Chapter One - Charles
Eryn and Leon sat in silence as she drove. The long stretch of highway was clear, apart from the few abandoned cars that littered the sides of the pavement. Leon had his head pretty much shaved, his hair was dark and his brown eyes were surrounded by almost completely blackened blood. It cracked and felt like dried egg white stuck to his skin, uncomfortably sticky still. Eryn’s shirt was almost completely drenched with the same black fluid that covered her younger brother. It was smeared across her face, and it made her strawberry blonde hair appear a deep red colour. Their clothes were stiff and made a crunching sound when they moved around. They drove closer to L.A, and smoke rose from parts of the city streets. When the outbreak began, riots tore bigger cities to pieces, or at least as much as they could before everyone got infected and became deadites (bc I like the evil dead), as Eryn and Leon called them.
“Leon?” Eryn asked, her eyes flicking towards him, but nothing came from the 16-year-old.
“Bud?” She asked again, eyes again flicking to him for only a moment or two
“Don’t fucking Bud me E!” Leon snapped.
“How the hell do you expect me to react right now?!” He continued, his voice rising in pitch as he yelled.
“Don’t yell at me, Lee! I’m just trying to fucking talk to you! I’m not asking how you are Lee, I’m trying to get you to talk!” Eryn replied
“And watch your fucking mouth!” She added through clenched teeth
“The world’s ending, why do you care if I curse?! And why are we even going to back L.A anyway?!” Leon argued back
“I said it when we left, we have family there, and there are supplies and a supposed safe zone near there!” She said, gesturing out the windshield towards the city
“You and I both know the ‘Safe Zone’ Is complete bullshit!” He argued again, putting heavy sarcasm into the way he said safe zone.
“Well, you never know!” Eryn said snapping back at him
“You sure? That it’s real. Not just another failed attempt to get this under control?” Leon insisted
“These aren’t the slow assholes like Walkers dude, they’re fast like twenty-eight days later E, please, we both know that this shit is real. People died in the riots, now we just have even more deadites” He added
“I know, but we have a chance to be safe! It’s the army, the u.s is one of the most armed countries in the world” Eryn urged
“Do you think that a camp could withstand a herd of those dead fucks?”
“Lee! I said watch your damn mouth! And I think they could handle it yes”
“Why do you care if I curse E, it’s the apocalypse!”
“Because you’re sixteen Lee!”
“Yeah, and who knows if I’m even gonna see past sixteen!”
“Don’t say that! And I don’t care! You know Mom would kill you if she heard you swear” She said a small laugh going along with her statement
“She’s dead E, what does she care? She’s gone so why the hell would she give a shit?” Leon protested. All Eryn could do was groan and let it go, she knew her baby brother would just keep arguing with her.
The rest of the highway ride was silent until they reached the freeway right outside of the city and before them was what could only be described as chaos. They had thought the riots stopped, but they hadn’t even slowed down. Even near the edges of the city, absolute madness. They had passed San Fernando and were on the Hollywood freeway, the sky almost looked red in the mid-evening sun, the smoke in the air, filling the darkening sky.
“Holy shit E” Leon murmured, leaning forward closer to the windshield, staring out at the sky.
“That’s damn right, Jesus…” They were both in awe at the state of the city.
“Where are we going E?” Leon asked, fear in his voice and eyes.
“To find Charlie, and Andy, and get to the safe zone, if it’s still there.” Eryn swallowed.
“What if we can’t find them? What if they died in the riots? A lot of people did” He questioned
“Then we keep going, You gotta look on the bright side once in a while. We may be fucked right now but the least you could do is see the good.” Eryn snorted. Leon slumped back in his seat, giving in to his older sister.
Back when the world was normal, Leon quite enjoyed trips to the city. He liked seeing the palm trees and high rises made him feel less inadequate in the world. Like he was famous or something. It was painfully different, dreary and dark, and an overwhelming sense of unease engulfed Leon as they drove closer to eastern L.A.
“This is, so fucked--”
“Leon, just, never mind. Agreed, this is so fucked up oh my god...” Eryn murmured in agreement. All Eryn could do was hope that Charlie and Andy were still alive, the city was in ruins, and she just needed them to be okay. She knew that Leon couldn’t lose anyone else after Mom died, he just kind of went silent, and was almost hostile ever since. The street was full of people screaming and yelling. Others were hastily fighting back deadites, and Eryn couldn’t tell the difference between the living and the undead.
