Chapter 12: Into the Void

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Wastelands.

Long hours.

They'd driven along the bleak, rain-drenched landscape for going on two hours now. They hadn't come across anything. No survivors, no zombies, no other structures. According to the geographical database built into the jeep, there would only be a single structure on the route from the outpost to the military base.

They'd opted to take all three jeeps, since it seemed that the military would be starved for any and all equipment and supplies. They packed each jeep with important materials: the remaining fuel, the meager supply of guns and ammo they'd managed to collect, a large cache of food, and whatever other odds and ends they'd thought to bring.

Greg was bored, staring at the hinterlands of infinite miles that surrounded him. He'd taken a couple of cigarettes from Cage before the long trek had begun and now the interior of the jeep swam with a light haze. He found that smoking calmed him, helped him think. For a little while, he'd considered not picking the habit back up, but decided that if he hadn't awoken with a desperate craving for cigs, and had only now learned that they had been a past habit, then it shouldn't be too hard to shake in the future.

They'd kept their radios open, but no one had had much of anything to say. The ride started out with some conversation between Greg and Kyra, but after the first ten minutes it died away, leaving them alone with their thoughts and the vast desolation that engulfed them. Greg had a lot to think about.

He found himself wondering about the horrible thing from the basement. The nightmare cast in pale flesh and black blood. What did it mean? Greg accepted the stumbling horrors he'd seen so far. The zombies. They were real, and there was likely enough fiction-turned-fact out there to make such horrors a reality...but that thing? What was it? It was obviously related to the zombies, but it had been so much bigger, so much deadlier. Was it possibly the next step in their evolution? Did they even have such a thing?

Despite how interesting this was, Greg found himself thinking more of his conversation with Cage. About how he should stop being so concerned with who he might have been and consider more who he was going to become. He could change that. He could shape himself. Mold himself. He'd been presented with a unique scenario, it seemed. Questions kept surfacing, difficult ones, and despite Cage's sentiment, he found himself nearly incapable of ignoring them. These long periods of reflective silences weren't helping.

Perhaps most of all, he found himself thinking about Kyra, which, once again, made him wonder if this was a sign of insanity. When you're surrounded by death on all sides and your very life is at stake, and all you can think about is a member of the opposite sex...surely that means that something is wrong with you, right?

Maybe not. Maybe this was the function of the human mind. Or could it be the function of a broken mind?

A structure on the horizon derailed Greg's train of thought. Through the wet haze of the windshield, he studied it as the trio of jeeps slowed their approach. It appeared to be low and long, a single-story structure that revealed its details as they approached.

The radio let out a short buzz as Kyra's voice came over the comms. "So, moment of truth, boys. Are we going to stop and check it out?"

"I vote no. Our destination is the more prudent choice," Cage replied in that calm, cool manner he always spoke in.

"What if someone's alive and hurt in there? What if they need help?" Greg cut in.

"What if we find our deaths waiting for us in there?" Cage's voice was cold and even.

"Fuck it. Let's check it out. Guns at ready," Kyra said.

She maneuvered her jeep toward the structure. Cage remained silent. Greg found that curious. Technically, since no one knew his own rank, Cage should be making the decisions for them, but he seemed happy enough to simply follow orders.

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