A/N: No this chapter isn’t about something raunchy. It’s the literal meaning of the word. But anyways. I would go into detail about the time in relation to the last chapter. But I’ll show rather than tell this time. You guys are all smart! So you’ve got it!
The was something shaking me a bit. Waking up, it was Alisha. I looked around seeing everyone still asleep.
“You’re on the last watch. When the sun is up wake us.” My sister sighed, looking tired.
“Any infected?” I asked, gathering my bow and sword from the floor.
“Just some wildlife. I think there may be mountain lions here. So I suggest staying up on the truck like I did.” My sister explained as I got out beside her, following her around to the back of the truck.
Helping her return to her makeshift quarters for the night, I climbed atop the truck with some protest from my still waking body. I looked out over the tranquil desert, a bit enthralled by all the beauty it possessed. The stars and moon shining brightly in the night. One thing I hadn’t expected was for it to be so cold. Our fire was about dead, a small stream of smoke leaving the embers into the sky.
I scanned my surroundings from my vantage point. And then something caught my eye off in the distance. A fire burning. It was a small dot in the distance, so it must have been a campfire. I learned yesterday while I was out collecting supplies in that town that people were dangerous now. I gripped my bow, hopping down from the truck. I’d nip this potential trouble off before it could get to us. What I was about to do was more sinister than anything I had ever planned.
It could work though. I had the cover of nightfall; the only thing potentially giving me away being the glowing red sight of my bow. I looked back at our camp, intent on returning quickly as I didn’t want them to be unguarded for too long. Without much more thought, I sprinted off into the desert, the campfire growing larger and larger as I drew closer. I paused, taking cover behind a large dried out shrub. Straining my eyes I saw a man, and three other sleeping bodies. Or he could be a serial killer looking over his victims. I thought back to why I was here, what I wanted to protect. So embodying a predator, I kept my senses alert for wildlife, all while keeping my eyes trained on the man as I moved from point to point, assessing every detail.
He wore a cast on his right arm, colorful signatures on it telling me it was before all of this started. I also got a closer look at the bodies with him. I saw a woman bundled up in a sleeping bag, next to two smaller ones. A family? I felt myself recoiling and wanting to turn to leave, easing the tension I had on my prepped arrow. How could I commit to doing something like this? Slinking off into the night and killing people? Just what was I becoming? I decided to take a risk. As I did intend on slaughtering them all. If things got bad, I’d have my sword ready. Placing my bow down behind the trunk of the shrub I was ducked behind, I readied my grip on my katana, slinking off a distance, deciding to approach him from behind as I’d still want the surprise advantage.
Stalking closer and closer, I got up right behind him. If I wanted to kill him I could, being this close without his knowing. The sandy terrain made it a bit easier to get this close so quietly. Standing up, hand still poised on my sword, I tapped his shoulder gently. He jumped in surprise, turning on me and almost falling back into the campfire he was sitting in front of just moments ago. I reached out and caught him, heaving a sigh.
“You know, I saw your fire from a ways off.” I explained, slipping my sword out of its sheath menacingly as he looked ready to attack me.
“And I was coming to warn you about the road, park your van over there.” I explained, calmly, reading his body language intently.
Though he seemed fiery as he moved to grab something out of his pocket. My reflexes were quick as I unsheathed the blade of my sword, having it poised at his neck.
“I don’t want to kill you. Simply to warn you to be safer.” I explained, holding down a shudder as I was so close to ending his life.
“If I wanted to I would have already. I got close enough to do so.” I elaborated, lowering the blade as he visibly relaxed.
“Are you alone?” He asked quietly, looking back at his sleeping family.
He looked to be close to my age, maybe a few years younger.
“Yeah.” I lied smoothly.
“Why don’t you stay with us? You seem tough.” He asked innocently.
“I don’t think that would be wise. I’m not as friendly as I look.” I smiled.
“You came in peace though.” He argued.
He was scared of being alone. The woman with him seemed elderly. And the children were young; no older than about 10 or so. A son watching over his mother and younger siblings.
“You will be okay. Watch people first from a distance if you don’t want to be alone.” I explained, getting a nod from him.
