It was hard for Kurt to accept that he and I were alone. He started shaking his head, muttering "No, no, no!" Tears started welling up in his eyes. I started to pull him into a hug when he pulled away and stood up. He ran out the door, the tattered remains of his trousers flapping behind him and his bare feet slapping on the floor. I flopped back on the bed. I didn't have the strength to go after him. My leg throbbed and my eyes fluttered shut.
"If I were you, I would go after him," David said over the radio.
I knew he was right.
"Yeah, just give him a second."
"I'd go now. What about the soldiers that came into the building?"
"They are dead, David," I sighed.
"Yes, but where are the bodies? They should have been in the hallway outside your room, but you didn't see them, did you?"
That made me think. I hadn't actually seen them, only abandoned weapons.
"Go after him. NOW," David bellowed.
I shot of the bed and grabbed the rifle I had propped against the door. I ran down the corridor and up the stairs to the ground floor, and that's when I heard Kurt scream from the floor above me. I tore up the stairs two at a time, ignoring the fact my injured leg was screaming in protest and my stomach was roiling because of the medication. It wasn't hard to spot Kurt once I reached the floor. He was maybe twenty feet away, lying on his back, six zombies in military fatigue ascending towards him. Kurt flipped onto his stomach and began scurrying away. Two zombies fell on the spot where Kurt had been a moment before. The three behind them stumbled over them. They shuffled around, getting tangled in each other.
One zombie lunged forward at the right time and missed getting caught up in the zombie pile. She grabbed the tattered remains of Kurt's jeans, each hand holding one of the legs. With a ripping sound, the legs of Kurt's jeans were gone. Kurt tripped as the material pooled around his feet. There was no time to shout a warning. I fired and emptied the clip into the undead. The fire tore through their head, their necks, their chests. Then the job was done.
Kurt stood shakily. His abdomen and legs, as well as the front of what remained of his jeans was covered in congealed blood, bits of skull and with brains. He looked at me uncomprehendingly. Panting, I placed my back against the wall and slid to the floor before my leg buckled, laying the gun on the floor. Kurt staggered over stiffly and curled up on my lap, sobbing. I hugged him tight, letting him come to terms with the fact we were actually alone.
I don't know how long we sat like that, but it was well passed noon and Kurt had fallen asleep. He had exhausted himself with crying. It was then that David spoke again.
"You know, it was actually Kurt who kissed you down in the shower room?" he asked.
I picked up the radio to respond. Gently of course, I didn't want to wake up Kurt. I frowned before I responded though. There was something strange about the radio, particularly the area at the back where the battery was.
"Charles, you listening?" David broke through my musings.
"Yeah, I heard you. What about it?"
"Just wondering. You know he is interested in you, right?" David asked.
"Yeah. Worries me a bit," I admitted.
"What is there to worry about? You know, there isn't such a big age gap between you. Realistically it's only two years, and you do have bigger worries than having a fourteen year old attracted to you," David said.
"Tell me, what would you do if you had a fourteen year old attracted to you?" I shot back.
"If I had someone two years younger than me that was attracted to me, I wouldn't worry. Neither should you. Not in your situation. Believe it or believe it not, you have bigger worries. Be smart. You are in a structurally unsound building that could collapse at any minute. You are surrounded by walking corpses that eat the flesh of the living. You did an inventory and came up with enough food, water and fuel for the generator to sustain you for one week only- that's if the building holds up. You have no idea what vehicles are available to you, nor how much fuel they have. You don't even know can you reach them, and for all you know, more zombies could be entering the building through entrances you don't know about."
David paused there for breath.
"To top it off, both you and Kurt are injured. You are physically and mentally exhausted. Now, is the fact that someone so close to your own age is attracted to you really the worst thing that's happening to you?"
Grudgingly, I had to admit that no, it wasn't.
"One more thing. One of the zombies you shot? It's gotten back up and is coming for you."
That's when David cut out and I became aware that one of the zombies that had started the zombie pile up was staggering towards us. Kurt woke with a strangled yell when I shot the creature in the head.
