Monty looked at his watch with a small frown. He didn’t like moving at night. It made him anxious. The infected made it dangerous to do anything after the sun had gone down. He honestly hoped he could find a place to sleep the night out, but safe houses were few and far between. …And it would be a miracle to find one that wasn’t preoccupied already. He let out a short sigh and got ready for the long haul.
The abandoned city was once a gorgeous sight. It was the site of vitality, life and prosperity for all, but now it was just one of many horrid reminders of the apocalypse. The once lively city was now a decaying ghost town.
Monty quickly found cover from a pack of infected. It bothered him that they were doing that more often now. He quickly reloaded his assault rifle, checking around for the remnants of people walking around.
The horde failed to notice him and continued on, but soon scattered, dispersing into the city. They may not have been in a pack anymore, but they were still a serious problem even individually.
He let out a short, nearly inaudible sigh. It was a relief that they were gone now. He still had to be on his guard though. There was no telling when something would come up and attack him. He cautiously shifted through the city. Nighttime was a very bad thing in this city. He walked over cars, taking aim at just about anything that moved.
This city was in an unfortunate place. It was in the most desolate part of the country thanks to the intense outbreak. Thanks to the infection making people into zombies, almost the entire state was abandoned!!
Even so, Monty trekked on. He had to keep moving if he wanted to get out alive. He looked around the ghost town. Maybe he could find a house to make a roost for the night.
His heart skipped. Taking aim, he turned, getting ready to fire on anything that might have found him.
“Hello? Brad? Are you still alive over there?”
The gunner followed the voices to a corpse. “Huh?” He knelt down, looking around for anything that might see him. “You must be ‘Brad’…”
The man was once a very presentable person. He had short-cropped hair and the beginnings of a beard on his face. He was wearing a sweater over a white shirt, worn jeans and a pair of running shoes, but his clothes were in horrible condition. He’d been torn apart by the zombies, but the thing that really killed him was a gunshot to his temple. It was so fresh that he still had his pistol in hand! In his other hand was a radio.
“Brad, what’s going on? You should tell me if you’re pinned down with a horde of zombies coming after you!” The woman on the other side of the radio was starting to get a little frantic without an answer coming.
Monty took the radio and turned the volume down. “Yeah, I’m sorry to inform you, but I think Brad took the best way out of this…”
There was silence for a moment. “…Who is this? What happened to Brad?”
He took the fallen survivor’s gun and whatever ammunition he had. He was a little worried seeing as how the man didn’t have much to survive on. Maybe there was a stronghold somewhere? “The name’s Monty. Brad’s not really the most fortunate guy in the world right now.” He looked at the bloody corpse. “And I don’t think he’s going to be able to tell you what happened anytime soon…”
“Sadly,” he said, and started moving down the street again, “But, his death wasn’t completely in vein.” He wouldn’t have found the radio without Brad’s noble sacrifice. “Who am I speaking to right now?”
“Oh! My name’s Leigh. Uh, if you’re not bringing trouble with you, you should come here. Maybe we can help one another.”
“Really?” he chuckled, “Was Brad your only company or am I walking into a deathtrap?” Either way, he knew to use his rifle on the living and his pistols on the dead. Dealing with the living was always the worst part for him though. He wasn’t the most socially adept person alive. …Or, maybe he was now.
“No, but he might as well be… Or, have been, I guess…” She actually sounded a little hurt by that. “Uh, where are you? I can help you get here.”
“Alright…” He looked around, spotting a street sign. This town had really changed since he’d left and it wasn’t just because of the apocalypse. “I’m on… Main heading north. Which way should I go?”
“Um…” There was a short disquiet on the other end. It was like she was arguing with someone. “Okay! Um, continue north. When you reach the end of the paved road, you should find a church sign—”
“Head toward the church?” he asked quickly.
“Yup! You’re a real genius, you know that?” The question was wrought with sarcasm, but her tone still made it sound endearing.
