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Issue 4 - MeetingEdit
Julius quickly stepped into the dark garage room, not bothering to open the lights as it all felt familiar. He quickly rushed to the door leading to the back yard, which was a short distance to his left.
The dim lights from outside slightly lit the dark garage inside as Julius opened the door. There, he quickly opened the wooden yard door leading to the outside of the house, which was just a few feet to his right as he exited the garage.
The yard door was rickety, and old; he he had to shake it a few times just to keep it standing, as it was too misaligned for it to be properly opened. This created a small racket that worried him a bit.
After a few attempts to align the door, he quickly pulled it toward him and darted outside. He rushed to his uncle's car, which was parked to his right. There were already a few walkers standing around it, catching wind of Julius's presence right away. It was too risky, he thought. Julius pocketed the car keys, and ran down the incline toward the street.
As he was leaving, he looked back at his uncle's house, probably for the last time. There were walkers too many to count, gathering at the front door. The window's glass was already completely shattered.
"Where did they all come from?" Julius asked himself, as he was walking back. In what seemed like ten minutes ago, the whole street was empty. Now, it was infested with walkers.
He tightly grasped his bat, just to be prepared. He started to run down the road, away from his uncle's house.
He focused on going to the other end of the neighborhood, which he believed shouldn't be too far. The duffel bag full of packaged food he carried weighed him down a bit, but he knew what this will do for him later. He continued to run forward, noticing the decline of walkers in his path. This made him think of "walker hot-spots", or areas where there would be swarms of them running. He continued to move, hoping not to run into any of these paths.
Eventually, he found himself running in a street with only two walkers. He stopped jogging, and resumed walking, to catch his breath. He pulled up the strap of his duffel bag, and scanned his surroundings. The next left turn seemed to look clear. He walked as quickly as he could, not hoping to spend any more time in this place.
As he made the left turn, he quickly glimpsed a hooded figure lit by the dim street lights, walking toward him. The figure had its hands stuffed in its jacket pockets. For some reason, Julius didn't feel right around this person.
As Julius looked at the figure, it stopped. The two were face to face for a quick moment, as if they were observing each other; Julius standing on the road, and the figure on the sidewalk. Finally, the figure pulls out its hands. The right hand had a firearm pointed at Julius.
He quickly ducked on the nearby car parked on the curb to his right. Shots were fired. The car's windowglass shattered.
"Come out! I-I ain't tryin'a hurt ya!"
It was a man's voice. The shakiness and volume worried Julius deeply; this man has given up on everyone else.
He could hear grinding on the cement, and some distant mutters. Julius's heart pumped, because in a few minutes, he'll be forced to do something he doesn't want to do.
He had his bat ready. "Tackle, then hit.... tackle, then hit..." he whispered to himself, repeatedly. But just then, he heard the groan of a different voice. Julius edges toward the hood of the car quickly, so that he could glimpse what was happening.
The man was trying to subdue a walker that has grabbed his arm. A small trail of rising smoke from the ground indicates that he dropped his gun.
This was his chance. Julius slowly edged to his left, then started running. He knew his footsteps were loud, but he hoped the man had no bullets.
He looked back as he ran.
"HEY!" shouted the man. He could see another walker to the hooded man's left, slowly edging toward him. "It was right for me to leave," Julius thought. "He had to die another way."
Julius turned to his front, not wanting to see any more of the hooded man.
He continued to move, as the surroundings became more familiar to him; he was nearby the road to the exit gate of the neighborhood. He remembered taking this road everytime he crashes at his uncle's. Then, he remembered his uncle...
Julius stopped running at the sight in front of him. Walkers, all over the road. He knew this exit wouldn't be so easy to traverse.
He prepared his bat, as he was getting sick of dodging these things. "If I have to pave a way," he told himself, as a quick form of prep-talk, "then so fucking be it."
Julius moved differently. He was careful, even though most of the walkers had their eyes on him. Julius swung at the first walker he approached, quickly planting it on the ground. What rush he felt.
