|Previous Issue - The Blockade, Part 2|
Issue 13 - Let GoEdit
Everybody in the mess hall were at a standstill at first. They looked like they never heard a gunshot ring inside this camp before.
Jen suddenly leaves her post and runs toward the direction of the gun shot, and was then followed by the other soldier working with her.
People started whispering from their seats. Some of them started to follow the soldiers.
"Nobody shot a gun here before," Dolores says, some slight shudder in her voice. Julius and Alice look to each other, then stand up from their seats, as many people before them did. They joined the slowly forming crowd of people walking out of the only opening in the mess hall.
Other soldiers, their combat gear missing, start to join the crowd of people headed toward the gunshot site. All other sounds were drowned out by the collection of whispers and footsteps of the crowd. Julius and Alice were slowly pushed into the middle, as more people join the crowd behind them, coming from the sleeping quarters that they passed by.
Julius nudged the person in front of him, as the crowd finally came to a halt. A few other soldiers, still missing vests but clutching guns, forced them to stop.
"Don't step in too close," the soldiers calmly said. The gunshot must have came from behind them.
"You're all gonna fuckin' die!!" shouted a familiar voice. It was Hal, restrained by a struggling soldier. He was being forced out of a large tent, more sophisticated than the ones in the sleeping quarters.
"Die, I tell ya!! They're killing people there!! Killing people!!" A few heads in the crowd winced at the sight of Hal's struggle, as he was pulled away from view.
Lieutenant Arroyo emerges out of the tent's opening, followed by Whedon.
"What the hell happened?!" a loud, distant voice from the crowd asks them. Arroyo glances at the direction of the voice, then returns looking at Whedon.
"No need to panic. The man you just saw from earlier stormed into the tent and tried to shoot down some of our medics. It was out of complete rage; he wasn't intending to kill anyone."
The crowd of people start to buzz with noise. "We have some new rules, effective immediately: first, anyone affiliated with a patient in the ward will be given proper visitation time during the day and afternoon. Second, there will be a curfew--" The crowd's noise started to grow louder at this point, in response to Arroyo.
"Curfew of ten o' clock every night. Any civilian found after this time will be escorted back to the quarters."
The people were growing impatient. The lack of space seemed to contribute to their unrest.
Arroyo gives a few more words to Whedon, then sends him back into the camp. "Please, return to your posts," he exclaims to the buzzing crowd.
"The hell you gonna do to Hal!?" a different voice from the crowd shouts. "Gonna feed them to Whedon's pets," another replies. Arroyo starts to look agitated toward the direction of the voices.
"He'll be detained," he replies louder, out of frustration. He turns around from the crowd, vanishing into the tent. The soldiers restraining them start to put his initial message forward.
The crowd starts to shrink, as people walk away in different directions. Some of them went toward the ward. Most of them looked dissatisfied.
Julius and Alice started to walk back to the mess hall, as Jen suddenly pops up to their side. She looked as discontent as everyone else.
"Wild stuff back there," she says to them, periodically turning back to look at the fading medical ward. "Hal shot a hole through the tent."
"Was he really trying to shoot the soldiers in there?" Julius asks. Jen looks back once, then says "Yeah. The lieutenant wasn't lying about that. Hal didn't cool down at all."
"Where'll he be detained?" Alice adds. Jen turns from Julius, to her.
"I'm guessing near our quarters. That, or he'll get some kind of space in the ward."
Julius, like all of them, were quiet, thinking. They were half-way near the mess hall, when Jen was interrupted.
"Arroyo needs us front and center," a young soldier tells her, his voice slightly weak from his heavy breathing. "Now." Jen, expected to follow the running soldier, stands still for a moment. She looks back at Julius and Alice, dazed. "I'll-I'll be back," she tells them. She follows the soldier, who was out of view at this time, and slowly fades.
Julius and Alice were seated at one of the tables in the mess hall, which was emptier now. A few other people were present, sitting distantly from them. Everybody seemed to keep to themselves.
"How are you holding up?" Julius asks to her. He was starting to feel her discontent.
She looks at him, then turns her eyes to the table surface below her head. "Weird. Fine. Having second thoughts. Safe."
Julius couldn't pick one of the answers. This was a common mannerism of her's.
"I'll just put that as 'not certain'. Cool?"
She nods, still looking away.
