07. Everybody Lies

My adrenaline began to subside, being slowly replaced with fear as the glimmer of a handgun connected to a shadowy figure came into light from the store windows. It was a tall, skinny man. 5’10 with short hair and a dark blue cap. I glanced at Kevin before turning back to the figure, thinking that sudden movements wouldn’t do well for my case.

“Thought you could outsmart us, huh?” He started. My first thought was “Aw shit” but instead I lowered my head like a predator waiting to strike. “I don’t know why ya’ll had to run away like that. We coulda been nice. But now you have our attention about what ya’ll got in that car.”

“It’s a car. Few supplies. Just like most of the small groups out there. Nothing special.” I replied. Didn’t think common sense would work on him but damn, was I hoping.

“I don’t believe you. Where ya from?” “Does it really matter anymore?” I asked him. “You sure aren’t very friendly. No wonder you’re out on your own” Oh, thank God. He didn’t notice Kevin when the truck drove towards us. I was afraid to make eye contact with him in fear that I would reveal his location behind the counter.

“Alright. How about we take things nice and easy? I’ll show you to my car. There’s nothing in there. Really.” I put my hands up towards my head, thinking he would understand. I shouldn’t have given him much credit. “I could shoot your ass right now and get into your car myself, you fuckin liar”. He keeps the gun on me as he takes out a walkie talkie. “Bruce. I got em. They’re in the super-” 

Just as he begins, Kevin maces him with pepper spray from under the counter. The man howls in pain, tripping over a can on the floor and firing the gun into the ceiling. All I could do was roll my eyes in disbelief before motioning to Kevin. He nodded and we bolt for the car, driving off down to one of the open streets. I hear the truck’s engine roar towards the supermarket as we drive away from it, leaving the small ghost town as a dozen undead monsters begin stumbling towards the gunshot. After a safe enough distance, Kevin and I cheer in happiness, celebrating with yet another AC/DC song.

 

Eventually, we come across a highway and stop. I check the map to see if I’m going in the right direction. Kevin takes a look, noticing my destination and the route I’m taking.

“Wait, we’re going to Minnesota? We just passed the Florida-Georgia line! Why are we going across the country?” Kevin asks. “I have stuff to do up there” I reply without batting an eye, closing the map and turning onto the highway. “Uhh. No. I call bullshit. Tell me why you’re really going” “Do you have a problem with going to Minnesota?” “Only if I don’t know why”. I gave out a big sigh and decided to tell him. He saved my life. Might as well owe him an explanation. 

“I’m meeting someone”. Kevin gave me this look like I was crazy. I gotta say it was priceless. “You’re joking. You can’t be serious”. “So what if I am?” I said. “You can’t just meet people at a place anymore! What if this someone had to leave and you would come all that way for nothing?” I shrugged. “Guess I would. Then plan another trip. Never went across the United States before” I replied.

He gave me another look. This time he was analyzing me. “It’s a girl, isn’t it?” I just stared at the road and gulped. That was all he needed. “She better be seriously cool if you’re going all this way for her. Is she your girlfriend?”. “No” I answered immediately before mumbling “I wish” to myself. I could tell he heard it. Otherwise he would have asked what I just said. He gave me one final look, one of sympathy. Empathy really. He turned to the road and watched as we sped down the long, straight road. One mile down.

 

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06. Adrenaline Rush

I felt like a deer in headlights as the truck came barreling towards me. My first instinct was to run, though that would leave my car ransacked of the supplies I’ve scavenged. I did what I thought was best and turn around and rush to the car. Kevin shared the same look of fear and uncertainty. I started the car and drove into the ghost town, swerving to the left. As I suspected, the truck did the same, its tires grinding against the road as I saw two men get up from the bed, both with assault rifles. I immediately slid into a tight alleyway that would hopefully slow them down. It was my adrenaline controlling the car, not me. I saw our pursuer attempt to enter but pulled out and drove down the road, hoping to cut us off. Instead, I sneaked into a conveniently placed parking garage and got out of the car, struggling to close the garage door. Kevin got out and helped me, but the door was stuck. That didn’t stop me though. Both of us pulled down as hard as we could and the door broke free, pulling down only halfway. Good enough.

