“Hello? Is anyone out there?”

Frozen. Still. The only movement was the creeping shadows gliding towards us with the rising of the moon. We were fixed, completely stagnant. The air was wheezing out of our open mouths like buzzing insects. It grated my already raw nerves.

“We are stranded inside an abandoned radio tower just outside Prescott. There are twelve of us, some are children, some are sick. We need help. Please, if you can hear this, we need a doctor. There’s a fever passing through the survivors like wild fire. Please, help us.”

B was starting to fidget with the nick knacks in his pockets and T was fingering the strap of his messenger mag. I felt sick. They were infected, I could just feel it. They were infected and in just a few hours the entire group of survivors would be dead, taking god knows how many would-be-rescuers with them.

“Should we go?” T asked, looking pale in the washed out light of the moon. Maybe he was going into shock.

B was opening his mouth to reply but I beat him to it. “No. They’re infected. It’d be suicide.”

“But they said people are sick. Kids could be sick. We can’t just leave them,” B exclaimed, looking a bit green.

“Yes, we can. We have no idea how many people got to safety before things really started to go to shit. I’m sure someone else heard the transmission and is headed out there as we speak. I don’t want to risk it,” I growl. I was sure that I was going to hell. I mean, what sort of person would just leave sick children to be infected? ‘A smart person’ a little voice tells me. I can’t help but agree with it.

“Kitty’s right. We can’t take the chance. We need to get somewhere safe for the night and stick together,” T mutters sadly, pleading with his eyes for B to understand.

B is silent for several moments, squeezing his eyes shut and swallowing thickly. “OK,” he whispers finally.

“Good,” I state firmly, rubbing his forearm. “For all we know, they could have already turned into Zombies.”

“God, don’t fucking say that!” B hissed with a grimace.

“What?” I ask incredulously.

“That! The ‘Z’ word!”

“Whatever. That’s what they are,” I sigh, rolling my eyes.

“Doesn’t mean we have to fucking talk about it,” B said, throwing his hands up in the air.

“Can we please stop bickering and get back in the car?! I’ll feel better with two tons of metal rage under my hands,” T interjects.

“Good idea,” I soothe, grabbing B’s arm and walking him back to the van. “How’s our gas situation? I can probably find somewhere for us to camp for the night, but I need to know how far we can go.”

T looked are the tank gauge, pulling his lips into his mouth. “We have a little over a half tank.”

“That’s good, right?” B asked.

“Yeah. We can probably make it to the reservation. There won’t be people for miles up there,” I say, smiling a bit. My first since I turned on the news this morning.

We all pile in the van and take off. The radio is back to just white noise, but it’s something to listen to besides our own breaths so we leave it on. Silence seems to be stalking us, riding in the van with us and making us all uneasy. I can only hope that we can hold on to ourselves through all this. It would be so easy for one or all of us to break under the pressure.

The exit for the reservation was about forty miles from where we stopped the van, so the half-hour ride was made quickly with T breaking every major traffic law he knew. Not that it mattered right now anyway. When we turned off the highway, we drove for about twenty minutes looking for somewhere to park for the night. We were all pretty exhausted and the sooner we all got some sleep, the better.

“How about here?” T asked, pointing to an abandoned gas station. It was an old building; family owned and bound to have some food and supplies inside. I nodded in agreement and braced myself for first contact.

Parking, we spilled out of the van and attached the gas pump to the van for tomorrow morning. To my great surprise, the gas flowed freely into the tank and in no time, we were set for the morning. It was one of the old pumps. You know, the kind that pumps the gas and you pay for it later, inside. We really lucked out.

Timidly, I started to walk inside the store. I gripped my sword in front of me, trying to stop my heart from racing and my breath from whooshing from my nostrils. The store was dark and musty with dust curling in the light from the streetlight on the road. It was silent again and I could distantly hear B and T calling for me but my attention was riveted to the far right corner. There, propped against the cooler, was the disemboweled body of a young man.

Blood was everywhere, spread by struggling legs and grasping hands that had long since stilled. Feeling foolish, I checked for a pulse and found none. I moved the arm and found Rigor Mortis had already passed, which meant the body had been there at least a day. I gulped.

It was dead, but I had no way of knowing how long it would stay that way or even if it would reanimate at all. But, my mother always told me to be prepared… so with a mighty swing, I lodged my sword deep into it’s neck, successfully severing the spinal chord and the brain stem.

Hopefully the news was right about that part. Hopefully the thing wouldn’t ‘wake up’ in the middle of the night and eat us all.

T and B almost break the door down as they rushed in. “Are you alright?!” “Jesus, is that thing dead?!” “Are you bitten?” “What happened?”

“I’m fine! It was down when I got in here and I just made sure it wouldn’t get back up,” I shout, waving my sword around.

“Thank god,” B gushed, rushing forward and hugging the breath from me. T soon joined the embrace and for the first time since all of this happened, I felt like we might just be alright.

Breaking away from the doggie pile, I smile at them both. “Lets load some shit in the van before we crash for the night… just in case the shit hits the fan and we need to shit ‘n get.”

“Cool,” T agrees.

We all grab armfuls of food and drinks and stuff it in the back of the van. We would probably have enough food for a couple days and enough liquid to keep us from dehydrating.

Wearily, we trudge in the store and pile a few travel blankets on the floor in the back. With the door locked and secured as much as possible, the van prepped for the morning and all three of us safely tucked into the makeshift bed, I allowed myself to close my eyes and pray we make it to daylight.