This is Issue #56 of Dead Frontier by Walkerbait22, titled Surrender. This is the second issue in Volume 10.
Issue 56 - SurrenderEdit
Hannah places the hatchet back in her pack and slings it over her shoulder. She hurries the short distance over to Finn and assists Billie in lifting him to his feet. The bottom half of his face is bloody from a possible broken nose and busted lip; the knife still juts from his shoulder. "We need to hurry," Hannah says. Now that the gunshot has certainly attracted the infected, this area could be overrun for weeks until they finally migrate somewhere else.
Finn struggles to exit the store with the intense pain in his shoulder. He finally can't take it anymore and pulls the knife out with a yell. Some blood spurts from the wound, but he grabs a shirt from a rack, balls it up, and presses it against his shoulder.
"Are you okay?" Billie asks once they get outside, onto the sidewalk. Wrigley whines when he sees them, curious about all of the loud noises and the location of his owner.
"I'm fine," Finn replies.
Hannah looks behind her as they start traverse the few blocks to their car. She sees Wrigley trotting close behind. "The dog's following us..." she says. He suddenly stops and growls; then, he lunges into a sprint and passes Finn, Hannah, and Billie. He reaches the end of the street and turns the corner. Wrigley's ears are up and alert when he sees the infected in a group, walking from the direction where the car would be. He looks to opposite end of the street and sees the same thing. He runs the other way, past the three, leaving them confused.
"Wrigley!" Billie calls out. The dog stops running and turns. He sits, as if waiting patiently for them.
”Oh, God," Finn says. "Other way." Listening closely, he can hear the synchronized groans. They turn, and run away from the horde for a few blocks, thinking about an alternate route to the car. Wrigley follows obediently.
"The alley," Hannah says, pointing to an alleyway next to an abandoned building. Now, any stagnant infected in the stores start to pile out into the streets. They cut into the alley, but see the infected grouped at the other end, unaware of their presence. Literally a dead end. They turn around only to see infected sniffing and roaming the street. Luckily, it seems those corpses haven't noticed them either.
"No, no, no, no," Hannah mutters. All of this running has made her hair stick to her sweaty face, and her heart is an erratic thump in her ears.
"The dog," Finn says suddenly. "We have to...use him as a distraction. Then we take them out while they're eating him." The suggestion is sick, and it makes Finn feel queasy. But he sees no other option. Their ammo would run out before they could kill every infected, and they're already exhausted from running.
Hannah looks at Wrigley; he stares up at her, panting heavily. She discards Finn's suggestion, instead looking towards the back door of the abandoned building they’re next to. She and Billie both struggle to pull the rusted, metal door open. The fact that the infected from either end of the alleyway seem to be noticing them isn't making their panic subside.
They fling the door open, but are surprised by an infected already trying to exit the building from that door. It falls down, which pushes Hannah to the ground, and it lands on top of her. It gives an ugly screech, as does Hannah, before it opens its jaws to take a chunk out of her flesh. Before Billie or Finn can shakily manage to aim their guns at its skull, Wrigley has already lunged onto the infected, forcing it off of Hannah. Wrigley bites a large piece of meat from its neck, and Billie stabs it in the head.
The ruckus has definitely stirred up the infected and made their location clear; they're quickly shambling down the alleyway toward Hannah, Finn, Billie, and Wrigley, only about 15 meters between them. Finn, clutching his shoulder, holds the heavy door open. Billie bends down and offers Hannah her hand, pulling her into the abandoned building. Wrigley speeds inside as well; Finn slams the door shut before the infected can reach their dearly wanted meal.
Devon peeks out the window from the second floor of the office building at the rapidly setting sun. An uneasy feeling settled in her gut hours ago. They should've been back by now. She plays with the ring on her pinkie finger nervously, waiting to hear the familiar sound of the engine and the sight of the car pulling up...
Devon walks downstairs to the lobby, where they've moved couches from several of the lounges. She sees Cole lying on the couch reading a book, anxiously chewing on his thumb nail as he tries to keep his mind off of the question they're all asking themselves: Why aren't they back yet?
"No sign of anything. It's dead out there," Devon reveals.
Chloe, who sits on the couch adjacent to Cole with Robbie, says, "Do we wait through the night?"
"That'd be the best thing to do," Robbie says. "It's already gettin' dark. Don't wanna risk our own asses so soon."
Cole shuts his book and rubs his face. There's a tightness in his chest he can't get rid of. The worst possible scenarios run through his head: all three of them ripped to shreds, or stabbed by bandits or beaten and left for dead...
He stands, wiping his sweaty hands on his jeans.
"Hey, where are you going?" Devon asks. He walks past her, up the stairs.
"Nowhere," he says flatly. "Just tell me if they come back, alright?"
There's a long silence in the lobby as they all linger on his 'if.' "I'll go talk to 'im," Robbie says after a while, rising from the couch. He trots up the stairs, whistling, and finds Cole's room. He knocks; no answer. He takes his own initiative and opens the door. He peeks in to see Cole lying on his back, staring at the blank ceiling.
