“How’s it going Izzy?”

“Pretty good. It’s actually really easy.”

“Road doesn’t bother you?”

“No, it’s peaceful. The winding makes it interesting, like a surprise around every turn. I love it.”

“Ha, okay. I’m glad. Just let me know if you wanna switch back. Or if you see somewhere good to stop for the night.”

“We’re gonna need to find somewhere soon. Sun’s going down.

“Should we wake them up?”

“Let ’em all sleep.”


“How’re you doing?”

“Good. Might be ready for some movement soon.”

“…I meant after Matteo.”

“Oh…I’m um…I’m alright. Haven’t had much time to process the whole thing…”

“Yeah, I know what you mean…”


“Yeah…it all happened before the zombies but I was whisked this way and that. Not  much time in her house before I was with my parents and then only two weeks there before going to the center…”

“Parents didn’t wanna talk about it?”

“…Not really…think they blamed her for ‘losing’ their little boy…made it all about them…always.”

“I’m sorry, wanna talk about it?”

“…She, was my best friend. Everything I could of wanted in…a parent. Supportive, silly, understanding. She showed me what kind of a woman to emulate.”

“She sounds great. C and I never got to know our grandparents.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s one of the things I loved about Matteo, getting to be around his family and seeing how he and his grandparents were…they never once made a fuss about us. Welcomed me into the family from the start. ‘You’re one of the better ones we’ve met, hope he knows how good of a man he’s got in you.'”

“It’s all messed up. The good people weren’t heard as much as the ones…who’re afraid of people like us.”

“I know. Like you said about your parents, it became all about them and their needs not ours.”

“My parents…didn’t understand that I was losing a part of my childhood too. Like those memories I’d made or had as a kid, were great but I didn’t feel completely myself. They were…lacking for me. Like, I was in someone else’s body trying to make the most of it. Unable to be truly seen or heard.”

“I understand. It’s tough for everyone, but because we’ve been told for decades to avoid certain things and topics, no one knows how to truly handle the unexpected.”


“…Watch out!”




“Get out!!”


“You two, get the kids in the back.

“Let’s go, you in the front! Get out, walk!”



“It’s okay C, just keep walking…”


“What happened?”

“…Tree came down in front of us…think they set it up…”


“Where are you taking us?”

“To be divided.”


“Vic, what’d you make of ’em?”

“Typical survival nuts, glad an apocalypse happened but afraid of not being prepared enough.”

“Shut up kid! Fear’s what gets you killed out here, if you’re afraid you die. Fear goes against survival.

“We’re gonna see if you can survive.”


“Izzy, you alright?”

“Yeah…good call on the van. Airbags came in handy.”

“Any idea of…”

“We stay with ’em, for now. They’re armed, saves us having to find a place to stay tonight.”

“…Keep an eye on the others.”


“You three go with him. You, older boy, stay here. And you girl, you come with me.”


“Welcome to your salvation young ones! You’ve survived thus far on your own…”


“Shh You’ll frighten them.”


“We don’t scare easy.”

“Good, that’s why you’ve come here I take it. Strength, persistence, the drive to live on.”

“We didn’t come here, your men brought us…this is kidnapping!”

“You’d be right were we in different times. But now, it’s just survival.”




“How old are you?”

“Don’t answer him CJ.”

“Come now, I want to get to know you. You can trust me…”

“Old enough to protect myself…”

“I’m sure you are young one…you kids hungry?”


“No need to act tough, dinner’ll be done soon. We have plenty.”

“…Where’d you take our friends?”

“Oh, they’re just gonna be evaluated. Prepped for their necessary roles.”




“C…don’t worry lil’ brother. I’m here…”

“Shut it. Now, answer the question. Do you or do you not know how to fire a gun?”

“I do…”

“Good. Scrawny bastard, least you aren’t useless.”

“What can you shoot?”


“Pistol, shotgun, what?”

“Pistol and recurve bow.”

“How good’re you with a bow?”


“Longest you shot?”

“Fifty feet out…”


“Dinner time boys.”

“What’s the meal?”

“Depends on the kid.”


“Listen here girly. This is Kathy. She’s gonna take care of you. Get you washed and fed. Don’t give her any trouble or the night’ll go from sweet to sour real quick.”

“I’ll take her from here Darren.”

“Kathy, always a pleasure. Looking forward to seeing more of your work.”

“Come here sweetheart. Don’t be afraid.”

“What are you gonna do to me?”

“Make you more presentable.”

“For what…”

“Shh, let me work. Stay still.”


“The main course tonight, pork!”


“What’s this?”

“Their version of a gladiator stadium.”

“Think…they want us to kill each other?”

“No, CJ…I hope not.”


