How are we going to get out of this? We have an army of undead all around and god knows where we are! I know that there is little to no chance of us surviving, even if we make it through this challenge, there will just be another waiting for us. And while the enemy grows with each fallen survivor our numbers only grow smaller, and our resources dwindle more and more. What’s the point in fighting, if there’s no hope of victory?

Monday, November 30, 2015

Haven Chapter 23

            Chapter 23

            We turned and ran for the van, only to find another group of the dead making their way through the parked cars. Connor and a few other began firing at them, but they were getting to close, and Jacobs pulled them away. We made it to the station before them, and quickly closed the double front doors, barricading them with several nearby desks and chairs. My heart was pounding in my chest, the recent events seemed crazy, and almost unbelievable. Unfortunately I found I could believe it, and that it was all too real. Meeting Jacobs, finding Anthony, Brooke’s death and now a zombie encounter? I couldn’t but feel overwhelmed, and defeated.

“What are we supposed to do?” Lindsey cried, her voice a mix of determination and fear
            “We pick them off, one by one, until we can make it to the car,” Monica suggested firmly
            “There’s too many for that,” I argued, I didn’t want to sound pessimistic, but right now fear and grief overwhelmed my need to seem like a leader
            “Then we only kill the ones in our way, then lure the others inside before escaping,” Connor said. I nodded, it seemed like it could work, but a part of me wondered how many would have to die for it to work.

            “There’s just one problem with that,” Jacobs said, and I heard a strange sound in her voice that I hadn’t heard before, I thought it was shame. Or maybe guilt. “Before we went into negotiations I wanted to take precautions in case this was a trick,” she continued, “stop you from leaving if you stole from us”
            “What did you do?” Malcolm yelled furiously, and I cringed, now was not the time to antagonise our potential allies
            “We removed a piece of your engine,” Jacobs confessed
            “You what?!” Connor turned from reinforcing the barricade to stare at her in anger
            “You would have done the same!” she defended herself, but I could tell she regretted it, and not just because her actions may have led to our demise. But then a thought occurred to me as to why she might have felt so guilty “This was him wasn’t it? It was Anthony’s idea,” I tried to sound apologetic, or at least understanding, she nodded in response.

            I felt the familiar fear creep up again, but this time I fought back. Whether my resistance was from anger towards Anthony or from fear of dying I don’t know but I knew I wasn’t going to let it overwhelm me again. I had to get to work, I knew there had to be a way out of this. I wasn’t going to let Jade down, I wasn’t going to die here, so far away from her. “What did you remove?” I asked, trying to sound authoritative
            “Spark plugs, 8 of them, but…” she paused, looking even more guilty, “Kyle took them with him”
            “Kyle?” Malcolm sounded confused
            “Anthony, he stole the name of the man he left to die,” I answered coldly, “where can we find new ones?”
            “Any car, as long as they’re not damaged,” one of the resistance men answered, “but to find and remove removed 8 of them would take too long.”

            I thought for a while about our situation, there were 5 of my group including me, and 6 from the resistance including Lindsey and Jacobs. We all had guns, but my group had no spare ammo, and most of resistance’s spare ammo was on the truck Anthony had drove away with. Theoretically we had enough ammo to take out the 75 odd zombies beating down the door, but there were too many unknowns. What if we missed a few too many times? What if they broke in before we could finish them off? What if the noise of our firing drew more dead towards us? We had chosen a station far away from any town centres but this was still the outer suburbs, and there would have been thousands of people living here before the virus was released. So there was no telling how many were waiting outside for a reason to come and tear this station to the ground.

            I made a decision, we would try to kill the ones attacking us, but we wouldn’t wait for them all to be killed before trying to escape. I conferred with Jacobs, and eventually she agreed. 2 resistance men along with Connor would be searching the cars for spark plugs, with Monica and another of Jacobs’ men protecting them, while the rest of us tried to take down the zombies. It was a risky plan, it put more people at risk than if we simply tried to kill them all, but it also accounted for the possibility that more might turn up. We might lose some people, but there was a smaller chance that we would lose everyone.

            Everyone heard the plan, and soon everyone knew their part, we moved closer to the windows, and the dead outside became more aggressive. I could see them clearly now, and as horrifying as they looked I appreciated the fact that they looked so different than the people they once were. Most of the skin and flesh covering their arms and legs had been torn away, leaving muscles and tendons clear and exposed. Most of them had deep, jagged cuts of their face and around their mouths. They were nothing less than monsters now. Slowly we spread out along the wall, trying to stop them from grouping up in one place, and then we waited for the signal to begin.

