Naomi Ch. 02byscotjock1©
The silence was murderous, why hadn't they gunned us down?
Our weapons were on the floor, and we were unarmed, easy targets for these bandits.
"Why aren't they shooting?" Naomi stuttered.
"I ain't sure, but right now I'm not going to complain about that to them." I said slowly, my eyes scanning for scopes, where snipers were watching us from.
"What do you want? You going to shoot us, take our things?" I asked uncertain if I would get a response.
I was right, silence followed.
Then however after a few moments passed, we heard footsteps.
From some of the alleyways between store fronts, about a dozen men and women began to make the presence known to us.
Most were dressed in military, or survival gear as I had myself.
Army webbing, and hunting camouflage clothing.
They wore it all, another half a dozen survivors came out from the town hall also armed watching us.
An older woman, perhaps in her late forties was ahead of the armed citizens.
She had dark red hair, cut short just resting above her ears.
She was wearing military garb as well, a hunting vest on over a simple blouse, and green wood camouflage combats.
She looked to have been a mother once, with her figure of womanly hips and thick yet firm thighs.
She was carrying a large revolver, from a distance I assumed it was perhaps a Magnum.
Some of her fellow citizens were jumpy, still aiming their weapons at us but the woman raised her arm up and most of them calmed down.
She approached us slowly, coming to a halt a yard away from us.
"Keep your arms where we can see them, we've already had unwelcome guests in the past few days and they wanted to take what we had." She said, her voice very motherly, yet stern as their leader.
"We put them down, but since you're only a pair we decided to give you the benefit of the doubt. Why are you here?" She asked us, and decided to speak up.
"We're making our way to Atlanta, Georgia. We heard it was a safe haven." I said being honest, with out intentions
Some of the citizens around us began to whisper between themselves, and I couldn't make out what was being said.
"What's the problem, what's wrong with Atlanta?" I asked concerned.
The redhead mother figure looked around her group, making a decision to speak or not.
"Atlanta is Walker central, the CDC there was overrun. The military tried their best to hold the facility, but it soon fell. It's a dead city now, you won't survive the trip to get there alone, only to die in the city." She said, no longer a worried survivor at our intentions, I saw this as she holstered her Magnum.
"I'm sorry for the welcome you guys just had, but we've been attacked once already a few days past. Bandits, intent on pillaging the town of anything they could carry. We fought them off, but some survived and we fear backlash against us." The leader of the group said.
"What's your names?" She asked me.
I looked at Naomi, she was frightened but calmer than when we were first told to put our weapons down.
"I'm James, this is Naomi." I said simply.
The redhead woman nodded.
"I'm Anna, and these people around me are the residents of this town. We aren't bandits, there are men and women among our ranks. I was before the epidemic, the mayor of the town. Once the Walkers began to roam around freely, I decided we needed to arm our residents and protect ourselves." Anna explained to us.
"So where is safe then? Me and my friend were traveling towards Atlanta, if that's no longer safe where can we go?" I asked, becoming irritated at these turn of events.
"You don't know what's happened have you?" Anna asked me personally stepping towards me.
I looked around, then at Naomi unsure what was going on here.
"Not really, all I know is Zombies are everywhere and we need to survive." I said defensively.
Anna looked at a man with short black hair, and his own brown skin, he was wearing military webbing, and a hunting vest with ammo clipped onto it.
"Michael, send everyone back to their posts and tell the snipers to stand down. They aren't a threat." Anna relayed her orders, Michael nodded.
"Yes ma'am." He said simply, and he was off relaying his given orders.
Anna turned back to us.
"Both of you, walk with me." She said as a gesture.
I slowly leaned down to collect my guns, keeping an eye on the two men still following Anna, who were armed.
They never objected to us picking up our weapons, and we soon followed Anna.
Naomi was quiet, but she was listening to Anna as she walked.
"The country is split in two, the rest of the world is infected as well as you're aware of but we have remnants of the government split into two separate factions. What was left of the President's office, and his own supporters control the North and East of the country. The rest of the country, South to the West is under the control of what was left of the Joint Chiefs, and Congress and oppose the President's faction. All of this shit, in the middle of the Walkers. Each faction has lost ground, mainly to the Walkers as they instigate their Civil War for control. What's left of middle America is stuck in the middle, fighting off the Walkers and waiting for which ever faction to come knocking at our doors." Anna went into detail, even I knew nothing about the factions fighting for control.
