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The fifteen minutes turns to thirty minutes and that thirty minutes turns into hours passing by. Truth be told I don’t know how much time passes, enough for me to get comfy on the trashbags and convince myself I was lying on the smelly mattress that I would sleep on at my grandmother’s home.

I prop a bag beneath my head and rest my eyes.

I manage to drift off into a light slumber.

The zip of the tent makes me pop up in my sleeping bag and my dad pokes his head through the flap.

“You ready, sport?”

“Yeah dad!” I leap out of my bag, pull my sneakers on and crawl out of the tent. My dad and I were camping for the weekend for the first time since Erin had been born and Mom stayed back to care for her. Dad and I hadn’t spent a whole lot of time together recently and I was excited about our time together.

We had been camping at this site for years. Our site was right on Lake Ocyrus, which unfortunately was a large man made lake near our hometown. I didn’t mind it, but I can’t help but feel the whole experience would have been better if it was a natural lake.

Dad sat by the campfire, cleaning a hunting rifle that sat across his lap. I came up and sat down next to him on the log.

“You ready to bag your first deer, son?” he asks me.

I nod and gulp hard. “I think so.”

“I think so too, we wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe you were capable of this.” My Dad takes the rifle off his lap and gets to his feet, I do the same and he hands me the rifle.

“Follow me and hold the rifle with the end of the barrel facing the ground, just in case it goes off. For that reason, never have your finger on the trigger unless you have means to pull it, Miles, you got that?”

I look up at him and nod.

“Got it dad.”

The rifle is really heavy in my hands and I focus really hard on holding it up right and not bouncing the end of it on the ground. I run my finger along the trigger guard and imagine how loud it’ll be when I finally do pull the trigger. I doubt I would be fast enough to cover my ears
when the gun goes off.

“What do you think we’re hunting out here son?”

“Bears? Maybe coyotes?”

My dad chuckles at my response. “No, Miles, we’re going to find a deer to skin to feast on tonight. You are hungry, right?” I nod but the lump in my throat keeps me from responding. “So am I and, in my opinion, you’re old enough to learn to handle a rifle”

We venture deeper into the woods. On my father’s belt hangs a small revolver that he called a ‘snub nose’ and if it was up to me, we would switch guns. His snub nose looks a lot more suitable to me than this long rifle. I do hope he remembers the way back because I surely

I can’t remember the last time my dad and I were able to spend time together. He started working a new job as a pharmacist after he got laid off as a doctor’s assistant for helping supply prescription medicine to a poor family’s son. The doctor was kind enough to put on papers that he only laid off his assistant due to financial reasons and not the obvious breakage of law.

We arrive at a clearing that’s overlooked by a large hill that has a thick tree line at the top, a perfect place for us to hide from our prey.

“You go up to the top of the hill, Miles. I’m going to lay out some bait.” my dad says as he pulls out a bag of corn kernels and begins to sprinkle them around in the open. I begin my ascent up the hill. The rifle becomes heavier with each step. I place the rifle against a tree once I
reach the top and catch my breath.

I sit down against a tree and wait for my father. I began to try and knot together two pieces of torn apart leaf stems. My dad told me it was important to always practice different types of knots during any free time I get. Truth be told, I would much rather this practice then try hunting out but dad keeps telling me it is important for me to learn, so here we are.

My dad comes trudging up the hill and takes the rifle from against the tree.

“And now, we wait, son.” My dad says before taking a handful of kernels and tossing them into his mouth. “The key to this is staying quiet and alert.”

I nod and reach for the pouch of kernels and eat a few. I always loved corn on the cob because of the butter and cajun seasoning my dad would toss on while it was cooking on the grill, but the hard kernels weren’t the same as what I was used to. My dad laughs at the face I make when I spit one of the kernels out.

So much time passes as dad and I wait, I begin to think there aren’t any deer in these woods. Just as I turn my head to ask my dad if we can go back to the campsite and go fishing for dinner, a large Buck pops his head out from the brush below us and saunters out in the opening.

My dad taps my shoulder as if I didn’t see the beautiful Buck and gestures for me to take the rifle in hand. It’s now heavier than it ever has been as I take it and load it with a large, pointy bullet. Sweat drips down my face as I put the butt of the rifle into my shoulder and look down
the iron sight at the Buck.

“You can do this, Miles.”

The Buck lowers its head to feast on the kernels and his antlers stick into the grass.

They’re huge antlers with so many points to them. His dark chocolate eyes reflect the innocence of nature and it feels wrong for me to pull the trigger.

