Page 16: ControlEdit
God damn this shit never gets old... Matt thought to himself as he watched his Timex turn from three-thirty four to three thirty-five, the minutes moving along being a small ritual he has come to appreciate during his nightly watches. Next to him was Eric, still awake after nearly three days according to Brooke. "Have there even been any wanderers up here? I mean, the dead ones." he asked. Matt replied, "No, only living."
The conversation seemed to be oddly vague though it completely made sense to Eric, whose life had surrounded things such as the implausible truths of humanity. He couldn't carry on a conversation before his mind would drift off into the unknown. At least with this scenario, given that he knew at least his sister and most of his only true friends in life were safe, he was given comfort.
"Eric, I have a question." Matt stated. "If it's about the thirty-two, forget it. You'd never understand." he replied. "No dude, it's not that... even if Enrico hadn't come in when he did, would we have really headed north?"
"Yeah man, north seems the most logical." Eric answered as best as he could through the fears that this plan may not be as easy as he'd planned.
"Ok," Matt continued, "then why wait a day to do anything? I mean, I know we need to do one last supply raid but, seriously, we could leave this afternoon." Though his question was relevant and pretained to the day, Matt had actually and genuinely wanted to know why the hell Eric chose to carry that silly thirty-two.
"We need a day. We lost two people on these grounds and everyone needs to mourn them. Hell, that's why I wanted Ceasar and his people to stay an extra day. We need today. For Murphy Wilborne, and for dead latin kid."
It made sense to Matt that what had happened to their close friend was horrible and everyone would need a day to relax from the entire ordeal. It had only been a few hours since the bodies were wrapped up in sheets and set in the woods, so he couldn't help but think things would possibly be getting worse for them all in the days to come. He slid over on the swing and proceeded to withdraw the last thing that Murphy had ever given him, something that he'd procured in the vast array of village-projects he had to cross on his way to Matt's house.
Eric watched as Matt produced a joint from his pocket and brought it to his mouth. He lit the end using his lighter and took a deep, hearty drag before holding the exhale. Eric began to smirk, finally laughing at the sight of this which caused Matt to expel the marijuana from his lungs with a series of coughs. As Matt passed him the joint, Eric accepted it and began to inhale himself. "Where'd you get this?"
"Murph..." groaned Matt, "gave it to me near the V-A line. Forgot I'd had it..." as Matt continued to cough, Eric continued to smoke. "Never seen a black guy cough so much after smoking a joint." he said to Matt.
"Fuck you" said Matt to Eric, continuing to cough his lungs out.
After Eric took one last puff from the joint, he handed back to Matt who had finished coughing and once again, it was silent outside until they heard the rustling beside the house. All at once, Matt and Eric stood up, grabbing their guns in response to the sounds now emitting from the foliage nearby.
As Eric followed Matt's lead, the bead of his grandfather's M4 drawn into the area around them, he couldn't help but notice the joint still dangling from his lips and began to laugh. Matt hushed him, the effect of what was going on causing Eric to silence and follow his commrades lead.
Around the cabin was dense forestry and in the dark, it was impossible to see anything. Eric shined his heavy mag-light into the woods and seeked out the source of the noise. As they passed by the vehicles, the noises of crackling and moaning in the woods became more and more intense. Finally, they saw from the flashlight that the bodies of Murphy and the kid were missing from where they had been set. "Fuck... those things EAT bodies..." said Eric, stating the obvious. Matt shushed him and Eric silenced, placing his light beneath the M4 and aiming about into the woods for the thief responsible of stealing the bodies.
"Bloody, fuck..." stated Matt, disgusted by the sight before him. Eric turned, aiming the flashlight where the exterior lights in the backyard barely shined. All at once, his jaw dropped at the event unfolding before his eyes, ignoring the already terrifying sounds of the walking dead in the woods.
The bodies of Murphy Wilborne and the latino teenager were being devoured by five undead monsters, three men, a woman and a child who seemed to be a little girl of about six. She looked up to Matt and Eric first, a mouthful of Murphy's intestines dangling from her mouth as she snarled at them. Having ripped away the sheets covering the bodies, the undead had removed what was essentially everything from the insides of both men and were eating it as if it were some kind of chinese buffet. The smell of blood and excrement filled the air as Eric literally watched on them bite into the sphincter of the latin kids rectum, before vomiting across the yard.
