Huddled Together Ch. 13byWritersUnblock©
Chapter 13 – No Question.
Note from the author:
This is the final chapter of the Huddled Together series.
It is with great sadness that it comes to an end...
I would really appreciate feedback if you have enjoyed this story.
A huge thank you to all the editors that worked with me.
Damian had waited until Mira went to the bathroom during the night to sneak into their room, and attacked her as she came back in. After everyone had recovered from the ordeal, they pulled the mattress from Damian's room and put on the floor in John and Anny's room against the door. The three women slept together on the main bed to comfort each other, while John slept with his gun at the ready on the mattress on the floor.
They needed to get what sleep they could; it was too dangerous to leave the house before sunrise. John had no qualms about what he had done to Damian; he slept well for the rest of the night.
At daybreak they looked out the windows for Walker activity, but it seemed that the gunshot had rung out through the valley enough that they hadn't honed in on where it came from. Gathering their belongings, the group began the next stage of their journey.
The scorching sun was heading into the cloudless afternoon sky as the group reached the outskirts of Laurieton; it made John wonder if this summer would ever end. They had left Kendall at sun up, killed a few Walkers here and there, and managed to sneak around the small town of Kew uneventfully. It was only the beginning of the afternoon, so they had made Laurieton in good time.
They had decided that they would take a vessel and aim to sail to Lord Howe Island, an Australian island about 600km directly to the east of the mainland. It would be a dangerous journey; none of them had tried to sail and navigate open water like that before, but they lived in hope that if they made it, the island hadn't been touched by the zombie plague.
As the women drank and freshened up by the river in the shade, John laid in a ditch on the side the road that led into town. He was scouting Laurieton's main street where there were a lot of Walkers meandering around freely, eventually he backed down off the road to join the others down by the river.
"Well, there are far too many of them to try and sneak through town." He informed the group.
They sat in silence as they rested from their morning walk, contemplating how they could get to the marina on the other side of town. John's gaze followed Anny's fingers in his hand, up her arm, and was caught by the droopy leaves of a nearby gum tree. The leaves were gently dipping in and out of the river, pushed by a gentle breeze. His gaze continued up along the grey bark branches, and down the trunk into the yard of a house that backed onto the river. It was there that he noticed a small tinny sitting in the backyard. He looked back to the river, registering that it was on its way out to the ocean, flowing straight past town...
Hiding under blankets and tarps, the group floated gently down the river in their commandeered vessel. John was steering at the back of the boat with one of the paddles, while Mira was at the front peering out to see where they were heading. Mira would whisper needed changes in direction to Skye, who would pass the message to Anny, who would pass it to John. It was a quiet and effective Chinese whispers way of getting past the town without attracting the attention of the Walkers.
The marina was 100 meters down the hill below the main street, so they decided to try and land between some of the boats that were moored there to help disguise their presence. As they approached the cover of the boats, John stuck his head out just far enough so that he could navigate their vessel to a safe spot. The tide quickly pushed them too far to the left for John to correct in time, and they landed beside a large fishing trawler with a loud 'bang' resounding from its metal hull. Everyone held their breath. John popped his head up to see if any Walkers had noticed their loud landing.
He couldn't see any, and after a few minutes he whispered towards the front of the boat, "Ok Mira, you're up."
He pulled his gun out to cover Mira as she climbed out of the front of the boat and pulled herself up onto the dock. After a minute, she whispered back down to them that the coast was clear. They all climbed out of the boat and crouched down behind some dumpsters for cover.
John looked over the boats that were still in the marina. Only one would be suitable for a voyage out for them all. It was a white yacht about 40 feet long with a large sail; the others were too small to live on for any length of time.
"Does anyone have any experience with boats like this?" John whispered out to the group, pointing to his selection.
"I do," nodded Skye. "My parents used to take us sailing on smaller ones on the lakes when we were kids. I should be able to get us going at least."
John took another look around for Walkers, and then motioned for everyone to follow him to the boat. They climbed aboard and headed down below to check it over and decide what to do next. They checked the cabinets for supplies. The cupboards were bare, but the gas tank was half full (John was forever the optimist).
"We definitely need more supplies before heading out to sea, some fishing gear, and some more food if we want to live out there for any length of time." Mira announced.
"There's a supermarket in the middle of town." Skye said, "And a fishing supply shop at this end."
It sounded like a good plan, but with daylight heading on they would need to split up into two groups to get the supplies fast enough. They needed the light to navigate out of the river and into the sea safely. John reluctantly divided the group up for their tasks.
Skye would stay with the boat to recover as much fuel as possible from the other vessels and prepare their boat for travel. Anny had spent her childhood learning to fish from her dad, so she and Mira would head to the fishing store to get what they needed. John would check out the supermarket in hopes of gathering up as many supplies as he could carry out.
They all had their missions. They all dropped their backpacks in the galley; John emptied his so that he could bring more goods back. Then they all prepared their weapons. It tore at John's heart to separate from Anny, but it was for the good of the group; they needed to move quickly at their tasks.
