The truck came to a sudden halt and the six men inside climbed out, including the driver. They each checked their weapons; standard army issue SA80 assault rifles; before heading off down a path that led into the nearby woodland. Jay led the way with Kas and Ryan just behind him. Ryan felt naked whilst not holding his 7 iron, but it was tucked in his belt. He made sure never to keep it far away.
They were searching for something specific; something that they had pinned down to this particular area. The sun struggled to breach the branches and leaves above their heads. The clement weather had returned after a couple of weeks of rainstorms, but the sun was nowhere near as intense as it had been for those previous couple of months.
The six men stayed quiet and kept their eyes peeled; using only occasional hand signals to communicate. Ryan was a fish out of water being the only one without military experience, but Jay had never made him feel out of his depth. The two had developed a close friendship over the weeks. He was also on great terms with Kas while the rest of the small squadron had made him feel welcome too. He’d quickly gotten the hang of using larger guns than the pistol he’d toted for weeks and was proving fearless in combat. Perhaps too fearless for Jay’s liking sometimes, but he wasn’t about to quell Ryan’s enthusiasm.
Jay held up a hand for everyone to stop. He looked at Kas before pointing to his eyes and then into the trees. Kas nodded and signalled for everyone else to wait where they were. Ryan was keen to find out what Jay had seen, but did as he was instructed.
Three weeks ago after the meeting with Mel
“Will you just stop being so fucking childish and listen to me, Harry,” Georgina said with exasperation.
“No, Georgina. I’m not going to be caught in between you and that dickhead. I know exactly where this is heading”.
“Did somebody say my name,” Ryan said cheerfully; suddenly appearing at the door with a large grin.
“Oh, Ryan; go and take your face for a shit,” Georgina said callously.
“You say the sweetest things, George,” Ryan retorted with a laugh. “I just wanted to make sure this little narrowback was being true to his word and getting the fuck out of my airspace”.
“Why don’t you leave instead, you arrogant arsehole,” Georgina requested.
“Because I’m useful and he isn’t,” Ryan answered seriously.
“He’s right, Georgina. I hate to admit it, but the abhorrent wanker is right,” Harry said defeated, but with a look of seething hatred at Ryan. “He’s resourceful in a way I could never be. I’m better off out of here”.
“You can learn the skills needed to be resourceful,” Georgina pleaded.
“I’m not staying here while the issues between you two are bubbling. I’m not sitting here and waiting for the day you go back to him”.
“Then I’ll come with you”.
“Get this into your head, George,” Harry said sharply. “I don’t want you to come with me. I want you to leave me alone. I want you both to leave me alone. We’re done. I’m done with you”.
Georgina dropped to her knees and began to hyperventilate. Harry looked anywhere but down at her as he continued to pack his bag, which didn’t take long as there wasn’t much to pack. Ryan looked to the ceiling in despair at how pathetic a scene it was. Georgina was actually heartbroken that this pathetic cretin was leaving. She was anything but attractive to him at this moment in time.
Harry finished packing up his bag before walking towards the door. Georgina got back to her feet and tried to hold him back; repeating the word “no” frenetically. Harry shrugged her off and continued towards the door while Georgina fell to the ground in floods of tears. He didn’t look at Ryan as he walked past him out of the door, but Ryan followed him down the corridor and out of the exit from the building.
“Oi, Harry,” Ryan called as he stood waiting at the door.
“What the fuck do you want,” Harry asked with venom and turning to face him.
“If I ever see you again, I’ll fucking kill you. Mark my words”.
“This place is gonna crumble with you inside it before you get the chance to see me again”.
Ryan scoffed. He wanted nothing more than to run over and break every bone in Harry’s body, especially as the slight man stood there looking as though he thought he had the power to take on the world. Instead, he dismissively waved Harry off and headed back inside. As he wandered by the room, Ryan stopped and looked upon the still crying form of Georgina on the floor. He cleared his throat.
“Erm…you’ll be fine, y’know? Maybe it’s better this way”.
“Go away. Just go away, Ryan. I don’t even want to look at you,” Georgina said between sobs without looking up.
Ryan hesitated and continued looking down at her. He wanted to feel bad, but he didn’t. He genuinely felt like things would be better without the drag effect that was Harry. At this moment in time, he wasn’t sure whether this turn of events would eventually see her fall back into his bed or have the totally opposite effect. If she succumbed to the virus anytime soon then it would be out of his hands. He shrugged his shoulders and walked away, leaving Georgina to her grief.
