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Issue 22 - The LZEdit
“Oh, my god—Evee!”
Evee collapses onto her knees; her right hand goes limp, dropping the pistol on the ground she sat on.
Ree sprints toward her. She disregards her aching forehead, and crouches down to her niece’s level, folding her arms around her.
“Evee—it’s fine—“ Ree tries to comfort her as Evee couldn’t hold back her tears. “You did—it’s fine, Evee—“
“He killed him,” Evee finally says, her voice weak. “Mr. Baldwin killed him. His own son.”
“What...—“ Ree replies, somewhat befuddled.
“I didn’t want to tell, but he killed him, and he drove me home.”
Evee inhales through her clogged nose, and wipes her tears. Ree pulls her head toward her shoulder.
The way Mr. Baldwin, her teacher, looked aghast on the driver seat, unable to say a proper goodbye. That explained everything.
“It’s okay, Evee—it’s—it’s going to be fine… I’m—I’m here now. Just me, and Duane. Soon.”
Ree thought if this was the best time to tell her about her mother; how she was unable to go home during her studies abroad. How she left Evee to her, for good this time. How her last words were “Take care of—”; the way she was cut off in the phone made her heart drop.
“Just me,” Ree whispers.
She stands up, and grabs her niece’s arms. “It’s—it’s just going to be us now, alright?”
Evee looks up to her and nods, tears still dropping, nose blushed red, terrified. “Alright…”
Ree lets go of her niece’s arm and starts moving. She skips over the dead soldiers’ corpses, grabbing the rifle nearest to her feet.
Patrick had his rifle below his waist, pointed at the makeshift wall of walkers to his front. “Any—any openings for you?” he stammers.
Julius had an almost identical sight to his front, though with an open street on the other side of it.
“Uh—no—“ he replies, just as nervously.
The moans and groans of the walkers didn’t seem to help; it only made them even more uncomfortable. As soon as Julius swung at the walker nearest to him, Patrick started to pull the trigger. The loud gunshot noise didn’t seem to pierce his ears this time, as the walkers’ cries drowned it down for him.
Julius continued to swing at any walker that got too close, making sure he had a bit of breathing room; after all, it was the only comfort he could afford at a time like this. Patrick, at first, shot senselessly into the crowd in front of him, piercing their bodies and creating a flesh-pounding noise that he could barely hear; it didn’t stop them from moving toward him. He pulled up the gun to his shoulder, losing a crucial second of free space. He trickled down his shots this time, carefully aiming at the walkers’ heads.
“Wish I—had my gloves,” Julius exclaims, as he continuously swung at the walkers that ate up his space. “Bat keeps slipping!” His speech was muffled by Patrick’s gunshots.
“Wish I had a Klondike bar!” Patrick replies. “Ice cream would be the last—“ Patrick pauses when he kills his first walker. “thing I’d eat right about now!”
All Julius could do was sneak in a smirk; there were too many walkers for him to keep a happy attitude.
He could use all the good news he could get, since he didn’t seem to be making a dent on the walkers in front of him; each one he would swing at would only stand back up, and resume clawing at him. Patrick, on the other hand, managed to take down at least four more, until he realized that he was losing ammo.
“Gun’s getting light,” he shouts, his voice riddled with panic. The majority of his bullets whizzed to the walkers’ necks and shoulders.
The moans grew extremely louder as the walkers closed in on them. Patrick could feel their cold touch on his hands. Sweat poured from Julius’s forehead as he continued to swing at the walkers in front of him and made almost no progress. He was longing for a breather more and more.
They knew things were done when their backs made contact with each other. “Nice—nice to know you, Julius!” Patrick exclaims, trying to talk over the loud groans of the walkers.
“Likewi—“ Instead, Julius’s response was further drowned out by short bursts of gunshots. He caught a glimpse of a man pointing his gun on the other side of the street, taking down the walkers to his direction one by one.
The sun was making its full appearance over the sky; it provided a pleasant, bright lighting for Liam to walk on. He found it difficult to appreciate the warmth and breeze that flew by him in a day like this.
There were still a handful of walkers remaining in the street of the day care; he only took out half of them on the way there. What he thought was going to be a good day with a kids, turned out to be a reminder of his past.
