As long as the candle kept burning and the men kept playing, I would have been able to get outside. I creeped from behind the dresser to the kitchen. The pantry squeaked as it opened, so I squatted next to the kitchen counter to avoid getting caught.
The men didn't say a word. They just continued there game of cards ever so peacefully. After a couple seconds, I grabbed two cans of corn, holding one in each hand. I rolled the dusty cans on their side to check the expiration date. Both said July 2016. Good. I slipped the cans into jean jacket pockets and headed for the open window.
It was super easy to get outside. The window was wide open. A walker could easily fit through the window. But did those dumb card players care? No. All they cared about was their smokes, wine, and a pile of paper cards.
Outside it was quiet. The sun was setting. The moon was rising. I wanted to turn back around and hide in the safeness of my dorm, but instead, I sprinted. I was only meters away from the other dorm.
I hit the cement walls straight with my head. I bounced onto the floor and winced in pain. My head spun. The world suddenly began to shake. I tried to regain my balance and stand up on my feet. Every attempt I made was a fail. Eventually I gave up and decided to relax on the ground for a few minutes.
"Mommy, there is a girl out there. She's on the floor! Mommy she might be a walker! Daddy get the knife! Quick!"
My eyes flashed open and I jumped back on my feet.
"Mommy, she just stood up! Come, look! She might be a walker! DADDY GET THE KNIFE!"
Once my vision was completely restored, I saw a little girl. She was standing a few yards away from me. She had a terrorized look on her face and she was screaming. The girl was wearing a brown t-shirt and a pair of ripped jeans. Her blonde hair was in a braid. I couldn't manage to make out the color of her eyes.
Then I fully registered what she said: the little girl thought I was a walker.
"I'm not one of them. Trust me, I'm not. I'm here to help you," I yelled. I was talking extremely loud because I could barely hear myself. The girl's family came running outside, her father with a knife in his hand. It was covered in dried red stuff. I would assume the red stuff was blood.
"She can talk, it's not a walker, Kristina. But stay behind daddy for a moment. Let me approach her and see what she wants." The mother came closer to me but stayed a few feet away. "Your not a walker, right? Are you infected?" Her voice sounded very much like a frog. It was obvious she was crying earlier.
"No. I mean no. No I'm not one of them. I ain't one of them. The walkers," I mumbled, trying to keep her as calm as possible.
"Drop the knife, Joe, she's a survivor." The dad, or Joe I now assumed, slid the knife into his belt. The mother walked closer to me and held out her hand. "Do you need help walking? You look dizzy. Sure you ain't bitten?"
"I'm fine. I just knocked into your wall. I'm sorry I disrupted you. I just came to help. I will go now," I said, trying to be as straight-forward was possible. After hearing her voice and the bloody knife, I wasn't feeling so sure that the girl from before was alive.
"No. Come inside. You said you were here to help. We need help. We will take anything. Please, come inside."
The house was lit up with candles. The smell of tea on the stove filled the room. The air was dense and humid.
Dorm four wasn't scary at all. Actually, it was more welcoming then dorm two. It looked like an actual home. A place where a person could feel safe.
Kristina, the little girl, grabbed a mug from the cabinet and filled it with boiling tea. Her mother cleaned the table off with a rag.
"Come have a seat. You must be hungry. Although I'm not sure we have enough food." She rushed over to the pantry closet and scanned the shelves. "Well, we have expired cookies. From April 2013. Sounds gross. I think we should just stick to tea..."
The room suddenly became silent.
"Um, well I brought two cans of corn," I said, "and they aren't expired." I placed the cans on the table. The family stared eagerly at the unopened cans.
"May I?" Joe asked, reaching out for one of the cans.
"Of course," I exclaimed, "both of these are for you. And if you need more, I will get you more." The family was delighted. Cheerful grins spread across their faces as the tops of the cans fell off. Joe spooned the creamed corn into the china bowls from the cabinet. He didn't even bother to clean off the silverware. Kristina dug into the corn like a pig.
"Thank you so much! This is delicious! I cannot thank you enough!" Kristina wrapped her arms around me, splattering the corn all over my jacket. Her mother gasped.
"How dare you, Kristina! Say your sorry and give this nice young lady an apology," the mother shouted sternly.
"Don't apologize. It's fine. I can easily clean of this corn. And I will get you some more next time. Everyone makes mistakes."
"Well, thank you for your consideration. We have been hiding here since the fall of the government. We used to live off of deer and bugs from the woods, but it was a struggle. Now, we live off of what's left in the pantry. On a normal day, we all have a handful of food. Just enough to keep us here."
"Don't worry. I will bring you all more food. Don't live off of handfuls. Live off of cans. I have lots more for you," I said,"and by the way, my name is Sophie."
"My name is Maria. I'm sure you have learned that the little girl is Kristina. She's ten. My husband, he's Joe." The family took turns shaking my hand. For once I felt like I was being listened to.
After the family munched on the last bits of corn, they invited me to see the rest of the dorm. They hadn't asked about where I came from or how I got the food yet. I guessed they were so blown away that they actually got to eat good food.
The sun was sitting on the horizon when they finally ended the short tour of the dorm. The layout was the same as my own dorm. Even the matresses were the same. But their dorm seemed welcoming. Dorm three-not so much.
When the sun was gone, I politely told them I needed to leave. This sparked the questions.
"Why do you have to leave?" Kristina asked. She gave me a worried look.
"I have a family. Or at least a father. I have people I need to go home to."
"Who are those people?"
"The people in dorm three. That's where I live," I responded.
"Now I get it!" Kristina exclaimed, "That's why you have all the food."
Joe and Maria nodded their heads in agreement.
"Well thanks for coming anyways, your a lifesaver," Maria said.
"I will," I said, "I promise."
I walked out the door and into the darkness.
The gunshots and screams.
I ran home hoping I would make it before one went off.