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Issue 5 - Separate WaysEdit
"Well, Julius... me and Bowen are evacuating the city. We're driving somewhere else, since the news pretty much told use all of the traffic zones."
"We're driving up north, to my parents. Long drive," Bowen adds.
Julius takes a moment to come up with an answer.
"W-well... I'm going to my parents' house."
Mathis and Bowen look at him for further words. Instead, Julius just looks at them.
"How far are they from here?" asks Mathis.
"About ten, fifteen miles. Definitely need a car."
Mathis and Bowen look at Julius at first, then to each other.
"We can't really take any chances. We've wasted enough time already," Mathis says.
Bowen places his hand on Julius's shoulder. "Their neighborhood might be swarmed. I think it's best if you come with us."
Julius looks at Bowen, thinking if he should really change his plans.
He surely can't let his sister down. Not this much.
"They're my parents. Doesn't hurt to check."
Bowen places her hand down.
"I got this. I can take care of mys--"
"Guys." Graham interrupts, as he was looking at them with a concerned look.
He motions the three to look with him in the window. Mathis, then Julius, then Bowen walk up to it.
"We call 'em walkers for a reason, right? This one's runnin'..."
Julius could see a shadowy figure sprinting toward the building. It came from the right side, judging from the right angle it was running in.
Mathis pulls out a handgun from the back of his pocket. "Ready up. We're letting him in."
Mathis and Graham run toward the entrance, while Julius rushes to the table where he set his backpack. He grabs the metal bat that was resting beside it.
Julius then joins Mathis, who followed Graham closely behind as he passes the metal detectors. They step foot into the dark exterior, getting ready to unlock the entrance.
Graham jiggles his keys as he attempts to unlock it. They could all see the shadowy figure tirelessly run upstairs through the glass of the doors.
Graham then rests his hand on the entrance door's handle, looking at Mathis and Julius to wait for the signal to open it. Mathis had both his hands on his gun, while Julius is on his swinging stance.
The figure stops at first, clearly seeing the trio of people waiting on the other side. It then knocks on the glass repeatedly, as if it was being chased by something. Julius checked; there was nobody.
"What do you think?" Mathis asks, looking at Graham, then to Julius.
Graham was slightly shaking from the glass being knocked beside him. "Well, she hasn't pulled a gun out yet. Can't even see a weapon on her."
"Her?" Julius asks.
"Yep." Graham turns to the figure to try to confirm it.
"Open it up," Mathis tells him. Graham pulls open the door. Mathis and Julius walk back to make space.
The figure, still shrouded by mystery, rushes in, then bends down to catch its breath. It then looks up.
"The hell took you guys so long?" It was a woman's voice. Graham was correct.
"We didn't want to take any chances. We're sorry," Mathis replies.
The young woman was heavily breathing, as she assumed a straighter posture.
The voice sounded somewhat familiar to Julius. It's like he heard it before on a regular basis. But it was too soon to judge, he thought.
Mathis looks over to Graham, who was re-locking the door. He then looks at the woman.
"We're the only ones here. C'mon."
He gestures for everyone to go into the the lit area near them.
Julius walks along with them, then notices something. The woman was looking at him.
He pauses for a brief moment, wondering why. "What's up?" he asks. He was growing more and more curious as to how the woman looked.
"I... it's nothing. Just that, you remind me of someone."
"Well if you want a clearer view of me, let's go where there's light," Julius replies, pointing toward the inner library.
Julius then walks forward, passing the metal detectors. It just came to him now that they were off, since they haven't been alarming all this time.
It seemed forever when he stood in the dark. The brightness of the lights made him squint his eyes briefly.
He turns around, finally to see the woman.
His heart stops, then resumes beating, quickly this time.
"Alice!?" Julius exclaims, a tone of surprise in his voice.
The woman pauses, starting to look just as surprised as him.
They both rush toward each other, with Julius jumping on her arms. They hug tightly for a moment.
"I-I can't believe--Alice, it's been ages--"
Julius couldn't be more surprised. Here he was, face to face with the first girlfriend he's ever had. His high school sweetheart.
She wore a ruby hooded jacket, jeans, and brown buckle boots. Aside for her braided dark hair, she looked the same as he remembered her.
"Julius, i-it's really you..." Alice finally says, snapping Julius out from his amazement. She was looking at him, her expression giving him a distinct feeling of surprise.
