Notice: This is a direct sequel to my previous story: Alone. Go read that if you haven't yet, or you'll be rather confused.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1: The Continuation - Page 1
Chapter 2: Undead Residences - Page 3
Chapter 3: The Omnipresent Search for Food - Page 3
Chapter 4: Can't Get Enough of This Place - Page 5
Chapter 5: End of a Hiatus - Page 9
Chapter 6: Stuck on High - Page 10
Chapter 7: Let's Split Up! - Page 11
Chapter 8: A Failed Rendezvous - Page 11
Recap Chapter: The Story Thusfar - Page 12
Chapter 9: Shitty First Impressions and a Lizard - Page 13
Chapter 10: Stampede - Pages 13-14
Chapter 11: Cabin Fever - Page 15
Chapter 12: Snow Days part 1 - Page 16
Chapter 13: Snow Days part 2 - Page 17
What was happening!?
It was time for lunch, in this prison we were in. However, this time, people weren’t eating.
A full-scale riot had broken out, presumably caused by some shots that rang off earlier.
And now, there was screaming and shouting everywhere, as the place rioted against their captors. The slaves were fighting back.
And I was a part of them.
I fought with one of the slavers up close, trying to avoid getting hit by his crowbar, when one of the burlier slaves charged him over and started hitting him.
“Thanks,” I muttered, as I picked up the crowbar, and joined in the fray.
As I engaged another slaver, I started to notice they were trying to not
kill us. It seemed they wanted us alive so they could continue breaking our backs for their labor. Like we were gonna let that happen.
I crushed the man’s skull, and then more shots rang out. They started yelling, and the entire group was being pushed back. I got swept away in the crowd, and next I knew we were all herded into a cell block in one big, chaotic pile-up.
They closed the door, trying to keep us in. The few slavers stuck in here with us didn’t last very long.
We railed against the bars, a giant, amorphous blob of very, very pissed off slaves.
Just as we began to give up, and they started to relax, a siren blared. The lights, went out, replaced with red sirens, and the door opened up. Someone had pulled the fire alarm. Gotta love failsafes, right?
The slavers didn’t hold back at this point, they just started shooting. The people in front were mowed down, mercilessly, as I came up behind. Eventually, they were routed and ran away, with us giving complete chase.
Unfortunately for them, the slavers were soon surrounded as slaves from other cell blocks, now opened, were joining in. It was like our own small-scale war, actually. Hordes of slaves in orange jumpsuits versus slavers in more esoteric attire.
The more slavers we killed, the easier it became for our side, as we looted them of their weapons. It was rapidly becoming a slaughter, and eventually, the last of them was gunned down.
I brought down my crowbar onto one of their heads. The last slaver had been killed.
However, rather than shouts of victory, there were sounds of disgust. Retching, as people vomited, and the sound of confusion. No one had honestly planned further than “Viva le Revolution!”
I looked around. Surrounded, by unfamiliar faces. And yet, they were my allies. For now, at least. I couldn’t spot anyone I knew in the crowd; these guys had a huge slaving ring.
I decided, along with quite a few others, apparently, that I should at least visit the storage and try to reclaim my own clothes. I wasn’t quite fond of an orange jumpsuit.
The storage room was crowded, as expected. Anyone that didn’t have the heart to just steal clothes from the dead was in here, trying to reclaim some sense of individuality in the form of clothing.
It was all in piles, which made searching hard. What made it easier to find my clothing was its uniqueness. Whereas others had worn jeans, t-shirts, and the like, my clothing was more ghetto, if you could call it that. It was made of furs and animal skins, and leather, along with various bits of scrap metal for protection. My bruised rib wished I had my armor before, but it was useless whining now.
Before long, I had found it. I took my clothes and headed for a bathroom to change. I left my now-useless jumpsuit lying on the floor. No one cared if I made a bit of a mess.
After I changed into more fitting gear, I went back to raiding the store room. It was mostly picked clean at this point, annoyingly, but I did find something hiding underneath a pile of clothes.
It was a messenger bag. Inside it was a crossbow – which was conveniently collapsible, so it fit in quite easily – along with some bolts, and some meds. I looked for a name, and on the tag read “Claire.” Seems they haven’t gotten around to emptying these, at least.
