This is Issue #22 of Dead Frontier by Walkerbait22, titled Go On. This is the fourth issue in Volume 4.
Issue 22 - Go OnEdit
"We heard screaming," Mercer says when he sees Dwight hurrying out of the Walmart.
"Is everything okay?" Mary asks, her hand clutching her chest.
"Everything's fine, Ms. West," Dwight reassures her. He reaches into the trunk of one of the cars for Melody's bag of medical supplies. He slams the trunk shut and continues explaining. "Looks clear of any infected, but we found a guy in there with a gunshot wound."
"And he's not dangerous?" Adam asks.
"No clue. He doesn't look too scary. But you never know." Dwight jogs back into the store, with Adam, Mercer, and Mary behind him. Cole has been putting too much stress on his still-injured leg, so he decides to wait this one out. He leans his head against the passenger side window and stares into nothingness.
Dwight throws the bag to Melody. She rips it open and begins pulling out God-knows-what. She was a paramedic before the outbreak, so everyone sits back and lets her take care of Finn.
"Could you lie on your back for me, please?" Melody asks Finn. He complies and slowly and painfully changes positions. Melody lifts his shirt and examines the wound. She breathes a sigh of relief.
"How's it look?" Adam asks.
"Not too bad. The bullet looks to be from a pretty small gun. Maybe a .22 caliber pistol. Not too much bleeding, either. He'll live." She begins to do what she can to help Finn, and everyone else sits back and watches.
Awhile later, Finn is sitting up with gauze wrapped around his abdomen. He looks exhausted; his skin is pale and his eyelid still droop. "Everything feel okay?" Melody asks.
Finn manages to give her a weak smile and a thumbs up. Mercer jokingly starts a slow clap at Melody's work, and this makes everyone genuinely laugh.
"...Thanks," Finn croaks out.
Adam reaches into his backpack and pulls out a small pillow. He gently places it under the injured man’s lower back. "There you go, man," Adam says and Finn gives him a grateful smile.
"Who the hell... are you people?" Finn asks.
"We were holed up at the big Super 8 motel," Billie says. "Long story short, it got overrun. Decided we could stay here for a little while."
"I don't...really think that's the best idea. I tried hiding out here...and you see what happened to me. This place is a fucking gold mine for bandits."
"He's right," Mercer says.
"Maybe he is, but we just saw four fucking people die today," Dwight says. "So we're just going to stay here for a day or two and compose ourselves."
"You think we can take that risk?" Billie asks.
"I said we're going to stay here, and that's it."
"So suddenly you're the leader?"
"Someone needs to make the decisions, so why not? Look, I'm not arguing, so please just get the rest of our stuff in here so we can sleep for the night."
They set up makeshift beds of blankets and pillows in a big open area in the back of the store. After rummaging Walmart for food, they take what they've found and what they brought from the motel and set it in the middle. Everyone picks something to eat and digs in.
"So. Finn," Gord says, taking a bite out of a granola bar. "What were you doing here?"
"Hiding. Looking for food," Finn says. "I had a couple of things but thought I might as well stock up. Then bandits showed up and you know the rest."
"You're lucky they didn't do you worse. People are ruthless nowadays."
"Some of them are worse than these fucking dead people," Mercer mutters, then Mary whacks him on the head.
"Watch your mouth," she scolds, and everyone snickers as Mercer rubs his head.
"What did a young guy like you do before the outbreak?" Dwight asks.
"I was a student UIC. Was going to graduate this year, too."
"You went to UIC, too?" Billie perks up, then she squints her eyes, observing Finn. "Wait, wait. I think I recognize you! It's hard to forget a face like yours."
"What the hell is wrong with my face?" Finn asks, with mock hurt in his voice.
"Nothing, nothing! It's just...eye catching."
"Oh my God," Melody groans. "Finn, she's saying you're hot." She gives him a gentle nudge with her elbow, minding his gunshot wound.
"I'm sitting right here, Mel," Mercer says.
"Okay, if the ladies could stop wetting their panties, that'd be fucking great," Gord says, standing and wiping the dirt off of his pants. He stretches his arms above his head and yawns. "I'm tired as shit." He grabs his blankets and pillows and heads to another section of the store. "I'll be in the magazine aisle if you need me. Please don't need me."
"Thanks for ruining dinner, Gord," Melody calls out. He turns and smiles at her, lifting his middle finger for everyone to see.
"Cole?" Cole turns his head and squints in the darkness. He can see Hannah lying next to him in her pathetic makeshift bed. He has just been lying on the floor of the empty frozen foods aisle, staring at the high ceiling, unable to fall asleep. He can't help but picture Micah's lifeless body lying in the Super 8 parking lot, a bullet in his head.
“Yeah,” Cole finally says. Hannah scoots closer to him now that she knows he's awake. She lies her head on his chest, and he wraps his arm around her shoulder. "Tough day."
"You could say that," Hannah replies.
"I'm sorry about your dad. We all wanted to help. We did. But we didn't want Roger to hurt anyone else."
Hannah wipes her eyes. "It wasn't anyone else's fault but Roger's." She doesn't say it, but she wishes she was the one to take out Roger. Maybe that would've been a fair trade for her father's life.
There is a long pause before Hannah asks, "What's the point?"
"Excuse me?" Cole says.
"What's the point? More than half of the population is probably dead, we have to watch our backs every second of the day, in a few months we're only going to be eating canned beans and energy bars, so why the fuck are we trying so hard to go on? To keep living?" The absence of emotion in her voice makes Cole uneasy.
"Because..." Cole starts, but he can't think of an answer right away. Does she have a point? "Because this life is all we have. You can't just...give up on it."
"Why not? Even if this life is complete shit, we shouldn't be able to just...quit?"
"Hannah, don't fucking talk like that," Cole says, an edge to his voice. He quickly softens his tone. "I don't want you to go and think it's okay to put a bullet in your head."
Hannah sighs. "I know. I'm sorry. It's just...I'm tired of all of this. Tired of everything..."
"I get that, but you and Micah were all I had left. Now that Micah's..." He stops in the middle of his sentence, not wanting to speak the words of Micah's death. "You're all I have left."
Cole puts his hand on her cheek and kisses her. "Okay. I'm sorry," Hannah says. "I won't bring it up again. I promise."