This is Issue #59 of Dead Frontier by Walkerbait22, titled Devil. This is the fifth issue of Volume 10.
Issue 59 - DevilEdit
Hiro and Tora sit at the table in the lobby after sleeping the night at the office building. Hiro taps his fingers on the table's surface. "So..." he says, "what happens now?"
Wrigley sits at Tora's feet and she gives him a nice scratch behind the ears. "Don't know. Think we should just go?"
Hiro shrugs. "I mean...they kind of owe us one, ya think? Who knows how long they woulda been in there if we didn't come along. Am I right?"
"...Two people died, Hiro. They probably feel like we fucked them over."
"We don't feel that way," Billie says from the stairs. She walks down and takes a seat at the table. "What happened wasn't your fault, at all. We could've starved in there, or if we tried to fight our way out we would've been overrun. Easy. So it was kind of a lose-lose situation either way. So thanks for at least getting out. And for trying to help Hannah and Finn."
Hiro and Tora look at each other with raised eyebrows. "Oh," Tora says. "Okay. That's...that's good to hear."
"Sorry about your buds," Hiro adds.
"Thanks. But there's something else you guys could do." She points to Hiro. "You especially."
"The girl that got bit--Hannah--I didn't...I couldn't kill her. And Cole's kind of strung out over the fact that she's probably infected right now. Can you see where I'm going with this?"
Hiro nods. "I'll do it. Sure."
"And...we kinda got overwhelmed and had to abandon our truck. We had some supplies in there, so we really need it. Cool?" Hiro nods. "Last thing. I promise. And this one, it's not really essential, but I'd just like you to check it out. There was some kind of weird spray painted message in the bar." She searches around for a pen and paper, then scribbles down the message, which she's committed to memory: Luck, Bren, Rach, NE, Wilson, Rey/Muzak.
“What the hell’s that mean?” Hiro says.
“The bar was on Wolcott, where we saw this written on the wall. Finn worked out that northeast of where we were was Wilson Avenue, and on Wilson is Rey’s Muzak Shop. I don’t know what’s there. It could be amazing, it could be a total let down. But, if you can, check it out. It’s not that far from where the truck is. About 15 minutes. And Robbie will go with you.”
“Scrawny guy with the hat.”
“Ah. Sounds good. Tora?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m up for it.”
“Thank you guys,” Billie says. “And don’t worry. You have a place here.”
Devon sits on the floor of the lobby, leaning against the wall. She's playing with Wrigley, and throws a tennis ball across the room. He chases after it once again, then runs back, dropping it toward her feet. She doesn't take it, and Wrigley realizes they're done. He lies down and lies his head on her legs.
"Oh my God. You're so cute." She smiles at him, and his ears perk up slightly. "My dog was super friendly like you. But we had to put him down a few years ago. Peter fed him grapes. What an idiot, right?" Her eyes start to sting, but she fights back the tears. "He was really cool. Could always tell when I was sad and stuff...Jesus, why the hell am I talking to a dog?" She sighs at herself, and opens the front door for Wrigley. He rushes to the grass to use the bathroom.
She watches him run around for a little while, just thinking. Peter would've loved Wrig. He was a dog person. Her mom, too. But her dad, not as much. He just tolerated pets, because they made everyone else happy. And she loved him for that. And now they'd never meet him because they were mowed down in cold blood.
She turns around when the door opens, and it's Adam. She gives a small wave, and he stands next to her with his hands in his pockets. "Is he cool?" he asks.
"Yeah. Really friendly. Too bad his breath smells fucking terrible." Adam chuckles, but it's weak. There's a prolonged silence. "I can't believe they're dead. I was expecting Finn to wake up today and make some stupid joke. And me and Hannah would go through those stupid magazines again after lunch." She takes a shaky breath as Wrigley rolls around in the tall grass. "But I guess I should just forget about all that."
"No, you shouldn't," Adam says harshly. "Never forget about any of that. We can't let the bad shit overrun our thoughts." He feels a lump forming in his throat, but ignores it. "I let that happen after my girlfriend died, and that was a mistake. I couldn't...I wouldn't let myself think of all the great things about her because I thought it'd be too painful. But that's actually the best thing I could've done, and when I finally did start letting all the good memories about Sherma roll in...I found out it wasn't that bad. It made me happy, remembering all of that stuff, when I wasn't dwelling in the fact that she was dead. And...I learned to deal with it. And we can deal with this."
He glances at Devon and realizes she's weeping silently. "My parents and Peter. I can't...I can't think about them a lot because then I--I'll just breakdown. I can't do it. I try, but I can't."
"Are you thinking about them...or are you thinking about the fact that they're not here anymore?"
She realizes it's the latter, and she hasn't really thought of it that way before. Adam lets what he's said sink in and gives her a squeeze on the shoulder before leaving.