 

I took out a couple waters and handed one to Kevin. We both took a few sips and entered what was a convenience store, hence the convenient garage. There was little to scavenge, but a few things could be proven useful. Unfortunately, the many windows allowed anyone to see from the inside, dead or alive. We both hid under the counter, staring at an empty cigarette rack.

“Talk about close calls” Kevin started. “Sure you’ve had worse though” I replied.

“Yeah, more life threatening at least. You?”.

“I’d say the same.” I took another sip.

“So how long should we stay here?” He asked. All I could do was shrug. “I say we stay the night. Just in case.”. I nodded in response. 

 

Suddenly, I heard a loud clang as if something dropped onto the floor. I looked up slowly and saw a walker, black drool slipping down his chin as he looks around. I almost forgot that we were in a damn apocalypse. Kevin looked up and saw it too, motioning me to finish the job. I rolled my eyes and took out a knife I carried in case of stealthy situations. My footsteps allowed the walker to turn toward me, making its animalistic growl as he lunged, my knife firmly planted into his frontal lobe. I pushed him to the side, cleaning off the blade with his shirt. As I stood and turned to Kevin, I saw another figure, pointing a gun at me in the shadows.

 

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05. For Those About To Rock

Ever ride in a car with the radio off? It sucks. There we were. Kevin at the passenger, looking forward, occasionally glancing to the side looking for anything dead. My eyes were compressed straight ahead like a robot. We were driving through a forest, a two line highway. The turns had large angles, almost like the Nurbergring (Google it). I kept both hands at the ready in case I couldn’t control the car through the winding turns at 30+ mph. The silence was killing me. The awkwardness of having someone else next to me. He didn’t want to say anything that might put him at my bad side. I didn’t blame him.

As the road continued, a sign came up on the side of the road saying “Highway to Hell”. The “to Hell” was written in graffiti, blocking out the number of the specific highway number. About half a mile after we passed the sign, I heard Kevin humming something. After a few moments, I realized that it was “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC. I said nothing at first, then I thought “what the hell?”.

 

“I’m on the highway to hell!” I started singing the damn song. Not murmuring. Loud, obnoxious, don’t give a shit singing. He turned to me as if I’d gone insane from the silence, then proceeded to start singing with me. You should have seen us. “I’m on the HIGHWAY TO HELL!” My God, we really did go crazy. We sang for a good minute before I sung the last lyric, “and I’m goin dooowwwwnnnn…ALLLLL the waaaayyy!!”. We both sat in silence again. Kevin then started tapping his foot like a drum beat. He then started air guitaring the beat. I instantly knew the song when he started the guitar. I then proceeded with back up vocals, “Oi! Oi! Oi!”. Kevin started us off.

 

“See me ride out on the sunset on your..colour tv screen”

“Out for all that I can get”

We both sang together “If you know what I mean”

I continue “Women to the left of me”

“Women to the right”

“Ain’t got no gun. Ain’t got no knife”

Kevin waved his finger at me, “Don’t you start no fight”. I smiled. It was genuine, real.

Together again, “TNT. I’m dynamite!” 

 

Why were we singing? Because we didn’t care. Nothing else in the world was particularly positive. I looked at him for a good few seconds. I could tell he had quite a journey before he found me. He felt the same pain I had at some point. Loneliness, stress, fear of whatever may be around you. That’s when I knew it was right to have him around.

 

We sang the last verse, “Watch me exploooode!!” We both stopped and started laughing. Like a huge burden was lifted from our shoulders. We sat silent once again, smirking. Glanced at each other. “I fucking love AC/DC”. “Who doesn’t?” I replied. Suddenly, the road started straitening over one final turn. A town lay in front of us. We looked forward in awe and caution. I slowed down to get a better view. “See anybody?” I asked. “Not really. Maybe one or two undead”. I rolled down the window to get a better view. It’s been a while since I washed the windows. When I rolled them down, I heard something. Some ominous rumbling. I stopped the car and turned it off in a safe side of the road. 

