This is Issue #34 of Dead Frontier by Walkerbait22, titled Photograph. This is the fourth issue of Volume 6.
Issue 34 - PhotographEdit
Tyler and Adam quickly make their way down the road back to the truck carrying several gas cans. Luckily, they found a stash in one of the back rooms of the gas station. It won't be enough to get them to the airport, but it's something.
Tyler holds the gas cans in the air when he gets to the truck. He expects some kind of celebration from everybody, but the mood is extremely solemn.
"Uh. Everything okay?" Adam asks. He looks to Billie for an answer.
"Let's just get the gas in the truck," Billie replies. "The sooner we get to the airport, the better."
"Okay. But what happened to him?" Tyler asks. He points to Cole, who has a bandage wrapped around his head.
"Doesn't matter." She grabs a gas can from Tyler and begins filling the truck.
"Holy fuck, holy fuck, holy fuck!" Tyler says excitedly from the front seat. "There's a helicopter!" He shouts so everyone in the back can hear him.
Sure enough, the familiar sound of a helicopter can be heard over the rumbling of the truck's engine. The road is dark, so Tyler flicks the headlights on and off. But, the helicopter doesn't show any signs that it sees the vehicle. It keeps flying in the opposite direction.
"This is good," Dwight says, nodding his head. He doesn't want to get his hopes up, but he can't help but feel that the airport could be the safe haven they've been looking for. "This is good."
“Fuck my life...” Tyler mutters. He tries his best to swerve the truck between the few stray walkers on the road, but he has some trouble. The dull headlights don’t give him much help, either.
“Tyler, I thought you knew how to drive!” Chloe calls to him from the back.
"It's kind of hard to dodge infected with this big ass truck, Chloe," Tyler calls back to her. An infected appears at the last second, and the truck rams into it. It crunches under the tires; it's skull and bones crack disgustingly.
Tyler hits another and curses under his breath. The longer he drives, the more infected he sees. "He's gonna fuck up the truck if he keeps hitting them like that," Dwight says.
"Well, what the hell am I supposed to do?" Tyler yells back. He suddenly slams on the brakes, and everyone jerks forward.
"Jesus Christ!" Finn says, rubbing his head after he hits it on the wall of the truck.
"Problem," Tyler says. He stares out the windshield. The headlights illuminate a wall of infected. They appear to be angered by the light shining in their faces. "I---I can't drive through them! There's too many." He sets the truck in reverse and speeds backwards, hitting a few infected in the process. He jumps out of the driver's seat and flings the back doors of the truck open. "Grab a gun and shoot."
"You couldn't just run them ov--" Dwight starts, but then he squints and sees the approaching infected. "Oh." He fires off a few shots, knocking one down.
Cole's head pounds from the gunshots and the assault from Dwight. He musters the strength to lift his handgun and fires a shot. "Billie, behind you!" he calls out. She turns and fires, the shotgun blast ripping the infected's face in half. She nods a silent thank you to Cole.
Hannah fires off a few shots shots, and hits three infected between the eyes. Even with limited visibility, she's a pretty good shot. "Damn. You're good," Finn calls out to her. He fires and hits a corpse in the midsection. Hannah assists him and shoots it in the forehead, finishing it off.
After his incident at the gas station, Adam surprisingly feels...okay. The panic he usually feels when seeing any infected, especially a group this large, isn't as severe. A bullet from his gun hits an infected in the neck. Chloe glances at him, impressed, and fires off a shot of her own.
Cole begins to feel woozy. The pain in his head is too severe; it's as if someone is pounding him in the head with a hammer every time a shot is fired off. He drops his gun to the ground and grabs his head with both hands. He stumbles as he tries to keep his footing. Tyler pulls the trigger of his pistol, missing an infected, and notices Cole's struggle. "Something's wrong with him!" Tyler shouts.
"Cole?" Adam says. He looks to his left and sees Cole collapse on the ground. Adam sees the rapidly thinning wall of infected and makes the decision to halt his shooting. Instead, he hurries over to Cole. He gets on his knees and turns Cole over onto his back.
Cole can tell that Adam's saying something, but it all sounds muffled. The gunshots now sound dull and distant, and his vision slowly gets blurrier until everything goes black.
"Get him in the truck!" Adam orders. Billie and Hannah take care of the stray infected while everyone else assists Cole. Adam and Dwight lift him and place him gently in the truck. Billie and Hannah jump in the back with everyone else, and Tyler returns to the driver's seat. He rams into the few infected they decided not to waste ammo on.
"What's wrong with him?" Billie asks. Everyone looks to Chloe. She stares back at them.
"What? Me--I...I don't know! I'm not a medical doctor," Chloe says.
"But you do have 'doctor' in front of your name, correct? 'Dr. Chloe Connors?'" Finn asks. Chloe nods her head. "Yeah? Okay. Then I'd say you're more qualified than any of us to do something."