“Get your family in the van. And keep watch from the roof.” I added, listing off the things we’d done so far while being out here.
“Thank you.” He stuttered.
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay with us. You’re alone.” He offered once more.
“The kind of person I am means it’s best for me to be alone.” I answered honestly, something I was starting to realize more and more.
I decided it was time to leave, backing away from him so I could keep an eye on him. I wouldn’t trust that he wouldn’t try shooting me or something. I had no idea what they’d been through. He decided to trust me first, turning away to wake his family. And only then did I slink off into shadow, taking a long route to get my bow that I left stashed. I turned to look back at them, seeing that they were all climbing into the van, save for the boy. I deep down hoped they would be okay. And that this time I had the resolve to test and see if they were trouble or not before committing to murder. Perhaps I still had a chance at redeeming myself? By the time I made it back to our camp, the sun was beginning to rise, bathing the desert in a pale indigo light.
Just as I had returned, a door to the truck had opened, a groggy looking Jonas stepping out.
“Morning.” I called, leaning against the front fender of the truck.
“Where are you coming from?” He asked, wiping his eyes.
“I went to go and pee.” I lied.
“Oh. How was your watch?” He questioned, stretching with a yawn.
“Pretty uneventful. I don’t think the infected will make it out this far from towns for quite some time.” I replied.
“Should we wake everyone?” I asked.
“Yeah. The earlier we get back on the road the faster we find gas. And the faster we get to the ranch.” He sighed.
“Daniel promised showers. And I totally need one.” I remarked, feeling gross.
“If we come across a river we could all stop to freshen up.“Jonas offered.
“Sounds positively amazing to me.” Alisha commented, coming from around the truck.
It was like one of us being awake woke up everyone else.
“Can we clean up first? I’ll drive as payment?” Daniel complained.
“If you know where we can we can go.” Jonas sighed.
I could say for once I was excited for something since all of this happened. And I was glad that I packed a few outfits before leaving our college campus. So I’d have something clean to wear.
“What’s going on?” Oscar asked as he emerged from the truck alongside Ellis.
“We’re going to go get clean in a river.” I informed them.
“There’s one not to far away. And it puts us near the abandoned cars.” Daniel said, looking up from the map he had.
“Then its decided. Let’s load up.” I told everyone, not really leaving them a choice as I wanted to feel clean so badly.
Daniel took the driver’s seat as promised, while I took the passenger seat. He took off into the desert, masterfully taking on the terrain with more finesse than I thought possible. Once he got enough momentum up, he was able to glide over the rolling hills of the desert. It took us mere moments for us to pass where I encountered that family on my watch. Luckily they were gone, a pair of tire-tracks leading back towards the road. I was still trying to get over that I came so close to slaughtering them. I wanted redemption. To somehow keep that side of me locked away like I had done all this time. Daniel cheered as something breathtaking came into sight, drumming on the steering wheel.
“We should check it out first. I see people there.” I warned, everyone, growing tense. I stepped out first, asking Ellis for his binoculars.
Putting my bow on my shoulder, I looked through the binoculars, surveying the pool and falls. There were two men and three women splashing around, looking as if they were having a good time.
“They seem friendly, and unarmed.” I said to them.
Our group outnumbered them by one. So maybe we could share the space for some time.
“I’ll go talk to them first. Its better than just showing up and surprising them.” I explained to everyone, Jonas looking like he wanted to complain.
“I’m a people person. I’ve got this. If they’re aggressive I’ll leave, and we can go somewhere else.” I assured everyone.
Deciding to leave my bow behind as it wouldn’t be effective that close, I took my sword instead. I struck out into the hot sun, drawing closer and closer to the falls and pool. It was either cooler over here. Or the fact that I saw water comforted me. I somehow made it to the shore without being noticed.
“Hey!” I called, instantly catching their attention as five pairs of eyes turned on me.
I raised a hand in a gesture of peace, deciding to let them speak first. That way I didn’t come across as aggressive.
“What’re you here for?” One of the men asked, seeming to be about our age.
“Me and my friends wanted to freshen up here. I was coming to ask ahead of time if that would be alright with you all.” I explained, honestly, watching them all carefully.
