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Bethany Whitfield

A spa owner with no shame.

0 · 170 views · located in Season 3

a character in “The Walking Dead: Online”, as played by Zephon

Description

Bethany Whitfield

Image

 Name: Bethany Whitfield, AKA Chandy Kittens
 Portrayed By: Tricia Helfer
 Profession: Spa owner / Former porn-star / Director of adult movies
 Age: 36
 Gender: Female
 Height/Weight: 5’11 / 137 pounds
 Nationality/Ethnicity: Caucasian / American
 Tattoos/Scars: Tattoo of three butterflies on her heart
 Clothing/Outfit: Loves to wear leather. Leather pants, leather jacket, leather belt. You name it, she’s got it. Also wears sunglasses a lot.

Traits:

 3 Strengths: Gorgeous, Without Shame, Daredevil
 3 Flaws: Easily Annoyed, Deaf in Right Ear, Control Freak

Personality:

 Fears: Becoming old and decrepit, Losing control, Getting separated from Diego, Vermin
 Aspirations: Gaining a fortune, Fixing her hearing problem, Become a mother, Bungee jump all over the world
 Dominant Emotion: Confident
 Demeanour: Bethany is a woman who gets what she wants. She is all business with people she does not know, saying what is on her mind and expecting them to do what she says. A true control freak, she hates losing control of the situation, the only exception being during the rush of a bungee jump or other extreme sport. She is not ashamed of the things she does or has done and speaks openly about things that other people might find offensive. With people she cares about, which are admittedly not many, she shows a more sweeter and tender side. She loves her husband dearly and often overlooks and forgives his faults.
 Quirks/Oddities: Often tilts her head to one side, mainly because of her hearing problem.
 Skills/Proficiencies: Riding a motorcycle, Climbing, Extreme sports, Running a business, Firearms, Dancing, Skin care, Knows her way around the bedroom,

Equipment:


 Two handguns
 Small dagger
 Swiss army knife
 Has a key of motorcycle around her neck
 Wedding ring

History:

 Born in Los Angeles, only child of Henry and Monica Whitfield.
 Diagnosed with partial deafness at age 5.
 Goes skydiving at age 12. Falls in love with extreme sports.
 Goes to college, starts doing amateur porn to pay for it.
 “Discovered” at age 19 by a famous porn film studio.
 Gains fame as the actress ‘Chandy Kittens’.
 Mother dies of breast cancer.
 Quits doing porn at age 31. Keeps working part-time as director.
 Opens her own spa.
 Meets the much younger Diego on set, fall in love and get married within three months.
 Starts using spa as a cover for selling cocaine, after husband is forced back into the business.

So begins...

Bethany Whitfield's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Samuel Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Althea Brown Character Portrait: Henry Ahlstedt Character Portrait: Bethany Whitfield Character Portrait: Diego Azevedo (NPC)

0.00 INK

#, as written by Zephon
Bethany Whitfield

---

His lips were on hers. His mouth was as passionate as ever, just as intense as their first kiss. Romance novels often described how a man’s tongue would explore a woman, but Diego was far beyond that point. He was on familiar ground and loved every second of it. She could tell.

Bethany let it go on for a while, feeling the same intense longing to touch him. It had been three days now since the last time they had sex, and even that one had been quick and inside some dirty room. Diego grabbed her behind more firmly and pressed her closer against his body. She could feel his heat. She could feel him. All of him.

Yet, she had to break it off for now. It would have to wait. She turned her head away from him and checked the alley again.

“I think it’s gone,” she said to her husband, “we can go on.”

Diego was slightly out of breath, which she knew was just an act, and leaned with one hand against the wall. “A pity,” he said, “I could have used a couple more minutes.”

“I know you do, dear.” She responded with a last kiss on his mouth and moved into the alley. Diego picked up his metal baseball bat and followed her.

They moved through the streets like cats, staying to one side and always keep an eye on their back. It had been just the two of them since it all happened and so far it was working. Both still alive, reasonably well fed and without any injuries. The only real problem had been the fire, destroying everything they had, including the suitcases. Bethany felt like cursing again. They had enough cocaine to last Diego a long time, he didn’t use that much after all, but then some idiot had decided to burn a pack of walkers by setting their building on fire. It had destroyed everything, including their apartment. She had a suspicion that the arsonist had died in his own fire, but didn’t really care either way.

Part of her wanted to leave all this drugs business behind, but she knew that Diego would sooner or later need some of it. Without it, he could go into withdrawal and they could not use that right now. Rehab would have to wait until they found a place that was safe and secure.

So now they were on their way back to the spa, retrieving the final two suitcases they had been unable to carry a few days back. If they were still there. Gonzales could have picked them up by now, but it was more likely he was dead. So many people were these days.

“Watch out,” Diego hissed and she was pulled backwards. In front of her eyes, she could see a rotten hand clawing out, just where her head had been a second ago. It had come from her right side, so she hadn't heard it coming. Bethany felt a mixture of shock and excitement well up in her. Adrenaline pumping, she watched on as Diego took his bat and bashed the walker’s head in. The first swing made it stagger, the second made its eye and nose explode, the third got through the skull and into the brain. Another walker appeared and without thinking, she took the bat from Diego’s hand. Swinging with all her might, she bashed its head against the wall, crushing it between bat and stone. It completely tore open, blood, flesh and brain spattering everywhere.

“One swing,” said Diego, impressed.

Bethany wiped the bat clean on the clothes of the walker the best she could before handing it back to her husband. She gave him a playful peck on the cheek.

“You know me. Always going full throttle.”


---

They didn’t move fast nor with any apparent purpose, so the effect was not immediately apparent, but it appeared to Rafiq that the number of walkers in the street was slowly increasing. It made him feel uncomfortable. He hoped the others would show up soon. If they had to move again, he wasn’t sure they would ever be able to find each other. He particularly missed Carl, Niobe and Marie and hoped they would come back soon.

George was looking through the binoculars, not saying a word the whole time. That suited Rafiq just fine. Jessica and Tara had vouched for the new guy from the tunnels, Henry, but George was still angry about it. That was probably the main reason why he had been volunteered to take the first watch on the roof. Rafiq had felt it was best to join him up there.

Although he knew it probably wasn’t the best timing, Rafiq had then told him what had happened to Molly. He had expect some loud angry cursing, or even a slap in the face, but instead George had just stared at him. For a while it looked like the message didn’t even come through, but then tears filled in the eyes of the older men.

“I miss Charlie,” was the only thing he had said.

Rafiq hadn’t known how to respond to that.

So they had just sat there, on the rooftop, looking at the walkers on the street and the entrance to the metro station. Hoping that some familiar faces would show soon.

“Someone is coming,” George suddenly said.

Rafiq perked up and looked the metro station. There was nobody there.

“Where?” He asked, “I can’t see anybody.”

George pointed a way to the left. Near the gas station were two figures, a man and a woman. Rafiq didn’t recognize them, but they were clearly still human. Probably stragglers looking for a safe place.

“They are heading straight for this place,” George said. He took out his gun. Alarmed, Rafiq stepped in front of George. “There is no need for that,” he said, “there are just two of them. I’ll see what they want. You,” he gently lowered the gun in George’s hand, “you stay here and watch for the others.”

Rafiq quickly got off the roof and rushed down the stairs. Thankfully, the building was not too large and he got to the main lobby before the couple did. Jessica, Sam, Annabelle, Althea and the new guy Henry were still there. They all tensed as Rafiq rushed into the room.

“Someone is coming,” as he said it he could see some of them reach for a weapon. “Just two,” he added quickly, “they are probably just looking for a place to hide.”

Just a few seconds later, the couple stepped in. The man was fit, handsome and looked to be from somewhere in South America. The woman was older, but still exceptionally beautiful. Even Rafiq could tell. She was the kind of person that would attract all the attention the moment she stepped into a room.

The woman looked at them with some confusion, then composed herself. The man raised his baseball bat, which was red with blood.

“What are you doing in my spa?” She asked without any apparent concern that she was outnumbered.

---

When the people did not respond, Bethany bopped her head sideways.

“Well? Are you going to answer me?”

A young man stepped forward, deliberately standing in front of the child in the room, blocking the boy from her view. Clever, she thought to herself. Protecting the weakest member of your group from the unknown.

“We’re sorry,” the Arabic man said, “I didn’t know this was your spa. We were just looking for a place to wait for our friends.”

“And you thought the best way to do that was to break into my business.”

The man, who was about the same age as Diego, turned slightly red. “Yes, no, well...”

“She’s just messing with you,” Diego laughed. Bethany couldn’t help but smile.

“Don’t worry,” she said, “you’re welcome to the place. I doubt we’ll ever open it again. I’m just here to pick up some stuff.”

“What stuff?” Another man asked, much older than the other one. He was also a bit ruffed up for some reason.

“None of your business stuff,” Diego said to him, raising his tone with a hint of threat. Bethany briefly touched his hand as a warning.

“You’re Bethany Whitfield?” an elderly and somewhat overweight lady asked. Bethany nodded, asking with her eyes how she knew that. The woman picked up on it. “I saw your name on one of the rooms. I thought it was a beautiful name. My name is Annabelle.”

Bethany didn’t really know if the compliment was sincere or not, but she took it all the same. “How nice of you to say, Annabelle. This is my husband, Diego.” Diego nodded in response. Out of politeness, the others introduced themselves as well. It was funny to Bethany how civility hadn’t completely died out yet. The only one who didn't introduce herself was a dark-skinned woman, who was sitting in the waiting area and seemed to be observing the situation.

She turned her attention back on the younger man, Rafiq, who looked like the one in charge, although Bethany didn’t really know why.

“Look, we won’t bother you long. Just need some of my personal belongings. Hope that isn’t a problem?”

Rafiq shook his head. “Can’t see why not.”

With that, she and Diego made their way up the stairs. To her annoyance, Rafiq followed them.

“We know the way, thank you,”
she said with all the authority she had.

“There are other people in the building,” Rafiq answered, with more backbone in his tone then Bethany had expected out of him, “No need to alarm them with your presence.”

Bethany looked at Diego, who shrugged in a ‘what-are-you-going-to-do’ way.

They got to the meeting room where they had left the suitcases and stopped. Rafiq’s eyes got larger and said, “You want to go in there?”

“Yes,” Diego said, “what we want is in here.”

“But... uh... there are dead bodies in there.”

“Dead bodies?” Bethany exchanged looks with Diego, who looked just as confused as her. What was this Rafiq talking about? There hadn’t been anyone here when they left. Bethany opened the door and looked inside. There were indeed five bodies in the room.

“Wait,” Bethany said to Diego, “is that Gonzales? And that Kimberly and Thea? What were they...” She didn’t understand what had happened. Gonzales, maybe, but why were Kimberly and Thea back here? Although it probably didn’t really matter anymore why, it made her feel uneasy all the same.

Then she looked at the table properly. Diego noticed at the same time. They walked towards it and both opened a suitcase. It were the ones filled with money. Useless.

“Where are the other two?” Diego asked.

Bethany looked at the door where Rafiq was standing. He looked back.

“What two?” He asked, “this was how we found it.”

Liar, Bethany thought to herself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Bethany Whitfield Character Portrait: Diego Azevedo (NPC)

0.00 INK

#, as written by Zephon
Rafiq Chedidi

---

They went through each room systematically. Looking through drawers, behind cabinets, inside flowerpots. Rafiq knew what they were looking for, but neither Bethany or Diego had deemed it necessary to inform him. Not that he really blamed them. Who would openly admit to be looking for cocaine in front of a complete stranger? Even these days.

He kept following them around, just in case. Rafiq considered just coming clean and giving them the suitcase back, but he ultimately decided not to. He didn’t even know why not. It was not that he was afraid of the couple. He might have been, once, but meeting a potential drugs dealing couple was no longer on his list of things to be afraid of. Besides, as far as he could tell, they had been honestly upset and surprised by the bodies in the conference room. Rafiq suspected these two were a lot of things, but they were no killers.

No, Rafiq didn’t know why he kept the suitcase hidden from them. But he did.

Bethany was contemplating a bottle of hand lotion. She opened it and sniffed it in a way women do in the commercials. Smiling faintly, she applied it on her hands.

“You don’t have to follow us around, you know,” she said.

Rafiq shrugged, “I know.”

