FANDOM


This is #26 of Endangered and is titled Ghosts From the Past and the Demons That Follow. It is part two of Volume 3 and was released February 16th, 2015. While Ryker gathers up his men to attack the mall, Michael is forced to confront his demons after confrontations with Vicky and Lara. Meanwhile, Joel confronts Reyes, and not long after, discovers the secret that Daniel is alive. Haley finds herself in a difficult situation.

Ghosts From the Past and the Demons That FollowEdit

For a moment it seemed the earth stood still. Everything around Vicky froze into oblivion, as her eyes focused heavily on the only thing moving. Everything accept Michael Nicholson was unimportant to her. After two months, two long months, she runs back into the man who violated her, then shrugged her off like a piece of trash. A piece of fucking trash.

Their eyes are connected for the next lengthy minutes, neither knowing what to say. Neither knowing how to act. Vicky was consumed by rage at his sight. Rage fueled by the deep rooted darkness sitting inside of her scrawny little body. A part of her felt like punching Michael in the face, the other wanted to wring his neck. Heads or tails. Vicky didn’t know which one would win the coin toss.

Michael, however, was very much on the opposite side of the stick. He honestly didn’t know which emotion to use. He felt a small sense of fear, no matter how stupid one may find it. Who could be scared of a fragile white girl? This girl was different, however. He knew she had a pair already from the way she tracked him down, followed by an unforgettable spaz-out on him. He knew their was something brewing inside of her. Something brewing that must have grew during the outbreak.

Michael was afraid she may try to bring harm to him, physically and emotionally. He doubted she could hurt him to bad, but he wouldn’t be surprised if her fist may knock him silly. Not like he would try to stop her, he was beyond trying to stop a girl to hurt him, when he did deserve it. However, another fear eaten up him up. What if she was the key to tearing his life back down? Michael has distanced himself from his old life, but she might just be the key to drawing him back in, unwillingly of course. It was a silly thought but it was one that Michael gained nethertheless.

He was reminded of his shameful deeds, even more so. He was reminded of the numerous woman he abused. Snow, Roz, Vicky, more than dozens of more woman. How many have he truly hurt? Sure, some had no problem with one night stands, but what about the other drunken ones? The ones who wanted something more? Michael was a piece of shit who ruined tons of lives, but unfortunately, he never thought of that during those times. He was to busy using them to satisfy himself. After a minute he averts his eyes away from her scornful look.

“Hey, Vics.” Sam tugs at Vicky’s sleeve. It just occured to Vicky that Sam was indeed with her. The shock of seeing Michael made her forget such a thing. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” Vicky speaks in a grave one. “Just fine.”

“You sure? You been dazing off into space there.”

“Just a headache.” Vicky lies, pretending to rub her ‘sore’ head.

“Ouch. Need anything?”

“No.” Vicky grabs her friend by the hand and lets loose a warm smile. “Why don’t you head along? I’m gonna head and get some medicine or something.”

“You sure? I can come with.”

“No, no. It’s fine.” Vicky averts her eyes back to Michael, who surprisingly, hasn’t made a run for it. Instead he stands there, awaiting his punishment like a man. “I just wanna get rid of this bitch and I don’t know how long it may take.”

“Alright.” Sam smiles, oblivious to the ordeal that will begin in just a few moments. “I’ll see you later.” Vicky flashes a smile at Sam and waves her goodbye. Once Sam was out of the picture, far away enough to not notice that Vicky isn’t getting medicine, she makes her move. Swiftly Vicky marches across the room, a fierce determination rooted in her eyes.

Without a single word Vicky grabs Michael by the arm and forcefully drags him away. Michael, despite being able to easily overpower her, allows her too. Vicky is quick to toss Michael in the janitor’s closet, forcefully shutting the door shut behind her. From a bystander’s perspective it looked like the two were going to be doing some loving, but unfortunately, that was nowhere near the case.

Michael couldn’t even had the chance to talk before Vicky swung her fist at him. Her first collied right up against the side of his face, knocking him back against the wall in shock. No bruises but it was still a hell of a hit for someone Vicky’s posture. “Good to see you again, too.” Michael chuckles in failed attempts to lighten the mood.

Vicky’s only response was to grip him by his shirt, and in a show of anger, pinning him against the wall. Once again Michael refuses to stop her, being above hitting a woman. For a moment Vicky gave no response, letting her flaring nostrils and angered eyes doing the talking. Michael got the message. “I get you still may be angry at with me..”

“Still angry? What the fuck do you think?!”

“Taking that as a yes..” Vick growled at Michael’s comment. “Look, if you wanna talk, I’m down with that. But there is no reason for any violence here.”

“No need for violence, huh? You come to me after I had a horrific day, pretend to care for me by listening to my problems, fuck me like I’m your toy and then leave. No goodbye or nothing. Just a quick fuck in exchange for my distress. You really think there is no need for violence?”

Michael doesn’t respond so Vicky does for him. “You gonna talk? Or am I going to be doing the talking again?” Vicky watches Michael’s awkward body language with disgust. “Do you even remember my name?”

“Yeah. It’s…..uh. It has a V in it.” Michael bites his lip. “Valerie?”

Michael assumes he’s wrong by the way Vicky punches him again. “Fuck you, asshole. It’s Vicky.”

“Sorry.” Michael apologizes but she wasn’t having it. “Vicky, you have every reason to be mad at me, you really do. But punching me isn’t going to solve this problem.”

“It feels damn good to me.”

“Then I guess it’s one-sided.” Michael attempts to give her a peaceful smile but her scornful expression chases that away. “I mean you no harm.”

“Is that so?”

“If I was going to hurt you don’t you think I woulda done so by now? Or maybe I would have ran away out there?” Michael questions her in a kind-way, hoping he doesn’t come off as rude. “I’m not gonna hurt you.”

“Too late for that.”

“What exactly do you plan to do to me, Ms..”

“Cummings.”

“Ms. Cummings. What do you plan to do to me? If you wanna hurt me you can, but just holding me up here isn’t doing any of us good.” Vicky glares at Michael, not taking in any of his wide advice.

Vicky finds it hard to believe how quickly her Christmas turned. It started out great with a great breakfast with Lara and the best guys ever, following with a planned lunch with Lara, Sam and Sarah. But, this being her life, something was bound to fuck it up. Michael Nicholson came back into her shitty life. Why can’t she have good things?

However, Michael was on point about one fact. Vicky had no idea what she was going to do. She was so overtook by anger that she yanked him without any idea what to say or do. It was stupid, now that she looks back on it, but the sensation of punching Michael in the face was worth it. “Why are you here?” Vicky demands. “You’re not some….creep wanting to hurt me, right?”

“What? Of course not. I’m here for safety, like every other smart person on this planet.”

“Yeah, you wanna save your own ass, right?”

“You think of me as some selfish asshole, but I’m really not. I’ve got friends I take care of, I got a daughter I take care of.”

“A daughter? Poor girl. Having to be stuck with you.” Neither Vicky or Michael knew the irony that Sarah was the one person that both cared about. She was both a light in their eyes. Both wanted to see her grow up and be safe. “And friends? Are they just like you?”

“They are ten times the man I am.” Michael reminds her. “I fucked up, alright? I’m not a good man, I know that. But I’m trying to change, really, I want to. I wanna atone for my past.” Michael honestly wants to peacefully talk with Vicky, and hopefully, find a way to atone for his punishment of her. If only he could convince Vicky of that, but unfortunately, she was as stubborn as ever. “Let me make it up to you, please. I’ll do anything.”

Vicky glares at him. One half wants to believe him. The weak half of Vicky wanted to talk with him, but the stronger Vicky knew better. The strong half knew she couldn’t give into him. Not again. “You wanna make it up to me?”

“I do.”

“Then here is what you can do. Stay the fuck away from me, got it? If I ever see you again, even catch the slightest whiff of your smell, you will regret it. Got that? I will fucking cut off your balls.” Vicky always had a dark side in her, but after deciding to become stronger, it has taken fold inside of her. She is not the same girl from before the outbreak. She is a woman who is no longer letting life take a shit on her.

Michael looks at her with agony, but still, nods his head. He doesn’t want to cause this woman anymore pain, so being the man he is, he will respect her wishes. It’s the least Michael owes her.

Vicky glares at Michael, happy to see he got the message. Without showing any gentleness Vicky pushes him as her hands slip away, allowing Michael to stand to his feet. Their eyes meet once more as she glares at him. No words were said at first. That was, until, Vicky found it within herself to punch him square in the face once more. Her ringed middle finger hits him directly in the nose, giving the tough man some slight pain. “Fuck you.” Are her parting words to the scum of the earth.

Michael watches Vicky storm out of the room, his eyes full of regret and agony. Why did Michael have to ruin so many lives? It’s not like he wanted to, but no matter what he did, he always ended up hurting someone.

Michael slides down the wall with a deep sigh, until finally landing on the ground. Michael slams his head against the backwall, allowing all his painful thoughts to re-enter his mind.


She still can’t wrap her head around what happened. Vicky tries but it was difficult to exactly comprehend. Of course it was her luck. It had to be Vicky’s luck that she ran into Michael. He was a piece of her left that she had left behind, a piece that she was very ready to forget about, but he just had to show up. She felt this anger at him, an anger at life, and in the heat of the movement she bought him in the back just to pound on him. A part of her heard what Michael was attempting to say, but her ears listened more closely to herself. She listened to her own orders to pound on the man who hurt her.

It was something Vicky never would have said. At least, never would have said before the outbreak. Vicky may have been a broken girl but far from a violent one. Ever since her troubled youth Vicky has always been the one to let life beat her down. She would kneel down, allowing life to take powerful blows onto her. She complained about it, sure, but she would never attempt to fight back. No, no. She would use the beating as excuses for her own behavior and actions. It was pathetic now that she looks back on it. The young woman can’t help but scoff to herself.

It wasn’t until she realized how weak she was that she deemed herself pathetic. So, instead of kneeling to take the beating, Vicky stood to beat the assaulter. She deemed herself tired of being the weak link, so now, strives to be the strongest one. It was a change that some would consider a challenging transition, but Vicky switched roles rather quickly. She always had a rage of darkness brewing somewhere inside of her, and as such, managed to let it out rather quickly, for better or worse.

Vicky let out a grunt as her thoughts went on, preferring not to dwell on her weaker self. Instead she thinks back to Michael with a scoff. It was about time she gave that bastard what he deserved. She is just happy he got the message clearly enough. Stay away from her or face some consequences. As long as Michael understood that she could care less what happens to him next.

With a puff Vicky digs her hands into her small pockets. With her head down Vicky kicks a small coin on the ground, watching as it slides across the floor, until finally coming to a stop by a corner. She focuses her eyes ahead of her once more to find she was closer to her destination than originally assumed.

She was going to hang out with her girls today, doing whatever really. Hanging out with them, allowing her more loose self to come out, were among the only things that kept her sane. They helped keep Vicky who she was. It was a minor thing yes, but for some reason it made sure darkness didn’t overcome Vicky.

Then there was Ethan. Ethan was a tough nut to crack. Their relationship was still minimal at best, with the two barely knowing what to talk about when together. However, despite the lack of communication, Vicky knew that she loved him. Hell, she respected Ethan on many different levels. Sure, he had some anger, but his heart was in the right place. It was in a better place than hers, actually. Ethan risked his life to help out the people and protect the mall, and on multiple occasions Ethan was there for Vicky when it mattered. He saved her when she was a child from an incident, he was there for her after Neal’s death, and he was there for her after Lynn’s death. Communication wasn’t important to their relationship as they each respected each other, as Ethan respected how Vicky rebuilt her life following the drug incident.

“Hey Vics!” A feminine voice wheels Vicky away from her deep thought. Vicky glances to her left to see Lara approach. She looked wild, like she was riding a bull recently, but Vicky didn’t question it. Instead Vicky smiled and gave her closest friend a high-five. “What’s up?”

“Notin’ much. You know me.” Vicky chuckles with a smile, acting as if the incident with Michael never happened to ruin her good mood. Vicky has learnt to keep her emotions and problems to herself, not wanting to bring them down on poor Lara, who has suffered so much of Vicky’s emotions. “You?”

“Not much.” Lara looks at her friend curious. Lara knew her friend well enough to know when Vicky wasn’t alright, although the smile Vicky gave almost fooled her. Lara met Vicky’s gaze with a look that spelt out how Lara didn’t believe her. Still, Lara didn’t push into it. “Just being the average Lara damn Drake.”

“You must have a miserable day so far.”

“Love you too.” Lara scoffs sarcastically with a smirk, however, also giving Vicky a push on the shoulder to put her in her place. The two women proceed to make their way down the hallways, hands tucked into their pockets. “Did the guys get back yet?”

“No.” Vicky shakes her head. “They should be back soon, though.”

“It’s been a long time.”

“Eh. I’m sure they’re fine.” Vicky shrugs. McCoy and Dre, while young, were strong people. She had no qualms about them on the field. Vicky turns her attention back onto Lara. “You look like shit.”

Lara looks at her with a chuckle. “Yeah, my hair got messed up and I didn’t feel like fixing it.”

“Your shirt is...half off your shoulder too.” Vicky points out how Lara’s sleeve is half off her shoulder. Lara looks at it in surprise and mutters an “oh”. Still, Lara doesn’t do anything to fix it. Not like she really cared what other people thought. She never was one to care about the status quo.

“Fuck the police.” Lara smirks slightly as she makes her way down the hallway with Vicky. Still, Lara looks back over to her friend, and despite Vicky’s best efforts, notices anger brewing deep within her otherwise fine looking eyes. “Seriously though. What the fuck happened to you?”

“Me? Nothing.”

“How much of a dumbass do you think I am?” Lara looks at her as they walk, keeping her voice cool enough to not start a scene. So, instead of persisting Vicky, she acts as if this is a normal conversation. “C’mon, you can tell me.”

Vicky glances at Lara, with her dark green eyes, deciding what to do. It wasn’t much of a struggle as Vicky knew Lara was the closest person to her. Lara was her closest friend, after-all. They were practically sisters. “I bumped into someone today.”

“Who?”

“Michael Nicholson. Remember the name?” The name rings a bell in Lara’s memory but not one big enough to let her remember. She scratches her head in an attempt to remember but recalls nothing.

“No.” Lara says with the shake of her head. “Should I?”

“He is a sleazy Scottish dude.” Vicky chuckles. “He is the bastard who used me as his sex toy.”

Suddenly Lara remembers the name fully well. The man who had some fun time with the drunk, emotional Vicky only to leave the next morning like she was some whore. Oh, it becomes a vivid memory know. From Lara picking Vicky up from the motel to finding his ID, with his picture now clear inside her head. She remembers Vicky went to tell him off the day before the outbreak. Lara quickly twists her head toward Vicky. “He’s here?”

