Chapter 1 The Burden

At the break of dawn, the warm sun basked it's rays over the small town. But it could not be a more bleak morning. The smell of rotting corpses blew in the wind. Though these corpses were not dead, they were alive, and walking. A small group of children, the eldest, no older than thirteen were living their worst nightmares. They stick together, they keep one another alive. This is their story.

Michael crawled halfway out of the small hole he had dug. He held a bayonet in one hand, in the other, a twenty-two Sig Sauer. He surveyed the landscape, taking a long, careful look over the hilly terrain. He spotted a few infected people shuffling around aimlessly in the town below. Michael was looking for a man who was calling himself The Shadow. Creeping all the way out of his makeshift cover he slowly decended down the hill, gun ready. The Shadow was known for killing innocent survivors. If he could find this murderous psychopath, he could kill him and have his treasury of supplies. He would be set for years. As Michael approached the town the stench of rotting flesh became nearly unbearable but, he had to do this, he was going to find The Shadow and kill him.

He crept along the wall of a destroyed shed. The broken and mangled bodies of those killed some time earlier lay amidst. He could hear something, something pleasant. Music, the sound of classical music drifted through the wall of a house. Finally! He had found this masked bandit! He crawled up to the house, mearly two or three yards away now. He peered into the window. Someone was sitting, someone shrouded in black. The music continued to play, beautiful symphonies. He checked for loot, but nothing was in sight. "Must all be in the basement," He concluded with a grin. He pushed the window open, barely making a sound. He readied his knife, it seemed easy, too easy.

A light rapping came to the door of Dexter. He wriggled his way from the sheets of his bed. Gently set his feet on the floor. Went to the door, unbolted it. And before him was a small child. Couldn't be older than four. And behind her, his assistant, Gary. Gary looked troubled, like he was unsure of what to do with the small thing. "Um, hey Dex," He said uneasily. "Who is this Gary?" Dex replied, slightly annoyed. The world is crumbling outside, and he doesn't even bother to give this little gremlin the boot! Gary looked away, guilty. "This is, Amanda," Dexter looked at Gary, then back at the girl. "She can't stay, just another mouth to feed," Gary looked straight into his eyes. "How can you say that! She's just a kid!" Gary shouted.

"I don't care how old she is! She can't stay here!" The girl broke down crying. She squeezed her teddy bear as tight as she could, and looked right at Dex. "Why are you so mean, I hate you!" Dexter felt a bit guilty. It was wrong of him to say such harsh things in front of her. Gary told her to go stay with Emily. And came in to Dex's house. "Look, I know you have your doubts, but maybe we can have her do some labor around here," He bargained. Dex felt horrible. "You know what, keep her, Emily and Luca will be happy to have her around,"

Dexter made it a point to have the little kid work all the time. She had to chop wood, help build, learn to hunt and set up camps. Over a year or two she became a hardened survivor, who could easily make it on her own. Dex never really learned about her back story. Since he figured she either wouldn't remember, or would want to keep it to herself, which he could respect. And after a year or two she did start to grow on him. He eased some of her chores and gave her a room to herself, instead of having her sleep with Emily.