This is Issue #57 of Dead Frontier by Walkerbait22, titled Pieces. This is the third issue in Volume 10.
Issue 57 - PiecesEdit
Hannah, Finn, Billie, and Wrigley speed down the alleyway, recklessly stepping over the dead infected coating the ground. They're amazed that one man was able to do that alone, although he was pretty large and looked rather strong.
From the end of the alleyway, six infected lead their rotten bodies as fast as they can toward the four, who stop in their tracks. The corpses block the only exit; behind them, that man still practically slaughters anything that moves.
“We can take them...right?” Billie says. She’s honestly not sure; one of Finn’s arms is out of action, and Hannah looks a mess from her drinking binge last night, leaving her and a Goddamn dog as the two fully capable fighters.
“Do we even have a choice at this point?” Finn answers. He wipes his sweaty hands on his jeans and replaces his grip on his knife. No time to lose.
The six infected run right into their assault. The three faster ones of the group are closest, and Wrigley lunges on top of one, bringing it to the ground. He clamps his jaws on its head and pulls a chunk out of its brain. Billie impales the next one, and Hannah takes care of the other, and they proceed down the alleyway to this apparent promise of a savior.
Finn feels something grip his leg; he trips, and when he looks back, he sees that an infected lying on the ground with half of a body has grabbed ahold of his ankle. He attempts to kick it away, but his efforts are futile.
It bites him, taking a large piece of meat out of his lower leg. As Finn goes to stab it in the head, the pain in his arm and leg multiplies to become almost unbearable. He kicks the corpse away, and as he goes to try and stand, he foolishly puts pressure on his injured shoulder and falls to the ground with a hopeless yell.
Billie and Hannah turn when they hear Finn’s struggle, leaving them vulnerable to the three infected they’ve yet to take out. But, for just a second, that threat is forgotten when they see Finn on the ground with a bloody leg. The sight hits them like a freight train, and Billie feels like she might faint.
She’s pulled out of her daze when she hears Hannah yell from behind her. An infected latches onto Hannah’s back and bites her in the neck. Wrigley jumps to her rescue and tackles the infected to the ground, bringing Hannah with them. Wrigley kills it quickly, but Hannah’s left on the ground holding her neck, fruitlessly trying to stop the bleeding.
Billie’s stuck in the middle; on either side of her, two people she cares about immensely need her, and it’s like a tug of war trying to decide who to tend to. Or does she help them at all? With Wrigley out of breath, she’s still got two infected to take care of, and after months of living in the new world, she knows both Hannah and Finn are done for. Dead, but it’s only a matter of time.
And that brings another question to her mind: does she...kill them? Reanimation is reanimation, and thinking of leaving them here, eventually to roam around the city as undead monsters with the rest of the infected makes her physically sick.
She runs to Finn. “What are you doing?!” he yells, holding his leg.
“I’m helping you! Come on.” She grabs his arms and tries to pull him up, but when his leg moves even the slightest inch, he grimaces in pain. She tries again, but he swats her hands away stubbornly and points behind her. She knows: the two infected are probably right behind her, but she doesn’t care. Getting Finn up, somehow, is her main priority.
“Billie, they’re right there!” Finn yells. He couldn’t care less about his leg; he fumbles with his gun to pull it out of the holster and fires two shots, which hits one of the infected in the head. Wrigley chomps the other on the leg, slowing it down. “You need to go!”
Billie looks down the alleyway and sees the man finishing up his slaughter. “I told you I wouldn’t leave you, ever!” Billie says. As the man runs toward them, she turns and quickly stabs the last infected.
“Was he bit?” the man asks, although he can see the bite clearly on Finn’s ankle. He pulls up his sleeves and gets on his knees with a hatchet in hand.
“We need to carry him, to wherever you’re taking us,” Billie says.
“Gotta stop the infection first. Better brace yourself, bro,” the man warns.
“For what---” The man aims the hatchet a few inches over the bite, then brings it up above his head and down on Finn’s leg. Finn lets out an ear piercing scream and tries to push the man away. The man hacks again, then again, and once again until Finn’s foot and ankle are detached. By that time, Finn has passed out.
