The area around the hotel had to be cleared again today. Overnight a few crawlers had invaded the area, reminding us that it would be some time before we’d be able to find and kill them all. We were in for a battle but in comparison to what we had been through, this one was much easier. The crawlers are slow. That fact is plain and simple to see.
None of us were worried. The move to the hotel had run pretty smoothly today.
We managed to get all of the people moved and in the process, moved quite a bit of the gear that we had managed to salvage. Knowing that most of whatever else we could possibly want was within easy reach was certainly a saving grace. We didn’t have to get it all done the same day.
Having the ability to take our time was something that many of us have missed over the past one hundred and sixty-eight days. We’ve been so consumed with saving our own asses, that we’ve missed out on the luxury of relaxation.
Don’t get worried however; there is nothing drastic going on. It’s just that the panic which has existed for such a long time in each moment has subsided to a certain degree. No one is taking chances or acting foolhardy. There is just an atmosphere of calm that has descended over the group.
We’ve lived through so much and while we are bound to love and lose over and over again, hope is returning. Thriving.
Hope makes us a little giddy, akin to the way you felt when growing up looking under the Christmas tree to see a huge present with your name on it. Like when the girl that you have had a crush on forever finally says yes once you’ve collected the courage to ask her out. Hope – it’s a renewing emotion. One that we desperately need.
We had just finished moving everyone over to the hotel when a noise sounded on the horizon. It was something that none of us had heard for a very long time; its absence making it almost foreign.
Could it be true?
Was it possible?
After radioing the Perimeter Guard our suspicions were confirmed.
It was a plane.
On the horizon and homing in on the settlement like it was a beacon. As I ran to the wall to get a closer look myself, the sound got louder and louder. Whoever was flying that plane was in complete control of it and they appeared to heading straight for us.
Ascending the stairs of the closest lookout post, I was rewarded with a glimpse of the craft. It was still some distance off but from the size, you could tell that it was a large commercial plane.
It would have been months since most aircraft had been grounded due to the outbreak and the sheer fact that there was no one left interested in taking a vacation to the hottest Undead locales. It seemed utterly impossible and yet, there it was, slicing through the air toward us.
The closest runway was just outside the wall’s limits. When Johanna had the walls erected, the airport was not included in their coverage. I’m assuming they weighed both the advantages and disadvantages of its inclusion. There was the possibility for something happening within the walls similar to what had happened in London and I’m sure many other cities. It was also a potential escape route. Apparently, Johanna had erred on the side of caution.
Someone had to make the hard decisions and Johanna had been formidable from what I have heard. She’s the reason that many of us are alive right now. Had there not been a place to come to, somewhere safe, free from the Undead, and self-sustaining to a point, we’d be dead. Of that I am certain. Ben, Julie and I were beyond trying to guess at a place that might be safe and Seattle had been our only option at the time.
Sometimes I wonder how the rest of the survivors we have met along the way are. There were so many of us that split ways after the cruise ship ran aground just off the coast of Georgia. What of the people we had rescued from the men that had collected survivors on their farm? So many survivors in a dwindling world of the living and we have no way of knowing how many of them are still alive.
The “what ifs” and the “maybes” cannot be dwelt upon however. So much time has passed and with it an eternity of life. There was once a time where days would pass without any real notice taken of them. I was certainly guilty of just living my life. Enjoying it but allowing the daily routine to steal something of it from me. Life should be a joy and now we can fully understand that. Joy. Simple yet hard to understand.
As I watched the plane, I could see it start to line itself with the runway of the airport to the west of us. At least that’s what I assumed it was doing when it turned in the air to come at us on a different angle.
I took a quick second to radio Lt. Lafferty who I knew was likely along the wall somewhere just like I was. Talking with her, I learned that she planned on waiting for them to land and then assessing the situation. As a group, we had decided to take in fellow survivors but not at the expense of our own survival. Each one would need to be checked over before being allowed inside. It was fair and just.
Their descent from the air was smooth. Whoever was flying the plane was skilled.
With the craft drawing nearer and nearer, I could almost make out the name on the tail. I think it said Air France but with a number of different airlines using white, blue, and red in their logos, I couldn’t be sure.
I swear I only looked away for a moment but it must have been more.
It was the sound that made me turn back at a speed which almost knocked me off the gangway.
When I looked back, the plane was on the ground.
Engulfed in flames and short of the runway.
They had crashed.
Perhaps they had run out of fuel. Or something worse.
Scanning the wreckage, I could just barely make out movement.
Figures exiting the burning fuselage, some on their own, others in groups.
There are survivors.
We have to help them.