This is Issue 41 of Hope On The Rocks, entitled "Fine".
This issue is Nick-centric.
Odin and I weren’t excactly close. Maybe that was my own fault. I never had an entire conversation with him. He was a good man, though. I know Lia will miss him. I will too, of course.
“We saw a tank!” I suddenly hear someone yell.
I am sitting on an old desk, fomerly used by a receptionist. I’m looking through our weapons, to see which one works and which ones doesn’t. Lia and Miles are helping me.
“What?” Ridley, who is sitting comforting his pregnant girlfriend, says. He gets up, so do I.
“A military tank.” William, who is running down the chairs leading to the roof, says. He is followed by Chad. They both get towards me, grabbing each a gun.
I take one too, saying: “I’ll come.”
“Yea, me too.” Ridley says, also getting towards me.
Esther whispers something to Ridley, and Ridley whispers something back. I turn around to get my jacket, but Lia is in the way.
“Dad...” She says, a partially sad look on her face. I’d think she want to talk me out of leaving. “Be careful.”
I smile and give her a hug. “Of course, honey. You too.”
We can easily see where the tank had been. The trails are still visible in the road, so we are just following them.
The road is silent. It probably was so before the outbreak as well. It’s a country road, leading to some small town a few miles away.
“How’s Esther?” I ask, walking next to Ridley. Chad and William are walking in front of us, talking with each other.
“Fine, I think. She doesn’t like talking about it, y’know.” Ridley answers. “She’s scared, sad.”
“Aren’t we all?” I say, just looking at the road in front of us.
Lia is more or less over Helen. She says that ‘we need to move on’. I get it, I do, but it’s hard. I still regret my actions in Rogersville; using Axel’s prostitutes.
“I just want you to know... we’re with ya, okay?” Ridley says, looking at me. His scottish accent is overwhelming.
“What do you mean?” I ask, now looking at Ridley.
“I mean, you lost your wife. Must be hard to see me with Esther, Miles with your daughter...” Ridley says, not looking at me anymore.
I nod. It is hard, but as Lia says; we have to move on. I am happy on their behalf. It’s good for them that they can find love in this world. I certainly never will again.
“Thanks.” I just say.
We end up at a farm. The mailbox says “Tallie Family”. The tank is standing outside the house. Military must be inside.
“If this really is the miliary,” I say. “good thing we left Rogersville.”
“I dunno.” William says. “Why’d they be at a farm?”
I nod, though William has his back turned to me.
“Deadies!” I hear someone yell. An older man it sounds like. I look and see a man pointing a rifle at me. I hear a gunshot, just as William yells: “No!”
Everything has turned black. I have a hard time breathing. As I open my eyes, I see William kneeling next to me, trying to stop the bleeding.
“It... hurts...” Are the only words I manage to stutter. I want to tell Lia I love her one last time before I die. Because that’s what’s going to happen now. I’ll die now.
“You’ll be fine, Nick.” William says, nervously. “You’ll be fine.”
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