“I don’t think I can, dad.” my voice shakes. “I don’t want to do this, he’s beautiful.”

“Hush, Miles.” My Dad hisses. “Take aim and squeeze the trigger.”

My heart quakes and drums like a marching band as the kicker runs and punts the football. I put my finger on the trigger and the cold metal sends a shiver up my arm and throughout my whole body.

I shut my eyes tight as I squeeze the trigger and the bang comes rattling out the end of the barrel and spits out a bullet at high speed. The Buck’s neck bursts open and the animal topples to the ground. My mouth drops and every part of me shakes, tears streams down my face as my father gets to his feet and races towards the Buck.

The Buck cries in pain and I cry along with it as I run to catch up to my father.

“Dad, it’s still alive.” I weep. “I didn’t do it, I knew I couldn’t, I knew it.”

“Hush, Miles. You still got him.” My father takes a hunting knife out of its sheath, takes the blade in hand and hands me it, hilt first. “It’s up to you to end his suffering.”

“Dad.” my voice continues to tremble as I take the knife and look at the 
bleeding Buck. I get to my knees and hold the knife in hand. “Where do I,” I begin to ask.

“Under its leg and into his heart, Miles.” I take the knife, lift the buck’s leg and put the point of it in his armpit. I take two deep breaths and my dad says, “Kill the damn thing, he’s suffering,” and I push and the Buck rears his head. Its mouth is wide open and its tongue wiggles, but instead of a 
deer’s goat like cry, comes the shriek of a Fast-mover.


My head snaps up through the garbage bags that covered me and I gasp several times, trying to catch my breath and inhale the fumes of what has been sitting in the dumpster for God knows how long.

My nose had stopped bleeding and when I twisted my mouth from side to side, I could feel the crusted blood break apart and the flakes scatter across my chest. I wipe the cold sweat from my brow and get to my feet. I lift the lid of the dumpster up slightly and peer out onto the

Night had fallen and I can’t see a damn thing out on the street. I would kill for a glow stick or a flashlight, I wish I had brought my backpack with me from the bank. I grimace and then remember seeing the flashlight in the cop car, that’s now probably over run with Fast-movers. Worth having a look at least. I push off the trash bags that cover me and strap the
glock behind the belt loop of my pants.

Slowly and carefully, I lift the lid back up and squeeze my body through the tight crevice. I hold onto the edge and drop my feet to the uneven pavement. As soon as feet touch the ground, I lower myself down and squint through the darkness. I figured the way I came still had an abundance of Fast-movers crawling around, so I went around the buildings opposite of the alleyway and come out down the street where I had crashed the cop car.

I’m careful with each step I take, I don’t want to accidentally bump into a Fast-mover like how I did earlier. I’m practically on my hands and knees crawling, but my eyes adjust to the darkness and I can make out some of the Fast-mover’s on the street. Oddly enough, their blind eyes almost have a glow of orange to them, meaning if they were facing you in the dark, the faint
orange glow would reveal their position.

Finally I see the red and blue lights from the cop car’s lights bouncing off the walls of the buildings down the block. Infected still roam the street but lost interest when the siren finally cut due to prolonged use. Many still surround the actual car and I can even see one sitting with its head back in the driver’s seat. I mouth the word ‘fuck’ and look around for something to throw down the street.

My eyes set upon a computer case lying on the ground and I lunge to it. I open it up and find a Macbook in the leather binds. With a spin of my boots and a quick pull back of my arm, I send the laptop flying down the street, in the direction I had just came from. A few seconds pass before it smashes through a car window.

The Fast-Movers scream and race towards the noise. The one in the driver’s seat of the police car falls flat on its face as it gets out the car then gets up and runs with the rest of its infected comrades. I couldn’t believe the poor bastard had the same bad luck I had when I was
getting out of the damn car. 

I quickly dart over to the police car and see that the infected in the backseat was still trapped and banging on the plexi-glass. I pay him no mind and snatch the flashlight out of the cup holder. I click it on and the light cuts through the darkness. I use the light and run back as fast as I can to the precinct, hoping that Dan, Geoff and everyone else will still be there.

My boots making a *plapping* sound as I run but thankfully they’re not too loud. I turn the corner to Richmond Ave and see the precinct in the distance, but that’s not my destination. I flash my light over the windows of the office building Dan, Winston and I plotted in and wait. No one comes to the window. Against my better judgment, I run around back and go up the stairs and into the office space. I checked the cubicles and the larger offices that were on this floor and there wasn’t any sign of anyone. The shadows that form from the flashlight startle me, even though I discover I am the only resident in the office.