“In the flesh.” Vicky confirms much to the dismay of Lara.

“Did he do anything to you?”

“No. Nothing, actually. He tried to talk with me but I gave him a good pounding if I don’t mind saying.” Vicky finishes her sentence with a proud smile, making her stick-like arm into a muscle, attempting to show off in a comedic way. Lara, whilst she does chuckle lightly, remains focused on the phrase Vicky spoke. “I gave him a good ol’ whack, if you know what I mean.”

Lara scratches her head while Vicky goes on about how she threatened Michael, including the few punches she got on him. “So you told him to stay away, right?”

“Of course.” Vicky smirks. “I gave him the lesson.” Despite Vicky’s light-hearted tone Lara, surprisingly, remains serious, trying her best to wrap her head around it. Now, from experience, she figured Michael wasn’t a harmful person, instead just some sleazeball who liked to have sex. Nothing wrong with it, especially since Lara heard Vicky was a drunk mess and practically came onto him. Still, Lara felt a knot in her stomach knowing someone who hurt her friend was nearby. Lara, despite her comedic exterior, was one who wouldn’t let people hurt her loved ones, especially not her not-official sister.

Michael Nicholson. Lara lets the name burn into her mind for a later confrontation.


She never was one for looks, at least, that is what she used to believe. She was a bit of a boneyard, as her brother would say, and her face wasn’t exactly perfect either. All throughout high-school she was bullied by the prettier girls because of her looks, and even after high-school she wasn’t a popular person. Still, no matter how hard it was, she always did her best to look nice. Why? It was her dream.

She always dreamed of having a grand, fabulous wedding in a garden, surrounded by all her loved ones. She would walk down the aisle, hand-in-hand with her father, looking into her lover’s eyes with a tearful smile. She would look into the eyes of the man who wouldn’t love her because of looks, but simply put, because of who she was. She would marry him on that beautiful, fall day, and it would forever go down as the best day of her life. Then, she would get pregnant and they would give birth to beautiful babies. She would grow old with her love as she watched her children do the same. Her dream was to have a successful, beautiful family. It is, after-all, what most people strive for in life.

Everyday, no matter what hardship she faced, she would stare off into space with her eyes. Her eyes, while not a standout feature, were always filled with one two things. First, they were filled with the gift of life. Spirited, joyful life lit up her eyes. Second? Second was dreams. She had so many dreams in her life. She tried to reach into the clouds, but sadly, she had short arms. Still, her dreams stayed for her to keep on dreaming.

Her eyes now stare up into nothingness, watching the dull wall with a blank expression. Her eyes moved back and forth to match a stray fly’s movements out of mere boredom. However, something was strange about the woman today. Today her eyes aren’t lively nor are they dream filled. Her green eyes have a gray color in them today as redness takes fold of her isles. She watches the fly with her eyes devoid of life, slowly letting her mouth open to let out a sickening, blood boiling growl that could send shivers down the spine of even the strongest man.

The woman wiggles around on the steel, cold table, attempting to rid the restraints binded on her. The restraints prove strong for her weak bones, promptly taking all of the energy out of the woman. Eventually the woman accepts her fate of being trapped, slamming her rusted head back down onto the table. It was funny, because for a moment, Haruka could have swore the woman was showing emotions.

Haruka sits casually on the chair next to the woman, being slouched over and having crossed legs. Still, while her casual dementor may speak otherwise, Haruka was completely focused on the beast. Haruka’s eyes focused solely on it’s body language, watching the infected’s every moment with a keen eye, not missing a single detail. Haruka was so intrigued that her face was at a complete blank, not even holding her signature smile that brighten the moods.

For a brief moment Haruka’s human, beautiful eyes find themselves locked into the red, demonic eyes of the infected. The infected stares at her blankly, like it actually showed emotion, while Haruka stared back unresponsive. As their eyes continued to lock the infected slowly groaned, even biting down on the air to keep itself occupied. Haruka continued to stare at the beast, watching it struggle to escape. Watching as it showed emotion. Watching as the beast was biting down on the air, desperate for food.

A smile twisted it’s way onto Haruka’s face.

Her eyes refuse to unlock as Haruka stands to her feet. Haruka approaches her slowly, her smile still growing by the second. The infected seems to dwell on Haruka’s presence, until finally, Haruka was standing right next to the table, leaning overhead of the beast. Their eyes continued to lock as Haruka placed her fingers on the infected’s arm. The cold, scratchy arm that is missing of some of it’s gray skin. With a small smile Haruka slide her fingers up the arm, making sure to get a good feel of it’s skin. She continues to move her fingers around the infected, until stopping at her left arm, where a gash lays. A deep one, from what Haruka could tell. Just by taking a glance in Haruka could see the red, thick human tissue, with the black, gooey blood stains running along it. She stares into the cut, curiosity quickly taking over her. Curiosity is the devil, right?

Haruka sticks her fingers into the cut, immediately bringing out a scream from the infected. The infected screams in utter pain as Haruka cuts deeper into the cut, but yet, Haruka ignores the screams. Slowly Haruka moves her fingers around inside the bloody cut, using her long nails to scratch away at the body tissue. Haruka resists the urge to gag as she digs her fingers deeper into the body, until finally, her finger scratches against a hard, scratchy surface. Haruka had successfully reached the arm bone. Haruka smiles as her fingers press up against the bone, slowly feeling the texture of the bone. She feels the toughness, the cracks, the blood, all the while ignoring the painful screams as she does. It was intriguing to Haruka: the bones felt stronger than most, but at the same time, positioned more loose. She bites down on her lip in curiosity.

Haruka slides out her fingers, bringing the painful screams to an end. Haruka inspects her black, gooey fingers that hold home to pieces of tissue and skin. Haruka continues to inspect them, so far into her own mind that she fails to notice the infected snap her head up, nearly getting a bite out of Haruka’s arm. She pays no attention to the infected, instead focusing on the material on her finger. Her eyes lingered on the blood, the tissue and any other material in the shuffle, all the while the infected continued it’s attacks on her.

Haruka fixes her eyes down on the infected woman, staring into the dark pit of her mouth. Her yellow, sharp teeth snapped at her while black blood rolled down on her chin. However, what was most curious to Haruka, was the yellow liquid attached to the roof of her teeth. A mysterious yellow liquid….

Haruka reached down her hand towards the mouth, hoping to get some of the liquid. The infected awaits her hand to approach just a little bit further to get it’s final bite into Haruka’s hand. “Haruka!” Sandra’s frail, yet strong, voice rips Haruka out of her curiosity, turning around to find Sandra standing there. Not even a moment later Sandra has grabbed Haruka’s arm to drag her away from the infected.

Sandra’s eyes scan her friend in total disbelief, honestly not even knowing what to to think. She was gone for a few minutes and she returns to find the infected nearly biting Haruka. Worst of all was the mysterious, gross substance all over Haruka’s fingers. It made Sandra want to gag. Sandra is quick to grab a rag off the table for Haruka to clean herself with. “What were you doing?” Sandra reluctantly asks in the typical frail voice of hers.

“I was...just looking for anything out of the ordinary.” Haruka chuckles, allowing her usual wide smile do the talking. “Relax, relax.”

Sandra looks away for a moment, thinking of what to say. “You were digging into it’s arm…” Sandra takes a look at the widden gash Haruka left on the infected. “And...you were about to go in it’s mouth.”

“We had to go in there sometime, so….I figured why not now.”

“Maybe….because without proper equipment it could kill you.” Sandra’s stare of disbelief has Haruka turn away slightly, not wanting to hear Sandra’s complaints about it. Haruka was just doing what had to be done to find this thing. Sandra understood that but she also understood just how much Haruka is getting addicted to this case. It was worrying to Sandra, but yet, she didn’t know how exactly to tell Haruka this. She never was the best when it came to expressing opinions or emotions. She sighed with her crossed arms, knowing she wouldn’t be able to express this well with Haruka. Instead, Sandra grabs the bag she brought down to the lab with her. “I got the stuff.”

“Sweet.” Haruka grabs the black bag, proceeding to place it softly on the table. Haruka reaches in to pull out stacks of syringes, needles and even a microscope. Haruka smiles like a baby getting candy. Early today she had Sandra stop over by the old Science store for more supplies, and from the looks of it, Sandra got everything they needed. Placing the spare items on the table, Haruka only holds on to one syringe. “Time to get some blood.”

Haruka turns back towards the infected, and with the needle in her hand, sits right next to her shoulder. It only took a second for Haruka to poke the needle through the soft skin, and immediately, she successfully pokes the needle into the black veins. With a firm hand Haruka draws out the blood, finding it to be a mixture of black and red. Sandra watches from behind, and like Haruka, watches closely. “So...why were you poking inside her?” Sandra pokes up the question.

“I was trying to get a feel for it’s bones and tissue.” Haruka reveals to her. “The bones were pretty loose but they were firm.” Haruka pulls out the syringe now full of the dark blood. She can’t help but smile at the blood. She hands the syringe over to Sandra, and instead, Haruka grips her own empty syringe, much to Sandra’s confusion. Sandra’s confusion only grew as Haruka stuck the needle into her vein.

“What are you doing?” Sandra asks the ever-so still Haruka.

“We need a sample of human blood.” Haruka slowly tells her before adjusting her eyes to the syringe, watching closely as her red blood is sucked into it, like a bee sucking honey. Haruka showed no fear in taking her own blood. She needed it, anyways. She couldn’t fail. She couldn’t. No matter what the cost was.

Once retrieving her own blood the next several minutes came fast enough. The woman put the two blood samples on two separate sheets so they could observe with the microscope. This steep went off without a hitch, as they quickly enough observed Haruka’s blood, writing down notes of how it looked. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just normal, circle-like, red blood cells.

It was when they observed the infected’s blood cells that everything was spiced up a notch Instead of blood like Haruka’s the infected held it’s own breed of blood. The cells were deformed, with many odd bumps and scratches on the cells, alongside the odd color. For the most part they were pure black like the night sky, but yet, in the center of each cell was a red shade. A dark, brooding red shade that matched the color of dark, sick like blood. Way to dark for normal blood.

What stood out most to Haruka was their movements. The blood cells were flying around like children, often bumping into each other, which only only increase their momentum. It was purely fascinating watching the cells bounce off each, and Haruka couldn’t help but smile. Sandra, who got a few looks into the microscopes, was fascinated just as well. “This is incredible…” Haruka remarks, not even bothering to take her eyes away from the microscope. “I mean, just look at the stark differences between the cells.”

“It is very interesting.” Sandra remarks from next to Haruka, currently seating herself at a table, taking notes of the blood. “We need to work on getting more information, though. We really need documents on them and more professional stuff.” Haruka nods in agreement. “Where should we look for that?” The question ponders Sandra’s mind, prompting her to rub in chin as she thinks. Her mind drifted to small scale locations like old ambulances or a doctor’s office. Any large scale locations she took out of the equation. They were to dangerous to even consider. Haruka, however, was not one to worry about such dangers, so her mind went to full extent. “How about Thomas...uhh...the Thomas place.”

“Thomas Jefferson?” Sandra asks. “Like, the hospital?”

“Yes, that’s it. Thomas Jefferson Hospital.” Haruka snaps her fingers upon the name. She didn’t know much about the city just yet, having only moved there a few months before the outbreak, so she still needed help in locations and names. Hell, Haruka barely fit into Philadelphia, but luckily the outbreak helped that situation out. “Yeah, Jefferson should have any information we need.”

Haruka takes note of Sandra’s expression, which practically spelled out the words for Haruka. No. “Something wrong?” Haruka questions.

“It’s just that…..Jefferson is a big hospital here. One of the biggest in the city. I can’t even imagine what it’s state is right now.” Sandra points out to Haruka, who seemed to forgot the risk of the situation. Sandra wanted to find a cure to this infection but, unlike Haruka, she made sure to keep a cool head about their plans. Somebody had to, anyways. “I mean it probably got ransacked long before and probably swarmed by infected. We would probably be...attacked before we even got past the front door.”

Haruka allowed Sandra’s advice to come through one ear and come right out the other. Danger only made a certain activity more endearing to her. It’s always how Haruka has been with her reporting instinct. If it was ‘safe’ and ‘boring’ than it wouldn’t be worthwhile, but if it was ‘dangerous’ and ‘life-threatening’? Well, if that were the case, it would be beyond worthwhile and would feel only better once she made it out unscathed. Stupid, yes, but that is how Haruka rolled.

“Everything is dangerous now.” Haruka gives that childish, charismatic smile. “Besides, it would be quite the story to tell. No?”

“I guess….if we made it out alive.”

“We won’t with that attitude.” Haruka was a stubborn one, which married well to her occupation and goals, but divorced when it came to reasoning. Still, Haruka was a charismatic stubborn person, so her stubbornness was well hidden. “Look, you’re blowing this out of proportion. All we gotta do is sneak on in, get some stuff and sneak right out.”

“...what if the sneaking doesn’t work?”

“Then phew phew, bang bang.” Haruka pretends to shoot with her finger gun in congruence with her words. “We shoot them down.”

Haruka can notice Sandra’s reluctant attitude at the idea, silently sighing to herself as she does notice. Haruka has slowly noticed how much Sandra is reluctant about their tasks. Not just separate tasks like capturing infected or finding more information but the whole mission in general. Haruka loved Sandra but she didn’t want Sandra to hold back her mission. “Sandra, I love you girl, but I have to ask. Why are you still here?”

“..What?”

“What are you still doing here? Doing all of this?” Haruka asks curiously. “Do you still have the drive to solve this.”

Sandra nods her head to Haruka’s persistent questions. Haruka takes it in the answer, but yet, continues on. “I chose to do this on my own. I took it in as my own mission. But you? You were hired by some random woman for money, which you won't even get now." It wasn't false, to be fair on Haruka’s side. Sandra did take this case on the interest of money from that woman. Now, with that woman gone and the money out of the picture, what was the reason for continuing this crusade?

Sandra had thought deeply about it. Clearly Sandra lost motivation for the case, something Haruka noticed. Sandra was curious about the infection but it was not her main motivation for being there. Her motivation for being there was Haruka herself. Sandra didn't show the feeling, like always, but she felt fondly towards her. Sandra hasn't had a friend in a long time, she couldn't even remember the last time she had one. She lived her isolated life for so long, and when Haruka proposed their team up, she was reluctant. However, Haruka grew on her. Sandra is still there because, without Haruka, she would have no choice but to drift back to her isolated life, with no purpose. Having no purpose would only bring back her depression.