“What the hell are you doing?!” Billie grabs the man by the back of the collar, forcibly pulling him away from Finn.
“Chill the fuck out! I do this, and he lives, okay?” He scoops Finn from the ground easily and practically leaps over the litter of corpses. He steps over Hannah’s body without a second thought, while Billie stops for a fraction of a second and considers putting a bullet in her head. She doesn’t.
They run through the streets, in and out alleyways to get away from infected attracted to the gunshots and screaming. The man seems to lose no stamina, although he’s carrying a full grown man in his arms. His shirt is dyed dark-red from Finn’s blood, but he pushes on until they reach Rockwell, where there’s a truck and standing next to it, a woman with dark hair.
She jumps up and down, waving them in her direction. When they finally get there, she opens up the backdoor. Billie and Wrigley slide into the third row of seats while the man lies Finn down in the second row and sits next to him. He hastily reaches into his pack and pulls out an array of first aid supplies.
The woman presses down on the gas, and they speed away. “What the hell happened?” she asks.
The man works on Finn’s leg as he explains. “Found three of ‘em and a dog back there. One of the girls didn’t make it out, and this guy got bit. Did the thing Richie told us about, remember?”
The woman nods. “Did it work?”
“He’s...I don’t know, he’s bleeding like a motherfucker.” He uses his forearm to wipe sweat from his forehead, but ends up just smearing it with blood.
“You,” the woman says, looking into the rearview mirror at Billie. Billie looks up from observing Finn and snaps away from her shocked state. “What’s your deal? Where are you staying?”
Billie opens her mouth to say something, but bursts into tears as the weight of everything falls on her. Now that everything has calmed down, somewhat, she realizes they left Hannah for dead, Finn’s dying, they’re truck is still sitting somewhere in the city, they’ve got a dog, and there’s two strangers she’ll have to repay for, at least, saving her life. And she has the responsibility of telling everyone what’s happened. Cole, especially. She doesn’t know if she can.
The woman reverts her eyes back to the road. She stops on the side of the street and waits for the girl to compose herself. She’s pitiful, at rock bottom, but this woman knows what that’s like.
Billie ends up getting it together and manages to explain to the woman where she and the rest of her group have been staying. On the way, she learns their story, and she tries to listen. Some of it she can’t recall, for she focused too much hectic situation of before and the one she’s about to deal with: breaking the news.
Apparently, they're Tora and Hiro Kamura, a brother and sister duo, with Hiro being in his early 40s and a few years older than his sister. They're first generation American citizens with ancestors from Japan, and they've been trekking through this apocalyptic wasteland together since day one.
During their first weeks living on the road, they met a man named Richie. He was alone, starving, and came across Hiro and Tora. He'd had only two cans of beans and generously offered them both one; Tora graciously declined, thinking it unethical to take food from an already starving man. But they offer him a blanket and pillows, and he told them the trick of stopping the infection: cutting off the bitten area.
Richie spent the night in an abandoned house with the Kamuras. The next morning, he was gone without a trace. All that was left of him was one can of beans and a note. On that note, written in scraggly, nearly-illegible handwriting was: "It's great to survive, but is it worth it if we lose our humanity in the process?"
That one sentence stuck in Tora's mind since then, and she's been trying to get her brother to follow the same idea. They haven't had a chance to put it to use--until now. With the city completely dead, they hadn't come across any living souls. Tora and Hiro hid out in a small mom & pop shop, scavenging once in a while, but otherwise living a mundane life of eating, sleeping, and killing. Wash, rinse, and repeat.
When they heard the horde moving past their area and the frantic yelling of humans, they knew something was up. Tora urged her brother to follow the infected a few blocks away, where they found the dead knocking on the walls of an abandoned bar. After waiting a night for the infected to thin out, they made a plan to get out whoever was in there.
The truck pulls up to the office building about 10 minutes later. Finn’s bleeding has stopped by this point, but his face is sickly pale and his pulse is faint. Cole looks down from the roof and sees the unfamiliar vehicle; he rushes down the stairwell and bursts into the lobby at the same instant Billie does with two unfamiliar strangers, one of which is carrying Finn, and...a dog?