“We’re cool with people. We were doing the same thing actually.” The other man replied.
“How many of there are you?” One of the girls asked, ringing out her blond hair.
“Six.” I replied simply.
“Okay. Just don’t try anything slick.” The other black-haired woman spoke up.
“I personally just want to get clean. I feel gross.” I chuckled.
“Alright.” The blue-haired guy saluted.
He had quite a few piercings and neon blue hair. A unique look. I however didn’t cast any judgments. I spun on my heel with a wave, heading back towards everyone who was looking at me from a distance. When I got back they were all looking to me for an answer.
“What were they like?” Oscar questioned.
“They seemed okay. But we leave when they leave.” I began.
“And one of us should watch them in case they sneak off.” I added.
“I’ve got it.” Ellis.
“And one weapon for infected if they come. And if they get out of hand.” I tacked on to the list, wanting this to go as smoothly as possible.
“You take your bow. It’s silent, and we need to save bullets.” Alisha reasoned.
“Okay.” I said with a clap and a small hopeful smile.
“Lets get ready to go.” Jonas said, already stripping his shirt off.
“Soap?” Daniel asked as I began undressing, digging through my bag and finding the pair of trunks I somehow managed to think to grab.
I think I was the only person to think about that. Once I got enough privacy, I shed my underwear, quickly pulling up my pair of short red trunks.
“Yeah I have bodywash.” I huffed, moving from foot to foot as the sand was scorching hot.
“I could look at that all day.” Jonas sighed, shamelessly looking me up and down.
“Bite mark and all?” I asked coyly.
“Oh my gosh.” Alisha complained, handing me my bow.
I had almost forgotten about the bite. It had been bandaged for so long that I forgot how healed it was. It was pretty shallow, just barely breaking the skin. I peeled it back, seeing that it was fully healed, a little discolored on my skin. It almost ruined my tattoo of a quote I had on my ribs as it was just below that.
“It came so close to ruining my tattoo.” I remarked.
“Yep.” Ellis commented, looking it over.
“Okay is everyone ready? This sand is super fucking hot.” I complained.
“Yeah.” Everyone chimed.
I bent down to take my boots, in case I needed them. And we all collectively left for the water after Jonas locked up his truck. When we arrived, we were warmly welcomed by the occupants of the pool. Setting my boots and body wash down on the red sandstone, I waded into the water, pleased by how cool it felt on my skin.
Everyone stuck close to me, save for Ellis who swam over to a rock that jutted from the center of the pools.
“I never got your names.” The blue-haired guy spoke, offering a hand.
“I’m Issac. This is Alisha, Jonas, Oscar, Daniel, and Ellis is over there.” I explained, gesturing to everyone accordingly.
“Oh cool. I’m Blake, this Adanna, Camila, Blair, and Madison; the guy with a gender-neutral name.” Blake explained with a snicker.
So Camila was the blonde, Blair was the ginger. And Adanna had the kinky black hair. Blake had the blue hair, and Madison was the other guy.
“So where are you guys from?” Blake asked, swimming back into the pool back towards his friends.
I looked to my companions for a moment, getting a nod from Daniel.
“From Dallas. Most of us went to college there. Well he was my professor. And Ellis was in the military.” I explained, pointing to Oscar and Ellis.
“Cool, we went to college out here. Was it as bad for ya’ll as it was for us?” Blake asked as Alisha went off with Jonas.
“Yeah. It was pretty bad. Dallas is fucked, which is why we’re out here now.” I explained.
“Okay, last question.” Blake smiled, stepping closer to me.
“What’s with the bow.” He asked.
“Just for any tweakers and lurkers.” I shrugged, wading deeper into the pool towards one of the larger rocks.
“That’s what you guys call them? We call them puppies and sloths.” Blake snickered, following along behind me.
“That’s interesting.” I commented, settling down on the flat rock that was just submerged under the surface of the cool water.
“So how many have you killed?” He asked, turning his attentive green eyes on me.
There was a lot of attention being placed on me. I didn’t know how to feel about it exactly. Or why he seemed so interested in talking to me.
“I’ve honestly lost count. I’m a pretty good shot with this.” I replied raising my bow.
