The New Plague

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Chapter 13

“What?” Rick yelled, “They want to come in here and live with us after they threatened to kill us?”

Ethan and his boys had come to the gate and were quickly met by the guards who stripped them of their weapons and put them into the makeshift holding cells until Rick could figure out what to do. Rick had called a conference with Butch, Jack, Roxy and Percy. Percy wanted to leave them to die on the streets, but Roxy was firmly against that. Rick wanted to help them but was still angry at Ethan for threatening them. Butch had stayed quiet the whole time and only grunted when he was asked a question.

“I don’t see why we should help them; all they did was threaten us and try to kill those other boys.” Percy said, his voice rising.

Roxy shook her head, her anger was getting the better of her. “Aren’t you forgetting something, Percy? Ethan and his boys are human beings like us, they aren’t the enemy, and the grown-ups are.”

For the first time Butch spoke, “I think we should let them stay but only give them what they need to survive on, nothing more and nothing less.” He spoke in such a weak voice, that both Roxy and Percy stopped arguing.

Rick looked at his friend, “Okay, Butch, we’ll do that.” Rick spoke calmly and put a hand on Butch’s shoulder. “Are you sure though?”

Butch nodded, “It’s all they deserve.” He said simply. Rick nodded and told Jack to go and make sure it happened.

Kyle had seen the boys come in but hadn’t bothered to go down and check out what was happening, he didn’t really care about any of that sort of stuff. If it doesn’t help you stay alive, then don’t worry about it, his father had used to say. He had been up on the lookout all night and now the cold morning dew was dripping from the roof. The previous night, he hadn’t been able to sleep because of the constant gunshots that echoed loudly in the quiet city. He had decided to keep watch instead, and had spotted the large group of infected moving towards the army base but had decided that they weren’t coming near the mall so they were harmless. The next morning Kyle had woke to the smell of smoke wafting from the direction of the army base. If any of the buildings caught fire they’d be in trouble. He warned Rick and a squad were sent to put the blaze out. About four hours later they were back, the boys ran straight to Rick.

“There were burning grown-ups everywhere; this fire was the only thing that would’ve saved us. We still had to take out a few; they looked like animals and were so fast.”

Rick nodded, this confirmed the story that Ethan and Brett had told them, except for the fire part.

“Do any of you know how the fire started?”

The six boys shook their heads, “There were flames all the way through the camp but it looked as if the fuel barrels caught fire and exploded because half of the storage bay was blown-up. Can we go and clean ourselves up now?”

Rick nodded and turned to Kyle, “We need to find out how that fire started; if there’s other survivors around here then we need to make ourselves friendly with them or things could get bad fast.”

Kyle nodded, neither of them wanted to have a repeat of what happened with Ethan’s group.

Rick stood up from his chair, “I’d better go and check on things; yell out if you spot anything.”

And with that he climbed down from the lookout leaving Kyle alone with his thoughts.

Jack awoke with a start and lashed out at the hand shaking him.

He heard a cry and opened his eyes to see Hayley on the ground holding her arm, “Oh my God, Hayley, are you alright? I’m so sorry, I was having a bad dream, I’m so sorry.”

Hayley smiled, “I-I’m ok, just a little bruised, don’t worry about it.”

Jack looked at her, she was dressed in dark clothes and had a lethal knife strapped to her calf.

“What’s going on?” Jack asked.

Hayley quickly quietened him, “Rick’s asked us to be dressed and ready to head out, but we have to be quiet because it’s a secret mission or something."

Jack stifled a laugh, it seemed ridiculous that they were talking about secret missions like they were James Bond or something. “Alright, I’ll be down in the lobby soon.”

Hayley shook her head, “Rick said we had to meet at Matt’s workshop to get weapons or something.”

Jack nodded, and Hayley headed off while Jack got changed. He slipped his survival knife into a pocket in his leather jacket that his dad had given him the day this had started.

He, Earl and his dad had been fine for a while; they had hidden in a small, brick corner shop. They had plenty of food and his dad had a gun, but one day his dad decided that he would go back home to check for Jack’s mum. His dad had been gone for a few hours even though their house was only a block away, Jack and Earl had started to worry so they went outside with their baseball bats that Jack’s dad had given them. They walked briskly towards Jack’s house carefully avoiding the debris and dead bodies that seemed to be everywhere.

“This place is bad.” Earl said.

Jack laughed nervously, “Yeah, that’s the understatement of the century.”

They finally rounded the corner that Jack’s house was on; it was a fairly modern house with white, rendered walls. It looked almost comical compared to the rest of the neighbourhood, as the house was untouched by looters or infected. They approached the front door; the whole street was quiet, as if it was holding its breath. Jack tried the door but it was locked.

“Come around the back, Earl, I still remember where the spare key is.”

Earl nodded, and they jumped over the fence. Jack’s house had a pool tucked into the back corner of the yard; it was now a slimy green colour and was steaming in the cool air. The boys approached the back door cautiously, unlike the front; the back door had been smashed off its hinges. They walked inside the house, it smelt like rotting food that was probably from the kitchen, the boys walked upstairs and shrieked as they saw a body on the floor, it did not belong to his father, it was the body of Jack’s neighbour, Mrs McDonald. She had large bullet holes from where a shotgun shell had exploded in her chest, her face was twisted and her jaw hung loosely from her face. Jack knew his father had been here, just then Earl called him.

“Hey Jack, you gotta check this out.”

Jack walked down the hallway; a sickening stench hit him like a punch. “Gross, what is that?” They moved closer to the door to the media room. Jack remembered all the sleepovers he used to have with Earl back before things got tough.

“C’mon Jack.” Earl said as he kicked open the door.

Jack followed his friend cautiously watching their backs. He turned and looked in front of Earl.

“Holy crap! What happened in here?” Jack said.

The floor of the room was red and sticky with drying blood and there were bodies littering the floor.

“Surely your dad couldn’t have killed all these suckers, right?” Jack nodded.

“He must have had help, remember, Dad used to have contacts in a couple of the local gangs.”

Earl nodded, “They must have helped him get out of here, we better get out of here too, who knows if this disease is contagious or not.”

Jack nodded; he knew the consequences of getting the disease and pushed the thought aside.

“Hey Earl, can I ask ya something?”

Earl turned around, with a small grin on his face, “Sure thing, man, what is it?”

Jack cleared his throat, “Do you think, after all this has happened, that I’d find a girl to be with?”

Earl laughed, but stopped after seeing the sad expression on his friend’s face, “I don’t know our chances, but I’ll make sure you end up finding someone, ok? Even if it’s the last thing I do.”

Jack nodded, “And do you think we should keep looking for my dad?”

Earl paused, then shook his head, his face a mask of sorrow, “If we get back to the shop and he’s not there then we wait the night and set off in the morning, hopefully we can find a place with guns or some food.”

Jack nodded again and the two friends made their way down the road, with the sun setting behind their backs.

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