November 30, 2014

Race for Safe Haven - Hope (NaNoWriMo update #8)

[Posted by Ted H]

Victory lap!


[Race for Safe Haven - Hope]

            Neither man said anything on the way out of the bar. They hustled to Rhett's car and climbed in, Rhett first tossing a backpack full of cash into the back and carefully placing a couple bags packed with liquor into the backseat. "How far is your house?" Rhett asked as he settled into the drivers seat. "About a ten minute drive from here," Chris said "You don't have to do this. It's out of your way, I can probably make my way home on foot and be alright."
            "Not open for discussion," Rhett said as he fired up the engine. Looking out towards the streets, both me noticed a growing number of the dead walking about. "It's getting worse out there?" Chris said. "Must've been real bad in the city," Rhett responded "Now they're trickling out."
            "Are you sure you want to-" Chris began but Rhett cut him off. "What did I just tell you?" The trip through the streets was looking to be perilous to anyone on foot. Rhett could barely drive down a street now without drawing the attention of an infected. "Man, this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better," Rhett said. Chris nodded. "If there was a time to get out of town, now would be it."
            "And go where?" Rhett asked.
            "That's the million dollar question. This next left," Chris said while pointing "Big building on the end of the street."
            Rhett drove up to an apartment complex with people milling about outside. Most of them readied weapons when they saw Rhett and Chris exit the car and walk over. "Not dead yet," Rhett said as he kept his hand on the pistol in his belt. Chris walked behind him, using the empty shotgun as a crutch. "Who is this guy, Chris?" one of the people asked. "He's cool," Chris said "I got into a car accident and he helped me out."
            The people nearby seemed satisfied with the answer and went back to their business. Most of them were packing cars up to leave in. Others were boarding up the first floor windows. Some were debating with each other over the next action; hunker down and defend their homes or escape to a shelter.
            They took an elevator to the third floor and walked down the hall to Chris's home. "Anna!" he yelled as he opened the door and rushed in. Inside was a blond woman pointing a handgun. Chris stopped at the sight of the woman. "That's not Anna?" Rhett asked as he pointed his own handgun.
            "Beth, what are you doing here?" Chris asked.
            "Who's this asshole?" Beth asked, gesturing to Rhett with her gun.
            "Where is Anna?" Chris asked, not concerned with introductions.
            "Chris?" a woman called from the back. Out ran a brunette with a pale look on her face. Chris ran to her. After a hug and kiss, Chris asked "Where's Marie?" Anna took Chris by the hand and led him into the back where his daughter was, leaving Beth and Rhett alone.
            "So..." Rhett said aloud, noting Beth still had her gun at the ready.
            "Why is he limping?" Beth asked.
            Rhett thought about it a moment, but decided that nothing good could come from lying about it. "He's bitten," he said "Probably infected. He's already started a fever."
            Beth said nothing and sighed. "He's never been good at taking bad news."
            "Well, he's had a chance to process it," Rhett said "It's only a matter of-"
            "His daughters infected," Beth said.
            "One of those things got in?"
            "No. She was up all last night puking and spiking a fever. Anna couldn't call him because he shuts his phone off at work. Usually forgets to turn it back on until he gets home. I didn't find out myself until I got here this morning."
            "Shit," Rhett said, wondering if bringing Chris home to  this was worth it.
            "Everyone's getting eaten alive out there," Beth said "We forget the infection spread long before things went south like this. How did he get bit?"
            "I wasn't there. I arrived after the fact. All he wanted was to go home for his wife and kid."
            "When my sister told me he hadn't come home yet, we feared the worst."
            "Too bad about the kid though."
            "It's not too late."
            Before Rhett could say anything, Chris emerged from the back. His shoulders sagged and he looked even more hopeless than before. "Pack your shit," Beth said "We're going to Albany."
            "There's got to be a closer shelter than that," Chris protested "We can't take Marie on that kind of trip, not the way she's feeling."
            "We're not going to a shelter," Beth said "My ex-husband called and told me to get to Albany. Something big is happening there, apart from the shelters. When I told him about Marie, he said to get there as soon as possible."
