This is Issue #52 of Dead Frontier by Walkerbait22, titled Red. This is the fourth issue of Volume 9.
Issue 52 - RedEdit
Cole uses his body to shield Hannah as a few bullets penetrate their tent. Once it stops, he rolls off of her and grabs his pistol from under his pillow. He peeks out of the tent and sees two men with guns walking slowly throughout the terminal and a few dead bodies. There's even a little kid lying with a bullet in his head in front of a tent. Cole feels sick to his stomach, those dreaded knots tying up again, and he slips back into his tent.
"What the fuck?" Hannah whispers.
"Two guys with guns. That's all I know," Cole says.
A booming voice echoes throughout the airport. "EVERYONE," Dex shouts. "COME OUT OF YOUR TENTS, OR I THROW THIS GRENADE. AND DON'T WORRY, IF I DON'T GET YOU THE FIRST TIME, I GOT PLENTY MORE." There's silence, but Dylan fires a few rounds into the ceiling and the screaming starts again. People fearfully begin to file out of their tents.
"Right over here," Dylan says. Hannah's heart drops when she hears his voice. "On your knees. Let's make this quick. Oh, and any of you fuckers that think you're slick hiding in your tents, I suggest you come out now."
"...Come on," Cole says. He grabs Hannah's hand and assists her out of the tent. They see the rapidly increasing line of people in the middle of the terminal, and they join in at the end. Cole locks eyes with a teary-eyed Finn.
"That everyone?" Dylan asks. He fires into the rows of tents and hears a scream. "I told you you'd regret it if you stayed in there."
"All weapons, on the ground," Dex orders. Hannah tugs on Cole's arm, and he reluctantly places his gun on the ground. He realizes for the first time how severely his hands are shaking.
"I love you," he whispers to Hannah, his voice breaking.
"I love--" she starts.
"HEY, no talking! Are you crazy?" Dylan orders. Then he squints. "Ah. There you are." He walks over to Hannah, crouching near her face. Cole feels a searing rage and summons all of his willpower not to lunge at him.
“Look at that. It’s the boyfriend,” Dylan taunts. “She tell you what happened? All that fun we had?” Dylan waits for an answer, but none comes. He turns to Hannah. “Sorry about all the bruises. I get a little rough sometimes, you know? Hey, maybe we should hang out again sometime. That’d be fun, right?” She’s silent, not giving him the satisfaction of an answer. He pulls his pistol out of his holster and presses it against her chin. The feeling of the barrel pointed at her is too familiar. “Remember what I said? I’d like you to answer me when I ask questions.”
Hannah doesn’t say a word, and Dylan smirks. “Wow. Your girl’s got guts, man. Balls of fucking steel.” In an instant, the gun is turned on Cole, the barrel pressed against the side of his face. He tenses up, slams his eyes shut and waits for the bullet to fly through his face.
Next to him, Hannah mutters a heart wrenching plea: “Please, no. Don’t hurt him.”
“Oh, wow. She speaks! What happened to your little fucking tough girl act? Threw it out the window?” He shoves the gun harder into Cole’s face, cherishing in the anguish on her face. “If I ask my question again, you’re gonna answer like a good little girl? Yes?”
“I asked if you’d like to get together again. Because I’d just love to. Hm?” She gulps and let out a whimper. It pains her for the words to come out of her mouth, but she says it. For Cole. “Yes.”
“Great.” Dylan places the pistol back in his holster. Cole lets out an audible sigh of relief. Still, Dylan lingers, his face close to Hannah. He looks at her trembling lips, gives her a kiss. “It’s all gonna be over soon. All my friends are dead, anybody I cared about. Now you get to feel what I feel.”
His sickening smile falters for a moment as his glare shifts to Cole. Dylan looks him up and down in obvious disgust. He spits in Cole’s face; Cole has no choice but to wipe his face with a trembling hand.
Finally, Dylan stands and walks down the line. When he’s gone, Cole grabs Hannah’s hand and holds it as tight as he can, knowing this is the last time he ever will. Her shoulders rise and fall uncontrollably as she sobs.
Dylan inspects the weeping people until he spots one familiar face that sends a tremor of rage through his body. Adam’s on his knees; he locks eyes with Dylan, remembering him as the man he shot, the one whose ear was obliterated. He shakes his head in a futile plea, but Dylan approaches anyway. “Oh, look!” Dylan says. “I know you remember me. You shot my fucking ear off!” He lifts his leg and smashes the bottom of his boot into Adam’s face; there’s a loud ‘crack’ as Adam falls backwards, holding his face. “Dickhead.”
"Dylan, we’ve gotta get on with this,” Dex says, and Dylan nods in agreement. He spits on Adam’s body and takes his position next to Dex. “Nice group of people. Burning all of you is gonna be a real challenge." There's a few whimpers after he says this, but he ignores them. "Want to do the first honors?"
