Huddled Together Ch. 11byWritersUnblock©
Chapter 11 -- To Safety.
Anny's bare feet slapped heavily on the hot pavement as she ran; her legs jarring and her skin burning as it came into contact with the ground. She was running for her life. Walkers were all she could see; they were approaching her from all sides of the street. Where was she? There were so many of them... How did she get here? It didn't matter now, she had to escape.
Hungry screams filled her ears as they called for her flesh from all sides; mouths crying out with their harsh demands seeking to end her life. Fear filled her chest as her mind screamed at her legs to pick up the pace...
Someone was ahead of her calling her name, it was John's voice.
One of the Walkers reached her arm and pulled her back violently. She screamed as she was pulled, desperately searching ahead of her in a panicked haze, but couldn't see him.
"Anny!" John whispered her name again slightly louder, as he gently shook her awake.
Anny woke with a jolt and started desperately to take in her surroundings. John could tell on her face as she realised she must have been having a bad dream, still feeling the fear and panic from the nightmare.
"It's ok, it's ok." John cooed to her. "We're in the cave, we're safe."
Anny started calming down, her breathing returning to normal from its rapid pace; "Oh John, I was having a horrible dream. We were in a town, Walkers were all around me. You were somewhere ahead of me, calling to me; I wasn't going to get away in time..."
John pulled her close into his body, whispering; "It's ok my love. It's alright, you're safe, you're with me. We are going to be just fine."
Anny huddled into him; "It... it was so real..." she whimpered.
Aside from Anny's nightmare, it had been an uneventful night. Mira had finished a three hour shift on watch, followed by Skye, and finally John. He was just finishing up his shift when Anny had started thrashing about restlessly in response to her dream. Anny had regained her senses and was clinging onto John; the other two women had already woken and were covering the cave passage.
Sitting watch had given John a lot of time to process the information Anny had given him last night; 'Anny's pregnant' had chanted in his head over and over again. They hadn't been using any protection since they met, as there was none around to use, and now he was going to be a father. She wasn't a hundred percent sure that she was pregnant, but she had told him that she was always on time with her period; which was now a week and a half late. This morning John felt a little in awe at the wonder of it all.
After the hours of thinking it through, while he sat watching the candlelight dance shadows across the cave walls, John's heart and mind were now filled with courage; courage and determination to find them a safe place where they could bring up their child. The fire had almost definitely destroyed their home and its protective border walls, but they would have to check if it was a lost cause and deal with that scenario if need be.
For breakfast, they all shared the food they found in the cave; there was no point going through their own supplies if they didn't have to. They ate as much as they wanted, and they needed a big meal for whatever the day would bring. No one spoke over breakfast; John kept Anny close to him as they ate, an arm draped over her leg for comfort. Skye, Anny and John were still recovering from the loss of Tom and Merry, and Mira was apparently the silent type. She was clearly a strong woman; having hunted down and killed the two men that had taken John captive. John was very glad to have her in the group especially now that Tom was gone.
Once they had completed their meals, they packed up their belongings. Their bodies were still sore from the hard trek yesterday, but John roused them all up and took the lead, followed by Anny, Skye, and finally Mira. A silent hour of walking later and they had made it to the mouth of the cave. The smell of smoke and charcoal hung thickly in the air. John left the women in the cave while he did a bit of scouting. He walked out and climbed up onto the closest tall boulder he could scale. The landscape came into view; every inch of the ground was burnt black, and all the trees had been assaulted by flames.
Slowly rising smoke emitted from the larger trees, as they were obviously still on fire deep in their hearts. John had never been this close to the aftermath of a bushfire. The Australian landscape needed fire to release certain seedlings from the flora, so he guessed eventually life would return to this wasteland. At the moment though, it seemed to be one more attempt from Mother Nature to try and rid herself of the infestation of man.
John scoped completely around him with his rifle. Nothing moved. He let out a whistle, letting the girls know it was ok to come out. When they came into view, he jumped down from his perch, and they continued their trek home.