            “Now!” Jacobs screamed, and I repeated it. Then I didn’t hear much else except the sounds of gunshots and the horrible sounds bullets made as they broke through bone and flesh. Glass flew everywhere, blood too, but we were careful to stand back, careful to not be infected by blood transfer. Eventually the dead in front of began to clear, as the bodies of those I had killed piled up, blocking others from taking their place. Out of the corner of my eye I could see that the others were getting to the same point. But some weren’t so lucky, and I heard a scream that wasn’t like any sound the dead make. One of the zombies had built up momentum in their hunger and broke through the window, grabbing one of the resistance men. It was too late for him, but I saw Jacobs aim her gun in his direction, and in horror I knew why as she fired straight through her own man’s skull. At least he wasn’t suffering anymore, but I had to question whether or not I could do the same for one of mine.

            I heard a yell from the other side, and turned just to see Connor jump through a clear window, closely followed by one of Jacobs’ men. Through the blood-smeared glass I saw them make a bee-line for the cars. I quickly turned my attention back to my section, the zombies had crawled on top of the bodies of their fallen kin, and I had to start firing in earnest again, I could let my attention slip. Eventually the sheet of glass gave way entirely, and I had to step back as the body of my most recent kill can crashing into the station, I could see others in the same situation. “Come this way!” I yelled to the few who could hear me as I moved slowly to where Connor had exited. If we could draw the dead inside, then trap them there it would by the others more time. I took the time to make a quick glance to see Connor’s progress, but wished I hadn’t, because what I saw was the body of Jacobs’ man on the ground, covered by two or three of the dead, with two more lurching towards Connor, who was furiously working on a car, oblivious of the danger he was in.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Haven Chapter 22

            Chapter 22

            I caught Greg as he fell, then a second later I heard the shots, I turned my head quickly just in time to see the life leave Brooke’s eyes. She collapsed too, and I heard Connor yell her name as he grabbed one of the rifles. Anthony quickly retreated as Connor started firing, he ran out the door and out of the police station, towards the others. I turned away from Brooke to the man in my eyes, only to see he was dead too, in shock and grief I opened my arms and let his lifeless body fall to the floor. The room seemed to be deathly quiet, yet exploding with motion and sound at the same time. I felt Connor run past me, following Anthony, and I saw Emma sit up after being thrown to the floor, and as she turned and saw what had happened her eyes widened, and her body started to shake. Once again Anthony had ruined everything.

            Jacobs also picked herself up off the floor, blood leaking from the side of her mouth. But unlike me and Emma she did not react drastically to the site of Greg and Brooke’s bodies, instead she looked stiff, and grim, the same face she had when we first saw her. I wondered for a moment if her relationship with Greg was the same as my relationship with Brooke. Both of us were leaders of our respective groups, while Brooke and Greg where older, more experienced people who supported us in that role. My confidence in myself and in my leadership died with Brooke, as did any hope I had of building any kind of life in this new world that didn’t involve death, grief, and despair. From the look on Jacobs’ face this wasn’t the first time she had faced a comrade’s death. I felt numb, I could barely move my legs.

            “Todd,” Emma said quietly, the first time she had ever sounded like the child she was supposed to be, “I’m-I’m so sorry, I”-
            “This wasn’t your fault,” Jacobs said for me, although the look she was giving Emma told me she didn’t exactly appreciate Emma’s presence. I said nothing, I wished I could say I comforted her, but all I could do was stand there and stare at the pools of blood forming on the floor. “Todd!” Jacobs said sharply, my heads snapped up, staring at her with wide eyes, “we don’t have time to grieve, the others…” As she spoke I realised with fear that death wasn’t done with us today. But I wanted to make sure it was Anthony it took next.

            Malcolm waited helplessly outside, worrying about what was going on inside after Emma recklessly ran into the station. But it wasn’t till long until he heard one loud gunshot, he glanced towards Monica, who looked just as concerned as he felt. Then two more shots rang out, and with horror he realised that three shots would be enough to take out all of his people (excluding Emma).

            The men from the resistance rushed into motion, setting up a line around the entrance, with two others pointing their guns at us. But then they heard the sounds of rapid footsteps from inside the station, and the men lowered their guns as the man wearing the motorcycle helmet walked out, only this time without his helmet. Malcolm was more worried than ever for me and the others, but that was nothings compared to the look on Monica’s face when she grabbed his arm and pulled him closer to the van. She looked terrified, and furious at the same time, it was more emotion than most had seen on Monica’s face in a long time. “Marauder,” she hissed quietly
            Malcom’s jaw dropped, “that’s”-
            “Their leader,” Monica continued, not taking her eyes off of him as he ran towards his truck
            “Emma’s in there,” Malcolm quickly played through all the horrifying implications of that, and what could’ve happened inside. Neither of them could believe the situation they had gotten themselves into, although few situations were believable or pleasant these days.