“I try,” he chimed, “Alright, I’ll stop tying up the airways now. Don’t shoot me, please. I don’t know if I have the supplies to treat a bullet wound.”
She laughed. It was a light sound that could lift a person’s spirits. “I’ll put the word out. Don’t make us wait too long, alright Monty?”
“I won’t.” He put the radio in his bag and started down the road at a sprint. The other survivors he’d been with before had callously teased him about the satchel he carried, but they weren’t laughing now that they knew he had medical supplies in it. He was sure that all of them were dead now anyway. None of them had the same instinct that he did. Heading down the road, he quickly took cover as something wandered out of a house.
The zombie let out a groan, wandering the streets. He was looking for something to eat now and he was sure he smelled his favorite: human. He lumbered toward a large house, hoping to find something to fill his rotting gullet.
Monty pulled his pistol, a Walther p22, getting ready to put the zombie to rest. He couldn’t just let it find him. He waited for a moment as the zombie came around the fence, taking aim. …But, then he noticed that the man hadn’t seen him. He held his breath, remaining silent as the man lumbered past.
The lone gunner flinched, scrambling for the radio. “Shit!” he hissed, trying to silence the noise before it got him into trouble.
“I don’t know who you are, ‘Monty,’” a man said snidely, “But, whoever you are, you better not be bringin’ trouble back here with you!”
He hit the receiver, stopping the man’s angered snarls. Looking up, he found six pairs of white eyes staring at him. “Well… NOW, I can’t promise that…” He jumped up and went over the fence as the monsters charged! “Thanks for the random call, guy,” he snarled as he took off down the road, “You might have just signed my dead certificate!” He turned off the radio before holstering his pistol. He’d need more to take these things down. He turned and started walking backward as he fired on the zombies.
The monsters sprinted down the road after him!! When it came to zombies, they were the most terrifying. They didn’t limp, that ran. They didn’t groan, they snarled. They didn’t just attack, they laid siege! These monsters were the reason that half of the country was in shambles, and they only wanted to spread further.
Monty fired on them with military precision. His bullets cut through their skulls and splattered their swollen grey matter all over the concrete.
The four had turned into twelve with the roars and snarls they were letting out. They all sprinted toward the man, coming in for their next meal. After all, “Brad” hadn’t filled all of their stomachs.
He bit his lip. This wasn’t working as well as he wanted. He cut and ran, slinging his gun back around. He jumped up on a car before pulling an alarm clock from his bag. He’d learned from experience that loud noises like this would draw their attention away from food. He cranked the gears only once or twice before throwing it away. He got a few yards of distance before the clock went off.
The infected all froze in place, turning their attention to the clock. All at once, they charged, attacking the simple device and smashing it to pieces in a fit of rage. Once it was broken, they looked around and found neither hide nor hair of Monty.
The gunner hid behind a car, hoping the infected would simply walk off. He pulled a small mirror from his pocket, using it to look around the car.
The infected looked around before wandering on as a group. Pack mentality was the only think keeping them from eating one another.
Monty let out a short sigh as they went the opposite way. He’d wasted about twenty of his thirty bullets with that. The G36K assault rifle was a good weapon for him, but it was probably one of the worst without a silencer. He continued through the neighborhood until he found the dirt road. He cautiously followed it until he found the sign.
“Mt. Zion Baptist Church,” the sign read in large blue letters. It looked perfect against the white, but, with the time that had passed, the white had started to fade to a dirty, dingy brown.
The gunman moved on, continuing up the slope. He had to find the church before the sun went down.
An engine growled up the slope.
He swiftly found a bush to hide in. There was no way to tell if there were bandits coming his way until they were trying to run him down. He waited in the brush until the truck passed by. He cautiously looked around, trying to keep any infected from attacking him as well. Once he was sure it was safe, he continued down the road until he found it.
