A/N: Here's the next chapter. I wasn't going to upload it until later, but meh, what the hell. It's kind of slow at first but there will be action and whatnot to come :) I promise it will get more interesting, hehe. I would love any feedback :D

Song listening to: Rescue Me (How the Story Ends) by Kerrie Roberts

Chapter length: 2994


Chapter Two: Fellow Survivor

Dark. Quiet.

The streets were empty save for the abandoned cars lined along the sides, parked for a short while only to be forgotten in the long run. The dismal sky spat out trickles of rain, stirring old, muddy puddles pooling on the corners. Thunder clapped overhead – once, twice, then died away. Silence surrounded the streets, save for the quiet patter of rain pelting down from the sky.

Alec McDermott walked alone down the streets. His footfalls were silent save for when his boots splashed through water. In his hand, he held tight to his pistol, a gun he'd managed to confiscate off the body of a fallen man a few days ago. Guns were not his forte, but he did like the way his finger curled around the trigger. It was a lot more effective than a knife.

Damp brown bangs clung to his forehead, poking at his eyes. Angrily, he blinked away the little drips of water and slowed his pace. A shiver tore through him and the hair on his neck stood on end. He'd grown to trust that feeling over the years.

So he stopped and spun around, narrowing dark hazel eyes at the road behind him. Every appeared as it had when he first walked through it, but he couldn't shake the feeling he was being watched. He tightened his grip on the gun and brought it up slightly, just in case he had to use it in the next few seconds. But everything remained silent.

Alright, Alec – getting paranoid. Nothing's there.

After a minute, he sighed and lowered his gun, turning back in the direction he'd been walking. A cool breeze swirled around him, and he bit his lip to keep from shivering. Soaked with rain, and with the wind on the rise, he knew he'd have to find shelter soon. The sky was already darkening, and it was dangerous to be out at night.

He turned off the street he was walking on, splashing through small puddles. Thunder clapped overhead and he ducked through the entryway of an old, abandoned house. The front door was gone, but he assumed the splintered fragments of wood were once the door, but now they coated the ground and crunched under his feet as he stepped over it.

The house was dark and quiet, but at least it was warm and dry. He eyed the door momentarily but didn't see anywhere better to stay through here. All that was through here was abandoned stores and buildings, most of which were too boarded up for him to break in, short of shooting through it, and he'd learned to not use his gun unless absolutely necessary, unless he planned on getting the hell out of there in the next few minutes.

So far, it was relatively quiet in this town. He hadn't seen anything – friend or foe. No humans, and no mutations. Ever since M-Day eight years ago, he saw something usually every day, but for the past few days, it had been rather quiet. He wasn't sure if that was a relief or just unsettling.

He found the bathroom and shut the door, relieved it had a lock and still seemed in relatively good shape. Unfortunately there wasn't anything to prop against the door to keep it shut, so he'd have to rely on the lock for now. Hopefully, if something got close enough to actually break down the door, he'd be awake and alert enough, and close enough, to shoot in the face.

He sat down on the edge of the bathtub. It hadn't been used in a long time. Dust lined the edges, just as it did pretty much every inch of this room, and the house save for in front of the open doorway. Rain and wind cleaned that up.

How long had it been since anyone was here? He didn't know. He didn't really care to know. He didn't care why they left, either. All he knew as it was a place to stay for a bit, and that was all he needed.

He used to enjoy things about houses. It reminded him of his younger years, when everything was good and safe. But that changed after Silas' death six years ago. After he killed his friend, he didn't look at houses the same ever since. Houses were not homes. Nothing was. Nowhere was home anymore, just stops on the way, and he had no idea where he was going. For years now, he'd simply been wandering. He had nowhere to go, and no one to miss him or guide him, because there was no one left.

He'd come across other people before, but hadn't seen another human for about a month now. It was a little unusual, but then, their numbers were dwindling rapidly. Too many had died already, and more kept dying every day, so maybe it wasn't a shock he hadn't seen a human in a while. Maybe there just weren't any left.

He wasn't sure how he felt about that. He never got along with the other humans. He preferred to be alone – it was just easier that way. Other humans were either corrupt and only wanted your supplies, or they wanted you to join their 'group' or something like that.

Various groups emerged the past few years. People trying to survive, banding together, using the strength of the many to win the battle, but it was a lost cause. Alec knew that. It was why he never joined. Plus, he wouldn't be a very good addition. All he could do was use his knife. He wasn't very proficient with guns, though he was learning, but his aim was still pretty off unless he was close to his target.

