Saturday, October 31, 2015

Day 31: Aftermath

**Warning: Picture heavy. Um...oh and its long. (Info dump?)**

It was the gunshots—not the nightmare—that woke her.

Veronica had slept long past it, though not without considerable effort. Her sheets were in a ball around her feet, well below the heavy comforter, and Dominic’s pillow was between her thighs. Raising her head, she inspected the room she was in, barely blinking at the sound of more gunfire.

She arose, swinging her legs over the side of the bed and pushed up on her feet. Veronica stretched, extending her arms she arched her back and felt it crack in several places. With a groan, she leaned forward to retrieve her jeans and stumbled towards the kitchen. Something was cooking and it was making her stomach rumble with a fierceness that was almost amusing. The heavenly scent of bacon and fresh fruit wafted through the air luring Veronica through the narrow corridors of the camper.

Sunlight was bursting through the small windows; its bright, golden rays provoking her half-closed eyes to fully awaken. “Well hey there, Sleepyhead,” Dominic’s voice greeted her as she stepped from the room. “Nice of you to finally join us.” He sat a plate with two strips of bacon, a ham and cheese omelette and hashbrowns on the table beside Jeremiah’s before pouring her a glass of orange juice.

“I didn’t want to. I heard shooting.”

“Josh is showing Liz how to work one of the automatics,” he replied. “They’ve been doing lessons since about six this morning.”

“Oh,” she sighed and turned her attention to the food on the table. “You cooked?”

“I did. Sit. Eat.” She slumped onto the bench and he placed the glass in front of her. “How are you feeling?”

“Fine. Why?”

“You’re still having those nightmares. You practically kicked me out of bed last night.”

“Oh. I’m sorry about that.”

“Don’t be,” he leaned down, quickly pecking her cheek. “I’m more concerned about your mental health.”

“I’m fine, Dom, really.” He turned the fire down on the stove as he looked at her. It was written all over her face and had been since Johnathan’s death; guilt. She regretted letting things happen the way that she had but she couldn’t deny the feelings of anger she felt towards the man that ran her father off the road, causing his death. Dominic understood that but no matter how much he assured her it wasn’t her fault, the look never went away.

“Hey, Dom, can I go down to the pool?” Jeremiah asked, interrupting his thoughts. “Natalie is teaching me how to do CPR.”

“Yes. But…”

“Be careful.”


“Stay away from the fence.”

“And?” Dominic asked instead to keep from getting interrupted.

“And…I don’t know. That’s usually all you say.”

“And wait thirty minutes before swimming,” he grinned. “Or else you’ll get a cramp.”

“Oh. Right. Thanks,” Jeremiah said over his shoulder as he stepped out of the RV. 

Dominic finished the last omelet and was plating it as Veronica slid from the table. “You’re not done are you? You barely touched your food.”

“No, but since we have a moment alone, I wanted to show you something,” she said and walked back towards their bedroom. Dominic took a seat, said a small prayer over his food, and waited for her to return. When she did, she was holding a leather briefcase and manila file folder.

“What’s that?” he asked, taking a bite of his eggs as she placed the table centerpiece to the floor. 

“It belonged to Johnathan. It’s a bunch of documents from his company. A lot of it is research information and statistics on how their ‘subjects’ were performing but this file in particular caught my attention,” she said, dropping it to the table in front of him. “This one talks about the side effects of the drug. BioCore knew from the start what they were creating and still released it to the public. And that’s not all.” Pointing to a passage on another sheet, she waited for Dominic to read.

His eyes opened wider and his fork dropped to the plate with a loud clank. “So this…everything that’s happened…this was all some sort of experiment?!” he asked, snatching the paper from the table. “They made that tanker spill on purpose?”

“And according to some of these other documents, Fairhaven and Cabot Creek weren’t the only towns subjected to their tests. On top of that…they were into WAY more than medical research.”

“Shit. So what’s happened the last few months…?”

“Is only the beginning,” Veronica completed his sentence.

