July 19, 2015

Race for Safe Haven - Sick

[Posted by Ted H]

This post is brought to you by: Ted remembering he can schedule posts in advance. In reality, I'm either working an inventory on no sleep, done with the inventory and sleeping...or dead. All 3 are viable options at this point...


[Race for Safe Haven - Sick]

            The trip back west didn't last long before they were driving into a crowd of zombies that were trailing them. Up ahead, Matt was nimbly trying to drive around the dead, darting from one end of the road to another in attempt to keep the zombies off of him. Rhett mean while hung back for a moment, allowing the station wagon to get some distance away from him.
            "Somebody keep score for me," Rhett said as he lit up a new cigarette. "Score for what?" Tara asked as Rhett hit the gas and drove into the closest zombie. "That's one!" Rhett announced as he swerved to sideswipe the next zombie in his path. Instead of trying to avoid the dead, Rhett was trying to hit as many as he could, while cutting down the distance to the station wagon. Tara and Jason were excitedly announcing ascending numbers as Rhett drove all over the place and Steve fumbled his seat belt into position.
            One zombie smacked into Jason's side so hard that it cracked the window, eliciting cheers from everyone in the car. "Ugh," Rhett said, realizing he just damaged his car "That's gonna be a bitch to fix." The final zombie was dead ahead, and Rhett floored the gas pedal and plowed right into it, sending it up and over the car, crashing fatally on its head behind them. A tremendous roar sounded as the car practically shook from all the celebrating.
            The group grew quiet as the trip now became zombie free. Mike eventually found his detour and the group soon found themselves traveling east again. At some point towards the evening, Rhett looked to a road sign the signified the capital was close, but defiantly not reachable before dark as it started to lightly rain. Eventually, in a sparse residential area, Mike stuck his hand out the window as they drove and indicated they were going to pull over just as the rain was beginning to pick up.
            The chosen house was a sizable two story place with a front porch and yellow paint job. There were no cars in the driveway and it didn't look like anyone had made any attempt to barricade themselves inside. There was no driveway, so they parked on the front lawn right in front of the porch. They backed in so they could immediately drive out if need be. Rhett easily parked into position, while Matt struggled to drive the old station wagon through the muddy grass.
            "Is this rain just passing through, or is it going to get worse?" Jason asked as he got out and looked up to the falling rain. "I dunno," Rhett said "I forgot to check the one month apocalypse forecast."  Tara stood in the rain and smiled. Mike checked the street before nodding back to the others. "Let's get inside," he said.
            "I got this," Tara announced as she ran up to the front door with her crowbar. She was about to ram the crowbar into the door when Rhett grabbed her arm and stopped her. He reached with his other hand and tried the doorknob, opening it easily. "Upstate people," Rhett said with a smile "They don't lock their doors too often." Tara made a face as she lowered the crowbar.
            Mike and Matt moved passed and entered the house, guns drawn. "Rhett, keep an eye out," Mike said as he disappeared inside. Rhett held his shotgun while he leaned against the house and watched the others. Steve and Jason were rummaging through the trunks and pulling out bags to take inside with them. They tossed bags to Laura and Tara nearby. "Rhett, you wanna help?" Laura asked, trying to keep her balance under a pile of bags. Rhett ignored her as he looked to the station wagon.
            Jenny was still in her car. The rain came down harder as everyone else hustled themselves and the bags under the cover of the porch. "Ya know, Jenny might be more comfortable inside," Rhett said as he watched her stir, but not make any motion to leave the station wagon. "I'll get her," Jason said as he walked back into the rain, Rhett and Tara right behind him.
            "Jenny?" Tara asked as Jason opened her door. Jenny had been leaning against it, and made no effort to save herself as she fell out of the car and to the ground. "Oh my God," Tara said as she and Jason tried helping her up. Rhett looked at her as she was raised. She was pale and her eyes had a distant look in them. After moving a few feel, she stopped and dropped herself to the ground so she could vomit up what little contents her stomach contained.
            "What's wrong with her?" Laura called out from the porch "Is she sick?" Jenny tried to catch her breath and almost fell over if not for Tara and Jason. She groaned from pain as she was lifted back up and carried to the porch, Rhett chaperoning the way. "I..." Jenny tried talking, but stopped to dry heave at the steps. Steve stepped towards her and put his hand to her forehead. He then took a big step back from her as a worried look washed over his face.
            "What's going on?" Mike asked as he stepped out from the house. Steve turned to look at him and shook his head. "Jenny..." he started as he turned to look at her, more to try to convince himself he was wrong with what he was about to say "She's infected."
            "What?" Mike said in disbelief.
            "She wasn't bitten by anyone," Laura said.
            "Are you sure?" Mike asked.
            "I've seen this before," Steve said "She's got the virus."
            Everyone grew silent as Jenny tried to look up around her. Jason and Tara still had her in their arms, but Jason grew nervous and was looking for an out. "House is clear," Matt said as he stepped outside. He looked about at everyone quizzically based on the tense mood. Looking to every face and finally on the scene of Jenny told him everything he needed to know.