But no Hannah. He feels a disturbing pang in his gut. She’s in the car. Yeah, she’s still in the car, gathering stuff to bring inside, he tells himself. Everyone in the lobby--Robbie, Adam, Chloe, and Devon--begin asking a plethora of questions as the man carrying Finn pushes past everyone. Chloe follows and leads the man to the room where she’s set up all of her medical stuff.
“Who the hell...what the fuck...why is there a dog?!” Adam shouts. “And where’s Hannah? And why the fuck is Finn missing his foot?”
“Everything just...” Billie starts. “Everything just went wrong! Everything. Just. Went. Wrong!”
Cole locks eyes with Billie across the room, and she shakes her head.
Finn lies on a bed, not looking any better. Chloe, Hiro, and Billie stand over him. “We stopped the bleeding,” Chloe says. “Good, that’s good. But...why’d you cut his Goddamn leg off?”
Hiro sighs. “Because, if you cut off the infected area before it spreads to the rest of the body, you can...y’know, live,” he explains.
“And how do you know that?”
“Does it matter? He still hasn’t turned, has he?”
“No, but he has a disturbingly high fever. And he’s missing a foot.”
“Okay, so should I have left him to die in that alley with the other girl?”
Billie places a hand on his shoulder. “We appreciate it,” she reassures him.
“Yeah, whatever.” He shoots one last look at Chloe, then leaves back to the lobby, where his sister is.
“Do you know if he’ll be okay?” Billie asks quietly. Every second of uncertain silence hurts her even more.
“Billie, he’s lost a lot of blood. I’m not saying it’s definitive, but you’ve got to brace yourself.”
Billie nods, but she’s not exactly sure how she could brace herself for something like this. What does that even mean? Brace yourself? Bracing yourself for it doesn’t mean it’ll hurt any less. Bracing yourself before, say, being hit by a train doesn’t mean you won’t break into a million pieces.
Cole is on the roof, sitting on the building’s ledge, his feet dangling off. It’s gotten a bit darker since Billie, Finn, Wrigley, Tora, and Hiro’s arrival, but the sky is a gorgeous orange as the sun sets. The beauty of it makes it worse; why couldn’t there be something more fitting, like a fucking thunderstorm? One of the most horrendous days of his entire life but a picture perfect sunset sits right in front of him. Funny.
Below him, he can see Robbie digging a grave, and Adam and Devon fashioning some kind of wooden cross. Then it hits him: they don’t even have a body to bury.
He uses his shoulder to wipe his wet cheek, then stands. He leaves the roof and goes to his room. The wall of pictures taunts him, makes his legs go weak. He clumsily falls onto the mattress and lies with his hands over his face. It takes a few minutes of sobbing before he can sit up. He sighs and wipes his face once more, then looks to the collage of photos on the wall to his right.
With shaky hands he grabs a few---Hannah and her parents, she and him after college graduation, her and Micah one Thanksgiving, and a couple more. He reaches for the photo booth strip, but stops, leaving it pasted to the wall. He can’t bury that one. He needs that one.
He then searches around her things and finds a few pieces of jewelry she’s managed to keep all these months. One of her mother’s old rings, a necklace he gave her a few years back. He sets them and the pictures in a small pile next to his mattress and lies back down. The exhaustion takes over, and he falls asleep instantly.
Billie has Finn’s hand gripped tightly, worried this could be the last time she ever holds it. His face is deathly pale, and his pulse hasn’t sped up in the slightest. Think positive. Optimism. This crazy amputation could work.
Then, Finn’s hold on her hand tightens suddenly. He starts to breath fast, too fast, and his eyes open wide. Billie calls Chloe’s name, until she bursts through the door. “What? What happened?”
Billie releases Finn’s hand and jumps from her seat. “Why’s he breathing like that?” She covers her mouth with both of her hands as tears start to spill from her eyes. Chloe rushes over, and Finn grabs at her maniacally. Then, he stops abruptly and his body goes limp. "Finn?" Chloe says. "Finn?" Her hands shake feverishly, and she goes to put two fingers to Finn's neck. She waits for a pulse. Nothing.