At the end of the road, there was a large church sitting at the top of a hill. Its white walls were darkened with dirt and age and the garden outside was starting to thrive with the recent rainfall. There was a large hunting lift as well for gunning down the infected. Around the entire estate was a large stonewall with a gate set in it for a door. The top of the five and a half foot fence was covered with barbed wire coils and large decorative spikes sharpened to real spikes.
Outside the wall was a small collection of cars the survivors used to travel around. Amongst them were a large, heavy-duty truck, a sports car and a luxury car.
The gunner looked over the building before he noticed someone on the hunting lift. “Shit…” He lifted his radio. “Hey! Someone invited me here,” he said quickly. Hopefully, that could keep him from getting shot. “I need to get in before the infected come!”
The man on the tower looked away, using his own radio to talk to someone. After a moment, he nodded to someone, giving them the okay to open the gate.
The gate set into the stonewall opened with a squeak. A young woman looked at him with a neutral expression. Her light green eyes showed all of her distain. They were already having trouble keeping everyone there fed and happy. Why did he have to show up all of a sudden?
“Thank you,” he sighed, stepping in. He looked around the inner workings of the stronghold as she closed the fence behind him. He could spot only about three survivors outside and another three inside. “Nice settlement…”
“It’s not much, but we try,” she said blandly.
“Well, if I get a place to rest my head and some food, I’ll help with the foraging myself.” He didn’t want to take something without giving back. Even if he didn’t care much about these people, he didn’t want to make any enemies during the apocalypse. He looked at the woman. It was clear she had no interest in him. “By the way… Did you know a Brad? He was supposed to be from here.”
The woman stopped in her tracks, giving him her full attention. “Yeah… He usually went with Leigh to get food and water.”
“Ah… Sorry, that’s a little too bad. He’s the one I got the radio from.” He looked back at the gate. Maybe it was a good thing that the dead man was really dead. He wasn’t sure that it would be good for him to come back to haunt them all.
She furrowed her brow. This had to be the first time she looked him in the eye as well. “Explain,” she ordered in a demanding voice.
“Don’t give me orders,” he requested in an oddly calm tone, “It makes me nervous.” He sighed, showing her the radio. “I found this with a corpse down the street. He’d probably shot himself before the zombies got to him. Leigh was on the other end calling for Brad. I’m just guessing that was him…” He really didn’t like to assume, but it didn’t always hurt him. …It usually hurt others.
She just looked at the radio for a moment. There was a sad look on her face and it continued to grow sadder and sadder. She quickly put on a brave face once more and looked the stranger in the face once more. “Up the stairs, the last room on the left is yours. The room on the right is the infirmary. The kitchen’s on the first floor and the bathroom is on the left—across the hall from the kitchen,” she snapped, and turned to leave, but hesitated for a moment. “What’s your name?” she asked.
He raised a brow curiously. What happened to get her in such a crabby mood? “Monty,” he said definitively, “Just call me Monty.” He had a firm believe in this apocalypse: need to know basis. He kept his secrets and expected others to keep theirs unless someone got curious.
She nodded. In light of current news, she was finding it a little hard to keep her attention on him. “Rain,” she said and went off to her own business.
Monty shrugged and shook his head. Clearly, she’d known this “Brad” very well. He dismissed the thought. He was really more preoccupied with finding that bed. Even with the stress release, it was tiresome fighting off the zombie hordes all the time. He went through the building, looking around at his new comrades. After a few minutes, he found his room, but, instead, looked into the infirmary first.
Rain sat on the windowsill of the makeshift hospital room. She was staring out the window as if she was waiting for someone.
Monty displayed the behavior that gave him the scar on his bottom lip: nervous biting. He bit his lip nervously. He wasn’t the best person to listen to troubles, but he didn’t want to leave her in such turmoil. …And he was also curious about the rest of the story. He went to his room, leaving his assault rifle and his bag there. Before he gave it a second thought, he went to the infirmary, intending to get something from her. “You know,” he began, “I heard once that it was better to tell your troubles to someone you don’t know. …Need someone to lend an ear?”