            "Inside," Mike said, motioning everyone to go. Tara and Jason led the way with Jenny and everyone followed next. They found a living room immediately and placed her down on a couch. "I need a shower or something," Jason said, suddenly feeling uncomfortable in his own skin after having so much close proximity with Jenny. "Me first," Laura said "I sat next to her all damn day."
            "Guys," Mike said, watching Jenny lie uncomfortably on the couch "Do not do that here." Laura and Jason began making their way for the stairs, still arguing over who would get to shower first. "Matt, can you stay here with Jenny?" he asked "Everyone else, we need to talk." Mike led Steve, Tara and Rhett into the kitchen on the other side of the house. Mike turned to face everyone and leaned on a counter while the other three stood in a semicircle around him.
            "When did she get bit?" Mike asked.
            "She wasn't," Tara said.
            "Obviously, she was. Was it in the club?"
            "I think Eric would have done something about her then," Rhett said.
            "Maybe he didn't know," Mike quickly said "Maybe she hid it."
            "She wouldn't hide it," Tara said "Not from me."
            "What about when the three of you went off alone yesterday?" Mike asked to Rhett and Tara.
            "We didn't run into anything," Rhett said.
            "Are you sure?" Mike asked, annoying Rhett.
            "Unless she picked up a dead zombies head and forced it to bite her, then yes, I'm sure we didn't run into any problems yesterday," Rhett said "You wanna check her for bites? Otherwise stop saying this is anyone's fault."
            "Then how else did she get sick?" Mike asked.
            "She's infected because she just got infected, Mike," Steve butted in "This thing spread so fast, long before the dead were rising. Bites aren't the only way this thing spreads."
            "All the dead are carriers," Tara said "We could all be infected and just not showing the symptoms."
            "That's comforting," Rhett said as he wandered away.
            "Then how come she's so sick while the rest of us are fine?" Mike asked.
            "She's not eating," Tara said "None of us are eating all that well, but she's only eating things we scavenge. She's weak and she got infected easily for it."
            "Half the group could be infected now," Mike said as he looked down and slacked his shoulders.
            "No way," Rhett said "I was with an infected guy for a long while early on, and I'm still healthy."
            "Were you in a car with him in close proximity?"
            "All day?"
            "Long enough."
            "We need to isolate her," Mike said to himself as he walked away "Clear out one of these back rooms for her to sleep in."
            "And then what?" Rhett asked "We're not equipped to deal with this. We have no medical supplies or any idea of how to fight this."
            "Keep her hydrated," Steve said "We can search this house for things like antibiotics. It won't save her, but it'll buy time."
            "Time for what?" Tara asked.
            "I dunno!" Steve said with his hands raised "Get her to Albany or Safe Haven. Maybe there's a cure, maybe there isn't. We have to do something though!"
            "Then we keep going now," Mike announced "Let's get back to the cars and keep driving. If we don't hit anymore obstacles, we'll be to the capital by dawn."
            "Matt and Rhett can't do any more driving," Tara argued "And you need to read the maps."
            "Someone else drives then."
            "Everyone's exhausted."
            "From what? Sitting on your ass all day?"
            "Mike, we've been on a frantic run through the state for the last week! We can't just keep doing this. Jenny's sick because this whole trip has taken a toll on her ability to fight off the virus. We keep this up, we'll all end up infected."
            "Albany is right there!" Mike yelled, motioning as if it were around the next corner "We get there and it's over!"
            "And what if it's dead?" Matt said as he entered the kitchen "What if we get there and it's no better than literally every place we've been to? Will we finally take a rest then or will you immediately start us on a sprint for the next "safe" location?"
            "What do you want from me?" Mike asked with raised arms "Jenny is dying! Sitting around isn't going to save her."
            "Getting her somewhere quiet and soft isn't going to stop her from dying, but it's worlds better than stuffed into a car," Steve said "Having a bed to sleep in tonight wouldn't hurt the rest of us either."
            Mike sighed and looked at everyone. "Fine," he said "But we leave at the crack of dawn and we don't stop until Albany." He marched through and headed for the front door. "Where are you going?" Tara asked as she followed. "Filling the gas tanks," Mike replied and disappeared out the front door. After Mike closed the door behind him, Tara focused her attention to the nearby couch where her friend was lying on, dying.
            "Hey," she said as she walked over and sat down in front of the couch, facing Jenny "How are you feeling now?" Jenny adjusted her head so she could talk clearly while still keeping her head down. "Better," she said "So long as I don't try to swallow...or move...or breathe."
            "You'll get through this," Tara found herself saying. She was surprised at her own feeble attempt to sound reassuring, but Jenny didn't seem to mind. "I'm going to get you water," she said. "No thanks," Jenny said "It's just going to make me sick."
            "You need something in you," Tara said as she rose "You puked everything up. You're only going to get worse if you don't eat." Either by conceding defeat in the argument, or simply being too weak to fight Tara over it, Jenny said nothing as Tara went to leave. Jenny closed her eyes and groaned softly as a new wave of pain washed over her. Tara rushed to the kitchen, not wanting to hear any of it.

