I have vacation time I should be using...
[Race for Safe Haven - Road Trip]
"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."
"Jason's the little baby of the group," Tara said while mockingly going to pinch his cheek.
"How old are you, Rhett?" Jason asked.
"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..."
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."
"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."