“C’mon let’s hurry up” Leon insisted, his voice broke and his eyes build a bright shine as he watched the mayhem. Eryn quicked gave the gas a small punch, and the car lurched forward but stopped quickly. They couldn’t drive anymore, the road was full of abandoned cars and hysteria.
“Lee we need to get out of the car…” Eryn said quietly, realizing they would have to risk making a run for it and booking it to Charlie and Andy’s house as fast as possible.
“What?! Are you crazy Eryn?” Lee squeaked. His voice cracked again, no, it fractured and faltered. His eyes were watery and his face was morphed with fear.
“We need to go, Lee, the car isn’t gonna move”
“No! Just try again! Please-” Leon’s words were interrupted by a woman ramming her body against the car, slamming her hands against his window. She left bloody, smeared handprints across the glass as she unintelligibly screamed something at them.
“Holy shit!” Eryn yelled lurching the car forwards again, this time she didn’t stop, she swerved the car around the road, narrowly missing people. As she, in a panic and fearful drove off, the horrible feeling of a body being hit almost square in the middle of the hood, rattled through the black El Camino, and the car slid to a stop again.
“Lee grab your shit we gotta go, now” Eryn’s face was red, and tears ran quickly down her face as he haphazardly gathered her bag and other loose belongings, shoving them into the bag. Leon didn’t hesitate in snatching his canvas backpack from where it sat between his feet and jump from the car with Eryn. He vaulted himself onto the hood and slid across it. Eryn took his hand and they began to run, he pulled him along as they raced through the street.
Suddenly Leon was yanked from Eryn’s grasp and a scream took his place. She spun around to see that a deadite, had grabbed onto him and had him by the arm. Its upper body stuck out of the passenger seat of a nearby car. Leon struggled against it, but he wasn’t strong enough and was almost pulled into the car.
“Eryn! Get off of me!”
“Lee!” Eryn yelled, wrapping her arm around his body and hauled him from its hands.
Four blocks...Eryn held a tight, white-knuckled grip on her brother’s hand and they didn’t stop.
Three blocks...Leon’s legs and lungs burned under the pressure and Eryn’s heart was going a million miles a minute.
Two blocks...The apartment building came into view, it’s old red brick exterior almost shone in the rat’s nest they found themselves in. Outside on the street in front of the building was a familiar red Camero drove by Andy.
One block...please, we have to make it, rang in Eryn’s mind as they grew ever closer to the only haven they could get to.
They came to a frantic stop at the glass doors, which were open and bloody fingerprints lined the handle and outer edges. Eryn and Leon swung their bodies into the doorway and began making their way towards Charlie and Andy’s apartment. People yelled and hastily packed their things in the blood-spattered hallway.
“Charlie?! Andy!” Eryn called into the continuing anarchy.
“Charlie!!” Leon yelled, pointing down the long hall. Lo and behold, there stood Charlie, he wore a white tee-shirt and blue jeans, though both had bright red blood stains across them.
“Oh my god…” Eryn mumbled, letting go of Leon’s hand and running to Charlie. His body was rigid, and his face was wet with tears. He had dark blackish hair that grew a little below his shoulders, and his hands shook as he wrapped tight arms around Eryn.
“I thought you were dead E” Charlie whispered, “They said Bakersfield pretty much went up in flames” He added
“Where’s Andy?” Leon asked
“I don’t know, I lost track of him a day or so ago. Tried to find him” “Got nothing” Leon’s face fell and Eryn bit her lip to push down a sob.
“We need to go” Charlie muttered, pulling his body from Eryn’s and leading the two inside.
Charlie locked the rickety door behind them. He collapsed against it and sank to the floor. Charlie silently sobbed into his bloody hands, leaving marks on his skin.
“They said Bakersfield pretty much was nothing but ash at this point.” His muffled voice came quietly. He shot up and firmly hugged Leon.
“We’re here now Charlie,” Eryn said
“You’re our brother, maybe not by blood, but you’re our brother and I wouldn’t leave you behind” Eryn reassured him. They sat on the floor for a while after, silent and not sure what to do next. Eryn knew that if they didn’t leave soon they wouldn’t have another chance any time soon. Leon sat with his headphones on, the power grid hadn’t gone down yet, but they all knew they didn’t have much time left. Eryn took a breath and tried to calm down, her mind was wandering and she was scared.