Just the next day, Ryan and Georgina were given new and more permanent residencies. They were each warned that if they weren’t prepared to share then they may end up sharing with a total stranger instead at some point in the future. Georgina was happy with that. In her words, she’d have sooner shared with a lurcher than Ryan. From there, tests were taken to discover the extent of her infection if she had it at all.
Ryan was put into a week’s worth of intense combat training. If there was something Ryan enjoyed anywhere near as much as sex then it was physical training. He’d always been a religious gym goer and partook in various other sports to keep his body in tip-top condition. When he wasn’t training, he’d head out into the nearby woods to find lurchers to hunt; honing his combat and skills and sharpening his instincts to nearby dangers. He passed the training with ease before Jay called him up to join his rebel team.
On the day he passed the training, Ryan saw Georgina for the first time since it had begun. He expected a dirty look and to be ignored, but was surprised to see her actually approach him. She still looked pissed, but her veneer didn’t suggest she was spoiling for a fight.
“How are you,” she asked without genuine interest.
“I’m good. Passed training today so I’ll be joining Jay’s team”.
“Good for you”.
“How about you? What have the tests shown up?”
“That’s what I’ve come to tell you, only we can’t talk here,” she said quietly; looking shifty.
“Alright. My place is just down here,” Ryan said; motioning with his hand.
The two began to walk away together towards his residence without another word uttered. Ryan looked down at her and she looked tired. Bags were forming under her eyes while her skin looked a couple of shades paler than he was used to seeing. She looked to have lost some weight too. Her appearance concerned him, but he wouldn’t show it until bridges were built.
They reached his place and entered where Ryan offered her a seat and a cup of tea. She was shocked he’d offered as he never did so while they were a couple nor while they had been at his house with Harry. She took him up on the offer and he prepared her a cup before sitting across from her. He leaned forward and looked at Georgina expectantly, but didn’t urge her to start speaking. She took a sip of her tea and looked at him.
“If I’d have known you were so good at making brews I’d have had you do them all the time when we were together,” Georgina said with a mirthless smile.
“Don’t deflect, George. What’s wrong?”
“Okay,” she said before taking several deep breaths. “Please don’t breathe a word of this to anyone, Ryan”.
“You have my word,” Ryan said genuinely.
“They’ve done test after test and discovered that I’m not positive for New Black Plague after all”.
“George, that’s fantastic news!”
“Mm-hmm. They have discovered an anomaly though”.
“What kind of anomaly,” Ryan asked.
“They were reluctant to tell me initially, but I finally managed to drag it out of the doctor when I threatened to kick him in his balls”.
Ryan could picture the scene and chuckled. He was worried about what the anomaly might be. Was she HIV positive? Did she have cancer?
“What did he say?”
“He couldn’t say with a hundred percent conviction, but the doctors strongly believe I might be immune to New Black Plague”.
“Immune? How,” Ryan asked with genuine intrigue.
“They’re saying that the initial screening was correct and that I was infected, but I have a particular strain of antibodies that managed to beat the infection into a neutral state. That means that New Black Plague is still inside me, but it’s dormant and can’t multiply. It also means that I can’t get infected again”.
“Kinda like the cowpox thing where Jenner injected just enough so that the body could fight it and become immune?”
“What? How the hell would you know about that? You don’t show an interest in anything,” Georgina said with sudden animation.
“I really don’t know how I know,” Ryan said with a smile and a shrug of his shoulders.
“Anyway, it isn’t exactly like that, but I suppose the principle is kinda the same”.
“So what does that mean?”
“They want to do more tests to see if they can somehow create a vaccine if I really am immune”.
“They want to use you as a guinea pig in essence,” Ryan said with a hint of anger.
“Ryan, if they can discover a way to save the people of Britain then it’s surely worth it”.
“Will you still be saying that if they strap you to a bed and suck out all of your blood for the sake of the greater good?”
“Don’t be so melodramatic, Ryan. It wouldn’t reach that point”.
“Well let’s hope not. I know you hate me, but I don’t want anything bad to come of you,” Ryan said softly.
“I don’t hate you,” Georgina said; looking anywhere but at his face. “I have every reason to, but I don’t think it’s physically possible for me to hate you. For fuck’s sake, Ryan; I was going to be your wife. You were the love of my life”.
“Until I fucked everything up”.
“Let’s not get into that now,” Georgina said; still unable to look at Ryan. He could tell there was more she wanted to say, but that she wasn’t sure if to or not.
