Space said before turning around.

 

I raised an eyebrow, “what is the weirdest thing then?”

 

“The hidden folder on Spencer’s laptop,” Space told me as she knelt down beside a hole in the wall.

 

“Nevermind you win. You find a way out?" I asked.

 

Space gestured for me to follow and we both knelt down beside the hole. It was just barely big enough for the two of us to slip through it seemed. I crawled through first, Space following behind me.

 

The two of us stepped out into the graveyard, where the rain seemed to have died down. She led me past rows and rows of graves, each one with a significant amount of flowers. She finally stopped at a specific grave on the end of the third row, where a vase of dead roses sat.

 

 

Keith Allen

 

1991-2012

 

"Me and my parents come here every year to pay respects. Every year, on the day of his funeral. I wanted to come here one more time before we left. Just so I could leave him a final message,” she told me, finally revealing her intentions.

 

“You should’ve said so. The others would have agreed,” I told her as I knelt down beside her.

 

“Quinn’s life is on the line, he’s more important. My brother is already gone,” she told me as she dug into her backpack.

 

I knelt down beside her, eyeing the grave closely. There was more text on the bottom that I didn't notice.

 

Purple Heart

 

"He was in the military?" I asked.

 

“Yep. Keith joined the marines when I was just nine against my parents’ wishes. They wanted him in the family business, but he wanted to fight for his country. He was stationed in Afghanistan for a year and a half. Died in an IED explosion. Well, kinda. The explosion hit him hard, and the remainder of his squad tried to get him back to base. He didn’t make it,” she said solemnly, a somber tone filling the air.

 

She touched the grave with her fingertip and began whispering to him. I closed my eyes and pressed my hands together, praying for him and us. I wasn’t entirely sure how to act, since I had never gone to a funeral or visited a grave before, but I assumed I just had to pray.

 

Afterwards she sighed, wiping tears out of her eyes. She then turned to me and asked with a sniffle, "promise me you won't go anywhere. Okay? We've lost Luis, we may lose Quinn, and I don't want to lose you or anyone else."

 

I nodded, standing up and looking back towards the chapel. I asked her, "need a moment alone?"

 

She shook her head, standing up, “I’m done. We need to get a move on.”

 

Space walked off back towards the house, leaving a single flower from her backpack on his grave. I followed behind her, leaving the somber tone behind when she closed and locked the door. 

 

“Where to next?” I asked her.

 

She shrugged, “you’re our leader. So, lead. We gotta find a ride right?”

 

“Yeah I think so. We can go and hotwire a car maybe. C’mon let’s take a walk,” I told her as I exited the chapel. She smiled and followed, locking the door behind us.

 

***

 

"Did you really have to take an extra sample?"

 

"Well, it tastes good!"

 

We walked down the street, Space continuing to eat her ice cream. Her sadness continued even after we left the graveyard, so I made the executive decision to drag her into the nearest ice cream parlor. It payed off and I could see the sparkles in her eyes as she looked over the twenty-four vats of ice cream flavors.

 

I sat down on a wooden bench on the side of the street and she sat next to me, continuing to eat a few spoonfuls of ice cream. Her long blonde hair blew in the breeze and her feelings of happiness felt comforting. I had never been comfortable around many girls, except for one childhood friend. Maddie I had technically been around a lot, but she was a bit tomboyish and I always thought of her just as one of us. Space was much different, being very much shy unless forced into a debate.

 

She got the bottom of the cup of ice cream and scooped up the last of it with her spoon. She then put the spoon up to my mouth, stuffing it through my closed lips and giving me a taste of the chocolate ice cream.

 

"Ah! At least get a new spoon."

 

"Relax Ani. C'mon let's have some fun while we're here," she said with a grin.

 

"We gotta meet back up with the others though," I told her, "what if Quinn dies? What if they get in trouble and need us?"

 

"You don't trust Andrew to keep them safe?" she asked.

 

"I don't trust him not to shoot first and get them into a situation they can't get out of. He's a bit impulsive," I explained to her.

 

She sighed, "I see your point. Fine, but how are we getting back in the first place?”

 

“We can hijack a car,” I suggested.

 

“And how are you of all people gonna do that?” she asked me.

 

“Once again, while I don’t agree with Hunter’s misdeeds, they are useful.” I told her as turned down an alleyway.

 

She crossed her arms, “you know how to hotwire a car?”

 

“Vaguely,” I lied to her, “let’s just find a car nobody else is using.”