"So have either of the two factions came to your town yet?" I asked slowly.
Anna seemed determined, walking briskly but keeping pace with us so she could talk.
"Not yet, only bandits and they have been trouble since the epidemic started." Anna said exasperating, her breathing was heavy and she seemed tired.
"We haven't come across any yet ourselves, at first when your men told us to put our weapons down we assumed they were bandits.
"I'm sorry about that, but when my people saw you were armed their first reaction was to think of the worst case scenario, maybe more bandits coming for our town. But when they saw the girl with you, they called for me and I knew it was unlikely you were bandits." Anna reasoned.
I was about to speak when one of Anna's bodyguards came running from the store fronts to us, out of breath and clutching an MP5 sub-machine gun in hand.
"Ma'am, we've got Walkers on the Eastern side of the town center closing in." He gasped out of breath.
Anna grunted an expletive, and looked at the man.
"Get all our residents with minimal firearm training, and experience indoors. Everyone else have them on the town hall roof, and the roofs of the store fronts."
I then felt it, Naomi's hand shaking as she took mine into her grasp.
I looked at her, she was frightened and scared.
I squeezed her hand gently to comfort her.
The man nodded, agreeing to Anna's orders before running away to prepare the townspeople.
"You can earn your way." Anna said turning to me.
"You have any experience with those guns?" She asked me, her eyes flickering between me and Naomi, and then at our hands entwined.
The look on her face was surprise, unsure what our status was together as a couple, or friends.
"I was trained in survival course, my town held it a few weeks before the epidemic and Outbreak. Trained us with guns and such." I said watching her reaction, yet still her eyes were on me and Naomi holding hands.
"Right, I need you to help defend the town." She said simply to me, more like asking for my help than demanding it.
She turned to Naomi.
"Young lady, how about you?" She asked her.
Naomi looked at me, and then Anna.
"I know how to use guns, but I'm not really experienced with them. I've learned since the Outbreak." Naomi explained.
Anna sighed, and gave a short smile.
"Well you're better suited with me, and the others inside the town hall. You can help me keep them calm, and reassure them." Anna smiled.
Naomi slowly let go of my hand, and began to follow Anna who was now walking back to the town hall with her men in tow.
"You're needed up on the town hall roof." A tall black man said to me, in a rough accent with a heavy grown beard covering most of his face, wearing a beanie hat on his head.
He was decked out in heavy clothing, survival and general furs and hunting webbing.
I took one last look, and saw Naomi watch me as she slowly followed Anna into the town hall with the rest of the survivors.
I followed the black survivor, and he grunted his name to me.
"I'm Frank. You?" He asked in a simple tone.
"James." I said simply in response.
Frank nodded, and he was clutching an M4 Carbine in his hands as I followed him in tow into the town hall, and we jumped two or three steps at a time to the top floor of the building.
We pushed through a large steel door, and the air hit my face first, it was a Winter chill in the air and there were men, and women dotted all over the roof aiming rifles down into the street below.
"That shotgun ain't going to do anything from up here, son. Here take this." Frank said, as he cooly handed me a hunting rifle. The barrel was black as coal, and with a light wooden finish to it in regards to the grip and stock.
I was trained in general hunting rifles in the short survival course given to me, all those weeks ago before the Outbreak.
I checked the breach of the rifle, making sure there was a round in the chamber and locked the rifle into place.
I took position up alongside Frank, who was sporting a similar rifle and aiming down its scope into the street below.
"You know the drill, head shots. Aim properly, and don't waste the rounds we haven't got much ammo left for the town." Frank summarized to me, and I nodded aiming down the scope of the rifle, and fine tuning it personally as it was out of focus slightly.
There was silence, as over a dozen of us camped on the town hall roof.
I could see atop of the store front roofs, other snipers and survivors were taking up their own positions.
For some reason Naomi came into my mind, I was worried about her.
What if they breached the town hall's main doors?
