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Issue 18 - AbandonEdit
Liam, Julius, Ruben, and Dalton piled up the corpses on the right side of the street, away from visible view of the day care's entrance. Julius expected the task to drag on, but since the corpses were all in one place, it ended fairly quickly.
“Get the gas and matches, Meek,” Ruben ordered, as he, along with Julius and Liam, surveyed the grim pile of bodies placed onto the sidewalk. Julius was astonished that he got used to carrying bodies like this after only doing it one other time. He tried not to look back on each corpse’s past, as it entailed some consciousness in him that would make him think back of their past lives. He couldn’t avoid it in the first few corpses, but eventually got over it.
“So, what’s up with the British Bob stuff?” Julius asks, hoping to change the subject matter in his mind. He seems to catch Liam a bit off-guard, as he looks at him with a bit of surprise. He then replaces it with a smirk.
“Oh, well… it’s this thing I used to do a lot for the kids. Since, you know… my parents are from Essex.”
Julius tries to hold back a chuckle, instead looking at him, somewhat fascinated. “Oh? Well, what happened to your accent? How come it’s all… ‘American’?” Liam gives him a modest look.
“I had it when I was a kid, but… lost it when my parents left.” Julius loses his expression, now feeling a bit guilty. “But… well, it’s still ‘ere if I wanted to say it,” he follows, finishing with his accent. The smirk on his face made Julius feel a little bit better.
Dalton returns from the building with a bottle of butane gas on one hand, and a small packet of matches on the other. He hands them both to Ruben.
Liam turns away from Julius. “I think we should get going,” he says, looking at Ruben. “You guys got it, right?” Ruben nods, as he uncaps the bottle, Dalton standing beside him.
Liam starts walking towards the entrance, glancing to Julius as a signal for him to follow. Julius jogs to his side to catch up. “Let’s go say bye,” Liam tells him.
They see the children playing on the open floor as they walk through the hall. Morgan was kneeling down with them, half playing along and half supervising them. Judging from the clean wall to their left, Elaine made sure that the corpse of the walker she took down earlier was out of sight.
Liam crouches down among the kids, spreading his hands out widely; they respond by group-hugging him. “I’ll be back, I’ll be back,” he told them. He stands up and gives Morgan a hug, patting her back. “Won’t be long,” he told her.
Julius shyly pats the children’s heads, and gives Morgan a brief handshake. He then follows Liam, who was walking toward the playroom. Everything seemed to be back in order; the table was in its normal position, and a few toys were missing on the bin. A medium-sized mat with a colorful jigsaw puzzle design was resting over the carpet, adding a little more color in the room. Elaine was dusting off the table, a small flower vase on her hand.
She catches a glimpse of Liam, who quickly leans in to her and gives her a tight hug. Elaine looks a bit embarrassed at Julius, a she was leaning her head on his shoulder, seeming like she was somewhat trapped by him. He then untightens his hug and gives her a long kiss in the cheek. “Alright, alright,” Elaine giggles.
Julius couldn’t help but feel happy; the amount of affection around him was far too contagious to shrug off. Maybe it was because he never saw young children for the longest time. Or maybe it was because of Liam; his appearance clearly didn’t reflect his attitude, as he both had the looks and the passion for caring to go with it.
He thought about himself for a moment. “Yeah, I’m cool with kids.” He then pictures the small-sized frame of his body. “Hmm… maybe I gotta work out,” he thought.
Liam and Julius wave off Dalton and Ruben as they start to head back to the apartment. Dalton looked up at the smoke that was starting to rise from the pile.
“I didn’t know you’re such a … dad to those guys,” Julius tells him, as the day care from behind them started to get more distant. Liam looks at him quizzically, then chuckles.
“Is that an insult?” he replies. Julius smirks at his response. “No! Of course not. You’re a role model to me, man!” He playfully punches Liam on the arm.
“Yeah, well… if you’ve been around them long enough, you get used to it.” He starts to look at the distance ahead of them, somewhat reminiscing. “I grew up around kids, y’know. I was like them, once… then I started to grow up. They stayed young. Being around them so much, you just… get used to it.”
Liam looks down to the road they walked on. Julius looked at him. “I’m impressed. Sticking with them all throughout…” Liam glances at him with a modest smile.
“Good job—“ Julius was forced to pause when he saw the dissolving expression in Liam’s face. They were both made to stop when Julius looks at his direction.
A man, his face slightly obstructed by his busy beard, stood in front of them, just as frozen as they were. He wore a black hoodie with the hood pulled over his head, covering much of the baseball cap he wore underneath. He murmured something Julius couldn’t make out.
Liam unsheathes his machete with haste, forcing the man to take a few steps back.