            The two of them were startled out of their fear as the line or men began firing into the station then stopped. Two of them began slowly walking inside, but from their point neither Monica nor Malcolm could see what had happened inside. They turned their eyes back to Anthony who was now inside the truck, and Pete was about to jump into the passenger seat when another gunshot sounded. This time it was from the outside of the station as Anthony fired another bullet straight through Pete’s skull as he started the engine. And before Pete’s body had hit the ground he was driving away.

            I ran out after Connor and Anthony after grabbing my gun from the desk drawer. Just as I left the room I had shots from the entrance, I gestured for the others to stop, and cautiously glanced around the corner. They were firing at Connor, I wasn’t surprised the let Anthony through, they had no idea he what had happened. Luckily Connor saw them before they saw him and he was able to dive behind a concrete pole before the fired. He wasn’t fast enough however, I could see his leg bleeding and he was sitting with his back to the wall. I heard Jacobs sigh behind me as she pushed past me. I saw two of the resistance men walking slowly into the station, they turned their guns on her, and for a second I thought in their cautious state they might shoot her, but they recognised her and lowered her guns. Someone had shot something however, as the sound of a gun shot from outside echoed through the hall.

            Emma ran to help Connor as the rest of us ran outside, just in time to see Lindsey and the others fire at their truck as it drove off. A couple of them tried to run after him, and one made for the bike, but a sharp word from Jacobs made them stop. She knew it was hopeless, and too dangerous. I could see Malcolm crouched down over a body on the road, and as he stood up covering his mouth and nose I saw it was Pete. I glanced at Jacobs and she sighed once more, but this time it was grief on her face, rather than anger. She had given up on vengeance as Anthony disappeared into a side street, and now all that was left was to pick up the pieces.

            “Where’s Greg?” Lindsey asked quietly, her voice breaking, she already knew the answer

            “And Brooke?” Malcolm added as he walked up. But our silence told them all they needed to know, and their reaction was instant. Lindsey collapsed into a heap, sobbing as another of the men sat with her. Malcolm swore loudly, and stormed off towards the van, we left him alone for now. Monica walked past me to help Emma support Connor. Everyone had varying reactions, but the pain we all felt was the same. We all have had to deal with death before, and it never gets easier, but for me this time was different. I wasn’t there to see Caleb die, I didn’t see his blood. And there was no one to blame then, only the mindless death that came with these times, this time there was someone to blame. I wanted to run after him, to take a gun and hunt him down. But everyone was relying on me, and I knew the only thing we would gain from chasing him is more death, and more pain. We had to leave, but as I said before death wasn’t done with us yet, and I doubt it ever will be. A scream pierced our silence as one of the resistance men who ran after Anthony returned, only to walk right into a group of undead, about 50 of them, marching towards the sounds of gunshots.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Haven Chapter 21

            Chapter 21

            “What the hell are you doing here?” Malcolm seethed through clenched teeth
            “I wanted to help,” Emma replied defiantly, “I know I can, if you guys would just give me a chance”
            “How is hiding in our boot going to help us?”
            “I was going to come out when you got here and help scavenge, but then those other guys showed up so I hid,” Emma seemed genuinely scared, “Malcolm, what’s happening?”
            “These people are from another group, a resistance of over 100 people, Todd, Connor, and Brooke are inside negotiating right now,” Malcolm answered, and the both of them glanced towards the station. “It’s frustrating, I have no way of knowing if things are going well, If it’s a trap, or they think we’re too dangerous…” his voice trailed away.

            The two of them were relatively new to the group, but in days like these, when your forced to rely on others so much, you form bonds easily. Malcolm trusted and relied on us more than he’d admit, after he was injured we took care of him, if it wasn’t for our efforts he would be dead. And a part of him knew that other groups might not have wasted the time and resources it took to nurse him back to health.

            Emma trusted us, but she was determined not to rely on us too much. Instead she wanted us to rely on her. In these situations the best way to ensure that is to be useful, and killing zombies and scavenging supplies is the only useful thing she knew how to do. But we still treated her as a child, and it infuriated her. She could be useful, she knew it, and she would prove it to us. “I’ll go check, see if I can see anything,” she said eagerly and darted off towards the station, hiding behind cars to stay out of sight. “Emma!” Malcolm hissed again, but it was too late, she was gone, for a moment he considered following, but Pete’s voice stopped him
            “What are you doing over there?” he called, suspicious
            “Nothing, I’m- nothing,” Malcolm glanced over to where Emma was as she disappeared into the station, then swore under his breath, and sat back in his previous position.