Cole finds himself sunk into his mattress, eyes closed but not sleeping. That's all he wants to do. Sleep. He's exhausted and unhappy and angry and so many other things that all he wants to do is let his mind go blank. The space next to him feels empty without Hannah there.
He sits up and pulls on a clean shirt and navy blue jacket. He's been thinking about doing this the entire day, and the entire night, but only now has he built up the courage to go to their graves.
He exits the building to the small area of grass where two fresh mounds of dirt lie. Two crude crosses stick out of each one, with names painted on them. On the left, "Hannah F." On the right, "Finn K." Cole scratches his head and takes a seat on the grass next to Hannah's.
For a few minutes, he just sits there, his knees pulled near his chest. Trying to formulate some words. But for a long time, nothing comes, so he just goes for it.
"I know..." He coughs to try and get rid of the lump in his throat, but it's still there when he goes to speak again. "I know I wasn't the best boyfriend. And I know you never truly forgave me for what I did. You were right; you shouldn't have forgiven me. I don't really forgive myself, either. Cheating on you was one of the worst things I'd ever done in my life, and I hate myself for it. But I can't take it back, and I'm sorry." He has to take a few deep breaths before continuing.
"I kept thinking about all the things we could've did. Like this." He pulls out the ring Robbie gave him from his pocket. "I feel like I should've asked a long time ago...but too late now, right?"
Billie looks down from the window of one of the building's higher floors. She sees Cole's mouth moving, and holding something in his hand. And she can't help but feel responsible.
Hiro drives along the road, with Tora as a passenger and Robbie in the backseat. He searches the familiar roads, looking for the bar and the alleyway. A few infected roam around but pose no serious threat. He sighs as a another song from Tora's CD ends.
"Am I the only one who thinks this is just a wee bit stupid?" Hiro says after a long bout of silence. "I mean, I'll save a life, sure. But risking my life searching for a walking corpse? Eh..."
"Hiro, shut up," Tora demands.
"What about you?" Hiro locks eyes with Robbie in the mirror. Robbie's eyes are red-rimmed after a night with barely any sleep.
"I don't agree. One of our own has been overtaken by the devil. We ain't letting her roam around like that."
"'The devil?' You do realize this is a disease, right?"
"Don't think that's a fair comparison? These things are about as close to the devil as we gonna get."
"Wanna perform some exorcisms on them?"
"Oh, my God. Just shut up," Tora says.
"I'm just joking. Fucking calm down."
Robbie just shakes his head and looks out the window, staring at the devil incarnates.
After awhile they reach the alleyway and park. The piles of infected show proof of Hiro's massacre in the alleyway. They exit the truck and step over the corpses, following Hiro's lead. He stops and looks at a particular piece of ground. "Yeah, she's up and at 'em. Should've been right here. Look around. Can't be that far."
Robbie covers his nose with his shirt, the smell almost making him gag. He can finally breathe when he's out of the alley and emerges onto the opposite street. He pulls out one of his knives and twirls it in his hand with ease. He throws it and hits an infected that approaches him right in the eye. There's a nasty pop as he pulls the blade out of its head.
"Why do you have to be such a Goddamned loudmouth?" Tora asks her brother as they tread down the other street. It's empty; no walking infected in sight. Only dead ones.
"I'm not," Hiro denies. "I just have strong opinions that I like to voice."
"No, you're a hardheaded loudmouth."
"But come on. The guy's a religious nut."
"How's that? He just...I think it's good. Better than being a cynical asshole. And he's a nice guy, even though they've been through a lot. Try to...chisel down your hard exterior a bit."
"'Chisel down my exterior?' What the hell's that mean?"
"It means, be nice."
"I did save their lives after all," Hiro counters.
"Still doesn't make up for your personality."
He smirks. "I have a very attractive personality."
"Yeah. You keep telling yourself that."
Robbie walks a little more, and after a few minutes, he spots the familiar light pink shirt that Hannah wore the day she left, but now a splotch of blood stains the back of it. He sighs and takes his hat off of his head; he folds it and slides it into his back pocket.
She's alone, with her back turned toward him. She's just standing, staring into a store window mindlessly. Knife in hand, he walks over to her. Slowly, she turns at the sound of his footsteps. She slouches, and the bite on her neck is a red so dark, it almost looks black. But it's her. It's unmistakable. There's still the lightest tinge of sea green in her irises, which have bean overtaken by a milky grey.
She growls at him, but before she can lunge, he brings the blade through the side of her head. He pulls it out and stares as she hits the ground, her head colliding with the pavement and creating a spatter of blood around his feet. He pulls out a handkerchief and wipes her blood from his knife.
He kneels down next to her and closes her eyes. Under his breath he mutters a short prayer.