“H-hey man,” he said, putting his hands up. “T-take it easy with that thing, I—I’m just strollin’—“ Liam could see man's eyes move nervously between him and something above his head.
Liam takes a quick glance back; there was a tall trail of black smoke, somewhat visible from his angle.
“Fuck—“ The man takes this chance to flee. Julius remained in his position, completely confused as to what to do next. He starts chasing after the stranger half-heartedly.
Liam sprinted toward the hooded man, speeding through Julius's side. He sloppily tackles him with his shoulder, forcing him to trip on his knees, while the man falls onto the hard cement.
Liam then pins him down, sitting on his back and tightly folding his right arm above it. Julius eventually catches up to them.
“Fuck, man I—I don’t fuckin’ want any trouble—I—I my buddies t-told me to chec-check on the d-day—aaagh!!” Liam pushes his arm tighter as he heard the word “day” come out of his mouth. “Fuck, man! C’mon!” The man spits on the cement as he cries in pain. “C’mon, bro—I—I don’t want no harm—“ The man’s face starts to turn red, as Liam seized his grip from loosening. His cries started to grow more desperate by the moment.
“Let him go!” Julius bellowed, noticing how deep in pain the man was. Liam maintains his grip for a few more seconds, then lets go. He shifts his hand onto the man’s hood, then starts standing up. He forces the man to stand by pulling the hood up, dropping his cap in the process.
The man’s long, unkempt hair seemed to match his blonde beard. Liam maintained a hold of his hood, as the man desperately tried to stay a bit more comfortable. “C’mon, bro, I—I ain’t gonna run—Just—just lemme go—“ he cried, some discordance in his voice.
“So,” Liam finally says, after what seemed like ages to Julius. “What should we do with you?” The man stops struggling for a moment, looking back at him.
“Y-you just let me go an’… an’ I tell my buds we leave the fuckin’ place alone… c’mon, man… jus’ lemme—lemme go…” The discordance in his voice returns as he trails off his words. Liam turns to Julius for judgement. He shrugs, still trying to process a proper way of dealing with him. Liam returns looking at the man’s back.
“How long have you guys been scouting the place?” he asks. The man, who has reverted to heavy breathing now, lets out a loud sigh. “We—jus’ today, man… jus’ fuckin’ today. T-told me to check on the place—s—see if there’s still people… but I’ll tell ‘em to leave it alone, man, come on…” the man’s voice starts to revert back to the desperate one he had earlier.
Liam looks away for a moment, pondering. He still managed to maintain his grip on the man, who was somehow cooperating; he looked extremely dejected, still breathing heavily.
“Hey you,” he called, turning to Julius. “Talk to your pal, man—I ain’t—I ain’t tryin’ to do no harm—“ The man’s tone was much calmer this time, as if he’s come into terms with his choices.
The way the man looked ragged still worried Julius. Something told him that he belonged to a gang of some sort… possibly one of those riot groups. He’s had a run-in with the likes of them from earlier, but they all seemed different; unlike the man in front of him, they had visible gear…
Julius was about to ask the man, when he saw his right hand inside the pockets of his sweater, reaching for something.
He was getting ready to swing his bat, when the man had a berretta clasped in his right hand, half-way through pointing it. He knew he needed to hurt the man, but he had no choice. The man turns around, quickly freeing his grasp from Liam.
Julius was ready to swing, no matter what. But he was much too late; Liam had driven his machete into the man’s stomach, almost in a flash.
Ree was in her room, crouched down behind the side of her bed. She tirelessly looked at the locked door on her opposite side, ready to attack anything that comes crashing into it. She signed off everything outside of her room as a “desolated area”, because of all the walkers.
Patrick stood on the far side of the door, just next to the sliding closet. He transferred looks between the door, and the people in the room. Barbara sat just behind Ree, against the corner; Evee was in the middle between her and Ree. They were all fixated on the door, matching Ree’s anxiousness.
The radio’s silent chittering of static was the loudest sound in the room. Patrick winced at every loud static bounce that came from it. He starts motioning his hand toward the radio, pointing at it and doing a sideway slashing gesture.
Ree, giving him a distressed look, shakes her head. Patrick starts to share her look, repeating his slashing gesture for three more times. She looks back at the door, hoping to ignore him. Patrick, tired of waiting, starts tip-toeing toward the dressing table, bending down to look at the radio. Ree observes him for a few seconds, then approaches it with him.
“Walkers might hear it,” Patrick quietly and carefully whispers. Ree only glances him once and then returns to the radio.
Patrick gapes at the radio, while Ree looks at it with deep astonishment.
“Reporting on unknown frequency. Hello?”
Ree looks at Patrick with wide eyes, then looks behind her to see if Barb and Evee heard it; they all had the same look on their faces.