"MOVE!" ordered Matt, shooting one of the undead over Murphy in the head. He quickly cocked the shotgun and aimed at an approaching undead who creeped out of the woods before it could bite into Eric, who darted backwards and into the wall of the cabin. Matt continued firing at every motherfucker he saw coming, aiming back at the carnage that was Murphy's body to notice the child freak was in fact the little Romano's girl he had taken a box from two nights before.
Eric ran to the porch, aiming away and taking pot-shots at the undead, knowing full well he'd never be able to manage the head shots if anything at all. Matt followed behind and passed Eric who provided him with an attempt at cover. As he himself stepped up onto the ledge of the porch and over the railing, he finally turned back to notice that Brooke, David, Enrico and Anna were outside to see what was going on.
David was already firing into the horde approaching from the driveway when Matthew shouted, "WE'RE UNDER ATTACK! BACK INSIDE!" Eric handed his rifle to Enrico before withdrawing the thirty-two from his pocket saying, "Make use of this!"
Josh had heard the continuous gunfire outside and was picking up his rifle when Eric entered the room, looking as dazed and confused as ever. "Outside. Attack. NOW!" he said, before running back into the hallway.
After gearing up, Josh ran to the front door to see Matt, David and the hispanic guy Enrico pile back inside, slamming the door behind them and locking it. Eric ran up to the scene and knocked over a DVD case against the wall, pushing it block the door while Enrico had the same idea with the couch. Josh ran into action and helped the man, pushing against the door beside Eric's case.
Anna attempted to calm down her mother who was still tired and now scared and confused, yelling at her in spanish to follow her, Brooke and Heather upstairs. "NO!" shouted Eric, stopping what he was doing to keep the women from ascending the stairway, "We've gotta leave. Now!" he ordered.
The statement caused David, Matt and Enrico to stop blocking the windows and listend to what the man had to say. "We HAVE to leave, NOW, this place is no longer safe!"
"FUCK YOU ERIC!" shouted Josh, irritated by the incompetence of this fool, "You don't know WHAT the fuck to do, so RUNNING is the only thing you CAN do! No wonder you're parent's died, you probably ran them out of the house and into the ARMS of those lurking FREAKS out there"
The long beat of silence was only broken by the sounds of undead clambering against the house in order to get inside. Anna, Heather and Maria ran to aide the others in barricading the house while Eric and Joshua proceeded to stare one another down. Brooke finally interjected, slapping Josh in anger before siding with his logic against her brother turning to him to say, "Eric... PLEASE! We CAN stay here! It CAN be safe!"
"What?!" Eric demanded, looking to his one and only family member left alive on the face of the earth. "What do you MEAN stay here?! Those things FOUND us! They'll come like this in droves because OTHERS LIKE THEM FOUND US!"
"I KNOW they're here Eric, but we can kill them all and be SAFE again!"
Hurt, Eric proceeded to back away, falling to the floor as he looked up at Josh sneering back at him with Brooke by his side. "Yeah Eric, we stay here. Defend THIS place."
"Fuck that," stated David, having finished barricading the house with the others. "Eric's right. This place will draw more and more in and it's just not defensible."
"David, dude, you can't be agreeing with this worthless sack of shit! He's never been ANY kind of physical contribution too---"
"No Josh, you listen to ME!" David began, approaching Josh with a bold intensity that Matt and Eric had never seen, "Eric is the only one who had a place for us to go because he KNEW it. He knew it's strengths in being isolated and its weakness as a simple LOG cabin built on an old foundation! He supplied us salvation here and plotted a course for us to follow where it looks smart, so don't go ripping on him! You're ALIVE because of myself, Matt, Murphy AND Eric, who actually PLOTTED this tactic in the first fucking place, so don't complain where it's not welcome! And you know what?! Next time you decide to attack someone's choice of abandoning their family just DON'T. You and me are the only two who really know what happened to your folks right now."
Another silence following David's speech was broken only by the undead outside, breaking their way into the kitchen window. "What now?!" begged Maria, looking to David, who reached down and helped Eric back to his feet. "You say go, I say go. It isn't safe here Eric, but how the hell do we get out?!"
Eric was so lost in the moment before that he was able to drop it and look around at the faces staring to him for answers. For control of the situation. He couldn't tell if it was the weed or the fact his own sister betrayed his word, but he forced himself back into the situation and looked around, noticing the sliding door that lead out back and stepped over to it. Peering outside, he saw from what the patio light illuminated that the undead were mainly focused on the bodies of Murphy and the kid still. Next, he went to check those side windows, using his mag-light to note that they were not as dense on the wall next to where the vehicles were parked.