July 12, 2015

Race for Safe Haven - Spot-a-zombie

[Posted by Ted H]

So a store inventory is upcoming. The night before is prep for the grand event, lasting until 11pm....the inventory starts the next morning at 6am. That's 7 hours between events, not counting if the prep goes beyond 11, and not counting any driving to and from home, and also assuming I can fall right to sleep and wake up and go without fail....OR I can go to a strip club and grab a bite at Dennys before going right into the event without sleep.......I think we all know what my choice will be...

So what I'm trying to say is, next weeks update is dubious at best what with the work I'm doing this next weekend...


[Race for Safe Haven - Spot-a-zombie]

            "34," Jason said while looking out his window. "Steve?" Tara called out. "Confirmed," Steve replied. "Fuck," Tara said as he focused on looking out her own window. "Tell me again what the prize is?" Rhett asked. "Winners choice," Tara said. "35," Jason said with a chuckle. "No fucking way," Tara said. "Sorry, Tara. Confirmed," Steve said. "Fuck!" Tara said louder.
            Boredom had overtaken the group in Rhett's car. Tara and Jason had devised a little game of spotting zombies from each side of the road they were facing. The game was simple: you see it, call it and hope your score was higher than the other players score. It had started off smoothly enough, until both sides accused the other of cheating. They were on the verge of blows until Steve mediated.
            Now, every called zombie had to be confirmed by Steve because neither Tara nor Jason wanted to look away from their side to check to see if the zombie call by the other was legitimate. Scores were reset of course, to much complaining from Tara who had been winning to that point. Jason had now taken a sizable lead.
            "19!" Tara called.
            "I don't see it," Steve said "Sorry."
            "Are you fucking kidding me? It was right there!" Tara protested.
            "Should I turn around and go back for it?" Rhett asked as Jason laughed.
            "No," Tara said "Because then it'll be on Jason's side and he'll get the point."
            "Yeah, Rhett, turn around!" Jason said "Oh, and 36."
            "Fuck you!" Tara yelled "Jason's got a wide open field and I have to pick my zombies out of the woods!"
            "You wouldn't be saying that if you were winning," Jason said.
            "There! 19!" Tara called, ignoring Jason's point."
            "Confirmed," Steve said dejectedly, apparently looking forward to rejecting Tara's attempt at a point.
            "I'll come back, just you wait! See? Two more! 20 and 21!"
            "No way," Jason said.
            "Mmm," Steve mumbled as he looked to where Tara pointed "I'll give you one on that. I'm pretty sure the other was a tree."
            "Fuck you, a tree? Seriously?" Tara protested "I think you're cheating for him."
            "Don't start this again," Jason complained.
            "There is no way I should be losing all of a sudden!"
            "Calm down, Jesus," Rhett yelled.
            "37!" Jason yelled.
            "Rhett, you need to confirm for me from now on," Tara said.
            "Rhett's driving," Steve reasoned.
            "I can do both," Rhett said.
            "21," Tara yelled, Desperation setting in "I'll punch your head if you reject that."
            "Um..." Steve said as he looked "Yeah, I'll give you that."
            "Don't let her threaten you," Jason said "Call 'em as you see 'em."
            "No, it was there," Steve decided.
            "Fuck yeah," Tara said, celebrating the fact that she wasn't losing as bad as she was a few seconds ago.
            "You're getting a little intense there, Tara," Rhett said with a smile.
            "I am not losing this game," Tara said, more to pump herself up rather than talking to Rhett. "23, 24, 25!" she yelled, almost jumping out of her seat as she pounded at the window. "No way," Jason said. "Wow," Steve said "No, she's right."