“If you have something to tell me then do so,” Ryan urged.
“How do you always know when I’m holding back,” she asked; finally looking at him. “I need you to promise you won’t hit the roof when I tell you”.
“I can’t promise anything without knowing what it is”.
“True. Okay, well after Harry left, I found a letter he’d written to me. I didn’t know how seriously to take it, but it’s been playing on my mind”.
“What did it say,” Ryan asked with a curious expression.
“He wrote the letter a couple of days before the meeting with Mel and was never planning on staying. He’s going to head to the nearest Safe Zone and tell them all about this place. He plans to sabotage everything that’s going on here”.
“That motherfucker,” Ryan said with an ironic grin and a shake of his head. “I wondered what he’d meant as he was leaving, but I just took it as him acting ballsy. The guy won’t make it that far. If he isn’t dead already then he will be soon”.
“What if he manages to fluke it?”
“What do you care if he does? You love him so surely you’d want him to be safe”.
“I did until I read that letter. I’d happily see him die ahead of the innocent people here. Turns out he really was a snivelling, sly piece of shit”.
“I coulda told you that within two minutes of my first conversation with the prick!”
“I don’t think he was always like that, Ryan. This situation fucked him up. The guy’s just scared”.
“He’ll have something to be scared about when I catch up with him”.
“Just let him be. It isn’t worth getting yourself killed trying to kill him”.
“I can’t let him get to a Safe Zone, George. I have no choice but to talk with Jay and see what he says. We can’t compromise New Haven,” Ryan lied passionately. It was all about revenge and nothing more.
“Fine. Do whatever you have to do,” Georgina conceded. “Thank you for the brew, but I’d better be going now. I’m tired and need a nap”.
“No worries. Let me walk you to the door”.
Ryan stood and walked through to the front door before opening it. Georgina passed through and turned to face him. They embraced for a few seconds when Ryan leaned in to kiss her, but Georgina pulled away.
“I’m sorry. I just…” Ryan trailed off.
“Let’s work on being friends before we start thinking about complicating matters,” Georgina said with a smile.
“Sure. No problem,” Ryan said with a tight-lipped smile of his own.
“I’ll see you soon”.
Ryan nodded in response. Georgina turned and walked away towards her house; leaving Ryan watching on. He waited until she was out of earshot.
“I’ll be hitting that sweet pussy again soon, woman. You can’t resist me for long!”
With that, Ryan closed the door and headed back inside.
“Somebody’s been here recently,” Jay called. “Whoever it is has obviously tried to make a fire and hasn’t been able”.
“Has to be him,” Ryan called back.
“Let’s fan out and search the area. Keep your eyes out for gawkers. They love hiding out in the woods”.
Ryan smiled briefly. Jay had previously used the term leapers, but had since been swung around to use gawkers instead. The men moved out in separate directions and began to search the area for any tell-tale signs of human activity. It was agreed that they wouldn’t move out of eyeshot of one another.
An hour of searching proved unsuccessful and they all gathered back where they’d been earlier. Just as they’d all got back and agreed to abandon the search, Harry appeared out of nowhere on the path ahead. He looked at the group with pure terror written on his face before darting off into the trees. Jay was about to go after him when Ryan held him back.
“No, Jay. That little weasel is mine!”
Jay nodded his approval and Ryan set off in the direction of his quarry. It took longer than he’d have liked to bear down on Harry, but he eventually saw him up ahead and brought his SA80 to bear. He squeezed of a few rounds and Harry stumbled to the ground with a yelp. Ryan approached slowly with a look of smug satisfaction on his face. When he reached Harry, the hapless man lay face up on the ground clutching at his left thigh. He shot Ryan a look of fear intermingled with hatred.
“It just had to be you, didn’t it?”
“What can I say, Harry; it must have been fate, though I admit it didn’t take much persuasion when I said we should hunt your scrawny arse down”.
“Well get it the fuck over with, you bigheaded bastard,” Harry said before another cry of pain.
“You were going to a Safe Zone to tell the military about New Haven. You’d have fucked up the lives of all those people just to see me taken out?”
“Like you give a single shit about the people of New Haven. I was going to inform the military because I think what’s going on in New Haven is bullshit. Just another form of corruption. I don’t believe a word that Mel says, but we both know the truth. This is about your hatred for me”.
“You got me there, kiddo. I’ve wanted to kill you from day one. I just needed the opportunity to do so without it looking bad on me. I happen to agree with you about Mel though. He’s a lying sack of turd”.
