~ Chapter Two ~

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Even after traveling for miles in the moonlit forest, Perri was frozen in position, unable to pull herself away from the window and the lingering image of her father.

Gavin placed a hand on her shoulder.

She blinked once. Twice. Before finally turning to face the seat in front of her.

The warmth of the comforting hand on her shoulder was now on the nape of her neck.

"I'm okay." She said, barely more than a whisper.

If there wasn't a duffel bag on the seat between them Gavin would have moved closer to her. He wanted to. But, seeing as he could not, he instead strained to reach across to take her hand in his and rested his arm on the bag.

Perri allowed him to take her hand and the two shared a smile.

~~~

The jeep had traveled down the mountain at a maintained speed, no more than twenty miles-per-hour.

They hadn't turned on their headlights and the near darkness was an obstacle in itself.

However, Joe—the driver—and his wife, Mia had become familiar with the mountain trail during their many supply trips to and from the nearest town.

If anyone could make it through, with only the light of the moon to illuminate the path, it was them.

Normally, they would have driven down on a pair of dirt bikes, but that was for a quick shot down to gather supplies and a hasty return trip.

This time was different. They would not be going back to the encampment.

Like Perri and Gavin, they were leaving that miserable death-camp behind and taking their chances in the open world.

Perhaps to search for other survivors. Or perhaps they would just rather die fighting, than wait for death to claim them.

As they left the dirt trail behind them and continued onto a straight asphalt road, it was soon clear that the noisy jeep had attracted a handful of them.

Their silhouettes spilled out of the tree line and raced after the jeep.

Shrill cries were muted by the whine of the old engine.

"They won't stop." Joe stated. "We need to dispatch them quickly."

"There's a tomahawk on the floor there somewhere." Mia said, waving a hand over her shoulder as she watched those dark figures in the sidemirror.

Perri yanked the weapon out from under her knapsack and wound her window down.

Gavin unsheathed a machete that was tucked into the pocket on the back of the seat in front of him.

Joe slowed the jeep just enough for them to catch up.

Both Perri and Gavin hung out the rear windows of the jeep to swing their weapons at the creatures that pursued them.

One by one.

Swing after swing.

Flesh and clotted blood spattered, and bodies tumbled to a stop on the road behind their vehicle.

When the last body collapsed onto the asphalt, Perri and Gavin sat back in their seats and began to wind up their windows.

Blood and goop coated their weapons.

Joe gained speed as they cleaned themselves up.

Remaining clean-though a hard thing to do these days-was essential in avoiding infection. Almost everyone carried wet-wipes and hand-sanitizer.

It had taken at least half an hour to reach the foot of the mountain and they had about a ten-minute drive until they'd reach the nearest town. And about an hour's drive after that to reach the highway.

~~~

They'd met with no trouble when they entered the town and made sure to be quick when navigating the labyrinth of vehicles that littered the main road.

During their many supply trips in the town, Joe and Mia had moved the vehicles into their current, maze-like formation. An attempt to slow them down.

Now on the highway, heading toward the city, Joe had to drive much slower than he'd liked to be going. It made him uncomfortable. He didn't like the combination of being in uncharted territory and not being able to see in the dark.

Not knowing if there were any of them lurking-dormant-in the abandoned vehicles scattered up the main artery.

Joe wanted to turn on his headlights. He fidgeted with the old leather on the steering wheel. Picking off loose chunks with his thumbnail.

Even with good traffic it would always take around forty-five minutes to get to the city. Although, he would always be unlucky enough to be stuck in the peak hour traffic back when he worked there-taking twice as long.

But, creeping along at less than ten miles-per-hour, because he couldn't see anything until it was right in front of him, was stressful to say the least.

The jeep was already rumbling loud enough to wake the dead. What difference would having the lights on make?... He thought.

The passengers were wide awake and alert.

So, Joe decided to switch on his headlights.

What a mistake that was.

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