I took the bag with me. I felt it was better to hang on to it and give it to Claire myself before some opportunistic scavenger took it.
Of course, I didn’t know where they were. Now, where could they be?
Just then, a sudden thought entered my mind: Maria was technically a slaver.
Fuck! I hoped against hope that she was still alive; that somehow she had managed to convince the others not to kill her.
I ran about the prison, trying to find someone I could recognize, trying to avoid thinking about all the dead bodies lying about the place. I was becoming so inured to them that they only registered as decorations, now. And that scared me.
Eventually, I made my way to the entrance of the prison. What I saw in there made my heart fall into my stomach.
I ran over to Maria. There was a neat, small bullet in the top of her head, with a small pool of blood. Next to her lay Claire, with a much larger pool of blood and many, many more wounds.
“Oh, fuck, Maria!” My voice caught in my throat. I started to sob, as I hugged her lifeless body.
Eventually, a hand on my shoulder stopped me. I looked up to see the worried face of John, from the town, before it was taken over.
He helped me up off the ground, and I hugged him as I cried into his shoulder. He just reassuringly hugged me, until I could get myself under control.
“What- what happened to Charlie?” I asked, between sobs. He didn’t answer. I didn’t press further.
Eventually, I pulled myself off of him, and wiped my tears. He put his hand on my shoulder. “Well, now what?”
I wiped my eyes. “I… don’t know, really.”
I took a deep breath, and tried to pull myself together. “I guess I’ll just go... somewhere.”
“So, you’re leaving, then?” He asked.
“Yes. I can’t stay here, not with my dead girlfriend lying on the floor of the lobby,” I replied darkly.
He sighed. “I understand. But, the others were planning on setting this place up as a base, or another town. I guess you’re welcome to come back at any time.”
I forced a smile. “I’ll keep that in mind,” I replied, leaving.
I didn’t know where to go, but wherever it was, I didn’t want to walk there. I headed to the garage, and found that many of the vehicles were missing. Probably taken by people with similar plans to mine.
All I found remaining was a simple, 4 seat car. Some kind of Pontiac, I think. I was never much of a car person.
Approaching it, I noticed that there was already a man in the driver’s seat. He looked to be trying to hotwire the car. I knocked on the driver’s window.
He looked at me, questioningly, and opened the door a crack. “Yes?”
Almost instinctively, I put on a smile.
“Mind having another passenger?” I asked.
He hesitated for a moment, thinking about it. “Can you handle yourself?”
“It’s over half a year into the cataclysm. Good luck finding someone that can’t,” I joked.
He rolled his eyes. “Fine, get in.” I went around to the other side, and got in the passenger door. As I sat down, he got off the floor, apparently having finished hotwiring the car. It came on, the engine humming with life.
“You going anywhere?” He asked.
I buckled myself in; just because the world was dead didn’t mean I should ignore my safety. “Nah. I just don’t want to stay here,” I said, forcing myself to sound cheerful. Thankfully, I was a good actor.
“Alright,” he said, as he adjusted his seat forward. “What’s your name?”
“Jenny,” I replied.
“I’m Tony,” he said, offering his hand to shake.
I took his hand. Tony was an African-American man, who was devoid of any hair on his head, and looked to be in his late-thirties. He was wearing a white button-up dress shirt and black jeans. I assumed it was because they were the only things that fit, and not because he hoped to wow the undead with his dress sense. He started the car up, and drove down the road and onto the highway.
“You certainly seem cheerful,” he noted.
“Yep! No reason to mope around all day, right?” I said. That wasn’t the real reason.
Internally, I was a depressed wreck, and it took all of my effort to maintain the façade of a happy-go-lucky girl. I just didn’t want to burden others with my own issues, is all.
And, maybe, if I kept it up long enough, eventually I could fool myself into thinking I was as happy as I pretended to be.
An awkward silence then permeated the car. I leaned my head on the window, and resigned myself to watching the trees go by.