"So why are you still hear, Sandra?" Haruka asks, hoping Sandra would give her a complete answer. Sandra looks to the floor, averting her eyes from Haruka.

She sighs until finally she looks up at Haruka with an answer. "I'm here to solve this." Sandra lies, using her usual nervous tone to deceive Haruka. It slipped past Haruka, giving her a smile.

"Good." Haruka smiles. "We'll go tomorrow."


The Next Morning, December 26th

It was surprisingly lovely out for a winter morning. The snow has taken formed like a artistic picture on the city. It sticks itself to the rooftops of the great city while a few feet glue themselves to the ground floor. It was a White Christmas. If only the apocalypse didn't happen because otherwise Haley might have called this the best Christmas ever.

Haley positions herself atop high on her apartment building. She leans herself over the ledge, watching as the infected were barely able to tread through the thick snow. It seemed as if they weren't cold, much to her curiosity. She was never one to get cold but she would have thought the meek infected would have.

Haley, with a prolonged breath, walks away from the ledge, instead making her way to the center of the roof. It was a very decorative rooftop, with tables and chairs scattered around, alongside many plants and a tiled floor. The main attraction, however, was the luxury swimming pool in the center, alongside the hot tub. Haley had made sure to keep the heat on in the tub. Without any water in her shower Haley needed somewhere to wash off and where better than a hot tub?

However, there was something else that stood out on the roof. In the lower right hand side of the roof was an escape route, but not just any escape route. A zip-line positioned itself at the corner that led all the way to a blocked off alley-way. It was a very impressive set-up, a set-up that was made by Haley herself for quick escapes. For a homemade zip-line it certainly was impressive, and Haley took a certain pride in that.

Taking a seat on one of the many beach chairs, Haley laid back comfortably. She looked out into the city, smiling as she did. It certainly looked beautiful with the thick layer of snow and sunlight that bounced off the white substance. She smiled lightly at the sight.

However, the smile that held her face faded into oblivion a minute later. Haley was bored. Honestly, Haley was losing entertainment with her life. The routine is always the same for her. Play some video games, go for a swim and fight some infected. Now, fighting the infected was always a great pass time for her, and if it ever got boring she could change it up. Some melee combat, do some headshot challenges, or even try a 360 no scope. Still, she was getting bored for a simple reason. She’s lonely.

Besides the two boys yesterday, Haley hasn’t had much social interaction since the outbreak started. Hell, she didn’t have much since before the outbreak. She hadn’t spoke to her family in a few years, besides the occasional phone calls and Christmas cards, and she never held much friends. When the outbreak started she lost contact with those few friends and trapped herself in her apartment.

She heard of all the safe-zones being put around the city, but still, she stayed up in her apartment. She had no qualms about socialising, in fact she loved it, but yet she decided to fortify her lone apartment. Honestly, she thought it was safer alone, and so far it has been. In safe-zones conflict arises between citizens. Conflict arises when other groups want what they got. But when she was alone? When she was alone the only conflict she had to care about were infected. It was a lonely life, yes, but it was a safe-one.

Haley hops onto her feet within the next few minutes, ready to go for a good dip in the hot tub. After-all, not like she had anything better to do. As she approaches the hot-tub Haley began to strip down, starting with her shirt and followed quickly by her jeans.

She always enjoyed skinny dipping, and being the sole resident of the apartment, no one could stop her now.

-----

“Would you look at that.” A man chuckles through his pair of binoculars. “Bitch giving us a show.” The elderly man watched Haley undress to her undergarments with a perverted smirk. She had one hell of a body, better than his hag of a wife.

“Let me see that.” His younger friend rips away the binoculars with a chuckle. Like his friend previously did the younger man watches Haley with a smile, and to his delight, watches her strip completely naked. He gives out a perverted whistle as Haley dives into the hot-tub. “Girl got ass.”

“I know right?” The question is followed by a chuckle from the two men. The two men weren’t normal by any means. They each wore sharp, pressed suits that went with sunglasses and a fedora, only confirming that these two are more than what they seem. No two ordinary survivors would be that sharply dressed. “Ashame boss wants her dead.”

“Yeah. Damn shame.” The youngest replies. “You know Ryker, though. If he gives us a job we better complete it or…”

“Not go back at all.” The eldest finishes the sentence. Having been employed to Ryker for a few years now he knew what it was like if one failed a job. Ryker didn’t take kindly to it, no matter the excuse. “Haley should of knew better. She knew damn well that if she fucked us than we would fuck back.”

“True that.” The youngest hands the binoculars back to his friend, allowing him to get a taste of the buff Haley. “When do we take her out?”

“When she’s done.” The eldest smiles at her body. “I think we deserve a show first, no?”

Taking a nod, the youngest stands from his seat on the roof’s edge. Proceeding to brush off some snow from his suit he then makes his way to the center of the roof, where two other man sit, each respectively dusting off their rifles. The other two, like the youngest, held a smile on their face. They were sent to find Haley a while ago, and after weeks of searching, they finally found the bitch, thanks to some dumbass kids who lured her out. Once she is dealt with they can finally head back to base.

The youngest grabs a walkie-talkie from next to the others. “This is Walter to base. I repeat, this is Walter to base.”

“This is Gabriel.” The voice of Gabriel Parker looms over the radio. “Report?”

“We found target thirty-one.” Walter speaks about their current target with the proper codename. Ryker had them hunt so many people they resorted to giving everyone numbers.

“And?”

“She will be dealt with shortly. I’ll report back when the task is complete.”

“Understood. Gabriel out.” Once Gabriel signs off Walter tucks away the radio, instead taking favor in his automatic rifle. With a smile Walter lifts up his rifle, making sure every inch is clear. Been a while since he used his baby and he was dying to put it to good use once more.


“Did mommy touch you too?” Joel mocked, and the mock made Reyes so angry that he froze for a minute, allowing Joel to headbutt him in the forehead. Reyes fell back, screaming curse words in spanish, while Joel came forward to attack once more. But Reyes was quick to grab a shard of glass on the ground and stab Joel right in the shoulder, causing him to scream.

Backing up in pain he ripped the now red glass shard out, and tried to hit Reyes with it, but Reyes simply kicked him in the stomach, sending him down on the ground. As Joel moaned in pain, Reyes simply ripped the pistol that was tucked inside his pants, which Joel didn’t want to use for some reason; probably didn’t want to kill Reyes. However Reyes showed no remorse as he cocked it and lowered himself down to Joel’s level, where he put the gun right in his face.

Joel, admitting defeat, raised his hands and stared right into Reyes’s eyes. “Go on, Reyes, do it! Get my blood all over your dirty, grimy little hands!”

Reyes, in pure fury, just stares down at Joel, still holding the gun firm and his finger on the trigger. He hesitates. “C’mon, I want you to do it! Prove to me who you are! How we’re not different at all, how we’re just the same.” Joel continues to mock, and reaching up toward the gun, slowly lowers the gun into his mouth.

Reyes’s fury doesn’t give in and he still kneels there, ready to pull the trigger.

His finger itched to pull the trigger. That’s all it would take. One pull of a trigger and Joel would be dead. After-all, Joel did deserve it. Reyes tried his best to be kindly towards the man, even saving his life from those military people, but all Joel did was be an asshole back. Reyes took a deep breath as he struggled with what to do, allowing Joel’s taunt to fade into the background.

Much to Joel’s surprise Reyes stood to his feet, lowering the pistol as he does. Joel couldn’t help but laugh at the choice, much to the annoyance of Reyes. “What is it, huh? Still trying to act like you better than me?” Joel chuckled with a bloody smile. “Or did you really lose yo’ ways?”

Reyes returned the pistol’s direction to Joel, finger still on the gun. “I should kill you. You know that? Every damn inch of me wants to pull this trigger…”

“Then why aren’t you? Huh, buddy?”

“Because I’m not like you.”

“Don’t start that shit..”

“No. You see, Joel, I’m not the weak one. You are the weak one.” Reyes chuckled at him. “I’m not to weak to kill. No. I’ve got the strength to let you live. And that, perra, makes me three times the fucking man you’ll ever be.”

The words finally cause Joel to shut his mouth, letting them sink into his skin. Letting the facts finally catch up to his head. Reyes, noticing this, smirks. “So no, I won’t kill you. But wanna know what?” Quickly Reyes shoots Joel in the leg, prompting the thug to let out a vivid, wild scream that should cause Reyes to shiver. Instead, Reyes watches emotionless. “I won’t save you, either.”

With Joel taken care of, and in no position to follow him or retaliate, Reyes makes his distance from the screaming man. He knew full well that infected, or maybe people, would come to the gunshot. He didn’t care if Joel made it out alive or not, but he gave him a fighting chance. With a smirk on his face Reyes approached a red SUV. “You can’t leave me here!” Joel attempts to beg, but the only response he got from Reyes was the middle finger. He watches in sorrow as Reyes ignites the ignition and zooms off. He expected Reyes to come back, but instead, was forced to listen as the SUV became increasingly distant, until it finally disappeared from his eardrum.

And, just like that, the man who acted like a tough sonofabitch let out a fearful, hurt scream.

-----

That was the old Joel. The ‘you can’t touch me’ Joel Ramsey. The ‘thug’ Joel Ramsey. The monster that was Joel. He still remembered the exact moment like it was clear as day. After years of working his way up Oscar’s gang, where he practically thought of himself as invincible, a damn Mexican shows him otherwise. Joel was left crippled and defenseless in the midst of the chaos. The all-mighty, tough Joel barely escaped the infected with his life.

That was when Joel got what was coming to him. He was forced to beg survivors for help, and time after time again, nobody helped him. That was when the old Joel transitioned into this new one. One that realized his mistakes and just how wrong he was. The new Joel hoped for change, or maybe, an undoing. He wasn’t always like that, after-all. He used to be an energetic, joyful child, that just let the world beat him down. The final outcome was the thug. Now, hopefully, maybe he can let the good come out.

Joel let out a small sigh as he walked down the mall, his hands shoved deep into his pocket. He was a shell of his former self, and in the past few months, that shell really grew harder. His long, undone hair is all over the place, along with a wild, blonde beard. He looked like a fucking mess, and in all honesty, he was.

First off, he didn’t really know what to do. As he just arrived at the mall last now he didn’t have a clue on what to do, as all that Walsh dude did was rave about how safe the mall was. He had no friends or family, besides Reyes, who he doesn’t know made it, yet. He has no job to do there. He is just walking around, waiting for something to happen.

Joel takes a prolonged breath as he walks, giving his tired head a rub. Maybe he could find out if Reyes was there? Yeah, that would be good. Find Reyes and fix things up with him. He remembered Walsh saying something about a room where the pictures of the residents are. Naturally, Joel thought it was a bullshit idea, but it can help him in this instance.

It only took a few more minutes for Joel to find the room, which like expected, held a wall full of pictures for all to see. In the bottom corner he saw the recent picture he took yesterday after the two kids got him too mall. McCoy and Dre their names were, at least that is what their pictures said. Joel continued to scan through the pictures, but fails to see Reyes. He sees some girl with the last name Cummings, something he finds hilarious underneath his deadpan exterior and a latina woman named Anahi, who looked strangely familiar to him. His eyes soon come across a familiar person. James Benjamin. Joel remembered him well as Oscar’s lawyer during the scandal before his passing. Interesting that he was here, although Joel had no interest in talking to him. With all the shit Oscar put him through he would probably punch Joel.

Joel soon takes notice of a picture that sits in between two people called Michael and Ethan. The picture between them was that of a latino man, a familiar one. Joel instantly recognized him as Reyes, and he couldn’t help but smile. Looks like taco made it after-all.

However, the moment is ruined by another picture. A picture that sits right next to the Anahi girl. Joel almost didn’t notice of it at first, but after a second glance, he can confirm it. Joel stares at a picture of the name ‘Daniel Valentine’. But that was the lie. Joel could confirm that it was Daniel fucking Brown. The bastard must have thought shaving his beard and hiding under a new name could shield himself from his past.

Joel found his eyes glued to the man of two names, slowly letting anger creep inside him. Daniel Brown was the playboy who ran his mob to the ground. He was the man who killed Oscar. He was the man who sent hitman after Joel. Daniel always had power, but now, he had nothing. Joel smirked lightly at the thought of Daniel having zero power.

His smirk grew wider at the thought of Joel teaching that bitch a lesson or two.


His eyes still haven’t left the picture. It’s been a whole day and yet Tate still feels emotional at the picture’s mere sight. It reminded him of those better times, back before the outbreak. The times when Tate would complain how hard life was, with zero knowledge of what was to come. It reminded him of the time when Destinee was by his side. When Destinee was his delilah.

Tate soon lowered the framed picture, taking favor in just sitting inside his empty tent doing nothing. The picture gave him conflicting feelings. Joy, sorrow, shame. It was a package that Tate held onto with his tiny life. Sadly, the package just so happened to be draining him.

Honestly, Tate did want to move on from Destinee’s death. Her death was as a weight to his foot, constantly dragging him down no matter how hard Tate tried to swim away. He wanted to adjust into a new life, but he couldn’t as long as the weight was tied to him. He didn’t want to move on just for his sake, however. He knew fully well that Destinee would want him to move on with his life. She always the kind of gal’ who worried more about others than herself. Well, not always, but she turned that way.

Tate knew what had to happen. He knew what his next move had to be. It’s been on his troubled mind for months now but he never wanted to accept it. He let out a deep sigh as the thought crept into his mind.

He had to cut off the weight.

It was the sound of footsteps that drew Tate from his trace. He glanced to his left, watching as Michael entered the tent, dressed in his winter attire. Michael was definitely dressed for the outdoors. “Mornin’.” He greets Tate, who watches as the man grabbed a pair of gloves off his sleeping bag.

“Morning.” Tate continues to watch in curiosity. “What you up to?”

“I volunteered to do watch today.” Michael states as he throws on a pair of black gloves. “Figured I had nothing better to do.”

“Do you know how to work a gun?”

“I went to military school, remember?” Michael flashes his charming smirk. “They us how to use that shit.”

“Alrighty then. Good luck.” Tate wishes him good luck as he adjusts his seating arrangement. “You know, I think I’m gonna head out today.”

“Head out? Like to the city?” Michael is disappointed when Tate nods his head. “You sure? It’s dangerous out there, man.”

“I know. I just...have to do something.”

“Positive?” Tate nods once more. “Need me? I can tag along if you want.”

“Thanks for the offer but this is something I have to on my own.” Michael was taken back by Tate’s determination to do this task. Tate hasn’t been motivated to perform tasks for months, and seeing that he was motivated, made Michael feel proud, but worried. Still, Michael wouldn't persist. He was always one to respect people’s wishes.