"Yeah. You were the last person I was expecting through that door. Actually, I didn't even think of..."
Mathis walks up to their side, looking at them one at a time.
Mathis turns to Alice.
"You were running. What led you here?"
Alice looks at him, her smile suddenly dropping for a more serious expression.
"A bunch of those... walkers. I don't know how far I left them. I haven't been looking back..."
She brushes hair away from her foehead.
"Well, we ran from a whole group of them too. It's how we found Julius."
Mathis looks at him for a while, then to Alice.
"Speak o' the devil..."
Graham, who was looking through the window, saw something that gave a familiar feeling to Mathis and Julius. They both run up to the window to see it with him.
A few walkers have wandered through the parking lot, being followed by even more on the left side.
"They're all here."
Mathis looks at Bowen, who quickly takes it as a cue to pack her stuff. Julius turns to Bowen, then quickly runs up to the table where his backpack and duffel bag sat.
"I ain't stayin' round for this. We're closin' shop, guys," Graham says, dropping the blinds on the window. He then unholsters his pistol.
Julius strapped his backpack and grabbed his duffel bag, strapping it on his shoulder. He turns to Alice, who looked as if she wanted to keep resting.
"You alright?" he asks. Alice, who was looking at the others, turns to him.
"Y-yeah. Yeah, I'm fine," she replies, her voice somewhat shakey. "I can carry that for you."
Julius looks at his duffel bag. "No, no... it's--"
Alice insists anyway, as she grabs it from Julius's shoulder. He looks at her as if to express his gratitude.
Mathis then walks up to Julius's side, grabbing his shoulder.
"Hey. I know you don't want to come with us. But I'm not settled with you walking."
Bowen walks through the metal detectors, as seen by Julius.
"I'll drive you near a car. Know how to hotwire?"
"I do," Alice replies. Mathis turns to her.
"I can come with him."
Mathis pats Julius's shoulder. "Then it's a plan. Let's go."
Julius processes it for a second, then follows Mathis. Graham was standing near the librarian's booth, looking around the room.
The whole group was waiting in front of the clear glass entrance door, as more and more walkers came into view from the distance.
Mathis was holding the door's handle, while Bowen was right behind him. Julius was holding his bat, as he was standing next to Alice, who was looking at the door. Graham was right behind them, as he closed all of the lights in the library. The only light source was from the lights from the outside, which dimly lit the inside of the entrance.
"Everybody ready?" Mathis asks, looking right behind him.
"Stay close, and don't tear off. Kill it if it gets near."
Mathis grasps the entrance door tightly, as he was getting ready to push.
Mathis pushes open the entrance wide open. The group jogs down to the stairs, as they get ready to fight.
"Keep it tight!" Mathis shouts.
The walkers haven't completely accumulated yet, but there was a growing number in the parking lot. But things started to change, as they noticed a huge crowd to their right...
"Oh, shit..." Alice calls, as another acknowledgement for the walkers she ran from earlier. The whole group turns around to look.
The horde made up a wall, quickly moving toward the group. Julius swings at a walker that was a few feet in front of them.
"Hurry up!" shouted Mathis. They were running toward a station wagon, in which one walker was standing nearby. Bowen runs toward it and pushes it aside, forcing it to land on the ground.
Mathis quickly rushes to open the car manually, while Alice and Julius wait right behind him, also acting as lookouts.
"Where's Graham!?" Julius shouts, as he switches from the incoming horde and the empty areas. Mathis turns around briefly, then looks back at the car. He then opens the driver's door. "Get in!" he tells to Bowen, who was trying to keep the walker she knocked down at bay. She quickly jumps in, crawling into the passenger seat. Mathis then follows shortly after.
Alice opens the backseat door and quickly hops in. She scoots to make room for Julius, who was looking at the incoming wall of walkers.
"How the hell are we getting past them!?" Julius asks, as he rushes to close the car door, as if he didn't want to do anything with the horde.
"Where's Graham..!?" Mathis replies instead, slightly ticking off Julius as he didn't receive an answer from earlier.
He cooly looks up the front mirror, reversing the car as he went along.
"That son of a bitch."
Mathis, and the rest of the group, come into view as they see Graham, shooting his gun as a last line of defense against the horde. The horde has shifted their complete attention to him, only leaving walkers that had teared off to be focused on the car.