"Look. I wasn't certain about this place either. I had other things in mind back in the grocer." This seems to get Alice's attention, as she glances him once. "They've got food, shelter, safety... things we probably can't even provide for ourselves."
Alice's attention was now toward him. "Yeah, the place isn't desirable... but what choice do we have?"
"Our own car," Alice mutters. Julius pauses for a second, aware of what she murmured.
"It'll get better for us. As long as you're by my side... we can pull through."
Alice curves her eyebrows, noticing how corny Julius was coming off to her. "You're terrible," she replies, suddenly holding Julius's hand. He tries to seize a smile, but fails at it. He knew Alice agreed with her.
"It'll be fine. You just stick with--" Julius pauses, turning to the direction of the distant gunshot sounds being made. Alice doesn't notice it at first, but then hears it in the next second, as the gunshots grow louder.
Everybody, including the two, stand up from their seats again, accumulating to a crowd similar from earlier. This time, however, the majority of the crowd has already formed near the blockade's entrance.
A handful of soldiers formed a shield from the entrance, trying to calm down. Everyone in the front was curious about where the gunshots came from in the form of various noises.
"A small group of walkers wandered near our proximity," one soldier said. "We're making sure they don't get through." Noise started to build up in the crowd, but drowns out after a few moments.
"Everybody just needs to keep calm," a female soldier tells them, in response to the growing weariness of the people. "They can handle this."
The gunshots remained constant for a while. The crowd started to thin down, hopeful that the soldiers were doing their job. A few of them stayed behind, Alice and Julius included.
They could only imagine what was happening; a handful of soldiers shooting their guns at the wall of walkers, keeping their distance safely away.
Julius and Alice stuck with the thinning crowd, until after half an hour, when the gunshots haven't stopped. They were handling it well, according to Julius.
They turned around and walked to the direction of the sleeping quarters, where most of the people were found. They passed by the collection of medium-sized tents, until they reached empty seats near the edge of the quarters. This is where people hung around when they didn't feel like sleeping.
"Think Jen is okay?" Alice asks Julius, who was similarly thinking of the battle outside their entrance. "Yeah," he replies, looking at the bustling activity.
Some of the survivors chose their own sleeping bags, while others stayed inside the tents, occasionally going out. Children gathered in their respective crowds, playing as if nothing has phased them. The grown-ups kept to themselves, though.
Julius and Alice watched the people, with no intention in interacting with them.
The sun was noticeably starting to set. Julius deemed it to be the late afternoon.
"Hey Jules," Alice asks, after a long time of silence. Julius turns to her, as she was looking to the horizon, judging from her eyes.
"You have anything new for my 'No More' list?"
Julius pauses at first, almost forgetting Alice's new hobby.
"Ah, right." He looks back to the people in the camp. He notices the middle-aged man from earlier, entering his tent.
"No more property owners," he says. Alice, still captivated by the horizon, doesn't say a thing.
"No more surfing," Alice replies. Julius is still baffled by her randomness.
"And terrible music," she continues. "I hope the crappy songwriters are dead."
"That'd be nice. But they're still people," Julius replies. Alice turns to him and shoots him a look. She quickly turns her head back to the tents.
"No more Facebook, or Twitter, or... social networking," she continues on. "And for that matter, no more internet."
This made Julius think; are people still networking throughout this apocalypse? Did it go down the same way the phone lines went down?
Then, he remembers his cell phone, and the call he has yet to return to his sister. He left his cell phone in his old house, where his parents lived. His parents...
All of the painful thoughts he had forgotten for a while suddenly start rushing in to his mind. The sight of his dead parents, the thought of his uncle choosing suicide over survival...
It was difficult, mixing these memories in with the good ones. To think, those people were alive one day, and dead the next...
"No more lobster dinners." Julius snaps out of it for a bit, as Alice continued on without him. He felt some relief hearing her voice, but quickly reverts back to his depressing thoughts. He nearly dipped into his seat, as his head found something to rest on.
He looked at the other people in the camp. All of their faces were sunken. He was starting to look like them.
"Hey," Alice calls out, looking at Julius. "You alright?" He turns to look at her, and nods, lazily. Alice rolls her eyes, and continues rambling.
Just as the sky assumed a more orange tint, Julius started to doze off.
He looked for an exit. All of the windows were boarded up, and each and every door lacked a knob.