"Okay. He...he most likely has a concussion," She takes a quick look at Dwight, who looks down shamefully. She places the back of her hand to his forehead. "And a fever. He's got a fever." She bangs on the side of the truck to get Tyler's attention. "Tyler?"
"We need to stop soon. Cole's hurt. The next house you see...we'll stay there."
The truck slows to a stop. They're in a small neighborhood with a few houses. Tyler eyes a large house that doesn't look too damaged and fetches everyone from the back. "Anyone want to go check it out with me?" Tyler asks.
Finn stares at the house. "It looks...haunted."
"Now you're worrying about ghosts?" Billie asks. "It seems like we've got a lot more to worry about right now."
"Yes. There is never a time you shouldn't worry about ghosts," Finn replies.
"Are you coming or not?" Tyler asks.
"Yeah, sorry. Adam? Dwight? Hannah?"
"I'm gonna stay here," Dwight says. "Not feeling too good." Billie nods in understanding, and Adam grabs his handgun.
"I'm staying too," Hannah says. "If that's okay."
"Of course. Yeah," Tyler says. "Count your bullets."
Everyone checks their ammo. "2," Billie says.
Finn: "I'm out."
Tyler: "I've got two."
Billie looks to the truck. "Any of you loaded?" she asks.
"Nope," Dwight says. Hannah hands Finn her pistol.
"There's one left," she says.
Finn suddenly laughs, and everyone stares at him. He does a quick headcount. "There's eight of us."
"Okay...?" Tyler says.
"And we have eight bullets. Heh. God's a funny guy."
Tyler pushes the front door open with ease. It creaks eerily, and they enter. Their flashlights bounce off the dusty walls. "Adam," Tyler whispers. He cocks his head to the left, signaling for Adam to come with him to the basement. He uses two fingers to point at Billie and Finn, and then points upstairs.
Finn begins to walk up the steps, with Billie right behind him. He winces every time the stairs creak under his weight.
"Jesus...how much do you weigh?" Billie jokes.
"...Shut up," he whispers, finding a way to crack a smile in the tense atmosphere. When they reach the top of the steps, he points to Billie and then to a door on his left. Billie enters that one, and he approaches the door directly in front of him. He opens the door, and what he sees hits him like a ton of bricks. A young infected boy, no more than ten, lies on the floor of the bedroom. It only has half of a body; from the waist down, there is nothing. A blood trail twists around the hardwood floor.
It growls angrily when Finn's flashlight shines in its face. He's paralyzed by memories of his brother, but he can't stop staring at it. At its eyes. It reaches a hand out to Finn. The gesture makes it look almost human, but it really is just reaching for flesh. Finn grabs a nearby dresser to steady himself. His breathing increases rapidly, and he sees his tears splashing against the dresser.
"Nothing in there," Billie says from the hall. She enters the bedroom with Finn and sees the boy. She covers her mouth in shock, then notices Finn near the dresser. It's unnerving, seeing him like this. "Finn?" She can hear him muttering "Andy..." under his breath.
Billie grabs his arm and leads him into the hall. She closes the door to the bedroom. "Finn." He slumps against the wall and cries. "Finn..."
He looks up at her finally, and his usually happy eyes are full of so many emotions. Anger, hate, sadness. "Is Andy...your brother?" she asks. He nods his head and then sobs again.
She crouches down in front of him. "Just calm down, okay? Deep breaths." He wipes tears off his face and takes her advice, inhaling and exhaling deeply. "Good. It's okay. Everything's okay."
Finn reaches into his back pocket and pulls out a crumpled picture. Finn stands in front of a swing-set, a few years younger than he is now, and he has a young boy in a playful headlock. Finn's smile is bright and wide, and so is the boy's. On the back, in elegant handwriting, it says, "Finnegan & Andrew. 18, 7. " Billie stares at the picture for a long time and thinks about how much she misses her family. Her sisters, her mom and dad. She takes a seat on the floor next to him, and hands the picture back. He stuffs it back in his pocket.
"Sorry. I'm sorry," Finn says.
Billie is slightly confused. "For what?"
"For depressing you with my mental breakdown."
"It happens. Trust me." They can hear Tyler and Adam coming up from the basement.
"All clear," Tyler says in an obnoxiously deep voice.
"You're not in the military anymore," Adam says. "Stop talking like that."
Billie turns back to Finn. "...Did he turn?"
"Oh. I'm sorry. I know..." She clears her throat. She's not one to open up, but she trusts Finn. "I know how terrible it is to see that. I can't even imagine if it was one of my sisters."
"You guuuyyysss," Tyler calls from downstairs. "How's everything up there?"
"Everything’s fine," Billie says. She stands and makes her way to the bedroom. She uses her hatchet a hits the infected boy in the head. It lets out one last puff of breath and its body goes slack. "Just fine."