Just after a few steps, he swung again. The walker, who was facing him this time, landed the same way as the walker from earlier. Julius had a feeling like he was playing a very violent video game.
But things became more serious. The walkers were focused on Julius, as they started moving toward him. He felt as if walls were closing in on him, crushing him. For a second, Julius almost had a panic attack.
He catches his breath, and refused to be crushed by this wall; he sets his bat aside, and starts running. "Why are they moving so fast?" he asks himself. They've amassed to a whole horde behind him, their collective breaths blowing behind Julius's neck.
It made him move faster, and faster. Luckily, the gate to the exit was open. He ran through it, hoping that it was all good news for the left turn he was about to make.
He saw an orb of light, shining brightly on his eyes. It made him cover his eyes a bit, as the orb was quickly moving. Perhaps a ghost that was willing to help him?
No. Upon further view, there were two shadowy figures, barely visible by the orange street lights. People.
"Run!" Julius shouted. He glimpsed the two figures looking behind him, and started running with him. The first thought on Julius's head was how it'll be weird recalling how he first met these people. So mundane. Julius shook his head to ignore this thought, and resumed to his "want to live" mindset.
Julius grew from one person running to three. He started to feel a bit fatigued as the pair ran ahead of him. He could see the man to his left wearing a thick jacket, and the man on his right wearing an olive-green collared fleece. The thick jacket man was holding the flashlight.
"How the hell're we goin' to leave them!?" asked the thick jacket man, his voice sounding gruff.
"Sure as hell not going to run further; we make for the blockade," the other man replied, his voice younger. Blockade? Nothing came to view of Julius, but a clear road, and some cars parked on the side.
They ran, for what seemed like eternity. After turning through a long curve, they start to slow down. He couldn't feel their breaths anymore. And there surely wasn't any moaning, also.
"Get ready to stop..." said the older man. As they started slowing down, Julius could see the flash light pointed on the blockade, a few walkers walking around it.
Julius finally stopped running, hoping to finally rest. He was sure that the flesh-eating mob was way behind him, but something tells him that it's more important to rest first. He looks down on the road, regaining his breath, hands on his knees. He then looks up to the pair, who were already engaging the walkers near the blockade. A single walker was limping toward Julius.
He unstraps his duffel bag, holds the straps tightly with both his hands, and swings it at the walker. It was heavier than he thought; the walker was quickly pushed on its back.
"Leave it!" shouted the young man. "We don't have much time."
Julius hops over the stunned walker, hoping to meet the pair, who, in some way, took down the other two walkers.
As he edged closer to the blockade, could see a vintage Ford Browning parked on its side, mostly blocking the road. Another car was forced on its front, its front wheels hanging on top of the sidewalks. Its front was crushed by the cement wall it rested on; it was under a bridge, after all. Another car was parked on the other side, placed in the middle. It didn't seem much of a blockade.
"I hated that piece o' crap, anyway," said the older man, who was already at the other side. He was looking at the vintage car.
Julius tried to slide on top of the hood of the Ford, but instead stopped halfway. He skips over the second car, and ends up on top of it, quickly jumping down to the ground. The men resume moving, jogging this time.
"Well, I think that's that," says the young man to the older one. Julius was sure he glimpsed the man's security guard uniform.
"You're the last we're rescuing."
Julius looked at him. "Last...?"
"Survivor. We were hoping to find more, but it's too dangerous now."
"I'm Mathis, by the way."
Julius recalls the name, as if he's heard it in one of his classes before. Could he be the same person?
"Officer Graham," the man right next to Mathis says. Julius was right about him being a security officer.
Mathis looks at him briefly. "Julius? I knew I've seen you from somewhere." He maintains looking at Julius, who was a bit confused.
"Oh, right. We barely talked. I've taken two classes with you."
Julius was right about hearing the name, but for some reason, he never looked at the person who had it. He was just looking at something else everytime his professors took role.
"I'm sorry... I don't really talk to many people in my class."
"It's fine. Of all the people I'd find... heh, this is some kind of apocalypse."
They continued to jog, with the surroundings becoming more and more familiar to Julius.