“So don’t.” Her eyes peered at him intensely, but Rafiq didn’t look away. Her face betrayed an annoyance as she left the room.

Her husband did not follow her immediately, but lingered instead. He watched his wife leave the room and then turned his attention on Rafiq.

“You look different,” Diego said.

“Excuse me?”

“You don’t look at her as most men do.”

Rafiq blinked in surprise, “I... what... she’s your wife. I...”

Smiling, Diego stepped closer. “And I’m the luckiest man in the world because of her. But that doesn’t mean other men do not want her.”

He was getting even closer, uncomfortably so. Rafiq felt a prickle of sweat forming on his brow. Diego’s smile had turned into a charming grin. Too charming. “And it also doesn’t mean I would only want her.”

Rafiq could feel his heart racing, thumping in his chest. What was happening?

Diego finally moved away and looked out of the window with his back turned. Rafiq just stood there, perplexed. He suddenly felt very exposed. In a way he hadn’t felt for a long time.

---

Position. Dive. Swim.

Get out of the pool.

Position. Dive. Swim.

Get out of the pool.

Position. Dive. Swim.

“Beat you again, Raf!”

“No you didn’t! I was clearly faster.”

“No way!”


Rafiq pointed at the times on the board and raised his eyebrows victoriously at his best friend. Nasir made a face and splashed some water at Rafiq. He was rewarded for this with a punch on the shoulders.

“Like it matters. Terry and Jude are still faster than the both of us.” Nasir said.

This time it was Rafiq who made a face. “At the 100 meter, yes. They’re not beating me on the longer distances though.”

“Didn’t Terry beat you on the 200 last week?”

“Ow, shut up.”

“Get out of the pool, boys! Next lap!”[/b] It was coach Stevenson. Rafiq and Nasir quickly got out of the pool and got back in front of the platforms. They were primarily practicing their diving techniques today, but that didn’t mean the coach didn’t want them to finish their laps as fast as possible.

Rafiq could feel Stevenson standing behind him. The coach was a big and burly man, whose presence was always felt. He was tough, but it was only because he wanted his boys to succeed.

“Rafiq, before I forget, I’d like to see you after practice. Before you take a shower. We need to discuss some of your techniques.”

“Yes, sir.”

As the coach walked away, Nasir looked at his friend. “Your turn for secret training tips from the coach?”

“Apparently. It has been a while.”

“Should I wait for you?”

“No need. Who knows how long it will take. Go home.”


The training lasted fifteen more minutes. As Rafiq stayed behind, most of the other boys left. Only Jude was still there, who was talking with coach Stevenson, who in turn checked his watch. He then looked over at Rafiq and said, “I’ll be there in a second, Rafiq. Need to figure out some administrative stuff with Jude.” Rafiq nodded and the two of them left.

He said down by the pool and submerged his legs into the water, gently moving them back and forth. Rafiq was excited. Private lessons with the coach always improved him as a swimmer. The man had a knack for making you refine your techniques. Rafiq loved swimming, ever since he was a little boy and he was proud that he was one of the best in the city, if not the state.

Footsteps on a wet floor signalled the coming of the coach. Except it wasn’t the coach. It was Jude. “What is it?” Rafiq asked.

“The coach send me. He has some family emergency and has to go. Your lesson is postponed.”

Rafiq looked at Jude with concern. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes, I don’t think it is anything too big. Suzy is probably in a panic again.”


Suzy was the coach’s wife and while the coach never spoke about it, all the boys knew that she had psychological problems.

Rafiq followed Jude to the locker room. They talked about the coach and his wife. All the boys respected the coach and none of them blamed him if he had to leave early. He would make up for the lost time at the next training.

The locker room was already empty as they entered. “Guess it’s just us,” Jude said as he took off his swim briefs. Completely naked, the seventeen-year old boy stepped into the shower section. Rafiq stared at Jude’s ass for a second, before catching himself. He always felt disgusted with himself when he looked too long. Most of the time, he managed to not even notice the other boys in that way, but it happened once in a while. The other boys were muscular, well-build and attractive, especially Terry and Jude. Most disturbing were the dreams he sometimes had about his fellow swim mates.

After checking that nothing from his body had involuntarily reacted, he took off his own swim briefs and followed Jude in the showers. The warm water felt good and Rafiq could feel his muscles relax. Jude was two showers over and scrubbing his hair.

“You’re going to try out for the Pacific Swim?”

“I think so. You?”

“Yeah, if I can fit it in.”


As he said it, Jude glanced at Rafiq and smiled in a weird way. There was a sparkle in his eyes and Rafiq could feel his own stomach make a jump. Confused, Rafiq turned his attention to his own feet.

“You know Rafiq, you can look at me.”

His feet were becoming more interesting by the second, lifting one of them to peel away some old skin. From the corner of his eye, he could see Jude change showers, getting closer to him.

“Really, I don’t mind. I look at you too.” A pause. Then, “You’re quite hot, you know that right.”

Rafiq felt himself turning red, desperate and sick. Reluctantly, he had to admit to himself he had fantasized about this, in the deepest corners of his mind, but he had never imagined...

“I... I don’t... I’m not...”

“Look at me, Raf”

Rafiq looked at Jude. The other boy had come even closer now and his body was clearly showing excitement. Rafiq tried covering his own parts, but he knew it was too late. Jude had seen it and smiled mischievously.

“I knew it,” Jude said, “don’t worry Raf, I won’t tell the others. They are all stupidly straight anyway and don’t notice these things.”

Rafiq stammered, “I’m... I’m not gay...” It came out extremely pathetic.

Jude was extremely close now and was stroking Rafiq’s arm.

“Of course not.”

And he kissed him.

For two seconds, Rafiq let him. Only then came the old feelings back. Disgust, guilt, shame. He recoiled from the other boy and jumped out of the shower. Still wet, he put on his clothes as quick as he could. Jude had come after him, still naked, but now looking concerned and slightly ashamed.

“Rafiq! I’m sorry! I shouldn’t... I don’t know what came over me. I just saw you and...” he touched Rafiq’s back, who sprung back.

“Stay away from me,” Rafiq hissed and in tears.

He ran out of the room.

That night, Rafiq did not come home.


---

“I said, it is snowing outside.”


Diego’s words made Rafiq snap back into reality and pushed Jude away from his thoughts.

“Snowing?”

Through the window, Rafiq could indeed see that grey flacks were falling of the sky. But he was sure it wasn’t snow.

“You and Bethany might want to stay a little longer...”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wayne Williams (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Samuel Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Bethany Whitfield Character Portrait: Diego Azevedo (NPC)

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% Jessica Abbott %


"I'm telling you, it was Oakland..." Rafiq protested, shoving his hand back into a bag of potato chips. Annabelle bundled up some of the woolen bathrobes tighter around her feet, much like the rest of them had -- into various makeshift beds around the cold tile floor of the spa. The Sun had long since set, and the night grew colder with each passing second of the blackening nuclear shroud.

"It doesn't matter," Wayne chirped quietly from his corner. Sam lay asleep next to him buried next to Jessica in his own assortment of robes and towels as he snored softly. "Coulda been Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco... it doesn't make any difference. It'll be Chicago next week. Portland after that. We might be losing cities, but we've already lost-- shit, probably half the world..."

"Language," Jessica chided, softly. Wayne rolled his eyes and dug for another handful of chips as Annabelle wiped her mouth dry after a botched sip of her iced tea, appalled at Wayne's blatant pessimism.

She pat her shirt dry with the towel draped around her shoulders and placed her drink to the side, behind . "They wouldn't bomb Los Angeles again would they? I mean-- with one of the big ones?"

George's halting footsteps interrupted that thought, signaling his return from the rooftop where he had posted up with his fellow drunken compatriot, Henry. That was -- until the hazardous ash started falling from the sky. "You talking about the grand finale," George jabbed, setting his rifle against the wall and rolling up the sleeves of his shirt as he searched for a place to sit. "It's a genius plan, really... use the first bombings to lure all the walkers into the city center-- and then... He mimicked an explosion with his hands quite dramatically as he found an open spot on the floor and settled in. He looked around at the others' tired faces, barely lit by the lantern resting in the center of their circle. "What better way to solve the whole 'end of the world' problem, eh?" He was surprisingly chipper after his brief stint on watch, especially considering the havoc he had that night. But a heavy silence descended on the group as the logic of it all rang true. Any doubt at all the city was safe would be reason enough to get out of Los Angeles, but George's observation wasn't without reason. They may have been sitting in the eye of the storm all along, oblivious to the real disaster that lay ahead of them. Now with the group divided again, any imminent escape seemed fruitless at best -- at least at the moment.

"You're on watch by the way, mate--" George called out to Wayne on the opposite side of the circle. The abrupt breach of silence prompted the man to stir to action immediately. He checked for his pistol beneath his shirt and, once satisfied, stepped through the sea of legs towards the stairs to the second level where more windows lied. Tara was still somewhere up there with the other girls, keeping an eye on the boulevards to the west. Wayne trudged off towards his duties, attempting to pass by Diego -- who had been leaning against the frame of the door to the stairwell, eavesdropping on his guests' conversation. He stroked his chin bemusedly, looking from Rafiq to each of the others in the circle as Bethany stepped in front of Wayne, blocking his way.

"So..." the stubbly man began, strutting towards them. "When's check-out?"

Jessica sensed George's hairs bristling on his skin-- and interjected. "Listen, we didn't mean to break in here or anything... but it's not exactly safe outside. Surely, you understand that-- right?"

"Of course, I do. I absolutely comprende," he said half-mockingly, "it's just that I think some of your friends may have taken something that doesn't belong to them."

Jessica furrowed her brow, looking around at the others. "I'm sorry-- I'm not quite sure what y--" Diego turned around mid-sentence, cutting her off. He walked back to the door frame and reached behind it -- pulling a briefcase out and setting it on the floor. He set his shoe on top and slid it across the tile towards the circle.

"Look what I was able to... sniff out," he quipped as the briefcase slowed to a stop. A playful grin spread across his face as he motioned at the luggage with his finely attended eyebrows. "Why don't you open it, Rafiq?"

Rafiq flinched at the sound of his name, suddenly aware of everyone's eyes on him. His lips twitched as he tried to decide how to respond to Diego's command. "L-Listen," he started with a stammer, "it wasn't my idea-- we just thought t-that--" his neck craned towards the stairwell, hoping Wayne would be there to help him explain. Diego tracked Rafiq's eyes and rounded on Wayne like a dog on a leash. It was his fault after all, and Rafiq was in no mood to take the brunt of the punishment. "Look, it's all here! We didn't do anything with it or nothin'."

Diego hung his head, rubbing his hands over his face in disbelief. He crept forwards, closing in on Rafiq as he crouched down over the briefcase. Rafiq quickly kneeled down, flicking the clasps open and popping the top, revealing its heart-breakingly empty interior. He had been duped. His heart froze in his chest as Diego came to a stop above him. "Why don't we go for a walk," he insisted, adjusting the pistol in his waistband. Jessica watched George's eyes flick towards his rifle -- leaning on one of the columns adjacent to him. She moved closer to Sam, praying that the situation would defuse quickly. Her other hand fumbled for her knife near her bag under the covers. Rafiq swallowed hard, his eyes darting around the floor as he desperately tried to muster up a plan.

"I think this guy should join us," the blonde woman advised, quite matter-of-factly. She sidled up next to Diego, eyeing Wayne up and down.

"Like hell I should," Wayne protested, backing away with his hands in the air. "What are you trying to insinuate, "Sun-Tan Barbie" ...?!"

Diego was in his face in a flash. "What did you just say to her?" Both fists were clenched like two small wrecking balls. Bethany placed a hand on his shoulder from behind. Her cool touch immediately began to simmer him down.

"Easy, honey--" she purred. "These are our guests," She crossed over to the lantern on the floor and crouched down. Whether or not she meant to be seductive didn't matter cause she did and she was. Bethany swept the lantern off of the floor and held it up above her head, illuminating the room with its vibrantly orange glow.

"Let's give 'em the grand tour."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wayne Williams (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Bethany Whitfield Character Portrait: Diego Azevedo (NPC)

0.00 INK

#, as written by Zephon
Rafiq Chedidi


---

This was ridiculous. This whole day was ridiculous. To think that just this morning, he had actually thought that things would get better. Instead, everything had turned into a disaster.

