Fall of the Risen – Week 26 – Clark
After that night on the bridge, everything went back to normal. Well, not normal. Closer to how it was before, I guess.
Jansen was dead, which no one seemed to be crying about, not even his security team.
Dave survived the gunshot wound though he, and everyone around him, was different. No one officially announced that he was no longer in charge, but he wasn’t. People weren’t coming to him for decisions about what should be done. Instead, they came to me. I didn’t know if Dave was unhappy about that or not. He stayed inside of his house most of the time.
Murray and Dawn became instant friends, and enemies. They seemed to always be shoulder to shoulder in one vehicle or another, but they could never seem to stop bickering about the right way to do things.
I had been trying to make time to talk to Dawn, though it never seemed to work out. There was so much to do, and even when I allowed myself a break, other people were always around. There was so much I wanted to say to her and I didn’t have a clue how to say any of it.
Jack loved his new role. When anyone came to me with a problem to do with infrastructure or ingenuity, I sent them to Jack. He was constantly drawing plans and had people working around the clock in his garage on one project or another.
I checked my watch. It was almost noon. Time to head to the overpass.
Ferguson saw my approach and opened the inner gate. I looked at his bandaged hand, the one without a thumb. As I had become known to do, I gave him a big grin and double thumbs up. He returned one thumb up and one middle finger, but there was a smile on his face.
I never thought I’d call the guy a friend, but I was pretty happy to be wrong about that.
The funnel still stood at the apex of the overpass, as it had since the night of my return. It had been reinforced and improved several times, but there it stood.
Every day at noon I went up there and opened the gates to thin the herd.
The constant ring of dead around Sisco was gone, but each day there seemed to be a new set of stragglers. Sometime it was only a dozen, sometimes it was 50.
“Normal people have lunch at noon,” Jack said, walking up the overpass with his baseball bat. “Instead, we come up here and do things that make me want to throw up.”
“Normal people are boring.”
Jack helped every day. I told him he didn’t have to. I knew he hated it. But he still showed up every day. There were always a few others that pitched in as well. It was quick and Sisco would be zombie free for a while. But they always came back.
After we took care of the bodies for the day’s cleansing, I walked over to Dawn’s. She was sitting behind her desk with her feet up.
“All this work to be done and this is how I find you?” I said, hiding a smirk.
“Doesn’t seem to be vehicles to fix since you stopped doing runs.”
I looked around, expecting to find Murray tinkering with something, but found we were alone. I sat on the desk beside her feet and wondered how to speak to this incredible woman.
“How many today?” She asked.
“Less and less every day.”
“Yeah, but it ain’t zero. Zero’s what I want it to be.”
“17, though! Easily managed. Think of it as incredible progress.”
“Think about zero. Think of living here without gates and walls. Think of life without wondering if you’re going to get bit and come back as one of them.”
“My God,” she said. “You’re leaving.”
She was right. I hadn’t decided I was leaving. The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. But as soon as she said the words I knew she was right. I had to leave.
If I really wanted to eliminate the dead, I had to take the fight to them, I had to find like-minded people to help with the fight, and I needed the idea to spread like fire. I needed to leave.
“I think so,” I said. This was not the talk I wanted to have with Dawn. Somehow this one was easier.
She stood and put her arms around my neck. I felt urges, most of them pulling in opposite directions. Did I dare put my arms around her, or did I crack a joke and retreat back to my house like I normally did?
I couldn’t do either. Couldn’t move my arms. Couldn’t form words. Her eyes had mine locked to hers. Was this what it was like to be hypnotized?
She laughed, which said a lot about how dumb the look on my face was. Then my world exploded.
Her lips were on mine. Warm. Soft. Better than I had ever imagined them to be. I don’t know how long we stood there kissing. It seemed like hours, yet also like it wasn’t long enough.
Eventually she pulled away and locked my eyes again. She studied them, as though if she stared long enough she would be able to see my thoughts. Then she closed her eyes, rested her forehead against mine, and said, “You’re not going anywhere without me.”