Tyler picked up his pace so he could get next to Bill.
"Are we gonna get weapons or something?" Tyler asked. He was excited.
"We'll pick up two-by-fours somewhere. Lets hope we find those before we find trouble." Bill spat. Mark noticed how often he spat. He thought about how bad of a habit it was.
"Look! A person!" Mark ran up to them.
"No! Don't hurt me! You've taken everything! Go back, you filthy animal! Go back to the city! Into the slums where you belong!" shouted the man. He fell over. He was a pile of bones and he looked very sick. "Get... get away from me..."
Mark stopped, but Tyler kept walking right up to the man. He started to half crawl away, but Tyler didn't stop walking. He grabbed the man's shoulder and lifted him up on his feet. He was shaking. "I... I told you people I don't have anything left... you've taken my family, you've taken my belongings... please, leave me alone."
"We're not here to take anything from you." Tyler said.
"Good, because I've got absolutely nothing."
"What do you mean they took your family? Your belongings? Who did?"
"The survivors... they even took some of my clothes... are you planning to stay in San Francisco long?"
"No, we ain't." Bill said. "We aim to find my friend. His name is Flood. Brandon Flood. Heard a him?"
"Yes. I knew him very well, actually. Well, before they took him."
"What?!" Bill was shocked. "Who took him?!"
"The survivors, they're nasty, blood thirsty people. They'll do anything for food, shelter, clothes, blankets. They told her they'd kill Brandon as a threat. His wife wouldn't let the survivors take blankets or food from them. They threatened to kill Brandon right in their living room. His wife gave them the blankets so they'd let him go. They killed him anyways, and they raped her. Poor Marge, she did what they asked. She's still in their small apartment, I've visited her a few times since the death, but the apartment's mostly empty and she rarely ever leaves or eats."
"Sickening... just disgusting..."
"So are we just gonna head back to the truck now?" Mark asked.
"Hell no! We're gonna get Marge and this guy his possessions back and THEN we'll head back to the truck."
Tyler punched the air. "YEAH! I'm game!"
"Alright. Let's do this." Mark was ready. Testosterone and adrenaline were a kick ass combination.
The weak man put his hand up and shook his head. "No, it's ok. I don't need you guys to risk yourselves for me."
"Without you I wouldn't have had a clue what to do. I owe you." Bill said. "Down the road a little is a truck. Go there and say 'Bill sent me' and the girls will leave you alone. The black one's Shantae and the Asian is Alison. They'll give you some food. I think we have a few Twinkies left."
"Thank you." The survivor hugged Bill and practically dragged himself to the truck.
"Wait!" shouted Bill. "Is Marge still in the Chinatown apartment?"
"No. She moved. She's on fifth street."
"Thanks! One more thing. If we get you blankets, food, and clothing, would that be acceptable?"
"More than enough. Thank you!"
"Let's go kids, today is the day you become men."
The three walked into the city with their heads held high.
"Okay, which one of you is stronger?" Bill asked. Tyler pointed to Mark. "Ok, we're gonna get Margie first. Tyler, you walk her back to the truck. Me and Mark will get that guy's stuff. Understand?"
"Ok!" Tyler said. He was glad to know that he'd be out of the city as soon as possible. It didn't sound pleasant.
When they got to fifth street, Bill was afraid he wouldn't know which building Margie was in. There was but one apartment building on the entire street, though, so now the only problem would be finding out which floor she was on. Bill knew Margie loved tall buildings and being up high, so although this building was only 4 stories high, he knew she'd be on top.
There were two apartments on each floor, so Bill stood in the hallway and screamed, "MARGIEEEEE. IT'S BILL." after a few minutes, one of the doors opened. The chain was still fastened. A set of nervous eyes peeked through.
"Hello, Margie." Bill said as though this visit was under completely normal circumstances.
"Bill!" Margie squealed. She tried to open the door, but realized the chain was still fastened. She yanked the door so hard the chain broke. "Those bastards at the locksmith sold me the shittiest chain on planet earth. Come inside, come inside! Are these two handsome young men with you?" The boys smiled.
"Yes, Margie. They're with me." Bill chuckled. It was clear these two were great friends. The hallway had peeling wallpaper and the carpet was shredded. Every member of the group wielded a large board. There was one with a nail in it and, since Tyler was the weakest, he got the nail board so he could be just as safe as the other two men. The streets were full of survivors, hunched over and digging through garbage like animals. Some of them didn't have shirts and you could clearly see the outline of their ribs. Some women were getting beaten and/or raped in alleys. It was terrifying. How they got like this, nobody knew. Margie looked fine. Her apartment, on the other hand, did not. The furniture had little rips in it and the long, red, velvet curtains were cockeyed and torn. The windows were shattered and her carpet was ripped. Pictures had fallen off the walls and in the kitchen the wooden floor was cracked, but other than that, everything seemed cozy and fine.