Wayne and the woman, Bethany, were in front of him, while Diego kept close to Rafiq, making sure he wouldn’t run away or something. Every time Rafiq tried to distance himself from the man, Diego would gently tap him on the shoulder.

They entered one of the side rooms, where Diego closed the door behind them. Wayne was still looking at them defiantly. Rafiq just wanted it to get over with. He had never cared about the cocaine in the first place. As far as he was concerned, they should just give it back to Bethany and Diego. Make it their problem. But for some reason, Wayne didn’t seem to agree. Rafiq suspected it was simply a matter of pride, but it could be something else. How well did he know Wayne after all? The man could be a junkie, for all he knew. Maybe that’s why Wayne’s been feeling ill these last few days.

Still, Wayne was a friend.

“Now, about our...” Bethany began.

“Why should I listen to you?” Wayne responded angrily “you are just with the two of you. We have a whole group. Why am I even going along with this?”

Because of their attitude, Rafiq thought to themselves. They might just be with the two of them, but it was clear they weren’t afraid of confrontation, unlike most people. Rafiq suspected they had often got what they wanted that way.

“Because you people are trespassing on my property,” Bethany said calmly, “and you have something that’s mine.”

“Prove it.”

Bethany raised her eyebrows in an obvious feint of surprise, “Really? You want us to go through this again? Your friend here,” she gestured towards Rafiq as she said it, “more or less admitted it.”

Wayne looked at Rafiq, clearly hoping for support. Rafiq shook his head. “Come on Wayne, let’s just give it back to them.” He couldn’t help noticing the disappointment entering Wayne’s eyes. Regardless, Rafiq had to convince him to give it back. It was for the best of the group. “It’s theirs, not ours.”

“At least one of you is sensible,”
Diego said with a grin, “tell me where it is.”

“It’s in the storage room.”

“We already looked in there. Where is it hidden?”


Rafiq glanced at Wayne, hoping for some help, but the man held his stubborn defiance in place. Rafiq sighed, “I don’t know. I was making sure nobody was disturbing us, while Wayne hid it.”

“You greedy bastards,” Diego said, though his tone hinted more at approval than anything else. Still, Rafiq felt hurt.

“It was not like that. We didn’t want anyone else to know, not yet, because we’ve had a long day ad it would only complicate things.”

Bethany laughed at that, “And things got complicated anyway.”

“I’m not trying to excuse ourselves here,” Rafiq said, tired. He could feel his head pounding. The day was getting to him, he knew. “Wayne, just tell them where you hid it.”

“No.”

“Wayne, please. What’s the point?”

“The point is, Ra-fiq,” Wayne put extra emphasis on the name, “that I don’t feel like getting bossed around by Pinky and the Bitch Brain over...”

This time Bethany was not fast enough to stop Diego. He punched Wayne full in the face, who staggered backwards. He blinked in surprise and stood completely still for a full second. Then he blinked again and focused his attention back on Diego.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” Wayne hissed.

“Oh, shouldn’t I have,”
even though he said it mockingly, Rafiq didn’t miss the fact that Diego looked at Bethany as if he expected her to stop him. She didn’t though; instead she simply rolled her eyes.

Wayne took this moment to swing back. Diego managed to block it, but he miscalculated the force behind the punch and lost balance. Wayne took the opportunity and pushed the stronger man to the ground, falling on top of him and trying to pin him down.

As they continued their struggle on the ground, Rafiq watched at the scene not sure what to think of it. They were fighting, sure, but neither of them seemed to be intend on seriously injuring the other. Bethany tip-toed around them and walked up to Rafiq.

“Shouldn’t we stop them?”
He asked her.

“Nah,” she said, “let them get it out of their system.”

“Their system? You mean...”

Bethany merely shrugged, “Men.”

Rafiq snorted. Then giggled. Then outright began laughing. This made Wayne and Diego stop their little brawl, who looked at the Arab boy in confusion. Rafiq didn’t even notice. He continued laughing uncontrollably, doubled over.

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.”

They were being chased by the undead, Molly had been killed just a few hours ago and most of his group had gone missing.

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.”


His parents were dead, so was his best friend and he had no clue what had happened to his sister.

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.”


And these two grown man were fighting over some cocaine.

This day truly was ridiculous.

As Rafiq kept having the giggles, Wayne and Diego tried to catch their breath. They looked at each other, suddenly gained an understanding and then Wayne slapped Diego on the back as if they had become best friends.

“So, dude, how about we share?”

Diego grinned at that, “How about 70-30.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong (NPC) Character Portrait: Wayne Williams (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Samuel Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Lisa Pazzino (NPC) Character Portrait: Althea Brown Character Portrait: Henry Ahlstedt Character Portrait: Bethany Whitfield Character Portrait: Diego Azevedo (NPC)

0.00 INK

#, as written by Zephon
Bethany Whitfield


The sound of the crashing boxes was still ringing in her ears. The unexpected sound put her and the other three – Diego, Rafiq and Wayne – on immediate high alert. Had they missed something? Was there still a walker about? They all ran out of the room and turned a corner. From the sound of it, Bethany figured it came from the storeroom in the back.

She had been the first one out of the room and had thus gained a bit of a head start on the others. She first saw the man (what was his name again?) standing unsteadily on his feet, looking at something on the floor. She then noticed the girl, who was...

“Oh Christ...” Bethany muttered under her breath. There was a lot of blood. Too much blood.

The girl was gently tucking the boy’s hand. “Sam,” she said in a whisper, “be okay. Please, be okay.”

Bethany quickly glanced at the drunk while stepping past him, his face had gone completely pale, and then crouched down beside the girl. It was difficult to see in the shine of the flashlight, but she thought Sam was still breathing. Bethany took hold of his wrist and felt for a pulse. She wasn’t quite sure what a good rhythm was supposed to be in a situation like this, but at least she felt something. He was still alive. She tried to release Lily’s grip on the boy, but the girl was resisting.

“Come sweetie,” Bethany said compassionately. She had not much experience with children, but that didn’t really matter right now. It was basic human decency at work.

“I... I won’t leave him alone,” Lily responded. “I can’t.”

“We need to make room. I’m sure somebody here knows what to do and they will need room.”

“Will he be alright?”


Bethany knew that lying would get them nowhere. “I honestly don’t know.”

At that moment, the lights came on. Diego must have found the light switch, Bethany thought, but she didn’t look up to check. The scene in front of her was now in clear view and it was gruesome. Sam had fallen down from the stack of boxes and first hit one of the massage tables before crash landing on the floor. His left leg was at an unnatural angle, twisted at the knee and already starting to get swollen. Sam had fallen on the back of his head. A large pool of blood was forming at the boy’s head, mixing with another smaller pool coming from either his back or shoulder; it was hard to tell. Bethany wasn’t sure, but she thought she could even make out some bone fragments mixed in with the blood. The boy appeared to be unconscious. Small mercy.

The others from downstairs had heard the commotion as well and had come up to the room. It was like all hell breaking loose.

“What has happened?”
“What was that sound?”
“Is it a walker?”
“SAAAAAAM!!!!”
“OW GOD!”
“FUCK!”
“IS IT A WALKER?!”
“NO, NO WALKER!”
“SAAAAM!!! SAAAAM!!!”
“LET ME THROUGH!”
“PLEASE! HELP HIM!”
“Ow God...”
“WHAT HAPPENED?”
“He.. he fell...”
“HOW?!”


The mother and one of the other woman had knelt down near Sam. Bethany had moved Lily away from the body, but already lost the girl to the clutches of somebody else. The brunette clearly knew what she was doing, first checking the broken boy’s chest, then went on to listen at the mouth and nose for breath and felt the cheeks for respiration. She said something to the mother, but Bethany couldn’t hear what with everybody trying to get into the room. They all wanted see what was going on. To do something. But it was only getting crowded. It was not helping.

“ALRIGHT! EVERYBODY OUT!” Bethany shouted at the top of her lungs. That got everybody’s attention. The situation was so severe that everybody immediately knew what she wanted and they backed away from the room. Before closing it, she locked eyes with Diego.

“Get the first aid kit,” she said, “there should be one in my office.”

He nodded and as he sprinted away, she closed the door and turned her attention on the woman doctor (at least Bethany hoped she was a doctor). The mother was muttering at her son’s side and clearly in a state of shock.

“What can I do?”

The doc looked up and her eyes sent a chill through Bethany’s spine.

It was one that said ‘there is nothing we can do’.

Yet, there was also an understanding between the two women, two complete strangers, that they had to do something. For the mother’s sake, if for nothing else.

“Help me stop the bleeding first.”

---

Rafiq Chedidi


The silence in the hallway was deafening. The blood. The shock. The fact that it concerns a young boy. The strange realization that accidents still happen, even with bloodthirsty zombies creeping around everywhere. Rafiq’s hand was shaking uncontrollably. He clenched his hand in an attempt to control it, but it only seemed to help slightly. He felt so helpless. Once again, he was completely helpless. Molly...

Everyone was standing with their back to the wall, having made room for Diego when he went to look for the first aid kid. Annabelle was standing to Rafiq’s left, holding Lily in her arms and stroking her hair. Although the girl’s cheeks were still wet with tears, she was no longer crying. Her focus had hardened again, just like it had been before the accident. The girl had only allowed herself to act like the child she was for the shortest of times.

It was her that broke the silence.

“What will happen now?”


“I’m sure Lisa will be able to patch him up again, darling,” Annebelle said soothingly.

“Don’t lie to me,” Lily responded with indignation, trying to wrestle free from Annabelle’s embrace, “I know it’s bad. I know he will die.”

“You don’t know that. It’s in God’s hand.”


“Like he cares anymore,”
the girl said, breaking free from the hold.

Rafiq crouched down beside her, looking her straight in the eyes and hoping that his voice was the same way as if he was speaking to an adult. “What happened in there, Lily?”

“Sam fell.”

“Yes, but how?”

“Because...” the girl thought for a moment, as if she had to decide whether a lie would be in her best interest. It took a couple of seconds and everyone in the room was looking at her, but Lily did not seem to notice. Or she didn’t care.

“Him happened. The drunk one.”
She pointed straight at Henry, who for a moment did not seem to realize what was happening, before standing up a little more straight and holding up his hands.

“Now, hold on a minute...” he said. Lily did not seem to care and went on.

“Sam and I were, uhm, playing with the boxes. Building a tower, that sort of thing. Then he came in and scared us. Like... like it was a joke.”

“That’s sick!” Wayne exclaimed.

“Wowowowow! That’s not how it happened!” Henry jumped forward, but was knocked back again, because just at that moment Diego came by with the first aid kit. It made Henry fall back to the wall and falling down.

“Sorry dude,” Diego murmured, before rushing to the storage room, not realizing the situation he just disturbed.

Lily looked at the man on the floor defiantly. “That is how it happened! You scared us and now Sam is dying!”

Henry’s eyes opened wide, confused and angry. “You’re lying! You lying bitch!”

“You say what?!” One of the woman said shocked.

Henry tried to crawl towards Lily, but George and Wayne stopped him in his tracks by holding him down by the shoulders.

“Now, calm down!”

The man was wroth and drunk and did not hear what George was saying. He appeared to become more dangerous by the second. “She’s lying! She’s lying!”

“He’s drunk.”
“He completely lost it.”
“We can’t have him around the kids.”
“SHE’S LYING!”
“We can’t have him around us.”
“What should we do with him?”
“We should lock him up?”
“She’s lying.”
“And then what?”
“We can’t just lock somebody up.”
“Then what would you have us do?”
“Shit, I don’t know.”
“She’s.. lying...”


Rafiq’s head was racing. The instant Henry had lost control, he knew what had to happen. It didn’t even matter much if it happened the way Lily said it happened. Nobody really knew Henry and the man was clearly unstable. Potentially dangerous. Too dangerous to keep around. Rafiq knew it had to be said.

“We kick him out.”

Everyone, including Henry, looked at Rafiq.

“But that’s dangerous. With the nuclear fallout. The walkers.”

Rafiq knew that. It may be a death sentence for the man. But they didn’t know him and he was threatening the group. He was threatening Rafiq’s group. Rafiq was no longer going to put any of his friends in danger. No longer. Not anymore.

The Rafiq of old would not have done this. But the world had changed and so had he.