The windows screen was broken, the frame was attached but the screen was broken through. Like something was thrown through it, and out the 4th story window. The remaining screen had been ripped out of the frame. Eryn peered out the window until something caught her eye…
On the pavement below, was something they hadn’t noticed before, something that made her realize that Charlie had lied, about what happened to Andy. Fear filled Eryn as she saw the large bloodstain on the sidewalk. Like a person had jumped from the window or was pushed out. Eryn assumed that you probably wouldn’t die from falling that height, but it would sure as hell hurt. She turned away from the window, trying to come up with a better explanation.
‘What if he did lie?’ She thought
‘What if he killed Andy?’ Eryn's head was going so fast, she didn’t think of the possibility that Andy attacked Charlie. All that she was thinking was that Andy was probably dead. Intense anxiety washed over Eryn as she made eye contact with Charlie, she saw something click in his eyes, he knew she’d seen the blood on the ground. Eryn tried to push away the disturbing thought, the image of Andy on the ground. She took a breath and tried to calm down.
A few hours passed, eventually the chaos outside quieted.
“So what do we do now?” Leon asked
“We get some sleep tonight, and leave in the morning,” Eryn said, “If we stay too long we won’t have much of a chance here,” She continued.
“Why don’t we stay for a while? We can gather some stuff from stores and shit” Charlie asked, “I literally have nothing useful in my apartment” He added
“He’s got a point E” Leon chimed in. “We’d need better off with more supplies”
Eryn looked towards the still red sky, a sea of warm colours mixed with clouds.
Charlie shifted his weight to his other arm and immediately winced at the action. Pulling his arm close to his body, he grabbed his shoulder roughly, causing him to wince again.
“S’cuse me,” He said suddenly, quickly standing.
“You okay Charlie?” Eryn asked
“Yeah, hurt my shoulder.” He replied simply
“Can I see it? I took first aid if that means anything”
“I’m okay Eryn, I just bruised it”
“You sure, you don’t look okay Charlie” Eryn stood, and took a hesitant step forward, to which Charlie rejected, taking a step back.
“Charlie you’re bleeding!” Eryn said in frustration. Charlie looked down to a small amount of blood pooling on his shirt.
“Really E, I’m fine” “I got rammed into and fell down some stairs okay?” He protested, he sounded defensive. They both could tell Charlie was lying, he’d never been a good liar. He quickly walked into his bathroom, locking the door behind him.
“Stubborn bastard,” Eryn said under her breath, kicking the air.
In the bathroom, he lifted his shirt sleeve up, on his shoulder, was a huge, and very colourful bruise. A mix of yellow and blue, in the middle, were bleeding scratches, some deeper than others. It hurt to just move his arm, which evidently meant he probably broke it or at least fractured his shoulder. He tentatively ran his fingers across the dark bruises, a small jolt of pain ran through him like a bolt of electricity.
It slowly dripped down his arm. His injury covered his tattoos in dark bruises and fresh blood. He wiped away the wet blood from his arm, rubbing it onto the lower part of his shirt.
The two siblings sat alone for almost an hour, trying to plan a route for scavenging and getting out of the city. As they talked, they were interrupted by the bathroom door opening.
“I’m sorry…” Charlie said. His shoulder was wrapped up with ace bandages, gauze and medical tape.
“Jesus Christ,” Eryn said angrily “What was that?” She asked, she was thinking the worst. She’d seen what bites did and was terrified that Charlie had been bitten.
“I’m sorry I got defensive, E”
“Christ, just tell me what happened,” Eryn said, carefully wrapping her arms around Charlie.
“I’m sorry I-” “I was upset”
“Char-” Leon’s concerned voice came from the window, but he was cut off when gunfire rang out from the streets below.
“Leon, get away from the window,” Charlie said, running up and grabbing the teen. The two looked out the still open window, outside was a white van and the driver of said van. He had what looked like a revolver, and a dog. His hair was dark, almost black. He was wide, and a damn good shot.
The two ran off before they could get a good look at him.
“Shit” Charlie hissed, snapping the window shut.
“What’s going on?”
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