Graham was speedily walking toward the library entrance, as if he had all the time in the world.
"Dammit!" shouted Mathis, as he slams on the steering wheel, careful not to hit the horn. He then makes a complete turn toward the street to where the horde came from, and quickly speeds off.
The car drive was silent the whole time. Each of them looked at their respective windows, with only Mathis looking forward to the road. The sky started to turn into a lighter gray, signifying the arrival of morning.
They pass by the empty streets, as chaos already passed by and made its damage. It was quiet, but you can clearly see an eerie sign of abandonment that made at least everyone uneasy. Especially Julius.
"He would've wanted us to keep living," Mathis finally says out loud. It was the first line uttered in the car since the sky was still dark.
"Never got to show me how to shoot my gun..."
Julius looks into the distance. He was thinking of how Graham survived. "There's a secret exit in the library we didn't know about," he tells himself in his head. "He didn't show it to us, since he didn't want to worry..."
He wanted positive thoughts, just to remove his mind from the imagery of Graham being torn apart to nothingness. The view of his window seemed to put him at ease; something about the early day's light gave him a familiar feeling.
This feeling he'd have, when he decided to stay up late to cram, or when he got too hooked in his video games, or a good book. An insult to his life, he thought, since he was just wasting it by going to sleep. Eight hours down the drain? Not if he made good time with it.
Was being a periodical insomniac good? It was, during this time.
He snaps into reality when he remembers that Alice was some inches away from him, probably staring off into oblivion on her own. That, and the view of cars parked in curbs.
"Huge selection Julius," Mathis announces, as he starts to slow down. "Make a quick pick."
"Stop the car," Julius requests. Mathis comes to a complete halt. Julius opens the door, and steps out.
He surveys the cars parked in the curbs. All of them, parked here, as if it was just for him.
He walks further into the street full of cars, as he starts hearing car doors opening and closing right behind him.
He could feel the sweet morning air, that kind that you get very early in the morning. Though lacking sleep, he was relaxed.
He continues to walk, until he sees a few cars parked on a curb, in which a blank landscape stood on the other side. He looks at the small car, in between two bigger ones. He touches the car door handle, and pulls it; it was left there, open, unlocked. He pops his head inside for a quick inspection.
He smells that car smell, the one when you know that it was pre-owned. The owners didn't bother to deodorize it, since they know nobody will be owning it for a while. The smell was unfamiliar, but Julius got used to it quickly.
"This one," he tells his companions, who were closely following him. He leaves the car door open as he walks to the curb, to look at the landscape.
It was a park, one he was familiar with but never visited too often. There were trees standing here and there, but not enough to create a huge shade. From a distance, the landscape becomes uneven, creating small hills and inclines. More trees stood, scattered in the same fashion as the other trees. He tries to look at the whole view, from left to right.
He squints his eyes at some movement. At a very far distance, he could see people walking. For a quick while, he thought it was some people at a picnic. But reality soon snaps back. It was a gathering of walkers.
Julius was baffled; why are they gathered there? Was it for the last picnic of their life, or... was it from panic? He stops questioning it, as he hears an engine starting behind him.
"Should be paying attention Julius," Mathis exclaims right behind him. "Alice is like a mechanic."
"It's easy once you do it a few times," she replies. Julius turns back, mostly so that he can take his eyes away from the cruel sight of walkers.
He walks over to the trio, who were talking.
"Well, I've held up my promise." Mathis looks at Julius, and pats his shoulder. "Was nice seeing you again, classmate."
Julius smiles. "Likewise."
He turns to Bowen, who was hugging Alice. Though they barely knew each other, they looked as if they were friends saying their goodbyes. Julius then approaches Bowen, since it was his turn to hug her.
"Good luck, Julius." She pats his back.
"Don't let go of her. Hold on to her." Julius and Bowen stop hugging, to look each other face to face.
"Alright?" Bowen adds. Julius nods.
The pair stand nearby their car, as they look at Bowen and Mathis walk toward theirs.
"I want to see you again," Mathis turns back and says to them. He then waves one last time and enters the front seat.
The station then drives off, to the left of Julius and Alice. Mathis and Bowen's hands are hanging up in their windows.
Julius then turns to Alice, who was waiting near the hood of the car, looking at the landscape.
"You deserve to drive. You hotwired it."
Alice turns to him.
"Nah. Too tired. You go ahead."