            We were rattled, that’s for sure, but Brooke put her hand on my shoulder and I regained my composure, these negotiations were too important to risk everything just for a chance to get rid of Anthony. Although the thought was tempting. I glanced at Connor, and he looked confused, and then I remembered that he wasn’t with us during our first encounter with the marauders, and he had no idea of who or what had startled us. “Are you alright?” Jacobs asked, slightly concerned
            “Fine we’re just”-
            “We’re just happy you trust us,” Brooke interrupted
            “I never said that,” Jacobs responded slyly, “remember that I still have five men outside with guns all pointed at your friends, this negotiation isn’t over yet”
“Why?” I asked, still a little thrown, and I made sure to keep an eye on Anthony, I still had no idea what he was doing here, with them, “we have something you can use, you have something we can use, we should join forces"
“Well let’s say I trusted you completely and you trusted me, we still have a lot to talk about, for example,” she leant forward, hands on the table like mine, “where would we go, is your base large enough to handle so many people? Is my base as defendable? And it would obviously be much easier to move your group than move mine”

I opened my mouth to answer, but I realised any information I give her about our home I was also giving Anthony, and that’s a risk I couldn’t take
“Hmm, see? You don’t trust me yet either,” she smiled smugly, and I swore internally.
What was he doing here? We knew he escaped the fate of the other marauders but how did he end up with the resistance? I must have underestimated him if he managed to convince Jacobs that he could be trusted, hell she even picked him to be a part of the negotiations. And now his very presence is derailing this talk, and any hope I had of controlling these negotiations had gone out the window. But that was before Brooke spoke.

“We may not be able to give you information about our base, but we do have other information, information you might find very interesting,” as she spoke she looked Anthony right in the eye, and I instantly realised what she meant. If we assume that the resistance is in any way morally good, then Anthony’s actions and history is enough to get him kicked out, if he’s lucky. But would they take our word for it? We had to have proof. Then things clicked, and I knew how we could prove it, Emma’s brother’s necklace, if Emma recognised it it would prove her story, and condemn Anthony.  “What kind of information?” Jacobs asked curiously.

Once again I opened my mouth to speak but once again nothing came out, but this time it was because Anthony, hiding behind Greg and Jacobs’ backs, was holding a side arm, and it was pointed straight at Jacobs’ head. And that wasn’t the only thing I saw that left me speechless.

            Emma crept silently through the broken halls of the police station, careful to make as little noise as possible. She wished she had asked Malcolm which room they were in, but she wondered if he even knew, but eventually she heard noises from a room just ahead, “What kind of information?” she heard a woman say, Emma assumed it was the resistance leader. Silently and slowly she moved towards the room, she could see the back of two men’s heads, she could tell they weren’t Connor and I, so she could assume her friends sat on the other side of the room. Unable to resist looking she raised her head slowly, peeking into the room, and making eye contact with me almost instantly.

            I froze, the situation unfolding in front of me was a nightmare. A tense negotiation, the leader of a large resistance, Anthony with a gun, and Emma, far away from safety, almost inches away from the man who ruined her life, and had the potential to ruin so much more. I had to think quickly, I had to do something, anything to stop what was about to happen, but I didn’t have much time.

            “Well?” Jacobs replied confused, “what is this important information?”
            I search for words, and then an idea came to me, “Connor,” I blurted out
            “Eh?” Connor actually managed to tear his eyes away from Anthony’s gun in shock
            “He’s a police officer, he was there when the army took everyone away, he knows things, useful things,” I glanced up at him, trying to convince him with my eyes
            “Uh… yeah, yeah sure, I’m know about other stations, places that can be built up for defence”-
            “We already have a policemen in our ranks,” Jacobs replied unimpressed, “several actually, so, what were you really going to tell me?” she caught on to my bluff. I couldn’t focus, my eyes kept flying between Jacobs, Emma, and Anthony, trying to figure out how to fix this, when once again something went wrong.
            “What are you looking at?” Greg asked confused and turned around just as Emma ducked under the window, but it was too late “there’s someone out there,” he told Jacobs, and he marched through the door as Anthony hid the gun quickly out of sight, but not completely away.

            Internally I was screaming, I couldn’t think, I could act, I couldn’t imagine what would happen next. I wanted to dive for one of the rifles, but I knew that I was out numbered, and if I acted rashly it could cost the lives of everyone outside, not just mine. I wished Jade was here. I wish Will and Nicole were here, they’d know what to do. I glanced at Brooke, she gestured for me to breath, but she looked just as concerned as I did.