“We kick him out. I know it’s hard, but it’s our only option. We have to think of ourselves.”

Some people nodded, others stared blankly at the floor. Rafiq locked eyes with George, who nodded in understanding, but appeared to not be fully behind it at the same time. You are our drunk George, Rafiq thought, you are part of the group. It is not the same.

The drunk man saw what was happening, having lost his fight upon realizing that his entire standing with the group had dissipated within mere minutes. Rafiq couldn’t help but feel some pity for the man. But instead of changing his mind, he steeled his heart. It had to happen.

"Anyone objecting?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong (NPC) Character Portrait: Wayne Williams (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Althea Brown Character Portrait: Henry Ahlstedt Character Portrait: Bethany Whitfield Character Portrait: Diego Azevedo (NPC)

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- The Spa -


Lily watched as all the adults yelled over one another. Random limbs webbing together in efforts to hold Henry and herself back from one another like some back alley brawl taking place in the hallway.

"You guys! YOU GUYS!" a voice boomed out above the nonsense. The limbs ceased flailing, and the group parted to reveal a bleary-eyed Jessica standing outside the doorway to the storeroom. Everyone traded ashamed looks, straightening their shirts and sleeves and dusting themselves off from the ground. All eyes were on her now. Bethany crept out just behind her, also curious what was happening,

"Do we really need to be doing this? Right this very second?" she asked, tiredly.

Rafiq spoke up first. "We're sorry, Jessica... we were just--"

"I don't care," she said, quite honestly. "Just-- please..." She closed her eyes and rubbed her temples, gesturing towards Annabelle. "Annie, I thought he might want to see you. You'd make a happy sight when he wakes up," Jessica said-- her exhaustion evident in her drawling speech.

Annabelle put her hand over her heart. "Oh, bless my heart. Of course, honey. We should say a prayer for him anyways. She steered Lily over towards Althea by her shoulders. "Why don't you stay with Althea here, darlin'-- just while I--"

Lily squirmed out of Annabelle's hands and straightened her shirt, raising her eyebrows at Annabelle in an 'are you serious?' kind of glare. As much of a kid as she still might be, she hating being corralled like an animal. She turned and stalked down the hallway-- away from all the noisy adults. "Don't worry," Althea assured her, "I'll keep an eye on her." She turned and jogged down the hall, catching up with the small girl just as the two of them slipped out of sight around the corner. Annabelle breathed a heavy sigh and turned to join Jessica, watching the others as they all waited patiently to continue their argument. Bethany held the door open for Jessica who took the handle and closed it behind herself and Annabelle, leaving them all with a knowing look as she too disappeared.

Rafiq looked back to the group and more specifically -- at Henry. The drunk leaned carefully against a tall metal rack -- smart enough not to have made any further movements during the distraction. George and Wayne lingered close-by, in case his drunken bender did eventually will him to do something stupid. Tara stood close behind Rafiq -- keeping a safe distance from the man who had already hit her one time too many for one day.

A melodic voice suddenly broke through the tense silence -- an observer, from the outside. "You guys are quite the HBO drama, aren't you?"

Wayne glowered at Bethany -- her lithe frame leaning against a metal sink fixed to the wall. "Hey, Sunshine-- I'd keep quiet about things you know nothing about."

Bethany cocked an eyebrow at his cutting response, before rolling her eyes and looking around at all the strangers surrounding her. They somehow still didn't understand. "I think we already established that since you are guests in my spa... I can do whatever I want. So why don't you back off, Chris Tucker?"

George did his best to stifle a laugh. Wayne ignored him, rapidly changing the subject. "So what are we doing with boozy over here?" he posited, jerking his thumb at Henry.

Tara pushed past Rafiq. "You heard the man. He goes."

"N-Now just you wait a minute--" Henry blubbered, "you're gonna believe a bratty little shit's fairy tale story over my word?"

"Over the slurred word of a drunk? Yes." Tara said, bristling as the man stepped nearer, her fists already clenched. She didn't realize how badly she actually wanted this.

"The truth is, none of us know who you are -- and people are more dangerous than walkers anyways. I think we've all realized that now. It'll be best if you just go." Rafiq tried to make the cruel words sound somewhat polite. But there was no way to send someone to their possible death nicely.

"Someone going somewhere?" a voice asked from behind them. Diego stood in the doorway, shutting it behind him. He rubbed the blood from his hands with a towel before stuffing it into his back pocket.

"Henry's taking a trip," Tara replied, cooly.

Diego nodded, clearing his throat. He stepped over towards them and fished something out of his pocket. "Then you think you can bring back any of the stuff on this list?" He held out the torn piece of paper to Henry, who reached for it -- but Tara snatched it from his hand first.

"What is this?" she demanded, scanning it with her eyes.

"Stuff Lisa says she'll need. Stuff for the kid," Diego answered with a solemn tone.

Tara ended up asking the question on all of their minds. "Where are we supposed to get all of this?" She shook her head as her eyes trailed down the list. The handwriting was hurriedly and messily scrawled, some of the words long and disorienting -- even at first glance.

Bethany crossed her arms. "There's a hospital not too far away from here," she offered, dryly. It seemed the most obvious choice... which was the problem.

Rafiq waved his hands in front of him. "No way they'd still have anything left worth taking. It's been over a week..." Bethany shrugged and looked down at her feet.

"Got a better idea, friend?" Diego asked.

"I do," Henry called out, wiping his hair back from his face.

Tara turned to him, threateningly. "I don't care what you have to say,"

"Then plug your ears." He straightened himself upright, tugging down at his shirt -- looking around at the others in the hallway through his blackened eyes. "My father... died today." The room grew uncomfortable, as one-by-one they exchanged quick glances with each other. "It's not a big deal... I knew it was coming. Kind've softened the blow for all the rest of this actually now that I think about it." A half-hiccup-half-burp barely escaped his mouth -- deftly blocked his balled fist. "But there's a medical clinic in this plaza that we used to take him to -- about three stores that way." Henry raised his arm to point between George and Tara's heads to the wall behind them. They looked at one another first and then behind them, as did everyone else.

"Through there?" Diego asked, walking up to the wall and running his hands across the cool worn drywall. He looked over his shoulder at Henry, who nodded gruffly. "They're all adjacent walls. That's not a problem. I can get through there," he said through a wry smile.

"That way we wouldn't have to go outside..." Rafiq said, thinking aloud.

"Anyone able to confirm this bullshit?" Wayne called out from the sidelines, gesturing at the drunk in the corner.

Henry glanced at him with one raised eyebrow. "Why is everyone so damn hostile? I'm trying to help you here!"

"I think what Wayne's trying to say is: what's in it for you?" Tara explained.

Henry rolled his eyes, rubbing his hand over his face. "Look, you wanna kick me out? Fine. At least give me a chance out there. There'll be gear in the clinic to help me to get far far away from all y'all." Their plain silent expressions looked back at him. "You at least owe me that much..."

Rafiq looked from one face to another, searching for any idea of how the group felt about all this. It was the most humane option on the table, unfortunately. He didn't like the idea of following this stranger on some expedition to retrieve supplies that may not even exist though. But what other option did they have?

"I guess that's the plan then," Rafiq sighed, reluctant to accept it for what it was.

Diego tagged Wayne on the shoulder. "We'll need tools to cut through this drywall. Come with me." The two of them went to the door of the storage room and quietly opened it, stepping inside. Tara pushed past Rafiq with her tongue in her cheek as George watched her stalk off.

"I'll go round up some of our masks we use for the water treatments. Might help keep whatever's in the air out there out of, well-- you." Her bobbed with each step as she headed the other direction, back towards the front offices and steam rooms.

George looked over and met Rafiq's weighted glance. "You made the right call, Rafiq."

He shrugged. "Somebody had to."

Henry leaned back against the wall, slumping down to sit on the ground. "Thanks, kid."

"I didn't do it for you," Rafiq replied, coldly. He rubbed his arm, glancing over his shoulder at the door to the storage room -- knowing full well that every second wasted was a second closer to losing another member of the group.

"Let's go round up the rest of what gear we have," he offered to George. The Englander nodded, and sprung into step beside Rafiq, who had stopped in front of Henry. He looked down at him on the floor. "We're your chaperones. Let's go."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong (NPC) Character Portrait: Wayne Williams (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Samuel Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Lisa Pazzino (NPC) Character Portrait: Althea Brown Character Portrait: Henry Ahlstedt Character Portrait: Bethany Whitfield Character Portrait: Diego Azevedo (NPC)

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= George Remington =

George sifted through the shelf with both hands, his flashlight gripped in his teeth. Rolling around behind a bag of dry food was a familiar can of dog chow, which he grabbed -- rolling its metal frame around in his fingers to display the logo. A yellow lab grinned toothily on the cover, traces of green fields behind him with his tongue lolling out. A happy dog. A familiar dog. George chewed his lip, blinking vacantly as his mind wandered. That was, until he felt Rafiq's stare from out of the corner of his eye. The young man wiped the sweat off of his forehead with his sleeve and leaned his crowbar against the doorframe with a heavy sigh.

"Diego's working on the next wall now. It'll be your go once he needs a break. Henry's on watch out front to make sure we don't draw any walkers." Rafiq rattled all the info off breathlessly, continuing to sop up the beading sweat on his cheeks and forehead. His eyes eventually fell onto George's hands.

George held the can of dog food up. "For when he comes back,'" he said as he reached into his backpack, swinging it around his shoulder and stuffing the can inside. "I sure hope she's been feeding him..."

Rafiq scratched at the stubble forming around his chin. "I'm sure they're both fine, George. Sarah--"

"--is already dead," George finished quite bluntly, cutting him off. The man straightened up, zipping the bag closed and slipping his arms back through. He shook his head, running a hand the length of his face as he looked up at the ceiling, chuckling softly. His sad, hollowed eyes finally fell upon Rafiq. "We all are..."

Rafiq grimaced. "W-Why would you say something like that?" He quipped, bridling with anger. Was it possible the man was still drunk?

"Because it's true," George replied, tiredly -- as if just now admitting it to himself. "Niobe told me everything-- from what she found out from our neighbors... whatever they call themselves. The Capitols?"

Rafiq's eyes narrowed, trying to comprehend what George was saying. It was all too much to take in at once. He inched a few steps closer, aware suddenly that he was being let in on a secret nobody else knew about. George continued, lowering his voice to a hushed tone.

"I've only taken her at her word since then. Never even seen these Capitol people-- but then Henry confirmed it when he told me about his father. About how he passed in the hospital..." George shook his head again, as if he was hearing it all over again. "He came back, Rafiq. No bite. Nothing. And he still came back..."

Rafiq's eyes widened at the thought. "S-So we're all... infected?" He stammered, still searching for the right answer. A different answer. Anything else.

George simply nodded. There wasn't anything left to say. Except one thing. "When we let Henry go... I plan on leaving with him."

Rafiq wasn't sure if someone needed to pinch him or what. It seemed like his whole world was suddenly being turned upside down. He had always shared a certain kinship with the man, ever since he had sort of forced Rafiq into some sort of post-apocalyptic apprenticeship-- but it seemed like he was suddenly confiding alot in him-- despite how much they'd grown apart since George's unravelling. "What are you talking about? You're seriously going to leave right when one of us needs our help?"

George shrugged. "What? You need me to protect you? You think any of those people want me with a gun in my hands after what happened? Nothing I do will help. There's no going back for me. You saw what I did..."

"Actually, I didn't. I have no idea what you did, and I don't care. I know what kind of man you are, George. At your best and at your worst. And we need you."

George sighed. "You're just one man. The others-- they won't be so willing to forgive. The best thing for everyone is if I just go."

Rafiq slammed his fist against the flyer-laden cement column next to him, random pieces of paper falling to the ground. "Damnit! You heard Jessica-- back in the tunnels. We can't keep splitting up like this! We're too few already..."

"I'm sorry, Rafiq... I am. But there still have to be consequences... even in this fucked up world, where nothing seems to be going right-- it leaves alot more room for the wrong."

A stiff silence deafened the room with nothing other than the occasional clinking of Diego's sledgehammer echoing from outside the door. The two of them just stared at each other, leaving the rest unsaid. George slung his backpack off his shoulder again and tossed it near the door, walking past Rafiq and grabbing his crowbar on the way out. "Guess I should help pick up the pace, eh? Life's too short."