As they headed for the door, John pulled Anny towards him by her arm. Their arms wrapped around each other with urgency; their eyes locked as John looked down deeply into his love's soul. He moved his hand up and caressed the side of her face; his other moved to the small of her back, bringing her body closer. They kissed, softly at first, then passionately, a declaration of their love for one another.
Eventually, John forced himself to break their clinch, and get moving; Anny leaving a lingering tingle on his lips, and deep in his heart.
They headed back onto the dock and checked the coast was still clear. Mira and Anny headed to the left, up the wide road that led up to town; while John headed up the other side. John kept stealing glances over to Anny and Mira as they sneaked up either side of the road; his heart aching again as he came to the alley he needed to head down. He glanced back over his shoulder as he started down the alley; and then forced himself to pay full attention to the task at hand.
He crept along behind the shops, and was relieved to see that the alley was empty of Walkers. He raced along the alley until he came to a wide loading dock; figuring that this must be the supermarket back entry. He checked the side door, but it was locked. Looking around, he noticed that the shop next door had a fire escape ladder that went up onto its roof. He decided he should be able to climb up it and jump across to the roof of the supermarket. He set to his task.
When he was not even half way up the ladder he heard it;
The sound of a gunshot burnt through the air. The hairs on the back of his neck instantly rose up; his heart started racing. He dropped to the ground in one jump, and ran back down the alley as fast as he could, his gun ready in his hand.
A scream came floating on the air; it was Anny.
Two more shots. Fuck! Something had gone very wrong.
John got back to the road where he had seen Anny and Mira disappear. He saw Anny come running back into sight from behind a building. She was closer to the main street than he was, and a large group of Walkers were starting to slowly pour down the hill after her.
"JOHN!" She screamed out in terror, as she ran towards him.
"COME ON ANNY!!!" John screamed out.
John started running up the hill towards her, the screams of the undead filling the hot summer air. John raised his gun and shot the closest couple of Walkers to Anny, the downed bodies seemed to not even affect the bulk of the line approaching them.
As Anny reached him, John ordered her to get back to the boat; pushing her with one hand to start her down the hill. Anny nodded through her tears, and continued down the hill behind him. John turned and picked off a few more of the closer Walkers before turning to run after her.
Anny was 50 meters in front of him as they ran back down towards the marina. John's heart filled with utter terror as he saw Walkers coming out onto the path that ran across the front of the marina; they were about to be cut off from their escape to the boat. His mind quickly raced to determine how many bullets he had left in his two guns. The moaning cries of the Walkers were interrupted by the sound of a boat engine. He could see Skye starting to reverse the boat to the end of the jetty, obviously getting it ready for a quick escape when they arrived.
Anny kept running towards the boat; John could see however that the Walkers closing on each side of her would reach her before she got to safety. John quickly realised that he could only do one thing to save her - a choice he didn't even think to question. He would stand his ground, and pick off enough Walkers to ensure Anny could make it back to the boat safely.
With his ears filled with murderous screams, and his resolute heart filled with love; John stopped running, parted his legs into a stable base, raised his gun up with both hands, and let out a calm exhale.
He quickly dropped the two Walkers closest to Anny. She screamed as their heads exploded, their bodies falling to the ground around her. He finished off the rounds of his first gun into Walkers, discarded it, and pulled out his last weapon.
He took his time with the remainder of the Walkers that were aiming for his love. He didn't bother with the ones that had decided to start up the hill towards him. He fired off the contents of his gun until he heard the 'click' of its empty chamber.
"Shit!" was all he could think as he heard that sound; but his mind was quickly comforted by the sight that no Walkers were now following his love.
John jumped up and down while waving his arms, trying to make sure all the Walkers focused on him. He yelled out at the top of his lungs, "KEEP GOING ANNY!"
He could see her quickly turn her head as she ran, and realise that no more Walkers were chasing her. She paused as she saw that there were still plenty aiming for John. Her eyes filled with tears as she realised what he had done. John stopped jumping around to look at his true love.
She let out an involuntary scream through her tears; "JOHN!"
John gave her a reassuring smile, as he yelled out his last demand of her, "GET TO THE BOAT, ANNY!" He paused as he choked on the fact that the following would be the last time he would say this to her; "I LOVE YOU!"
Skye had run up to Anny, and was now pulling her back along the dock. John could see Skye struggling to make her move to the waiting boat. He could hear Anny sobbing; "No, no, no..." before she broke out into even louder sobs as she finally relented, and through her tears she cried out loudly; "I love you, John!"
Skye pushed her onto the boat, where Anny dropped to her knees as she reached out to her love over the handrail. John heard the throttle being pushed wide open as they headed off.
John looked down momentarily at the Walkers in front of him; they were impenetrable and almost upon him now. He looked back up to Anny weeping on the deck of the boat. His heart filled with an eternal longing he knew would never be filled. He knew he would never again feel her touch... never run his fingers through her hair... never again wrap her up in his arms...
Hands grabbed John from behind, pulling him down.
A smile spread across his face. He had done it.
She was safe.