“Alright man. Just be careful out there.” Michael kneels down to give his brother-in-arms a pat on the shoulder. Tate accepts it, and in return, gives Michael the famous guy handshake. “Talk to you later.”

“Same here.” Tate watches as Michael departs from the tent, a blank expression on his face. Tate was scared for what had to come next. Scared for what he was about to do.


Lara never was one to wake up early. Her usual morning was society’s afternoon, but yet, here she was. Walking down the hallways at the early time of ten a.m. It was surprising, even more so to Lara herself. She only woke up this early when something important came up, and in this instance, it was damn true.

She had went searching for that Michael, and after digging through the watch logs, found that he had watch at this time. The fierce determination to help Vicky had Lara form a plan to confront Michael. With the man being all alone on watch Lara figured this would be the perfect time to confront him, with no one being around to stop her.

Despite only wearing her plaid pajama pants and old UPENN sweater, Lara looked determined. She was never determined when it came to her own life, but when her loved ones were on the line, Lara was. No one expected this from a party girl like Lara but she was the one who would protect her friends. It was funny just truly how much people do judge by appearance.

As Lara made her way up the stairway she took a deep breath, ready to face Michael. She didn’t want to fight him, nor did she want any violence. All she wanted to do was make sure he leave Vicky alone. It sounded stupid but Vicky was truly upset with Michael being there, and as much, she felt compelled to act.

She was quick to open the roof’s door, and once outside, stood still for a moment, watching her surroundings. The roof had some light snow on it, nothing bad at all, and the weather wasn’t that cold. However, the main attraction to her eyes was the man sitting on one of the beach chairs, rifle next to him. She could tell immediately it was him.

She made her way over in silence, almost like a ninja, until she was right behind Michael, who was still oblivious to her presence. Following a silent breath Lara walked next to Michael, quickly getting his attention. “Hey there.” Lara smirks, letting his guard down. “I’m Lara.”

She could tell Michael was surprised and weirded out but her, but he said nothing that would imply that. “I’m Michael…”

“Well hello, Michael.” Lara smiles as she takes a seat on the lawn chair next to him, the friendly smile on her face. “What’s up with you?”

“I’m fine.” Michael eyed her, confused by her attitude and sudden appearance. “Is there something I can help you with?”

“Me? Not really. I was just bored so I came up here.” She shrugged from her seat. “You mind?”

“Not at all.” Michael relaxes back on his chair. “What are you doing up so early, though?”

“I don’t know. Got up and couldn’t fall back asleep, so poof, here I am.” Lara continues to inspect him with a close eye. “You single?”

“Excuse me?”

“You single. As in are you dating anyone?” Lara’s question has Michael chuckle to himself.

“No. No I’m not.” Michael chuckles. “And I’m not really interested in that right now if that is what you’re getting at.”

“What? Ew, no.” Lara shivers in disgust, much to Michael’s displeasurement. “No, no. I’m just curious.”

“Why?”

“Was curious to see if you’re one of the one and done kind of guys.” Lara smiles at him. “And I think I have my answer.”

“What?”

“One and done kind of guys. You know. Like, you get a girl, fuck her up the pussy, or ass I don’t know what you do, then walk on out.”

“Excuse me? Not to be rude here but you don’t even know me, so you got no right to judge me.” Michael reminds her that they’re strangers, but Lara didn’t care. They may be strangers, but him and Vics weren’t.

“You’re right. I don’t know you. But Victoria Cummings does. And if what she told me was true, then about hundreds of girls know you real good too.” There was the name again. Victoria Cummings. He knew the moment he saw her yesterday that trouble would follow. Sure, he always knew his past would catch up to him, but wasn’t the outbreak enough? Michael let out a deep sigh. Karma’s a damn bitch.

“Is this one of Vicky’s friends?” He asks, although the answer is already clear.

“No, this is Patrick.” Lara gives one of her traditional sassy remarks, except for this one, her trademark smile is gone. “Spongebob joke, by the way.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I get it.” Michael rubs his temple as awkwardness takes a seat between them. “Can I ask why you’re here?”

“Why am I here? I’m here because you hurt my friend.” Lara reminds him. “And I’m not gonna let you hurt her and just walk off.” Michael watched as Lara continued to stare at him with her false friendly smile. “So go on. Explain to me how you hurt her.”

“I’m sorry for what I did to Vicky. Really, I am.” Michael rubs his head. “She already talked to me so I--”

“Well she isn’t here. I am. And you didn’t talk to me. So c’mon, Mike Mike, talk to me. I’m curious to see your side of the story.” Lara widens her false smile, much to his displeasurement. Michael sighs. A part of him wanted to scream at her but, fortunately, Michael was almost like a pacifist, never wanting to spread violence, unless needed.

“I was at a bar and she took a seat next to me. Naturally, I started talking to her and she got really drunk. I felt a connection and she was throwing herself onto me. So we went to a motel and….you know.”

“That is an interesting story. But wanna know what I heard? An emotionally distressed girl, who had just watched someone get eaten alive, was scared. In a move not so great on her part, she used some good ol’ beer to drink away the image. No harm done. But then you, Mr. Nicholson, come marching on in and see her drinking. So what do you do? You pretend to care about her problems. You pretend to help her. When her guard was finally down and her alcohol level was up you used it to your advantage. You proceeded to take her away from the bar to some shabby motel and use her. You, sir. tricked her into fucking you. Just so you could leave her the next day.” Lara shakes her head. “Not a good thing to do, no?”

Michael looks away from Lara as she continues to rant. “Lets get one thing out of the way. You’re a piece of shit. You use girls to make your dick feel good, right? You are not a good person so stop with the ‘I didn’t mean to’ bullshit. You fucked up. I suggest you grow a pair and admit it.”

“I didn’t deny that I fucked up.”

“You sure as hell didn’t admit it.” Lara reminds him. “Now, back to what I was saying. You messed up, so please just do me a favor, and stay away. Not just from her, no. You better not use another girl again, because if you do…”

“You will fuck me up?”

“Damn straight.” Lara confirms with her fierce eyes, hoping Michael gets the deadly message. She continues to let her eyes stare down Michael, who only sits silently. He wanted to say Lara was overreacting but she was right. Michael fucked up so many lives. He fucked up so much shit. Why did he have to fuck everything up? “Oh, I’m sorry. Are you feeling sad now? Want a tissue?”

“I don’t...want to hurt your friend.” Michael sighs out to her. “I didn’t want to hurt any of those girls. I just...can’t help it”

“You can’t help it? Pfft, okay. You guys are all the same, I swear. You use your dicks and take girl’s virginity, not caring about them.”

“And you think girls can’t do the same thing?” Michael reminds her. “Guys and girls aren’t different. One isn’t worse than the other. So stop with that bullshit.” Michael looks at her. “I bet plenty of girls did the same as me, maybe even worse.” Lara remains silent, knowing that she does the same exact thing.

“I’m being serious, though.” Michael rubs his chin as he continues switches back to his previous topic. “I’m….addicted to it. I just don’t like it. I need it. I can’t live without sex. I don’t want to keep having it with random people but it’s like I don’t have a choice. It controls me.” Michael chokes out reluctantly, hoping he can get this stranger to understand that he didn’t mean to hurt her. “It controls me.”

The sudden speech from Michael had slapped Lara across the face. That is when her mind clicked. Michael, just like herself, was addicted to having sex. The two of them didn’t want to be, but it controlled them. They couldn’t live without it. Lara looked down to the snowy ground, averting her eyes from the man.

“You don’t know what its like.” Michael goes on. “To always be thinking about it when talking to the opposite gender. To see people as...your pleasurement not people. To imagine…”

“....their hot, sweaty body grinding against you.” Lara finishes his sentence with a frown. “To imagine the feeling of your bodies connecting in bed…”

“...to hear the sounds of love fill the air as you feel both pain…”

“..and yet satisfaction. As the feeling all builds up until finally….you explode with love.” Lara’s frown slowly forms into that of a smile as sexual thoughts fill her head. Sex was more than a passtime to them. It was their life. “I know what it’s like. I know exactly what it’s like.”

Silence fills the air between the two as they sit there in tension, letting their respective words speak for themselves. It was obvious both share the same demons that they can’t shake no matter how hard they try. No matter how many lives they may ruin. They were both addicts. They were deep in addiction.

Lara and Michael look at each other, each silent, as their eyes meet. Looking into each other’s eyes they can both see the pain they endure, the suffering. They were more alike than they would like to admit. It was almost….astonishing. 

In almost an instance Lara pressed up against Michael, their lips connecting their warm bodies as they fell back against the ground.


She definitely thought the hospital would be in better shape. It was hospital, how bad could have it been damaged? Unfortunately for Haruka, Thomas Jefferson suffered the bad end of the stick.

As if being overrun by infected wasn’t enough, Jefferson had a helicopter sticking out of the top floor. It was definitely old, judging by how the helicopter was rusted and practically stuck in there, but still made for some impression. Unfortunately, the helicopter was only a small fraction of what was wrong with the hospital.

Most of the windows were completely shattered, with numerous pieces of glass laying on the ground, and the front was covered in grafitti, most likely by old street gangs following the outbreak. The power was completely out, leaving only the two flashlights they brought, and best of all, infected were everywhere. Most were infected patients before the outbreak but others were recent infected who found their way to the hospital. It was gonna be challenging to maneuver around, but to Haruka, it made the daunting task more entertaining.

Haruka made her way through the front doors, silent as a ninja. She was crouched down, making sure to stay out of any line of sight, as she crept across the floors. A flashlight was gripped in her tiny palms as she moved across the floor, alongside the bag strapped around her and small pistol tucked in her waistline.

Behind her was Sandra, who like Haruka, was crouched silently and moving slowly. Like Haruka, Sandra held a flashlight and a bag, but unlike Haruka, Sandra had the pistol grasped in her hands. Haruka was used to sneaking around, being a freelance reporter who would sneak into restricted areas, but this wasn’t Sandra’s speciality. Still, why not try new things?

Sandra followed Haruka’s lead as they went across the room, keeping their eyes open for any infected. Lucky for them the only infected they saw were outside, but they were only on the first floor. The pair knew the dangers that were on the upper floors, but if all goes as planned, they should be out of there in no time.

The two women stopped at the hallway’s edge as Haruka peeks around the corner. She stares into the dark abyss that was a hallway, using her flashlight to shine some light inside. They were in the clear, for now anyways. Slowly, the two women move down the hallway, making their way to the staircase that sat on their left.

“Listen.” Haruka whispers to her friend. “We just gotta search the file room on the third floor. Then, we can go.”

“Why third?”

“That is where they moved all the infected patients.” Haruka whispers back. “We’ll move up here silently, search for the files, and then we can leave. Good?”

“Good.” Sandra whispers back, hiding away her fear for her friend. Haruka smiles at the response.

“Alrighty. Let’s head up.” Haruka opens up the door staircase, allowing the pair to enter the stairway. Once inside, Haruka takes the lead with her flashlight while Sandra tails behind with her pistol, ready to shoot if any infected came at them. It’s not that Sandra wanted to kill these things, in fact far from it, but she was the only one who knew how to use a pistol properly. If it came down to the shooting them or letting themselves die than she would shoot. At least she hopes she would.

The two women make their way up the staircase, moving past the first and second floors, until they arrive at the third doorway. This was it. The most crowded floor. Showtime. Haruka takes a prolonged breath before opening up the door.

The floor held almost no light, minus the light emitting from their flashlights. However the light wasn’t even the worst part. The floor was a complete trainwreck, consisting of tossed over stretchers, computers and paper thrown around like a hurricane. However, even worse, were the noises. The noise of infected ran into her ears like an oncoming bus. She heard them…and it sounded like they were whispering. Haruka couldn’t tell if they were moans, whispers, or straight out talking.

She made her way down the hallway in silence, but yet, keeping her ears wide open for the infected that roam the halls. She wanted to pinpoint their exact location...which wasn’t easy when she heard so many voices.

Haruka stopped behind one of the tables, alongside Sandra, as both listened to the whispers around them. With no fear Haruka peaked around the corner, watching three former humans walk around, whispering to themselves. Only three. She can get by them.

She looks over to Sandra, who surprisingly, was already one step ahead of her. Sandra, having picked up a glass bottle, takes a deep breath, before standing up slowly. Haruka watches impressed while Sandra throws the bottle, watching it fly across the room, until crashing into the wall, echoing around the floor. In a quick instance the infected went from whispering to sprinting towards the mysterious sound. Haruka had no time to congratulate Sandra as they took as their opportunity to move across the room.

They made their way across the floor, quickly arriving at the files room. Haruka quickly opened the door while Sandra kept watch. Once inside, Haruka shined her flashlight around the room. Empty, luckily. Still, Haruka refused to let her guard down, quickly running around to get all the files she could. Anything with the words ‘unknown infection’, ‘Z-virus’, or ‘infection’ Haruka grabbed. Anything could be useful.

Once done Haruka made her way outside to the silent Sandra, whose eyes have been watching the infected. “I got the files.” Haruka whispers. “But we still need to get some medical supplies.”

“Where are they?” Sandra questioned, although Haruka had no idea. She scanned the room, until her eyes noticed a room across the hall...across the path of infected. “Crap.”

“Yeah. Crap.” Haruka scratches her head, wondering how to get bye the crowd of infected. “Just..follow my lead.”

Sandra is quick to follow Haruka down the hall, once again remaining silent and crouched, not wanting to attract any attention. They were silent but quick as they dashed across the room, until finally arriving at the hallway’s edge. Still, there was still a crowd of infected to get by.

However, before Haruka could think of a gameplan, an unexpected infected turns the corner, nearly noticing the barely hidden women. They were dead silent as the beast looked around the hallway, it’s vision clear as day, as black ooze escaped his lips. Haruka could smell it’s breath from her hiding spot. Disgusting.

Somehow, the infected began to walk away, much to the girl’s enjoyment. Without thinking, Haruka walked out of her hiding spot with a smirk.

But unfortunately she stepped right in a puddle, sending a faint echo down the hallway.

The faint echo made it’s way to the infected’s enhanced hearing, causing the beast to snap around. It’s monstrous eyes lock directly onto Haruka, who was unfortunately, standing right in the open. There was a brief moment of silence as the infected stared at Haruka, who responded by staying completely still. If she stood still maybe they wouldn’t see her?

Well, that plan completely in the trash once the infected came sprinting at her, letting loose a blood-wrenching scream that followed. Haruka had no time to react before the beast tackled her to the ground, attempting to bite the flesh off of Haruka’s face. Haruka was, unfortunately, a meek figure, who barely held her own against the beast.