"Sam's sure will be," Rafiq jabbed over his shoulder. "Don't do this, George..."

But the man was already gone.


* * *


% Jessica Abbott %


"This has been the longest day of my life..." Jessica sighed by the candlelight as she gently stroked Sam's hair. His brown locks fell back over the gauzed wound with each pass, a sharp contrast against the dirtied white linen. Annabelle leaned against the metal rack behind her, a blanket pulled across her lap-- her eyes heavy with sleep. "Hard to believe that this morning I was doing laundry and trying to figure out if
I should have beans or canned fruit for lunch. The day escalated quite nicely, if I don't say so myself."


"Today tested us all, my dear--" Annabelle bemoaned. "I'm just not certain if we passed or not..."

It was the first attempt at humor that Annabelle had made since Jessica had known her-- and it made her genuinely laugh out loud, which she promptly stifled with a snort. Something about the dryness and seriousness of the delivery was just too much. The sweet old woman didn't have a drop of darkness within her. Not so much as one bad bone-- not that she had seen yet. It was a quality sorely needed and horribly undervalued these days.

Annabelle smiled sweetly. "It's so heartwarming to see you in good spirits, dear..." she continued. "Nobody could have ever guessed that something awful would happen like this. You can't blame yourself for it."

Jessica adjusted her legs, setting Sam's head gently on the makeshift pillow beneath it. "We've done what we can for him..." She pulled another of the blankets over herself, making sure her son was properly coated as well. Her eyes lingered on his chest, heaving gently with each shallow breath. There was no way to tell his father, her ex-husband, what had happened. If he was even alive to care. She somehow felt guilty about that, like it was some kind of secret she desperately needed to share -- if not to him, then to the others... Harper, Carl... they'd all come to know Sam in their own ways too. His death would go quietly. Unnoticed. Unavoidable. She sighed. "I had to fight his father so much to get Sam for his birthday last week-- that day when everything happened." Annabelle looked up from her spot on the floor, her brow furrowing. "He demanded half of the day with his son. So, I told him that I would get the first half of the day... those were my terms. Jessica ran her hand through Sam's hair again. "He could have been with his father that morning, and I would have no clue if he was alive or dead right now. Annabelle reached over and rubbed Jessica's arm as the two looked at one another, smiling through their tears. "At least this way I'll know..."

Annabelle returned her hand to grasp Sam's, mumbling a prayer under her breath. "At least if he goes he'll have gone peacefully and not to some walker..." Annabelle breathed. "God forbid if it came to that."


* * *


$$$ Lillian Strong $$$


TIP. TAP. TIP. TAP. TIP. TAP.

Lillian's shoes clattered alongside the store as she full-on sprinted towards the storage room, where Sam's ailing body lied along with some of the others -- her sneakers skidding across the pet store tile as she rounded a corner of shelves. The noise at the other end of the shop of the men tearing down the wall all but masked her frantic footsteps.

But what had she just overheard? She knew George was a drunk. That much was obvious. But why would he make something like that up? And Rafiq sure seemed to believe him... it really was the end of the world.

And if it is true... then--

She reached the first hole in the wall, the one back to the spa, and clamored over the pile of rubble and drywall on the ground as she pulled herself back through -- putting her thoughts on hold as she found herself suddenly face-to-face with Wayne and Bethany. They both jumped to a start -- weapons at the ready as they laid eyes on Lillian. The girl held up her hands, instinctively -- looking both of them over. Their shocked faces were enough to give away the fact that they had no idea how she had snuck past them earlier.

Wayne's lips sputtered as he tried to find the right response. "B-Th-H-How did-- Lillian! What the hell were you doing in there?"

Bethany cocked to one hip, folding her arms. "How'd she get past us?" she asked with a tone.

Wayne threw his hands in the air. "Don't ask me! We haven't left this spot since we got here." He scratched the back of his head, rolling his eyes. "Or at least one of us hasn't... Tinklebell."

Bethany's nostrils flared as she turned to face him, jabbing a finger in his chest. "Hey, it's not my fault that I have a small bladder."

Wayne scoffed. "You're not even drinking anything. Where is all this liquid coming from? Or are you just scurrying off to enjoy some of that recently reclaimed blow? It'd be pretty rude of you not to share..."

Bethany's eyes became to shallow slits. "Are you serious?" Wayne looked at her. Seriously. "Go fuck yourself." Bethany flipped him the bird over her shoulder as she turned to stalk back down the hallway, not towards the bathroom-- but anywhere other than where Wayne was. She only got a few steps before she stopped and realized the same thing that he did in that moment.

"Uhh-- where'd she go?" Wayne asked with a gulp.


* * *



TIP. TAP. TIP. TAP. TIP. TAP.

The traction on the spa tile wasn't much better Lillian noticed as she sprinted around yet another corner. The dust caked on the soles of her shoes from the hole in the wall definitely wasn't helping. She slipped slightly, catching onto the wall just barely saving her from a fall and took the brief reprieve to catch her breath. She checked over her shoulder quickly to make sure nobody was too close behind her and set off again, using her arms to help propel her forwards as she tried to slow her fading momentum.

She couldn't be too late. She couldn't be. She was supposed to protect these people.

*WHAM*

Lillian collided face-first into one unlucky person's chest as she blindly rounded the next corner at full speed. She hit the ground hard, finally taking the spill she had so narrowly dodged moments earlier. Althea braced herself on the corner with one hand, rubbing her solar plexus with the other as her face scrunched up in pain.

"Christ, kid--" she managed, her voice hollow from the wind knocked out of her. "Damn near broke my ribs... what are you doing? Get up..." She reached down and pulled Lillian up by the scruff of her jacket, just enough for her concealed pistol to fall to the ground, clattering loudly in the muted silence of the hallway. There was no point hiding it. Althea had already seen it. She knew that. And Lily had already received one blunt lecture too many from the rough-and-tumble broad. If she knew what Lily had just learned-- but there was no time to explain. She would have to understand...

"Please--" Lily pleaded, "I have to--"

She reached down for her gun, but Althea yanked back firmly on the collar of her jacket, pulling both of Lily's arms back at the shoulders. "Again, Lily? What the hell is wrong with you?" the woman scolded. Lily struggled and flailed forwards, trying to free herself from Althea's tight grasp. "You not getting enough attention or something? Cause I think you've caused enough trouble for one day. I thought we took this from you once already?"

"Let me go! Get off me!" Lily protested, irately -- her arms swinging wildly. Althea deftly used her other free hand to avoid the swatting limbs as they washed off of her. The kid was persistent if nothing else. Unfortunately for Althea, she was unpredictable too.

Lillian suddenly dropped to her knees and dove between Althea's legs, pulling her down into herself in a forced somersault as she regrettably held onto the hood of Lillian's coat. She let go in time to save herself from a full face plant as she caught herself on her own two hands -- face down on the floor, but she immediately felt the full weight of Lillian's shoes against her back as the kid scrambled back over the top of her for the gun. Althea grappled for one of Lily's legs, finding a firm grip and pulling back with what strength she could muster -- only until the unwelcomed second leg came around. Althea turned barely in time for the shoe to glance off of her cheek, but her vision had been jarred into a thousand stars as she clutched at her face in pain.

"Are you fucking kidding me!?" Althea blurted, propping herself up on her knees. She dabbed at her cheek with one hand, checking for blood -- but it had only grazed her slightly, to her own relief. She could hear the scrape of the handgun being picked up off the floor, and suddenly Althea tensed. This kid was cracking and was clearly capable of far more than she had anticipated. And now... she was armed. The woman kept her gaze on the floor.

*CLICK*

"That better not be pointed at me..." Althea mumbled, the tenseness evident in her voice.

She heard Lily sniffle before she spoke. The girl was clearly crying, as evident in her voice. "Don't follow me..."

TIP. TAP. TIP. TAP. TIP. TAP.

Althea rose to her feet, wiping the dust off her hands-- and followed.


* * *


% Jessica Abbott %


Lisa pressed two fingers against Sam's neck, holding the pulse in his wrist with her other hand. "His pulse is getting faint..." she warned, setting Sam's arm gently back by his side. Jessica dabbed some of the sweat off of his cheeks with a dry rag, trying to normalize his temperature. Lisa frowned. "If we don't close this wound-- he's just gonna keep bleeding. He can't keep going like this."

Jessica nodded through teary eyes. "They're working as hard they can. They'll be b--"

*SHIK SHIK SHIK*

The metal handle of the door shook violently from the other side -- even more banging accompanying the already abrupt noises. Jessica rose from the floor as Lisa helped Annabelle up -- each of them slowly approaching the front of the storage unit. Annabelle decidedly hung back close to Sam, in case the worst possible scenario lied outside the door on the other side.

"Did we bring any weapons?" Lisa queried, the answer already evident in the tone of her voice. Jessica shook her head, inching closer towards the door -- stepping as lightly as she could.

"Oh, be careful honey--" Annabelle bemoaned, covering her face with her hands. "Don't open the door 'til we know who's out there..."

Jessica turned and put her finger to her lips, quieting them all as she finally reached the doorway. The handle had all but stopped moving -- but then the muffled shouting started. "Those are voices..." she whispered, pressing her ear close to the frame. Neither the voice, nor whomever they were talking to were discernible through the thick metal. There was only one way to find out. Jessica grabbed for the handle and opened it slowly as she took a deep breath. Lillian's frantic shouts poured inside in an instant.

"Get back!" she shouted, with her hand raised in the air. The pistol hung loosely in her grip-- Untrained. Unwavering. Althea, only a mere few steps away, stood silently with her hands raised above her head. Her eyes met Jessica's, who finally laid sight on the girl and the gun. As soon as the door swung wider, the pistol was suddenly pointing at her. Lily's hands shook as her attention was split by the two women suddenly surrounding her. Her eyes began to well with tears as she realized that Jessica was alright.

"J-Jessica..." she stuttered.

"Lillian-- w-what's happened? What's wrong?"

"I thought you guys were--" she wiped at her cheeks with her gun hand, and Althea took a step closer. Lillian's gun was back up in a flash. She struggled to speak through her tears as she stepped countered towards Jessica, trying to get a peak through the doorway. "Sam... is he--"

"He's fine, Honey..." she said, subtly reaching out towards the girl. "Everything is going to be f--."

Annabelle shrieked from behind, causing all of them to jump. Lillian's gun rattled in her grip. "His chest! He's stopped breathing!"

Lisa was over him in a flash, ripping open his shirt and exposing his small chest which had indeed gone silent. She braced her hands together over his ribs, counting and pushing and breathing -- everything synchronized... professional. She pinched his nose and propped open his jaw, blowing air through the passage to bring him back however she could. Again. And again. Jessica, Lillian and reluctantly, Althea-- all stepped closer inside, each as unsure of what to do as the next. Lisa took full advantage of the space, continuing her maneuvers at a rapid pace -- exhausting herself as she tried desperately to save the boy's life.

Althea's booming voice suddenly sounded out from the back of the crowd. "Lily... what the hell are you doing?"

The girl had moved around the circle to face the spectacle, her gun trained on the struggling pair on the ground. Her chest heaved with each heavy breath as Annabelle gasped with shock, backing away. Jessica's eyes narrowed instantly as she keyed in on Lily. "Whatever you're thinking of doing, Lily--"

"This kid has lost her marbles..." Althea said, exhaustedly.

But it was Lily's voice that boomed this time.

"I'M NOT A KID!" she shouted, fiercely. "You all have no clue... no idea...you just think I'm some crazy kid! She sniffed back her tears again and again, keeping her gun trained on the both of them. "H-He's gonna come back, Jessica..."

"Of course he is... that's what Lisa's trying to do. You need to put the gun down..."

"Not like THAT!" she shouted even louder. "If he dies he'll come back-- as one of them..."

Althea had had enough. "What is this girl even talking about? Is somebody gonna do something about this or am I gonna have to?"

Jessica shook her head, trying to comprehend the panicked girl. "What are you--"

Annabelle stepped in from the corner, her face heartbroken at the little girl. "Well you, young girl, can point that thing wherever you like. Someone has to try and save this poor boy..." The old woman struggled to her knees, using the table beside her for support-- positioning herself over Sam. Lillian fought back more tears as she kept the gun firmly in place.