 

“What is it?” He asked. I shushed him. My heart began to race as the rumbling was getting louder. I turned my head back to where the sound was coming from. My eyes widened in fear. “What is it? What’s-” Kevin stopped himself when he turned around. Fear raced through out bodies as we saw a large, black pick-up truck, at least 15 ft tall driving toward us from the road we had just traveled on. 

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Can’t do this alone

Hey fellow readers. I’m here to tell you I’m happy to continue working on my journey throughout the wasteland that was civilization. Just like Kevin said before I reluctantly approved of his attendance, I need people. I want anyone out there reading my chronicle to notify friends, colleagues, anyone who loves the Walking Dead, an apocalypse scenario, or an emotional thrill-ride that doesn’t camp in on the dramatics of “real life”. Tell everyone you know about my story, and I will deliver as much an experience as I can provide. Til next Tuesday, keep striving.

 

Jake Rannson

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04. (Insert Dramatic Conversation Here)

I’ve always described my previous nights of sleep as “decent” or “not too bad”. Then again, staying in a car almost 24/7 isn’t as bad as living in the wild. My sleep in the hotel room last night was actually close to comfort. I felt actually pretty relaxed, almost glad to be alive. I then realized that I was alive. I remember Kevin, how he spent the night here. He didn’t kill me. I sat up in bed and didn’t see him on the couch. I started to get out of bed when I heard a door creak, my hand instinctively aiming for my pistol. I waited until I saw Kevin in full sight. “Good morning! Man, I had quite a-“. He saw the gun.

“Hey, don’t have to worry about using that on me. I just woke up. Didn’t do anything to you or planned on it either” He sounded a little worried, but reassured that my conscious would keep him safe. Lucky for him, I still had mine intact.

 

An hour later, I was fixing up the car. I wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing anything at the motel before I left. Kevin watched me pack up, check around. “May I ask where you’re going?” I glanced at him for a moment, “If you really want to know, you may end up with a bullet in your brain”. He gulped. I smirked.

“Do you plan on going alone? I see a passenger seat open next to the driver…”

“That’s for someone else”

“Maybe it was meant for me”. I could see him attempting to smile, hoping that was a joke to me. “I’ve been pretty nice so far. Sorry, but I have somewhere to go.” I closed the trunk and stepped toward the front seat.

“How many people have you seen since this happened?” He asked me. “Not many” I replied.

“I bet 99 percent of them were in a group. Know why? Because you can’t function alone here! Not anymore”. “I managed to do pretty well. What about you? You found me pretty safely”.

He got upset. Almost desperate. “Because I was on the run that day. If you haven’t noticed, the apocalypse has actually happened. We can’t be on our own here.” I stared at him with some aggression. “I need you. I’m sure you could do just fine but at some point, you’re gonna need me.”

I looked down a bit. Contemplating. He had a point. But I didn’t want to make the risk. I always did well enough on my own, I thought. However that was when the dead weren’t walking. I pondered until he sighed in relief, relaxing his posture. “You haven’t killed me while I slept. I guess you can be trusted”.

He was about to speak, but I intervened, “Be warned. If I see anything out of the ordinary or a smudge of dishonesty, you’re joining the pack of corpses. Got it?” He nodded. I motioned him to get in. When we both entered the car, I saw him put on his seatbelt. He sighed again. Not just in relief, but in joy. He was glad that he could put on a seatbelt again. I started the car. Plenty of gas, food, time.

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03. Reading Material

Three seconds. That’s all it took for Jake to react to the tall stranger approaching his room. Still wasn’t quick enough. He could be holding a gun. He could be faster than me and slice me up with some rusty knife. I just stood there, my door wide open from the wind that breezed past my face. Waiting. Wondering what the figure would do next.