“Color me surprised.” He smirked, sitting beside me.
“Why is that?” I questioned, considering myself to look and come across as pretty capable.
“You’re a pretty guy. And you look innocent.” He said boldly, looking to me expectantly.
It all made sense now and I smacked my forehead out of a bit of frustration for not realizing he was flirting with me. I felt so out of touch.
“You don’t roll that way? I’m sorry. I had to shoot my shot. Don’t know if i’d see you again.” He chuckled nervously, running a hand through his wet hair.
“Oh I do. I’m just....somewhat taken?” I tried, still uncertain of what me and Jonas were. Or if it was even a good idea to be that close in times like this.
“Hmm, can I take a guess as to who the lucky man is here?” He recovered, going back to cheerful.
I felt humored by his brightness. It was as if his hair matched his personality.
“Go for it.” I shrugged.
“Is it Elli?” He asked, looking over at Ellis who was looking at me.
“Ellis, and no.” I laughed, correcting him.
“Hmm, this is tough.” He sighed.
“I would say Oscar but he looks too old for you.” He snickered.
“I’m a grown man. I don’t really discriminate when it comes to age.” I mused.
“Ahh so is it him?” He asked, a smile on his face.
“Nope as well.” I replied, amused that he was trying so hard to figure out who the man in question was.
“Well fuck. Who is it?” He questioned, seeming to be defeated.
“Jonas.” I smiled.
“I thought she was his girlfriend or something. They seem close.” He shrugged, slipping back down into the pool.
“Oh she’s my little sister. We’re all just close.” I explained.
“Well, either way. I shot my shot. And I still think you’re gorgeous.” He smiled, falling back into the pool goofily.
I looked around for Daniel, as he had my soap. I waded my way across to Alisha and Jonas who were in the middle of splashing one another. I’d call it childish. But it was good for them mentally to be relaxing like this.
“Have you two seen Daniel?” I asked.
“What’d neon man want?” Jonas asked, seeming to have paid attention.
“Oh, he shot his shot as he called it.” I chuckled, a little flattered that even going through all this I still looked decent to attract that kind of attention.
“Not sure how I feel about that. But I’ll just try to be flattered.” Jonas mumbled.
“Oh. Dani is just downstream a bit. He was washing his hair the last time I saw.” Alisha explained.
Making my way downstream, I eventually caught the smell of my body wash in the air. And there was Daniel, a puff of suds in his hair. He turned around and there was a sudsy beard on his face as well.
“Well damn, I was gonna surprise you guys.” Daniel chuckled, dunking his head in the water, coming up fresh-faced.
“I’m sorry. I wanted to get clean.” I replied, amused.
“Oh, heads up.” He said, tossing me my body wash, which I almost dropped as my arms were a bit restricted by my bow.
“Any infected?” I asked.
“I saw one a while ago chasing a lizard or something. It went off towards the road.” Daniel saluted.
“Okay. You should head towards everyone else. We don’t need you getting attacked.” I replied, starting to make my way back upstream.
Removing the hair tie from my hair, I realized just how long it was getting. I’d have to cut it soon. I waded into the shallows of the pool, soaking my body and lathering the lavender-scented body wash all over. It wasn’t the best. But at least I’d smell better. Jonas of course thought it was a good idea to come up from behind me, hugging me to his chest. I knew it was him because his 6′5" frame dwarfed my 5′6". And no one in company had that height.
“Now ya look and smell good.” He sighed, all the while I felt myself heat up.
I’m sure everyone in the pool was looking. I liked how he was trying harder to be affectionate around people now; which is something he used to feel ashamed to do. But now wasn’t the time.
“I need to go rinse off.” I chuckled, using that as my excuse to cause him to let me go.
“And would you mind holding onto this?” I asked, handing him my bow with a coy smile.
“Maybe when we get where we’re going we can have some alone time?” He asked softly.
“Lets get there first and then work out the details.” I sighed, rolling my eyes at the idea that he could be thinking about sex at a time like this.
