This Is Why We Fight: The Revival
Where It's Real
The heat was starting to bother me. We'd been walking for the last six hours with minimal rest stops, and if I had to listen to Noah's grainy voice for one more moment I was going to snap.
The road ahead of us was uneven, badly damaged from a time long before it's abandonment. Sweat fell from my forehead and sizzled on the ground. I wiped my face with the rag Mike had provided me with. From the small group, Mike was probably the only one I wasn't weary of. He seemed to genuinely want to help and cared about my well-being. Before we'd left the safe house, Mike was the one checked to make sure I was fully equip with everything I needed. Food, water, clothing, a backpack to hold everything in. I'd declined a weapon- I didn't think I was a dangerous person, a weapon would make me feel even more out of place.
The team also consisted of Eva (who hadn't done more than nod her head and grunt when Mike had introduced her); Noah (who was the brains of the team but never knew when to stop talking); and Trent (who had given me the warmest smile before whispering together with Gwen, making me feel very uncomfortable). Gwen made me feel the most uneasy. She hadn't spoken anything to me since she'd confirmed my name; she barely looked my way.
Courtney. That was me. That was what I was called. Mike referred to me by that name and every time he did I didn't even think to respond because it seemed so...unfamiliar. I guess I'd been expecting for it to all click together in my mind. If I knew one thing I knew everything. Courtney. The more I said it over in my mind, the more unreal it became.
"Courtney," Mike called out. My head lifted up, one eye closing to see him in the direct daylight. "You alright?"
I nodded, dropping my head back to the ground. He was a few steps ahead of me, walking up next to Noah. Gwen and Trent were a distance ahead and Eva was directly behind me. It had been two days of travelling, walking all day, staying in run-down houses at night, and this was the way the group had fallen into long before I had arrived on the scene.
No one had told me exactly what the plan was, no even the basics. For now we were travelling to an undisclosed location, that was all I was allowed to know. I didn't have a reason to stick with them, but somehow I couldn't leave. Even if I didn't trust them entirely there was no where else for me to go to. If I had a home, a family, I didn't know it.
The group were filling my head with stories of tragedy. Mike had done his best to summarize what had happened; why the streets were deserted everywhere we walked; why they carried dangerous weapons, their hands held over them at every new turning; why they couldn't give me solid answers. I couldn't grasp much of it, it all sounded like a fairy tale.
And, of course, the worst part of it all was the Z-word.
I know I didn't remember a lot, and they knew it to, so for a long time after they told me about the zombies I had laughed it off. In fact, I was still laughing it off as the group around me came to a grounding halt. My feet tripped as I tried to stop just as quick, and the only reason I didn't land on my face was Eva's tight grip on my arm hauling me back.
I went to thank her but her other hand clamped over my mouth to shut me up. I stared astonished, trying to turn to Mike for help, but he had one hand raised in the air, the other clutching his gun holster. His face was blank, head raised in the air, listening out for a sound that I couldn't hear.
And then I heard it. A low grumbling coming from one of the houses nearby. At first I thought it was a trapped animal. Maybe a raccoon or a possum that had been hurt, or was hungry. Something that could be dealt with easily. But then it got louder, like an angry swarm, and I could feel the fear raising from the team.
Then it all erupted and I fell to the floor in shock as Eva's grip loosened as she grabbed for her gun. There was a rush of limp bodies, steadily coming towards us. The bullets went off around me, ringing through the air. I covered my ears and tried not to panic.
My idea of not panicking was lying on the ground, unable to move myself out of sheer fear of being trampled or shot. I was surprised any of the group heard me scream above the shooting that was buzzing around me, but my mouth fell open as one particularly gross human came limping in my direction. Eva and Mike were occupied, being swarmed on their own. I couldn't see Noah or Trent though I couldn't say I was searching very far, the horror of being attacked by one of these creatures.
I closed my eyes, waiting for the worst to be over, wishing I had taken up Mike's offer of a weapon, but all I heard was a closer spray of bullets, and the next thing I felt was my shoulders being shaken and my head snapped back and fore as my eyes opened.
"Are you hurt? Did one of them bite you?"
I shook my head, my mouth dry, my mind unable to comprehend what else was going on around me.
Gwen grabbed my upped arm, hauling me to my feet. Her mouth was moving but I couldn't hear any words. I couldn't hear anything anymore. My heart was beating and my stomach hurt and then it ended.
I woke up in a car, alone. I was stretched out in the back, the door open and the dry heat scorching my bare legs as they dangled over the side of the seat. I could hear voices, just a short distance away, but I didn't make any effort to move at first. My head didn't hurt but it didn't feel right. My thoughts were more fragmented than I remembered them being before. Flashes of decaying creatures, loud ringing noises, the inset fear that spread through my chest when I thought about it.
I sat up quickly, shaking my head free of the memories. They sank into the back of my mind, ready to pounce on me later. It would have to do, I knew, for now. I was leaning on my elbows, taking in my surroundings as best as I could. There was dried blood on the inside roof, and the front seats, and most likely the seat I was lying on as well. There was no door to the car, it was lying on the floor. The other three doors appeared to be locked, and I didn't want to think about a scene where one of those creatures had an innocent family trapped in their vehicle, only to rip off the door and kill them all. That thought made me face reality a little clearer and I didn't think I was ready for that yet.
Gwen, Trent and Mike were the first three I saw- huddled together on the front yard of a house- as I clambered out onto the street. Mike's head shot up, hand on his gun, but he smiled when he saw me.
"Sleep Beauty has joined us," he joked, throwing an arm around my shoulders. I tensed.
I wanted to ask too many questions, starting with What were those things? but it didn't seem like the right time. My eyes were resting on Gwen, wanting to thank her for saving my life, but she had her attention on the house.
"I'm going to see what's taking them so long," she said, and disappeared through the whole where the front door would have been.
The house didn't look like the rest. The outside was as destroyed, but the windows and doors were boarded more securely. The splintered front door was thrown on the browning lawn, rusted nails bolted evenly to keep it in place. No escape. But no entrance either. A small part of my mind was starting to click into place to what was going on, based on what Mike had said, and what I was seeing for myself. It was scary, yet familiar.
"What's going on here?" I asked, crossing my arms across my chest, staring up to the second story of the house. There was slight movement behind the boards on the windows, but I guessed it was one of the group.
I could see Mike and Trent exchange a short glance as my eyes came back down to rest between them. Mike nodded his head and I turned my attention fully to him for an explanation.
"We are a specialized team," he started, which he had mentioned before. "We're an Extraction Team. We get distress calls from survivors across the country, and we rescue them. We take them to one our safe bases and then we send them to a new country to start a new life."
"Seems reasonable," I commented, nodding my head.
"The only problem is we don't usually get to the survivors in time."
The bright blaze of fire from upstairs made me jump. They had well-timed that. Trent and Mike guided me back towards the road as the other three joined us, the house burning orange and the groans of the not-quite-dead echoed behind us.
A/N: Welp. Took my sweet time on this one didn't I.
I started writing this immediately after I posted the last chapter, but life is horrible and stops you from doing things.
Two weeks ago today, January 11th, my hamster Willow passed away. Life kinda went downhill from there really...
But I think I'm back on track. Keep an eye out for an update on Taylor Towers or Shadowplayer later this week! Don't ask me what I'm doing with Maybe Not Everything because I have no freaking idea.
Thanks for reading, please review (: