When the sun sets, oranges and pinks stretch across the sky like lazy cats, thin lines of clouds blending in, the alarm sounds for shift change. It's a hum from this distance, but the sound still sends chills up my spine. Isaac looks up from his sketchbook at the sound, shivering in the cold.
"Let's go," I whisper, standing up. Stephen tosses me a gun, and I strap it on. Who knows if we need it, but the thought seems to always comfort me. At least now, I know I'm capable of using it.
The walk up the hill takes longer than it should because we are stalling for time. It has to be completely dark before we can sneak up on Howard. Plus, we came up to south side, and we need to enter at the North gate where Howard is. So, we walk around the bottom of the hill and up, keeping hidden by running from tree to tree to find cover.
Eventually, the thick darkness falls, dimly lit by the lights on the top of the wall. The North gate is ahead of us, shut tight for the night.
"How exactly do you plan on getting his attention?" Stephen asks as we huddle together, watching the pacing body of Howard overhead. They must've really knuckled down, because he would never get up and pace before. He looks alone, and that surprises me. Night guards aren't allowed to patrol alone.
"I have no idea. If he's really alone, I can just yell at him," I say, moving around on my feet. "But surely he's not alone."
Isaac shakes his head, ripping a piece of paper out of his sketch pad.
"You can't just yell at him," he says, "He would start firing."
Isaac wads the piece of paper up into a ball, squinting up at Howard.
"Surely, you're not going to throw-"
Before I even finish my question, Isaac has reared back his hand, throwing the paper wad up towards the wall. I'm shocked when it nails Howard in the back, bouncing off and falling to the ground. Howard looks around in shock and horror, running to the wall to dangle over.
I wave from the shadows, pointing to the window about halfway down. Moving my hands like I'm climbing a ladder, I grin at him. Howard's face never stops looking shocked. His eyes resemble the moon; his forehead wrinkles up. Finally, he puts one finger up, disappearing from the side of the wall.
"Captain, I'm going to go check the window," I hear him say, and the sound of the latch opening fills the air.
Isaac smiles at me, giving me a thumbs up as we creep out of the shadows towards the wall. A minute later, the window slides open, and a ladder drops out.
"Good job, kid," Stephen says, clapping my back. The impact sends me stumbling forward, and I grab the ladder to catch myself. I climb up first, squeezing into the window.
"Jaelyn, what are you doing here?" Howard hisses, dragging me the rest of the way in. "Hartley said you were dead. Announced it this morning. You and him both." Howard points at Isaac who is pulling himself weakly through the window. I give him a hand, holding a finger up to tell him to be quiet.
"Look, it's a lot to explain, Howard, but thank you for not shooting me."
Howard watches Clare come in next, his face shocked at her appearance. The scar on her face is normal to me, now, but it looks gruesome to Howard.
"Who are they?" Howard finally asks, still whispering. Clare and Stephen both shimmy through the opening. Stephen struggles, coming out red faced and beading sweat.
"It doesn't matter who they are," I whisper quickly, ushering them on, "We just need to go."
"Wait, no, Jay. You can't go out there."
YOU ARE READING
"I live in a place called Compound 4. We are one of ten different compounds placed at strategic locations around the US. It's been thirteen years since the virus overtook humanity, turning about ninety percent of us into zombies. I'm not sure how it...