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  • ramblingreader3


“So, are you ready to head to the cafeteria? I hear people are already getting seated,” Shaun patted her on the back trying to change the subject.

“Yeah, I have to say, I’m a bit nervous. I really wasn’t important before all this happened. I also wasn’t happy either. A bit strange hey? It took an apocalypse for me to find what I’d always been looking for; purpose, love and friendship.” Dylan put her hand on her belly and smiled.

“Everyone here is grateful for you. They just want to hear your story. If they didn’t they wouldn’t come.” Shaun grabbed the clip board and started checking things off the list. “We are all set here and I will be down soon to listen as well.” Shaun smiled. She already knew Dylan’s story. She knew most people’s but she still enjoyed listening to them tell it again. It was nice watching people open up. they had been together for years now and still many didn’t know one another. It felt like this was bringing more people together and she couldn’t argue with that. Dylan nodded at Shaun.

“Don’t worry, I will get the guys to put it all somewhere safe for now.”

“Okay, again, thank you,” she left Shaun to finish up and headed inside.

The cafeteria was packed again. Dylan honestly didn’t believe so many people would be interested in their stories about their first day in the new world, but here they were. Shaun was right, the more people who knew the more prepared they all could be. Wes was already sitting up front with BB, Dean and Philip. She made herself a hot chocolate and settled in between BB and Wes. They both smiled encouragingly at her. She felt comfortable but still hesitant. She put it aside as everyone began to fall silent and felt Wes place his hand lovingly on her knee. She placed her hand on top of his and turned to BB.

“Thanks BB.” She tapped his hand.

“Did she show you already?”


“I knew that woman wouldn’t be able to keep a secret,” he smiled, “I hope you like it all.”

“I think we'll be just fine now.” Dylan smiled and whispered into Wes’s ear. His eyes went wide and he stood up walking over to BB and gave him a giant hug. Dylan smiled and waited for him to come back and sit down before she began. Everyone settled in quietly.

“I was married before.” She said it louder than she intended to and cleared her throat trying to steady her nerves before she continued. “It seems like an entirely different life, as though it isn’t even mine, but I still hold all the memories.” She noticed many people nodded in agreement.

“Honestly, I feel horrible about this but I had never really loved Jake. That was part of the problem. We had been married since college and I had wished I had loved him, maybe we would have been happier, I dunno. He was good to me and I was good to him, but there hadn’t been much passion in the relationship since the beginning. He would often wake up early and make me coffee. He would bring it to bed and wake me with a sweet and tender kiss on the forehead. It had become our routine and I guessed that because this had been the first relationship he had ever had that maybe he had convinced himself that, that is what loved ones did. In the evening he would rub my feet while we watched our favourite shows and we would cuddle on the couch. The truth was, we were terribly boring together. We held onto the relationship for safety. It was as though on some weird level we knew neither of us would hurt one another and that was that.” She shifted uncomfortably in her chair.

“When I had met Jake in university I was done with men. I had never had a great relationship with anyone that treated me very well. Jake had simply never been in a relationship. We met and he just never left. Eventually it became comfortable and I stayed because he was safe. He became a marine biologist and I had graduated in medical anthropology with a focus on herbal remedy medicines. Which is what I teach all of you here. I had wanted to start a family and he wanted to focus on a career, that is when the relationship really ended, yet we stayed together. It was simply comfortable and I began to believe there wasn’t anything such as happiness in a relationship, all their was, was comfort. Obviously, I don’t believe that now, but that was a different life.” Dylan smiled at Wes as he held her hand.

“I had decided that I never wanted to step off his pedestal so I eventually gave up wanting to have children. It was difficult at first but then the years blended together, the routine became a continuous loop and I accepted the consequences of simply never being truly happy, but never feeling uncomfortable with my life either. Then in a blink of an eye everything changed. It was like any other evening. I had cleaned the house and made dinner when I returned from work. I pulled out some papers to look over when my husband walked through the door. I greeted him with a glass of wine.

He thought he was a bit off from receiving the flu shot that day. He mentioned that some of his colleagues went home after getting the vaccine as well and now he felt like he was burning from the inside out. I leaned in and felt his head. I told him to climb into bed and he agreed. We said our good nights and sleep wells and he turned and walked out of the kitchen”.