She turned to face him, showing the bruise colored bags under her eyes. She sighed before speaking. “I’m really not one for spilling my guts to someone,” she said, “But, I guess it couldn’t hurt right about now…”
“Oh yeah?” He crossed his arms, leaning against the nearest wall. “It’ll be a fair trade: you tell me something and I’ll tell you something. Deal?”
She shrugged indifferently. It could be helpful, but she didn’t have much of an opinion of this. She was happier to have a shoulder to cry on than another useless piece of information about him. “It’s just… Brad found me one day. I was pinned down by the infected on a trip to find medicine. He was in bad shape when he found me, but that didn’t stop him from helping. I helped to nurse him back to health, despite his gruff personality. After that, we grew pretty close. One day, he came back with a ring he’d found and…” She trailed off, choking on her words a bit. She didn’t want to take this trip down memory lane any more. It was starting to hurt now that she was getting to the tender memories.
He nodded thoughtfully. It was easy to see why she was so upset now. “I see… I’ll be sure to give him a proper burial the next time I see him.” He sighed, looking out the window. She’d lost someone, sure, but that was no excuse to be so snarky. “I guess I can relate to you: I lost someone important, too.” A small grin crossed his face as he thought. “If Brad was as gruff as you say he was, he’d have gotten along with Gael just fine…” He shook his head, wiping the grin off his face. He could think about her without quite as potent a sting, but he’d had time to get used to it. “I’m sorry for your loss…”
“And you for yours,” she said quickly. She stood stretching her legs. Sitting with her legs crossed on the windowsill wasn’t good for her knees. “Do you have any cuts or anything you need me to look at?” she asked, changing the subject to something she could handle easier. It hurt less to put the thought out of mind and to handle something different. Maybe she could keep the hurt way with something more menial.
He pushed his sleeve up. “No fresh ones, but this needs to be rewrapped.” He couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought of obtaining the cut. He’d had to treat the long cut himself in the field, but he’d still done a good job of wrapping it up over all. “Ah, grain alcohol, how I hate you,” he muttered under his breath.
Rain went to the closet, getting some fresh gauze and some alcohol. Pouring it onto a swab, she got ready to treat the wound properly. “This is going to hurt a bit,” she said, putting alcohol on the sterile swab. She quickly pressed the alcohol against the bloody wound, expecting him to jerk away in pain.
He didn’t move. His muscle tensed and he cringed slightly, but he didn’t pull away as expected. After a few deep breaths, he let out the only appropriate thought. “…Ow…” He hated that part. Whether it was grain alcohol or rubbing alcohol, it all burned in application. Happily, he was getting used to it little by little.
“How’d you manage this?” she asked, stitching the wound closed. It was big and nasty, but it would heal quickly with her treatment. With any luck, there would be little scarring as well.
“I had to take a car,” he admitted, “I cut my arm on the glass when I opened the door.” He’d treated the wound soon after, but that little bit of work wasn’t enough to keep it from bleeding more. He was lucky to have wrapped it up before it got infected. “I wish I’d gotten to this sooner, though…” The first aid kit in his bag would have helped greatly if he’d had the time to see to it.
“Well, it wasn’t infected or anything, but it was kind of dirty… Just be sure to come by every so often for treatment.” She’d need to put Vaseline on it to keep the wound from drying out too much. If it did dry out, the flesh would tear and crack up.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” he muttered, rolling his sleeve beck down, “Do you have to do things like this very often?” He couldn’t think of many ways she’d be so good at mending wounds. “Or were you a doctor before the end of the world, too?”
“Actually, I was a doctor,” she said, cleaning her supplies, “This is the easy stuff, though. It was really bad at the beginning when the virus started out.” She thought back to being called in to help with the hundreds of infected people with fevers and swollen grey matter. Now, she was just glad she’d been able to avoid getting bitten. “Thankfully, we don’t get very many injuries now. Everyone’s a lot more careful here.” She finished her cleaning and sat back on the windowsill, looking out at the setting sun.
