Chapter Two Part Five - Hope

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The house was already well on the way to being engulfed by the ever-hungry flames as Jackie and James got into the car. It was an old beat-up Ford Fiesta that Jackie had owned long before the world went to hell in a hand-basket. She and James had walked back to where they had camped up on the road, before so many of their group had been murdered.

“Where to?” she asked as she turned the key in the ignition. The engine turned over a few times before it finally decided to start.

“Well I don’t like to go back empty handed but we need to regroup,” said James, quietly. The enormity of the act he had just committed already weighed heavily upon him. He needed a stiff drink and a decent night’s sleep, not to mention the comforting embrace of Fiona. “We can head back out tomorrow and search further afield, perhaps head towards a town or something and see if we can find some none-perishables.”

“That makes sense,” Jackie replied. “We should take Annalise out with us, too, or maybe Ken if his leg will hold. There’s safety in numbers and no offence but with it just being the two of us I’m feeling more than a little exposed.”

“None taken,” he replied with a nod as Jackie turned the wheel fully to the left, enabling her to turn the small car in the road. “I agree. Hell, I’d rather we all headed out together but if we do that the chances are we wouldn’t have a base to go back to.”

  “Yeah, exactly,” said Jackie. With her eyes on the road she easily saw the trio of Zeds stumbling along the white line, clearly attracted by the noise of the licking flames and occasional pop or bang when the fire caught hold of something air-filled or flammable.

“Thirty points,” said James with a chuckle, trying to forget about the fact he had pretty much just murdered a little girl although to be fair, it had been them or her.

At such a low speed, a collision with three Zeds would only cause minor cosmetic damage to Jackie’s Fiesta and she knew it, so she lined the car up to plough them down in one.

Even though the vehicle was moving slowly they hit the Zeds with quite a thud that resulted in the walking dead being knocked several feet in front of the car.

“Nice,” said James. “They’re not dead yet, though.”

Jackie did not reply. Instead she took her time to get her front tyres in line with the head of each of the fallen Zeds and ran over each in turn.

“Feel better?” James asked once the deed was done and the three dead zombie corpses littered the road.

“Much,” she replied with a smile. “It doesn’t matter how you kill Zeds, it’s not the kind of thing you ever get tired of doing.”

“Agreed.” James nodded and at that moment he happened to look out of the passenger window. “Hey, pull up a sec.”

Jackie did as he asked, pulling the car to a halt at the side of the road.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, only I don’t remember seeing road kill on the way up here, which means that Roe is fresh meat.”

“I’m not going to argue,” Jackie replied as she dropped the car into reverse. “Let’s just hope those Zeds didn’t have a taste on their way down.”

***

It was some time later, the Sun almost fully set, when Jackie and James arrived back at the hotel with dinner roped to the roof of the Fiesta.

Jackie pulled the car to an easy halt almost directly outside the entrance doors before she and James quickly alighted, knowing that they needed to get themselves and the dead deer inside before any Zeds attracted by the noise of their vehicle found their location.

The hotel door opened and both Annalise and Fiona came rushing out, the former to help with carrying the deer and the latter to embrace her man.

“Come on, let’s go!” said Annalise. “We’ll get this baby cooked and introduce you to our newest additions!”

Once inside with the doors bolted, a man Jackie did not recognise took the deer from the woman and slung it over his shoulders. He flashed a quick smile before turning and carrying the Roe to the roaring fire. It was not until dinner was served though, that proper introductions were carried out.

Jack had been working as a farm hand on a large dairy farm just outside Southampton when it happened. He and a few other survivors holed up there for a while but so close to a big city there were too many Zeds. More and more by the day, too, as the living were turned. He and his group had made a break for the New Forest, hearing stories of a military camp. He had ended up roaming the back lanes and bridleways on his own though, after his group were caught unawares whilst they slept by the same group that had killed the majority of Annalise’s friends, that’s what it sounded like, anyway.

After several days alone he found Sarah, his companion, whilst searching for food in a small bungalow some miles away. The children had been with her, too, though they were not hers. She had picked them up along the way, unable to leave abandoned children to fend for themselves.

The two boys, Richard and Fawaz, were both in their early teenage years but the girl, apparently yet to say a word, looked no older than ten years of age.

“Until she tells me her real name I’ll continue to call her Hope,” said Sarah through a mouthful of venison. It was tough and most definitely not the nicest meat, but beggars really could not afford to be choosers. “We have to have it, hope that one day all of this will come to an end and we’ll all live in a better world as a result.”

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