Shaun sat listening at the door and then began searching for Natalie’s face in the crowd. She forgot about this part of Dylan’s story and now, knowing what Ben had told her about Natalie made her wonder. She found Natalie at the very back corner, tears streamed down her face. Natalie looked up to see Shaun looking at her. She quickly wiped her face and sat down in a chair. Shaun looked back at Dylan as she continued her story.

“I turned and put some dinner on a plate and walked into the living room. Sitting on the couch I pulled a blanket onto my lap and grabbed the plate, turning on the TV. It seemed that every channel had some zombie movie going on so I decided to rent a movie. I happily ate my dinner and promptly fell asleep on my comfy couch in blissful ignorance,” she chuckled.

“It was about 3am when I woke up to crashes from upstairs. I groggily realized I was still on the couch and the TV was playing some weird zombie show again. I sat up to more thumping then a couple loud bangs. Muting the television I groggily stood and began heading up the stairs. When I got to the master bedroom I could see light under the door dancing across the hallway floor where I assumed my husband was walking from one end of the room to the other. Suddenly there was a loud bang at the door and I jumped back. I stood for a second when there was a loud screech that sent my hands to my ears and my heart to my throat. The sound was unbelievably loud. I stopped, frozen for a second and then felt I should trust my instincts and turned to run down the hallway where I slipped at the top of the stairs and ended up sliding down the steps. I landed at the bottom on my butt surprising myself that I had managed to avoid smacking my head or breaking my neck on anything on the way down. When the screeching abruptly stopped I heard the door shatter open with a loud crack. Tiny bits of wood fell down the stairs. I scrambled across the floor running for the door. I could feel something coming quickly behind me…and all I could think was, but why? Why was this happening? All I could feel was that I was in danger. This thing coming for me from my bedroom was going to kill me, there was no doubt in my mind. Running into the door I fumbled with the locks, I felt as though I was about to choke on my heart when I grabbed the door handle and flung myself out the door tripping down the stairs and landing on my butt on my front lawn. My front door slammed shut and something ran into it hard making another loud thump. I sat and stared in disbelief for a moment attempting to collect my thoughts. The only thing repeating in my head was ‘What the fuck is happening?’ Then my inner voice screamed “GET THE FUCK UP AND HIDE!”

"I looked around. In the distance were sirens. I could hear one of our neighbours screaming. That screeching again but further down the block. I couldn't make sense of this. I managed to stand up and make a run to my car sitting in the driveway. What’s funny about that is I had spent numerous nights arguing with Jake on my choice to leave my car unlocked and at that moment I wanted to yell out, ‘I fuckin told you so!’ Some people laughed through the crowd. Dylan smiled, staring at her hands on the table.

“Getting in the back seat I slid myself down to the floor in the hopes that no one could see me. I reached through the passenger seat and hit the door lock. I peered just over the window just in time to see what was once my husband break through the door and suddenly stop on the small cement porch. His nose to the air. I couldn't see much but I knew it was not my husband anymore. It looked like him, it was wearing his clothes but it was not him. He stood puffing his chest out holding his arms slightly back with his nose in the air. I held my breath for fear he was going to find me trapped inside my car. He took a breath in and out and then the loudest screech I had heard yet came from his mouth. I jumped slightly falling to the floor of my car and covered my ears. I could feel my chest constrict in panic my heart beating so loudly I feared it was going to give me up, when it suddenly stopped. I stayed on the floor, with my eyes closed tight, my hands pressed against my ears curled into a fetal position. I didn't move for what seemed like an eternity. When I felt that enough time had passed I let my hands drop slightly and I listened for everything I was worth. Sirens continued off in the distance. Screams came from houses around my block but I couldn't hear or feel anything close. Arguing with myself for another couple minutes or so I finally found the courage to slowly move putting my hands and feet under me so I could peer out the window again.

Peering out the window, my heart still hammering in my chest and my ears continuing to ring from the sound my husband had produced I was having a horrible time trying to piece together the puzzle of what exactly was happening and so far I only had my flight response to thank for my current survival. I am sure of it even to this day. If I hadn’t listened to my instincts I would be dead.

Thankfully my eyes still worked, I could see what was once my husband, but not husband, standing in the middle of the road down a couple houses. There were five others beside him. They had formed a circle and all had their chests puffed out, their arms back and noses twitching in the air. It looked as though they were attempting to locate something but it simply wasn't registering in my young, naive, safe brain of what it could be. Suddenly our neighbour from across the street burst through her own front door. She was speckled in blood and carrying what looked like a paring knife. She looked like something out of a horror movie though her white nightgown could have been mistaken for an overdone polka dot pattern.