He tried clawing his way out of the window near the front door, trying to separate the thick boards that covered it. It was like the boards were built in with the windows.
"Come on... come on..." he muttered, desperately, as he looked around for any possible exit.
The walls around him were completely white. The carpet, white. The ceiling, complete white. It was like an insane asylum.
He ran toward the dining area, where the sliding yard door was. A familiar-looking cell phone rested on the small, round table. It constantly lit up, the name "Margaret" in bold face displayed on it. He tried his best to ignore his phone, which seemed to grow noisier and noisier.
He slid the yard door without struggle, and saw the outside of his yard, completely bare and untouched. It was as if he just moved in.
The clear blue skies and the warmth of the sun's rays made him feel normal again. It looked completely different from the inside of his house.
He stood there, trying to compose himself, until he saw Margaret, his older sister, limping toward him.
"Jul...ius...." His sister, appearing out of nowhere, clutched the spot of blood in her stomach. She looked the same from when they last saw each other.
Something about the way she looked at him made him take steps back. She continued to walk slowly toward him, the spot of blood bleeding through her fingers.
The tears in her eyes started to turn thicker. In the blink of an eye, she was crying blood.
Julius couldn't take it anymore. He ran back inside house, looking for yet another way out. Upon entering, he saw his parents sitting on the table, staring blankly into nothing.
Margaret remained standing outside, her back turned to Julius. She started to mutter something that he could barely make out.
A thick, ruby-colored liquid started to drip down from the corners of the walls in his house. Margaret continued to mutter, growing louder and louder.
The liquid started to seep into the white-colored sofas, tables, and cabinets. Even the boarded windows started to bleed.
"... up... up...." Margaret was growing even louder. "Julius."
She turned to Julius, her face clean of red. "Wake up."
"... Julius, hey... wake...."
Julius lets out a loud sigh, nearly jumping from his seat. Alice was standing in front of him, pausing at the way Julius looked. He was nearly dripping with sweat, tightly clutching the handles of his chair.
"You were talking in your sleep. Well, whimpering, more like. It was just a dream." Julius, still shocked by how vivid his dream was, maintains looking at her, speechless. He then leaps from his seat, and embraces her.
Alice caresses his back, as she felt his heart beat rapidly. "Just a dream."
Julius lets go, wiping his sweat, and the single tear that moistened his eye. He breathes a few more times, trying to calm himself down, when he notices Alice, just looking at him.
He turns to her with curious eyes.
"I heard a noise. Aside from you." She looks at him, worriedly, then looks behind her, toward the opening of the area.
They both walk toward the opening quietly, as everyone around them were asleep. There was barely any light source, aside from the weak light found around the quarters. Julius must have dozed off longer than he thought, as it was already night.
Alice stops him in his tracks by blocking him with her arm, as she assumed a crouched position, shrouded by the thick shadow. Julius looked at the direction of her eyes.
There were two civilians, dragging what looked like a soldier missing a vest and helmet. They could hear his feint cries growing louder, until one of the civilians dropped him and covered his mouth. "Shhhhhh... you don't want to wake the others up," he says, not too loudly.
The pair start talking among each other, as they plop the soldier on his back. After a few moments, they remove the soldier from his resting place, heading toward Julius and Alice's direction.
They panic for a few seconds, quickly crawling out of the shadow and into one of the nearest tents. They hide behind a tent to their left direction. Making contact with the tent means that they'll wake the people inside it.
They see the pair of civilians entering the quarters, dropping him down to the ground. The soldier seemed to be awake this time. He struggled to get up, the civilians not bothering to help him.
"Look... we didn't want it to be this way. We're just getting tired of you being secretive as all." Judging from their voices and silhouettes, they were both men.
"Hal deserved to know the truth.... just as much as us." The two look to each other, then back to the soldier, who assumed a seated position by now.
"This doesn't have to get dirty. We just want to know where your guns are." The soldier looks up to them, his emotions unintelligible, as they were all silhouettes at this point.
He spits up, and says "Armory's too deep in to our q-quarters... you guys won't reach it in time..."
"In time?" the civilian standing to the left snarls. "In time for what?"
The soldier spits up again. "Whole blockade's doomed. Walkers w-were accumulating all around us since ye-yesterday..."