"It's been a long time!" Margie said. It was clear she was excited.
"Too long. I heard some terrible news, Marge. Is Brandon really dead?"
Marge pointed to a spot in the carpet and looked away. "I had a rug over it, but those god damn cannibals in the street took it. I'm the last tenant in the building. I'm gonna leave soon."
"Damn right you are. Tyler here is gonna walk you back to the truck and you can come with us to Las Vegas." Bill said.
"Oh?" Margie didn't seem like she was totally against the idea, but she did seem a little surprised. "And where will we go from there?"
Bill got up. "I don't know." He looked out the window. The streets had little tin shelters in them. Over turned cars served as the support for little shelters made of tin roofing and car doors and storm windows. "I was thinking we could stay there."
"And why Vegas?" Margie was skeptical.
"Because the weather is nice there. It won't get cold in the winter. And there are lots of nice hotels where we could live, I guess."
"And these boys, will they stay with you in Vegas?"
"No ma'am." Mark said. "We're off to New York."
"Sounds like fun. Perhaps I'll join you, if that's alright." Margie obviously liked the sound of New York.
"I got two girls their age back at the truck. We left it outside the city. The girls are watching the truck for us. We have to get back to them."
"Let me pack my things." Margie got up.
"Pack light. We don't have much room." Bill said. "Me and Mark made a promise to this guy... I didn't catch his name, but he said he knew you and Brandon. He told us where your apartment was. He's at the truck with the girls."
"Oh, Maybe it's James!" Marge exclaimed. "I need a few things from my room."
"All right, Tyler, go with her. Me and Mark are gonna get that guy his stuff." Bill turned to leave.
"Be careful." Tyler said quietly. He looked at the floor. Mark turned around and went over to him. He put his hands on Tyler's hips.
"I'll be extra careful." He smiled. He lifted Tyler's chin and looked into his eyes. "I promise." Tyler hugged him.
"I'll see you at the truck." Tyler followed Margie to her bedroom.
"Exactly how much room do we have in the truck? Enough for some blankets?" Margie asked.
"Oh yes! Blankets, definitely. Those would be much appreciated." Tyler said. He sat on the edge of the bed. It was made up really nice.
"So, Tyler is it? Tell me about yourself, Tyler."
"Hm, well, my favorite color's purple. I LOVE One Direction. I like cities, but I still grew up in a small town. Now tell me about you."
"Ok. I'm DEFINITELY not a morning person, and my favorite color is dark red. I love cities also. I think I mostly love the tall buildings and all the excitement. My favorite band is probably Guns n Roses, or maybe Queen. Now tell me, what happened between you and Mark?"
Tyler thought about this for a minute. Margie was a city person, so she'd probably be more accepting than those assholes in his hometown. But were he and Mark really a couple? "He's my boyfriend, I guess."
"I figured, but I didn't want to assume. That's cute." Margie smiled. She packed a bunch of blankets down into a little cube and shoved it in a duffle bag. "I hope I didn't overpack." She shoved a few picture frames in the bag too, and some clothes and jackets. "Ready. Let's go."
Tyler grabbed his nail board and they left the apartment. "I'm nervous. The city seems dangerous right now."
"Put on your tough 'don't give me any bullshit' face and walk tall and proud with your shoulders back. I have pepper spray, too. We're good."
When Marge and Tyler got back to the truck, Shantae looked horrified. "Who the fuck is this and where are Mark and Bill?!"
Tyler explained everything. When he was done, Marge showed them everything she had brought. The girls were thankful.
Then, the survivor they had picked up earlier came around the side of the truck. "Margie!"
"Andrew?! Is that you?! I thought you left yesterday!"
"No, the survivors took me and held me hostage for a day or two."
Back in the city, Mark and Bill walked up to a slum of tin shelters.
"We want blankets. And food, and clothes." Bill said. He hit his palm with the board to show he meant business. A survivor lunged. Thinking quickly, Bill smacked him with the board. The scrawny man fell to the ground and shuddered a little before becoming still. "Sick bastard. All right!" He shouted. "Who's next?"
A survivor lunged at Mark and he swatted it away, just like Bill had done. "We'll kill all of you. Don't tempt us."
After killing a few more survivors, Mark and Bill took what they needed and went back to the truck. "All in a day's work, huh?" Bill said to Mark.
"Yeah, I guess." Mark felt no remorse. It scared him.