Thunder roared overhead, rumbling through the walls and into the porcelain tub which he sat on. He sighed and settled in the bathtub, resting atop the dust as he got as comfortable as he could in such a position, feet slung over the side of the tub, shoes pointing toward the door, which he kept an eye on with his head atop the other side of the tub, where the tub met the wall. He put the gun on his stomach and looked up at the ceiling, sighing.

What's the world come to? How did it get like this?

Everything seemed okay at first – like it would pass. But eight years later, Alec was starting to think it would never be okay again. It was already too late for his family, and too late for his friends. How could things be okay without them?

He shook the thoughts from his head. Thinking about it never did him any good. Right now, he just wanted to sleep. He hadn't slept for the past two days, unable to find a place good enough to actually rest for a while, but this seemed good enough. The town was quiet, it was storming outside, and he was locked in a dusty bathroom in an abandoned home.

Slowly, he allowed his eyelids to close as thunder clapped overhead once more.


Alec's eyes snapped open and he sat up before he was even fully conscious. All thoughts of sleep forgotten, he barely had time to rub the sleep from his eyes before he was on his feet, gun in hand. At his belt was his precious knife, a blade he'd practically grown up with in this chaotic new world, ever since he was fifteen. He was very adept at using it, but he had to admit guns were nice because he didn't have to get close to the mutations.


The sound came again, something heavy shifting old floorboards, moving closer. Alec felt a chill race down his spine but he forced himself to stay calm, sucking in air slowly and quietly. Loud breaths could be his downfall. Both neutrohales and zephroes had excellent hearing.

They could probably already smell him, though.

Shit. I'm screwed. So fucked.

If there was only one, he had a chance at survival, but these things liked to hunt in packs, neutrohales especially. Zephroes could be loners or pack members, and it might not have even been hunting, but seeking shelter from the rain.

Maybe it's another human, and not a threat.

He quickly dismissed that thought. Even if it was a human, that didn't mean they weren't a threat. The world changed people. Where once everyone banded together to fight against this threat, now they killed first and asked questions later. If you didn't join their group, you meant nothing to them. If you stumbled across their group and didn't join them, they were likely to kill you for fear that you knew too much. It was just how it was these days. Humans did not mean safety.

Quietly, Alec edged toward the door. Something moved just outside of it, and a low snarl echoed through the old, dusty walls. His breath caught in his throat as he allowed his hand to hover over the lock, ready to throw the door open and run if need be, or throw it open and shoot, but both of those options seemed unlikely to end in anything other than his death.

If there's just one…I'll be okay.

He could handle one, if he was careful. If he was lucky, he might even be able to handle two, if they weren't close together, too far apart to help each other. But he would not, could not, handle three – of either mutation.

Zephroes were fast and agile, and their claws were lethal, as their bite was poison. Neutrohales were larger and less agile, but what they lacked in agility, they made up for in strength. Their skin was amazingly thick. Knives were pretty much useless against them, which was part of the reason Alec finally gave in and started wielding a gun. He wasn't sure which mutation was worse, but even though it was the zephroes that cost him everything – his family, his friends, and Silas – he would rather face it than a neutrohale, any day.

The growl came again. It practically rumbled through the door, and he took a tentative step back. If it was going to break in, he was going to shoot in the damn face. He wasn't anything's meal. He'd come too far to let it end like this, had suffered too damn much to die in a dusty bathroom.

Claws raked against the door. The sharp razors presented themselves as they sliced easily through the wood, dark and stained with dried blood and dirt. Alec took another step back, holding his gun at the ready, biting down on his tongue to keep from even breathing, because he had to do this right. He couldn't miss.

A misshapen face snarled at him as the wood gave way and splintered inward. The limber body of a zephro stood in the opening, back heaving as it growled at him, dark gray eyes narrowed and focused on him. The skin, like that of a badly charred human – dark, ashen, and bleeding in some spots – bent over flexed muscles as the mutation charged forward.

Jaws unhinged and split open to devour him whole if need be, showing the razor-sharp fangs which dripped with their diseased saliva.

Alec closed his eyes and fired. He didn't feel any pain, so he opened his eyes and watched as the zephro staggered back, missing the lower half of its jaw. With a yowl, it bolted from the room and disappeared from view, creaking the floorboards in its wake.

He stared at where the mutation stood just seconds ago, and felt a quiet laugh break free of his throat, breaths shaky as he hunched forward, hands on his knees, and breathed for all he was worth. He did it. He shot it in the face and it took off, and he was alive!

He swiped a hand over his sweaty forehead and grabbed his supplies, which was an old backpack which he'd found a few years ago next to some dead guy. The guy obviously didn't need it anymore, and it came in handy, not that he liked stealing from dead people.

