~ Chapter Three ~

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"Turn it off!" Cried Mia as she reached for the switch herself.

Shrieks erupted, appearing to come from all around them.

Ahead, Joe could see the way forward.

But, between them and a path with drastically less vehicles on the road, a dozen of them bolted towards the jeep.

"Shit!" Gavin spat.

They all reached for weapons and jumped out of the car.

"Spread out and put something, anything, between you and them!" Joe commanded.

The others obeyed, though they already knew what to do.

The shrieking grew louder.

At least the creatures weren't all bunched together. They were fast, and their sheer numbers could be overwhelming.

One after the other, they divided to attack.

Using the abandoned vehicles to her advantage, Perri stood by an open car door.

Instead of going over, or around the car, a creature climbed through the open door on the other side.

Perri swung her tomahawk once. Twice. Three times. Making sure it was finished.

It's mangled head and neck oozed coagulated blood. She made a face at the stench of copper and decay that wafted up her nose.

She waited for more to come, but none did. They instead went for her companions.

The others dispatched them without incident. Thankfully.

Without wasting any time, they piled into the jeep and Joe drove as quickly as he could. And this time, he left the lights off.

They needed to put as much distance between them and that spot, as possible.

If more of them had heard the commotion or seen a flash of headlights, then it was best to be far, far, away from the point of origin.

Out of sight, out of mind.

A rule that constantly proved to be true when it came to avoiding them.

They didn't have the best sense of smell and couldn't see in the dark. So, if they couldn't see you, they'd sooner give up on the chase than search aimlessly.

There's only so far one of the infected would go once a person was out of their line of sight.

Occasionally, some have been seen to backtrack and return to wherever they'd been resting.

No one knew why they did this. Perhaps it's a familiar place to their former selves. A memory. A key part of their identities before the virus altered all that they were.

Perri had always wondered if the person they once were was still inside the monster they'd become after the disease had changed them.

Even if it was just a small part of them. A habit. A quirk. Anything.

There were rarely any of the infected just standing in the open. Instead, they seemed to stand by cars, bus stops, ATMs, shopfronts, and even parks.

At first glance they didn't even look dead.

Commonly, they would gather in stores or other buildings to rest. A state referred to as "dormant". Where they sort of switch off and sleep standing up.

Almost like they're waiting.

Not waiting for their next meal to wander by, but like they're waiting for... life.

Do they choose to rest there, or is there something deeper deciding this for them, forcing them to return to a familiar setting? She thought.

~~~

They neared the city outskirts.

Joe brought the jeep to a stop at an intersection before going any closer.

For a moment they sat in utter silence.

Perri moved first. She grabbed her knapsack and the tomahawk. "We better go." It was all she could think to say. 'Goodbyes' were never her strong suite.

Gavin nodded, grasped the straps of his duffle bag and the machete, and exited the car.

Apparently, 'goodbyes' weren't his thing either.

"Take care of yourselves." Mia said to Perri.

"We will." She replied.

"Good luck out there." Joe added.

Perri patted him on the shoulder. "You too." And with that she exited the car. She couldn't bring herself to add in a 'goodbye', or a 'see you guys around'.

There was a good chance they'd never see each other again.

Gavin and Perri stood in the middle of the intersection and watched the jeep disappear into the distance.

Joe and Mia were off in search of other survivors or maybe to just keep on the move and see how far they could get. They'd been trying to decide whether or not to leave the safe zone for weeks.

It wasn't until Perri mentioned that she wanted to go to the city, that they really made their thoughts known.

Together, they would survive. At least until they dropped Perri and Gavin off where she specified.

Perri only needed a lift close enough to the city, from there they'd have to continue on foot anyways.

The city was chockablock with vehicles and decayed corpses. Not to mention the—assumed—many infected that would be prowling its streets.

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