Jake and the others zoned in on Mrs Roberts, before she had time to register how much danger she was in they were on her. She hadn't even had the chance to use the knife in her hand. She was tackled to the ground within milliseconds, her screams cut short as they tore her open from throat to lower abdomen, spilling her insides onto her perfectly manicured front lawn.

I was frozen in fear. Tears filled my eyes and blurred my vision as I was locked into place. I watched them tear the poor woman apart. By the time they were done with her there was nothing of the body left. Blood had been spread from one end of the yard to the other but the body had been devoured. It had taken them less than five minutes. There was a scream off in the distance and the monsters scattered towards the noise.

I stayed in the exact same spot without moving a muscle for as long as I could. My body ached in protest when I finally decided I had to move or stay and die. I thought of the night before. Jay coming home with a fever. The TV and the constant zombie movie? Was it a zombie movie? Or was it the news? ‘Shit’ I remember thinking to myself.

I opened the car door slowly and quietly and crawled out closing it with a click which sounded loud in my ears. I scanned my surroundings over and over before I made a run for my smashed up front door. It was becoming light outside which made me feel slightly braver. I jumped through the door and sprinting up the stairs two at a time. I bounded into the spare room and closed the door locking it quickly. I pushed the heavy dresser against the door feeling like it might give me a small amount of time to come up with a better plan, or simply jump out of the window. I knew I didn't want to take the chance of going to the master bedroom since I knew the door was now in pieces. I turned on the television and switched it to a news channel. I flung open the closet and searched for jeans and a t-shirt to change into from a pile of clothes I had tossed in the cupboard months before. I watched in disbelief as I quickly through on pants and a fresh shirt and sat on the edge of the bed. I kept thinking - ‘What - the - fuck - is - happening?’

People screamed through the streets, people were being eaten, torn apart, the camera was shaking at first and then suddenly was knocked out of the hands of a camera man and sent sliding across the blood covered pavement. It came to an abrupt stop on an angle as it relayed the horrors of chaos and anarchy. The footage was abruptly cut off and the news anchor was caught off guard. His mouth hung open for a moment. He shifted in his seat.

"HAHAHA you are shitting me." He looked into the camera. His face turned a shade of greyish green as he seemed to be receiving information from an ear piece.

It would have been quite funny had it not been for all the horrific detail. I had no idea what to do or where to go. I sat watching for a while before I finally got up and made myself do something. I couldn’t think of anywhere to go so I headed to the greenhouse. I had helped put together a large greenhouse on the edge of town. Many of you have come with me to take plants and clippings over the years. Well that’s where I stayed till I finally bumped into Shaun and well, the rest is history.” Dylan smiled up at Shaun as Shaun walked over to her with a tea in hand.

“You’re going to leave out the part where you saved us?” Shaun whispered

Dylan looked up at her and laughed. Shaun nodded, “We’ve come too far for you to not take an opportunity to tell an embarrassing story about BB.” Shaun smiled.

“You should definitely tell it.” Dylan smiled.

“K, I will tell this one briefly because well, it’s funny. BB and I headed out on a run for supplies. The drive through town was fairly uneventful which was a nice change of pace. We crouched beside a jeep, at the short wooded area behind what use to be Rutherford mall. The jeep was at the far parking lot and stood at the boundary of the parking lot and the trees when suddenly BB stood up to check the lot out and instead lost his balance slid across the jeep making a ruckus. I was in shock staring at him when the first of the screechers began. Chaos caught up to us. Screechers stepped out from behind parked cars and overgrown bushes. We took one look at one another and took off running. We split up running down two separate paths through the parked cars, both of us aiming to get inside an old Canadian Tire. BB had no choice but to change direction when the infected managed to come up on him quickly blocking his options. He chose the path of least resistance picking up an infected and tossing it away as he plowed through. I knew he watched as I ran up and over the parked cars on his far left while he had to choice but to veer to his right to avoid colliding with too many infected. I yelled at him to head straight through the mall, I managed to catch a nod of his head before I had to turn and run faster. BB managed to get to the mechanics place just in time and that’s where I will let him tell you part of the story” Shaun leaned into BB as he smiled. Dylan and BB chuckled beside them.