And the beast would have got her too if Sandra hadn’t pulled the trigger. The bullet traveled across the hallway, effectively hitting the beast right in the eye, saving Haruka’s life at the cost of drawing more infected towards them. Sandra had no time to react to her first infected kill as more began to sprint at them.

Quickly, Sandra shifted into calmness as she sprinted over to Haruka. “We got to go.” Sandra yanked up Haruka, who was previously to busy wiping the blood off of her face.

“Y--yeah.” Was the only response Haruka was able to give before activating into a full sprint, as she outran the infected alongside Sandra. Quickly, Sandra pushed Haruka into the medical room while she stood at the door, reluctantly holding up her gun. Sandra was very reluctant but there was no time to be in this do or die situation, so unfortunately, Sandra found herself unloading the clip at the beasts.

One by one the infected dropped dead as their blood splattered around the tight hallways. It was truly a sickening sight for Sandra, watching as the infected tripped over their family’s bodies and into the black pool of blood, only to get back up like nothing happened. It was truly sickening.

Luckily, not even a minute later, Haruka came running out with a bag full of medicine in her hands and a wild panic in her eyes. “We gotta go!” Haruka taps Sandra’s shoulder before making a sprint towards the exit, Sandra quickly following her in pursuit.

The two women pushed their way into the stairwell, and once in, Haruka was quick to lock the door behind them. Not even a second later the infected were banging up against the door, unable to get to their prize in the form of the pair of women. Haruka couldn’t help but smile. “Good shootin’, partner.” Haruka chuckles as she heads down the stairs, but for a moment, Sandra stood still, taking in her near death experience.

That was the first time she ever fired her pistol.

Sandra looks down at her hands for a brief second, but quickly regained a sense of reality. She couldn't dwell on that now.

“Thanks…” Sandra mutters as she follows Haruka down, still fazed about the experience.


“So how much did the boys get yesterday?” Ethan ponders as he paces around the security room, his hand rubbing his chin.

“They got plenty.” Reyes confirms from his seat at the couch. “I don’t know where the hell they got it but holy shit. They came back with piles of food, drinks and even a few weapons.”

“Damn. Where from?”

“No clue. They said they got it from some girl...I don’t know, but fuck, I’m not arguing.” Reyes shrugs. “I already marked everything down, but if you wanna check up on them, I got them situated in the supply room.”

“Good.” Ethan nods his head. Ethan has to admit he was shocked to hear that the two boys, McCoy and Dre, got plenty of supplies from their Christmas trip. It was amazing news, especially considering how they were running low. Due to Walsh giving out gourmet food everyday they were dwindling down on supplies, but of course, Walsh wouldn’t let the people know that. No. They had to sit on their lazy asses and be entertained. That left Ethan and Reyes to come to the conclusion.

When Ethan took over the mall’s security he unwillingly was handed much more problems to deal with. Low supplies, low defenses, uncivil people in the mall. It was to big of a package for Ethan. So, luckily, Reyes offered to help with the load. It’s not that Ethan liked Reyes, he barely trusted him at first, but Reyes proved himself to be dependable on. Slowly a better relationship is building between the two as they work on how to fix the mall’s problems. Ethan has took over anything security related while Reyes took over anything supply related, but they still made sure to communicate.

“Anything on your end?” Reyes asks casually about security, much to Ethan’s displeasure. He didn’t want to talk about the Damon incident, with that spoiled little bitch running around saying Ethan is a ‘racist cop’.

“I dealt with some punk yesterday. I got a little out of hand but it’s all good.”

“Alright. Good.” Reyes nods his head. “Anything else?”

“Nothing that I know of.” Ethan leans back up against the wall with a puff. “Everything seems to be going on track.”

Reyes chuckles lightly at the remark. “Maybe we’ll survive this shit after-all.”

“Yeah.” Ethan smirks lightly. “Yeah, maybe we will.” Ethan gives his usual dry chuckle. “Alright, you should get going, I’m meeting with some people.”

“Some people?”

“Some girl wants to be my ‘protege’ or something.” Ethan shrugs. “She should be here in a few minutes.”

“Some girl? You can show her how to shoot your gun?” Reyes gives a dry, yet strong chuckle in an attempt to joke around with the stonecold Ethan, but Mr. Brash wasn’t having it. He just stared blankly at him, as if Reyes just shot a dog or something. In turn Reyes just adjusts his seat awkwardly. “I’ll just go then.”

“Yeah..” Is the only thing Ethan says as he leans against the wall, allowing Reyes to make his way out of the room in silence. Once outside, Reyes digs his hands into the cold pockets of his leather jackets, whilst lowering his head, taking up the image of his brooding self.

He continues to make his way down the halls, ultimately passing by two familiar latina girls. Reyes doesn’t even give a second glance as he passes Anahi and Lisette, who were to busy discussing their own conversation to notice him. “I don’t know.” Lisette says to Anahi with a fragile smile. “I’m nervous.”

“Nervous?” Anahi chuckles at her. “You’re acting as if we’re meeting the president. It’s just some dude.”

“I know, but still. It’s nerve racking.” Lisette shrugs. “This is, like, my first job interview.”

“Your first one?” Anahi asks curiously. “Damn girl you’re thirty two. Have you never had a job before?”

“No. Never had a job.” Lisette shrugs, continuing to make her way down the halls with Anahi. She never had to get a job because, after-all, being a thief helped her out with payments well enough. She could steal from anyone and they would never know. That was, until, the incident. “Never needed one.”

“Well, relax. A job interview isn’t the end of the world. Now the zombie apocalypse, though. That is the end of the world.” Anahi smirks lightly, until finally, the two arrived at the security office. The office where Lisette requested to meet Ethan. “Alright. Good luck in there.”

“You don’t wanna come in?”

“No. I mean, this is your thing after-all.” Anahi said it calmly enough, but that wasn’t why she didn’t want to go in. Anahi didn’t know if she could face Ethan. Not after what happened. “But you do good in th--”

Anahi’s last minute advice for Lisette was interrupted by the office door widening open, revealing Ethan at the door, having heard the two talking from inside. Anahi kept a calm face but felt like cursing inside. “Hi there. You must be Lisette?” He doesn’t seem to notice Anahi at first. Instead his attention was onto Lisette. “Lisette Arroyo?”

“That is me. Pleasure to meet you.” Lisette extends her scrawny hand for the much bulkier Ethan to shake.

“Pleasure is mine.” Ethan smirks lightly to put on a good show. However, it was when he turned to face Anahi, that his smirk turned into that of pure shock. “Shut the front door. Anahi Cruz? Is that you?”

Anahi fabricates a smile while Lisette looks confused, unaware of the relation. “Yes, sir. It’s me.” Anahi extends her hand. “Pleasure to see you again, sir.”

“Please, call me Ethan. I’m not your boss anymore.” Ethan shakes her hand with a real, non fabricated smile, something that is rare for the man. “I wasn’t aware you were still in the area.”

“I stuck around.” Anahi confirms. “Got a job in the beauty department.”

“Interesting. How are...you holding up--after the incident?” The incident. Anahi still never spoke of it, neither did Ethan. It was a defining moment for both of them. A moment of pure and utter failure. Lisette, however, only stood there, reading the emotions on both their faces, wondering what this incident was.

“I...been fine.” It was a lie. Anahi has been nowhere close to fine, but Anahi wouldn’t let anyone know that. She had to keep the strong face up. Not even her former commander officer could know her struggles. “Been holding up.”

“That’s good. Glad to hear it.” Ethan nods as he finally turns his attention back towards Lisette, the one who even got this meeting in order. “Now. It has come to my attention that you two would like to help me out around here.”

“She does.” Anahi nods her head to her friend. “I don’t.”

“Really?” He understood the incident broke Anahi down, but with her police training and helping personality, he thought she would love to help out. The Anahi he remembered would, but maybe she changed since then. It has been a few years, after all. “Very well then.” Ethan turns over to Lisette. “It seems we have some business to discuss.”

“It appears we do.” Lisette smiles, while her eyes continue to eye Anahi suspiciously.

“I’ll leave you two to it.” Anahi nods. “Good seeing you again, sir.” With her goodbyes said Anahi departs from the two, allowing them to discuss the business they agreed to do in the first place. Ethan watches his former protege depart, a hint of sadness painted on him. Lisette is quick to notice his reaction.

“Everything okay?” She asks, curious on the incident and their prior relationship. Ethan, however, wasn’t ready to talk about it. “May I ask how you know Anahi?”

“I was her training officer. Back when she was an officer.” Ethan informs her. “She was a good officer. Stubborn, but a good officer.”

Lisette nods, listening to the words carefully. Her and Anahi have known each other for a few months, but yet, they barely know the important details about their respective pasts. “What was the incident, if I may ask?”

Ethan averts her eyes as the question is asked. “I’m sorry, Miss Arroyo. If you want to know about that you may just have to ask Anahi yourself.” Ethan watches as Lisette nods silently about the incident. “Now, lets talk about you joining me. Shall we?”

-----

Reyes continues to make his way down the crowded hallways, using his brooding appearance to keep others at arms length, never being a social kind. Nothing personal but Reyes only prefered to talk when he was either at business or having a drink in his hand. So, instead of doing just that, Reyes takes this time to think about the mall. Surprisingly, everything is going good. For once. Sure, the outbreak started out rocky for Reyes, but he now found himself helping the mall towards a safer path. He truly felt good.

To bad that was about to change in just with just a few tiny words.

“Excuse me. Mr. Young.” A familiar voice boomed from behind Reyes, who immediately stopped walking once it came in range. Slowly Reyes turned his head, hoping that his mind was playing tricks at him with the familiar voice. However, unfortunately, he found himself staring eye to eye with a ghost from the past. There stood Joel Ramsey. The man who lived to torment Reyes.

Joel gave Reyes a moment of silence to comprehend the situation. “It’s good to see you again.” Joel extends his hand in the form of a handshake, hoping this would go all civil. “Really, it is.”

Reyes extends his hand, except not in the way Joel would have hoped. Reyes grabs Joel by the arm, in pure fury, and quickly proceeds to yank Joel away from the crowd. “Look, Reyes, we can talk civil here--” Joel tries to tell him, but Reyes wasn’t having it. Once in a deserted hallway Reyes yanks a small knife from his pocket, pressing it up against Joel’s neck.

“This nice is currently sitting above one the most major pressure points in the human body. If it were to pop the body would give out in a minute’s notice. Got that?” Reyes presses the knife closer to the pressure point. “You got a minute to tell me why you’re here or else you will die in two minutes.”

“Easy there, man. I just wanna--”

“Fifty eight seconds.” Reyes reminds him.

“Fuck man, stop with the bullshit. You won’t kill me. We both know it.” Joel is quick to remind him. “If you didn’t kill me back at the car shop you sure as hell won’t kill me now.” Joel stares down his complicated friend in the eyes. “So put me down and we can talk civilly. Okay?”

Reyes glares for a moment, knowing full well he has no intentions on killing Joel, he just wanted to put the man in his place. Reluctantly, Reyes lowers the blade, allowing Joel to talk calmly. “Thank you.” Joel thanks him for lowering the knife.

“Don’t thank me.” Reyes mutters. “What the fuck do you want?”

“I just want to talk..”

“You wanna talk? I left you in the garage so we never had to talk again.” Reyes folds his arms as his angers form into anger. “What makes you think I’ll talk to you.”

“I don’t know.” Joel admits with a shrug. “I figured you wouldn’t want to talk with me. I just..figured I’d try.”

Reyes continues to stare down Joel, slowly seeing just how Joel has changed. The old Joel would probably be making fun of Reyes, cursing him out as he does. But instead Joel stands still, fidgety even, as he awaits for Reyes to speak. Reyes can see that Joel has changed, for big or for small. Still, Reyes isn’t let his guard down completely. “What do you want to talk about?” Joel is surprised that Reyes actually wants to speak. “Come on. I don’t got all day.”

“I just want to say sorry.”

“You’re sorry?” Joel nods. “To which part. The part where you constantly attacked me? The part where you made me take part in your dumbass plan? Or the part where you tried to kill me.”

“I wouldn’t have killed you..”

“Does it look like I care?” Reyes is quick to remind him. Joel averted his eyes from the cold stare of Reyes. “Hey. Look at me. Right up here.” Reyes points at his eyes for Joel to see.

“I am sorry for everything I did to you. I--I fucked up, a lot. I wasn’t a good guy, by any means. I know that now and I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done any of that shit to you.” Joel knew this apology sounded incredibly cliched. “We don’t gotta be friends or anything. I just need you to know that I am sorry. For everything.”

Reyes looked at him, slowly inspecting Joel. He didn’t want anything to do with Joel, but yet, Reyes knew Joel was legit. However, Joel’s next words will turn him off right again. “But we need to team up again.”

“Excuse me? What the hell do you mean ‘team-up’?”

“We need to work together, one last time.” Joel looks at him with a determination in his eyes.

“Why--why the hell would I do that?”

“Because someone isn’t who they seem. Daniel Valentine. Ring a bell?”

“Who?”

“Exactly. Nobody knows who it is. Sounds like a normal dude. But, unfortunately, he isn’t who he seems.” Joel looks around to make sure no one can hear what he says next. “Daniel Brown is in this mall.”

The news seems to come as a shock to Reyes. “Daniel Brown? Like the mob one?”

“The spoiled brat. The man who put hits on our heads. That fucking one.” Joel reminds him of the hitman they faced back at the dawn of the outbreak. The man who Reyes dropped into a pile of infected. Reyes hasn’t forgot about it. He hasn’t forgot about what Daniel Brown put him through. “He is here under a new name, thinking that no one will find him. That no one will hurt him.”

Reyes takes that in. Daniel Brown, one of the biggest scumbags in Philadelphia, gets to smooth right on into the mall without a care in the world for his past, while Reyes is forced to accept what he has done and work to rebuild himself. While Joel was forced to accept what he has done and rebuild himself. But Daniel just got to restart like nothing ever happened.

“We know he is here, but he doesn’t know that.” Joel smirks at his thoughts. “I say we teach him a lesson.”

“Y--you want us to kill him?”

“I never said kill.” Joel reminds him. “Just...mess him up.”

“Look, the dude may be a dick, but I am building a name for myself here. I’m trying to ditch my past, man. Beating up that dick won’t exactly help me.”

“Won’t help you? The dude sent a hitman after you, a hitman you had to kill! This man thinks he can slip away from his past with no problem, while people like me and you have to live with it.” Joel is quick to refresh his memory. “He deserves to be taught a lesson. He needs to be taught one. You know that damn well.”

Reyes was reluctant, but yet, anger swept inside him at the thought of Daniel. That bastard did need to know that he couldn’t just walk away from the past. Reyes sighed as the darkness pushed out the light. “What do you mean mess him up?”

