Reunion

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The strong wind blew through the open windows and cooled down the van. My hair flies around and whips Chris in the face. He chuckles and playfully pushes me. "Put your hair up."

"With what?" I raise my wrists. No hair band is wrapped around it.

"Here," Kat reaches back and hands me a hair band.

"Thank you," I say with a smile. For a second it reminded me of what it was like at school. That one girl who was a life saver and always had the hair band. I miss those days. I can remember them a little more clearly. I remember talking with friends at lunch. I can see Chris walking down the stairs at school to meet me. I actually remember.

"You okay there?" Chris asks.

I smile at him a nod. "I'm good."

"You look . . ."

"Happy?"

"Happy."

I lean over and kiss him softly. His lips are so warm and inviting. I pull away and look into his blue eyes. "I am."

"Oh stop eating each other's faces," Jose says from the front.

"Shut up," Anne says. "It's cute."

I can't help but laugh as they begin to bicker. They always do. Like an old married couple.

Everyone in the van begins to laugh and joke around. It feels good to laugh with all of them. They're all like family now. After everything we've been through together, all the fights and wounds and running together. Through the deaths.

I look at the photo album and pick it up. I was so lucky to have grabbed it. I feel guilty that I didn't grab any supplies. No one was really able to. We got one handful of cans and two bottles of water. Luckily the bag of medical supplies was still in the van when we got in.

I don't know where we're going or how we're going to survive with the limited supply. We can't risk going too far with the little amount of gas, and who knows when the next market will show up. At the moment we're driving on a dirt road to who knows where.

"Where are we heading?" I ask as I open the photo album.

Jose shrugs at the wheel. "No clue. We don't got the map no more so I don't know where the hell we are."

"I see some buildings ahead," Anne says. "I can't tell what it is."

I look down at the pictures in my lap. I flip through and look at the pictures of my beautiful family. My mother when she was pregnant. Me when I was a baby. Everything is in this one book. I can never lose it.

"It's a school," Johnny says.

I look up as the school comes into view. Everyone starts looking. Peeking around each other's heads and the headrests on the seat.

When we reach the front of the school, we stop. Everyone stares. It's an old school, worn down and seems abandoned. No infected at all. But something seems off.

The door swings open and six people run out in a line and stand with their guns aimed at the van. Everyone freezes.

"Get out of the van with no weapons!" A man shouts.

"They can't see how weak we are," Jose says. "Alice, you're the only one who's not noticeably fucked up. You need to try to talk with them."

Anne shakes her head. "No, I can do it."

Jose stops her. "You got shot in the shoulder. You ain't doing nothin'."

Chris looks nervously at me.

"I'll be fine," I say. I get up and out of the van. I stand outside of it and raise my hands. "We're not here for a fight."

The line of people march closer. They're all in normal clothes, though messy. Some have makeshift padding on their arms and legs. They have pieces of wood either taped or tied into them so no infected can bite through.

These people are smart.

"Why are you here?" a tall man asks.

"We have no where to go. The place we were staying at got attacked. Our friends were killed and our supplies were taken. We've been on the road for a while just trying to find a place to stay for now."

"You're limping," the man observes. "Are you bit?"

I shake my head. "No, none of us are. This is just from a few weeks ago in an accident." No need to explain to them that I fell out of a tree and almost died.

"Anyone else injured?"

I look into the van at the group. I hesitate, not knowing whether to lie or say the truth. But Anne gives me a small nod. "Almost everyone."

The man looks at his line of people and they give him a questionable look back. "Is anyone bit?"

"No, we just have knife wounds and a few gunshot wounds. That's it. None of us are infected." I fiddle with my long nails uneasily. The nerves are eating away at me. Who knows if these people will let us in.

"David, takeover," the man says to the one next to him. "I'll get the boss."

David walks out of the line and steps forward. "Everyone get out of the van!"

Everyone begins to trickle out of the van, all slow and weak. It hurts to see them all in so much pain.

"Everyone put your weapons in a pile in front of me. You try anything stupid and we'll act fast. Won't be the first time and won't be the last." David raises his gun as we begin to put out weapons in a pile.

Jose is last. He stares at David, unsure of him. He never breaks eye contact as he bends down and drops his weapons.

"We'll have the boss out here in a moment. She's good at reading people, so you better not be another stupid group coming to take us over." David steps back as the man comes back out with the boss.

I watch as she walks up to us, her head high. She has beautiful blonde hair that's well taken care of. She looks around at us, studying our every move. Her blue eyes seem innocent yet strict. Powerful.

When her eyes land on me the world seems to freeze. All of a sudden every memory floods back into my head and I'm being surrounded by them. It's overwhelming and I'm in too much shock to speak or even blink.

Her mouth opens but she doesn't say anything. She just looks at me. From head to toe, she stares and stares. Tears begin to form in her eyes and a smile spreads across her thin face. In her sweet, soft voice she says, "Alice?"

"Mom?"

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