            Greg came back into the room, dragging Emma with him, “this one of yours I take it?” he asked grimly
            I wondered if I could deny it, but I didn’t want to risk Emma’s life, “yes, but I didn’t bring her with me I swear, and if I had I wouldn’t have asked her to spy on”-
            “Quiet,” Jacobs said sternly, and I could see the fury in her eyes, “Kyle, take this one outside and shoot her as an example.” My heart stopped as Anthony stepped forward, clearly he had taken the name of the man he had left for dead. I had to save Emma. I was ready to leap for the rifle, when finally Emma looked up at the man walking towards her, “you!” I could hear the pain in her voice
            “Kyle do you know her?” Greg asked struggling to keep a hold of Emma as she tried to reach for him, her hands curled into claws
            “No I”-
            “You bastard, I’ll kill you!” I understood what she had gone through, but the ferocity in her voice scared even me, “you took everything from me, give it back! Give him back!”
            “Emma calm down!” I tried to stop her, she didn’t know Anthony had a gun, and neither did Jacobs
            “Quiet, now tell me what did he take?” Jacobs moved closer to Anthony, suspicious
            “Everything,” she seethed
            “Her brother’s necklace,” Connor said trying to help, but it didn’t.

            Jacobs quickly grabbed at Anthony’s neck, and came away with a necklace made out of a shark’s tooth. “Give it,”- Emma began, but Anthony reacted first, in a quick motion he threw out an elbow, and hit Jacobs’ head, sending her to the floor, and with the other hand we pointed his gun at Emma. We reacted almost instantly Brooke leapt for Anthony while I ran for Emma, and Connor made for the rifles. But we were too slow and Anthony fired, just as Greg threw Emma to the floor, then he took the bullet meant for her right in his neck. As he fell Brooke reached Anthony and grabbed his gun, trying to pull it away from him, but all she did was pull the barrel towards her as he pulled the trigger again, firing two bullets straight into Brooke’s chest.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Haven Chapter 20

Chapter 20

I don’t know what I was expecting, an old man I guess, aged and experienced, someone like Greg. Instead what I saw was a woman, barely older than me, and younger even than Brooke, physically she was comparable to Lauren, thin and tanned, most definitely not what I expected. Her expression however gave an impression of experience and knowledge, as well as distrust and confidence. I hadn’t planned much for the negotiations, but judging on her look I doubt I would have a large amount control over the way they go.

I gathered myself and snapped my jaw closed, I walked towards her as passively and friendly as I could manage and smiled, “hi, my name’s Todd it’s nice to meet you”
She raised one eyebrow in response, and turned looked back to her entourage appearing around the corner before responding, “Jacobs.” She only gave me her last name, but whether that was because she preferred it, or she wanted to keep things formal I didn’t know. But I guessed the later. As the truck pulled up she spoke again but not to me, “Greg what’s going on here?”
“I caught him trying to radio his group,” Greg paused and turned to Lindsey, “with her permission”
“Lindsey,” the first sign of emotion I heard in Jacobs’ voice was disappointment
“Their people deserve to know they’re alive,” Lindsey argued desperately, before becoming more serious, “you know what that’s like.” There was a pause before Jacobs spoke again, this time with a kind yet firm tone “I do, but you have to decide whose feelings come first, their group’s, or ours”
“I know,” Lindsey returned to her serious state, “it won’t happen again”
“It better not,” Jacobs replied, also become stern, I could see where Lindsey learnt it from.

“Now what are we going to do about you?” finally the resistance leader made eye contact with me, and I felt more nervous than I ever have. I didn’t know if I could stand up to her if I needed to, and I knew if I let her she could take everything we have worked for. “I heard everything he said ma’am,” Greg said, still pointed a gun to my head, “he didn’t say who we are or where we were”
“Good,” she replied, and I breathed a sigh of relief, “that means we don’t have to kill you and leave your bodies here as examples” a part of me didn’t know whether she was kidding or not
“So what do we do now?” I asked passively, letting her take control, for now
“We won’t talk her, not with so many people,” she thought for a moment, “I’ll talk with you alone”
“No,” both I and Brooke replied at the same time, she nodded at me and I continued, “How can I be sure you’re not going to torture me for information, or kill the others while I’m negotiating.” She raised her eyebrow again, I hope it was because I’d impressed her and not because she was amused. “Very well, we’ll be fair, you, me, and two people each, the rest stay out here,” she walked off to confer with the others, and finally Greg lowered his weapon and followed her.

The others had gathered around me, but we had to whisper not to be heard as Lindsey and Pete were still watching over us, fingers on triggers. “I should go with you,” Connor said immediately after walking over, but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t trust Connor completely at first, but after everything that has happened I think I did, but I wasn’t sure whether he was the best person to bring into the negotiations, he was an intimidating guy, but that might be to advantage. Or to our disadvantage. I decided to leave that to the side for now, I had already decided on one person to bring, “Brooke?”
“I’m in,” she replied immediately, I’d come to rely on Brooke a lot these past weeks. I looked around the circle, and once again wished I’d brought Jade with me, but I hadn’t. Monica was solid, and stoic, but we needed to appear kind and friendly here, so she wouldn’t be best. Malcolm I still didn’t know too well, he was an introvert I guess. Which meant I only had one real option, no matter what my doubts were. “Connor you too,” I said, trying not to sound reluctant
“I know we’ve clashed in the past but I know I can help Todd,” he assured me, and I tried to listen.