Turning back to the others, Eric finally gave his command, "We go out the back as a group. Four to the Avalanche, four to the explorer. We move as soon as the supplies are gathered, Matt! David! Grab the flares from your kits and toss them from upstairs into the front yard as far from the driveway as you can, get as many of them distracted as possible! Josh, you help me, Enrico and the ladies get our gear to the trucks! You drive the Explorer with Maria, Anna and Enrico while I wait by the Avalanche with Brooke and wait for David and Matt! Now MOVE!"
Eric found both key sets to the vehicles and handed the one for the Explorer to Josh while keeping other to himself. Matt followed David to the bedroom and they produced the duffel bags, handing them to Josh and Eric while handing the women boxes of supplies and gear. Brooke approached Eric, who was once again by the side-doors watching out in the back yard. "Eric, I'm---"
"Not. Now." ordered Eric, intent on the survival of the others. Josh, Anna, Heather and Maria huddled together to wait for the signal from Eric that all was safe. He held the thirty-two snubnose in his hands, ready to use it as he waited for the right time for everyone to move.
Upstairs, Matt and David prepared the only five flares they had. "Toss em to the left of the house, gives us a better path to drive through" David said to Matt.
"Dude... are you sure Eric is the good source here? I mean, I know ammo is dense, but---" before he could finish, Matt was interrupted by David who was lifting the window slides as he said, "Come on man, wasting ammo isn't the best choice here. Who do YOU think is right?"
Matt pondered the question as he took three of the five flares and opened the second window from the upstairs bedroom where Murphy once died and came back to life. "Fuck it..."
Matt threw the first flare after igniting it, tossing it into the front yard and watching it land near the woods off to the side. After a tense moment of waiting before throwing the next ones, the two men watched as some straggling undead began leaving the side of the house and approach the lights.
Together, David and Matt lit the next two flares before tossing them out at once, luring away more of them. David picked up his AR rifle as Matt lit the last flare and tossed that one out, picking up his shotgun and heading downstairs.
As they entered the downstairs of the cabin for one last time, Matt and David saw that everyone but Eric had already left for the trucks, the last man providing cover with the shitty gun everyone had come to give him a hard time over. "COME ON! IT'S AS CLEAR AS IT'S GONNA BE!"
Eric managed to pull off four shots to the head of four dead ones, the aim and weight of the thirty-two more clear and accurate for him than anything else. Matt and David passed by him to the outside as he followed along to the Avalanche as the Explorer suddenly peeled off down the cleared path, running around to the back seat while the others took the remaining seats.
Matt was surprised to find himself sitting up front next to Brooke, who was at the wheel while Eric hopped in the back next David. The Explorer beside them was already moving when Eric screamed, "DRIVE! NOW!"
Dead ones surrounded the vehicle as Brooke shifted the vehicle into drive and took off down the driveway behind the others, following the narrow path as carefully and as quickly as she possibly could. Eric had tossed her the keys at the last second, telling her to be in the drivers seat no matter what happened and she complied.
As they darkness between the Avalanche and Explorer grew, the fear of running off the narrow road became immediate. Suddenly, this fear was lifted as the backlights of the Explorer found the main road and the Avalanche came to follow.
As the dead ones surrounding the cabin began to fade further and further away beside a burning fire in the woods beside it, everyone began to laugh, exhausting the emotions that had undoubtedly followed until Matthew took a deep breath and finally asked, "So, where are we gonna stop now?"
The sun had began glistening across the sunrise in the Virginia sky as Anna gazed out of the window into the rural country, swept with dark amber colors of the tree bark cascading amongst the bright leaves from above and below. She had barely been able to focus on anything as Josh's driving had been leaving much to be desired. Between each and every turn and bump along the way. From what she could see, Josh was actually beginning to fall asleep until Enrico began poking him in the arm. Anna leaned over to her mother whose grasp on her hand was torqued and complete.
From behind the Explorer, the Avalanche began honking it's car horn which caused Josh to look back in the mirror. "Time to stop." he said, pulling over into the seemingly abandoned gas station. He wiped the crumbs from his eyes as he parked the Explorer and proceeded to get out. In the small amount of time it took for them to run outside and into the vehicles, this moment of reconnection seemed to take a lesser amount of time without the panic involved. However, he reached for his rifle just as fast before heading out of the door to meet with the others while Enrico, Anna and Maria also piled out of the vehicle.