“We take him to that empty Toys R Us across the street, right? Then we just give him a few punches. For all that fucker did a few punches is nothing to what he deserves.” Joel leans against the wall, watching as Reyes debates on what to do. “So what do you say? Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”

“As in?”

“Help me with Daniel and I’ll leave you be.” Joel gives Reyes the choice. Joel would leave Reyes alone at the price of Daniel’s suffering. It was a good deal, but at what cost?

Reyes looked up at Reyes’s and gives the nod of his head, allowing the darkness to take over. “I’m in.”


There was nothing left but silence now as the two sat on the rooftop. They got rid of their tension, they were nearly fully clothed, they fed their demons, and now, they got nothing else to do except regain their strength. They lost much of their energy during their ‘fun’. They were both rough.

Michael sat on the left of the rooftop, his hands fiddling with the lighter in his sweaty palms, cigarette dangling from his lips, his eyes staring out into emptiness. He glances to Lara out of the side of his eye, watching as the woman continues to look down. “Want one?” He holds up a box of cigarettes. “People say that they are--”

“--great after sex.” Lara takes one from the box. “Yeah, I know.” Michael lights her cigarette with his own lighter, watching as Lara puts the lit smoke in her mouth. The two continue to let the smoke do their talking, both watching their exhaled smoke slowly melt away into the winter air. “They are good.”

“Damn right.” Michael chuckles as the cigarette continues to dangle. “How you doing?”

“I’m doing great. Question is how are you?”

“I’m not the one who gave up first.” Lara chuckles at his remark, finding humor in his off comment. Usually she is the one who begs her partner to keep going but Michael sure took it out of her. “We made great time, though.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I guess we did.” Some would say that phrase in a joyful, laughing tone. But that was nowhere visible in Michael’s voice. No, the father spoke with pain. Pain that, after months of fighting his addiction, he gave back in that quick. “How did we get here? On this damn roof having sex with strangers.” The cigarette slips away from Michael’s lips, and the man watches as it falls straight to the sidewalk. He doesn’t complain, instead going to light a fresh one.

“I don’t know. I don’t know how I got here. I stopped trying to understand it awhile ago.” Lara shrugs. “Just rolled with it.”

“Just rolled with it.” Michael mimics her last comment. “Wish I could. I still remember how it all started. December 31st, 1997. I was thirteen years old. Was at this friend’s New Years party, right? Well, we were fucked up kids. It just so happened my girlfriend was there with me. I mean, I was always into girls and immature, but I never thought about having it that early of age. But our friends dared us into a game. Seven Minutes in Heaven. Remember it?” Lara nods to his question.

“Well, they dared us to do it. What we were supposed to do? Say no? We wanted to fit in and it seemed everyone else was doing it. So, we said, ‘why not?’. It was definitely one of the weirdest seven minutes in my life. I mean, we were thirteen, we barely knew how sex worked. But there we were. Trying to do it. It was stupid, now that I look back, but man. It was accelerating. After that, being exposed to having sex at such an early age, I craved it. It only got worse after she...left.” Michael continued to smoke his dying cigarette, watching as the fire slowly turns the white into darkness.

“I’m sorry. About your girlfriend.”

Michael didn’t respond with a thanks, as a conversation about Zoey were for later days. “After her passing I craved it. It filled this...void that was in me. It was almost like I couldn’t live without it. I fucked up so many people because of it, but yet, I kept going. I couldn’t stop. Along the way I hurt my friends, my daughter, your friend, you.” Michael rubs his freshly trimmed chin in sorrow. “I let my addiction control me.”

Lara watches Michael with sympathy, in contrast to the anger she initially felt. He may have hurt Vicky, but sadly, Lara saw themselves as completely similar. Both struggled with the same demon, the same beast. “I was sixteen. Lost my virginity to my friend. Alejandro Valdez. He was one of the popular kids in school, and I was just his nerdy friend. You know how school popularity works. He was the cool one, but I was his nerdy childhood friend. But yet, I saw him slip away from me. So, after some shit went down, I decided to change myself. I wanted to fit in. I fixed myself up, got some new clothing, and changed my whole personality just to appease them. Turns out without the glasses and books I was one of the hottest girls in the grade.” Lara chuckled lightly in despair. “Within a few days he was already wanting to get in me, and I let him. We had--uh, forninication in the guys locker room during third period.”

“After that,” Lara continues, “everything changed. I couldn’t go back. I crossed a line. So I went down the same path, letting all the cool guys use me. Why? So they wouldn’t call me ‘Horrible Lara’. Fucking stupid.” Lara shakes her head. “Eventually all I was this sex thing….and I enjoyed it. I practically began to push guys onto me. Entering college I found I could use my addiction to sex to my advantage. I could get good grades, accepted into UPENN, and even got money for it. There were many perks, and so, I continued down the same path, letting destroy any dignity I had. I traded my dignity so I could be ‘acceptable’ and ‘popular’. Eventually I turned into this--this fucking slut. Welcome to the ‘popular’ life, right?”

“We traded our souls to the devil.”

“Yep. And he ripped us off.” Lara reminds him.

“Agreed.” Michael nodded in despair. The silence once again engulfed the pair, but now, it wasn’t awkward. It was nice. Why? Because they held some respect for each other.

“I don’t wanna be my demons.” Lara finally breaks the silence. “I’m tired of them controlling me.”

“I know.” Michael looks at the girl with saddened eyes. “But do we have a choice at this point?”

“We always have one. We just been making the wrong ones.” Lara reminds him. “I don’t want my faults guiding my choices anymore.”

“And how do you do that?”

“..I don’t know.” Lara sighs. “I don’t know. I do know, though, that this addiction is ruining my life and I’m sick of it. If I wanna live, if we wanna live, we need to rise above it. Don’t you wanna be able to look at your demon in the eyes and say ‘no’? I know I do.”

Michael continues to avert his gaze from her. “I don’t know about you, Michael, but I’m tired of letting my flaws rule me.” Standing to her feet, Lara takes out her cigarette and puts out the flame, just before the darkness took over the last, pure white part left. “I want it to be the other way around.”

Michael looked at her, her determination, and smiled at her. He was with her.

He wanted to overcome his addiction.

His demons.

He looks at her once more and nods his head. “I want to be better.” Michael confirms outloud. “I want to be better.”

Lara smiles. “Then we….have to try to be.” Lara makes her way over to the roof. “It’s gonna be hard, but it’s something we have to do.”


After a long, hot swim, Haley went for the chance to be lazy for the rest of the day. So, picking up the famous N64 controller, Haley laid across the couch playing the famous, amazing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The game was one of the best games of all time, and personally, one of Haley’s favorites. She craved Nintendo games for their originality and art style. Sure, she loved Grand Theft Auto and The Last of Us, but Nintendo was where it’s at. But yet all the people say Nintendo is for children. Fuck the haters.

So there Haley sat, moving Link around the land, as she cursed at the enemies who got in her way. Haley got really into these games, and with no one around to stop her, Haley yelled all she wanted to. “Fuck you bitch!” Haley continued to yell as she got farther into the game. “Don’t you dare fuck with me!”

Haley played the game with a childish smile, but when she looked out her window, that childish smile slowly faded away. On the building opposite from her Haley saw movement. It was only for a brief second but she saw a suited man, gripping some sort of rifle, while another watched her through binoculars. Instantly she paused the games.

They found her. Ryker found her.

Haley knew how this would go. She would get up, pack everything she could into a bag, and they would notice her trying to leave and quickly act. Quickly standing onto her feet Haley dashed across her apartment, gripping the biggest bag she could. In a fast pace Haley began to pile in water and canned food, before quickly sprinting to get clothes and a few weapons.

“Can’t get to much…” Haley mutters as the continues to pack clothes, followed by entering the weapon supply. She packed in an old revolver, a sawed off shotgun and an automated rifle equipped with a scope. She took a few blades to carry on her, such as an old World War Two weapon. It was a brass knuckles, but even more so, a knife was attached to the end of it, granting her the ability to punch hard and stab. The other blade she took was a golden machete she got as a present.

With everything packed into a heavy bag Haley sprinted out into the living room, ready to escape her beautiful apartment. Normally she would be mad if she had to ditch her amazing comics, consoles and anything else of her childhood, but she knew she would come back sometime in the future.

Haley stopped dead at the door, listening with her keen ear to the sounds of ever-so fast approaching footsteps. Shit.

With no ever choice Haley runs back into the living room, taking shelter behind the counter. Not even a few seconds later four armed men barge into the room, rifles raised in their hands. “Find her!” The youngest one, who Haley recognizes as her old pal Walter, screams. Seeing as her bag was to big, Haley was forced to leave it in her hiding spot, only bringing along the brass knuckle knife, machete, and the revolver. With those three times on her, Haley rolled across the floor, stopping once she was under the table’s cover.

She watched as the four men made her way around her apartment, moving slowly around to check every corner for mysterious, the deadly Haley LaFontaine. The suited men moved around in such an order that Haley couldn’t get out as the risk of being spotted was titanic levels. So there she stood, ready to act if anyone caught her.

It was in that moment that three men entered the apartment rooms, leaving only one suited man, the oldest one, who was inspecting her game consoles. Now was her only chance. Haley crawled out from her hiding place, stealthily making her way across the room, attempting to sneak past the older man. Unfortunately, the older man turned around just as Haley was walking past him.

Haley acted faster. With the brass knuckle knife equipped, Haley leaped from the ground. Using her foot to bounce off the wall for more speed, Haley was quick to bring the knife into his eye socket, giving a quick death to the harsh bastard. The body slammed across the wall in a loud thump as Haley continued to sprint out of the room, just as the men exited the rooms.

The three man quickly sprinted into the halls, and even quicker opened fire on Haley. Haley was quick enough to snap around the corner before the gold bullets managed to hit her.With quick feet Haley began to make her way towards the roof entrance, but the men were quick to follow.

As Haley turned another corner she came face-to-face with a lone infected, whom quickly turned it’s eyes towards Haley. They must have followed the men up here, and the gunshots could have only attracted more. Still, Haley was quick to sprint away, allowing the infected to attempt to follow, but by that point the infected locked eyes with a new opponent. The suited men.

It caught one of the men off guard, and in a quick attack, leaped at one of them. Successfully, the infected tackled the man onto the hard, wood ground. Before the man could even react the infected was tearing into him, turning the faded out floors into red pools of blood.

The other two men ignored their friend being torn apart, instead focusing their attention on Haley, who had the advantage. She knew the hallways, unlike the dumbass soldiers. So, as she came in on another turn, Haley ducked underneath the one table, hoping the soldiers wouldn’t notice her and keep running.

The soldiers quickly approached from around the corner, continuing their sprint passed the table. Some would have called that enough but Haley knew she had to finish them. Rolling from under the table Haley yanked out her revolver. In a quick instance she pulled the trigger, watching the bullet splatter the one’s head open, sending the red blood all over Walter.

Haley attempted to shoot down Walter, but the arrival of more infected blocked her path. So, naturally, Haley ran off, leaving Walter to shoot hopelessly at the infected. With the path cleared Haley ran to the rooftop stairs, listening with a smile to the sounds of Walter screaming in anger. Haley one. Ryker’s men zero.

Making her way to the roof Haley sprinted over to the zipline as the gunshots faded out. Quickly approaching her homemade zipline Haley prepared to put on the harness vest.

That was until a gunshot went out. Haley had no time to react before the bullet scraped against her hip, giving her a small flesh graze, that still like hell. She stumbled for a second, holding the graze wound, as Walter attempted to open fire, but found himself out of bullets. In a last ditch effort Walter charged over to Haley, hoping to knock her off the rooftop. Haley was to grip her revolver but Walter smacked it right out of her hands, sending the weapon down into the snowy, icy ground below.

Haley kicked Walter in his stomach, taking this as an opportunity to back away from the ledge and to the center of the roof where Walter can’t knock her off. Haley stood ready to fight, machete around her back and brass knuckle knife in hand.

“Fucking bitch!” Walter charged at her, knowing full well that she has the upperhand with her weapons. Haley swung her knife at him, but the aerobic Walter dodged each of her knife swings, even managing to grab her hand mid-air. Haley was shocked, giving Walter the brief opportunity to punch her across the face.

The machete dropped from Haley’s back as she stumbled across the roof, holding her bruised cheek. Walter, however, made this his opportunity to grab the golden machete. With the machete in hand Walter stood still for a second, taking in the pride he felt of overpowering Haley. “You bought this on yourself!” Walter was quick to remind her. “At first I was gonna call Alexandra down here to kill you, but now? I’m glad I got the opportunity!”

Haley cringed at Alexandra’s name, but kept focused on Walter. Walter may have a machete but Haley wasn’t scared of him. “Bring it on, asshole!” Haley moves around the rooftop, the small bloody knife in hand.

Walter charged at her, swinging his machete like a mad animal. His lack of focus allowed Haley to easily dodge his machete swings. Her quick, fast movements outmatched his strong, lack of rage ones. Dodging yet another machete swing Haley kicked Walter in the knee-cap, briefly stunning him, long enough for Haley to swing her small dagger into his arm. Walter briefly yelped but backhanded Haley before she could get the kill strike.

Walter kicked Haley in the leg, bringing down the machete as he does. Haley was quick to throw her arms up, grabbing his arm before the machete could hit her in the face. The two survivors struggled on the roof as Haley continued to push the machete away from her face, but Walter was getting stronger.

Still, Haley had one trick up her sleeve.

Haley slid off the knife off the brass knuckles, and without even taking aim, Haley tosses the knife at him. She watched as the bloody knife twirled over and over in the air, until finally, striking Walter right in the gentilla. The immediate pain of a knife digging into his penis had Walter drop the machete, screaming out in pain like a baby as his hands held his bleeding gentilla.

With this opportunity Haley jumped to her feet, and in a badass moment if she would say herself, charged at Walter. With all her strength Haley pushed Waler to the edge of the building, wasting no time in giving Walter one extra push off the ledge.

Haley watches with a pride smirk as Walter crashes to the ground, falling through the air like a ragdoll. The volume of his screams increase as he falls closer to the ground. His screams of pain come to a sudden stop as he smacks against the ground, taking all life out of his pathetic body.

With Walter taken care of Haley made her way back to the zipline, making sure to pick up her prized machete before doing so. Haley wasted no time in getting in the safety harness, instead using the machete to hold her onto the zipline as she zoomed down the rooftop, away from her now fallen safe-zone.