“Well, I think its pretty genius so…I managed to fling the door open and almost caught my jacket in it when I turned and flung it shut as hard as I could. A metal bar swung into place the second it closed. Luckily the bar held the door as it got pelted almost immediately by the infected. Unfortunately they were all Alpha’s and I knew it wouldn’t be long before the place would be swarming with all kinds of infected. I suddenly became very aware that I wasn’t alone. Six shufflers stood there starring at me. I believe they were just as shocked as I was. They started to come after me when I took off in a sprint to the stair case on the other side of the shop. Instead, I slipped on some spilt oil and crashed into a shelf that went smashing into the wall hitting some levers on the other side. A car that had been suspended in the air for some time finally let loose collapsing on top of all six infected and effectively saving my life. Yes, I am one lucky son of a gun! I did take a second to stare in disbelief as I was sprawled across the shelf that had coincidentally broken my fall” BB looked over at Dean laughing, tears streamed down his face. What was really funny was that Dean knew BB had thousands of stories like that, some of which had saved his ass along with BB’s.

“By the time I met up with Shaun on the other side, Wes was screaming at us to run. We ran to the end of the mall and peeked around the corner. The entire parking lot was occupied by a variety of walking infected. It was only a matter of time before the others caught up with us and the wind wasn’t working in our favour. That’s when we caught the flash from the trees. We weren’t alone. Someone was out there. As we sat there trying to come up with a plan a large explosion took out three houses across the street. Gun shots rang out and the infected turned and headed in that direction. We made straight for the tree line right in the nick of time. That’s how we met Dylan, standing in the forest with long black braided hair, leather jacket, combat pants and a utility belt. She carried a camouflage backpack and had a machete strapped to her thigh. She became my best friend quickly” Shaun put her hand over Dylans and smiled at her.

Shaun stood up and addressed the room, “Hey, I know things have been getting a bit dicy outside. We are up against the infected still and other survivors who would rather rule than band together. We are still trying to make contact off the island and I honestly don’t know what else we are up against. I wanted people to share their stories here so that we would not only remember where it is we came from but also remember that we all have made difficult decisions in order to be here today. We have all lost loved ones, we have all sacrificed and continue to do so. However, we will remain strong because of our strength together. The more we know, the more we understand and can pass down to the next generation, the more we can have confidence in our survival in a world of hope rather than despair” Shaun wrapped her arms around her son and daughter. People began to stand and nod at Shaun and place their hand on her shoulder as they left.

“This was awesome mom, people are talking to one another more than I’ve ever seen. It’s good. People are really opening up to Cole and he’s helping where he can.” Lee said stepping out from his mothers arm.

“I think it’s going well too. Cole and Charlie are both a great addition to us. I’m sure they won’t be the last.” Shaun replied gently touching his face. She couldn’t believe how old he looked. Standing as tall as her his body wasn’t the awkward skinny kid she had watched run through the halls of this massive compound. Now he was gaining more muscle, beginning to train his body to survive in a diverse environment. Or was it the genetics ensuring his survival? It didn’t matter, all she felt was pride for all of the children at the compound. Not only her children were thriving but all of them. They were all close, as they trained and learned together. Under the circumstances she couldn’t have asked for anything better than what was.

“Dylan, do you need us to come down in the morning tomorrow? I know the herbs in the back garden need to be watered, I can take care of it” Pen said while she shoved some of the cookies from the table into her pocket.

“I can help too, we can do it before we have to go to training” Bell piped up nudging her sister to stop fussing with the cookies. Shaun smiled.

“That would be great ladies, thank you” Dylan smiled at Shaun.

“Dylan, how is that project I asked for going? Do you think we can check Nanoose out soon?”

“I think that is going to happen very soon. I am putting some precautions together with Jules, we are working with Nanoose base. I’m hoping things will be worked out quickly” Dylan looked over at the kids eating cookies and stuffing them in pockets.

“Thanks Dylan”

“Shaun, you still think this is a good idea? Us moving?”

“Yeah, I really do”

“K. I trust you” Dylan gave Shaun a quick squeeze and followed Wes out of the cafeteria.

Cole walked into the cafeteria in his full gear. “I’m heading out”

“Good. I think it would be best if you were there”

“Thank you for letting me”

“No need. Be safe out there”

“You got it” Cole turned and left as Shaun took a deep breath, walking over to make herself a coffee.

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