“I’m hoofing it alone then.”

I can’t imagine how Erin is without me there. The thing I couldn’t stomach however was the thought of what she thought when everyone else got back except for me. Jesus, she has to be hysterical.

As I jog through the empty streets, it surprises me how few infected are roaming the streets. In retrospect, the majority of the infected in the area must have been drawn due to the police siren and gunshots I caused earlier, so it would make sense. I pass by the bank that Dan, Winston and I played Blackjack in hours ago and I turn to pop my head in. I went right to the
back room where we had stashed the medicine supplies, to make sure they had come back for everything. Obviously they did, none of the duffle bags and backpacks remain.

I wonder if they had searched for me, in the hours that I had slept in the dumpster. I can't imagine how they could have though, the horde that came after me was huge. There must have been hundreds of infected that followed the drone of the siren. I leave the bank and shine my light on the street names at the intersection I was on. I couldn’t remember which way it was to the apartment, all I could remember was that it was right
on the bay and if I could find the bay, I’d find home and Erin. So, in a last ditch effort, I play Eni-meni-mini-mo with the street names and went for whichever one I landed on.

My jog continues.

I turn left, then a right, then another left and bing, bang, boom, I begin to smell the sea-salt in the air and I smile. I follow my nose and before I know it, I can hear the cawing of a sea-gull and a very faint shriek of a Fast-mover. I jog under the gull and after long last, I finally see the isolated apartment. My jog turns into a full on sprint and I almost start to cry.

As I approach the apartment, I think about how I’m going to get in due to the barricade that’s set up against the front entrance. My best chance is to flash my light on the windows of the floor we’re staying on and hope it doesn’t result in me getting shot. My finger clicks on the flashlight and before I raise it, the front entrance opens right up and Dan saunters out in full armor, followed by Hailey. Neither of them see me.

“You need to go get him, but not now, it’s too dangerous at night, Dan.” Hailey begged.

“That boy is out there and that little girl is crying for her brother, Hail, what am I supposed to fucking do? Sit here and comfort her, say everything's going to be okay. I’m bringing him home or putting him down.” Dan growls through his mask.

“You won’t have to look far!” I call out as I run to them.

“Oh my God.” Hailey covers her mouth in surprise.

I smile at both of them and meet Hailey with a hug as she meets me halfway from where we stand. Dan saunters up and removes his helmet, revealing his very mismanaged smile.

“I can’t believe you’re alive, lad.” Dan says. “We heard the crash and came running after the horde followed you. There was nothing we could have done, we had no idea where you went or if you had gotten out in time.”

“I don’t blame you, Dan.” I smile at him. “It was too crazy for anyone to help, I had to hide in a dumpster.”

“Explains why you stink like shit.” Hailey comments.

“Save your negative comments for another time, I need to see Erin.” I say.

“Of course, I’d at least take off the sweater before giving her a hug love, you smell absolutely wretched”

I race up the steps before Hailey and Dan, three steps at a time. I was out of breath by the time I got to the top floor and I rip off the magazines that are taped to my arms. I look at the one that was taped to my shoulder and had blocked the one Fast-mover from biting into me. I couldn’t have been more thankful for whichever one of them came up with the idea, it really did
save my life today.

I open the door to the apartment and I see Geoff and Jack stand up from the sofa they were both sitting on.

“No fucking way,” Geoff grins me. “You made it.”

“You have no idea how much you saved our asses back there,” Jack says. “We figured we’d take one of the cop cars out, but knew we’d have to deal with that horde.”

“Thanks to you, we didn’t have to.” Geoff comes up and pats me on the back. “

"You really saved a lot of our energy and a lot of hassle. We both appreciate you, kid.”

“You’re very welcome, but you must excuse me, hold on.” I say as I move pass them and go to the bedroom where I see Hannah drawing with Erin. A part of me feels angry that they left me behind, but what else could they do? They had their mission and I had mine, I just feel lucky to have made it back safe and sound.

I hear Jack say in a hushed tone behind me, “What pile of shit did he fall into?” but I ignore it by stepping into the master bedroom.

Erin doesn’t say anything or scream or cry when she sees me, she simply gets up, runs over to me and leaps into my arms. I fall to my knees and hold the back of her head close to me. I start crying myself and tell my sister how happy I am to see her and be back.

Instead of saying she missed me or that she’s glad I’m okay, my eight year old sister asks. me why I smell like what comes out from a dog’s behind. I only continue to hug her and not dignify her question with a response.

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