After passing by numerous orange-lit street lights, some empty cars, and more paper flying the streets, they finally arrived at a medium-sized parking lot, with a one-floor building shielded by a few trees. It was one of the libraries in the college, one Julius visited less frequently.
"Here we are. Gotta make the best of it while there aren't any of those walkers yet..." Mathis speeds up his pace, leaving Julius and Officer Graham walking side by side.
"Hmm.... you do look awful familiar, kid," says Graham to Julius. "I don't know. I see a lot o' regulars here."
There were at least three parked cars on the library. He didn't know which car Mathis owned.
He also couldn't get used to seeing the library at night, since he always left as the afternoon ended. That, or it was because miles away, somebody was getting eaten...
He was only a few feet from Mathis, who opens and holds the entrance for them. The room was dark at first, but it got brighter as they got past the metal detectors.
The library itself had all of its lights lit. Everything seemed to look normal, but just really empty.
Once they got past the librarian's booth, he saw a woman sitting on a seat, her back turned to them, watching a television set placed on a TV cart he would typically see in schools.
Mathis walks over to the seated woman, who seemed surprised at first, but was quickly at ease when she looks up to him. Then, she turns to Julius.
Her eyes marks of washed eyeliner. It was somehow comforting, but maybe it was because of the quiet surroundings around him.
She then quickly turns at the television set, which was where all of the attention was set.
There was footage of the City, where numerous clips of S.W.A.T and police trying to "calm" the situation. Shakey camera, blurry images. Armored personel shooting at walkers. Footage of a running cameraman trying to keep up with the reporter. Burning streets, cars.... buildings. Order crumbling. People dying.
Julius recalls days when he watched raw footage of riots taking place miles away from him. He always thought he was so safe, settled at the idea that it wasn't happening near him. Then, he'd recall news of the plague, and how it swallowed other cities. A little bit closer, but still not close enough.
But now, this. News footage of riots, and death... happening at that very moment, in the same city he stood in.
Julius grasped his forehead. He was sure he was going to cry, but he just couldn't. Something tells him that he's a part of this riot.
And soon enough, everything returned to reality. The television was already off. Mathis and the woman were talking, with Mathis glancing Julius. Graham wasn't in sight.
"Julius," Mathis asks, calling for him. Julius walks toward the pair.
"This is Bowen, by the way. My fiance."
Julius looks over to Bowen, who seemed to have fresh tears that were just wiped away. She looked as if she still felt cold, even if she was wearing her brown hooded jacket. He nods to acknowledge the introduction.
"I'm sorry about this..." she tells Julius. "Haven't had time to cry since this morning..."
She wipes away more of her tears, then looks to Mathis.
"Well... take it easy for a bit," Mathis says to Julius. "I'll discuss our plans soon."
Julius nods, then walks off. He turns back, glimpses the entrance for a moment, then starts to look around.
He calculates that it's been almost a week since he visited this library. Everything seemed to be intact, except for papers scattered on the floor and books dropped here and there. The place still smells the same.
It was just then that he noticed the quiet music playing the background. It sounded familiar, but it was too low for him to guess it.
"You alright?" a familiar voice asks. It was Graham, who suddenly appears walking through a section of books.
"Been lookin' down since we were watchin' the TV."
Julius slightly nods his head. "Yeah, yep... I'm fine. It's just that this .... end-of-the-world business hasn't really kicked in my head completely."
Graham walks over to the windows, covered by blinds. He peeks through one of the windows.
"When I heard the plague came to town, I knew shit was over."
He looks at Julius briefly, then back to the sliver.
"Had my son leave. Don't know where he is. W-well, just a day ago I was forced to wrestle a professor, who was tryin'a bite some students and staff in here... heheh..."
Graham smiled, as he pulls up the blinds. "I'mma keep watch, y'all discuss what's next."
He looks at Julius, then to the distance. Julius looks with him.
He could see Mathis standing, and Bowen sitting on the table. He walks over to them.
"So, you ready?" Mathis asks, as Julius entered.
"Yeah. What's the plan?"