            "I'm catching you, mother fucker!" Tara declared.
            "You're still a dozen behind me," Jason said, relaxing in his seat "You'll never catch up."
            "26!" Tara called before kicking Steve's seat as she yelled "And 2 two more for 28!"
            "No way," Jason said as he actually turned away from his window to look at Steve. "Damn," Steve said "That's a lot of them." Everyone looked out the side to see a numerous amount of zombie crawling and shuffling their way out of the woods and into the street after the cars. Rhett had long driven passed by that time.
            "Look at them all!" Jason exclaimed "There's gotta be a dozen more at least."
            "And they're all mine!" Tara said proudly. "No way," Jason said "You never called any of them. It's still 37-28."
            "No!" Tara yelled "I'm calling them right now then!"
            "Can't call the ones already passed," Steve said as he braced for a round of kicks to the back of his seat. "Fuck. You. Mother. Fucker," Tara shouted, kicking the seat with each pause.
            "I changed my mind," Rhett said "Can we not play this game all the way to Albany?" There was silence for a moment in the car, leading Rhett to believe that everyone actually heeded his request. He was wrong.
            The drive continued with the game unhindered. Eventually the score would change to 43-31, still in Jason's favor when Rhett noticed the station wagon up ahead had slowed down. "Put the game on pause," Rhett said as he drove up to the now stationary vehicle ahead. He pulled up alongside the car and rolled his window down as Mike did the same on his end.
            "What's wrong?" he asked.
            "Bridge up ahead is blocked," Mike said as he held up his binoculars.
            "Really?" Rhett asked as he strained his vision to see up ahead. The bridge up ahead was in view and he saw signs posted near it. He could see something in the way on the bridge, and assumed that was blocking passage."
            "We're going to fuel up then try to backtrack," Mike said as Matt got out of the station wagon. "Here?" Rhett asked as he looked back down the road they had come down. There was nothing coming, but he knew that would change sooner rather than later. "We drew a bit of a crowd back there," Rhett said as Mike exited. "Then we fuel fast and get this done sooner," Mike said "How's your gas tank?"
            Rhett checked his gauge. "Half a tank," he said "I'm good for now."
            "No reason to wait," Mike said.
            "Ugh," Rhett said as he switched off his engine and climbed out with the others. "Good to at least stretch your legs," Steve said as he reached out as far as his arms could managed and stretched. "Whatever," Rhett said as he went over and opened his trunk to retrieve a gas can. Mike was looking back while smoking a cigarette and peering with his binoculars.
            "See them coming yet?" Rhett asked as Mike shook his head. "They'll never catch us," he said as he dropped his binoculars, letting them fall harmlessly against his chest tethered to the strap around his neck. Rhett lit up his own cigarette as he pointed to the bridge. "Anything coming from that side?" he asked. Mike shook his head again. "Dead," he said "And even if there were things on there, we're too far back to notice or even reach by time we gas up. Relax."
            "Not the world's most fuel efficient vehicle, is it?" Matt asked as Mike walked by. Rhett went to fill his own gas tank while Tara walked over and grabbed the cigarette out of his mouth. "That's dangerous," she said with a smile as she put it in her mouth and walked away to the station wagon. "Is Jenny okay?" she asked as she looked inside to see the woman crumpled up in the seat. "She's sleeping," Laura said "She's been in a mood all morning."