 

“Hello, good sir” I gave him a “what the hell did you just say?” face. The light surrounded him as he walked toward an overhead ceiling lamp. He was definitely tall. At least a few inches taller than me. Short brown hair. A big guy, but not fat or anything. Just big. Stained plaid shirt with a “Last of Us” undershirt. Man, I haven’t heard of that game in years. “Hi.” I responded. “I don’t mean to bother you, but all these other doors are locked and I couldnt help but notice the lights on in your room”. He had an uncomfortable smile on his face. Half of him was worried. The other was thankful for finding me. To be fair, I felt the same way as well. “Yeah. Well I’m leaving tomorrow. Motels don’t always last. Groups could crowd the place”

 

“Ah yes. My name’s Kevin. And yours?”. “Jake” We both paused. A little stunned still. “Sooo..you  need anything?”. “Well I could use a free room if that’s alright with you”. Oh this guy can’t be for real. Nobody’s this polite. “If I could, i would. But this is the only unlocked door”. “Oh. I see. Well, thanks anyway. Be careful now”. He started to leave. Was that a dream? Is it still?. “Hey, wait….If you’re not dangerous, you can stay here for a bit. I can’t sleep anyway”. I can’t believe I just said that. He’s gonna kill me now. “Really? Oh wow, thanks! I promise I’m not dangerous at all.” He went into the darkness to grab his backpack which laid on the floor next to a locked door and came back. I let him into my room.

 

“Wow, this is some place!” Looking around, casually. Not in a scavenging way. “Yeah. Surprised it still has electricity.”. “Oh I checked the generators. They’re gonna run out in a day or two.” Well, that’s kind of lucky. “Good to know” I went into my backpack and grabbed a book. I slowly sat down, resting my head against the pillow to read. “Hey, I read that book in high school!”. “So did I. I love it.”. “Eh. It was pretty boring though”. “You’re telling me” I smirk a bit. He smiles back as he sits down on a chair across from me. He turns to his backpack and takes out a book. I curiously glanced and couldn’t believe my eyes. “Good reading material, eh?” He chuckles as he takes out a generic “Zombie Survival Guide”. “You can’t be serious” I look at him firmly. “What?! It works! It’s helped me survive this long!” Laughing while he tells me. I can’t help but chuckle with him. “So what happened with you up til now?” I closed my book. He soon followed. “I had a few friends with me. Some lasted long. Others didn’t. Here I am now trying to make due. What about you?”. “Pretty much the same story. Didn’t have a group though. They just left with others. It’s been just me for a while”. “Oh, well I’m sorry about that. It sucks to be alone.” “Not always, but it can”. We were both quiet for a while. “Well, I’m going to sleep now. Hope you don’t mind. I trust you enough not to kill me and take my stuff.”. “Don’t worry. I’m not like others you may have met.” “That’s good to know. Good night, good sir!”. He gets comfortable and starts to fall asleep. I don’t know what to do next. Sleep with him or keep reading in case he tries to wake up and do something. He was right. The book was boring. Would make me sleep anyway. I looked at him once more. I sigh and pull up the covers, turning off the light. I need the sleep. And besides, I never had a companion before anyway. Maybe it’ll be good for me.

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02. Morals

Hours fly by as Jake rides along the smooth country road. The car was a little bumpy but it was better than walking. His mind filled with thoughts of the days after the initial outbreak. Wondering how his friends were. If they were doing better or worse. He saw movies, read comics. Nobody saw it coming though. Not in a serious sense. 

 

As he speeds down toward a main road, he finds a truck with the tail lights on. He then saw a man hovering over something on the ground. Jake is curious, yet cautious. His hand inches away from a knife in case of emergency. As he slowed down, the figure stood up and turned around. It was a man. Alive. Jake stopped the car a few feet away from the man and saw the woman and her soft cries uttering from her lips. He got out of the car, his knife safely in his pocket. “Hi there” Jake greeted.

 

“Hi” The man responded. Jake glances at the women. Slight bruising on her face, her arms also taken damage. “I saw the car parked. Wanted to make sure everything was alright”. “We’re fine”. Jake paused for a moment, stepping closer. “Did one of those things get her? I have some first aid”. “What else you got?”. The man moved his hand slightly toward his back pocket. Before Jake could say anything, the woman thrusted toward the man’s legs.