Days when he was in high school, binging on alcohol. He would miss out on numerous classes, savoring the feeling he got when he was drunk. Things with Elaine didn’t help at all; what he thought was a lasting friendship with her collapsed when she chose to ignore him. Things didn’t help when she found her presumable “soul mate.”
Thinking back on it now, he regretted his choices. Then again, teenagers like him were bound to act that way.
He whistled for the walkers’ attention; the one standing a feet away from him only heard it. He examines his machete for a second, then fiercely swings it at the head of the walker. It felt like butter cutting through its head.
“Oy,” he called, getting the next walker’s attention. As soon as it turn around, he slams his machete onto its forehead; to have less trouble while yanking, he pushes the dead walker away with his foot.
He was stupid for turning out like his mother; how she would drown herself out in wine over several occasions during his childhood. He hated his mother now more than ever; she was never present to give him a decent childhood. Who knew she would eventually pass it down to him?
The anger in his chest forced him to jog on the next walker. He tackles it down, and repeatedly swings at its head until he felt blood splatter onto his cheek. Why was he recollecting his regrets just now?
The walkers did help, though. They’ve been walking stress relievers for him as of late. He takes down the two others that were slowly limping toward him.
No matter what happens, his life still isn’t over; he’s been through similar situations before, and this one was no different. After all, he still hasn’t fully professed his love for Elaine yet. He smirks at the idea of him telling off her fiancé, then taking her away, so that they could survive together, in peace. But he’s still yet to figure out how he’ll help her cope through the recent events. He shakes his head, in growing frustration.
He starts to see a clump of people walking toward him at a far distance. “Just the people I wanted to see,” he muttered, walking towards them.
A few of them looked like young people, but it was hard to make out from the distance. Judging from their distant cackles and flailing arms, they enjoyed this sort of thing. He noticed the woman, her hair brightly red, right in the middle of them.
“How could they do this?” he thought. A bunch of adolescents, killing innocent people. They had no idea what they were doing. Nothing more could ever motivate him from punishing them.
Ree and Evee make it out of the gutter unhinged, until they reached the streets. They found themselves in the middle of soldiers and walkers. The idea of them clearing the walkers was comforting at first, but the impending threat of them killing people made them move.
They passed by two more blocks with the same scene, avoiding gunfire from the soldiers by carefully moving out of their line of sight. They were lucky for the time being, until they entered another street, a whole squad of soldiers doing a patrol.
Ree barely managed to hide; she found a building with an entrance for them to hide in, but the soldiers were already close. Her heart pounded against her chest like a loud drum; she was only a few beats away from fainting.
She knew it was only a matter of time, before they get executed. She looks to her niece, who was hiding just beside her, for seemingly the last time. She could hear their radio static-filled voices approaching. She looked to her left side for the worst.
A soldier comes into their view, freezing up as soon as they saw each other.
“Two!” it shouted; its gender was hard to distinguish due to its obstructed voice. It gets the attention of the squad.
“Stand clear!!” it shouted, in a commanding tone; Ree and Evee stop huddling and start standing apart from each other, terrified out of their wits.
“Put your hands above your hand and kneel down! Go!”
Tears start to fall from Ree’s eyes as she bends her knees down, while putting her hands up.
The soldier glances to its right for a second, then looks right back at them. “Just orders, guys.—“ The soldier starts to point its gun toward them, when a muffled tapping noise echoes to its far left, causing it to take cover.
Ree was forced to return back to her current position, judging from how the soldiers started shooting their own guns at the direction of the noise. All gunshot sounds in this road sounded like loud tapping noises.
Ree winced at every gunshot, confused at what was going to happen next; if the soldier won’t kill them, who will?
She closed her eyes as the gunshots erupted into a plethora of loud noises, wondering if her ears would blow up by now. She could only hope Evee did the same.
She had no idea how long it took; it seemed like an hour.
“Ree!” a distant voice echoed from her left.
“Ree…” She felt a hand tug her shoulder.
“Ree, it—it’s me—“ She opens her eyes, revealing a blurry image before her.
He was almost unrecognizable from the heavy uniform he wore. Other than that, he looked the same.
“Duane…?” She slowly caresses his cheek. “I—it’s really you—“
To his right was Julius and Patrick; Patrick looked eagerly at her while Julius scanned around him.