"Annabelle, please--" Jessica began, her voice breaking at the thought of all this. The world had already turned to shit and yet somehow it had managed to get even worse.

"He's just a child!" Annabelle cried from the floor. She picked up where Lisa left off, working his chest and pinching his nose as she leaned down to put some air into his system. And like the miracle they needed, his eyes fluttered open-- his cloudy iris barely visible under the milky ashen orbs where his bright young eyes had once been.

Lily noticed the change almost immediately. "S-Sam...?" she whimpered, her feet inching backwards apprehensively.

*CHOMP*

Sam's teeth suddenly clamped down over Annabelle's lips and chin-- holding on for dear life as she rolled to the side, bringing the boy along with her. Lily fell backwards in shock, skidding to a stop beside the table as the room ignited with panic. Jessica collapsed to her knees with an ear-splitting shriek as Lisa grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her back away from the thrashing forms in front of her.

The two bodies struggled with one another on the ground-- Annabelle's muffled screams undercut with the vapid snarling of the newly awakened Sam. Althea motioned towards Lily with her arm. "Give me the gun!" she shouted quickly. But Lily's trembling hands could do nothing but manage to keep her gun poised in front of her.

Jessica saw Lily from her spot on the floor and leapt to her feet, shrugging out of Lisa's grip. "Lily-- don't!" she pleaded, bounding towards her as tears flowed down her cheeks.

"Jessica!" Lisa's voice washed over her ears as Jessica lunged forwards, reaching for the girl's weapon with both arms.

"LILY! Look at me!" But Lily had closed her eyes tight... squeezing the trigger even tighter.


* * *



*BANG!*

Diego's arms halted mid-swing-- sledgehammer poised for another blow at the wall. His neck whipped over his shoulder towards the spa at the sound. Henry stepped back from the front windows, leaning into the aisle the same direction -- a crowbar dangling loosely from his hands. The two looked at each other as George and Rafiq's footsteps came quickly their way. They skidded into the foyer behind Diego, weapons already in hand.

"You guys hear that?" Henry grunted from across the floor.

"The gunshot?" Rafiq asked with wide eyes.

Henry looked back towards the spa, licking his teeth. "The church bells..."

The setting changes from season-2 to Season 3

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bethany Whitfield Character Portrait: Diego Azevedo (NPC)

0.00 INK

#, as written by Zephon
Bethany Whitfield


*step step step*

“Hurry, honey! Up here!” Diego’s voice rang out to her through the alleyway. Bethany, heart racing, looked up and saw here sweetheart hanging out from a window, shirt half-torn and desperately trying to reach down. She ran as fast as she could, knowing the walkers were closing in behind her. The entire alley was pitch dark, even the moon was hidden behind a thick layer of clouds. Only Diego and the room behind him was lit up in the sea of darkness, almost literally a beacon of hope.

Sprinting, the only thing Bethany could think about how cold she was. So cold.

“Faster! They are… No!” Just as he said it, Bethany felt a cold hand grasping her shoulder. As a jolt and on impulse, she spun around and hit the thing square on the head with the baseball bat. It moaned a low sort of sigh as it fell on the ground. For just an instance, Bethany thought she recognized it. He had looked like Billy the Cameraman. There was no time to think about that though. She quickly made sure the bat was still firmly in her hand and continued running.

“You’re nearly there! Please, hurry!”

*step step step*

It felt like she was slowing down, time coming to a halt. Every step was a lifetime, every breath she took possibly the last. Every grunt and every growl behind her was pure terror. Just as she thought she could no longer handle it, she came upon the building, Diego above her, just out of reach.

“Use the garbage cans,”
he urged on. She did as she was told, narrowly avoiding an outstretched hand and jumping on the bins. She reached up and grasped for her love. A swirl of relief came over her as they connected and he pulled her up. When finally through the window, they hugged and then kissed. Bethany took in all of him as much as he could, smelling his familiar hint of spice, touching his smooth shoulder.

Reluctantly, she pushed away. “We can’t stay here long,” she said, “they will surround the building within minutes.”

Diego grinned in his usual charming manner, “I’ve already taken care of that, babe. Look.” He turned around and gestured at something in the other side of the room. She didn’t see it, as something else caught her attention. Something truly horrific. Her stomach dropped, she had never felt such a shock in her life.

There was a large bite mark on Diego’s lower back.

“Die…Diego…” she stammered, “Honey… You’re bit!”

He turned back towards her and shrugged, as if it was nothing. “I know. Slight accident. Had to capture it, didn’t I?”

What was he talking about? Bethany’s head swirled. Why was he so nonchalant about it? He knew how the infection spread, didn’t he? Only then she truly noticed what was grouched down in the corner. A walker, chained to the wall.

And it wasn’t just any walker. It was that old woman they had met at the spa. Annabelle. Her eyes were bulging, angry but at the same time un-seeing. A trickle of blood had dried up against her scalp, rot had started to set in.

“But… she was dead. The… the girl shot her…”


“Not well enough, apparently,” Diego said conversationally, “she surprised me too. Bit me. But at least she is are way out.”

“Way out?” Bethany’s confusion continued to grow and with it, a suspicion began to dawn on her. “Diego? What are you talking about?”

“Well, she bit me. So, I was thinking, the only way for us to stay together is for her to bite you too.”

Bethany stared at him. He must be kidding. But the look in his face told her he wasn’t. “Honey, are you insane!”

“Just think about it,” he said soothingly, “we know I’m going to turn. And I can’t stand to stay away from you. You know that. I love you.” He gently held Bethany by the arm, bringing her to the dead old woman chained to the wall.

“Diego, no… please…” she whimpered. She wanted to get away. Get out of the room. But it was Diego. She…

“It will be over soon, honey. Come.”


Annabelle looked up at her, hungrily. She snarled and snapped. As if in a trance, Bethany walked towards her. Diego helped her reach out with her hand.

Annabelle bit.

Bethany screamed.

Bethany woke.

--

Gasping for air, Bethany bolted up from their make-shift bed. Diego was standing at the door, and turned to her in surprise.

“Ah, you’re awake,” he said pleasantly.

A dream. It was just a dream. Bethany tried to compose herself, but that was more difficult than usual. It had felt so real.

Diego, knowing her so well, instantly noticed something was wrong. “What is it, Beth? Didn’t sleep well?”

“Bad dream,” she admitted. "Remember Billy the Cameraman?"

"Join-In Billy? That would be a bad dream indeed. Little pervert. Wonder what became of him?"

She tried to straighten her hair with her hands. Where was her comb?

As the true gentleman he could be, he sat down next to her and held her in his arms. Then, as if he knew what she had been thinking, he was combing her hair. Others, she would never let them see this side of her. But with him, just him, she allowed herself to relax.

Not for too long though.

“It’s late,” she said. She had noticed that the sun had already risen quite high.

“I let you sleep in.”

“Why? We had decided to leave today! I need to…”


“Shhh, the others agreed with me. You’ve been awake non-stop the last three days, caring for all of us. You must have been exhausted.”

That was true. She had tried to be there for all the others, even though they were complete strangers to her. Especially Jessica had relied so much on her. Bethany didn’t really know why, but the grieving mother had decided it was only Bethany she would speak to that first day. Even in amazement to herself, Bethany hadn’t minded helping the poor woman out.

“You know,” Diego joked, “I quite like seeing this nurturing side of you.”

“Yeah, well, don’t get used to it. Where are the others?”


Diego looked out of the window. “George has already left.”

Of course he has, Bethany thought to herself.

“Rafiq, Wayne, Tara and Lisa went to check on the metro entrance to see if it was even doable. They will be back soon.”

“All four of them? Then who is guarding the place?”


“Althea. The girl. And… Jess…”


That surprised her. Jessica hadn’t done or said much in the last few days. Not that anybody had really blamed her. On that first day, Bethany had feared the woman might not even recover, having apparently lost all will to live. Thankfully, that had not been the case. Jessica was stronger than she looked. During the meeting last evening, she had only spoken once, but from what she had said, it was clear she had not given up yet. In a short and clear manner, she had expressed her wishes to find the others of their group.

That had brokered no argument from anyone else. Not even Bethany and Diego, who didn’t know these others. Bethany had found it very strange that it took the end of the world for her to start caring about other people again, but there it was. For such a long time, it had only been her and Diego. In a weird way, it was nice to be part of something larger. Bethany felt as if she had found something again that she had lost so long ago.

It was a fragile feeling though. One comment, one act, one betrayal, and it could be lost again. Forever.

The two small backpacks were standing in the corner of the room. They had all agreed that they needed to move quickly and thus pack light. It had taken them the better part of the evening the select and distribute the bare essentials, but the exercise had lifted everyone’s spirit somewhat. It felt good to have something to look forward to.

“You packed… everything?” Bethany asked her lover. She could see him tense just slightly, others would probably not even have noticed. He knew what she was referring to. The cocaine they had taken back from Wayne and Rafiq.

“ Beth… Yes, you know I…”

“It’s alright. You just need to tell me these things.”

“ I know. I’m sorry.” He kissed her on the forehead. Bethany knew he had used some of it over the last few days and had tried to hide it from her. That fact had bothered her more than the use of the stuff itself, but she also knew that it could help relief his own grief and pain.

Better that then sleeping with the cute Arab boy, she thought. The friendship between Diego and Rafiq had developed quickly and Bethany knew that Diego found him attractive. He had told her so.

You’re just being paranoid, Beth. Rafiq is not even interested.

Diego stood up and picked up the backpacks, ready to leave the room. “You’re coming?”

“In a sec,” she said. Bethany waited until he had left, then left the room as well. She walked through the hallway that was so familiar to her, but not feeling even a hint of sadness that she would have to leave her spa behind for good. Her heart was never really into the place after all.

She opened the door of the room she had purposefully walked to. She had half expected to find Jessica inside, lovingly caressing the face of her son through the linen cloth, but the room was empty save for the two bodies. Bethany knew that the dream had made her come here and that she was being ridiculous.

Annabelle had been laid to rest on one of the massage tables, covered with a cloth, just like Sam was. Annabelle’s Bible had been placed at where the woman’s hands were. It was laid open for a specific passage. One of the women had chosen and marked it, though Bethany did not know who.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

Bethany walked over to where Annabelle’s head was and uncovered it. The dead woman’s face different from how it had been in her dream. The gunshot wound was larger and messier, exposing a large part of her head. The lower part of the face had been torn apart by the boy, who had continued chomping on the poor woman’s face even after Lily had shot her. Annabelle was truly dead. There was no way she was coming back.

It didn’t make Bethany feel much better.

She put the cloth back in its place, trying to make it as presentable as possible. Her thoughts lingered on Lily, wondering what they were supposed to do with her. In retrospect, the girl had been right, though the execution of it had still been… poorly. Everyone felt uncomfortable around her, not sure how to deal with her. The girl wanted to be treated like an adult, that much was apparent.

As far as Bethany was concerned, Lily could get what she wanted. In terms of survival, it was better if the girl grew up anyway and became responsible for her own actions. The others clearly weren’t ready to embrace that idea yet though and Bethany had decided to leave the matter in their hands.

“There you are,” Diego’s head popped in from the hallway. “What are you doing in here?”

Bethany blinked and looked up at him. She cursed inwardly, as it was so unlike her to get lost in thought like that. She gave Diego a wry smile.

“Just saying goodbye, I suppose. What is it?”

“The others have come back,” he said and made a face. “And it doesn’t seem like good news.”

Of course it wasn’t.

She followed Diego out of the room, ready to leave this place for good.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong (NPC) Character Portrait: Wayne Williams (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Lisa Pazzino (NPC) Character Portrait: Althea Brown Character Portrait: Bethany Whitfield Character Portrait: Diego Azevedo (NPC)

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#, as written by Zephon
Rafiq Chedidi


Wayne and Lisa sat down on the sofa in the room, while Tara paced up and down the room. Rafiq hopped on the reception desk, accidently knocking down a lamp. He put it back in its place again, barely registering that he was doing so. His head was racing by trying to form a plan quickly. With his legs dangling over the edge, he cleaned his hunting knife with the hem of his shirt.

Lily looked at what he was doing. He returned the gaze and shrugged. “Straggler.”

She nodded at that, as if it was the most normal thing in the world. And maybe it was.

