The family was gone. All dead. The plan to clear the zombies at the front of the house had worked, with her almost silent gun Katie was able to cap a few of them from the front door. After the initial attack she taped a new bottle on the rifle, then sneaked around the house and shot the zombies from behind. They were easy marks, slow and pathetic, nothing like those she had dealt with in Chicago. The family had decided to stay the night in the house, Kent put Robert in a basement bedroom and the kids opted to sleep on the old couch down there as well. Katie had decided to sleep in the minivan in the garage. It went against her 'sleep below the level of the ground' instinct, but they hadn't seen any zombies after shooting those outside of the house.
Sometime during the night Robert must have died, then came back and killed Kent. At least that was Katie's theory. Kent was supposed to be on watch and didn't wake anyone when Robert attacked him. Katie, in a sealed car in the garage hadn't heard anything, she woke up when the sun was just peeking above the horizon and knew something was wrong, she should have been woken earlier to take a turn on watch. Upon opening the door between the garage and the kitchen Katie heard a slow, shuffling sound. Flicking on her flashlight she saw that the kitchen floor was stained with blood and gore, someone had died there and they weren't clean about it.
Jess came at Katie first, the girl was in rough shape, it looked like maybe she had been fed on by two zombies, she was missing a large part of her stomach, her bottom rib was bare and showed teeth marks from some viscous biting. The girl was slow too, to get a clean shot Katie had to step towards her and fire. The noise of the rifle thundered through the house and brought the other three out of the basement in short order. Katie shot Bobby before he reached the top of the stairs, then shot Kent as he came into the kitchen.
Robert was faster and warier than the others, but then he had died first and probably had the most food of all of them. More food meant he was a smarter, faster zombie. He stood on the steps just out of sight and called up to Katie, “I don't want you. I hate you for what you did, but I won't bother you.”
Katie didn't say anything, the idea of talking to him was repugnant to her, he had just eaten the ones he loved and was mad that she had killed them. 'What a douche bag.'
“I get it now. I understand what happened.” Robert said.
Silently moving to the top of the stairs Katie aimed at the man's head, he didn't shy away from her.
“I don't think you understand, do you?”
Katie pulled the trigger and blew out Robert's left eye, he fell backward down the stairs and lay silently. 'Huh, I was aiming for the bridge of the nose. I better sight in this gun in today.' She added it to her list of things to do, turned and packed the things she wanted to take with her. Her shotgun was already in the van, in fact most of her stuff was in the van. Katie looked around the kitchen and debated going into the basement to look over the group's other equipment. 'Two guns are enough. Fuck it, I'm outta here.' Katie entered the garage and pulled the emergency release for the garage door, then hefted it up so she could pull the van out.
'I don't even know where I am going. South, but where and why?' Her mom had moved to Florida, but Katie hadn't seen the woman in two years and had never visited her there. Getting behind the wheel of the car she pulled out carefully and nodded in satisfaction at the almost full tank of gas she had to travel on. She didn't have any trouble getting back to the highway and after debating one last time she headed south, 'Where the hell else do I have to go? Mom will sure be surprised. If she's alive.'
The day went by quickly, she made excellent time and left Illinois by the time the sun was setting that evening. She had been forced to detour around several of the larger wrecks and there were only a few sections of highway she could drive over forty five miles an hour, but in general she was surprised at how well things went. She didn't see many zombies at all, not even in the larger towns and cities she passed through. 'It's like they all left. Maybe they headed for greener pastures?'
She had stayed on highway fifty seven until she was almost out of Illinois, then turned off on highway twenty four, which she thought should take her almost the rest of the way to the coast. She had stopped twice for fuel, the first time she had been lucky, the power was still on and she was able to figure out how to get the gas pumps switched on to fuel up. She had also found an empty gas can behind the counter of the convenience store and filled that up as well. The second refueling had been on the highway, next to two sedans that were pulled just off the road. One of them had a tube with a manual pump stuck into its gas tank, there was another two and a half gallon can there too, filled up, but just sitting there. Katie didn't see anyone close by and stood there for a minute, looking into the heavy brush by the side of the road, wondering if it was some sort of ambush.
Cautiously she had gotten out of the van and examined the pump and can. It looked simple enough and Katie dumped the fuel from both cans into the van's gas tank, then pumped the rest of the fuel out of the red sedan to fill the cans again. She repeated this a few times until the van was full again and both the gas cans were filled as well. Then she threaded the hose out of the sedan and stowed it in her van.
As night fell she left Kentucky and passed into Tennessee, she wasn't feeling drowsy, but didn't want to travel at night either. The thought of finding a house or hotel to spend the night in didn't appeal to her, so she decided to pull over into a rest stop instead. The rest stop was completely empty, not a single car in the lot.
'And fuck if mine will be the only one either!' Kate thought, driving the van up onto the sidewalk. There was a central building that advertised vending machines and bathrooms, and behind that there were a series of sidewalks and picnic tables, as well as several play areas for kids. Katie pulled the van around to the back of the building and parked it with the passenger's side inches away from the stone wall. Satisfied that she was as hidden as she could be she pulled out her flashlight and shotgun and went in to use the bathroom.
The building was not locked and appeared to be empty. The lobby was simple and open, with an information desk and a huge map of the state hanging on the wall, which included a 'you are here' pin along the highway to indicate where the rest stop was. The vending machines were across from the lobby desk and doors to either side of the desk led to the bathrooms. Katie entered the women's room and shined her light around looking for threats. 'It's cleaner than the one in Chicago, but doesn't have a shower.' It was also empty. Katie was surprised to find that the water was still on too. Before heading back to the van she used half the paper towels to clean herself up, and then looked herself over in the mirror.
“I look like shit.”
“You sure do.” said Randy from behind her.
“You've been better too.”
“Won't get any worse now.” he agreed.
“So what is it like, being dead?”
“I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you afterward.”
“That might not be too high a price to pay. It's not like I have anything left for me here now.”
“Poor little Katie, all alone in the world!”
“You never sighted in your new gun.”
“I didn't really have time. I sure as shit ain't going to do it here and now. Maybe in the morning before I leave.” Katie said to his mirrored reflection. She didn't dare look back, for fear that he would disappear.
“You shouldn't forget, you'll need that gun before this is over.”
“Before what is over?”
Randy waved his hands, gesturing around himself, “This. All of this.”
“There isn't any 'this' anymore. It's already over.”
“Not quite yet.” Randy came up behind her and put his arms around her waist, then rested his head on her shoulder. Slowly he kissed the side of her neck, then nibbled on her ear.
Katie closed her eyes and enjoyed the embrace for a moment before shaking him loose, “You're not real.”
“What do you want me to say?”
“How can this be real? I saw you jump. I heard you hit. You didn't even scream.”
“I couldn't give away your position and I knew you wouldn't shoot me if I turned.”
“I would've.” she said flatly.
“There's the Katie I know and love. But you see? I do love you and I thought I should spare you that. It was the very least I could really.”
“You could have taken me with you.”
He shrugged and stepped back from her. “We walked different paths.”
“Such bullshit. You'd think, because you are in my mind, I would do this to myself. I should make you answer me straight.”
“I don't think you are ready for straight answers.”
“And you're the decider?”
“No, I'm the spotter, I pick the targets, you shoot them. I call down the artillery, you cover my back.”
“Pulling rank again?”
He stepped back further into the darkness, “You outranked me.”
“But I wasn't the forward observer, in the field you had command.”
Randy was barely visible now, he lingered for a moment and said, “It was never about control.”
Katie's eyes flickered to her own for a moment, leaving his reflection, when she looked back he was gone and not there to hear her whisper, “It was always about control.”