“Good morning!” Jake almost sang as the door popped open to Katrina’s half-awakened face. “I brought you something.”

“Oh yeah? What made you think I’d answer the door?”

“I took a chance,” he replied in his typical, arrogant demeanor with his head cocked to one side. Without asking, he followed her inside and dropped onto the bench across from her, placing the bag on the table.

“Coffee?” she offered, pouring herself a large cup.

“No, thank you,” he answered, cozying himself on the sofa. “I didn’t see you at breakfast; figured you were probably still sleeping. Thought I’d surprise you.”

“With breakfast?” she asked, taking a sip from her mug before pulling the foil covered plate from the plastic bag.

“Well I was kinda hoping you were still in bed,” he smirked at the instant frown on her face. “But then I thought you’re likely the girl that sleeps with a gun; thought it was best to knock.”

“How keen of you,” she replied, hiding a smile behind her cup. “It was nice of you to think of me, Jake. Thank you.” He smiled but said nothing. Instead, he leaned back against the cushion and continued watching her eat. “Was there something else?”

“Nope,” he said, shaking his head. “I just like the presence of your company.”

“Seriously? First breakfast and now a compliment? Are you dying?”

“What?” he shrugged and leaned forward. “I can’t be sweet and thoughtful?”

“Not in the same day and certainly not to me.”

“If not you then who?” he asked with a sigh. “Besides Elise and Josh you’re the only person I can actually get along with. Sure maybe it has to do with fighting alongside you for a night of hell but you’re also the only person who calls me on my bullshit. It’s kinda nice.” Katrina smiled and Jake seemed to loosen up a little more. “So I was thinking…”

The door sprang open and Elise hopped up the steps. “Hey,” she smiled at the two before moving towards her bed. “Am I interrupting something?” she asked with a giggle before grabbing her bag from the bottom bunk. “Josh is out back giving gun lessons, apparently he knows a lot more about them than I thought.” 

“Yeah his dad’s in the military,” Katrina replied. “He has a huge arsenal at home; gun enthusiast.”

“He mentioned that,” Elise nodded, collecting random objects from a tool kit in the closet. “So I figured since he’s going to be busy for a while, I oughta make myself useful in the rec room. JC and I are trying to get some sort of cable running so we can set up a makeshift theater; have something to do at night when all’s quiet,” she finally exhaled as she stopped in front of the table.

“Neat,” Jake said, slightly rolling his eyes.

“Yeah…well…I guess I should get going then.”

Jake sighed as he watched the door swing shut and slowly slid from the bench. “I think I’d better try that whole ‘being useful’ thing Elise was talking about and find something that needs doing too. I guess I’ll—catch you later?”

“Ok. Thanks again,” Katrina waved as Jake backed out the door.

“Still messing around with those bows and arrows,” Troy laughed, coming up behind Matthew as he continued practicing near the south gate.

“Clean, reusable ammo, why wouldn’t I? You know we have a few crossbows in the armory. Since you like guns; it’s about the same only with quarrels. I could show you a few things if you want. You never know when it might come in handy.”

“That’s true,” he nodded. Matthew fired again. The bolt whistled as it cut through the air towards its target and hit the bullseye dead center. “Nice. I don’t really think you need practice. You seem pretty well versed in the weapon.”

“It’s not so much practice as it is keeping myself at the top of my game. Unlike many of the others here, I’ve been hunting since I was 8 so I know my way around every kind of weapon. But skill can fade over time if not used. I like to keep in shape,” Matthew said, sending another arrow soaring. “So what are you up to, Troy?”

“Nothing really. I was thinking about making a gas run; came to see if you wanted to maybe tag along.”

“Sounds good. That generator in the community room is half full but it’s good practice to keep the stock up. Let me tell Nat and we can head out.”

“Ok. I’ll meet you at the gate. Oh and you can bring your bow,” he smiled.

“Matt, hey, have you seen that brown bag with the first aid kit?” Natalie asked as he stepped into their camper. “I’m showing Miah how to properly apply a tourniquet and I can’t find my ace bandage.”