            "Jenny?" Jason said as he looked at her through the window. She finally peeked her head through the towel and looked out. "You wanna come out for a minute?" he asked, Jenny shook her head. He ran back to Rhett's car and retrieved his bag. He came back with an aspirin and a bottle of water. He opened the other side door and climbed in next to Jenny.
            "He's so sweet sometimes," Tara said as Rhett walked over and plucked his cigarette back from her mouth. "My heart is melting," Rhett said as he looked over to Mike. "I'm full, are we ready?" he asked. Mike shrugged and motioned to Matt, still filling the station wagon. Rhett walked over to see Matt looking up while he filled.
            "What are you looking at?" he asked.
            "I'm looking for helicopters," Matt said.
            "Okay," Rhett said slowly "...Why?"
            "Not just those. Anything in the air really." The gas tank overfilled and started to spill gas along the side of the car. Matt withdrew, but kept looking up as he worked. Rhett looked at him, looked towards Mike with his binoculars, then to Jenny in the car and finally Laura nearby, munching on a bag of junk food she took from the gas station.
            "Do you guys have drugs or something in there I don't know about?" Rhett asked "Because that's just rude not to share." Matt finally looked back at Rhett and shook his head. "I'm not sure Albany is the best course of action anymore," he said. "What makes you think that?" Rhett asked. Matt looked over to Mike to make sure he wasn't looking.
            "I just think that of we're trying to get to Safe Haven, we should just go," Matt said "We should stop wasting time with the pursuit of an out we don't have."
            "What's to say Safe Haven is any different?" Rhett asked.
            "That's an uncomfortable thought," Matt said.
            "Still a possibility."
            "It just seems a place like that, hyped the way it's been, it's just too big to fail."
            "Let's go!" Mike called "I need a change of scenery. Rhett and Matt returned to their respective cars and the group was on the road again. Mike had apparently found a point a ways back to turn and get around the bridge issue. All Rhett knew was it was going to cost them time.
            "How's Jenny?" Rhett asked Jason, who was sitting contently in the back. Jason shrugged. "Okay I guess," he said "She isn't feeling well, I think it's her diet. None of us have been eating all that well." Tara huffed. "Maybe if she was willing to eat real food from abandoned houses, she'd feel better," she said. Steve and Jason laughed. "I don't get it," Rhett said "What's so funny?"
            "You missed it," Steve said.
            "Shut up," Tara said.
            "Tara conceded defeat," Jason said "No way she was going to catch up to me."
            "So?" Rhett asked.
            "I got to name my prize."
            "What did you request?"
            Steve laughed again as Tara folded her arms with an annoyed look. "She flashed us," Jason said with a sly grin.
            "Us?" Rhett asked "What us? You and Steve? What the hell? Where was I?"
            "You were with Mike or Matt," Jason said.
            "I have an adult conversation," Rhett complained "And I miss out on tits for it?"
            "Fuck you both," Tara said as she kicked Steve's seat.
            "You didn't actually have to agree to it," Rhett said.
            "I have no problem with it," Tara said "It's just that I found out afterwards that these two fuck nuggets were in cahoots."
            "Seriously?" Rhett asked "You've compromised the integrity of spot-a-zombie. The game is forever tarnished."
             "Like I said before," Steve said "Borrowed time. I gotta make the most of it."
            "Oh shut up," Tara said "You and your fat pessimism."
            "Yeah Steve," Jason "You're gonna be around forever."
            "Nah, we're all dead," Steve said "Doesn't mean we can't enjoy the trip."