“Wild boar. But whose gonna get it ready?

“Will it be, come here girl. Will it be the girl?”


“What about this one?”


“Awe, I see. A little twisted.

“Come here young one.”


“NO, CJ! Take me, Take me I’ll go in.”

“It’s been decided. Tonight’s main course will be the young one vs. a wild boar.

“A fight to the death. Should he live, we welcome him to our flock.

“But should he die…then maybe one of the other two will do better.”



“Fifty feet?

“That’s not bad. Think you can perform under pressure?”


“Let’s see how good you really are kid.”


“All done. What do you think?”

“Umm…purple isn’t really my color.”

“It’s not about what you like sweetheart, you’re here to help…ease the stress of the men.

“That’s a woman’s true function in life.”

“…Yeah…I think you might be a little behind on the times…”

“Be respectful of your elders. Come now, time to join the others. We’re up after dinner.”


“Here you go. Best way to get a kill is through the heart or liver…you get two knives.”

“I…I can’t do this…”

“You don’t have a choice son. It’s either you kill the hog or we kill you all. Gotta earn your place here.

“Lock the gate!”


“We keep the bastards in there for target practice.

“You stand here, you get three arrows. Take out two.”


“Not bad, now, that one right there. In the dress.”


“Watch out kid!”

“Agh! What the hell?”

“Right between the eyes.

“Don’t take it personal, gotta see how you do if they sneak up on you.”


“You get to stay. Now dinner…then the fun.”



“Leanne? You’re alive? I thought…I didn’t know if you’d made it past the hills…”

“I did, made it fine…came this way thinking trees would provide the best cover… Fell into one of their traps, brought me here…”

“How long have they had you?”

“Not sure about the others but it’s…it’s not good. We gotta get out…these…people, it’s not right what they do here.

“I…I had to get used to not being treated like a person before but…it should be different after all this…”

“What do you mean?”


“Come on CJ, that’s it! Wait for the best time…we’re right here with you!”


“Where’d he go?”

“…You hear that?”





“…Really thought he’d make it…”


“No way…”

“Kids got something in him after all.”




“Damian, they got out! Zombs are loose…”




“Something’s wrong…girls, girls gather round…”

“…We have to go…

“I won’t let them…treat me like I’m nothing…never again…”

“Leanne, come here. We need to stick together.”



“Leanne! No, stop! What are you doing?!”

“She’s one of them. She’s part of it.

“…None of them deserve to live.”

“No, Leanne, you can’t… We need to go. I’m with a group, they found me. We can trust them.”

“…Trust no one Izzy…not any more, never again.”


“Where you at little brother.”


“CJ. You alright?”

“I just…I just killed a big pig…”

“You okay, you hurt?”

“No…I just…”


“Let’s go find your brother and Izzy.”

“How we getting out of here? Van’s wrecked.”

“I know, I know. I’m sure they have vehicles here, somewhere…”





“What the…”

“It’s Connor!”

“It’s like…his thing to crash through zombies in cars huh?”


“Look what I found.”

“SUV, decked out for fighting off zombies…”

“I’m gonna miss the sliding doors.”


“Leanne, let’s go. The zombies’ll be in here soon. Leave her here.”

“No, she doesn’t deserve to…neither does Damian.”

“That’s not for you to decide.”

“You don’t get it do you? You and I were treated like less than human before all this happened, and you’d think it’d go away afterwards but no. Being here proved it’s just gotten worse.

“Once they found out about me…they… The only thing that’s kept me going is the thought of watching the two of them…hurting.”

“You’d rather watch them die then get away and live?”


“That’s not what you’re meant for…”

“How do you know?!”

“I know…being treated like a freak, like we weren’t worthy of love and affection. Being shunned, hated even… The world before this sucked for us…no person should ever feel less than human.

“But just because that’s how they treated us doesn’t make it true. We, you and I, we’re more human than they’d ever begun to understand. That’s where the hate came from.

“There’s a reason we survived the clinic, and it’s not because we’re cold blooded killers. It’s because we trust each other. We believed in each other. I’m alive now because of you, your help.

“We need to maintain our trust, especially now. We’re meant to survive but that survival means more than outlasting the hordes or people like her. We need to survive in our humanity.

“Because if we stoop to her level, if we give in to the desire to let ourselves prove her, and those before like her right…they win. Zombies or zealots, it does’t matter, we need to keep alive our humanity.”


“I can’t believe…what if they survive?”

“Trust me, she’ll get what’s coming to her. They all will.”

*Honk honk*

“Look out!”

“Whoa, you alright?”

“…Why’d they stop?”


“Izzy, your chariot awaits.”

“Ha, Connor!”



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