This is Issue #9 of Dead Frontier by Walkerbait22, titled The Highway.
Issue 9 - The HighwayEdit
The past few days have taken a toll on Cole, traumatizing him greatly. After his small fight with Hannah, he falls to sleep and has what he thinks is the most horrible nightmare he's ever experienced.
In the dream, Cole walks in the middle of the street with Hannah and Micah at his sides. It's the same street that the Fleetwood home sits on. They don't talk; there's just silence that makes Cole feel uneasy. Out of nowhere, infected begin to pour out of the houses on either side. Waves of them also come from in front of them and behind them. They're boxed in.
They try to fight off any oncoming infected, but their attempts are futile. They're surrounded. There's just too many. Cole gives up, ready to be food for the infected. But they don't come for him. Instead, the infected ignore him completely and focus on Hannah and Micah.
Cole watches as they are both horrifically eaten alive by the infected. Hannah and Micah's flesh hang from the infected’s rotten mouths. Cole sobs, wondering why they don't come for him. But he just sits there, forced to hear Hannah and Micah's screams and watch them die. Cole wakes up abruptly, his pillow soaked with sweat. He instantly feels his head pounding and rubs his temples. Looking into the kitchen, he can see Gord chowing down on a PopTart.
"'Sup?" Gord says through a mouthful of the pastry. "You look like shit."
"I feel like shit," Cole replies, standing up from the couch. "You the only one up?"
"Yep. Jesus fucking Christ, this PopTart is delicious." He takes one last big bite and pulls another one out of the box.
Cole heads to the bathroom. After vomiting his guts out, he takes a look in the mirror. He does look like shit. His eyes are slightly sunken in and his light hair hangs over his forehead. He takes a moment to fix himself as best as he can then heads back out to the kitchen, where he sees Hannah talking with Gord. "Hi," Cole says to Hannah. He vaguely remembers fighting with her last night, but about what? He doesn't remember, but he can practically feel the anger radiating from her.
"I'm gonna go wake up Micah," she says almost as soon as she sees Cole, leaving Gord and Cole at the table alone.
"So why were you on that roof alone?" Cole asks.
"Because infected can't climb," Gord replies.
"You know what I mean.Did you have family or anything?"
"Are we really going to talk about this?"
"I was just wondering."
"You want to know? Okay. They're dead. Rotten, infected corpses in the ground. My wife and my kids. Just a few days ago I saw their fucking flesh being ripped off the bone. So I kind of don't want to talk about it, alright shithead?" He throws his half eaten PopTart onto the table and stomps to the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind him.
Mick and Mrs. Fleetwood are in Mick's car while Hannah, Micah, Cole, and Gord are in Cole's sedan driving to the motel. When they get there, the motel group is introduced to Mick and Wanda Fleetwood and Gord. Wanda tries to make a few friends, but Mick stands in the corner of the parking lot, sulking as usually. Gord immediately hits it off with Billie and Dwight, and they drink a few beers, laughing.
Hannah chats with Melody, and the two elderly in the camp, Mercer's grandmother Mary and John Pascoe, sit in lawn chairs talking about who-knows-what. Mercer, Cole, Dommy, and Adam stand by one of the cars while Roger is passed out drunk in one of the rooms.
"So how'd you get with the group, Adam?" Cole asks.
"I was in the city," Adam says. "I fled pretty early on."
"Were you downtown?"
"Damn," says Cole. "Was it as bad as the news said?"
"No shit? Did you have to kill any infected?"
Adam looks uncomfortable before he says, "Once."
"It was his girl," says Mercer.
"What the hell, Mercer?" Adam snaps. "That's none of his business."
"Why not just tell the whole story?"
"Wow, man," Cole says. "I'm sorry. Hey, Mercer, you're coming with me and Dommy into the city right?"
"Who else is coming?"
"Uh, I'm not sure. Whoever's up for it, I guess. You wanna go, Adam?"
"Yeah, I'll go,” Adam says.
“We should start getting ready.”
"Be careful, man," Micah says after hugging Cole before he leaves. "Don't come back dead." "I won't. Promise," says Cole. He hops into a truck with Mercer, Billie, Dwight, Adam, Hannah, and Dommy. Billie and Dwight each have large shotguns and a pistol while Cole, Adam, Hannah, and Dommy each have smaller pistols. Mercer has a bow and arrows, which he's placed in the trunk, and a revolver. Billie pulls away from the motel and they begin the drive back into the city.
One they get to the highway, the Chicago skyline in the distance, they see the roads are littered with cars that were trying to escape. Billie manages to squeeze the car through for a few miles, but eventually the road is just too backed up with vehicles. They realize they will have to walk the rest of the way if they want to get to Dommy's family.
The seven of them walk, carrying their respective weapons and maneuvering through the cars. Cole peeks in a few vehicles, but they are mostly empty, except for the occasional infected trapped in a seatbelt. He looks in their rabid eyes and tries to see a trace of something human. But all he sees is their haunting grey irises, devoid of all emotion.
While they walk through the highway clogged with vehicles, Cole can't help but notice Hannah and Mercer walking ahead of him, talking and occasionally laughing. He tries his best to shake off his jealousy as Billie walks up to him, matching his stride.
"Geez, could you be more obvious?" Billie asks.
"What?" Cole replies.
"You're, like, staring at her." She points towards Hannah. "I know you guys are broken up or whatever, but damn, it's the end of the world. It's not like she has too many options."
Cole sighs and thinks back to when he cheated on Hannah. Hannah said some pretty brutal things to him, and he was angry and drunk. Honestly, he felt nothing for the other girl, but it was just a one time thing that he wishes he could take back. But he can’t, and he regrets it everyday. "She's not gonna take me back,” Cole says after a while.
"Look." Billie takes a deep breath before speaking again. "I had an ex. His name was Danny. We...all I'll say now is that we weren't getting along. But that didn't mean I didn't love him to death. We got in this big fight, and we never even got to make up, and then..." She takes another shaky breath. "I saw him get eaten by an infected. I never got to apologize or anything. And then he's just gone.
"My point is, whatever happened between you two probably isn't that important now that there're fucking dead people around every corner. If you really do love her, then Goddamn it, just say it! Because one day, if one of you is dinner for the infected, you're gonna regret not making things right with her."
Cole walks in silence for a few moments before saying, "Yeah. I understand. And I'm sorry about Danny."
"Thanks. There's nothing--" She's cut off abruptly by Adam.
"Shit. Infected!" Adam shouts.
They look ahead and see a crowd of infected, maybe close to seventy, barrelling down the highway right towards them.