July 5, 2015

Race for Safe Haven - Road Trip

[Posted by Ted H]

I have vacation time I should be using...


[Race for Safe Haven - Road Trip]

            The next morning the journey to Albany was underway. Matt drove the station wagon in front with Mike and his map in the passenger seat while Jenny and Laura sat in back. Trailing was Rhett driving his car with Steve, Tara and Jason. "How long are these back roads suppose to take us to navigate?" Rhett asked. "Well, it depends," Steve said next to him "I-90 is not an option. Most state routes are clogged. Mike assumed it'll take us about 12 hours if we never have to backtrack."
            "Figures," Rhett said "I couldn't get on to a highway to save my life before. Why is that?"
            "The same reasons why all the non-major cities are ghost towns," Steve said "If it's the end of the world and you need to get to a shelter, everyone is gonna take the easiest route there."
            "A lot of good it did them, and us now."
            "Yeah. And people started abandoning their cars once they grew tired of waiting, making it impossible for the congestion to clear up. From there chaos was easy when zombies started making their way through."
            "That's crazy," Jason said "I heard all the traffic had made it nearly impossible for the National Guard to move in and help, which is ironic."
            "What's ironic?" Tara asked.
            "Well highways and interstate roadways were designed to give people like the national guard easy ways to travel between states."
            "That, can't be accurate," Rhett said.
            "Who taught you that?" Tara asked.
            "My history teacher in 12th grade. Well, not so much as taught it as he mentioned it in a lesson."
            "And you were going to college?" Steve said.
            "You guys don't know what you're talking about," Jason said.
            "It wasn't set up just for the sake of the military!" Steve exclaimed.
            "So Rhett, you from around here?" Jason asked after some awkward silence, changing the subject.
            "Yeah. Something like that," Rhett responded.
            "Did you know Laura? She's from around here as well."
            "Uh, no. Safe to say she did not get to grace my life until recently."
            "Must suck to see your hometown like this though."
            "Yeah, well, I always wanted to take a road trip."
            "That's a positive way to look at it."
            "Where you from, Jason?"
            "Ithaca. Lived my whole life there. Even thought about applying to the college."
            "Christ, how old are you?"
            "I'm seventeen. I turn eighteen in a few months."
            "Fuck. I had you pegged for a malnourished adult. Didn't think you were still a kid."
            "Hah, yeah."
            "Jason's the little baby of the group," Tara said while mockingly going to pinch his cheek.
            "How old are you, Rhett?" Jason asked.
            "27. "
            "Wow. I had you much younger than that."
            "I'll grow a beard so I'll look older to you."
            "You're not quite grandpa status yet, old man," Tara said "Mike's middle aged. Though, we might have to consider that an old man age now. Not like many 70 year olds are able to survive nowadays."
            "That would put Rhett at middle age then, right?" Jason said "Anything over 30 is now a retirement age."
            "Hey," Steve said as he turned around and pointed at Jason. After everyone looked at him for a moment, he slowly lowered his finger. "31," he said and turned back around.
            "Wow," Tara said while laughing "Sorry, Steve."
            "You know, when I turned 30, I was all depressed about it," Steve said "My dad tried to cheer me up by saying I had another ten years before I should really get depressed. But you know what he said to me after that? He said to keep my head up, because it's not like turning 30 is the end of the world."
            "Turning 30 isn't the end of the world," Jason said "But 31 on the other hand..."

