Chapter 04: Down by the Docks

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Life finally decided to cut them a break.

Mike sank gratefully into the nearest seat aboard the tram as Parkhurst got it moving. It was a small thing, meant to transport no more than a few dozen people to different parts of the city, but it would be of great use...provided the tramway was clear. And how likely was that to be? But even if it could shave a mile, half a mile, off their journey, it would be worth it. Hell, right then, he thought that sitting down was worth it.

Especially when Laura sat down in the bench with him. Almost without thinking about it, he put his arm around her and she leaned against him, laying her head on his shoulder. She felt good, wonderful even, against him. As he sat there with her, Mike slowly began to remember the tremendous feelings, the wonder, the comfort of being intimate with another person. Not just physically, but emotionally. It had been a long time. The closest he'd come recently was the redheaded bartender back in Peaceful Trails.

That hadn't been a very emotionally connected relationship, though. Not that he particularly minded. At the time, he wasn't looking for that. Neither of them were. But Laura had reawakened something in him, something he thought he might have cast off or hid away years and years ago. A deep sense of belonging and security. He liked it a lot, but its power also terrified him. He knew what it would mean if something happened to her, and given what they were was very likely that something could happen to one or both of them.

But what was the alternative?

Break it off? What good would that do?

He pushed the thoughts away. Keep it simple. Enjoy his relationship with Laura. Stay alive. Kill zombies. Keep everyone else alive.

Yes, that was simple.

Mike took a moment to take stock of the others, now that they had a moment of downtime. Parkhurst sat in the conductor's chair at the head of the tram, in her own little compartment, though the dividing door was open between the two areas. She seemed extremely competent. She was showing signs of wear and tear, but among them all, even himself, he thought she was showing the least. Dallas, on the other hand...was starting to look pretty haggard. Mike had the idea that he'd really been counting on that ride out of the city.

He knew what it was like: hanging all your hopes on one particular thing. And then having it blow up spectacularly in your face. It was dangerous, because it left you vulnerable during the recovery. But the man still seemed solid enough, probably had enough years under his belt to run on autopilot if necessary. Bolton looked as he had before: exhausted but capable. He looked like a man who was putting off pretty much any thought that wasn't the mission until the mission was over. So...a competent individual.

Adkins was pacing. She looked very nervous. Not that he could blame her for that. She kept going to the windows, staring out of them, then pacing some more, fidgeting with her pistol. The final survivor, the civilian, either he had never learned her name or couldn't remember it, had fallen asleep. Or passed out from exhaustion. She still had blood on her from when the other civilian had gotten killed.

He still wasn't sure how that had happened, where that damned pale one had come from. Not that it mattered now. He felt horrible for her. Here they were, capable warriors with guns, who, although they were facing overwhelming odds, at least had a decently fighting chance. He wasn't sure what job she might have worked in her previous life, before the undead incursion, but he had the idea that it hadn't involved gunplay.

"I can see the docks," Parkhurst said, garnering everyone's attention.

"Can we make it there unimpeded?" Dallas asked, moving to join her.

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