I turned around and saw Jacobs walking towards me, she had chosen Greg and a man covered in defensive gear, along with a helmet with the visor closed and enhanced with metal bars. “What about your weapons?” I asked, each man had a rifle, and Jacobs had her hand gun unclipped in its holster
“You’re gonna have to convince me to trust you a bit more first sorry,” she said smugly, and I had no choice but to agree, and the six of us walked into the station.

            It had been a good half hour of us negotiating inside, and things outside had gone from tense to boring. Lindsey was trying to get Monica to talk about apocalypse fashion, and failing. Pete and the rest of the resistance members were sorting out their various loot. This left Malcolm to sit and nap, his back against the van. At least he was trying to nap, it was starting to get warm now and he didn’t care that much for summer, and the cool bumpy metal of the van did little for his comfort. Not to mention the fact that every so often the resistance members would burst out in laughter, and several times he caught Pete point towards him or Monica before they starting laughing again.

            But just as he finally was started to forget the stress of the situation he heard someone sneeze, loudly. He started awake, and glanced around, but no one was actually close enough to make that noise, nor was anyone acting like they heard it too. There was a second, quieter sneeze, and that was when Malcolm realised it had come from the van. He glanced inside but there was no one there, trying to act inconspicuous he glanced under the van but he couldn’t see anyone’s feet, he realised there was only one place it could’ve come from: the boot. It had been locked by a padlock and we hadn’t found a key, nor had we found it worth breaking off. But when Malcolm, carefully choosing a time when no one was looking, looked there was no padlock there. He knew who was inside, but still he opened it, and found Emma lying inside.

            “So that’s how you survived?” Jacobs asked, her feet up on the desk between us
            “That’s what I said,” I replied, starting to get more hostile, she had spent the first half hour of the negotiations quizzing us about our encounters so far, the marauders, how we all met, how we lost Caleb. It was starting to grate on me, and not once did she show any emotion or sympathy. “No doubt you’ve had a similar experience,” Brooke said coolly, and I thanked her for it silently
            “More or less,” Jacobs answered still calm, “there was a group who tried to ambush a large raiding party a few months back, we lost a few people”
            “I’m sorry to hear that,” I tried to sound sympathetic. There was a few moments silence, this was when the real negotiating would start.
            “So its obvious how joining us would benefit you,” so started smugly, “we have more numbers and a more defensible base”
            “You don’t know that,” I disagreed, although I agreed with her, “our base might be stronger than yours, and numbers aren’t necessarily advantages”
            “True,” she conceded, “but I can assure the majority of our resistance has raiding and fighting experience, we aren’t a herd of sheep to be slaughtered” it was odd to hear my own words spoken to me “and if your base really is stronger than you can bring those skills back with you.” I smiled, she was starting to think about letting us join her, or so I thought. “But what if it isn’t?” she turned the tables on me, “what if you arrive to find something far greater than your home, and what if your group is far less experienced than you pretend”
            “What are you asking?” I wanted to try and stop her flow
            “If your people join us what can you give us that you can promise will be a boon, and not a curse,” she was getting more aggressive as she spoke.

            I was silent for a while, I turned to Brooke, then to Connor, we all knew what we had, but it was a risk letting them know we have it. I had to make this count, it was the biggest bargaining chip we had. “We have something, something you want,” I placed my hands folded on the table, “even if you already have one you’d still want another, but before I tell you I need to trust you”
            “What do you want?” Greg asked but he knew

            “Drop your weapons,” Connor answered, then nodded at the helmeted man, “and take off your helmet.” Jacobs was quiet for a while, considering our request, for a long while she stared into my eyes, and I stared resolutely back. “Ok,” was all she said, and she opened a desk drawer and dropped her handgun inside, Greg did the same, and taking the other man’s rifle he placed them both between our two groups. The other man unfastened the clip and began to remove his helmet. I breathed I sigh of relief, this was all going to turn out ok, “we have a portable generator,” I said proudly, and Jacobs and Greg looked pleased. But we weren’t we were mortified, as the third man turned around and we recognised him: Anthony, the leader and all that remained of the marauders.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Haven Chapter 19

