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[personal profile] strryeyedgrrl
The truck bounced a bit down the highway and she was acutely aware of noise it was making. This wasn’t a necessary trip and it could likely get them killed. She knew this and he knew this and she appreciated his willingness to go along with this regardless of the risk. She could already see the biters rousing on the sides of the four-lane interstate, but they were moving too quick. Her only concern lie three exits ahead and four left turns from the offramp. She wasn’t sure what she’d find, but she hoped against hope that it would be worth the wasted resources.

She had argued against this journey. Too much time had passed and it was unlikely she would find anything good waiting for her there. He had argued in its favor – she needed to know, regardless the outcome. He gained nothing from this, nothing but putting himself in unnecessary danger. They’d already confirmed that his family was gone and those that they had not heard from were even further away, states away, and they may never know their true fate.

But her family.

The knowledge of her family’s fate was now just two exits away.

She took a deep breath. She wrapped her arms around herself and looked out the window. The once-familiar landscape had changed drastically in three months. Smoke rose in various directions and the bodies rose from the overgrown mustard weed as they passed.

One exit.

The last word she’d had from her husband had been back at the beginning, before the cell service had gone down. She’d gotten out one last phone call to him – he’d gathered their son from school and they were holed up in their house. The biters had not inundated the neighborhood yet, but things were breaking down. They’d leave only if they had to, only if supplies ran out or if the situation deteriorated. They’d whispered fervent words of love to each other. She’d heard her son’s voice one more time. She’d wished she could reach through the cell signal and be there to grasp onto him and hold him – them both – close.

The line had died before she could say goodbye.

She kind of preferred it that way.

They’d only had enough supplies for a few weeks, maybe a month. She knew that they were probably long gone.

That was best-case-scenario.

“Junebug.”

She looked up at him. They were idling at the top of the overpass. For a brief moment, there were no moans outside the cab of the truck.

“Four lefts, straight on till morning.”

He nodded and swung the truck to the left.

She put her palms on the dash and stared out the window.

Her breathing picked up the closer they got.

Two lefts. She smelled smoke.

Three lefts. He was breathing fast, too.

Four lefts.

The house at the end of the street, the one that handed out Twinkies on Halloween, had burned to the ground.

There were no biters that they could see. Yet.

There was a wreck halfway up, blocking the road from about three houses away from hers. They would have to go on foot.

Her legs felt numb as she climbed out of the truck. At two houses away, she could finally see around the wreck. His car was in the driveway.

“His car,” she said, to him and to no one at the same time. She didn’t wait for a response.

She took off running.

Time took on a slow quality at that point. She remembered, later, the feel of the wind against her hair as it whipped behind her. She remembered spotting the open passenger door, the biters in her path. She took them down without much thought.

He raced behind her to catch up. He’d seen. He’d hoped he could catch her before she did, too, but she was too focused.

The sight of the body drove her to her knees. The still moving, still biting, squirming body.

She screamed at the sky.

The gauntlet fell.

Date: 2014-11-26 03:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strryeyedgrrl.livejournal.com
I want to make a note here, in the comments, and not as an edit to the story.

I know about my use of the word gauntlet and I want to explain it for those that might be thinking, "What the fuck. Does she even know what a gauntlet is?"

It's a couple things. It's an armored glove and it's a form of punishment - the gauntlet track. In this circumstance, I saw it as her armor. A metaphorical armor that's fallen with this devastation.

So there. :p

Date: 2014-11-26 06:25 pm (UTC)
ext_12410: (misc fic)
From: [identity profile] tsuki-no-bara.livejournal.com
there's some really good tension in this. and i guess no story about a person looking for loved ones in the zombie apocalypse is going to end well, but i really wanted the husband and son to be alive.

Date: 2014-11-27 01:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
I did, too... even though I had a feeling they wouldn't be. :\

Date: 2014-11-27 02:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theun4givables.livejournal.com
=/ =/ =/

I feel so awful for her -- but she needed to know. And sometimes knowing is honestly worse than not knowing.

Poor girl.

Date: 2014-11-27 09:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] i-17bingo.livejournal.com
He gained nothing from this, nothing but putting himself in unnecessary danger.

Well, that and his humanity.

Even when you're expecting the worst, when it happens, it hurts, so, so bad. The anticipation and the hope and fear is so well expressed in this that I honestly had to remind myself not to say, "I'm sorry for your loss." Not kidding.

Date: 2014-11-28 08:56 am (UTC)
jexia: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jexia
:( Sad.


Have you seen this video?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gryenlQKTbE

Date: 2014-11-30 03:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] suesniffsglue.livejournal.com
I'm such a sucker for zombie stories. This was so well-told! I liked the different approach of gauntlet, as well

Date: 2014-11-30 06:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alycewilson.livejournal.com
Ouch. The quick-moving unfolding of events towards the end works very real for what she discovers.

Date: 2014-12-01 02:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hosticle-fifer.livejournal.com
It was definitely tense leading up to the reveal! Alas, any purveyor of z-poc fiction knows where it will inevitably go. :D

Date: 2014-12-01 04:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jem0000000.livejournal.com
Aw, the poor protagonist. Such a difficult thing.

Date: 2014-12-01 05:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] crisp-sobriety.livejournal.com
Oh man, poor protag!

I was hoping that the husband and kid would somehow be alive. Felt like a gutpunch when they weren't. Well done!

Date: 2014-12-01 06:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cheshire23.livejournal.com
Some trips just shouldn't be taken...but sometimes you have no choice. You really conveyed the inevitability well here.

Date: 2014-12-02 02:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfshellvenus.livejournal.com
I wanted the husband and son to be alive, too. This is the hardest thing in a setting like this-- almost everyone left behind (left for whatever reason, even just bad circumstances) falls. But even knowing the odds, you have to hope and you have to witness the truth for yourself.

Date: 2014-12-02 01:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eternal-ot.livejournal.com
Oh! this was some great use of the prompt...poor girl though..I hoped against hope that things wouldn't end like that.

Date: 2014-12-02 10:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellison.livejournal.com
Oh man so tragic. So well done! Very good use of suspense!
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