“You try JC’s bunk? He might have taken it for something.” She stood on the side of Jake’s bed and took a look around on the top bunk. “So Troy and I are heading into town. We’re making a fuel run.”

“Oh are we out?” she asked, moving a few books and JC’s pillow to the side, her eyes fell on the item she was looking for.

“Close to it. We should be back before nightfall.”

“Found it! Thanks!” she slipped it inside the bag on the table, grabbed a bottled water and turned. Her eyes locked with his before roaming down his chest taking in his full appearance. The black t-shirt he wore was tight around his arms showing off the well-toned muscles that she couldn’t help but drool over and reach out to touch. “You’ve been hard at work I see,” she grinned, noticing beads of sweat glisten on his skin. Matthew leaned back, resting against the kitchen counter as Natalie continued tracing the outlines of his pecs beneath his shirt. He moaned, one arm reached out and gripped her around the waist.

Her soft hands rolled up his chest and Matthew lowered his head, resting his forehead against hers, brushing their lips gently and moved in for a kiss that took her breath away. Her hands slid around his neck, pulling him closer as she felt his tongue graze her bottom lip. Natalie opened her mouth to allow his tongue to dominate hers. Before she knew it, he had her flush against his chest, and his lips hungrily searching hers. A breathless moan escaped her parted lips as he deepened the kiss, pressing her against the table. Her hands frantically clawed at his hair and she sucked on his tongue as he drove it deeper into her mouth. Softly, he pecked her lips as he started backing away. “I don’t like leaving without doing that first,” he sighed.

“And I don’t think I’d ever let you,” she giggled and stole another quick kiss. “Be careful out there, Matt.”

“I will. I’ll see you when I get back.”

“The tomatoes are ready!” Nina danced excitedly as she snatched the basket from the ground and headed forward.

“Well!” Liz exclaimed and knelt beside her to help harvest. “With so many in stock, I think we need to figure out what we’re going to do with them.”

“PIZZA!” Nina shouted and placed another two into the basket.

“Pizza? I don’t think I’d be very good at that.”

“That’s ok, Roni can do it. She’s really good at making stuff up.”

“Oh yeah. Last night’s soup…”

“Bouillabaisse,” Nina said.

“Yes, that. It was really delicious. I loved the shrimp the most.” 

“I helped with that,” Nina beamed. “Roni said she likes having me in the kitchen. Cooking is a lot of fun. I used to help my Mom. Spaghetti night was my favorite. She’d let me snap the noodles and put them in the pot and then we’d melt the butter and I got to spread it on the garlic bread,” Nina sighed. “I miss spaghetti night.”

Liz looked up at the little girl with a frown. She had lost everyone she knew and became an orphan overnight. It was hard and Liz found herself bunking with her most nights. It was the nightmares that really did her in. Seeing her mother violently ripped apart while they were on a camping trip as she hid in a nearby cabin. It was luck the park rangers found her when they did and got her safely home. But it was a gruesome scene that would not leave her any time soon. And that coupled with the idea she’d never see her father again was enough to keep her up nights.

Liz explained the accident that befell him. No one could have foreseen him going back into the store. Nina cried for days. And although there really was no getting over the loss she was trying to cope. “I tell you what, after we’re done making your pizzas, why don’t we save a few of these for a sauce? We may not have spaghetti but any noodles would work, right?”

“Yes!” Nina jumped excitedly, her little face radiated and she dropped another tomato to the basket.

The physical effects of the chemical spill were markedly clear, but it was only half of the devastation. The damage to the survivors’ outlook and resolve had also diminished. Many had given up hope. While others were thrown into a pit of despair having lost loved ones and their homes.

Lawlessness ran rampant across the nation as violent gangs sprang up everywhere, attacking not only the dead but also the living. There was no police. No government. Not even the military was prepared. No one was coming to help. 