The civilians turn to each other again. "S'why we need the guns, sport. S'why we have you to get it for us." He reaches inside his chest, and pulls out a handgun. He bends down, to the level of the soldier. "You get some for at least four people, and we'll let you go. Don't comply, and we'll wake everybody up here."
He points the gun in front of the soldier's face.
"P-please j-just let us evacuate the civilians--"
The two, unimpressed, shake their heads. "That just won't do. Just won't--"
They were interrupted by the sight of two soldiers emerging from the quarters' entrance, there guns pointed at them.
"Drop that gun," the soldier in front says. The civilian clutching a pistol held his hand up at first, but quickly puts it down. He looks behind the other civilian with him and whispers something, then reverts back to his position.
The second civilian from behind pulls out a handgun of his own, and shoots the injured soldier in the chest. He lowers his head behind the civilian in front of him, who takes advantage of the two other soldiers' surprise and open fires at them.
The civilian in front managed to shoot the other soldier in front. He continued to spray his bullets until he forced the both of them to the ground, aided by his accomplice.
Noises of yelps and shrieks started to emerge from each and every tent; almost all of them zipped their tents open in unison to see what just unfolded.
The two civilians from earlier, now hostile killers, walked toward the two dying soldiers, who dropped their rifles. The two hostile civilians, taking them for their own, notices the crowd of people forming in front of them. Julius and Alice still didn't want to emerge from their hiding place.
"No need to panic, everyone. We're just taking matters into our own hands..." He cocks his rifle, while noise starts to grow among the crowd.
"We got room for two more. Anyone?" The both of them look around among the crowd, expecting a positive welcome. Instead, the crowd grows even wearier.
"Suit yourself. Just stay here until the walkers around us break in." A few gasps were heard, followed by people talking to each other.
Everybody was clueless, at first. There they were, rudely awaken from their sleep, only to learn about this latest piece of news. They continue to talk to each other, some of them giving in to panic, others wanting to learn more.
The noise of their collective voices started to grow louder and louder, until a single sound drowned every single one of them out: the emergency alarm.
For a second, Julius felt like he was in a high school fire drill. The alarm sounded much too similar...
But he quickly snaps back. Just as he was, everyone had a delayed response to the alarm. The two gunmen from earlier were looking to leave.
"We gotta go," Alice says, shaking Julius. "Now. We gotta go now." He sees a different kind of fear in her eyes; one he hasn't seen before. He embraces Alice, tightly. "I should've listened to you," he whispered. "I should've."
He looks at her distressed eyes, quickly stands up, melding into the crowd. Everyone was in a fit of panic. People trampled over the small opening that led outside of the quarters.
The two gunmen from earlier took the lead, trailed by the rest of the people. They stopped in their tracks when a collection of soldiers, their guns pointed, their looks holding no remorse.
They readied their guns, but were too late; they were shredded by the thousands of bullets before them. The people just behind them froze at first, but quickly returned moving. They forced their way out of the entrance, which seemed to be blocked by a sort of thick barricade
The people tried pushing their way out recklessly, out of the sheer fear they felt. The soldiers, who shot the two gunmen from earlier, tried to subdue them. But the sudden change in atmosphere, followed by the on-going sound of the alarms, didn't make them budge.
The barrier itself started to move, but from the outside; something was pushing it back in. The group of people paused, looking at the moving barrier.
Each push on the barrier grew by intensity. The first push slightly folded the middle of the barrier. The second push created a large dent in the middle. The third and final push forced half of it to open.
A series of groans escaped through the barrier's holes, followed by numerous hands of corpses.
The walkers were breaching in.
The people panicked even more now. With their only known exit blocked by walkers, almost all of them lost hope, and therefore will to go on. The soldiers from before shifted their attention to the barrier. But it was no use.
Once the barrier was pushed for the fifth and final time, walkers poured in to the camp like water. They quickly overpowered the soldiers in front, creating a sort of meat shield that impeded the rest of the walkers to rush in.
The sight of it both panicked the soldiers, and the people. The rest of them were still stampeding out of the quarters, blocked by the huge crowd that has formed just outside of it.
Alice and Julius, their hands held tightly, were nearly separated; Alice was forced in front of Julius, her arm in between numerous survivors' bodies. Julius's was the same.
"Don't let go!" he shouted, his voice nearly drowned out by the collection of voices. Alice's face could barely be seen, as she was slowly sinking in. Julius tugged and tugged, but it was no use; he was risking Alice's arm.
