Chapter 02: Burning Skies

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AUTHOR'S NOTE: If you see any errors of any kind, please tell me in the comments. I'd really appreciate it!

"I think I might love you for that alone," Laura said as she accepted the pistol.

"Well that was easy," he replied.

She stood up and affixed him with her gaze. "Watch it."

"Yes ma'am."

The conversation helped bring her back down to reality. She took a deep, shuddering breath and let it out slowly, then looked back down at the corpse.

"Watch my back," she said, crouching and patting down the man's body.

"Are you okay?" he asked as he took up overwatch.

"I'm fine," she replied. "I got lucky. What about you? God, I thought you were dead."

"I got even luckier. Don't worry, Laura. I'm fine," he assured her.

She found it impossible not to worry, but there was no time for that. Searching the corpse, ironically, calmed her down further. She found enough shells in the poor bastard's pockets to reload the shotgun and a few more magazines that fit both their pistols. She kept one for herself, gave the others to Mike, since she had the shotgun now. Once she'd finished the search, she stood up and they headed across the lobby.

Outside, there was chaos.

Just in the road beyond the blood-smeared, cracked glass of the lobby windows, she could see easily a few dozen cars, all of them smashed into a snarl of twisted, blackened metal. There were a good hundred bodies in plain sight, and maybe a dozen zombies wandering slowly about, meandering between the vehicles.

"Now what?" Mike muttered. He sounded lost.

Before Laura could answer, gunfire sounded somewhere off to the right. A lot of it. "Those sound like machine guns," she said.

Mike stood still and listened. "Overlapping waves of fire," he murmured. "There's a great chance that those are Marines."

"Then that sounds like a damned good destination," Laura said.

He nodded and laid his hand over the open button of the front doors they stood before. "Are you ready for this?" he asked.

She raised her pistol, opting to let the shotgun hang in case of an emergency. "I'm ready," she confirmed.

Mike opened the door.

* * *

They managed to keep up a fairly brisk pace, ignoring any zombies they could. Ammo was at a premium at the moment.

As he ran along the bloodied sidewalks, dodging around living corpses, Mike felt like his brain couldn't stop spinning wildly out of control, like he couldn't quite get a grip. Everything had gone so fucking crazy just now...and he couldn't even take a minute to catch his breath! It was one thing to another. So he just did the best he could, because Mike had been through a trial by fire in a situation like this early in his military career and had learned a very simple rule of that particular reality: you either learned fast or died.

So he'd learned fast.

He clung grimly to focus, keeping his eyes open for more dangerous hostiles, like those sickly white freaks, but so far there were just the typical zombies. The gunfire was still going, and he could actually see the staccato flashes of muzzle flare now. Smoke, too. There was a big, black pillar of smoke bleeding off into the air. As they drew closer, he could see the dented hull of a downed ship. That's where the gunshots were coming from.

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