The four of them were reluctant to speak, but it was only postponing the inevitable. Althea clearly got annoyed at their silence.

“Well?” She asked with no small amount of irritation.

Rafiq sighed and cocked his head slightly backwards. “The tunnels are a dead end. They’re filled with walkers.”

“And by filled, he means stuffed like tuna in a can,” Wayne added, “I think I counted at least a hundred.”

“Two-hundred,” Tara said.

“That many?” Jessica said in surprise. It was a strange notion that just a few days ago, they had walked through those tunnels themselves. Had they been trapped down there, they would surely all be dead.

Althea looked out of the window, as if to check whether the horde hadn’t followed them. “Did they notice you?”

“Some did,” Lisa said, “but they aren’t very good at climbing over the turnstiles. Only one managed and Rafiq took him out easily enough. Besides, they seemed to be pre-occupied by something deeper down into the tunnels.”

“How so?” That was Bethany, who had appeared with Diego.

“We could hear some sort of noise. Shrill, metallic.” Lisa closed her eyes as she said it, trying to recall what she had heard. “I’m not sure what it was.”

“Maybe it was some poor soul trapped in the tunnels,” Diego suggested.

“Could it have been Dyomie and the others?” Jessica asked.

Rafiq had thought of that as well, but even if it had been Dyomie, Marie, Natasha or Philip, there was no way to reach them. That way was cut off. Besides, the sound had been too machine-like. “I don’t think so,” he said, “it’s most likely something is in the process of breaking down.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Tara said, “that way is no longer an option. It means we have to go above ground.”

“Tara is right,” Rafiq said, “we have spoken about this possibility.” Most of them had preferred the tunnel route. It wouldn’t have been without risk, but the chances were better of finding a trace of the others and there would have been less variables to worry about. Still, they had discussed how to go about the streets as well. Bethany and Diego knew the area very well and quickly realized where Tara, Lisa and Althea had seen the others last.

“Okay, then we take the streets,” Bethany said. She picked up her stuff as if she was ready to leave right then and there.

“You want to leave right now? We just got back!” Wayne said slightly shocked. He had taken off his shoes again and was resting his feet on the coffee table. It was apparent he had hoped for at least a little rest before setting out again.

Bethany turned to him and took on an authoritative composure. “Why not? We have discussed everything already. Everyone knows what to do. The longer we stay here, the smaller the chance we will find your friend. What do you want to do?” She scoffed, “Take a bath?”

“That would be nice,” Wayne joked, but put his shoes back on all the same.

“Bethany is right,” Jessica said, “we have spent enough time here already. This place is… I’m ready to leave.”

Lily had already opened the door and scouted out the near vicinity. “No Crawlies nearby. Now would be a good time.”

Everyone turned their attention towards Rafiq, as if it was his call. Those looks still unnerved him. He jumped down from desk and gestured towards the door in a purposefully dramatic fashion. “That’s decided then. The Fellowship will go to Mordor and destroy the ring.”

He went slightly red as the others just looked at him, either not getting or appreciating the joke. But when Diego walked past him, he gave him a friendly bump on the shoulder.

“Lead on, Frodo.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong (NPC) Character Portrait: Wayne Williams (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Lisa Pazzino (NPC) Character Portrait: Althea Brown Character Portrait: Bethany Whitfield Character Portrait: Diego Azevedo (NPC)

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#, as written by Zephon
Rafiq Chedidi


They walked through the streets. Rafiq was leading the pack with Diego. Wayne, Tara and Lily were behind them, followed by Althea and Lisa. Jessica and Bethany brought up the rear. None of them spoke much, as they didn’t want to attract unnecessary attention from the walkers. There were small pockets of undead on the streets here and there, but it appeared that most of them had gone somewhere else. Presumably down into the tunnels. Occasionally one of the walkers would get too close, but they were taken out without too much trouble. As long as you were aware of them and they were on their own, the undead were not that difficult to deal with.

The city was covered in a thin layer of a gray ash-like substance. It made everything look surreal, the abandoned buildings and cars only enhancing the effect. The thought was cliché, but it felt to Rafiq like they were on a movie set. Only know did he understand what those people on the television meant when they said something like that. He said so to Diego, who, quite predictably, grinned at that.

“Not any movie set I’ve ever been to,” he said in a low tone, barely audible.

“Really? You’ve been on a set?”
It occurred to Rafiq that he didn’t really know what Diego did before all of this happened. Bethany was the owner of the spa, but somehow Rafiq couldn’t imagine Diego being much involved.

“You can say that again.”


“So you’re an actor?”

“Yeah, though trust me, I’m not that well known. Not like Beth.”


Surprised, Rafiq quickly behind him at the women in the back. He didn’t recognize Bethany from anything, though he had seen quite a few movies in his lifetime.

“Theatre?” Rafiq inquired.

The comment made Diego laugh out loud, too loud, then abruptly stopped upon realizing where they were. Tara let out a short “sssssst”, while the others looked at the two of them either surprised or annoyed. Everyone became on high alert, scanning the area for any activity. Rafiq could feel himself glowing red while checking the buildings on the opposite street. One heartbeat, two heartbeat. There were a few walkers towards the intersection, but they appeared not to have noticed them.

Then Althea let out a small sound of surprise and they all turned towards her, then at the window she was looking at. Two small heads were peering through the window, looking just as surprised as they were. A girl about seven or eight with a large bow in her hair and a slightly younger boy holding an action figure. A woman appeared behind them, ushering the two away from the window. A door opened and a heavily muscled Latino man came through, thunderous and suspicious. He had a gun in his hand, pointing it directly at them.

“Go away,” he said, “there is no place for you here. Go away.”

Instinctively, Rafiq raised his hands in the air. Some did as he did, while others raised their own weapons instead. It was Lisa who responded first, who just as Rafiq had not taken up her weapon, but was showing him her empty hands. “We’re just passing through,” she said, “we mean no harm.”

The man focused his attention on Lisa, pointing his gun at her. Another man appeared behind him, taller and thinner, but otherwise a spitting image of the first man. Brothers. He carried just as big a gun as the first one and gestured it threateningly at the group.

“Go away then. This place is not for you. Only my family.”

“You have that big of a family?” Lily asked incredulous. Tara placed a hand on Lily’s shoulder and pulled her backwards. “Not helping, kid,” she murmured.

The man eyed the gun Lily was holding suspiciously. “You gave your child a gun?” He directed the question to Tara, probably assuming she was the mother.

“Mind your own fucking business,” Bethany said. Both guns immediately turned towards her. She took a step backwards, but otherwise showed no visible signs of fear.

Rafiq, now having lowered his hands, but still with his open palms towards the two men to not appear threatening, walked in front of Lily and Tara.

“Look, like she said, we mean no harm. We have no intention of bothering you or your family.”

“Right,” Lisa said, relieved that at least somebody else was not trying to escalate the situation, “we’ll be just on our way now.”

The muscled guy studied the both of them, then lowered his gun. His brother didn’t. “Alright then. Move it. And don’t come back or else.”

“Right,” Rafiq said and gestured the others to continue walking. They all did, though some couldn’t help but give the two men an angry look. Rafiq and Lisa waited until everyone had passed them and then closed the ranks. Rafiq turned to give one polite nod, but the men no longer deemed it worthy to notice him. They quickly checked the streets and then slammed the door shut.

“I forgot how paranoid people have become,” Lisa whispered to Rafiq.

“Can’t necessarily blame them.”


They took a turn on the intersection and followed along the blind wall of the building. The people inside had no way to see them. Trying to push what had just transpired from his mind, Rafiq kicked an empty soda can to the side of the street. This made him notice that one of his shoe laces had become undone. He stood still, made sure no walker was nearby and then lowered himself. Upon seeing what he was doing, Lisa politely waited on him.

When he was done, he stood back up again and smiled at her. “Thank you for waiting.”

“No problem,” she said. “Always need someone to have your back, right?”

“Right.”

They continued walking, thinking they had to catch up to the others, but the rest of the group had stood still as well a little further on.

“Ow look, they waited for us as well,” Lisa said with a hint of surprise in her voice.

Rafiq was not so sure about that though, as the others seem to have their attention focussed on something else. They were all staring at the set of apartments behind the building with the gun-happy Latino men and their families. Looking up, Rafiq saw what was going on.“Ow fuck.”

A large column of smoke was coming from the building, darkening the sky right above it. Large flames could be seen through the windows of the upper floor. From this angle it was impossible to tell whether the ground floor was already on fire as well, but everyone could see it was bad.

“That does not look good,”
Wayne mused.

“A fire like that unchecked could affect an entire block of buildings,” Tara said worryingly.

“Do you want to call the fire department then?” Bethany sniped, “we better keep moving.”

“Wait!” Lisa exclaimed, “we have to go back.”

The others turned to her. “Why?” Bethany asked, “if we just take a left here, we’ll be fine.”

Lisa pointed at the building next to the apartments. “Those people. We have to warn them. That fire could creep up on them.”

“So? They’ll figure it out soon enough.”

“Do you want to take that risk?”
Lisa asked.

“But they pointed a gun at us,” Althea said begrudged, “I’m with Bethany on this one.”

“Seriously? But they have children with them!” Lisa was pleading now, looking at the others for support.

“She does have a point,” Wayne said, “we can’t just abandon a couple of kids like that.”

“Can’t we?” Althea responded. “You heard what he said. Those people made it perfectly clear they want nothing to do with us, which is fine with me.”

“You have those children die?” Lisa asked her, shocked.

“Of course not,” Althea said, “but I doubt that will happen. They will realize what is going on soon enough. In the meantime, I’d like us not to have our heads blown off by a couple of trigger-happy men who misunderstand our intentions.”

“Agreed,” Lily chimed in.

“They won’t just shoot us,” Lisa said, “Jess?”

Jessica looked torn and was about to say something when a loud sound came from the burning building. It was as if an entire floor had collapsed, and judging by the increased intensity of the flames on the upper floors, that was completely possible.

“Right, that’s it. I’m going back, alone if I have to.” Lisa said with fierce determination.

She was just about to storm off, but Rafiq placed a hand on her shoulder and stopped her. “Wait, you can’t go back alone.”

“You’re coming with me?” Lisa asked, hope shimmering in her eyes.

Rafiq blinked in surprise. That had not entirely been what he had meant. He had wanted to stop her from running off alone, as that typically did not end well. Though he agreed with Lisa that those people deserved a warning, he also had to think about the safety of the group. If someone got shot…

“You’re kidding. Rafiq, we don’t have time for this.” Bethany said.

“Ow come on darling. Let them go. It will only take two minutes.” Diego said to her as he wrapped his arms around her and nuzzled her neck.

Bethany rolled her eyes. “Not you too.”

Althea bristled. “It is not even a matter of time, it is a matter of safety. We have to think about ourselves.”

Lisa pulled away from Rafiq, taking another step back into the street. “Well, are you coming or not?”

Rafiq was unsure on what to do. It was clear that neither Lisa or Althea and Bethany could be persuaded otherwise. He really wanted to help Lisa, but not with the rest of the group just out on the streets like that. They would have to have a safe place first, but that might take too much time, as the fire was quickly spreading. “I…”

“Ow God!” Jessica suddenly exclaimed. They all turned around and saw a group of walkers turning the corner. Burning walkers. The shambling corpses were on fire, presumably coming from inside the building. The bodies had started to blacken, but the flames had not affected them enough to impede their mobility. Whether they had died before or after the fire was unclear.

Though the flames licked their hands, arms and faces, the walkers were oblivious to it.

“We have to move now!” Bethany shouted at them, “there won’t be an opening much longer!”

“No,” Lisa responded, “we have to go back! We can flee that way just as well!”

“Don’t be an idiot!”

“Don’t be so selfish!”

“Rafiq!” “Rafiq”

As the burning bodies stumbled closer towards them, a thousand thoughts went through Rafiq’s mind.

He had only one more second to make a decision.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong (NPC) Character Portrait: Wayne Williams (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Lisa Pazzino (NPC) Character Portrait: Althea Brown Character Portrait: Bethany Whitfield Character Portrait: Diego Azevedo (NPC)

0.00 INK

% Jessica Abbott %


”RAFIQ!” Jessica shouted through the shuffling group of survivors. Burning walkers licked in flames shambling across the blacktop towards them, black smoke trailing their charred figures as they closed in. Rafiq glanced over his shoulder towards where she was pointing and saw Lisa sprinting towards the apartments alone. She had waited long enough with their indecisions.

