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The town had not been picked over in the same manner that they'd seen other towns on their travels. There weren't many biters, either, which lead them both to wonder if the town's citizens had evacuated before many of them had turned. Regardless, while they had to put down a few on their way down the main street, it was a pleasant surprise to find a place not entirely gutted.

He was out scouting for a suitable shelter for the evening while she rummaged around in what must've been some kind of small town electronics store. There was no more power for those kinds of frivolties anymore, of course, but it was nice to find some batteries or flashlights scattered about. They rarely split up like this and she hoped that they hadn't been lulled into a false sense of security. There were many quiet moments between the two of them, but it was rare to have a quiet moment all to herself. She didn't know how much she liked it. She preferred his company to being alone.

In a backroom of the building, she found what must've been the employee breakroom. Picking up a particularly sturdy-looking chair, she casually smashed it through the glass of a vending machine. It had been one of those refrigerated jobs once - shilling terrible sandwiches and microwaved burritos alongside yogurt and Lunchables. The stench of rotted food hit her nostrils like a freight train, but she didn't mind. There were bottles of water and sports drink in there, the kinds of things that didn't go bad without electricity to keep them cool.

Tucking the supplies into her pack, she looked around. There was a small CD player on a side table. Walking towards it, she realized how much she'd missed music. Aside from the songs she tried to sing from memory or an errant melody floating through her head, it had been ages since she'd heard music played over speakers.

Idly, she wandered over to the payer and flicked open the disc cover. Her eyes lit on the selection. She turned the player around and was pleased to find that it had the option to be used with batteries. She yanked out the useless power cord, pulled up the handle and took it with her. On the way out of the store building, she grabbed a couple packages of D-cell batteries and stuffed them into her pack as well.

She could see him coming up the street and she threw up a hand to wave to him. He waved back and pointed towards the supermarket. They'd cleared it earlier in the day, but hadn't gathered supplies from it yet. She gave him a thumbs up and pointed to the minimart that she was next to. She wanted to find more water - that was her job. His was canned goods and medications.

The minimart was a little more picked over than other places in town. She happily grabbed a few candy bars, the first she'd seen in a couple of weeks. She filled her pack with bottled water and some hand warmers, then headed behind the counter. Above the cash register was a cigarette display. Most of the slots were empty, but lo - a single pack of menthols. She reached on her tiptoes to yank it down. It had been months since her last cigarette. These would be like a delicacy.

Returning from around the counter, she put her pack down on the floor and set the CD player down on the counter. She rummaged in her pack for a handful of batteries, which she plugged into the back of the player. The player thrummed to life nicely and she pressed a few buttons to get it to the right track. Forgetting the outside world for a moment, she packed the cigarettes on her palm, pulled away the cellophane wrapping and pulled out a single stick. She stuck a hand in her pants pocket and pulled out the refillable lighter that she carried with her.

Inhale, exhale. She coughed a bit and the taste was the slightest bit stale, but it was heaven. Leaning against the counter, she jostled the CD player and the song skipped a bit, but kept playing on, a tune from a dead age coming back to hit her in the face with nostalgia.

But I've got to think twice
Before I give my heart away
And I know all the games you play
Because I play them too


Before she really knew it, she was dancing along.

And then, she was singing along, the cigarette dangling from her fingertips.

The sun was setting outside. Her feet moved deftly around a fallen store display. She didn't hear him come up to the open store doorway and she was lucky it was just him and not a biter.

Oh but I
Need some time off from that emotion
Time to pick my heart up off the floor
And when that love comes down
Without devotion
Well it takes a strong man baby
But I'm showing you the door


He leaned against the doorway and watched her, lost in dance and song from another time. The song was silly and trivial, but it was like a ghost shooting across the plains of their landscape. He smiled. She hadn't noticed him yet.

He took a few steps inside, scooped her around the middle and joined her.

Her cigarette smoke wafted around them, scenting the evening air.

Before this river
Becomes an ocean
Before you throw my heart back on the floor
Oh baby I reconsider
My foolish notion
Well I need someone to hold me
But I'll wait for something more


They held to each other tightly.

The music would not last, but this moment would.

Yes I've got to have faith

The sun set behind them.




I, of course, do not own the song "Faith". George Michael gets all the credit for that. It is my hope that Alice and Travesty will be back next week - in the meantime, you get a little more from my biter story arc previously seen here, and here.
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