"What," Cole says without turning to look at him.
"Just seeing if you're doin' alright," Robbie replies. He enters the room fully and closes the door behind him. He scans the walls; on the wall next to the window, there's a collage of different pictures Cole found back at his apartment: Cole and Micah when they were teenagers, the photo booth strip of him and Hannah, him and his mother at his high school graduation, among many more. "You're lookin' a little stressed out."
"I wonder why."
"Y'know, you should talk about your issues. It can lift a weight off of your shoulders, trust me."
"No offense, Rob, but I don't want to talk with you, or anyone. Just kinda want to rest for a bit, take my mind off of things."
Robbie shrugs. "That's fair, but remember, there's always one person willing to listen. And I think you know who I'm talking about."
Cole is silent and turns over on the mattress. "I'm, um, I'm talking about God," Robbie adds, as if that point wasn't obvious enough.
"Yeah, Robbie, I know."
The abandoned building used to be a bar, but the tables are gone, and all that's left is a bloodstained floor and a long counter top with a single stool. A shirtless Finn sits on it while Billie tends to his face, and Hannah sits on the counter, listening to the banging on the back door and boarded up windows. Wrigley sits at her feet, his tail between his legs.
"Finn, you need to fucking sit still," Billie says as she places a tissue to his bloody nose.
"I'm--" He clenches his fists and winces. "I'm trying! This just fucking hurts."
"Your nose looks broken." She observes how his nose now sits at an odd angle. Then, she looks at his shoulder, which is patched up with a now-bloody bandage. "And how's your shoulder?"
"Fine," he mutters.
Hannah stands from the counter and observes the bar, Wrigley following her at her feet. On the right wall, next to the door, she notices faint writing in what looks like blue spray paint. She pulls a flashlight out of her pack and shines it over the words. They say: Luck, Bren, Rach, NE, Wilson, Rey/Muzak
"What are you looking at?" Billie says, leaving Finn for the moment and walking over to Hannah. She inspects the words as well.
"I dunno," she says. She mutters the words to herself: "Luck, Bren, Rach...N-E? Wilson...Rey slash Muzak..."
"No clue," Billie says. "Finn, you know what this means?"
"What's it say?" His voice is nasally as he speaks. Billie recites the spray painted message to him.
He thinks for a second. "What street are we on?" he asks.
"Okay. Then this makes sense. Northeast of here is Wilson Ave. And on Wilson and Magnolia is Rey's Muzak Shop. I used to go there and help the guy out, since the place was pretty much falling apart. I have no idea what the first part means, though."
"Well, guess that solves that."
"Should we check it out?" Hannah asks.
"We've kind of got another problem to deal with." Billie nods her head toward the infected pounding on the boarded up front door and windows. The boards shake, making her nervous.
Hannah notices as well and says, "We're sleeping here for the night? Not really the sturdiest defense system they've built here..."
"Do we really have another choice?" She looks toward the backdoor, where there's a similar effort by the infected to get in. "We'll just have to wait it out."
Hannah and Billie search deeper into the building as Finn lies on the hard floor behind the counter, resting. There's a small back room with mostly empty boxes and shelves. Every surface is covered in dust. Hannah smiles when she sees a box pushed into the corner; she walks over all of the other boxes and kneels down next to it.
She pulls out a bottle of hard liquor and waves at it Billie. "Knew there had to be some in here," Hannah says. She sits down and lies her back against the wall, afterwards opening one of the bottles. She drinks out of it directly, wincing at her burning throat but enjoying it all the same.
"Is this really the best time to be drinking?" Billie asks hesitantly, looking down at Hannah from the other side of the room.
Hannah sighs. "Probably not." But she takes another swig anyway.
"Hannah...come on. I thought you stopped this. Let's just go rest."
"I think I can rest right here."
Billie takes the hint and shrugs and leaves. She goes instead to be with Finn. She sits next to him and lies her head against the counter.
"What's wrong?" he asks.
"She's drinking again."
"Oh. Thought this place would've been cleaned out. Guess not."
"I'm really worried about her. Like, really worried. It's not healthy for her to be drowning herself in that stuff. I thought she was done with it...we should get rid of it all, when we get back to everyone else."
"She'll be fine," Finn reassures her. "I hope."
"Think so?" Billie asks. Finn nods, sure of himself. “...And I’m sorry for bitching to you about Frank earlier...you were right, I was wrong.”
He sits up. “Eh, you weren’t all wrong.” He whistles, and Wrigley appears in just a few seconds. He lies onto his side, as if expecting a rub to the belly, and Finn complies. “We got him, right? The cutest little fucker in the apocalypse.”
When Billie's eyes flutter open a few hours later, it's the middle of the night and Hannah is nowhere in sight. She stands, careful not to wake Finn and Wrigley, and walks quietly throughout the bar, to the back room she and Hannah were in before. She pushes the door open and sees Hannah curled up in a ball in the dark corner, weeping silently.
Billie rushes over and kneels next to her. "Hannah, what's the matter?" she asks. She notices her own voice is slightly shaking.