 

As we walked down the street, Space reached down and grabbed onto the sleeve of my jacket. I smiled faintly due to this, but tried to hide it when she looked my way. I noticed her glance back to the people walking down the streets, most of them wearing white surgical masks like the people we saw earlier.

 

“Hey Ani, is there anything you wanna do before you die?” Space asked curiously as she turned to look at me.

 

I looked to her, unsure of my answer, “um… well I’m not really sure. Why of all questions are you asking that?”

 

“After what happened last night with Quinn, it just got me thinking. What if that was you? Or me? Or Maddie? Any of us could have been the one to go down, and what if we weren’t as lucky as him?” she explained.

 

“Lucky? There’s an arrow in his eye,” I told her.

 

“He’s alive though. My point is, any of us could die at any time. So I’m just wondering, what do you wanna do before you die?” she asked.

 

I took a few seconds to think before answering, “well… ride a motorcycle… see my family in Mexico again- “

 

“Mexico?” she asked.

 

“Yeah don’t you remember? Almost all my family on my dad’s side is living down in Mexico,” I told her, “I showed you guys pictures last time I visited.”


“Oh right, s-sorry… what else?” she asked.

 

“Um… lemme think…. Maybe get in a relationship at some point,” I admitted.

 

“You’ve never dated anyone?” she asked.

 

I shook my head, "does getting married to some girl in first grade with a plastic bagel count?"

 

She giggled, her smile making me smile as well. I decided to ask her as well, “what about you?”

 

“Me what?” she asked, a bit confused.

 

“Have you ever been in a relationship?” I asked.

 

She shook her head too, “nope. I’ve been so busy with schoolwork I’ve never really had time to date and stuff.”

 

“Well now that our school is gone, you’ll be able to pursue your non-academic dreams to your heart’s content,” I told her with a smile.

She nodded, “for now, let’s focus on pursuing our dreams of not dying.”

 

"Over there," I said, pointing down the alleyway as we passed an unconscious hobo next to a dirty old dumpster.

 

Space pointed towards a car on the other end of the alley, one that seemed like the perfect solution. A red sports car sat on the side of the road, the sun's rays gleaming off of it. It seemed fast enough to catch up to Andrew, it just depended on if either of us could drive it.

 

“This seems sufficient,” I said as I hopped over the door and into the convertible.

 

“Stealing a car? Are you sure?” she asked.

 

I shrugged, “drastic situations call for drastic measures. Just keep a look out.”

 

I searched the car, checking under the seats, the glovebox, and the even the sun blockers. However, there was no trace of any key of sorts. The hotwiring idea was also not an option, since I actually had no idea how to do it.

 

“If only Hunter was here. That moron knew how to hotwire cars,” I thought to myself, frowning.

 

“Hey Ani!”

 

I turned around to see Space standing beside a motorcycle, a small key in hand. I climbed out of the car, rushing to her as she held the small jingling key in her hand.

 

“W-Where did you get this?” I asked her curiously.

 

“It was stuffed in this compartment on the side,” she said as she knelt down, opening it up to reveal a bunch of random junk stuffed inside. I knelt down as well, reaching inside and pulling out a black handgun.

 

Space stared at the gun in shock, backing away. However, I turned around and handed the gun to her, placing it in her hands.

 

“Take this,” I told her before picking up one of the two helmets hanging on the handlebars.

 

“A-Ani… I can’t- “

 

“Look, we both have seen what the world is coming to. You saw those news reports. We don’t know what to expect when we get there, so it’s best to carry a weapon just in case,” I told her, taking my hand away and leaving the gun in her grasp.

 

She nodded begrudgingly, stuffing the gun into her waistband and putting her shirt over it. She then climbed onto the motorcycle behind me, clumsily putting on the second motorcycle helmet.

 

“Um… you do know how to drive this thing right?” she asked.

 

“I’ve never driven a real one, but I played Grand Theft Auto in VR once,” I told her.

 

“What!? H-How the hell are you- “

 

I stared up the motorcycle, listening to the vehicle as it roared to life. She latched onto me tightly, her nails digging into my jacket. I’d probably have some marks on my waist by the time we got there.

 

"Alright Spacie, next stop Indiana," I said as I slammed on the gas pedal, speeding down the road. The motorcycle shot forward and I swerved away from the car beside us, nearly hitting a street sign and trash can in the process. However, I managed to slow it to a steady speed, smirking as Space shrieked in fear behind me.

 

“Slow down slow down slow down!” she exclaimed.

 

“Just like the simulations,” I muttered with a chuckle.


Submitted: August 10, 2020

© Copyright 2022 AnikanDarkness. All rights reserved.

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