“This is corporal Dornher, delta squad number two-nine-three-three. This is an unknown frequency, and I’d like to kn—“
Ree pushes the bright green button the radio, forcing all of its other lights to fade. The static was slowly vanishing.
Patrick gives Ree as somewhat resentful look, as she fiddles with the radio. She glances him once, noticing his expression and stopping what she was doing. They both return to their spots, when the sounds of heavy footsteps start to seep through the walls of the room.
Both Patrick and Ree freeze for a few moments, until the sounds start to subside. It was then followed by a few random bangs on the front door.
Evee closes her eyes, her head slowly hiding behind her curled-up knees. Ree winces, looking at the wall beside the door.
The bangs in the wall start to stop, being replaced by the numerous sounds of footsteps just outside. Patrick was tensed up against the corner he stood on. Barbara starts looking down the carpet. Evee’s head was resting on her knees. Ree stops looking at the door, crashing her chin onto the soft mattress, and letting it rest.
They waited, eager for the walkers to leave. But the constant sound of movement, followed by the periodical banging on the walls and doors, made it seem that they wanted to stay. Ree thought of Liam, and the new guy, Julius, to see how they were going to fare once they find the apartment overrun…
She briefly turns around to look at Evee, then to Barbara, just to see if they’re alright. She nods once to indicate that she’s checking on them; both Barbara and Evee nod back. She then turns to Patrick, and nods him once; Patrick gives her a half-smirk-half-worried-eyes look, then nods back.
She lets her head rest on the mattress again, wondering if now was the right time for her to get some sleep. After all, it was deep into the afternoon…
Her eyes were getting heavier. “No static,” she thought. “Nothing to keep me awake…” She listens for the footsteps of the walkers, and realizes that they weren’t too loud. They did make her feel somewhat uncomfortable though.
But the mattress was soft. The sounds were layers of walls away. It looked like they didn’t know they were all there…
Just as she was about to let her head crash, muffled sounds of gunshots rang from below the apartment. She quickly brought her head up, then did a quick scan on everyone in the room; they were all as surprised as she was.
“… two… three…” she counted. “… four… five—“
The footsteps from beyond the door started to fade. The groans of the walkers were back, but were fading too...
She was extremely relieved, but her grumpiness quickly took over. Maybe now, she can finally sleep.
“He’s not gonna get up—“ Julius bends down to see if the man was still breathing, but quickly retreats from it by standing right back up and looking away. “Is he dead—“ He returns to look at the man, but found it extremely hard. “He’s probably dead. Yeah, probably—oh god—“ His heart was raising. He thought of how many charges this would bring. He thought of the look the man had as life escaped him. Did he see his life flash before his eyes? How was Julius going to plea in court? How will he fair in prison? So many questions raised in in his mind, that he couldn’t think through all of them.
Liam crouches down in level of the man, still clutching his machete. “It’s done, Julius,” he said, trying to calm him down.
Blood was spewing from the man’s mouth, scattering onto his beard. He continued to cough up a few times, as he looked at the sky with his bright blue eyes. Blood was starting to seep through the fabric of his sweater. His stomach jerked a few times, but eventually stopped moving.
The man was left looking up at the sky, his mouth partially opened, blood still spewing from it. Liam rubs his face with his palm, then closes the man’s eyes slowly.
Julius was frozen the whole time, his mouth still covered. It turned out that the man’s last moments were saved for him to see. It was cruel, he thought.
“C’mon,” Liam urged, standing up from his position. His demeanor has completely transformed since they saw the man, the living man, before them.
He patiently waits for Julius, who couldn’t take his eyes off of the now lifeless corpse.
“How will his buddies feel?” he asked. He catches Liam's attention for a few brief seconds. “How? What about his mom? His dad? His… brother? How the hell will they feel? That he got fucking murdered—“
“Julius,” Liam interrupts. “I—I'm sorry...” He sighs, rubbing his forehead. “But he pulled out a fucking gun." He turns around to look behind him. “There’re… kids in there. How the hell would you feel if we see them as corpses? I—just… I don’t want to take that fucking risk.”
“It’s alright,” Julius replies. His nostrils were a bit flared. “It’s fine. It’s him, or them. It had to be done. It had—or else he’d tell his buddies. Right, yeah. We needed to murder him…”
Liam walks over to the corpse and starts folding his arms. “Help me with this.” Julius, who was looking away at that moment, turns to him. “Right, yeah. C’mon, let’s go... hide him.” He starts holding on to the man’s feet. Liam positions himself above the man’s head. He folds on his hood at first, then starts squeezing his arms into the man’s back.
“One… two…” Together, they hoist the man up.