It felt a bit weird, being in a car, driving down the highway with an older man I didn’t even know. Any other time, it would’ve looked like I was being kidnapped, but in this day and age, the weird almost became the norm.
“Are you headed anywhere in particular?” I asked, mirroring his previous question.
“No. I just didn’t want to stay there.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“I don’t trust them. They said they were gonna fortify it, make it into a hold of some kind, except without slavery. The way I see it, it’ll last a week before power struggles and immoral fucks ruin the place.”
“Don’t you think that’s a little… pessimistic?” I asked, trying to be optimistic. Honestly, I gave them at least a month.
“No. I didn’t survive this long by blindly assuming the best,” he replied, darkly.
“Suit yourself,” I replied.
“Why’d you leave?” He asked.
“That’s… something I’d rather not talk about.”
He shrugged his shoulders, in understanding.
“Aren’t you cold in that? It's like 20 degrees out,” I changed the subject, motioning towards his rather formal clothing.
“Freezing. But all the warm clothes were taken,” he replied, with a slight shiver to emphasize his point.
“So, I guess we’re heading towards a clothing shop, first?”
“Or I could just slaughter a deer and raid a junkyard. It seemed to work for you,” he said, motioning towards my clothes.
“Hey! It’s warm, flexible, and armored! And besides, hubcaps make great
accessories,” I protested. He just chuckled.
“So, what is your plan, anyway?” I asked.
“I dunno. Drive on, find a city, loot it dry, and continue.”
“Great plan there.”
“Got a better one?”
Truthfully? “Uh… Not really.”
We continued on in silence for a while, with him driving and me slightly dozing as we drove along a deserted highway, occasionally swerving around someone’s abandoned car.
There wasn’t a whole lot to pay attention to, unfortunately, and I ended up dozing off.
I vividly remember a dream. I was back in the cornfield, and Maria was there with me. We were holding hands, when a shot rang out. Maria fell over, and I looked down to see she had been shot. I started crying, when Maria sat up.
And then she lunged at me, teeth baring.
I jerked awake, shuddering. I felt tears form, and I started silently sobbing. My own head was playing mean tricks on me now, it seemed.
“You okay?” he asked, tenderly.
I wiped the tears from my eyes. “I-I’m fine. Just a bad dream.”
“Alright,” he replied. He didn’t sound too convinced, but didn’t press any further.
A few minutes later, and we pulled over next to a gas station.
“Why’re we stopping here?” I asked.
“We have half a tank left. I just wanted to fill up while we were here.” We got out of the car, and he tried pumping gas. Nothing came out. “Fuck, empty.”
“Well, we’re only about an hour away from the prison. It stands to reason they probably looted it,” I said.
“Eh, it was worth a try, at least,” he muttered, before turning back to his car.
Unfortunately, a growling sound came from nearby. A cougar, which had evaded our site, leapt out from behind the car and tackled Tony.
I scrambled for the crossbow, quickly folding it out, thankful that I kept it loaded, as Tony desperately tried to fight the cougar off of him, try to avoid the claws and teeth.
I lined up the cougar with the sights of the crossbow, and pulled the trigger. Thump!
The bolt whizzed through the air, and hit the cougar in the side. It yelped in pain, and jumped off Tony, who pulled a handgun out from his pocket, and shot it dead in one shot.
“You okay!?” I asked, scrambling over to him.
“I’m fine, just some minor cuts,” he replied. He had a few lacerations on his abdomen, and one on his cheek, but nothing serious.
“Oh, good. Didn’t lose an eye?” I jokingly asked, as I helped him up.
He grunted as he stood up. “Gah, fucking cougars.” He gave a light kick to the dead cat’s side. “At least we can eat it,” he said, as he pulled out a hunting knife from his other pocket. At least now I knew he wasn’t unarmed.
I took the bolt back from the cougar, and reloaded the crossbow, before folding it back up into the messenger bag. “Ya know, I never had cougar before,” I said, with a grin.
Ah, remember good ol' Jenny? Yep, she's the protagonist this time 'round. She'll be making her own little ragtag group of adventurers, though perhaps with a bit more than just 3 of them. And, yes, that reference was a totally necessary callback. Anyway, enjoy!