Alone Among the Living Dead
Getting down to the street was a slow process for the pair—while the stairwell wasn’t a haven for the undead, the descent exhausted the energy stores within their muscles quickly, demanding they stop every few flights to rest. Once at the bottom, they peered around a corner to get a look at the street through the glass panes that surrounded the lobby. For the moment, everything looked clear.
“Should we go now, or do you want to rest for a few minutes?”
Trevor looked at his sister before answering, “If you’re good to go, so am I.”
With the decision made, the pair crept to the large revolving door they’d locked after entering the building a few days ago. They hadn’t wanted to worry about anyone or anything finding its way up the stairs after them. As quietly as possible, Trevor slid the bolt up from its snug reservoir in the marble floor, his eyes searching the street for any movement. Straightening back up, he placed both hands on the push bar of the door and glanced back at his sister, eyes searching her face for any hesitation. Seeing none, he leaned his body weight forward and the door started to spin.
“Wait!” It was Liberty, her hand grabbing on to his pack, pulling his body backward, making him lose the forward momentum.
“What?” The fear was back in his voice, his eyes scanning left and right up the street in a panicked frenzy.
Then he saw it. The flash of vibrant purple that had caught Liberty’s attention.
“Is she alive?” Trevor whispered, his question falling heavily in the absolute silence.
The pair stared as the girl with the purple hair came toward them, her body burdened by the pack on her back and the sling she wore across the front of her body. “Is that a baby?”
Her hands smacked up against the glass, panic evident on her face. “Let me in!”
The request was simple, but full of danger. She could be infected. Or worse. She could be one of those people who were sent out to lure other unsuspecting survivors into an ambush where her cohorts would claim supplies and weapons, possibly even their lives.
Her hands banged against the double-paned glass again as she looked back over her left shoulder, the bundle strapped over her chest wriggling around frantically. “Seriously, they’re coming!”
Looking in the direction of her gaze, they could see the living dead round the corner, their lifeless eyes searching for the movement that had brought them to the intersection. Seeing the body banging on the glass only a few feet away gave them a burst of energy, as if new life breathed through their deadened limbs. With renewed purpose, they moved faster.
Trevor and Liberty shared a look, a silent question passing between them. In the end, they made the only choice they could—yes. With a quick push on the revolving door, Trevor propelled the door around on its ring, sucking the young girl into the building before making his way back around. Quickly slamming the lock back into place, he ushered Liberty and the new girl back into the hallway that contained the bank of now useless elevators.
“Have you been bit?” Liberty asked the question, knowing what the price would be if she answered yes.
Liberty stared at her for a while, sizing up the answer and trying to figure out whether or not to believe her. The girl stared right back, with no fear in her eyes and a look that said she was willing to back up her claim.
“What’s your name?” It was Trevor who asked, breaking the awkward silence between them.
“Lynn. Lynn Hardgrove.” She pushed out her palm in an attempt to shake, but let her hand fall back to her side when neither of them made the move to accept the gesture. “And this here is Stanley.”
As she drew back the cloth, Trevor and Liberty were both surprised to see a small pig poke its snout out. It grunted quickly and then nestled back into the warmth of her body.
“Yeah, he’s been with me since the beginning. As soon as any of them get close, he lets me know it’s time to move!” Her hand cupped the bundle and stroked the fabric lovingly. “Pigs are actually really smart.”
As if to prove her right, Stanley began to squirm against her just before the banging started. Looking around the corner quickly, they saw the undead pressing themselves up against the glass, their grimy hands trying to break through to get to their prize. It was in the moment Liberty knew there was no way Lynn could be infected—the pig wouldn’t have been so calm otherwise.
“What are you doing in the city? Are you part of a bigger group?”
“No, it’s just me left. My boyfriend and I had been hiding out in an abandoned building for a few weeks, listening to anything we could find on the airwaves. He was ex-Military and knew some of their emergency frequencies, so we listened in the hopes that someone would tell us what to do.”
“What happened to him?” Trevor asked as he poked his head around the corner to take another look at the situation out front.
“He went out one day and never came back. I waited a few days and then figured it was time I made a move of my own.” Lynn relayed the information without emotion and Liberty understood why—you could only mourn so many before loss became so common, it was all you experienced. “Hey, have either of you heard of a city called Setagaya?”
Trevor looked back, puzzled, “No, why?”
“Well, on the radio there was this guy who said he was from Setagaya and that he’d found a cure.”
“Yeah right! A cure for death? Are you fucking kidding me?”
“No I’m serious,” Lynn continued. “He said he had a cure. He explained it a little bit; said he couldn’t cure those who were already dead, but that he could prevent those of us who were uninfected from getting infected. Even said he’d cured two people who’d be recently bit.”
“Really?” Trevor asked, hope relighting in his eyes.
Liberty knew it was dangerous to foster hope, especially lately, but even she wanted to believe it was true. Now they just had to figure out where Setagaya was and how to get there…
Copyright © 2014 Julianne Snow