As Josh and the rest of the survivors approached them, Eric pulled out the map and laid it across the hood of Matt's Avalanche. Matt exhaled a yawn as Eric stared the map down and Josh began to complain, "What NOW man, lets just make it to DC. We even got the gas loaded in back of the Avalanche!"
"Not today, we're too tired. We need to rest." stated Eric. "THANK you Eric! THANK YOU!" proclamed Heather as Josh stepped over to him, angry and tired as he said, "Dude, really?! We need to---"
"Shut the FUCK up dude!" We're ALIVE, Ok, we were WRONG! Especially you!" barked Brooke.
Eric looked up from the map to Josh and then to Brooke, noticing what he had noticed before. However, something off in the distance caught his attention that made him ignore the bullshit that was unfolding before this little meeting.
"Holy fuck..." David said, noticing the very same thing that Eric did. Just across the street was Ceasar Romano's, walking away from a turned over pickup truck hitched to an equally turned over camper. His undead form had sapped away the little bit of life and warmth they had known as he reached for the only living souls within his sight. Eric jerked his thirty-two in the direction of the undead, taking careful aim as he felt the next to last round click before the hammer as he pulled it back. Matt sighed aloud, catching Eric's attention and causing him to lower the weapon.
Matt looked to Eric, his face concerned with a wisdom no twenty-five year old should ever possess. He nodded to Matt, knowing full and well the events that were to follow by his own hand. He went to the back of the Avalanche and in his duffel-bag where he found the Gerber Machete he'd bought at an auction in Greensboro. Never having thought he'd ever use it because of his already extensive arsenal, he knew someone might need too. He pulled it out of it's cover and stepped around the vehicle to Eric.
Eric stared into Matt's dark brown eyes for a moment before taking the machete, knowing full and well that he wants Eric to establish himself fully. Hell, for nearly losing his shit back at the cabin, Matt surely lost some faith in him. Not only that, but Eric needed this kill for what had happened between him and Josh before their escape. Not because of Josh, but because of Brooke.
Brooke could only watch as her brother took the machete from Matt's hand and began to walk over to the nice man who was just over at the cabin with his large family. Every step he took was like another jab that was sure to follow into the undead man's head by the machete handed Eric.
He finally reached the undead man and in one swipe, he dropped the blade of the weapon in the man's skull, subsequently dropping the man himself. As Eric continued to chop into the man's skull over, over and over again, he couldn't help but feel the joy of his release streaming from the pent up soul he had inside. Every slice, chop and sight of chunky brain bouncing out onto the pavement being a new motivation.
Watching the young man slice open the face of his nephew made Enrico cry. Dropping to his knees, he was comforted by Maria who began speaking softly to him. These words were not heard, however, as they fell into the nothingness that had become Enrico Romano's soul...
Finally, Eric stopped killing the already dead man and began to reapproach the group. After crossing the distance, he tossed the bloodied machete back into the back of Avalanche and walked over to the map that still laid across the top of the hood.
"We need to think things through god dammit and not half-ass it!" stated Eric, as brazenly and bolder than ever. "If we can decide on a place to go, then maybe we'll David looked to Anna and her mother, looking back at him with a look of concern and subtle fear. However, they were not in a position to argue. What the hell else could they do at this point? Knowing where to go may very well be the only thing that could keep this group alive and going.
Matt went to Anna and embraced her, kissing her passionately as both of their mothers watched in disgust. "We'll be Okay baby, I promise." he said. She replied, "I know we will, let's just stick together from now on."
Eric stared at Josh for a moment, waiting for a reply that soon followed, "Hey... I'm sorry about all that. It was unfair and I'm sorry."
Brooke watched as Eric nodded to Josh's reply and then glanced at her for only a moment before looking back at the map and then at the nearby gas station. Confused, she stayed silent and allowed him to continue speaking.
"Tonight," Eric began, "We stay here. Take what we can and tomorrow before sunup, we're out. Got it? We'll figure the rest out once we're inside and locked down. Now let's go..." The silence that followed was as much of an answer as Eric expected. As the sun finally reached a place where everyone began to sweat, Eric was the first to lead the group towards their latest safe haven. The night would be hott and rough but for now, everyone was alive and that seemed to be enough.
- End Of Page Sixteen. To Be Continued.