Amelia said ‘Run!’, Cory ran. No way he was going to leave her though, no way at all. He doubled back around the house after running around the nearest corner, the zombie that had tried to chase him gave up really easily and Cory was now standing in what he thought was the backyard of the house behind the one he and Amelia had tried to go into. He saw two zombies in the backyard of Max’s house, a girl and a slow moving guy, the guy started around the side of the house and Cory thought he could take out the girl on his own, he started climbing over the fence when a hand grabbed onto his ankle and pulled him back down into the backyard, towards a bushy evergreen tree, Cory struggled to grab something, anything to stop his journey, nonetheless he ended up under the boughs of an evergreen tree, where he was unceremoniously flipped onto his back to look into his captors eyes.
“You’re just a..you’re justa kid!” Cory exclaimed.
The young man who had grabbed Cory, shrugged and said, “Don’t go nowhere or I’ll hafta whack ya.” And proceeded to sit down next to Cory, where upon he pulled a hand held electronic device out of his pants pocket and started playing it.
Cory sat for a few minutes thinking, they both started when they heard screams from in front of Max’s house, but the other boy put his hand on Cory’s wrist, as a reminder to stay put.
“I don’t think they got her, sounds like they are screaming at each other.” The boys eyes glazed over a little, though his hand did not leave Cory's wrist, his eyes regained their focus, “Oh yeah, she got away, they are fighting, she's in the house.”
“How do you know that?”
The boy just looked at him and shook his head side to side, saying nothing. Again Cory forced himself to think calmly, this kid was not normal, he knew that, the guy had barely struggled to get him off the fence and drag him under this bush.
“You’re a…uh, I mean you are one of them? Right?” he asked tentatively. The other boy nodded ‘yes’, but did not say anything. Curious, despite his situation, he sat up and tried to get a look at what the other boy was playing on his gaming device. “Is that ‘Silent Hill’?”
Again the boy nodded yes so Cory continued, “My mom wouldn’t let me play that, she said it was too violent, I have a DS though it ain’t out for that yet anyway.”
“They don't make it for the DS, they only make games for little kids for that. I didn’t get this until yesterday, I picked up a DS too, hardly had a chance to play anything until last night. My name is Bobby, what’s yours?” said Bobby, his eyes never leaving the screen.
“Cory. Are you with them?”
“Yeah. No. Kinda. I am with Jimbo, and Jimbo is with them. It is complicated. I am like a ‘field agent’. Jimbo says I am his secret weapon, his eyes and ears in the field. Like ‘Ghost Recon’ or something. All I know is I got a DS now too, it is in my bag. What happened to your shoes?”
“Ah, Amelia left them at the hotel room, there was this other lady, Diane, she got bitten and hurt real bad and started to turn into one of them, um, I mean one of you. We left in a hurry I guess, I was asleep. She remembered my games though. I have new shoes in the car.” replied Cory. “So what is it like? You know, changing?”
Bobby put the game on pause and said, “Cold. Really cold, I kinda don’t remember much about it, but I am always cold now, unless it is just after I eat, then I get warm for awhile, I feel almost like I have the flu, unless I eat. Eating is pretty gross, I don’t like it, even though it makes me feel better.”
“Do you have to? I mean what happens if you stop or ate normal food?”
“I don’t know, you can do that when you turn. I think Jimbo wants another field agent.”
“Oh.” said Cory, “When?”
“Dunno, when he can sneak out, I think he wants to do it himself, you get something over anyone you make, so if I did you, you would kinda be mine, even though Jimbo has me, it would not really be the same as him having you too. Probably later this afternoon. Maybe. He might not want another little kid. I dunno.” Shrugging his shoulders he went back to his game.
Thinking to himself about what to do Cory, came up with a plan, not much, but something. He scooted around to sit beside Bobby and stared intently at the screen for awhile, watching him play. After awhile Bobby hit a ‘boss’ monster and could not get by him, he turned to Cory and thrust the machine at him, “Your turn! Start a new guy though, don’t use mine, I have only been playing an hour, so catch up.”
“I think we need another one, then we could play co-op, that’d be awesome.” said Cory.
“No dork it is single player, not even a death match mode, but another PSP would be awesome, ‘cause there are a lot of games that do co-op or head to head play.”
“Uh, we passed a Target store on the way here, stopped by there to get my shoes, they have em too. About eight blocks or so.” said Cory his eyes never leaving the screen as he entered in his user name.
“Yeah? Well okay! We can sneak off when we get tired of this one. No one will know.”
Staying quiet and working his way up to the boss Bobby had been stuck on took Cory forty-five minutes or so, he had watched Bobby play through some of the levels and took full advantage of what he had seen. He also made good progress on the boss monster, almost beating it his first time around, but not quite, much to both of their dismay. A little later they decided to get up and head to the Target store, with Bobby saying, “You don’t try to run away, I can catch you and Jimbo said to make sure you stuck around, okay?”