“So what exactly do you do?” Sarah asks as she sits alongside James, who was distracting himself into reading a book. Lieutenant Hornblower. The book spoke of the tales of fictional characters in the British navy as they go up against Spanish rebels. It was an interesting tale to James, who for the past two months, has spent his time reading. With no work to distract himself into, and with Sarah safe and sound, James has been forced into this real world. Where he actually is trying to live a normal, peaceful life.

“What do you mean?” James adjusts his reading glasses with a small smile.

“Like when I’m not here. Do you just sit there and read?”

“There is nothing wrong with reading, honey.”

“It’s gross and….for old people.” Her comment has James briefly lower the book and stare at her with a smirk.

“Are you calling me old?”

“...no.”

“That is what I thought.” James chuckles as he goes back to reading his good book. “Reading is a great pass time.”

“For old people.” Sarah chuckles, as James once again gives her a look. “I mean for young, hot, good looking people. Yay.”

“That’s what I thought.” James goes back reading his book. That was, until, a voice booms him out his book. However, unlike last time, it wasn’t Sarah’s voice that drew him out of his reading. No, it was a ghost from the past.

“Mr. Benjamin.” Joel stood next to him, a fake fragile smile on his face. James looked at him, instantly recognizing him as the thug who worked for Oscar. The man who threatened Sarah’s life and dug James deep into an unwinnable case. “Hello again.”

Instantly, James put down his book as he rose to his feet, taking off the reading glasses next. For a moment James stared at Joel, trying to get into the older man’s head. “Sarah, honey.” James smiles back at Sarah. “Could you give us a second?”

“Of course. Everything okay?” Sarah asks as she too rises to her feet, curious of the mysterious man. Joel briefly looks at Sarah and gives her a wave.

“This here is Joel. He’s an….old friend.” James puts on a smirk. “Business partner.”

“Oh. Okay. Hi.” Sarah waves friendly at Joel, but soon follows James wishes and departs from the area, giving James some free-time to deal with Joel.

Two months ago James would have attacked Joel, seeing him as a threat. After-all, following the experience with the hitman, James began to let his anger slip loose. However, after his fight with Sarah and constant arguing Michael, James has worked to tame his anger. Still, he works on the pride issue, but he is getting his anger tamed. “What do you want?” James gets straight to the point in a civil attitude. “If your boss sent you--”

“Oscar didn’t send me. He’s dead.”

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

“No you’re not.” Joel gives a devious, yet joking, smile. He knew James hated Oscar, only taking on the case because Oscar paid big bucks. That, and Joel knew full well that Oscar probably threatened the man. Oscar always was a big dick. A one Joel was loyal to but still a dick. “Look, I’d like to apologize for anything Oscar did to you. Really, I do.” Joel adjusts his position. “But that’s not why I’m here.”

“Then why are you here?”

“I have a question for you.” Joel looks around to make sure no one was in close proximity to hear them. “Remember back in the beginning of all this shit? The outbreak.” James nods his head. “That night were you attacked by a strange man? A man that tried to kill you?”

James’s facial expression immediately changed at the question. He remembers full well the night of the outbreak. He got home with Sarah when, bang, they weren’t alone. Some punk ass kid was there trying to kill James. The kid tried to kill James, tried to kill his daughter, but yet James never knew why. He never really bothered to question. The only thing he questioned that night was how he felt after. After he drowned the kid in his own sink. How James took his first human life.

And how James liked it. How it took away all the stress he had in his life. James remembered the event fully well. In fact, he will never forgot it.

James didn’t answer the question but he had no need to. Joel already knew the answer. It was painted all over his face. “The man was sent by Daniel Brown. Oscar...fucked shit up, caused trouble for Daniel. So he sent hitmen to clean up loose ends. Me and you were loose ends.”

A rage silently crept inside James. He never even messed with Daniel, but yet, that kid thought he could send a hitman after him? Who did that kid think he was? The sad thing was James remembers that kid from high school. Daniel was in the grade below him, but James remembered him as a scrawny, shy kid. James even helped him out a few times. Damn bastard. “Why are you telling me this?”

“Because Brown is in this building as we speak. He changed his name so no one would find him.” The rage in James grew in his veins as the thought of that kid being trapped in the mall, probably still thinking he was tough. “I want to teach him a lesson. I know you do too. You in?”

Most would say yes. After-all, Daniel almost got him and Sarah killed. However, at the same time, what if James did partake in it? He wouldn’t change what happen. What happened, happened. The only thing James can do is make a better future, not a better past. It was a strong conflict. “No.” James shakes his head. “I won’t help you.”

“W--what?”

“I’m not gonna help you.” James denies his request. “I’m above getting revenge.” Joel was stunned. He would have thought James would have jumped at the opportunity and Reyes would reject. “You do what you gotta do, but listen here. If you kill him or break him, I won’t hesitate to throw you to those things outside.”

“You got no power here.” Joel reminds, but James quickly stood closer to him, showing how he is not afraid of Joel.

“Try me.” James mutters to Joel, wanting the man to know one message. If Joel disrupts the mall and kills Daniel than James will do the same to him. He wouldn’t give in to revenge but he would stand for justice.

Joel glares at James, but ultimately, respects his decision. Better man than Joel was. Joel nods and slowly backs away. “I’ll see you around then, Mr. Benjamin.”

“Remember.” James reminds him of what he spoke of, hoping Joel got the message.

James would stand up for justice, no matter who it was for.


Daniel Valentine continued to make his way down the halls, still acting like he was some tough shit. After-all, that’s all Daniel ever did. Act like he was better than everyone else, when in reality, it was the other way around. Anyone was better than this brat who used others for his own personal gain.

Wearing some sharp clothing in contrast to the basic bitches around him, Daniel walked proud and tall down the hallways, thinking about the mall, actually. He thought about the man in charge, Walsh, and the two lackies who worked with the community. Even after two months Daniel was convinced he would get all his power back, the only question was how he planned to do so.

Maybe he could pin Walsh’s death on Ethan Brash, and being the ‘hero’ he is, Daniel would track Ethan down and bring him to justice. Maybe he would kill Ethan and Walsh, letting that Reyes fuck become in charge, where Daniel would make Reyes’s leadership look bad. There were so many things Daniel could do to get back his throne of power.

As Daniel thought about his thirst for power, he could suddenly feel a firm hand touch his shoulder. Daniel turned to see an unknown blonde man, who held a small syringe in his hand. Daniel had no time to ask questions before Joel shoved the syringe into his back.

It only took a few seconds for Daniel to lose consciousness as the drug swept through his veins. Just as Joel has planned, Daniel quickly passed out. His plan was swept into motion.

Joel put his arm around Daniel, where he used his strength to hold Daniel up, as he used his other hand to press Daniel’s head into his shoulder. “Come on man!” Joel chuckles loudly. “We’re almost at the tent. You shouldn’t have drank so much!” Joel continues to shout false things as he walks the knocked out Daniel down the halls, managing to convince others that Daniel was drunk.

-----

Reyes has never been inside Toys R Us. It was strange, considering Toys R Us was a home for children. It was where children would go to have fun, where they let their imagination let loose. Getting G.I. Joe action figures, tapes, movies, and some Transformers. All of the children around Reyes would always have such luxury. But Reyes? He never had. Hell, he never even been to a toy store, or any store for children.

Reyes was deprived of a childhood, instead being stuck with an on-and-off again father and abusive mother. While others would play with their parents, Reyes was stuck with a toy stick and stone. So, being in this child store bought a sense of warmth to Reyes. But also a sadness as it reminded him of the childhood he could have had.

Reyes was drawn out of his deep thought by the front doors opening. Like expected Joel dragged in the unconscious Daniel Brown, dragging the bastard by his one arm. Lucky for them the Toys R Us is abandoned so they could do whatever they please.

Joel tossed Daniel like a ragdoll onto the dirt floor. He looks up at Reyes silently. His only response is the nod of his head.

With Joel’s signal Reyes grabs the water on the table, while Joel places a rag on Daniel’s head. Once on Reyes has no hesitation in dumping the water onto Daniel, allowing the rag to soak up all the water. In only a matter of seconds Daniel woke up deprived of his air. The man threw off his rag, attempting to stand up, but his face meets the end of Joel’s shoe, sending him back down with a thump. “Fuck!” Daniel lets loose a yelp, only to be kicked by Reyes to shut him up. Daniel looks between Joel and Reyes with a snicker.

“And who the hell are you two? Tweedledee and Tweedledum?” The two don’t respond as Daniel sits himself up. “Who the hell do you think you are? You think you can just capture me? Do you have any idea who the fuck I am?!”

Joel whacks Daniel upside the head with a stray baseball bat, crashing the man back down. “Any idea who the fuck we are?” Joel mutters at him. Joel crouches down next to Daniel with anger. “My name is Joel Ramsey. That is my friend Reyes Young.” Daniel looks over to Reyes, recognizing him as one of the mall’s lackees. “Do you know why we are here?”

“How the hell should I know?”

“Because you, Brown, tried to kill us.” Daniel draws a blank at the thought of trying to kill them.

“Did I? Are you sure?” His question prompted Reyes to punch him in the already bruised face.

“Oscar Jones. Know the name?” Joel reminds him of Oscar Jones, one of the men in charge of Daniel’s smaller scale gangs. Daniel remembered that.

“Jones? Yeah, I remember that dude. He thought he was tough shit.” Daniel laughs. “I shot the fucka dead. He almost caused me a war.”

“And then you sent out hitmen. Remember that? Because we were tied to his case.” Joel reminds him. Slowly, the details come back to Daniel. He remembers sending hitmen after them before the outbreak.

“I do. I see they failed.” Daniel smirks, letting his cocky attitude hide his absolute fear. He knew Joel and Reyes wanted to hurt him, but maybe Daniel could worm his way out of it. “Look I get it. I tried to hurt you, so you try to hurt me. It’s all good. But, how about we pour this water under the bridge? Because, if you keep going on, I will--”

“You will what?” Reyes questions. “What exactly will you do? Throw a temper tantrum? Because, from what I can see, you got no power here. No men, no guns, no money. You got nothing.” Reyes mocks Daniel. “Face it, motherfucker. You got nothing on us.”

“And you got nothing over me!” Reyes kicks Daniel in the stomach for his remark.

“We have balls, man. We have strength. We don’t have a pussy, unlike yo’self.” Joel continues Reyes’s mocking of the man. “Face it, Brown. You are nothing. You are just like--us.”

Daniel stays in silence at the mocking. He has been refusing to accept it, but they were right. Daniel was nothing. He wasn’t the all-mighty power Daniel Brown, no matter how he tried to be. “Let us show you what it’s like to be us.” Is the last thing Joel says as he wraps his hand around Daniel’s neck, while Reyes grabs hold of a stray crowbar.

-----

Ten minutes later Reyes and Joel found themselves walking through the snow, back to Franklin Mills Mall. They managed to wipe the blood off themselves, but they both still felt it. However, each felt pride. Pride that they showed Daniel Brown reality. That he was nothing more than a spoiled brat of a child.

Their walk back was silent as neither had any words to say. Both were thinking the same thing and that was enough. However, still, there was tension between the two criminals. Reyes still didn’t trust Joel, and honestly, wanted nothing to do with him. He helped Reyes get some revenge but that was all he needed from Joel. Still, a part of him wanted to trust Joel. Now that Joel regretted his past, Reyes longed for someone that understood him.

“I changed, ya’ know.” Joel finally speaks up. “After that garage fight, your words got to me. They just got to me a little to late.”

Reyes was silent as Joel went on. “We don’t gotta be close friends, but you deserve to know that I’m sorry, for everything. And, if you want, I’d like to start over.” Joel looks at Reyes, hoping the man would like to start over with Joel. They can put behind their past demons and rebuild themselves.

Reyes looks at Joel and slowly nods his head. “Sounds good.”


It was a slow, painful tread for Daniel. It’s been ten minutes since the pair left him, ten minutes since his vicious beating. Even so, every part of his body aches worse and worse with each second. The man had bruises all down his body, some purple, some blue, and blood made his way out of his nose and lip.

Reyes and Joel practically broke him. Never in his life has someone, besides his father, gave him such a beating. People were always to afraid to hurt him. They were afraid of Robert Brown. They were afraid of Daniel’s power. They were never afraid of him. They never respected him.

Daniel can’t help but cry as he is forced to crawl through the white snow. White snow that slowly turns red in Daniel’s path. His tears roll down his face, passing through the blood, giving tears the appearance of blood itself. It only makes Daniel cry more as he sees his horrific appearance. The playboy, party man, Daniel Brown looks like the way he acts. A monster.

He continues to crawl through the snow, but the cold mixed in with his beatings are tearing Daniel down. He doesn’t know if he can make it back to Franklin Mills.

-----

It was silent as Anahi sat atop the mall’s roof. She had agreed to take up watch duty, as she had nothing else to do. Still, she didn’t expect to be there with another man, who was silent just like her. It was slightly awkward as the two sat in an uncomfortable silence.

She briefly glanced over to her watch partner, noneother than Michael, who was still getting over his lustful encounter with Lara. Still thinking about how his demons control him, but hopefully, how he will get rid of them.

Michael glances over to Anahi, who was back to looking out into the white snowfall. “Your name is Anahi, right?” Anahi nods to his question. “It’s a lovely name. I don’t think I ever met an Anahi.”

“Thank you.” Anahi smiles lightly. It was funny. Anahi may be outgoing with closer people, such as Lisette, she was mostly a loner, not wanting to be to sociable. Its not that Anahi was an introvert, but she wasn’t to trustworthy of strangers. She always had her guard up all moments of the day.

“My girlfriend wanted to name our daughter that, actually. We went with Sarah but Anahi was on the shortlist.” Michael brings up the non-important, fun fact in an effort to exchange a conversation with her.

“Interesting. How old is your daughter?”

“Fifteen.” Michael smiles. “Birthday was a little bit before all of this.” Anahi watches as Michael reaches over to grab a bottle of Coca-Cola. Michael sure did love his Coke, it was one of the things that kept him off alcohol, after-all. “Want one?”

“I’m good. Thanks, though.” Anahi smiles as she continues to watch the snowy field. However, as she continues to watch the field, something catches her eye. Near the Toys R Us she saw someone crawling through the snow. A hurt person.

It took her a second but she recognized the man as Daniel Brown. The man she saved, who in return, gave her loads of bullshit. He was a giant asshole, who quite frankly, deserved to die.

But yet Anahi instantly leaped onto her feet. “I gotta go.” Is the only thing she says to Michael before dashing towards the stairs, leaving the confused Michael alone.

-----

Daniel snapped his eyes open after a nap. He remembered passing out as he made his way back to Franklin Mills, somewhere in the middle of the snow. It was horrible.