“Lucky you,” he grumbled, brushing his too long auburn hair away from his dark green eyes, “I’ve never had an actual job…” He’d never even had the chance to get a job when he was younger. …But, he’d never had wants or expenses, either. “I just had to find Gael when things got bad. She was the one taking care of me. …I still think she’s watching my butt even now…”
She chuckled a little. “I understand what you mean. After he saved me, Brad didn’t want me running around on my own. …I’m not much of a fighter… But, I’m a good doctor and a mean cook, too.” She was starting to loosen up now. Something about him made her feel better about all that had happened.
“Really?” he chuckled, “I’ll have to have you cook sometime, then.” He opened his mouth to speak again, but paused when he heard an odd snarl.
It was the sound of one of the hundreds of infected outside their borders.
Reflexively, his hand went to the holster on the back of his belt. “…Does this stuff bother you?” The end of the world had some effect on him. It dampened his normally positive mood and made his life a lot harder, as well.
She shrugged. “Here, you just tend to get used to it…” She stood up. “We need to get ready for the night shift. …It gets a little scary out there when the sun goes down…”
Preparing for the nighttime was a bit of an ordeal, but it was life as usual here at the church. It was easy for the most part and happened every day in the event that something got past their defenses. The six church dwellers locked up, barricading the doors for defense.
“Is this normal?” Monty asked, getting the windows boarded up. He knew from experience that it would take them a while to get through the wood and glass and they would have plenty of time to retaliate as well.
“Mostly,” she said, “But, we have to worry a lot about the runners outside. They’re taking longer and longer to get back now.” She was sure that they had to go farther and farther to find supplies. She was starting to get worried about the fate of their settlement. What if they couldn’t maintain it all? “There may only be eleven of us, but it’s getting harder and harder to take care of everyone now.”
“Hopefully, I can take some of the stress off then,” he said. He was good at finding supplies. Maybe he could find what the others missed? He flinched when the radio in his pocket screeched. “Good god… Is that going to be a normal thing?” he asked.
“Hey! Is anyone awake over there?!” a man called, “We’re coming in hot! We have injured and there are infected on our tail! We need back up and cover fire!”
He made a face. He really wished he could just ignore that. A curse spilled from between his lips and he raced outside, leaving the others slightly confused. He opened the gate with his pistol in hand as a large pickup truck showed up with infected following. He fired on them with his usual precision, breaking heads and spilling grey matter all over.
Two men and a woman jumped out of the pick up. One of them was holding his side as they ran in, trying to keep his injuries from hurting too much. The three of them acknowledged Monty as they ran in, keeping their heads down to keep from getting hurt.
Once they were in, Monty made his way in as well, shutting the gate behind him. He paused when he saw one zombie trying to gnaw through the gate and fired his last bullet through her head before reloading. “Simple enough,” he sighed.
The injured man went off to the infirmary, but the woman, Leigh, and the other man stayed to speak to Monty. …Or, at least Leigh talked.
The other man, one of the three leaders of the settlement, Jon, stared at him from a distance. He only spoke when Rain came out to see about everyone. “Who’s he?” he asked before the doctor could say anything.
“He’s Monty,” she said quickly, “Leigh called him here for help with gathering materials. He’s a nice guy, so don’t be too snarky.” She quickly went in with the injured man. “What happened this time, Ryan?” she grumbled, taking him in. Ryan had to be the unluckiest of them all. He didn’t get hurt very much, but he did get into the most trouble.
Jon quickly met Monty as Leigh went in to help the others. “Monty,” he said. It wasn’t a greeting or even just a summons. He just said it to get his attention on the subject. “Do you have a last name, Monty?”
The man stared for a moment. Was everyone here crabby? “…Last names complicate things. It’s just easier to know me as Monty.” He quickly went past the older man, heading inside. He hoped that would end the conversation.
It didn’t take much thought. Jon stared as Monty walked inside. It was decided: he didn’t like this man known as Monty.