She was inside with the Mayor, and the rest of the townspeople in the main hall of the building.
She wasn't a liability to me, she was a friend now and we had come this far together and so I cared for her.
"Here they come." Frank said in a simple tone, yet loud enough for the entire roof of snipers to hear him.
The moaning was the first sign they were coming, the Walkers emitted the low groans and moans, and soon the sounds of feet shambling along the concrete pavement was next.
The Walkers soon came around the corners of the store fronts first, slowly filling the town center square quickly, from a few numbers eventually to over two dozen.
They were shambling towards the town hall, and Frank didn't have to bother giving the order as on the roofs of the store fronts the survivors there fired first.
Frank unloaded quick, yet focused shots at the Walkers with his own rifle and I soon followed him, taking out two Walkers alongside each other as they came around a burnt out car.
The Walkers were soon overrunning the town square, and ammo was quickly being used up.
Then I heard it, the sound of splintering wood as the town hall's main doors collapsed under the sheer weight of the Walkers upon it from outside.
I shouted, as I don't think Frank figured out what had happened.
"We've got a breach! They've broken through the doors downstairs!" I shouted, Frank looked at me speechless before stuttering.
"You go down, take two of our people with you and push them back." Frank ordered me, I nodded dropping the hunting rifle to the floor and picking up my shotgun once again.
I jumped to my feet, and ran for the door that led to the roof and two other survivors were following me.
A young blonde woman, barely 5'5 in height but she was holding an M4 rifle with confidence in her hands, and a tall Latino male, about 5'11 in height holding a pump-action shotgun similar to mine.
"Let's go." I said sternly, and loud to the two as Naomi again entered my mind, and for some reason it spurred me on to act as swiftly as I could.
We began running down the stairs, to the first floor of the building and below us beyond the balcony we could see Walkers forcing their way into the main hall.
A few makeshift barricades were put up, but they weren't holding back the mass of Walkers coming in.
"James!" A voice called out from below.
Naomi was with the bulk of survivors and the Mayor Anna, shooting wildly at the Walkers forcing upon them.
"Naomi!" I shouted back angrily, and I pointed my shotgun downwards at the mass of Walkers before firing blindly.
At least the pellets could have penetrated the Walker's skulls from above.
"Shoot them, and move further down to the ground floor! Move!" I shouted, and firing again as I ejected another cartridge from the shotgun we moved down to the final flight of stairs, connecting to the ground floor of the town hall.
I crouched down, pressing my back against the wall behind me as I aimed my shotgun into the hall.
A Walker saw me, and began to press towards me over his fallen friends.
Half his face was missing, and his jaw was barely hanging on by muscle.
I levered the shotgun towards his face, and fired.
The blast sent him flying backwards against an overturned table, and it didn't move.
The blonde woman fired wildly into the crowd of Walkers with her assault rifle, and it fired in automatic mode.
Half the bullets were hitting Walkers in their bodies, and not their heads and so most either got back up onto their feet or began crawling.
"Aim properly, or don't shoot at all!" I shouted at her, and she stopped firing blindly switching back to single-shot mode on the rifle.
I sighed, gritting my teeth I began to fire again hitting a few Walkers in the head, or skull.
Finally the numbers of Walkers dwindled, and we could move from the stairwell into the hall itself, stepping over the corpses.
A few Walkers were still enclosing on the survivors, and Naomi.
One Walker somehow got over a barricade of tables and chairs and charged for Naomi.
She screamed, and I span on my feet and ran full head for her.
I got to her and as the Walker's rotten, bloody hands reached out for Naomi I shoved the shotgun barrel against the back of it's skull.
Pressing it roughly against its skull, I fired and blew its brains into the air and it fell to the floor unmoving.
Naomi was breathing hard, shivering as she clutched her own handgun.
Anna was watching us, and she breathed hard.
"Most of them have been dealt with, we only lost two of our townspeople. One fell from the roof of one of the store fronts, he lost his footing. The other, she ran down to the street when she saw the breach of the town hall. She had her son in here with us, and the Walkers got her." Anna explained, her town's losses and all.
I was surprised, how did she know this in the heat of battle.
It would have been something she would have found out afterwards.
"How do you know, Mayor?" I asked her gently.