Chapter 19

We were waiting a long time at the station, I had thought to try and get to know our captors, or maybe I should call them our new friends, but neither Greg or Pete were particularly chatty. Lindsey however seem quite content to talk, only not about where she came from. She was a bit odd I’ll admit, the first thing she tried to talk about was where Monica got her clothes from, to which Monica was confused and slightly concerned. Which even I must admit was more emotion than Monica usually shows. Brooke saw an opportunity though, “Where did you get your clothes from Lindsey?” she asked with as much feigned interest as she could muster
“Oh,” Lindsey smiled looking down at her dress, “I was moving to a friends when-when all this happened, and had a bag full of my stuff at the time”
“Oh lucky you,” Connor added, knowing what Brooke was doing
“The boots of course aren’t mine, but heels aren’t quite practical for the apocalypse are they?” Lindsey snorted with laughter a little. She was very odd.
“Did the give you those back at home?” Brooke asked, prying for information
“Yes,” Lindsey answered abruptly, her face suddenly serious
“They must have a lot of stuff stockpiled wouldn’t they?” Connor tried to get some more info too
“We have enough,” once again Lindsey answered without her previous levity. The conversation stopped after that, it was clear she wasn’t as dumb as we assumed. I looked over at Greg and saw him smiling proudly at Lindsey, and smugly at us.

            After a while I went and stood on my own, impatiently scanning the horizon for any sign of this resistance leader, until Connor walked up to me. The sun had begun to set when he spoke, “What do you think about all this?” he asked, not actually looking at me
            “What do you mean?” I answered with the same stoic face
            “A resistance as large as 156 people? Do you really think that’s possible?”
            “And the alternative,” I turned to look up at him, “these guys carry around flares so they can make people wait several hours before mugging them?”
            Connor laughed at that, “True,” he paused, but after the sun just went beyond the horizon he spoke again, “I guess it’s just hard for me to believe, I know it’s true but still… I mean, how haven’t they been killed? A group that size with no military strength?”
            “We don’t know that, we have no idea what they have at their camp, that’s why we’re having this meeting”
            “What are we looking for here Todd?” he turned to look at me finally, “after these negotiations are over are we going to move in with these guys? Or just trade?”
            “I don’t know yet Connor,” I turned away from him, “besides I can’t make a decision like that on my own, whatever happens we’re going back to the warehouse before we do anything.”
            “I understand that,” he replied in a more serious tone, “but you may not have a choice, we don’t know if they’ll let us leave with any information we gather, and we still don’t know if we’re just being led into a trap, they may just want to follow us home”
            “I don’t get that vibe from them, but I get what you’re saying, I’ll be careful.”

            “Hey, sorry to interrupt,” It was Greg, walking over, “it looks like they won’t make it today, and we’re under orders not to travel at night so I’m gonna assume they have the same, they’ll camp somewhere tonight, and I guess we’ll be staying here tonight.” I nodded, with all the abandoned cars and broken buildings it can take a while to get anywhere these days, we got lucky on the way here. I suddenly realised the tense situation we were in, they couldn’t trust us completely, and we couldn’t trust them either. I could let them take watch, that would make them trust us more, but they could still kill us in our sleep. If we offered to take watch they’d probably refuse, and we’d lose brownie points. So there was only one option, “we both have one person on watch at all times, and they stay together,” I said firmly, and Greg nodded his approval, making me breathe a sigh of relief, I got the feeling from Greg that he was an experienced leader, and his approval meant I was doing alright too.

            A few hours into the night I woke up, it was colder than at the warehouse, we hadn’t brought blankets or anything, and I was alone. I thought of Jade not for the first time tonight, I knew she would be freaking out that we hadn’t come back, and I wish I could comfort, I wish she was here. But I knew I had done the right thing, the others needing her and Chris more, and there was no one I trusted more than her to take care of them while I’m away. I shook my head and tried to get those thoughts of her out of my head, I had to remain focused if I’m going to prove our worth to this resistance. But they wouldn’t go away, I had to do… something, anything to let her know I’m alive.

            As quietly as I could I threw off my jacket and wrapped it around me, I knew where our stuff was, I just had to get to it. I left the station, but quickly had to duck back inside as Connor and Lindsey appeared from behind a car, it was their turn on watch that hour, and from the looks of it Lindsey was talking his ear off. Having long given up on trying to get information out of her Connor looked far more relaxed than he usually is, albeit more bored too. As they turned around I made my move, darting around the numerous vehicles and abandoned objects on the road, until I made it to our van.

