This is Issue #31 of Dead Frontier by Walkerbait22, titled Answers. This is the first issue in Volume 6.
Issue 31 - AnswersEdit
"You see anything?" Tyler asks.
"Nope," Chloe says. She flips the light switch in the living room a few times, but nothing. "Just dust and dirt. But I guess that's a good thing."
Tyler's gaze lands on the kitchen. "Check the fridge for any food. I'll check the bedrooms."
"Just yell if you get scared."
"Hilarious." He rolls his eyes and walks slowly down the hallway, a combat knife in his right hand and his flashlight in his left. He takes a few deep breaths; ever since he was little darkness has made him nervous. The added threat of infected doesn't make him feel any better now.
He places his ear to the door of the bedroom at the end of the hall and mutters, "Can I ever get a fucking break?" The groans of an infected inside are loud and clear.
Tyler turns the knob and opens the door. The infected, a male, trudges around the room and stares at him. Without hesitation, he plunges the knife into the top of its head.
Chloe freezes when she hears a thump from the back of the house. "Everything okay, Tyler?"
"Everything's just dandy," he calls back out. "Infected. Took care of it. Go ahead and bring everyone else in."
"There's a bedroom in the back, if you want it," Tyler says to Hannah when she enters the house. She nods in thanks and leaves to be on her own.
Cole sighs and rubs his eyes. The exhaustion hits him when the fear of being held captive is finally gone. He spots Tyler inspecting a bottle of red wine near the counter. He walks over and leans his elbows on the countertop.
"I never got to thank you personally," Cole starts. "I don't even want to think about what they would've..." He trails off.
"You don't want to know, man," Tyler says. "That place was full of some fucked up people. But you're good now. You're safe." He's about to cap the wine bottle, but stops. "Want some?"
"Please." Tyler pours him a glass and hands it to him. Cole downs it in a few gulps. "What's the deal with O'Hare?"
"I don't really want to get your hopes up."
"Tell me anyway."
"I've...picked up some things about the Air Force possibly fortifying the airport. And I have no proof whatsoever, but it's better than nothing. Maybe God's on our side and it's true."
"He hasn't really been on our side lately."
Tyler takes a glance at Cole and notices the heavy bags under his eyes.
"Get some sleep."
"If I can." He grabs the wine bottle and his glass and walks down the hallway, peering into Hannah's room. He sees her curled up on the bed with her knees to her chest.
He takes a seat on the bed and pours another glass, drinking it just as fast as he did the last one.
"Tell me everything's gonna be okay." Hannah's voice startles him, even though it's weak and shaky. He lies back on the bed and faces her. He moves her hair out of her face to reveal bloodshot eyes.
"My mom used to tell me," Cole begins, "that no matter what happens, keep pushing forward. Because you never know what good could be waiting for you around the corner. That advice couldn't be more true right now."
"Kind of hard to try pushing forward now."
"I know. I know it is. Think about what Chloe said, about O'Hare. It could be what we're waiting for. We'd have the air force protecting us. We could stop worrying for a little while. Stop worrying about...everything."
"Do you really believe what she says about the airport?"
"...I don't know. I think so. Hope so."
There's a pause until Hannah closes her eyes and says:
"I killed one of the scientists."
Cole can do nothing but stare at her.
"I jammed a piece of glass into his throat. I stared at him while he died. I had to...I couldn't--"
She nods her head and begins to cry, burying her face in his chest.
Billie notices Mercer sitting emotionless at the kitchen table. Everyone else is either asleep or drunk, so she decides to take a seat next to him. He doesn't even acknowledge that he's noticed she's sat down until he says:
"I think I might blow my brains out."
She stares at him, her eyes full of pity.
"Don't say that. I know you've been through--"
"You don't know anything."
"--a lot, but...that's not how you deal with things."
His face is full of anger when he turns on her. "Then how do I deal with it? Do you have all the answers? Because the two people I cared about most, even before the fucking world collapsed, are dead. Am I supposed...supposed to go on living when it's going to be torture every single day? Do I have to fucking list off all of the people we've lost?" He stares at her as if expecting an answer to all of his questions as tears threaten to spill over his eyes.
Billie has no words for him. "Okay, then," Mercer continues. "Come back to me when you have an answer. Then maybe I'll consider--"
"Give me your gun," Billie demands.
"Mercer, give me your fucking gun. You're not going to hurt yourself." She holds her hand out, but Mercer just glares at her.
He's taken off guard when Billie delivers a punch to his face. While he's distracted, she grabs his handgun from his waistband and places it her own waistband. She stands and looks down at him. "You're not going to hurt yourself, okay?"
As she looks at him, she notices his eyes change from showcasing rage to complete sadness. He covers his face with his hands and leans his elbows on the table, sobbing silently. Billie sighs and places a hand his shoulder, but he shrugs it away.
"Okay, okay, I have another one," Finn says. He sits on the couch the next morning with Billie. They've woken up before everyone else, and they see Dwight begin to stir from his makeshift bed on the living room floor. He stands and makes his way down the hallway. "This one is funny, I promise."
"Let's hear it," Billie says.
"Okay. What do you call a bear in the rain?"
" 'A bear in the rain?' "
She thinks for a moment, genuinely puzzled. Then she shrugs. "Don't know. A wet, angry bear?"
Finn looks giddy with excitement. "A...drizzly bear!"
Billie scoffs, but then laughs. "Oh my God, that was terrible. But hey, A for effort."
"I can live with that, I guess." There's a short pause. "My, um...my little brother used to tell that one. My parents and I, we'd tried to tell him it wasn't funny after the millionth time telling it, but he always thought it was hilarious."
"Oh. I didn't know you had a brother."
"He was a cool little guy." Finn starts to fidget with his fingers. "Always telling lame jokes."
"Well, now I know who he gets it from." Billie smiles at him playfully. "Come on, tell me another."
"Who the fuck's in the bathroom?" they hear Dwight yell from down the hall. "Open up. People out here have to piss."
Billie rises from the couch and marches down the hallway. "Hey, Mr. Impatient. Quiet down. People are still sleeping."
"And I'm still holding my piss." He bangs on the door a few more times. Billie turns the knob to the bathroom.door, but it's locked. "Hold on. I'll be back." Dwight hurries off and does a quick scan of the house. "Don't see Mercer."
Billie's heart falls to her stomach. "Mercer? Oh God."
"What? What is it?" Finn asks as he emerges from the living room.
"Mercer was telling me yesterday how he wanted to blow his brains out. But I...I took his gun."
"Move," Dwight orders. He gives a few hard kicks to the door until the lock breaks. Opening it reveals Mercer hanging from the shower rod with his belt tied around his neck, his face blue and puffy.