We sat in a stunned silence, save for Isaac’s muffled sobs, nobody dared to move, much less speak. The room was completely dark now, and outside was only the sound of groaning and scuffling footsteps.
Minutes seemed like hours in that tiny room. I began to wonder about other survivors; maybe if we could find others, we could make a safe place.
I was so lost in my thoughts that I hadn’t noticed that Randy had returned, his large frame filling the doorway in a dark silhouette. He was silent, stoic.
“We will be safe here tonight, but we need to gather supplies and leave by morning,” he finally said softly.
“Leave where?” Max asked
“For starters, out of the city and away from anywhere with a large population. After that, I really don’t know,” Randy sounded defeated.
“I found some cots in the back, we can spread out a bit and try to get some sleep, I was also thinking we should have one person keeping watch at all times.” He added.
Max, Abby and I got up to follow Randy.
“Isaac?” I said softly. He didn’t acknowledge me.
“Leave him,” Randy said coldly.
I nodded reluctantly and followed the rest of the group to the back of the building.
Randy was explaining how he found a stash of weapons and some food rations, at least enough to get us by for now. He had set up cots for each of us with blankets on top and announced that he would keep watch until he was sure the rest of us knew how to handle weapons. Nobody argued with him, but nobody was expecting to sleep either.
We did sleep though. The morning sun shown into the room from skylights and a heavy silence echoed from outside. Abby and Max were just waking up as my gaze shifted to the empty cot on the other side of me.
“Isaac never came out here last night,” I said in almost a whisper.
“We should check on him,” Abby suggested.
Abby and I made our way back to the little office we all huddled into the night before and found it empty.
We exchanged confused looks and began calling his name.
“He’s gone!” Randy’s voice boomed from the opposite side of the building from us.
“What do you mean, gone?” Abby was beginning to get defensive now.
“Just what I said, he’s gone. Took off in the middle of the night.” He was staring down at her coldly.
“And you let him? He’s going to die out there! How could you just let him just leave?” She screamed
“Look, I tried, I really did. He was hearing none of it from me, I can’t hold him hostage.”
Abby stormed out of the room with an exasperated sigh.
“She’s right, you know,” I said
“He’s going to die out there alone,” I added, following Abby back to the cots where Max was waiting.
“What’s going on?” Max asked, alarmed.
“Randy just let Isaac walk out the door.” Abby was glaring at Randy standing in the doorway, looking exhausted.
Randy shook his head, crossed the room and began packing up a large backpack.
“We are going to need supplies, weapons, food, water,” he said without looking up.
“I don’t see why we can’t just stay here, they haven’t even tried to get in here, it seems safe enough,” Abby whined.
“Because they will get in here and I don’t want to be in here when they do,” Randy snapped back.
“He’s right…” Max said. “We should pack up as much as we can carry and get out of here while we can,” he finished.
An hour later, we were quietly making our way out of the armory and heading out of the city.
Randy had given each of us military grade combat knives he had found stashed in a storage room and gave instructions to aim for the head, always. Randy kept the guns and promised to do target practice with each of us before handing them out. In his words, “I ain’t gettin’ shot by some dumbass that can’t handle a gun.”
Maneuvering through the city proved to be more of a challenge than we had anticipated. We spent hours holed up in an abandoned house, waiting out a large group of the infected as they slowly shambled through the streets.
“There’s got to be another way out of here,” Max whispered
“I’m working on it,” Randy answered.
Max threw his hands up “Ok,” was all he said.
Tempers were getting hot as we sat in the living room of this little house, the air so still and hot, it felt like a sauna.
“Hey!” Abby was pointing out the picture window
“Get your ass down. They can see you!” Randy snapped
She furrowed her eyebrows and crouched down
“Isn’t that Isaac?” she asked
We all jumped up to peek out the window at the small-framed young man limping towards the end of the block.
“That is Isaac!” Max exclaimed excitedly, but the excitement quickly faded as we all realized that he was limping because he was infected.
A tense silence hung in the stale, humid air, as we watched until Isaac was out of sight.
Randy cleared his throat.
“The alley in the back appears to be clear, clear enough anyway,” he told us
He waved his arm, “C’mon, let’s get out of the city before nightfall.”
We followed solemnly.
By dusk, we had made our way out of the city, nobody really spoke in the last few hours, but nobody really knew what to say.
We entered a wooded area and decided to set up camp. After building a fire, we watched silently as Randy began tying a rope in between trees surrounding our camp.
He brushed his hands on his pants and noticed us watching.
“It’s like a trip wire, I will tie some empty cans to the rope and if anything trips over it, we will hear it before it gets too close,” he explained.
“I’ll help,” Max jumped up.
After they had finished, we sat quietly around the fire.
“I’m sorry as hell about Isaac, I really am. I tried to talk to him last night but he had made up his mind. I couldn’t talk him out of it,” Randy finally said as he stared at his hands.
“I hear people,” Max whispered and we all listened.
A small group of people were close by; we could hear at least 3 people talking.
“Should we try and find them? Safety in numbers?” Max was sounding excited at the prospect of more people in our group.
“Wait! We don’t want to walk into a trap,” Randy hushed him
“A trap? Seriously?” Max whispered, incredulous
“Yeah, living people are doing what we are doing, surviving. You run into the wrong ones and you end up with your stuff stolen and half your camp dead.”
“Man, what is with you?” Max snapped.
“Face it, it’s the end of the world. People are no longer going to be civilized, survival instinct kicks in and we become primitive. We can’t trust anyone.”
Randy was watching the trees now, as the voices got closer.
“Well, I guarantee they can hear us,” I chimed in.
Randy shrugged his shoulders and continued to watch for them.
Just then 3 men appeared at the edge of our camp.
“Hey there! Frank! We got some new people! Come out here,” A tall, muscular man with black hair and a thick mustache called out with a slight grin, not taking his eyes off of us.
“Name’s Adam,” he stuck his hand out to Randy, who was now standing in front of him.
Abby and I exchanged looks. I was getting uncomfortable.