"Of course," Dylan says. He intentionally glares at Hannah. It sends a chill through her entire body, but he doesn't walk toward her. Instead, he starts at the opposite end of the line, firing a shot into Jim’s head; the fair haired little girl next to him shrieks, but a bullet then flies through her brain as well. Cole's eyes are slammed shut. He wishes he could block the sound from his ears, the screaming and the gunshots and the pleading...
Dex stomps in the head of a woman, and Dylan stabs a man in his head. It's vicious, disgusting, remorseless. Dex even whistles a little tune as he goes down the line. He gets to Peter and shoots him in the head; Abe as well. Then Amy lunges at him, a wretched scream coming from her mouth. Dex fires two shots into her chest and she hits the ground. It continues: a teenage boy, then Jen, then Tyler, and Darcy, more innocents. All killed in some way, but dead nonetheless. Half of the airport residents are dead when a gunshot comes from somewhere seemingly far away.
Cole snaps his eyes open and sees Dex clutching his bleeding neck. He removes his hand and stares at his crimson-colored palm. Dylan is frozen when another shot comes and smashes through his jaw. Billie is on her knees on the outskirts of the large terminal, a pistol in her hand. She drops the gun after Dylan is down and clutches her stomach. She feels like her insides are trying to rip through her.
Some turn to look, and Finn and Chloe run over. Everyone else is in a traumatic stupor, staring at the bodies of those around them. Dylan still writhes on the ground, holding his shattered face. He whimpers and cries like an injured dog, and mumbles something incoherent.
Next to him, Devon lets out a scream like nothing Cole has ever heard before. She was at the other end of the line, away from her family. Now, she runs toward their bodies and collapses on her knees. She grabs Peter, cradles him, and mutters something no one can hear.
Cole manages to stand, but his legs feel like Jell-O. He grabs his pistol, walks over to Dylan and looks down on him. They stare at each other for a little while, Dylan's life slowly fading. Cole falls to his knees and grabs Dylan harshly by the throat. He squeezes as Dylan's blood gurgles in his throat, and he places the gun to the dying man's face. Cole pulls the trigger until all he hears is his own sobbing and clicks from his gun. He keeps pressing the trigger, hoping for more bullets to fire. But they don't. Dylan's face is completely obliterated.
Cole falls onto his back with the gun still in his hand. He pushes it hard against his own head and pulls the trigger. There's only the familiar clicking sound. He yells in agony and presses it again and again. Finally, he throws it across the terminal and covers his face with his bloody, balled up fists. He cries.
Cole lies on the floor, staring up at the high ceiling next to Dylan's dead body. Out of his peripherals, he sees the body slowly being dragged away. He doesn't bother to turn his head to look, but he can see the trail of blood on the ground.
After a few minutes of trying to comprehend everything, Cole sits up and surveys the horrors around him. A little more than fifteen people remain in the airport, crying, and hugging what's left of their loved ones. Amy, Peter, and Abe all lie on their stomachs, deceased. A family on their last day. Devon’s nowhere to be seen.
Hannah is on the same spot, on her knees, petrified. Adam’s nose and busted lip are being tended to by Robbie in another corner of the terminal.
Cole stands on shaky knees and walks to the other end of the terminal, where Billie was. She's gone now, as are Finn and Chloe. He makes it to the medical room and hangs onto the door frame for balance.
Billie sits on the bed with Finn sitting next to her, and she looks up at Cole when he enters. Just a few minutes ago, Chloe finished checking on Billie’s wound, making sure she didn’t do any severe damage.
Billie eyes are tired and almost emotionless. The magnitude of what just happened isn't really registering in her brain, and the fact that she just woke up after sleeping for almost a day doesn't help either.
Cole wants to ask her if she’s okay, but he doesn’t have the strength to speak, so it's eerily silent; no one says anything for a long time.
After a mass funeral, Cole begins packing some of his things: his notebook, clothes, food. Whatever he can fit in his pack. Adam walks up behind him, a bandage across his nose. "We're leaving already? It's the middle of the night," Adam says.
"We need to leave now," Cole says. "If you want to come, start packing."
"We all need some time."
"Time for what, Adam?! Time for what? Time for more of Charlie's guys to finish us off? No. We need to go."
"Chill the fuck out and think for a second. We all just witnessed a mass murder. We need some time to comprehend that. And Billie's hurt, bad. She's not ready to get up and moving. And Dwight is fucking dead. It's a lot to take in, Cole. Am I wrong?" Adam waits for an answer, but is met with silence. "Okay then."
"I just don't think we should be here. It's not safe."
"Where should we go then?" Adam asks.
"On the road. We keep moving, maybe we'll find someplace safer. Better."
"Well, I'm not the only one you need to talk to about this." Adam claps Cole on the shoulder and walks to the cafeteria where a small group of people sit in a prayer led by Robbie.
Cole glances to where the massacre took place and sees a few people cleaning up blood, trying in vain to erase what happened here, even though there's no possible way to forget. He feels bile rising to his throat at the sight but holds it down as he stumbles to the bathroom.
He contorts over the toilet and lets everything out. His throat burns by the end of it, and he rinses his mouth in the sink. Staring at himself in the mirror, he realizes he's never seen himself look so broken.