Chapter 17: What RemainsI watched it burn till sun rise. Till it was nothing more than a pile of rubble and flickering embers.
“Audrey. What are you doing here?”
“Please. You can’t stay. It’s not safe. I told you…, he said pleading with me. He touched my shoulder and I recoiled feeling shivers down my spine as memories of last night flooded back in my brain. The feeling of helplessness and the disgust of it all.
I looked up at him and he seemed even more worried. I spoke finding the words, “I’m..I’m sorry. It’s been a rough night.”
“I…I know,” he said thoughtfully. “I’m not going hurt you though.”
“No. It’s not that. It’s just…never mind,” I sighed. “You’re free to go without me tagging along you know?”
“I know that, but there’s a safe haven not too far from here. I thought you might want to check it out. See if your father is there while I look for my family. It’s a good chance they might be,” he said sitting down beside me. “But you got to leave here first…”
“I’m not leaving.”
“I’m looking for something. For someone…” I said looking away. “Besides my dad might come here.”
“Leave a note. A sign. Let me help you look for whatever looking for,” he persisted. “Let me help.”
“Why not? And wait someone? It’s someone?”, he paused. “Maybe this ‘someone’ is at the safe haven I’m talking about. Who’s is this someone?”
“My aunt and she’s dead,” I murmured. “I saw her the night I came here. She was limping about with the rest of them. I almost didn’t recognize her. She looked horrible and well…dead. She looked right into my eyes though and I couldn’t do it. Not again.”
“So I let her go. I hid like a coward in the shed and just let her wander off. I’ve regretted it ever since,” I said standing up on my two feet. “I can’t leave her like that. She’s a woman of faith. She deserves a proper burial. So I can’t go with you.”
“But she can be anywhere by now,” he said frowning.
“Yes that’s true, but the last time I saw her was here. Right before I found you laying in a puddle of your own blood and mud. I lost sight of her when you showed up.”
He remained seated on the ground shaking his head. “Audrey, I’m sorry…”
“Oh please. It’s fine and besides it seemed only right to help out the bloody dude laying in front of me,” I said smirking trying to lighten the mood.
He frowned laughing slightly. I smiled and continued, “Your cross looks like the one she used to wear. Seeing it in your hand felt like a sign and I don’t even believe in signs.”
Vince climbed to his feet and faced me. “Maybe. I’m grateful either way, but I don’t think your aunt would appreciate me leaving you here if it was a sign. She would want you to be safe. Your dad would want you to be safe.”
Safe? Was anywhere safe? While I mulled over the decision to leave. I noticed Vince fixated on a group of zombs. He grabbed his knife out of his pocket, walked over to one, and plunged it into the head of one.
“Not everyday you kill a man twice. Was he bit? I was pretty sure the knife wound would have killed him”, he perplexed.
“Seems like even when they die they come back now. I saw this happen down in the bunker when ‘Roy Jr.’ shot his henchman by accident,” I remarked studying more zombs heading our way.
“Really? Damn,” he said shaking his head in amazement. He then noticed I to had found a zomb that captured my interest. “Audrey?”
I gripped the handle of my sword ready to finally put it at rest, but nothing had prepared me for this. Not for the 2nd time. My knees buckled as I gazed upon the face of my aunt. Her face ghastly, her skin a decomposing gray, her neat clothes now rags and her right arm now a stump. It was the first tine I saw her in the bright daylight making it all the worse as I saw every detail of her transformation. She came towards me staring down at me blankly and then she turned towards the simmering rubble still giving off heat. Like others before her the warmth attracted her and she made a beeline for it. I watched her take a few steps into the wreckage and then the ground came to life shaking slightly.
“Well, that’s convenient. She’s with your uncle now.“ Vince said breaking the silence.
He grabbed a shovel and threw me one. We shoveled dirt making sure to watch out for any stray dead. When we were done a mound of dirt set where the shed once stood. I grabbed the handmade cross I made and stuck it in the ground in front of it and carved names on them with Vince’s knife.
Vince found his own piece of wood and began carving once I was done. When he was finished he grinned ear to ear showing me. It read “AUDREY WAS HERE.” He stuck his finger in some blood on one of the immobile dead and traced the letters with it.
“He’s going think I’m dead with the blood,” I said cringing.
“It’s much more readable in red. Sorry, I don’t have a magic marker or any office supplies on hand,” he said rolling his eyes.
“So you think I’m just going to go with you?” I smirked crossing my arms playfully.
He pointed to the dirt and rubble excitedly. “If that wasn’t a sign to get your ass moving I don’t know what is.”
“Fine. Lead the way!”
I took one last glance at the place my uncle and aunt once called home. The sign Vince made nailed to a post. He ran up behind me after a quick scan for any supplies and dangled a dirty looking book bag in front of me.
“Found it. My book bag. Some douche from last night had it on. Found it on its corpse,” he exclaimed practically giddy putting his arms through the straps.
“Oh good. We can get you some school supplies on the way. If you’re a good boy we can get you a snack,” I teased.
He snorted glaring at me and playfully push me forward. We walked down a path and towards our little temporary campsite. His child like backpack the subject of most of my jokes. When we got there we were welcomed by Mark waiting impatiently for us.
“About time. I thought you ran away together and left me.”
“We should have ran somewhere,” I muttered under my breath.
The tension was palpable between us. There was no time to speak about what I overheard last night. No one seemed to be in a rush talk about it either. We stayed mostly silent behind Mark who led the way as we made our way down some hills and rough paths towards some buildings.
“Woah, did you hear that?” I gasped.
The panic voice called out to us again. We went up a hill where the voice sound strongest and looked down. There a tree set with David in it with zombs trying to reach him.
“Shit, this guy again,” Vince scoffed.
Mark laughed, “Well Vince, are you going save him again or have you finally learned your lesson?”
“Hey. Just don’t stand there. Help me!” David shirked again. “Hey! Hey! Audrey! Throw me a gun. Anything. Just give me something please!”
I looked around scratching my head. The dead may have something on them, but even if I did find something would I even give it to him? He’s a freaking slime ball! He even left me to die! But…he did hand me my weapon when I needed it though.
Decision: Give him a weapon or ignore him?
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Update: All typos should be fixed now.