            "Are you okay, Jenny?" Laura ask while Jenny sat in the fetal position in the back with a towel draped over her head. "I'm tired, and my head hurts," Jenny said while peeking out from under her cover. "You want an aspirin?" Laura asked. "Just, quiet," Jenny said. "Leave her alone," Mike said from the front. "I'll try to avoid the potholes," Matt said, trying to sound reassuring.
            Mike checked his map and nodded at the notion that Matt didn't need to turn for quite a few miles. He relaxed in his seat and went in his pockets for his pack of cigarettes. "Essential supplies only, eh?" Matt said as Mike lit up and took a drag. "I can't find a decent cup of coffee anymore, so I refuse to kick this habit," Mike said as he cracked his window and blew out.
            "I saw you look at Rhett's cigarettes when we pulled him into that bar," Matt said "We were checking him for weapons after we cuffed him. You took a long look at those smokes he had." Mike smiled. "I'll take a man's guns, I'll handcuff him to a radiator without a second thought, but I'll never steal his cigarettes," Mike said as he happily took another drag "I came close, but I won't do it."
            "Good thing you didn't," Laura said "He might've killed you for it."
            "Alright," Mike said, turning back to regard Laura "Enough."
            "What?" Laura asked looking shocked "He's a psycho and we're abandoning him. I wish you found another car so we wouldn't need his."
            "Would you be so ready to leave Eric behind?" Mike asked.
            "Why not? He shot Rhett. He killed Sarah. You're so quick to avenge Eric, don't forget Sarah was with us, too."
            Laura folded her arms and pouted. "Would we be abandoning Eric?" she asked.
            "Yeah," Mike said without hesitation "We'd leave him at the gas station though because he doesn't have a car."
            "Why didn't we just take Rhett's car and leave him?"
            "We weren't going to do that."
            "Why not?"
            "Because he helped us, he helped you!" Mike yelled, surprised that Laura even expected such behavior "And we're not bad people."
            "Some of this group is bad," Laura said as she turned her head and watched the passing scenery.
            "I'm fine with that, as long as the bad people only shoot each other," Mike said as he turned back around and took another drag.
            "Was Sarah bad?" Matt asked while quickly looking over to Mike.
            "No," Mike said "And that's why I find myself being more and more okay with what Rhett did."
            The ride grew silent for a long while after. Mike would break the silence occasionally by dictating directions. Matt would nod, but say nothing. Laura's gaze out the window was unbroken while Jenny remained under her towel, groaning every time Matt hit a bump in the road. Mike would finish three more cigarettes before deciding to try an nap.
            "So how are they getting us to Safe Haven?" Matt asked, pulling Mike to reality before he could get sleep. "What?" Mike asked as shook his head and focused. "You never really talked about it before," Matt said "We get to Albany, but how are we getting all the way to California from there? Who there could possibly help us?"
            "Remnants of the National Guard should still be stationed at the capital," Mike said "Originally they were supposed to be at every major city, but thing just kept getting worse too fast, so they retreated. If they're still around, it would be there."
            "There was no one in Harrisburg though," Matt said.
            "I know," Mike replied "So we try Albany next."
            "And if that's not an option?"
            "Then we try Columbus. We go on a damn tour of the country until we find an outpost that's still viable. But we won't have to because Albany will not be abandoned."
            "So, we make it to Albany. Then what?"
            "Unless the plan changed, we will be flown all the way to Safe Haven by whatever transportation is available. Most likely a helicopter. Personally, I hate flying, but today I won't be picky. The choppers will run a designated path with guarded refueling points. All we'll need to do from there is kick back and enjoy the scenic route."
            "Mike," Matt said with a worried look "I haven't seen any helicopters or anything flying around. Are you sure it's not a waste of time?"
            "It's not a waste of time," Mike snapped "We haven't seen anything because we don't cross the flight path. They're there, they gotta be. Besides, what plan would you suggest? Finding the Guard is the only plan we have."
            "We could have been a third of the way to Safe Haven if we just drove to California ourselves," Matt said.
            "That's not an option."
            "Why not? I don't understand, if this place is so important to get to, then why not just go there? Why bother finding other people to escort us when they themselves can't seem to last long enough for us to reach them?"
            "Because I don't know where Safe Haven is."
            "What?" Matt said, looking to Mike for so long he almost swerved off the road. "Jesus, Matt!" Laura yelled from the back. "How do you not know where Safe Haven is?" Matt asked. "They don't tell you," Mike said "The Guard knows. All I know is where a staging area for the final push is."
            "So why don't we at least head for that staging area? Matt asked.
            "Because it's easier this way!" Mike yelled "This way fewer people die. We head for California now, I can't guarantee any of us will make it. Which path do you think is safer: crossing the country or crossing the state? This is my call, and I'm saying we head to Albany. You can thank me when we're in the air."
            Matt said nothing as he looked ahead to where he was driving. Mike glared out the front and grunted. He wanted a coffee in a bad way and the cigarettes weren't quelling that itch as much as he had hoped. "Shit," Laura said dismissively "I bet the party car is having more fun than we are."