“You two should get along then”.
“Oh look; the dead guy made a joke,” Ryan said with sarcasm. “Almost as good a joke as a bitch like you thinking you could ever satisfy Georgina. She wants a real man, Harry, and a real man is what she’s gonna get now you’re gone”.
“It’s funny,” Harry began with a pained smile. “When you say she wants a real man…which one of your mates might that be?”
Harry began to laugh, but he wasn’t laughing long. Ryan withdrew his 7 iron and swung it ferociously at Harry’s head. He immediately shut up as the metal made a sickening impact and the blood trickled down the side of his head. His face took on a braindead expression, but Ryan wasn’t done there. He swung the club several more times and never missed his target. Harry was dead after the third swing, but Ryan continued until half of his head was caved in. For good measure, Ryan began stomping down on Harry’s face until he was completely unrecognisable.
It took for Jay to come over and restrain Ryan before he finally stopped; his breathing heavy and eyes burning with ire.
“That’s enough, Ry. That’s enough,” Jay said authoritatively. “You’ve made your point. We need to get out of here ‘cause your gun discharging will have attracted lurchers. Let’s go”.
Ryan held up his hands and nodded. Jay patted him on his shoulder and then turned to head back to where the rest of the team waited. Ryan looked back down at the lifeless form of Harry and snickered.
“I knew you’d be the first person I’d kill. Shame I can only kill you the once, you little cunt!”
“Ryan, let’s go,” Jay called from through the trees.
The sound of growling lurchers could be heard and Ryan got on his toes. When he got back to the rest of the team, they were already fighting off a group of the monsters that had descended from out of nowhere. He ran into the melee twirling his 7 iron and got immediately stuck in. More lurchers were joining the fray and that suspicion of them picking their moment to strike came to Ryan’s mind again.
Despite the number of lurchers being almost three times greater, the highly trained men soon fought off the advances. Then Ryan noticed the all too familiar sight of a lurcher standing there convulsing and eyes bulging.
“Don’t go near that lurcher,” he yelled. “Get out of the way”.
All but one heeded Ryan’s warning in timely enough fashion before the spewer performed its acidic projectile vomiting routine. The man who couldn’t get out of the way quickly enough was caught in the spray and his clothing provided no protection as it burned straight through and began to work on his flesh. A bloodcurdling cry rent the air as the most excruciating pain he’d ever experienced set in. Jay looked towards Ryan.
“What the fuck was that?”
“I call them spewers. That’s only the second one I’ve ever seen,” Ryan responded.
Jay and Kas went to their fallen comrade and could see that the acidic vomit was already eating its way through the flesh on his right shoulder and exposing the collarbone. Jay attempted to calm the man and quieten him down, but it wasn’t working. His cries got louder the longer it went on. Ryan approached Jay with a sombre expression.
“Jay, we’re gonna have to leave him behind. His cries are gonna be attracting lurchers in number”.
“Fuck that,” Jay bellowed. “I haven’t lost a single man yet. I’m not letting today be the day that run comes to an end”.
“Sorry, boss, but I think Ryan’s right,” Kas said over the cries of pain; kneeling next to Jay.
Jay looked down at the man. The corrosion of his flesh was only worsening. He’d be dead before they got back to New Haven and Jay knew it. His head dropped, but only momentarily before he pulled his pistol and aimed it at the soldier’s head. His hand shook and his breathing was laboured as he hesitated.
Before he had the chance to pull the trigger, a shot rang out and the crying stopped. Jay looked down at the man who had a neat bullet hole in his forehead. He then cast his eyes upwards to see Ryan standing there with the muzzle of his pistol smoking. Ryan smiled at Jay sans humour.
“You shouldn’t have to go through killing your own men even out of kindness. You don’t need that on your conscience”.
“Thank you, Ry,” Jay said quietly.
Ryan helped Jay up to his feet before doing the same with Kas. They heard the sounds of approaching lurchers.
“Time to go,” Jay said and they all quickly made their way back through the woods before the lurchers turned up to feast on the corpses of Harry and Jay’s fallen charge.
Ryan chuckled to himself as he jogged. He’d gone this whole time without killing one person and in the space of a few minutes had killed two.
TO BE CONTINUED
Please be sure to keep up with the awesome story that gave birth to this one; Just Another Apocalypse Diary by fellow blogger Kira Scribbled. Catch up now by clicking the appropriate link. Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9.