“Found them stuck in the alley when I was doing a quick patrol,” Duane says. “Turns out they’re nearby the truck. You guys ready to roll?”
He exchanges glances between Ree and Evee. “Yeah—yeah,” Ree says. Evee nods.
“Good; let’s go.”
Liam still had a comfortable distance away from them. He looked around for the walkers beside him; they were transferring their attention toward the crowd, just as he was.
He carefully sheathes his machete onto the back of his waist. He looked to his left, and then to his right; the walkers were limping ahead of him, unaware of his presence.
He lets them take form of a barrier at first, carefully stepping back to avoid nudging them. He started to add a little “walker motion” to his feet; lifeless, and limp. He hoped that the people didn’t suspect a thing.
He could make them out from behind the small opening of the walker crowd in front of him. He didn’t see any firearms on them. The man on the far right clutched a wooden bat.
“Holy shit!” one of them called; judging by how clear his volume was, Liam needed to act soon.
“They really followed us, didn’t they?” The two in the middle stop, looking at the clump. The others to their sides follow suit.
The redheaded woman pulls her arm up, a pistol in hand. She shoots at the walker to her front, piercing a hole to the back of its head. Liam managed to crouch down, out view.
“Damn—two in one?” a man called; his voice was much louder than before. He slowly starts to crawl, edging toward the feet of the walkers.
He carefully unsheathes his machete as he moved. The walkers just above him started fall down like dominos. He assumes a more crouched as soon as there were only three standing.
“Take it—take this one, Sammy—“ one of the men called, urging the bat wielder to take the walker standing in front. Sammy holds his pale wooden bat ready, his hands masked by the sleeves of his jacket. He does a dull swing at the walker, only making it flinch. Sammy prepares to swing again one more time, but a sharply ringing gunshot makes him flinch away.
“Holy fuck—what the hell!?” he complained. The redheaded woman held her pistol up beside him.
“You always take too long, Sammy,” she responds. “You gotta swing that shit harder!” She steps back to give him some space for the next one.
Sammy braces himself, then swings downward; the walker plops onto the cement almost comically. He looks to his crowd with a smile for their approval, then returns to the walker and proceeds to bash its head several more times. His friends start to chuckle at him collectively.
“Hahah—h-holy shit—lookie this one—“ one of them called, as Sammy trickled down his swings. The second-to-last walker seems to be looking down, away from them. His clothes weren’t bloodied, or even dirty for that matter; it looked fresh, and clean. And lastly, his skin was missing the poor coloring like the walker next to him had.
“Hey! Hey you—“ Sammy walks toward the conspicuous walker, confidently resting his bat on his shoulder. As he got closer, he prepares to swing sideways, hoping to put this walker down for good.
But Sammy was forced to stop; the “walker” drove his machete onto his stomach, the sound of slit flesh being much louder than usual.
The group behind him flinches, as they saw a small piece of metal poke through Sammy’s stomach, blood quickly clotting the back of his pale shirt. The group voiced their concerns differently, creating a collection of noises.
“Did that zombie have weapons!?”
“Sammy! What the hell—“
“Why the fuck are you walking back?!” The redheaded woman kept her pistol up, as Sammy started to trot back, slightly leaning toward them. She doesn’t hesitate and starts shooting at the wide target in front of him.
It was the only way Liam could get close, knowing that there was at least one of them with a gun. He caught a glance of the taller man beside her, too bewildered to do anything. “He’s not a walker!! He’s not a walker!!!” he suddenly exclaimed, upon further examination. In response, he starts to push Sammy back much faster.
He takes a look at his current predicament; a man to his left, with a pistol similar to the woman; the redheaded woman shooting at him right now; and the man to his right, the tallest one, clutching his weapon for dear life. He knew he only had a fraction of a minute to act freely.
He loosened his machete from Sammy’s stomach, and lunges him toward the woman, hoping that his weight will do its job. He catches a quick glimpse of the man to his far left, forced to deal with the walker they forgot to take down.
He then trots to his right, and does a quick slash to the tall man, forcing him to crash on the ground.
“G-get—him—“ The woman struggled to breathe as the heavy frame of Sammy rested on top of her. Her gun hand was unable to move, leaving her pistol just inches away from reach. “Too heav—get him—off—“ Those were the last words he hears before he slams his machete onto her forehead.
