secret_history: (NaNoWriMo)
[personal profile] secret_history
November 8th, 06:45

“Are you sure this thing is working?”

“Trust me, Sara, it works just fine.”

“Then how come I can't hear anything?”

“Because no one is trying to communicate with us right now.”

Sara resisted the impulse to pull at her hair with both hands, and put down the mic with a little more force than was strictly necessary. “I can't believe that after only five days the entire world has stopped communicating. This is ridiculous. Where the hell is everyone?”

“Easy, kiddo. Calm down.”

“Gerry, just because you're thirty years my senior and have grey hair, does not mean you can call me kiddo,” she turned to glare at the older man.

“Oh no? How about the fact that I pulled your concussed ass out of a mob of zombies yesterday? Does that count for anything?” he demanded, though the blue eyes twinkled at her, the crow's feet on his face deepening slightly.

“Maybe a bit,” she grumbled, relenting. “But you can't play the I-saved-your-life card indefinitely.” She fussed with the radio, turning dials even though she really didn't know what they did.

“But I am going to play it as long as I can get away with it, I can guarantee you that. Come on, leave the radio alone for now. We'll come back to it later.” He laid a hand on her shoulder, trying to coax her away. “I'll make breakfast,” he offered, trying to coax her away from the radio.

“Just let me try again. A few more minutes.” She rubbed at her temples with the first two fingers of each hand. “I refuse to believe that we're the only two people left alive in the whole world. There has to be someone out there.”

“They might just not be within range, kiddo. We're in the middle of the Laurentian mountains, and signals get bounced around and lost all the time. You ever try to make a cell phone call from out here?”

She rolled her eyes. “Gerry, I am a Caribbean girl from the city. In what twisted universe do you think I would actually want to come out into the middle of the northern damned wilderness?”
“Uh, camping?”

She snorted. “Camping is something white people do because they don't know any better. The only time I'm ever going somewhere there aren't flushing toilets is if I am on assignment in the field.”
“Anthropology, right?”

“Not anymore. Hell, my thesis is still on my computer at home. Maybe the zombies will enjoy reading it, if they can manage the three-story walk-up. What is wrong with this thing?” she twisted the dial angrily.

“Nothing's wrong with it, at least not yet. Keep abusing it like that and it will get broken. Come on and have breakfast.”

“Shit. Shit shit shit! I don't even know if they're alive or dead, if he's alive or dead. How the hell am I supposed to sit calmly and have waffles when everyone I know could be dead or worse?” she scrubbed at her eyes with the heels of both hands, willing herself not to cry. She was more tired than she'd thought, even after a full night's sleep, her head ached, as did every single muscle in her body. She rubbed at her shoulder where the seat belt of Jordan's car had left a bruise that was even now turning an ugly shade of purple. Poor Jordan, whose last name she didn't even know, whose car had taken them out of the city, who was the only reason she had come as far as she had, and whose broken body she'd had to leave behind in the car when the zombies had come for them, her skull crushed on impact. At least Jordan hadn't been bitten before she died; that was some small consolation, knowing that the girl wouldn't be coming back. Cold comfort, but it was something.

“Come on, now, take it easy,” Gerry sounded nervous, and maybe he was right to be. He'd pulled her away from the mob of zombies that had caused Jordan to crash the car to begin with, but apart from that he didn't know anything about her. For that matter, she knew next to nothing about him, except that he appeared to be some sort of eccentric retiree who had made a point of living almost entirely off the grid for the past twenty years.

He'd found her, backed up against the trunk of a large tree, gripping a tire iron in hands turned numb by the freezing rain that had been falling steadily for hours, coating everything in a thin layer of ice. The zombies had been slowed down considerably by the freezing rain, which had likely saved her life, but if Gerry hadn't intervened she'd likely be one of the ambulatory deceased right about now, dragging a body without a heartbeat around the deserted back roads of the Laurentian mountains. At first there had been only a handful of them —more than she could handle on her own anyway, in her current condition— but soon their low, keening moans had attracted more, until she was surrounded, the tree behind her the only thing keeping them from flanking her from all sides. He'd laid into them with a shotgun, turning the fine rain crimson as their heads disintegrated under the impact of the buck shot.

The events of the previous night were already beginning to blur together. She could remember the car crash, could remember crawling out on her hands and knees, the stomach-churning terror as she'd heard the first crackle of underbrush, the frantic scramble to retrieve the tire iron from beneath Jordan's stiffening legs. She hadn't believed it at first when the big man had come crashing through the trees, shotgun blasts roaring in the night, and had tried to drag her away. She'd fought him, struggling against the strong grip on her wrist, until he'd yelled loudly enough to get through to her. Ten hours of sleep, seventeen varied stitches, and a hot meal later, and she was feeling marginally better.

“Is it wrong of me to want to know what happened to my boyfriend?”

“'Course not. But no one's answering right now. We'll leave the radio on, and I promise you we'll be able to hear it if anyone does answer.”

“Fine.” She pushed herself painfully to her feet and shuffled after him into the kitchen, where he'd laid out what was obviously every single dish and piece of cutlery he owned, which still didn't quite add up to two full sets. There were two battered tin cups on the table, two mismatched plates, each chipped, two knives, a fork and a spoon. “Not used to company, are you?”

He grunted. “You're the first in ten years. I don't entertain much. Want some eggs? I got some left over, might as well enjoy them before they go bad.”

She nodded and slid gingerly into one of the wooden chairs at the rickety table. Gerry's cabin was small, and the kitchen was little more than a wooden stove and an ice box in a tiled portion of the main room. Still, with the fire going, it was cosy, in a rustic kind of way. “I'd offer to help, but right now I feel as though I've gone a few rounds with a de-clawed grizzly bear.”

“That's fine. I hope you like your eggs crunchy. Never did bother learning how to cook them any other way.”
She laughed at that, the sound thin and cracked, but real. It was the first time in days, and it felt good. “Crunchy is my favourite kind.”

Before he could answer, a burst of static came from the other room, and Sara bolted for the radio as though she hadn't just been in a car accident and then attacked by zombies. She pressed the com button so hard her knuckles turned white. “Hello? Is anyone there? Can you hear me? Please say you can hear me!”

Another burst of static, and then a man's voice. “I copy you five by five. Who is this?”

In spite of herself, Sara felt tears spill down her cheeks. “This is Sara Davies.”

The voice on the other end sounded very kind. “Well, Sara Davies, we're very glad to have found you.”
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