Anna said nothing, and simply showed me the hand-held radio she was carrying.
I nodded in understanding, and turned back to Naomi.
"Are you alright?" I asked, making sure my tone was low and gentle as I didn't want to scare her.
She nodded, and I slowly moved closer to her and as gentle as I could I took her hand and squeezed it.
She looked up at me, and nodded again but it felt like she was being honest this time.
Anna was watching us, as if noting every little detail we did together, and her eyes were back on us holding hands together.
Anna said nothing, and smiled as she turned and tended to her townspeople.
I sat Naomi down, she seemed to be in shock and I simply at with her as the town sealed up the town hall door, blocking as best they could with debris.
A few hours passed, with what little daylight we had the town repaired it's defenses, and burned the corpses of the Walkers.
Me and Naomi began to walk around the town, as Snipers were relocated once again to spot any threat from afar coming towards the town.
Due to the success of the defense of the town, the Mayor wanted to celebrate and supplies were brought out and a massive feast was held.
Fresh bread, canned foods were served in the town hall, on tables and from outside on grills.
What little fresh meat the town had, they grilled and served also.
I had left Naomi for an hour, and found her talking with a tall white guy, she seemed to like the guy.
He was about 5'11 in height, and wearing the survival clothing, and webbing.
He was without his gun though, and sporting a mane of thick black hair.
There I stood watching them, Naomi was smiling with him, and I held two beers in my hand, one meant for her and one for me.
I was hoping, stupidly that perhaps I could have got to know her better, and maybe we could have seen where things could have gone.
It was always stupid, why did I even think in my mind I had a shot with someone like Naomi.
I looked around, I must have looked a fucking idiot to people watching, assuming me and her were together and in reality we weren't.
I gritted my teeth, it was her choice, to be with whoever she wanted.
I took a big gulp of beer from my own bottle, and turned on my heels and walked away to find somewhere quiet to drink.
I found a spot, the roof of the town hall behind a now non-functioning air conditioning unit and I leaned against the remnant of the old world, drinking my beer in silence as below me the sounds of merriment were loud and clear.
I took my eyes from the steel door, and looked into the black sky wondering many things in my mind.
I heard shuffling of feet, it was Frank.
He was muscular, built like a pro-footballer even.
He was still wearing his beanie hat, but he didn't have his rifle with him.
"You sulking up here, all alone?" He asked in his strong Chicago accent.
I smiled, forcing it really as he I presented the other full bottle of beer to him.
It wasn't fresh bottled beer, it was from a tap in the town's local bar that was still working but it was warm as piss.
Frank smiled taking it, in his gloved hands.
"Is it that obvious?" I asked cocking my head, and just looking glumly at the bottle of beer in my hand.
"I thought the same when I saw you both, I saw your holding hands and everything. I thought you were a couple, that was until I saw Michael move in and start to flirt with her at the feast." Frank added.
I said nothing and was quiet.
"She gave you the signs, and you read them wrong. There ain't nothing wrong with thinking that, hell you wouldn't be a guy if you didn't." Frank reasoned with me, and surprisingly he was spot on.
I sighed, sipping my beer as I looked at Frank.
"I got in my head, perhaps with what we'd gone through together maybe there would be a chance. How fucking stupid of me." I said in a tiring tone.
Frank tipped his beer to me, and drank most of the bottle in only a few mouthfuls.
"I know, you ain't the first to do it, nor will you be the last." Frank said, meaning to make me feel better about the situation.
I nodded, and Frank took a moment to be the silent one.
I said nothing for a few moments, then spoke.
"Are you guys open to taking new members?" I asked him.
Frank looked over to me, putting his now empty beer bottle on top of the air conditioning unit.
"Sure, why you wanna stay?" He asked me.
I swung my head left and right.
"Nah, I'm going to head for New York , or stay on the move. I mean for Naomi." I said clarifying my query.
"What if she still wants to travel with you?" He asked me, rubbing his gloved hands together as the wind still managed to get through to his bones somehow.
I went silent, just looking out at the stars.
"I don't want to travel with her, anymore. She's better off here... with Michael, and safe place to settle down. This town is just that for her." I said almost deciding for her.