This is Issue #18 of Dead Frontier by Walkerbait22, titled Miracles. This is the last issue of Volume 3.
Issue 18 - MiraclesEdit
"I got some crutches for you, kid," Randy says. He walks towards Cole with the crutches, and Cole takes them from the older man. With some trouble, he is able to balance himself on the crutches, and practices walking with them throughout the house.
"How do they feel?" Randy asks.
"And, um, I don't want to sound pushy or anything, but when do you think you can head back to that motel of yours? Not that I don't enjoy you and Billie's company; it's just that we can't afford to feed two more people. I, um, hope you understand."
"Of course, Randy. I'll get out of your hair as soon as possible, if you'd be willing to provide us some gas for that car?"
"I think I could do that." Randy smiles and pats Cole on the shoulder in a friendly gesture.
Billie trots down the stairs and smiles when she sees Cole. "Look at the cripple!" she jokes.
"That's not funny," Cole says.
"Lighten up; I'm just joking. Seriously, though, it's good to see you back on your feet. Maybe we can leave sooner than I thought."
Early the next morning, Billie wakes Cole with a rough shake to the shoulder. “Pruitt, wake up.” He just groans and rolls over in annoyance. She replies by throwing a pile of clothes onto his face. “Get dressed.” Eventually, Cole musters the energy to rise from the couch and heads into one of the back rooms to change. He sets his crutches against the wall of the mostly-empty room and sits on the bed. The old mattress sinks under his weight, and he begins the arduous process of getting dressed.
As he pulls on a clean pair of pants, Cole looks out the lone small window in the room. All that’s visible is the amazingly green grass of the Evans residence that looks like it goes on forever. At first, this peaceful image incites a feeling of warmness in him, but soon, he actually feels angry. It’s just a facade, he thinks. Go beyond that sheet of grass and death dominates everything.
But, how did death come to take over the world? It’s a question that has lingered in Cole’s mind for days, but until now, he hasn’t put much thought into what the answer could be. The fury of God? No. What kind of God would inflict this unimaginable horror on the people he created? Maybe it’s just a freak virus that spread like wildfire, and he was lucky enough to avoid infection.
He, of all people, managed to avoid infection, and he wonders why. Unspectacular, underachieving Cole Pruitt. Maybe this is what the world needs to be like, the dead on the verge of taking over the world, for him to do something worthwhile.
Cole shakes his head to erase the thoughts from his mind. Since when is he philosophical? He takes one last long look at the unending sea of grass and pulls on the clean shirt Billie gave him. He grabs his crutches and leaves the room, ready to leave this safe haven and head back to the motel.
Cole embraces Randy Evans as they stand by the car he and Billie are to take back to what’s left of the motel survivors. “Thank you so much,” Cole says, patting Randy on the back.
“It was my pleasure helping you two,” Randy replies with a smile. “You all be safe out there; I don’t have to tell you how dangerous it is.”
Cole breaks away from Randy and gives Rita a kiss on the cheek, the woman who he truly believes is the reason he hasn’t perished from a terrible infection in his leg. “I wish I could give you something,” Cole says. “For saving my life. You are an angel sent from heaven, Rita.”
“Oh, no, I’m nothing like that,” Rita says with an embarrassed smile. “I’m just doing what the Lord would have wanted, to help people in need. You two be safe out there.” She plants a kiss on Cole’s cheek and squeezes his shoulders.
Billie and Luke stand on the Evans porch, a good distance away from the others. “So,” Luke starts. He feels an unusual sunken feeling in his gut at saying goodbye to Billie. He even wants to kick himself for feeling any kind of emotion for this girl he’s known for just one day. “I guess this is goodbye.”
“Guess so,” Billie says. “Thanks for the beans.”
Luke laughs, looking down at his shoes. “My pleasure.”
There is a long, solemn pause between them, until Billie says, “I’m pretty sure Cole’s waiting for me.” She takes a few steps forward and rises to her tip-toes, planting a kiss on Luke’s cheek. He feels his face get warm, but there’s nothing he can do about it. He just smiles and gives a weak wave as she walks down the step towards the car.
“Stay safe!” he calls out with his hands cupped around his mouth. Billie turns and gives him a thumbs up. As she hugs and thanks Randy and Rita, she makes a note to live by the moral code of these three wonderful strangers: the world is filled with death, but that doesn’t mean you have to live without a soul.
After a little more than an hour of driving, Billie and Cole see the familiar streets that lead up to the motel. After a few turns and a couple of swerves to dodge wandering infected, the large Super 8 sign then comes into view. Then the parking lot, which is mostly empty, is clearly visible. John is the only survivor lurking in the parking lot at this early hour, wiping down a car with a dirty rag. That’s the old man’s way of keeping some semblance of the world before it was destroyed.
John halts wiping down the car when he sees a vehicle approaching the motel. He lifts his hand to shield his eyes from the sun and pulls his pistol out of its holster. John is smart enough to know the dangers of the living in this day and age.
The mysterious vehicle comes to a stop, and to John’s delight, he sees Billie emerge from the passenger’s seat. She moves around to the other side of the car and assists a younger man with crutches. John realizes it’s that new boy, Cole, and puts his gun away.
“John,” Billie says as she gives the frail man a hug.
“Billie Starr,” John says with a chuckle. “I knew you were a tough girl, but I was sure you hadn’t made it. The others told me what happened, and to be honest, I’d lost hope. I was sure you two were dead.”
Billie breaks away from the hug and stares at John. “The others? They made it back?” She can feel her heart rate speed up with the waves of joy that suddenly hit her when she hears the news.
“What?” Cole says. “They made it back? All of them?”
"Except for Dommy. He was scratched, and went on one last trip with Adam and that Gord guy to find his family. Didn't make it back. But the fact that most of them did? That's a miracle, I’m telling you.”
Micah emerges from one of the motel rooms, rubbing his eyes. “John, are you senile? Who the hell are you talking--” He looks up and sees Cole, instantly running to his best friend and, noticing his injury, carefully pulls him into a hug. “Holy fuck, man.” Micah’s eyes sting with tears. “I...we all thought you were dead. What the hell happened to you?”
“Fucked my leg up pretty bad.” Cole feels his eyes begin to sting, too. He sits on the hood of the car and wipes his eyes, quickly retelling the events that separated him from the survivors, and about the Evans family. Cole can see John and Billie banging on the doors of the other motel rooms to inform everyone else of she and Cole’s unlikely arrival.
“They just...took you in?” Micah asks.
“Yeah. We’re so lucky we found them. Would’ve been dead otherwise.”
“Cole?!” Cole hears the familiar voice and looks up to see Hannah walking towards him apprehensively. Is she seeing right? By some miracle he made it back after being surrounded by hungry corpses? She breaks into a jog and hugs Cole as he still sits on the hood of the car. Micah moves out of the way and smiles at them. Conversely, Mick stands farther away with a scowl. For some reason, he can never seem to get rid of Cole Pruitt.