Ben was excited about the prospect of another fight. He had formed a group of kids called the Hunters two weeks ago and had only fought three times. The Hunters were a group of tough, street-smart kids, who went to all the little settlements around the city and were hired to clear out grown-ups for a payment of food and shelter. But late this afternoon they had heard there was a huge fight going on outside the hospital. Whoever these people were, they must have been suicidal because the hospital and business district was a no-go zone. The infected there were twice as strong as the average ones, and had even learnt to form packs, like wolves. The Hunters had been growing increasingly bored and Ben, as the leader, needed to keep his people fit and on their feet. They had been staying at a boarded up motel, full of kids who were fast and smart but definitely not the fighting type. They had practically begged the Hunters to stay in the area for as long as possible, but they had gotten bored because there were hardly any infected in the area. His team were marching towards the hospital, they were only a block away now, and they could already hear the sounds of battle. Daniel and Cameron, Ben’s best friends, had been scouting ahead but were heading back to report what they saw.
“Ben,” Daniel said “the kids up there are in big trouble, we gotta help them.”
Ben scratched his chin, “Should I really put the whole group in danger of getting killed, for some kids that we don’t even know?”
Cameron nodded eagerly, “You gotta, these guys are loaded, they got guns, swords and a whole lot of other stuff too, and they even got a bus.”
Ben was impressed, “Alright, on my mark we run and kill some idiots.”
They got closer to the corner of the block, quickly dispatching any infected that came to close. Then they reached the corner and the Hunters bellowed a battle cry that could be heard over the sounds of the raging battle. They charged around the corner taking a nearby group of grown-ups by surprise. They moved from group to group killing anything that got in their way. The kids that were on top of the bus watched in awe as the Hunters torn through mob after mob, then Ben saw the one with the sniper take aim towards him.
“Oh no.” Ben cried and the boy shot.
Ben jumped down into a
crouch, the bullet had hit a woman that had been about to pounce on him. Ben
nodded to the boy on the bus and got back to work.
Rick’s team had been energized by the sudden arrival of the new kids, they moved like very experienced fighters and had helped him and his boys break through the huge mob that the brawlers had been struggling to take down. In about half an hour, nearly every group was killed or had run off and hid somewhere. Rick walked over to where the new kids had assembled.
“Who’s your leader?” He asked in a neutral tone.
A stocky black haired kid, with scars on his arms stood up.
“That’d be me, mate.” said the boy, “names’ Ben.”
He stuck out his hand and Rick shook it and smiled.
“Hi, I’m Rick, thanks for saving our butts out there.”
Ben shrugged, “Was nothing. We do that sorta stuff for a warm-up, right gang?”
The group laughed and nodded, Ben went on.
“We’re called the Hunters, we mainly just go around form place to place picking up work where we can, in return for food and shelter. But this one’s a freebie, for first timers.” He laughed and patted his sharpened, but battered crowbar, “Wouldn’t mind some new weapons though, these ones are getting used a bit too much lately.”
Rick nodded, “Well my group and I were just coming here to grab some medical supplies and equipment, then we were gonna head back to the mall, on the other side of town. We thought it’d be easy, ‘cause the infected on the other side are really diseased and not too brainy.”
Ben laughed, “We’d be able to fit in that bus of yours, right?” Rick nodded, “Yeah we got plenty of room, but not too much food with us. If you guys want to come back with us, we’d be able to give you guys some food and new weapons too.”
Ben nodded, “We’ll come with you guys after you grab what you need, we’re just gonna look around some buildings for food or something then we’ll be right over.”
Rick nodded, “Don’t you guys vote on things or anything?”
Ben shook his head, “They do what I tell ‘em and that’s it, don’t you guys?”
They all mumbled an agreement.
Rick laughed “Alright then, see you guys later.” He turned and left, this was day just got better and better.
Jack had helped the nerds get the last few boards off the windows and the boys were now wandering through the corridors.
“We stick together so we don’t get lost in here ‘cause this place is like a maze.” He explained.
Most of the rooms had very little useful equipment in them, but occasionally they’d come across some drugs and more often, bandages. Some of the nerds were carrying parts of a medical computer back to the bus, but the majority of the group were just looking for drugs. They had made a decision to only go up to the third floor so that they didn’t spend too long in the building, surprisingly there were no infected inside, but there were some dead bodies that swarms of flies still hovered over, Jack decided that he wouldn’t go in any of the rooms where the dead people were. He had his gun loosely strapped over his back so that he could get to it quickly if he needed to, but the brawlers had said that the building was clean of infected. It took them another hour to clean out the three floors, with one team to each floor, and Jack headed back outside. The group of new kids were waiting outside near the bus like school kids waiting to go on a field trip. Jack walked over to Rick who was talking to a stocky boy with scars on his arms.
“Who are you lot?” Jack asked gruffly, the boy looked up.
“We’re called the Hunters, and we’re here to help you guys out, mate.”
Rick laughed, “This is Ben, Jack. Ben, this is Jack, my head of the skirmishers.”
Jack hadn’t really realized that he was actually the head of the skirmishers until now, it filled him with a funny kind of pride.
“So, are you lot coming back with us then?”
Ben nodded eagerly, “We want to know how you guys got so loaded with gear, and what the other side of town looks like, and Rick has told me all about your fortress at the mall too.”
Jack laughed, “Yeah, you should see it. It’s awesome.”
Ten minutes later they were all on their way back to mall, with high spirits, laughing and singing the whole way back, it almost felt like everything was back to normal… almost. When they got back to the mall, there was a gasp from the Hunters as they saw the high wall and the lookout and there were people pointing at the gate and the little sporting area. They parked the bus and got out, there was a crowd of kids waiting to meet them, including Butch and Roxanne. Rick sent off a group of fifteen boys to get beds sorted out for the Hunters. Then Roxanne ran over to Rick and nearly knocked him off his feet with a fierce hug.
“I knew you’d be back.” She laughed and kissed him playfully on the cheek.
Rick looked around and laughed when he saw that the same thing had happened with Jack and Hayley, Rick was so happy to be the leader of this little safe patch and these happy kids.