However, he didn’t find himself in the middle of the snow, like he previously expected. Instead, Daniel found himself in a small lit room. Air conditioning and all. The weirdest part was that Daniel was patched up. He felt bandages on his heavily bruised parts, a napkin in his nostril to stop the blood, and he could feel medicine flying through his veins. Besides the headache and soreness, it is like the two men never attacked Daniel. Somehow, Daniel was magically saved.

He looks around the small room, finding the only light source to be a few candles. The room must have been a janitor’s closet since it was small, large enough for him to lay down in, but small. Soon, however, his eyes met a young girl who sat across the small room. Anahi Cruz.

Daniel chuckled lightly. “Deja vue. Huh?” This was similar to their first meeting, where Daniel passed out due to a gunshot, and when he woke up he found Anahi across the room, watching him.

Anahi doesn’t respond, instead opting to lean across the wall in silence. Her silence was justified. What wasn't justified, however, was why she saved him. Daniel couldn’t wrap his head around it. “Why did you help me?”

Anahi looks up at him. “Why wouldn’t I?” He bites his lip as he struggles with what to say.

“I--been a dick. To you, especially.” Daniel shrugs in his spot, refusing to meet her eyes. “I been nothing but a jerk. I would have let me rot.”

“In case you failed to notice, I’m not like you.” Anahi stands to her feet, making her way over to Daniel. Crouching down to his level Anahi places her hand on his head. “Not to bad. Just continue to take this.” She places some medicine next to him while Daniel is dumbfounded.

“Why did you help me?” He asks once more.

She looks at him. “Because, unlike you, I couldn’t live with myself if I let someone die, knowing that I could have helped. Even if it is you.” Her response has Daniel go silent in shame. For once Daniel Brown had no cocky remark, no insult to give her. Even she found it surprising. “So who did this to you?”

“No one.” Anahi gives him one of those famous ‘are you kidding me?’ looks. “I had it coming. They were justified.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah.” Daniel continues to avert his cowardice eyes from that of the brave, heroic Anahi.

“Alright then. You need anything else?” She questions him but he just gives the shake of his head. “Would you be okay if I go?” Daniel reluctantly nods his head, not giving her any worded response. Not even the two lettered phrase she hoped for. “Very well. Feel better.”

Daniel watches as she makes her way to exit, despair written on his face. “Thank you.” He mutters just loud enough for her to hear. “Thank you.”

There it was. The two lettered phrase. The fact Daniel said it was enough to make her stop in her tracks. “No need to thank me.” She replies, much to the shocked Daniel. No one he has ever known has been like she was.

With that in mind he watches as Anahi departs. He was ashamed.

Daniel Brown was ashamed.


It was a long drive. Longer than Tate expected it to be, but he didn’t complain. This had to be done. No matter how far it was, how deep into the city it was, Tate had to do this. It was the only way he could move on with himself.

He parked the car one block away from the area. He needed to walk for the rest or he might miss her. Reluctantly, Tate looked over to the passenger seat, staring down at the black pistol. For a moment Tate simply sat there, letting the weight drag him down. He wanted to back out. He wanted to drive back to the mall and act like this never happened.

But Tate has delayed this for too long.

Tate gripped the heavy pistol, and with one final sigh, made his way out of the car. His eyes looked around the ruined street. It was probably a nice street before, but now, it was a graveyard. Dozens of dead bodies laid on the road, each one mutilated by a spray of bullets. He fought the urge to close his eyes.

Tate walked down the memorial of the massacre, slowly remembering the events of the riots. How Destinee and him fell. How he was forced to leave his pregnant fiancee left to die. It has burdened him ever since that horrible day.

His eyes met the spot in the center of the dry red street. He knew that was it. The spot where he dropped Destinee.

And, like Tate expected, Destinee wasn’t there.

She was, after-all, infected with the virus before she died, guaranteeing her a chance to come back as an infected. Tate crouched down, feeling the spot of land with his free hand. It was cold.

Tate surveyed the area as he stood back up to his feet, wondering where she want. He recognized a black trail of blood, one that would be left from a crawling person. He knew it had to be her.

Reluctantly, Tate gripped his pistol and followed the trail. It took him a few blocks away, through several alleyways, until finally his eyes noticed an infected. In a dead-end of an alley he saw one infected. The infected’s legs were snapped backwards, preventing her from walking. The infected’s skin was covered in blood, with a giant hole on her wrist. The infected’s one beautiful blonde hair was withering away. But the worst part? The worst part was the scratched up, bloody, pregnant stomach.

Tate watched the infected Destinee lay there, unable to move. Lacking any energy to do so.

In instinct Tate put his hand over his mouth, trying not to let out the crying moan that would marry his teary eyes. This was going to be harder than he thought. “You can do this…” He whispers to himself. “You have too…”

His teary eyes transformed into that of determined eyes, giving him the motivation to approach Destinee. The closer he got Destinee began to look at him. She let out no loving comment, none of her beautiful voice. No. She let out a painful moan as she reached her arms out at him.

Tate stopped a foot away from her, watching as she tried to pull herself towards him. She didn’t want to hug him. She didn’t want to kiss him. She wanted to kill him. She wanted him to join her in being infected. “It’s been awhile.” Tate says outloud to her in a stoic voice. He wants to look away from this state of her but Tate forces himself to watch.

“I didn’t want to do this.” Tate says. “I was going to ask Michael to do this, but I knew. I knew it had to be me. It was only right. It was only fair.” Tate wipes a stray tear from his cheek. “It was the only way this could end.”

Tate slowly sits down against the wall, knowing Destinee was to weak to reach him. It was silent for a moment, with the only noise being Destinee’s moans. “I remember when we first met. Back in middle school, right? You were with Russell, the cool kid, and I was the weirdo. The one everyone loved to pick on. You...you didn’t like me, but I always had a crush on you. I mean, you were beautiful.”

“It wasn’t until after Fitz that we began to grow closer. When I truly began to love you. We were at this friend’s party when I realized it. I don’t remember the kid, but he was rich, and damn, this party showed it. This one dude was singing a song by my hero, Stevie Wonder, our favorite man, remember? The song was Part Time Lover. Well, we were dancing to it, and I don’t know. Our eyes met and I remember staring into your lovely eyes. It’s like I could feel the world stop around us, and that is when I knew. That is when I knew I loved you, Destinee Lombardi. In that moment that is when I wanted you to be with me for the rest of my life.”

Tate let out a tear filled smile as the memories came back while Destinee remained violent. However, as Tate looked into her eyes, he thought he saw a glimmer of sadness. Unfortunately, it was greatly ripped away by the infected, evil, deadly eyes. “Fate had it different, though. Because you died. You died. But I’m still here. I didn’t want to believe it, but it happened. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to keep going but I kept coming back to you. I mean, I loved you.” Tate wiped his tear filled cheeks as his bloodshot eyes continue to stare at her. “But you aren’t here now. You’re dead. You died two months ago on that street! And I accepted it. Whatever happened, happened. I’m not dead.” Tate continued to hold back the river of tears. “But you? You are.”

Tate continued to stare into her lifeless eyes. For a moment he remained silent, but he shifted into determination once more. He knew what had to be done. Tate positioned himself onto his knees, lifting his pistol to overlook Destinee’s head. “I didn’t know if I could do this. But as I sit here and look into your eyes I have come to understand something. Destinee died. And you? You. Are. NOT. Her.” Tate cried out in pain at the infected Destinee. However, his cries of pain soon turn into that of anger. “You are not her!”

He yells at the parasites that morphed Destinee into a monster. This thing in front of her may have Destinee’s body but it was not Destinee. It was using her body for it’s own monstrous deeds.

Finally, with everything he needed to be said said, Tate tightens his grip on the pistol. He closes his eyes when his finger falls back on the trigger. He only wish he could have covered his ears as well. The sounds of Destinee’s moaning dying, the sound of the bullet ripping through her head, the sound of her blood splattering everywhere, and the loud gunshot stunned Tate. He kneeled there, refusing to open his eyes for a full minute.

After a deep breath Tate opened his eyes to see her officially dead body laying there. Tate can’t help but to shake uncontrollably at first, but he manages to control himself with three simple words. “You weren’t her.”

With those words said Tate extends down his hand, brushing his fingers against her cold head. His fingers reach her eyelids, and once there, Tate slowly closes them. She looked so peacefully now.

Tate grabs his other hand, slowly pulling off his wedding ring. He places it on his palm and stares at the tiny ring. The ring that symbolized his love for Destinee. It only made sense that it was buried with it’s symbol.

Tate places the ring in her right hand, closing it tightly afterwards. He places both her hands onto her stomach afterwards, so she could hold both the symbol of Tate and her baby. Tate smiles lightly at her.

He brushes the golden hair away from her cheek. With no hesitation Tate knees down and gives his bride one last kiss on the cheek. With the last kiss of love given, Tate rises to his feet, looking down at Destinee for the last time. “I love you.” Is the last thing he whispers to her body. For a moment he is hesitant to move, but he soon rips out his inner strength and walks away from her. He forces himself not to turn around.

Tate makes his way back to the car, feeling both sadness, but yet, pride. Pride that he had the guts to finish what he should have done months ago. It was now time to start the next chapter in his life.

Which began just as he reached the car. Once at the car he looked to his right, noticing a woman fighting off infected with nothing but a machete. It almost looked like she was outmatched. Quickly Tate jogged over there with his pistol, where he was quick to save the girl with gunfire, saving her from the infected attackers.

He walks up to the woman, who is holding her bloody side. “You okay?” He asks the woman.

She looks back up at him, revealing the girl Tate aved to be none other than Haley.


It was a long day for Lara, hell, it was barely one p.m and she already had sex and an emotional revelation. Not bad at all.

Lara made her way down the halls, her arms crossed as she had her head bowed down, wondering what to do next. She determined to get rid of her demons, but she didn’t know how hard it was going to be. What it was going to take.

As Lara walked down a hallway she could hear someone approach her. Curious, Lara turned her around to see Daniel Brown approach her once again. Oh God. Him. She sighed as he walked up to her, barely even taking note of his bandages.

“I need you.” Daniel grabs her by the arm desperately. “Where you wanna fuck me this time?” Lara continued to glare at the man while her demons were trying to knock her down. “Come on, I had a long morning. I really need some of your action here.”

Lara continued to remain silent, much to Daniel’s annoyance. “Come on talk to me al--”

Quickly, Lara hit Daniel in his already bruised stomach, mustering a groan of pain to come flying out. Lara grabs him by the shoulder to make sure the pathetic piece of shit doesn’t fall to the ground. With him in her arms Lara pulls him close to her. “I am more than your plaything.” She grunts that. “I’m more than a toy.” Daniel remains silent as Lara continues to growl at him, fierce determination in her eyes. “I am a person, and you’re gonna treat me like one. With the respect I deserve.”

Lara gives Daniel a light push against the wall, nearly knocking him over. Daniel attempts to speak but Lara has already stormed off by the team he got balanced, a wide smile on her face. Daniel, however, collapsed against the wall in completely agony, doing his best to hold back an army of tears. All he needed was some sexual comfort for his shitty day and he couldn’t even get that.

How could this day get any worse for him?


“How you doing, man?” McCoy asks Dre as the two sit on the rooftop, each sitting back against a lawn chair. Both of them had a long day yesterday, and today, was their day of relaxation, hence why they take guard duty. For peace.

Dre looks at him with a slight smile. “I’m fine.”

“Positive?”

“Positive.” Dre looks back out into the snow landscape. “I just can’t believe how stupid I was yesterday.”

“You weren’t stupid.”

“Yeah, I was.” Dre chuckles. “I mean--” Dre hoped to go on about his inner turmoil, but something caught his eyes, as did McCoy’s. The two watched as numerous black cars began speeding towards the mall, each armored with protection. Judging from the appearance they were not friendly. “What the fuck?!”

They watched as the cars began to stop at the mall’s front entrance, catching glimpses of armed men exiting the vehicles. “We need to get--” McCoy attempts to tell Dre as he turns around, but stops dead in his tracks once he did.

Dre turns around, alongside McCoy, to find six armed men standing behind them, each with an automated rifle and their fingers on the trigger. Each of them wore sharp clothing with shielding such as bulletproof vests, but the one who caught their eye was the man in front. He was scrawny, had a limp, and looked nothing like a fighter, but Jason Fitzpatrick sure looked horrifying.

Fitzpatrick had his rifle pointed out the two boys with a twisted smirk on his face. “Hello, boys.” Fitz says with his low, but soft voice that sent shivers down Dre’s sine. “What was it you needed?

As the two men on watch were held at gunpoint, Ryker exited out of a black SUV, wearing his usual sharp clothing, with a megaphone in his hands. Next to him was the usually silent Gabriel Parker, who grasped in his hands a big machine gun, ready to shoot down anyone if needed.

Gabriel followed Ryker towards the door, and several more men followed him in turn. The army of Jake Ryker has come to take over Franklin Mills.

Ryker rips open the doors of the mall, walking on in like he owned the place. Once inside Gabriel shot his rifle towards the roof, sending the echos of gunshots throughout the mall. Panic quickly spread as Gabriel fired off gunshots in an effort to make themselves known.

Well, it certainly worked.

Once Gabriel finished shooting Ryker took a look around the panicked crowds and smiled. Lifting the megaphone to his mouth Ryker’s next words would spark the beginning of his reign of terror. “Good evening everyone! My name is Jake Ryker,” he scans the crowd with a malicious smirk, “and I demand to speak with the man in charge.”

Issues of Endangered
Arc 1
Volume 1

1 - Ruined 2 - Father of the Year 3 - Party Girl 4 - It's Been Over 5 - One Wrong Move 6 - Lost 7 - Reporter 8 - Lost and Found 9 - Talk 10 - Brown 11 - Confront 12 - Calm Before the Storm

Arc 2
Volume 2

13 - Chaos 14 - Old Friends, New Enemies 15 - State of Emergency 16 - Just Watch the Sunset 17 - Trust is Weakness 18 - The Riots are the Worst 19 - The Riots are the Worst, Part 2 20 - Not Even the Apocalypse Can Stop Us from Shopping 21 - The Sixth Sense 22 - A Game of What If? 23 - Pain is the Alpha and Omega for Addiction 24 - You Can Never Change

Volume 3

25 - It Not a Small World After-All 26 - Ghosts From the Past and the Demons That Follow 27 - The Coward, The Opportunist, and the New World 28 - Surrounded by the Unseen Foe 29 - Lost Souls 30 - City of Brotherly Love 31 - The Truth Will Set You Free 32 - A Sacrifice of Blood 33 - This Isn't a Video Game 34 - P.T.S.D 35 - A Helping Hand 36 - No Mercy

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.