He takes some time to dig it out, then sets his eyes onto the other man with the gun. As soon as the man drove off the walker to the ground, Liam tackles him, causing the man to land on his back. Before Liam could do anything, the man points his pistol toward him, and shoots; he misses, causing the bullet to barely graze Liam’s shoulder. He struggles to keep his gun still, as Liam starts jogging toward him.
The man squints his left eye, and shoots, hoping for the best.
Liam feels the bullet impact the side of his stomach, but it didn’t stop him from moving. He kicks the gun off of the man’s hand, and drives the tip of his machete onto his chest. He takes it out once, then stabs him one more time. The second time caused him to land on his knee.
He was nearly out of breath. It felt like the fight was for one straight hour. He couldn’t weigh his feelings down; he couldn’t choose between feeling elated, or dismayed, after committing three murders.
He tugs his machete off the man, and turns around. He notices the tall man crawling for his life.
He walks over to him but stops halfway through, feeling the weight of his wound.
“Hey,” he called. “Stop crawling—it’s no use—“ The man didn’t stop, leaving a trail of blood on the cement. He was headed toward the sidewalk.
Liam pulls himself up and walks toward the man, stopping just beside him.
“Why did you kill—“ he stops to compose his breath, and to cool his burning wound down. “—kill the people in the day care?”
The man continues to crawl for a second. “W-we thought they’d f-fight back—“ he replies, his voice almost normal.
“C-can’t be too sure—“ The trail of blood he left became thicker and thicker.
“There were kids in there—y-you could’ve stopped th—“
“So easy to kill—“ the man interrupts. “They were so easy to kill—“
Liam stops to think, for a second. He then walks closer to the man and drives the tip of the machete onto his back.
Liam clutched the growing wound on his waist, as he limped back toward the day care. He almost crashes into the entrance, but quickly recovers by using the walls to his side as leverage.
“Elaine?” he called. No response.
He turns his head away from the row of blankets and sheets. “Elaine…” he continued to call, his volume now much weaker.
He stumbles onto the playroom, his hand on the wall barely keeping him up. He sees Elaine sitting, her head down on the table, resting on her two folded arms. A small, white bottle sat just in front of her.
“Elaine…?” He walks toward her tries to pull her up. She was completely limp; Liam was too weak to pull her up completely.
“Elaine!!” Liam’s struggle made him fall to the ground, pulling Elaine with him. He cradled her over his arms, precariously shaking her awake. Her face was sweaty, and ashen.
“No—you don’t go like this—“ Liam muttered, as a lone tear streamed from his eye.
Liam lets out a loud sigh. He continued to sit there, unable to find the correct reaction.
Elaine started to gasp; she breathes loudly for a second, and then quiets down.
“One dropped,” she weakly says, as her eyes slowly opened. “C-couldn’t—“
“Shhh,” Liam interrupts. “Don’t talk.” He sees a small, light-blue pill just a few feet from him.
Liam starts brushing Elaine’s hair.
“Did… you deal with them?” she asks. Liam could only nod his head.
She scans the room around with her semi-closed eyes.
“You’re hurt,” she mutters, seeing the bleeding spot on Liam’s stomach. He shakes his head.
The group had to move quickly, as there were more and more soldiers surrounding them. Duane was unable to reveal why he, too, was running from them, since he was too busy moving.
Every block, they would catch the attention of at least one soldier. Before they knew it, they were on the run from multiple squads. “Just keep running!” Duane exclaimed to the group.
After at least one more block, and a handful of walkers, a dark-green military truck started coming into view. Nobody, save for Evee, noticed the speeding jets just above them as they ran.
They could feel it; their impending escape, just some distance away. But before they could even reach it, something explodes behind them.
Julius was thrown onto the cement, loud, piercing screeches stinging his ears. Duane, Ree, and Evee managed to recover quickly. Patrick seemed to be struggling to get up.
“Run to the truck!” Duane exclaimed; Ree grabs and Evee and starts sprinting toward it. Duane then turns around, and starts shooting at the incoming squad of soldiers.
Ree and Evee managed to reach the truck; she assists Evee in getting to the backseat before they were interrupted by a few more soldiers a few feet from the truck’s front. Duane exchanged glances between Julius, and the truck behind him. They were more surrounded than he thought.