Making my way towards the falls, I eventually had to tread water as it grew deep enough to swim in. The falls however had some rocks close enough to the surface to stand on, the falls becoming a shower. I wanted to at least wash my hair. Would this body wash do good on my hair? No, it would probably dry it out. But that was better than it being dirty. Ducking under the falls, I set to work, looking out over the pool and seeing everyone looking happy. Chasing one another playfully, water fights. It was like everything was normal and this was a vacation. It was good for everyone here.
I swam into another deep portion of the pool, the water refreshing. Honestly, I could stay here forever. Everyone around me was happy, smiles on their faces as they socialized and let loose. Some shadow loomed over me. When I turned to look up I saw a body falling from the sky on top of me.
“Issac look-” I heard Ellis warn right before my hearing was drowned out by water.
Something was attacking me as I was forced underneath the water, a piercing pain going off in my collar bone. I thrashed and fought in the water as I was held down, my eyes burning as I opened them in the water. I was running out of air struggling under my attacker, my head spinning. And just when I reached my limit, the body attacking me grew still as I was tugged up to the surface. I was coughing up copious amounts of water, my heart racing and my breathing just as rapid. I looked around, seeing just a tiny amount of bloodstain the once tranquil water red.
Everyone stared at me in utter and complete shock, the people who were in the pool before us looking shocked. I looked down at the source of pain, seeing a bite mark. Then the anxiety came, as I clung to Jonas for comfort.
“He’s okay. He’s immune to them.” Jonas told them, holding up a defensive hand as Blake moved away.
“What the hell.” Madison exclaimed.
Jonas saying that was like instant sobriety. I wasn’t sure why it still terrified me. I would be okay. But it was still scary to experience.
“W-we should go.” I stuttered, announcing to my companions.
“Wait. You’re immune?” Blake asked, looking dumbfounded.
I nodded, revealing my first bite mark on my ribs, just below my tattoo.
“This was about two weeks ago.” I explained.
“Woah.” Adanna said simply, looking wide-eyed.
I was still shaking as my body felt cold despite the beaming sun overhead.
“We should get outta here. If there’s one there might be more. We have to find gas too.” Ellis tacked on, coming up beside me and giving me a light nudge on the shoulder.
“We’re looking for gas too. We can help each other.” Blake suggested, getting scornful looks from his companions as he and them tried to process what had just happened.
It seems everyone I was in company with disagreed as I sobered up. More sets of eyes could help us if we went back to the highway in search of gas. I was bitten. My genetics kept me safe from infection. I chanted that in my head to ease my anxiety down. In comparison to my other issue, I had much more control over it.
“Yeah. We can help one another for the time being.” I sighed, running a hand through my wet hair.
Everyone was in agreement, leaving the pools. We all got dressed, an awkward silence of sorts around us. Ellis bandaged me up with care, telling me something about how often I should change them out and have the bite cleaned. I had just finished tying my hair into a messy bun of curls when I heard another car pull up beside Jonas’ truck, some base drenched music playing. It was a bright blue Toyota Fj Cruiser. I assumed it was Blake’s as it matched his hair.
“Well, I guess you really are immune. You’d be lookin’ sickly by now.” He smirked, leaning out of the window, a huge grin on his face.
“Yeah. It’s just scary getting attacked like that.” I replied, offering a smile as well.
Jonas being the jealous “boyfriend” he was huffed, rolling his eyes. It was such a tiny gesture that It could easily be missed.
“So like. Is the bite okay?” He asked, Madison whistling in the background only to be shut up by Blake.
“It wasn’t deep. He just needs to keep it clean and change out the bandages until it heals up some.” Ellis explained as he got into the passenger seat of the truck.
“Ahh okay.” Blake said, seeming to not know what to say.
“Help me with my hair when we stop near the highway? I never can do something to it that looks good.” Alisha asked, catching my attention with a poke.
Me and my sister being somewhat close in age meant we’d often get ready for school at the same time. So I could let our parents get extra rest in the morning, I’d do her hair for her when we were younger up until highschool.
“Sure thing.” I replied, waving my temporary goodbyes to every one else and getting into Jonas’ truck.
A/N: Exactly two plot hints have been dropped for the next story and the end of this one! Can you all spot them? I did some strategic writing and put a trigger word right after each plot hint!