Food was quickly becoming scarce as stores, small businesses, and even homes were being raided for whatever loot people could find. Restless mobs of zombies continued roaming the streets, their numbers steadily growing as many found themselves incapable of fighting them off. Without a group at your back, it had become increasingly unsafe to travel the city. The death toll had reached tens of thousands in Cabot Creek alone. 

Matthew clutched the grip of his rifle and aimed dead center at the zombie’s head. When he pulled the trigger bits of brain and skull sprayed everywhere and the zombie hit the wall. “You think you can hurry that up?” he yelled to Troy as he quickly glanced over his shoulder. Blood spilled from beneath the corpse and he stepped back in front of the group of three remaining.

“I’m trying,” he growled. “Someone locked the nozzle on the chain and I’m trying to get it unstuck.” Matthew cleared the remaining zombies and rushed back to the truck to assist Troy. Finally unraveling the hose, Troy got to work filling the tank in the back of the pickup as Matthew continued keeping watch. 

“It’s so desolate,” he said, maintaining visual of both sides of the streets. “Not a single soul around for miles.”

“That’s probably the best thing about the country,” Troy replied. “No neighbors, no one to really worry about sucking your brains from your skull,” he laughed. The nozzle clicked off, indicating a full tank and Matthew came around the side to once again help. Grabbing a bottle of additive, he poured it in both reservoirs to preserve the fuel, recapped the bottles and waited for Troy to get back behind the wheel. “How long do you think we can keep going like this?”

“Really? I’d like to hope forever but, there’s always a chance things can change.”

“Do you think it’ll ever get back to normal?”

“After everything that’s happened; the things people have seen and done, there’s no such thing as normal anymore. Let’s get back. It’s already been a few hours. I don’t want the others to send a search party.” 

The darkening countryside began to shift into faint shadow as the sun lowered beneath the horizon. The face of the mountain was shrouded in darkness as Natalie rested just on the edge of the pond. The weather was beginning to cool down. A gentle breeze stroked through her hair and she collected the ends of her sweater and tugged it tighter.

Looking out into the empty countryside, she sighed at the almost peacefulness of its appearance. It would have been nice out here; calming even. If not for the niggling sense that something was coming.  The water below was dark, almost pitch black as if it reflected the changing moods in the air. 

A nearly full moon peeked over the eastern horizon. Its pale lunar light giving the surrounding forest an almost eerie glow as the wind swept over the trees again. “Penny for your thoughts?”

Natalie spun at the unexpected voice. She had been waiting for Matthew, but instead found Josh.

The sun had almost disappeared completely. The entire sky was aflame in dazzling shades of orange and red and the air was becoming cooler. Natalie wrapped her arms around herself as she stood staring out into the nothingness. “I’ve heard movement in the forest,” Josh said.

“What? When?” Natalie asked, worried that others may have discovered them. They had the occasional stray zombie but never any large numbers this far out into the country. They had been lucky to discover the abandoned park. Lucky in the sense that there were very few zombies occupying the remaining RVs on site. And as for humans, there hadn’t been much if any traffic along the highway and none that drove this high into the mountains.

“Last night when Elise and I were doing the regular patrol. At first I thought it was nothing; wild animals or something. But this morning, JC and I went out to look and we didn’t find any animal tracks. They were footprints.”

“Someone’s out there? How many? Have you seen…?”

“I’m not sure. JC and I were going to discuss it tonight at the meeting.”

Natalie’s heart sank to her stomach. Troy and Matthew hadn’t returned yet and panic was quickly beginning to set. “Matt’s not back. He said they’d be home before it got dark. Do you think they’re ok?”

“It hasn’t been very long since they left. It takes 45 minutes to even get to town. If they haven’t made it back in another 30, I’ll get a few people and we’ll go look.” She nodded but Josh’s reassurance did little to ease the growing concern burning at the back of her throat. “We should get inside or at least in a more populated area.” He waited for her to move and swiftly followed after.

“That oughta do it,” JC said as he backed away. “Try it now.”

Elise pressed the button on the television and watched as static filled the screen. “You did it!” she yelled.