            Gunshots sounding outside caught Rhett's attention. Chris and Beth talked about Albany as Rhett went to the window to try and see what was going outside. He could hear shouting and another gunshot, but nothing else. A minivan speeding away crossed his view, but the commotion has ceased.
            "I'll go pull my car around," Beth said as she went into the kitchen to grab a box of supplies. "You can't go alone," Chris protested "Not after all the shooting outside. Those things must be here." Rhett waved him off. "I'll make sure she's fine," he said "Just stay with your family." Chris nodded as Beth walked through for the door. "Don't make me come back up here for you," she said and left.
            People outside were in a frenzy when Rhett and Beth exited. Several people were lugging a corpse into a pile of other corpses. "They're coming!" someone said to them as he ran by. "I parked in the back, come one," Beth said as they walked. Some people with guns were on high alert as they stood by others making hasty finishing touches on the first floor window barricades.
            "So what's the deal with your husband?" Rhett asked as they made their way for the parking lot.
            "EX," Beth said "We separated a year ago."
            "Not what I meant,"
            "He told me taking the infected to a shelter isn't the way to go. I don't know specifics, but I trust him."
            "And what does he know? How does he know anything?"
            "He works in the Governor's office. He's privy to certain information."
            "There a cure? Does he know how to get one? You said it wasn't too late for the girl."
            "I don't know. He just said make sure Marie gets to Albany before she gets any worse. If that's the best chance she has, then that's my play.
            They reached Beth's sedan just as another round of shooting and yelling began. "Once they get their shit loaded, there's only going to be so much room," Beth said as they climbed in "I don't see a reason why you should join the road trip."
            "I just wanted to make sure Chris got home," Rhett said "The little trip I had in mind when I left home today has become quite the ordeal."
            "Tell me about it," Beth said as Rhett began to cough, each one causing more and more pain in his head. He could feel his nose start to clog. "You alright?" Beth asked. "I'll be fine," Rhett said as Beth drove up to the front of the building. Rhett got out and watched as Chris and his family exited and headed for him.
            The sound of gunshots grew closer and more numerous as Rhett could begin to hear moaning. Anna climbed into the back and held Marie wrapped in a towel as Chris awkwardly loaded bags into the back seat. Afterwards he stood by the passenger door and looked to Rhett. "Maybe you should follow," Chris said "In your car. I know you have supplies."
            "Nah," Rhett said as he peeked Beth impatiently waiting "You guys are fine. I'll figure something out for myself."
            "Listen," Chris said as he leaned on the shotgun "You still have those shells?"
            "Still need just one?"
            Chris smiled as he looked away "No. Maybe I can use all of them."
            "You were so sure you were already dead," Rhett said as he dug out every shell from his pocket and handed them over "What makes Marie's fate different?"
            "It's not different," Chris said as he loaded the shotgun "But if there's a chance she can make it, then I'm willing to give her the chance I didn't want for myself."
            "It might be hopeless," Rhett said "The way the world is right now?"
            "Hope is all we have," Chris said as he closed the shotgun and placed it into Beth's car "You helped me realize that, even if it wasn't your intent.
            "I just wanted you to be able to say goodbye to your family."
            "And I found out I can't. Not while they still need me."
            Rhett smiled. "Take care, Chris," he said as he offered his hand. Chris smiled back as he shook hands. "You're still an asshole," he said "But maybe a better person than I first thought."
            With that, Chris climbed into the car and shut the door. Beth started to drive, but quickly stopped and rolled down Chris's window. "Hey!" she called to Rhett "If you change your mind or just happen to end up near Albany, look for Luke Harris."
            "Who the hell is that?" Rhett called.
            "My husband."
            "You mean Ex?"
            Beth smiled and winked as she started to drive away. Rhett saw them off then made his way for his car. Most of the people staying at the complex were inside now. The increased moaning and the decreased gunfire meant this area was about to be swarmed. Rhett jumped into his car and immediately drove off.

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