For the rest of the day, we searched out supplies. You know the essential. Clothes, food, weapons, ammo. I was forced to carry Kurt. There was no way I was going letting him walk around bare foot. Not with so much loose debris, scull and brains lying around. Once we had gathered enough supplies, we showered again and raided the kitchen. I let Kurt pig out. A bit of comfort eating never hurt anyone, in my opinion, so long as it was done in moderation. When he flopped into bed beside me that night, his stomach was slightly swollen. He curled up and snuggled into me. He was asleep immediately.
In the darkness, with Kurt snoring beside me, I began to ponder what David had said. Truthfully, Kurt wasn't as young as I had first thought. At most, there was a little less than two years age difference. Kurt would be fourteen in under a week. Should it bother me? I mean, what was normal social protocol now? I picked up the radio and relayed my feelings to David.
"You are worried about social protocol?" David laughed. "Listen, what is normal about the dead rising and eating the flesh of the living? Society, YOUR society, has shrunk to you and Kurt. If each of you raised a gun and faced away from each other, back to back, your world, your society, begins at the business end of Kurt's gun and ends at the business end of yours. The society whose sense of morality you are worried about has collapsed. You are sixteen. Kurt is fourteen, or so close it makes no difference. Who are you accountable too but each other?"
His words made sense, in some weird twisted way. I thanked David and clicked off the radio.
The next morning, I ventured outside. I was feeling better with been outside. Last night had been the first proper night's sleep I had gotten since we had fled our bug out location. Also, thanks to Uncle Jeb, I knew how to dress an injury. Thanks to Dr. Raj, I knew the names of the various medications I was on. I hoped it would be enough for me not to catch an infection.
As I hobbled onto the road leading to the ambulance bay, I was amazed at how empty it was. A pile of bones was all that remained of the soldiers and the body they had used as bait. There was the odd straggling zombie of course, but they were far enough away not to be of threat. I wondered where the rest of them had gone. My question was answered when I heard gunfire in the distance. They must have been drawn by the sound. I was looking for a vehicle to use to try and drive to the source of the shooting when a scream filled the air from the same general direction. God rest them, whoever they were. They had brought me some time.
For twenty minutes, I walked from one Humvee (three flat tires from the soldiers weapons discharging when they fell), to another (same problem), to another (whatever the hell had happened to it, the suspension and steering gear had collapsed and shifted (severely) to the driver's right. Also, something was kicking frantically from inside it). I finally found a pick-up they must have modified. It had a fifty-cal bolted to the bed. The keys were in the ignition. I checked the tank. It was full. If I was smart, I would fill up anything that could hold fluid with as much gas as I could and get the hell outta town. Instead, I picked up a wind-up radio on the passenger seat. When I wound it up, Radio-Z began to play.
"To repeat that story. The remnants of the US Military, along with several law enforcement agencies from Sheriff's Departments to the FBI, have pulled west of the Mississippi river on their westward journey to the Rockies. The Restoration movement is taking advantage of the lack of police and military to coral even more people into their cause. So far, the Restoration movement seems to be confined to Alabama, Georgia, and both North and South Carolina. The defences of Baton Rouge have been breached, while New Orleans is still under siege. There are reports of massive traffic jams at the Canadian border as a third wave of American citizens head north, despite the government changing its 'Head North' policy to a 'Head West' policy."
"Fucking idiots," I muttered.
"Is that the government or the people heading north?" David asked over the radio clipped to my belt. I unbuckled it.
"Both. The people heading north will more than likely freeze to death in winter. The government has no plan, it's running around like a headless chicken."
David was quiet for a while. Just when I thought he was going to impart some words of wisdom, the passenger door popped open and Kurt hopped in beside me. He grinned up at me as he held out sandwich.
"Lunch?" he asked. I took the sandwich, smiling.
"You pig out in the kitchen again?" I asked.
"No," Kurt, trying to look innocent.
"Liar," I said, rubbing a hand over his stomach. Kurt grinned and pulled closer to me and I wrapped an arm around him, pulling him close. I ate my sandwich with Kurt cuddled up beside me. That's when I saw the door of the Humvee with the twisted suspension and steering gear fly open and Major Noose tumble out. She was tied up and looking pissed.