He walked out of the bathroom, knowing he couldn't stay here. It wasn't safe. That zephro would be back – he knew he hadn't killed it. It would have a hell of a time eating without the lower half of its jaw, but it would get the job done somehow.

He took three steps down the hallway when he felt the hair on his neck stand up. A huff of breath brushed across the back of his neck and he froze, a lump in his throat. The snarl which emerged from the throat of the mutation behind him left him closing his eyes, because he knew it was over.

This was it.

He fucked up, and it was over.

I'm going to die here.

He practically felt the jaws gape open and zoom in on him, but the pain never came. Instead, there was the crack! of a gun firing, and something hot and wet sprayed his back. He jumped forward and spun around, watching as the zephro collapsed, a hole evident through its head. Severing its ability to think was one of the fastest ways to kill the assholes – either that or wound them enough they bled out, but that was pretty hard.

For a moment, all Alec could do was stare at the dead body on the ground, before he managed to tear his gaze away and focus on the figure standing in the shadows. With a growl, he brought his gun up.

"Show yourself," he snapped. "Slowly."

"Jeez, is that the thanks I get for saving your sorry ass?" came a voice, and Alec would be lying if he said he didn't relax a little, because, fuck, it was human.

A man emerged from the shadows, around Alec's age. The guy's arms dropped and he held the AK-47 at his side, in a casual but deft grip. If that shot was anything to go by, he knew how to handle a weapon, and Alec wasn't going to dare to underestimate him in that regard. Other than that, he appeared pretty normal – weak, even. He wasn't very tall, about three inches shorter than Alec who stood at about 5'9" last he managed to check. The guy was very lean. He wore baggy clothes, pants held up by a bloodied belt with a scraped, rusted buckle. Alec figured he got it, and the clothes, off a dead body, which would explain the blood and why the clothes didn't fit.

Sharp green eyes watched Alec, peering out of a pale face and a veil of dark, strawberry blonde bangs. It almost looked pink, but was too dark for that, and Alec knew it was his natural hair color because there was no such thing as dyeing one's hair these days – that kind of stuff no longer existed.

For a moment, the two stood staring at each other, before the guy shifted and held out a hand. Alec stared at the hand, not lowering his gun.

"Hi," the guy said with a small smile. "I'm Caleb."

Alec narrowed his eyes and finally lowered his gun, but didn't stick his hand out to shake the other guy's.

The guy dropped his hand, frowning. "You know, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the part where you're supposed to say 'oh, hello! My name is Such-and-Such, nice to meet you!'"

Despite himself, Alec felt his lips twitch into a faint smirk, because the guy raised his voice at that last part and fluttered his eyelashes. "I'm not a girl," he felt like saying. "And I'm Alec – not that I owe you anything."

The guy stared at him. "Don't owe me any…? I totally just saved your ass. I think the least I could get is a thank you."

Alec cocked his head to the side. "Thanks. But I had it under control."

"Pfft," the guy, Caleb, said, waving his hand, shaking his head. "Didn't look very 'under control' to me."

"It was fine."

"Not from my perspective, babe."

Alec scowled. "I'm not your 'babe'."

Caleb shrugged. "Whatever. Just admit I saved your ass."

"Thanks for the help," Alec said, tossing him a quick glare. Then he turned on his heel and started walking away.

"Hey – where ya goin'?" Caleb asked, jogging after him. Alec glanced at him. Over his back was slung the AK, hung from a bloody strap.

"Nowhere you're going," Alec replied, turning his focus toward the door as he pushed it open and stepped out of the house. It was a different entrance than the one he'd used to get inside, located through the kitchen off to the side of the house. It opened into a fenced in yard and he scowled, moving toward the fence.

"We could probably help each other," Caleb said, watching as Alec climbed up on the fence, half on one side and half on the other, sitting atop it. He glared down at Caleb.

"I don't need any help."

"Looks like you do, babe."

"Okay – I don't want any help," Alec said. "And stop calling me that."

"I think we should stick together – you know?"

"I think that's a horrible idea. Thanks for the help, but I don't want a traveling buddy. I'm fine on my own. So, bye."

With that, he dropped down on the other side of the fence and started walking.

He didn't need any help. He didn't need anyone. Caleb saved him once – but that was as far as it got. Alec didn't want his help. He'd been fine on his own for the past few years – traveling with someone would only slow him down.

Thankfully, Caleb didn't follow him.

A/N: and there's that chapter :) Hope it sounds okay! Thanks for reading and please review!