            I was ready to make the call when I heard their voices get closer. I ducked down in one of the seats, hoping Lindsey wasn’t tall enough to get a look inside if she turned. “So what did you do before the end of the world?” Lindsey asked in her oddly chipper way
            “I was a policeman, you knew that,” Connor replied confused
            “I don’t mean your career silly, your hobbies!” Lindsey laughed in response
            “Oh, um… to be honest I didn’t really have any, my job was my dream, and I put all my energy into that, I guess the only thing I did besides work was catch up with my friends,” Connor sounded sad, but whether it was because he regretted not experiencing more, or out of grief for what he lost I didn’t know
            “That’s annoying,” Lindsey replied upset, and I could most feel Connor’s brow crease “I was trying to start a conversation, I can’t talk about police business,” Lindsey continued, and this time I could literally see Connor’s eyes roll as he took a step backwards, a slight turn of his head would give me away, but it may already be too late. “Hey was this door always open?” Lindsey asked heading to the van door
            “No it”- Connor quickly stopped as he turned and saw me lying in the car, my finger to my lips “actually yeah I think it was, come one let’s check behind the building,” Connor quickly recovered, even if it was a tad unbelievable.

            Once they were out of sight I continued rummaging through our things until I finally found it, the radio, I turned it on, set it to the right setting, but was stopped from pressing the talk button as the door slid open, and Connor stepped in, the barrel of Lindsey’s gun right in his back. “Stop right there,” she said firmly, I still had no idea how her personality could change like that in an instant, “drop the radio.” I did what she said quickly, and threw my hands up in the air “I was only trying to contact my girlfriend,” I tried to reassure her, “they thought we’d be back by now, they think we’re dead”
            “You will be if you try this stunt again,” she pushed Connor over to where I was standing and aimed her gun between us, “now I am going to get Greg, and then we’re going to decide what to do with you”
            “Wait!” I stopped her, tears in my eyes, “I left her behind, I know what it’s like to worry about someone like she’s worried now, I-I can’t bear the thought of her grieving me,” I fell to my knees, only now did I really feel everything I had bottled up inside me.

            I felt tired more than anything else, all this planning, worrying, thinking ahead. Jade was my one escape from that, the one person I could lean on and confide in, and although I knew she was safe, a part of me felt the same grief I knew she was feeling now. Strangely I wasn’t afraid, for the first time since Will turned up at my door I wasn’t scared, just tired, sad, and strangely, homesick, but not for my old home, for the new one I had built with Jade and the others.

            “I know how you feel,” Lindsey said softly, still facing the door but with her head turned slightly in my direction, somehow this seemed the first time I saw who she truly is, “Every time I leave there are 156 people missing me, relying on me, they’ve all become my family and without them I feel empty.” I closed my eyes, surrendering to the feeling inside, until I felt her hand on my shoulder, “go ahead,” she smiled, but her voice still had the same tone as before, “but only for a moment.” I smiled wider than I think I ever have, I turned to Connor and he smiled, but sadly, evidently he missed someone at home too.

            I pressed the button, and made the call, “hello? This is Sheepdog calling Basecamp hello?” I’ll admit the call signs could use more work, but eventually a crackle came through
“Hello Sheepdog are you there? This is Amazon,” It was Andria on the other line, she hadn’t gotten to choose her call sign either, “is that you Todd”
“Amazon yes it’s me, we’re alive, we’re with”- my message was cut short as I turned to see Greg’s gun pointed directly at my face, his hand held out for my gun.
As I handed it over I also noted that the sun had begun to rise, and the entire van had become orange, but instead of comforting and warm it was cold, and insidious. “Sheepdog are you there? Its Wild child she’s”- Andria’s last message was cut off, something to do with Emma. Greg shoved the radio into his pocket, “the only reason you don’t have a bullet in your brain right now is because of Lindsey,” he said through clenched teeth, I could see Lindsey on the other side of the truck, she was disarmed and look ashamed
“I’m sorry, I had to let them know we’re alive,” I tried to explain
“I don’t care what you were trying to do,” he replied, choosing his words carefully, “this is a bad way to start negotiations boy.” I knew he was right, I just jeopardised the raiding party’s future, but was I right to do it? God knows what the others would have done if they thought we died. My heart says what I did was right, but my mind disagreed.

Greg opened his mouth to continue, but was interrupted by a yell from outside, and Pete came running into the van, “Greg! Greg! They’re here,” he panted
“So early?” Greg looked surprised but he didn’t take his eyes off of mine, “you sure”

“They must have got a head start before dawn,” Monica said stoically, barely even acknowledging the situation in front of her. The sound of engines in the distance proved them right, and one got louder and louder as we left the van, Greg and Pete’s guns pointed at us the whole time. Finally a motorbike came around the corner, the scout I thought, considering it was far ahead the other vehicle, judging by their noise. “Todd, Connor, Monica, meet our fearless leader,” Greg said sarcastically, as the woman on the motorbike took off her helmet, she was far different than what I expected.