 

Jake took the opportunity, running toward the fighting couple and tackling the man. He tried pulling out a gun but Jake stomped on his face, kicking the gun away. He stood up slowly and looked toward the man. “You think I’m stupid?” The man continues to struggle, grabbing his leg firmly placed on his nose. The woman just watches in shock, motioning to the car. Jake turned toward the car to see a teenager. A girl. Around 16. The man held onto Jake’s leg and pulled him onto the ground. The man took the gun as he slapped the woman across the face. “Don’t you try that again! What did I say?!” He proceeded to start hitting her with the gun, a stream of blood escaping her nose. Jake got up, took out his knife and lunged at the assaulter, falling him down on his stomach, grass in his mouth. 

 

“You piece of shit. I don’t care if the world’s gone to hell. You don’t touch a woman like that!” Jake expressed, his knife placed on the man’s spinal cord. He gets up again and kicks him repeatedly, venting out his anger. He turned the man over. He tried to grab Jake’s leg again but couldn’t reach. Pain coursed throughout his chest as Jake kicked his head, knocking him out cold. He turned to the woman and the girl, who were scared at what may happen soon. Jake walked over to them and helped the woman up while on her knees from her husband’s previous engagement. “I’m sorry that happened” He exclaimed.

 

The girl came out. She was pretty. Brunette hair, green eyes. “Thank you” the woman said to him. “You best run. I’m sure he means a lot to you, but he’s a danger. You can’t let your daughter grow up in that environment.” The woman looks down. “Do you need anything?”. “Some water would help” said the girl. Jake nodded and opened the trunk, taking out four bottles of water to them. “You don’t know how relieved I am to find someone like you here. Someone with morals.” The woman told Jake. “I’ll do what I have to. But some things we can’t just let go.” He looks to the abuser, thinking he may awake soon. “Seriously. Leave him while you can. That’s what I would do”. The girl came up to Jake and hugged him tight. It is unexpected, yet relaxing. He breathes slowly, letting the feeling sink in before the hug broke. He nods to the women before getting into her car, waving goodbye before driving off down the road.

 

That night, he was asleep in a motel room that was seemingly abandoned. Sleeping in a car can be peaceful, but dangerous. It wasn’t much, as much as you get from a motel. But it was better than nothing. Silence. Jake missed that sound. He can’t sleep. Tossing a bit, thinking of things that help him go to sleep. He decides that maybe a nice view of the nightly sky would relax him. It seemed safe enough there. He opened the door, taking one step out before seeing a standing body right next to him. Both Jake and the shadowy figure jumped. He could feel fear engrossing his body, as if time itself has slowed down. 

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01. One Plan

Jake enjoyed the empty road. If there’s one good thing that came out of this mess, it was that for most of the time, he could drive as fast as he wanted. He didn’t have much. It was enough to keep him going. An old Crown Victoria that used to be an undercover car. Still had the police modifications in the hood. It can outrun a brand new mustang if need be. He also liked the space. Plenty to store food, water, essentials for survival. It’s been two months since the apocalypse began. His parents were gone, as was his dog, whom he had grown up with. He ponders the memories of when the crazy stuff started happening.

 

He went to friends seeing what their plan was. Most went with their folks. Others formed a team that they had in their heads for shits and giggles when all this was imaginary. He made his little team with them. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the same thought. The last person he spoke to was his ex-girlfriend, who kindly hugged him before departure with her parents. He decided to stay in his town hoping to survive long enough without scavenging. Unfortunately, the dead moved his way. Before power went out, he texted, messaged, emailed everyone to make sure they were ok and how to contact them. However, there was one person he was worried about the most. Kathy, his pen-pal and long time friend. He made sure to get her address before his internet was gone for good. He also got addresses for other distant friends who may or may not be traveling. He had a plan. To make sure Kathy was safe.

 

They were separated by 1000 miles of road, dirt, and the undead. Jake didn’t care. He figured he would meet other friends along the way. When the dead was at his house, he headed out while he could, gathered as much food as possible and left. This is his story. His 1000+ journey across who knows what to find his close friend. He has nobody to look out for. Nobody to burden or slow him down. Why would anyone want to go across the country for just one girl in this messed-up world? Only Jake can answer. You may just get that answer.

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