Jane pulled her scarf up over her chin to block out the cold wind that had been blasting them for the past few days. She looked over at John who had initiated the break they were now taking. They had been traveling for two months, trying to reach the University that Mika had undergone treatments. Perhaps they could find answers there, find out what caused all of the death.
Mika; Jane thought about what had happened constantly. It angered her that Mika had been the reason they were struggling to survive and found it hard to believe that she had walked alongside Armageddon incarnate.
“You ready to move?” Jane asked, roused from her thoughts when she realized that it would be dark soon. The days were getting shorter which meant that they had less travel time during the day.
“Yeah, I’m ready,” John said quietly. He had been affected most by what had happened to Mika. He had been there when she had died the first time. Before they had even met Mika, John never spoke of the day that he had met patient zero. He also felt that he could have saved her from dying this time; his training hadn’t prepared him for lack of supplies. John stood and stretched. It was just them now. Nicole had met her end a few weeks ago when a swarm had overwhelmed them. She wasn’t as fast as the others, but had seemed to have given up anyway.
She had locked eyes with Jane when she had looked behind her to see Nicole’s progress as they ran. There had been a look in her eyes, and she had nodded as her pace slowed allowing the zombie horde to grab her. Jane shook her head at the memory; so many ghosts followed her now.
Ed had left them during the night a few days after Nicole had died. He left without saying goodbye or where he was going; Jane and John woke up and found his things packed up neatly. They thought that maybe he had been attacked when relieving himself in the woods, but they searched for his body and found nothing.
And now the two of them walked together. They met a few people along the way that had managed to fortify their homes or buildings in an attempt to create a permanent living situation. They had stayed with some for an evening, to allow their nerves to relax a bit by allowing others to keep watch. The two had been met with curious looks when they refused to stay, as if going out into the world meant death. It did for some, but Jane and John were on a mission and were determined to reach their goal.
No one ever knew where they were going or what their end goal was; it was better that people did not know.
According to the maps that Jane had found a few weeks into their trip, they were only a few days away from the University that Mika had attended. This fact made Jane impatient. They were so close and she was tempted to leave John behind who didn’t have the stamina that she was blessed with.
“What do you think we’ll find?” John asked for the umpteenth time in an attempt to start a conversation. When Jane didn’t answer he smiled, “I think there will be hot showers and a juicy, marinated steak.” He licked his lips. Food was scarce, and what they did find was packaged, usually salty or sugary and not meant to sustain human life. It was probably in the early months of the infection break out that they last had had a nutritious home cooked meal.
“There better not be a swarm of living dead,” Jane said, her strides long; they only had a few hours to make any ground and find shelter.
“That too,” John agreed, struggling to keep up with Jane. The road they walked on was an old highway but the houses were getting closer and closer indicating that an urban centre was not far off. They walked briskly for another hour before Jane started to look seriously for shelter. John pointed to a large house to their left. It seemed pretty empty, the yard clear of bodies and carnage, unlike most homes they had come across. Jane unholstered her hand gun and walked in the direction John had pointed. They separated, each going around a different side of the house. Once they met in the back, Jane went up the steps to the back door. She peered through the windows, dust impairing most of her vision, but she didn’t see anything moving. Turning the knob, the door opened, unlocked. Going inside they began their usual search, quiet as they stalked any potential threats. Whoever had lived here took most of the personal belongings and had left in a hurry; drawers and cupboards wide open.
“Clear,” John called when he had checked the basement and was walking up the steps. Upstairs, Jane heard him and was about to say the same when a hand grabbed her shoulder. She turned quickly as she heard the raspy intake of breath behind her. A man stood in the closet that she had thought was empty, his mouth opening and closing slowly.
“Help me,” he rasped, the sickness almost taking hold of him completely. He fell to his knees, Jane grimacing when she saw the wound on his upper back. It oozed, dripping black infected blood down to his buttocks. Jane raised her gun, taking aim at his head. “No,” he said weakly.
“Trust me,” she said, cocking her gun, “This is the best treatment out there.” He looked up at her face, his eyes pleading. She hesitated for only a moment, which gave the person behind her enough time to bring something heavy down on her head.
John looked up to the ceiling, thinking he heard something. Jane hadn’t answered his all clear announcement. Cautious, he went to the bottom of the stairs that led to the upper floor.
“Jane?” he called quietly. No answer. Slowly, he crept up the steps, senses alert for any potential threat. He was halfway up when a person ran across the top of the stairs.
“Hey!” he cried, running the rest of the way to follow the person that had run into a room on the left. Before reaching the door, he slowed again. The door was almost closed so he placed a hand to push it open when it slammed in his face. “Hey in there!” he yelled, banging on the door.
“What did you do with, Jane?” he stopped banging, hoping to get a response. A gun shot rang out, startling John so that he fell back a step. “Jane!” he screamed, imagining the worst. Trying the knob he found it was locked. Stepping back he kicked the door several times before it swung open. He rushed inside just as another shot rang through the air causing him to instinctively put his arm up to cover his face. Once the ringing in the air stopped, he lowered his arm. John saw that Jane stood over the body of a man and a small girl, her gun still pointed at the bodies, her breathing labored.
“What the hell, Jane?” he stepped towards her but stopped when she looked his way, her eyes wild. “Jane, its me, John,” he said, putting his gun away and holding up his hands. After a moment of intense silence, Jane let her hand fall to her side and stepped back until she bumped into the bed onto which she sat down on with a huff.
“She came out of nowhere,” she began, putting her head in her hands. “I was about to put him down when she hit me,” she told the floor. John went to the bodies. The older man clearly had been bitten, his skin a sick grey colour. The girl couldn’t have been more than thirteen.
“We all do strange things when loved ones are involved,” he said, sitting next to her. “She wouldn’t have survived long without him, who ever he was to her.” John moved his hand to put his arm around Jane but thought it best not to touch her.
“He was her father,” Jane said, lifting her head to look at the girl. “That’s what she said, ‘you can’t hurt my daddy’”. Jane let a sob escape her lips. It was the first time that John had seen her exhibit any emotion. “Goddamit.”