He spun on his heel to chase after her, almost losing his balance on the pavement in his haste. ”Lisa, WAIT-- c’mon!”

Althea gripped her weapon, taking off after the both of them down the sidewalk as she sighed to herself. ”Keep the street clear!” she shouted back over her shoulder between breaths. ”We might be comin’ back fast...”

Diego gripped his sledgehammer in his hands, angling back into the middle of the street as the walkers closed in around them on both sides. Wayne and Bethany brandished their weapons too as Lily stood back behind the two of them. ”We can’t use our guns… it might spook those people in the apartments. Last thing they need to see is a bunch of people running towards their door with gunfire ringing out,” Bethany advised, dejectedly. She lowered her weapon along with the others, who started swapping them out for whatever knives or melee weapons they had handy. Lily hadn’t brought anything else with her and quickly found herself defenseless.

Tara stowed her pistol and looked around on the ground around her for something to keep the walkers back. She turned and spotted a fallen street sign a few feet back between her and Jessica. ”Just keep them at range. They get a hand on you-- you’ll feel it...” Jessica nodded in agreement. She watched as Tara hoisted the metal pole up into her hands and readied it, facing the creatures.

’HEEEEEEELLLLLLLLPPPPPP!!!!’

The voice rang out from the original burning building-- a hollow shout somewhere deep within. The girls’ heads whipped in its direction. ”Was that--?” Jessica stumbled towards the sound. It had been someone’s voice. Crying out in a panic.

’PLEEEEAAAASE!! DON’T-- NOOOOOO!!!!’

”Jessica!?!” Tara bellowed, prodding one of the zombies in the stomach with the sign and doubling it over as she strained to look over at her. She barely caught sight of Jessica barrelling through the wave of walkers, darting between curtains of black smoke towards the flames. ”JESSICA!!”


# # #


Lily turned back towards the adjacent sidewalk as Diego and Bethany took up positions opposite one another to receive the incoming walkers. Bethany clutched her crowbar between whitened knuckles, bracing herself-- clearly unsure of how to proceed. The first of the clawing creatures groped at her, mindlessly, and she rose the crowbar above her head, waiting for the thing to lunge before crashing it down on its skull and using the heel of her boot to peel it off of her weapon. It splattered onto the pavement-- pieces of its still flaming flesh stuck to her shoe. She quickly stamped out the flames and wiped her foot clean of whatever was still clinging to it. More stragglers hurried past her towards Lily, who was already backed up against a parked car close behind Diego. She pulled down her sleeves and wiped the ash and dirt off the car window with the butt of her hand, revealing its interior. Much to her fortune, a ratty backpack and small machete were visibly stuffed between the seat and center dash console. She cradled her fingers under the handle and pulled up-- to no avail. It was locked. Behind her, the deafening roar of the encroaching walkers grew louder. They were even closer than she realized-- now coming between her and the others. Lily took the first course of action that crossed her mind and dropped to her hands and knees, sliding herself under the bottom of the car towards the other side. The closest walkers tumbled to the ground behind her, grasping and pawing at her untied shoelaces as they traipsed along behind her. She rolled onto her back-- using her hands to pull her along by grabbing onto various dangling engine parts above her while the thick grime caked her blackened fingers and palms. Everything was sticky enough to the point that she regretted the maneuver the instant she had thought of it.

Her face cleared the other side as she struggled out from underneath the car’s frame between the metal and the curb. Several walkers continued reaching blindly towards where Lily had been crawling moments before, hell-bent on getting hold of her. Lily found herself on her hands and knees, facing the passenger door of the vehicle-- hopelessly lunging out for its handle like before. The satisfying click of the door’s mechanism unlocking and propping open was like a godsend. She pulled back with all her might, scuffling forwards into the car and grabbing the bag and blade in one swoop -- carefully checking the back in case any other supplies lied out in the open.

Another low gurgle emanated from the opening to the car behind her. Lily swung around in her seat to see more walkers creeping across the sidewalk towards all the commotion-- drawing dangerously near to the car. She reached over, slamming the door shut with a thud and quickly realized she had trapped herself. Diego, Bethany, and Wayne stood back-to-back in the middle of the intersection with various weapons and tools, herding the growing mob of incendiary walkers. Their hands were full enough with their own situations that there would be know way they’d even notice the catastrophe happening right behind them. The walker’s clawing hands and limbs drew semi-clean streak across the ashen and muddied windows on both sides, deafening her ears with their incessant snarling and thrashing as they threw themselves again and again into the car’s facade. In turn, Lily threw herself into the backseat. It was only then that she noticed what would soon end up being “Plan B”. An equally dirtied sunroof visor hung above her head, casting very little light through it.

She leapt up towards the ceiling, picking at the seam of the window with her small fingers-- but the edge was flush with its plastic lodging.

’The machete…’ she thought, silently.

It was in her hands in an instant and in the sunroof one instant after that. It’s piercing tip slipped finely between the plate of glass and its exterior as Lily delicately inserted it as far as it was willing to go. She pushed firmly against the handle of the blade, wedging the glass open in small movements-- successfully, much to her relief. Patches of ash sifted down from above, clouding her eyes and dusting her hair as she shimmied away at the cover. It loosened enough in its frame to slight another third of the way, enough for her to at least start pushing the supplies out the top-- which she did. More walkers collected behind the others, already pressed against the sides of the car as their arms stretched out towards Lily-- her head and upper body forcing their way up through the opening… but it was too tight of a fit. She curled her fingers between her chest and the glass and pressed her back into the frame of the sunroof, trying to slide it back further-- but their was too much dust blocking the tracking. Her feet fumbled beneath her inside the car, trying to find something with better leverage so she could try and force herself through the rest of the way.

And then it happened.

Her heel fumbled against the emergency brake, disengaging it and causing her foot to slip. She felt it too-- slowly… as the walkers surged against the automobile. The wheels slowly began to roll, crushing the unlucky ones who were still underneath it-- as more and more of the creatures mounted to the rear and grasped at the air around Lily. She suddenly realized the dire nature of the situation as she continued struggling against the glass, a sloping boulevard littered with vacant cars and debris looming into view ahead of her. She thrashed her feet around inside the car trying to find a better foothold and wedged her shoe into the nook of the center dash, pushing up with all her might and slowly freeing her elbow… and then whole right arm. Her palm pressed down into the top of the car as the rest of her squeezed out slowly, but her escape was cut short as she craned her body to stop the bag and blade from sliding off the top of the rapidly accelerating car.

Her eyes caught Wayne’s as she rolled further away down the slanted road, his arm raising to point at her as he mouthed something she couldn’t comprehend. The shock was evident enough in his expression though, and soon he had turned Diego and Bethany’s attention to the spectacle as well. All in one movement, they maneuvered their ways after her-- separately, but together. Their presence was drawing too much attention from surrounding walkers, and they knew it. Too much longer and they wouldn’t be able to traverse the rest of the boulevard towards the other entrance to the metro tunnels. Going by the main streets almost wasn’t an option anymore, what with the volume of walkers being as large as it was. Back alleys and rooftops would always be the safest bet, but not the fastest. And they didn’t have time to waste.

Lily clutched her newly inherited belongings to her chest as the quickening momentum of the car caused her to tumble backwards as well. She slid effortlessly down the filthy windows and over the trunk, colliding with the rough pavement on her backside as she rolled to a stop feet later. She shook her head, trying to unblur her vision as she scrambled around her for her things. Somehow her pistol was still tucked into the back of her pants, but she knew that wasn’t an option. Her whole body stung from the landing-- the familiar burn of road rash pulsing up and down her hands and legs. She used one of them to push her back to her feet as she took a moment to gather her bearings and look for the others.

Wherever they had gone.


# # #


”Jessica! STOP!”

Tara’s voice was faint now-- a bare whisper compared to the roaring of the flames and crackling hiss of the peeling wallpaper and crumbling wood supports. The charred black smoke enveloped the ceiling like thick storm clouds, licking at the corners and edges as the torrential current continued to build. Jessica held the neck of her shirt over her mouth and nose as she barrelled into the open doors of the apartment building and down the hallway. The voice from before was nowhere to be heard. She swung her head to the left and right-- frantically searching the doorways for signs of activity as she plunged ahead into the growing darkness.

’Please! Somebody!’ the voice shrieked out once more. It sounded like it was coming from straight ahead. Jessica waved the smoke out of her face as she passed down the seared facade of the hallway, mindless to the impending dangers all around her. Another door passed by. And another. Her vision was beginning to blur so much already that she thought she saw a white light emanating from the end of the corridor-- but it was no hallucination. The last of the doorframes flashed past her eyes as she swung into view of its inside quarters, seething in flame-- collapsing before her very eyes. Across the way, two blackened bodies laid hand-in-hand in front of a blaring television, its vibrant colors mixing with the reds of the surrounding fire in a randomly pulsating series of flashes. The motionless corpses sprawled idly on the ground in a clear patch past the dining room area of the apartment as a woman on the TV monitor struggled against her assailant screaming out in terror. ’Somebody! PLEASE!!!’ Jessica’s brow furrowed as she closed her eyes against the images of the voices blending with what laid before her eyes-- two souls, burned to death. They survived the end of the world, but they couldn’t survive this.

Her right foot took a step forward without thinking, as if there was anything she could do to save them. Perhaps she was just a bit stunned. Just not as stunned as she became a moment later as Tara hurled her entire frame into Jessica, dropping her to the ground. The two landed with a hollow thud, skidding across the dilapidated carpet that like everything else felt warm to the touch. They tumbled to a stop a few paces past the door and separated, scrambling to their feet breathlessly.

Jessica waved her hair out her face. ”What the hell are you doing?!” she shouted over the roar of the flames. Even opening her mouth to talk was unbearable. The ash in the air stung at the insides of her throat and lungs with each passing breath, no matter what she did.

Tara squared up, as if preparing to charge again. ”No-- what the hell are you doing?” she challenged back, looking her deep in the eyes.

Jessica shrugged her arms, looking around hopelessly. ”I thought I heard s-someone c--”

”You can’t just run off like that,” Tara continued, bellowing out her lungs. ”You keep talking about us all sticking together but then you go off and do something stupid like this? I know you might not feel like you have anything left to live for, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop trying.”

Jessica held her steely gaze from across the doorway, shielding herself from the embers of a cluster of falling beams in an adjacent room as they dusted up in a cloud of ash around them. They both collapsed in a fit of coughs as they fought to cover their mouths with whatever they could. The current of winds already building in the corridor made quick work of the pollutant whisping it s way into the torrent of fanning flames coating the walls and sidings. Jessica took it all in as they struggled back towards the doorway, hand-in-hand. She didn’t even know how they managed to find each other while they were blinded.

”We only get this through this together-- c’mon!!” she shouted out behind her with Jessica in tow.

She hoped they wouldn’t soon join the others as a couple of blackened corpses on the floor. One foot after another, the two of them charged forward-- heads down as they barrelled through the billowing smoke. The winds picked up as they neared the precipice out onto the street, the vacuous black cloud around them funneling out the front entrance an up into the sky. A series of loud crashes sounded behind them as other rooms and supports collapsed into oblivion-- but all that mattered was what was ahead of them.

That was everything.


# # #


”Wayne, can you get to her?” Diego rasped, spinning the sledgehammer around in his hands to deliver a blow to another walker. Its body crumpled into a heap on the ground beside him as the weight of the tool through him off balance and he used its metal head to prop himself up off the ground.

Behind him, Wayne dodged and darted between straggling walkers-- ducking and weaving through their reaching arms as he raced towards where the car had been. He stopped, hitting a thickening wall of the creatures and backpedaled to counter around towards a different root. ”Lily, can you hear me??”

Her voice was faint, but he could hear it-- somewhere amongst the mob. He had to find her before they attracted too much more attention...


#%! CRASH !%#


The deafening crunch of metal on metal made his neck twinge as he flinched. Several of the walkers stumbled to a stop, turning in unison toward the sound of wailing sirens as both of the collided car’s alarms began to blare down the hill aways. The ones further back turned and began to migrate that way, seemingly more interested in the commotion then with Wayne and the others. It was his opportunity to make his move.

Either now or never....