For the time being, I’ve made the decision to keep the story going exclusively on Reddit. I still plan to announce and link each chapter here, but would like to spend the extra time copying it over and arranging the chapters on writing other work instead.
We shared the rest of the wicked – restless, light, constantly on edge. There was no way for us to just shut it all out and get the sleep we really needed.
We longed for Annie, for normal days, for the end of war.
There was no doubt we were heading into a war greater than we’d faced before – we were finished just surviving, we were heading to a fight with Harvey and whatever zombies lay between us.
Jay started from his uneasy sleep beside me, and was ready to go immediately. He twitched the curtains aside, then turned back to me, his mouth set in a grim line.
“It’s just getting dark.” He said quietly. “We should make a move.”
Morning came after a long, restless night with little relief from the worries that plagued us. Finally we gave up on the attempts to rest and found ourselves sitting in the dining room, waiting for the others.
“I don’t think they’re going to go for it.” Jay murmured, interrupting the silence.
“Would we? They have to protect Toby.”
“We wouldn’t let anything happen to him!”
The tension in the air felt palpable as I withheld my response from Jay. We both knew what I was thinking – we’d never let anything happen to Annie, either, and look how that had ended up.
By the time we woke, nighttime had settled around us and we fumbled around in the poorly lit room, gathering our gear and heading downstairs to leave.
Nervous energy bounced between us, gnawing at our stomach, leaving us in a hurry to get going and skip any kind of meal. The glow of excitement had worn off a bit, and we were seeing our plan for what it really was – a rough idea, a dream in need of serious work.
We left the house with few words spoken between us, but Jay took my hand and we walked back to the bikes, choosing to push them through the worst of the overgrowth around the house.
We’d gone to sleep throwing ideas back and forth, our excitement growing, dulled only by the exhaustion that beckoned us.
The ideas we exchanged were mostly lost to the night, our words becoming gradually more slurred and the suggestions more fanatical as we struggled to stay awake.
We slept more soundly than I can remember us sleeping since this whole thing started – the deep sleep of people who felt peaceful and craved energy to put a plan in motion the next day.
I woke with a jolt, my movement stirring Jay but not quite waking him.
Unsure how long we’d been asleep, I ran my fingertips along Jay’s arm, quietly murmuring his name. He shifted, muttered in his sleep, but didn’t wake.
“Jay. Wake up. Come on.” I raised my voice to normal levels, anxiety spiking my stomach.
The final showdown we may have wanted didn’t come. The late afternoon set silently around us, the house betraying no other presence beyond the occasional settling creak.
“I guess we’re alone.” Jay said finally, as he stood and stepped over our packs. “I’m going to have a look around.”
He didn’t ask me to go with him, and truthfully, I wanted to be alone. He was rough, angry – and we were both grieving. We had lost Annie all over again, and now we were adrift.