“Get out of here!” Patrick urges. “No time!!” He was back to his feet, the side of his forehead bleeding. He managed to find cover and started firing at the soldiers himself.
Duane runs toward the truck, quickly disposing the soldiers near it. He hops over to the driver’s seat and hastily starts the ignition. “Where’re Julius and Patrick?!” Ree asks, looking aghast. “Patrick’s holding off the soldiers; I—I don’t know about Julius…” Ree maintains her look.
Patrick keeps glancing behind him as he hid behind a wooden post, to see if the truck started to move. “Drive away, Duane!” he muttered, as he continued to shoot at the incoming soldiers. As soon as the truck started to move, he sees two more to its side, trying to stop them; he carefully aims at the soldiers and shoots.
He manages to catch their attention, enabling the truck to move at full speed.
Julius was able to crawl out of view, into the nearest gutter he could find. His body ached, and he still couldn’t hear a thing. He had no idea of the soldiers standing just a few feet away around him.
As soon as he reaches the gutter, he hides behind the side of a set of garbage cans. His loss of hearing was finally starting to subside.
He peeks through the opening of the gutter; at least two soldiers pointing their guns were in view. He was impatient to leave, mostly because he needed to catch up to the group.
They should have left by now. Or worse, they’ve been pinned down in the extraction point. He was anxious to check, but he had to wait for the soldiers to leave. He was wasting too much time.
He composed himself by doing a few deep breaths. He pulls out his bat, and tightly clutches it, feeling it on his hands.
“Three, two, one…”
He leaps up to his feet and starts running, out of the gutter. The soldiers from earlier were gone; they were replaced by a large crowd of walkers. He was made to stop, looking left and right; there were soldiers on one side, and walkers on the other.
He squints to the direction of the truck; it wasn’t there. What were the soldiers looking at? He circles past the crowd of walkers, trying to go to the opposite direction of the soldiers, so as to not get their attention.
Luckily, the walkers were in clumps, giving him some much needed leeway to freely sprint. He makes the nearest right after passing at least two clumps, into yet another block of walkers. This time, however, there were soldiers fighting them.
He hesitates to move forward, looking around for any other entry way. For some reason, there was a lack of gutters or alleyways in this block.
He runs toward the nearest building, and attempts to open it; but as expected, the door was locked. He tackles it open, and succeeds on the third try.
The building was just as dark as the deli’s. He sprints toward the end of it to search for an exit. After a minute in the darkness, he manages to find one.
The back of the building leads him to yet another backdoor, into a second building; there was no other way for him to go. He crashes the door open, and finds himself in the same darkness he was just in a minute earlier.
He jogs until he finds light, in the form of the building’s entrance. He surveys his left and right at first, to see if the way was clear; so far, there was nobody present.
He pushes the door open without struggle. A limping figure with an orange sweater was coming into view to his left.
“Patrick..?” he muttered. “Patrick!!”
“Hey! Y-you’re alive…” he replies. Julius runs toward him.
Patrick was in bad shape; aside for the cut on the side of his forehead dripping with blood, he clutched something bleeding on his waist. “This… this sucks,” he sighs.
“Did they manage to leave?” Julius asks. Patrick nods his head. “Y-you gotta get out of here… s-soldiers everywhere…”
“C’mon then,” Julius replies, walking to his side and wrapping his arm around his shoulder.
“No—no no no—“ Patrick pulls his arm away. “ You are getting out of here.” Patrick drops his rifle and stretches his left arm in plain view of Julius. He unfolds his sleeve, revealing a dark-red scar in the shape of a half-oval.
“Didn’t realize it happen during the commotion in the alley—“ he says, a half-hearted smirk forming his face. “Figured I’d make myself useful up to this point—“
A few soldiers were starting to come into view at the distance ahead of them. “Get out of here,” Patrick says, his tone a bit hushed. “Place is crawling with military—go!”
Julius starts to look around him for possible routes; he sets his eyes on the one-floor house to his left. “Y-you don’t have to do this,” he tells Patrick, who was picking up his gun.
He shakes his head. “No—it doesn’t matter. I… I’m dead either way. You, though—you can still get out of here. This place is crawling with th—“ Gunshots from the soldiers make them crouch down. “Go!!” he whispers.
Julius runs toward the house, hopping over the fence. He looks at Patrick one last time before busting the door open.