People continued to shove around him, but there was barely any movement. They couldn't move forward for a few moments, until loud shrieks started to echo from the front.
Julius heard people reacting around him, asking nearly the same question: "What was that?" The crowd then started to move, giving Julius and Alice some needed space.
"Can't breathe," Alice gasps, as she was forced to not move due to the amount of people that stood between them. He pulled her hand with all his strength this time, but barely made any progress.
Soon, more and more people started pushing to go forward. Julius started to lose clutch again. "Don't--don't let go!!" he cried, still trying to pull Alice toward him, but to no avail. Both their arms were compressed by numerous people of different sizes, nearly constricting the blood flow. Julius's palm started to perspire, as Alice inched farther away from view.
She stopped forcing herself, as she saw the difficulty in Julius's eyes. She slowly loosened her grip. "I'll meet you on the other side," she shouted to him, her voice fading.
"No!! We stay together!" he replies, still determined to pull her toward him. He started cursing the sweat that built up in his palm. What was once Alice's palm on his, started turning into her fingers. "I'll--see you--" she says, with growing difficulty. Julius still didn't want to let go.
She slowly faded away, behind the heads of people rushing. Julius left his hand up, shoved by the people moving before him. "Don't let go," he whispered.
He joined in on the moving crowd, forcing his way, recklessly, toward the front. He shoved any who got in his way, though they didn't seem to mind; everyone was in a hurry to get out. After finally being able to breathe, and having enough room to stand on clear ground, he realized that the crowd behind him was nearly gone.
He was met with the sight of people running in all directions, and the walkers still pouring in from the breached entrance. The poor lighting shrouded almost everyone as silhouettes, save for the ones that were lit by the dim spotlights.
He couldn't tell the people apart; some of them stood, slowly moving, like the walkers. Others were on their knees, weeping loudly.
"Alice!!" he shouted, walking and looking around the chaos, with no regard for walkers.
"Get out!" a random man says to him, tugging his shoulder to move. "Not safe here!"
Julius looked at him with contempt. The man, with no time to lose, slowly walks away. He turns around to run to the direction of the medical ward.
Just as he was to return searching for Alice, a group of soldiers were starting to patrol the area, their looks alert. Their faces were shrouded by the poor lighting.
Julius approached them, survivors running past him. He was at the far opposite end, when the soldiers did something that made him hesitate.
They opened fire, at anything and everything that stood up. This forced Julius to fall flat on his front, covering his head as an attempt to hide. What has gotten into these soldiers? Just some hours ago, they were guarding lives. Now, they seem to be taking them back.
All hope was lost in this camp. He had the chance to leave, as he's still at a far distance from them, but they were closing in. He just can't leave Alice...
Where could she be? Julius crawled on all fours, desperate to see anything, be it her jacket, or her shoes, or her knife...
"Julius!" a familiar voice shouted above him. Before he could look up, he felt two cold hands grasp his left shoulder and stomach, pulling him up with haste. "The hell are you doing?! We have to get out!"
It was Alice, her knees slightly bent down, rattled by the gunfire. Julius looks behind him, seeing the path toward the medical ward, and the continuous stream of people running toward it.
"Let's go!" he exclaimed, and together, they meld into the crowd.
Julius clutched Alice's hand, even tighter this time. He ran ahead, while she was behind him, keeping a steady pace. He didn't seem to be focused on anything else that would distract him on making a plan.
Perhaps there was a reason for why everybody was running here. Maybe there's an emergency exit here. Maybe Whedon had an escape vehicle of some sort, and the people were planning to either steal it, or join him.
Julius decided to leave it to fate; whatever is there, they'll deal with later. For now, they have to keep moving.
The people around him seemed to be running faster than them; somebody would always pass them every second.
"We have to run faster!" Julius heard from behind him. He looked to see Alice, her head turned back, looking at the remainder of a large crowd behind them. It was hard to tell if they were all people, as some of them chose to limp slowly.
"Go!" she shouted, and together, they started moving faster. They were slowly being absorbed by the incoming crowd, as gunshots were being fired just right behind them. They was on the run from the soldiers.
Julius was focused on outrunning the crowd, almost having no regard for Alice but the grip that he kept. Somehow, his grip started to get heavier.
He looks back, and was forced to let go. Alice stood shocked, her eyes dazed, her stomach pierced with two bullets.