“WE did it,” he corrected with a smile. “Oh yeah, this is good. Get some popcorn, some whoppers and a large coke and just sit and chill.”

“Oooh! Movie posters! We should look for some next time we’re out; really do the place up,” she danced excitedly, making him laugh. “And more movies, any and everything we can find!”

“The only problem with movie night is there will always be a few people missing, you know patrols and all.”

“I know! We could…um…do like theaters, like regular theaters and have screenings at different times throughout the day that way no one gets to miss out on the fun.”

“Sounds good,” JC said, moving the laptop from under the table. “Now. What do we have on that DVD rack to watch?”

“A lot of old stuff but some of it is pretty good. We have Nosferatu, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill Volumes one and two, Jackie Brown; someone was a huge Tarantino fan,” she sighed, “Um, all of the Die Hards, The Jungle Book, Silence of the Lambs, Toy Story, Goonies, The Usual Suspects and oooh, play this one,” she said handing him The Lost Boys DVD. “This is one of my faves!”

She danced excitedly as he popped it into the laptop and pressed play. “Moment of truth,” he said.


“Well, everything except the sound,” JC sighed.

“Aww,” Elise huffed. “I guess it’s back to the drawing board.”

“Matt, you’re back!” Natalie exclaimed, moving towards him.

Without breaking stride, he tightly gripped her hand in his and pulled her behind him. “Get everyone to the meeting room, now!” he instructed of Josh and Troy.

“Oh hey guys, check this out,” JC said as the door opened to Matthew and Natalie.

“Not now,” Matthew replied, waiting as everyone quickly filed in and took seats.

“What’s…up?” JC asked, moving with the others to an available chair.

“Something’s come up and it’s something that concerns the entire group,” Matthew started, leaning his gun against the wall.

“We’ve been found,” Troy announced to a distressed crowd.

“To be fair, we don’t know for sure that they actually saw us but we’re going off the assumption that they did. In which case, we need to prepare for inevitability of them discovering our location,” Matthew added.

“Found by whom?” Katrina asked, sitting up in her chair.

Matthew glanced at Troy and allowed him to take lead. “Another group of survivors. We were pulling out of the station when we spotted their group headed towards town in a red jeep. They pulled into a Denny’s parking lot beside a blue van with a family of four inside. Without cause and without provocation they opened fire.”

“Oh my god,” Veronica gasped.

“Two people in the jeep hopped out and raided the van. These people are animals! I watched them step over a little girl’s body to take her bottle of water,” he growled. 

“People?” Liz repeated as if the word left a bad taste in her mouth. “Why would they turn against the living?”

“Survival,” Matthew answered. “We know most of the stores in the local area have been raided. It’s been hard finding much of anything lately, even in the clothing stores. It’s bad out there. Really bad. Now we’ve had it good here for the last two months but it’s important we don’t let ourselves become stagnant. Trouble could be at our door at any second of the day and I want us to always be ready. I know some of you wanted to call a meeting earlier about concerns you’re having so I want to open the floor to anyone with something to say.”

“JC and I,” Josh started. “The other night while Elise and I were on patrol, we thought we heard something. JC and I checked it out the next morning and found footprints just outside the gate. There were no other signs and the trail came to a dead stop just at the base of the mountain. It’s sort of like they erased the path they took. We need to be extra vigilant. Never travel anywhere alone even while in the compound. Stay in well-lit areas and always keep a weapon on you at all times.”  

“I know we’re all scared and we’re talking about what’s happening in the now, but I thought it might be important to mention some paperwork Roni found. It belonged to…uh…BioCore,” he said, glancing in Nina’s direction. “It details the outbreak and how it was instigated on purpose.”

“What?” Jake exclaimed. “They destroyed countless lives for what? Medical research?”

“And military applications,” Dominic added.

“That’s insane,” Natalie said, shaking her head. “How could they do this and get away with it?”