Hannah turns to her. Her bottom lip quivers and her eyes are bloodshot. "Why are you even here?" she spits out harshly.
"I wanted to check on you. I needed to know if you're okay? ...Are you?" She glances at the half empty whiskey bottle in Hannah’s hand.
"I'm fine. Just peachy."
"Come on, gimme that." Billie points to the bottle.
"Why don't you just fuck off? Isn't it really fucking obvious I want to be by myself right now?" She slurs, her words morphing into one another.
"It is, but I'm not leaving till you give me that bottle. And I'm taking the rest of the crate with me." Billie hesitantly reaches for the bottle, and Hannah slowly releases it from her grasp. "This isn't how you deal with things."
"This isn't how you deal with things," she says, mockingly. "That's all I fucking hear now. 'Forget about it, it's in the past...' No, it's not in the fucking past; it's right here! As long as I'm alive, it'll be here, taunting me, making me go fucking insane. A pesky little bug in my ear, reminding me.
"And you know the best part?" she continues. "The best part is when I go to sleep, and I get to relive it all over again, and feel their fucking hands all over me, and feel them punching me in the stomach until I can't breathe. I get to relive every single second." She wipes a few tears from her face. "That's the best part. Definitely. And then...then all I want is to be left alone and everyone just keeps...bothering me. I don't need a Goddamn babysitter---"
"I get that Hannah, but it's because we all care about you don't want to see you hurting yourself. We’re not going to let you do this. This isn't the way--"
Billie is cut short when Hannah slaps her across the cheek. A tremor of regret flashes across Hannah's face, but her expression is soon back to how it was before: desperate and angry. "Don't tell me what I should and shouldn't be doing. I don't need to hear shit from you."
Billie, completely shocked, rubs her stinging cheek and is silent for a few seconds. "Okay," she finally says. She stands from her crouch and leaves, leaving the crate of alcohol behind. She finds that she can't fall back asleep.
The next morning, Billie has a bandage on her cheek, where Hannah's nails scratched her. She sees Wrigley lying in the middle of the floor. She walks over and takes a seat next to him and begins to rub his stomach.
"How're you doing, buddy?" His ears perk up as she turns and reaches into her bag for a granola bar. "You're a pretty badass dog, you know that?" When she begins to unwrap it, he shoots up from his lying position and instead sits in front of her obediently. She feeds him the bar and smiles as he devours it.
"Hello, hello, hello," Finn says, rising from behind the counter. "I'm up, up, up."
"How's your shoulder?"
"As handsome as usual. I think I work the busted lip and broken nose look pretty well." He takes a seat next to Billie and Wrigley. She gives Finn a peck on the check, and he pets Wrigley on the head. "Sorry I tried to feed you to those things. You're actually pretty cool,” he says to Wrigley.
"...Hm. You can still hear them out there," Billie mentions.
It's not as loud and obvious as yesterday, but they can hear the infected roaming around outside. Every few moments, they hear a bang.
A few minutes later, they hear rustling near the back of the bar, and soon Hannah emerges from the back room. The silence is heavy and she deliberately tries avoids eye constant with them both; but Billie can see her bloodshot eyes and the dark circles under them clearly.
"And how was your night?" Finn says to Hannah maliciously.
Billie hits him hard on the arm. "Why the fuck would you say that?" Billie says in a harsh whisper. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
"You've got a bandage on your face because of her. I think the--"
Hannah cuts him off. "So what's the plan? Are we leaving...staying?"
Billie glares at Finn one last time, then turns to her. "I was thinking we wait till the afternoon. I doubt many'll be gone by then, but it's worth a shot. I guess then we could start cleari--" Suddenly there's a surge in the infected's volume outside. They all snap their heads to the back door, where they hear a loud, deep voiced yell and a human grunting mixed in with groaning.
Billie jumps up and grabs her shotgun, which leans against the counter. She rushes to the back door and places her ear against it. She hears another yell, and then the grotesque sound of heads being smashed with some kind of blunt weapon.
"Hannah," Billie whispers, and points to the floor behind her. Hannah pulls out her pistol and stands behind Billie, aiming toward the door. Finn stands close behind, gun in hand.
Billie takes a deep breath and puts her hand on the door handle. She pushes it open, and in the alleyway stands a dark haired man hacking away at infected with a crowbar. They rush at him, but he smashes their brains with an odd finesse; he makes it look extremely easy.
"Knew there--" He hits another infected. "--had to be--people here!" He kicks one away and swings his crowbar to the right, killing an infected without even looking. "Grab your shit--head to--Rockwell Street--a few blocks away! Someone's waiting for you there!"
Billie just nods, perplexed, and follows his orders. "Come on," she says. She quickly grabs everything they brought and whistles to Wrigley. She opens the back door again, and all four of them exit into the alleyway. It's difficult maneuvering over the tons of infected littering the alleyway. But they manage, and as they head for Rockwell, Billie takes one last look at the man. He just nods at her just as another group of infected approaches from behind him.
- This issue was initally titled Push.