“Sure, okay, but what happens if we run into, you know, others?”
“We hide, that is all, I will scout things out and if it is all clear you follow. You can’t outrun me barefoot.” said Bobby.
'Probably he was right.', thought Cory, however he would do his best to find that out for sure. Cory made extra sure to watch how to get back to the house and waited for his opportunity. The boys walked and sneaked their way back towards the Target store, stopping in a convenience store when Cory said he was hungry and thirsty, Bobby went in alone and seemed surprised when Cory was still there when he came back out with the food Cory had asked for, double quantities. The boys went around to the back of the store and sat down on a curb, where Cory ate and Bobby sat staring at the food, finally Cory said, “Well? You gonna try it or not?”
Bobby smiled a little and picked up a snickers bar, unwrapping it he smelled it and said, “It is like, different, it doesn’t smell bad, you know, like nasty or something, but kinda like a spring day, good, but nothing that you would want to eat.” He raised the candy to his lips and nibbled a little off the end. “Still chocolaty. Not good enough though, I don’t think I can eat it.”
Cory shrugged and said, “Is it that bad?”
“Yeah, no, not really, but it doesn’t taste right, like you know, eating play doh or wax, you can eat it, but why?” Bobby took a larger bite of the candy bar, chewed it methodically, swallowed and then tossed the bar down. “Nope, I don’t think I want to eat normal food anymore.”
“No ice cream? No chocolate bars? No popcorn or peanuts or lemonade?”
“Probably not.” Bobby picked up one of the mountain dews he had pilfered from the store, opened it, sniffed it and then drank a few swallows down. “This is not bad, I think I need water or something anyway, it is okay, it tastes different though, more chemically or something.”
“Eww, let me try it I got a bad pop once, it was really bad.” After taking a swig from Bobby’s pop, he said, “Naw, it is fine, it is just you I guess. Bummer.”
“You about done? We gotta go, Jimbo won’t like it if we are gone too long.”
“How will he know?”
“Well, it is weird, like a one way phone mostly, he can kinda see things from my side, not really see, but he can get messages and things, sometimes I can get what he is doing too, like if he is fighting or something bad is happening, mostly I try to stay in yelling distance of him. He has sent me stuff before, words and stuff, but that seems to take him more effort and he does not do it very much. If I try though I can send him messages pretty good, easy, even pictures too.”
“So you have to send him the message, it just doesn’t go on its own?”
“I don’t think so, I have to make an effort to send it out. I am not doing that now, or he would be mad. If he knew we were gone, you know.” replied Bobby.
“Okay, let’s go.” Cory got up and the boys headed down Kipling Street back towards the Target store.
A couple blocks later Bobby put his hand out and stopped Cory from going forward, “There is something up there, get behind that dumpster.” Bobby pointed at a dumpster sitting behind a gas station. Cory ran towards it, hitting some rocks at the mouth of the alley caused him some pain and he wondered again why he hadn’t slipped on his new flip flops before getting out of the car. Bobby went forward out of Cory’s sight and after a few minutes Cory got worried, was this a trick? He crept forward on his hands and knees until he could peek around the corner. He saw Bobby on the ground, apparently crying as a woman and younger child approached him cautiously. Once they were next to him the woman picked Bobby up off the ground and hugged him close, in an instance she knew something was wrong and so did Cory, the woman was human, not a zombie. Cory saw Bobby sink his teeth into the woman’s neck, the woman tried to push him away and screamed at the little girl to run, the girl stood in a daze then started screaming.
Cory ducked back around the corner of the building and started to run, this was not what he had planned, however he didn’t think he could help the woman and her kid, he didn’t have his bat. He ran back to the convenience store where he had eaten a few minutes before, going in he saw a rack with flip flops on it and he tore a pair down that looked like his size and put them on. Better shod he looked around for a weapon. Chips, soda bottles, slim jims, nothing. Nothing vaguely weapon like. As he sped out of the store he ran across the street and back towards Max’s house going around a parked car he stopped as almost ran into a zombie emerging from an open door. He swerved right, but skidded to the ground in front of the car, looking back the zombie was slow and still trying to get is bearings, slowly it turned towards him. Cory realized something was under his right hand, metal, he turned to look as he got to his hands and knees, a thing for changing tires, a tire iron, he remembered his dad using one to rotate the tires on his mom’s car. It was short, only about eighteen inches long, but better than nothing and he grabbed it as he finished gaining his feet. He easily outdistanced the slow zombie as he turned down the street leading to Max’s house. He opted for another turn to get him into the back yard of the house behind Max’s, hoping that Amelia was still alive and that he could do something. Far behind him a girl continued to scream, although her mother had fallen silent.