Amidst the chatter and numerous conversations going on at once, Elise heard a noise outside. She stepped into the hallway, straining to hear over the discussion and her heart dropped to her stomach at the next sound she heard. Glass broke. The back windows were shattered. The hurried sounds of footsteps thundered towards her and she rushed back inside the room. “GUYS!” she yelled, scared and out of breath. “They’re here.”

*Author’s Note: I’d like to thank everyone for reading and participating in the voting process. It’s been a load of fun. I hope you have a fun and safe holiday. Happy Halloween!

- The Lost Boys appears as courtesy of Warner Bros.

- For more behind the scenes fun, check out the Bloopers.

- Also, I left the ending opened for a possible sequel. You’ll find a poll for that below.*


The polls are now open. Vote for your chance to control the action! Remember, you can add your own choice to the plot through the comments section or the poll below. Polls close at 12 noon EST tomorrow and reopen at 8 pm EST.


  1. Protect Nina! Protect Nina!

    Alas, now comes the moment of truth. Who in the compound will make a final stand? :(

    1. Indeed! Those people are brutal.

      I'd like to say that the group has the advantage but...those other people have guns too.

      Thank you for reading :D

    2. I concur with protecting Nina. When she grows up she can kill Veronica for killing HER father. What goes around comes around.

    3. Haha that's true. But I don't think anyone (aside from Dominic) knows the truth behind the cause of John's death.

    4. Veronica could start up a therapy journal...confession is good for the soul :P

    5. Lol. Me thinks someone wants to see Roni pay for her sins O.o

  2. I hope Matthew thought to pick up some contraceptives on one of his supply runs. No one wants or needs a baby right now.

    Ha ha, I knew Jake and Katrina would end up a thing.

    Ooooooohhhhhhh, a sequel!!! I wasn't looking forward to this ending so this pleases me :) I don't know about a simself but it would be fun to join in. A survivour would be awesome but I guess everyone wants that. I wouldn't mind being a marauder/invader but I wouldn't want my guy to die in the first scene :P

    1. Hahaha I'd say that they were probably not thinking about it but Natalie's a nurse so hopefully, maybe, she mentioned it to him.

      Lol he was trying. Elise came and messed up his game :P

      But there are so many more characters than survivors, and marauders >:) I wouldn't want to die in the first scene either (also why I didn't put myself or my sims in the story. I couldn't watch them bite it)

      Thank you for reading :D

  3. I have to agree with Goat, no babies are needed, especially with how that chapter ended!!!! It is cute that Dom/Roni and Matt/Nat hooked up. Kat and Jake...well they are still in the flirting stages, but it looks like they could have the start of something.

    Not happy to know that Bio Core wold do this shit on purpose!!! Seriously who the fuck do they think they are??? Man, I want to meet the person behind that and hope a zombie takes a big bite out of their ass!!!! I wonder if that's why no one has come to help, the company has either buried this shit or paid off people. Either way hating them all now.

    That group out there just killing off survivors, not cool! I hope the group can fight them off. They are pretty fortified, but if they sent someone out for scouts, they may have found weak points. :( Matt seems like he's taken the role of group lead, so I'm sure he has a plan. Or hope he does at least!

    Great story as always DJ!

    1. Yes. Babies in an apocalypse are a liability. You can't control when they cry and it would absolutely happen in a moment when you need everyone to be silent. Everyone is getting comfortable and settling in. Both good and bad as Matthew pointed out. But there are blossoming romances which can help keep the spirits up in a time like this.

      BioCore is a malicious company. They spent years researching and developing a powerful toxin they knew could and would potentially wipe out thousands of the population but didn't care. They needed to see how it worked in a real world setting so that they would be able to sell it to the military (or foreign municipalities). And yes, that's largely why no help has been sent.

      There is a bit more to them and maybe (if the sequel airs) we'll get to the bottom of why they're doing what they're doing. I left much open for the possibility of a second story but if it never takes off, this one I think closed decently.

      Matt has definitely placed himself in the leader's role but the rest of the group fell in, no complaints. He's been preparing for something like this since well birth lol. It's good to have someone with the know how and capability in charge.

      Thank you for reading :)