It took them the morning to make it back to the top of the hill above the homestead. They sighted down to the house below; all they could see left was burnt stumps and scorched sheet metal lying scattered in the yard. Parts of the fortress wall were burnt all the way to the ground; others still smoking as the more recently cut timbers were still green.
They headed down to the wreckage to give it a proper investigation. Nothing was salvageable. They pushed around a few timbers, lifted some of the roofing tin to check underneath; but there was nothing left to recover from their home.
"Where are we going to go?" Skye asked quietly, her face distraught.
They were silent in thought for a long time. John threw a piece of burnt timber he was holding onto the heap as an answer finally came to him; "We need to get off the mainland."
The best place to find a boat would be Laurieton; the nearest coastal town, at least a day and a half's walk from where they were now. Before the apocalypse, Laurieton had been a sleepy retirement village with a couple of dozen boats parked there at any one time; the town being a favourite with international hobby sailors.
Directly between them and the town was Middle Brother Mountain, one of three large mountains that were synonymous with the region. North Brother Mountain had the town of Laurieton at its feet next to the river; very close to the ocean. John decided that he would lead the group directly north from where they were, and follow the road around Middle Brother, and then aim for the coast. It was a quiet road, with only two small townships on the way.
More burnt landscape met them as they started the next leg of their journey. After half an hour they could see Middle Brother coming into view, its bulk arching into the sky. The fire seemed to have only destroyed half the bush that covered it. The fire must have died down naturally in places leaving erratic patches of greenery untouched.
They came across a few burnt people as they travelled, but the fire had ended their existence; there was no way to tell if the people had been alive or Walkers. The landscape changed from burnt wasteland to still green and brown bushland as they found the main country road which led around the base of the mountain. They walked straight down the middle of it, the summer sun making the black bitumen sizzle; but they dared not stray from the black path into the long grass on either side of the road, in case Walkers were wandering there.
It was a long, hot, and hard journey. John didn't mind too much though. It was made easier by the pleasure of walking along hand-in-hand with his love, swapping smiles and swift, sweet kisses as they went.
The light was dying as the day neared its end. John pulled his rifle's scope away from his eye. He hadn't seen any movement around the houses they had come to; the west end of the town of Kendall. They needed to find somewhere safe to spend the night, and he had spotted where they could possibly stay. On top of the ridge that went through the middle of the town was a house hanging off the edge of the hill on stilts, its contents hidden from the rest of the valley below by its wide verandas.
They headed up the ridge, crouching low from cover to cover as carefully and quickly as possible through the town; racing the dying light of the day. They came across partially eaten bodies in the street; but at least the bodies didn't move.
The house was now just up ahead. John ducked down behind an abandoned car on the side of the road; the others joined in line behind him. A single Walker slowly meandered on the crest of the road about 100 metres up the road. It hadn't noticed them by the look of it, but they couldn't make it to the front door of the house without it seeing them.
John searched his mind for what to do, but was interrupted by Mira whispering loudly to him; "We've got company, two Walkers behind us."
John spun around to see two Walkers shuffling up the hill to get them; they were already closer than the single Walker was up ahead.
"Come on, we need to get indoors before many more of them notice us." John whispered as he started leading them out from behind the car.
They ran as low as they could up to the front gate of the property, opened it, and then ran across the raised walkway that led to the front door; it was the only way in or out of the house. Mira shut the gate as she passed through it last, and they all met up at the door.
John tried the door handle, but it was locked.
"Stand back." He commanded, as he backed up; ready to kick the door open.
As soon as he raised his foot, the door swung open to reveal a smiling man standing there. He was lean, tall, and had a shaggy beard.
"Well hi there, come on in friends!"
The group stood there stunned for a moment, before the snarl of the approaching Walkers behind them quickly brought them back to reality. John lowered his foot as the man stood aside with a welcoming sweep of his arm to invite them in. As they rushed into the house, John noticed that the man was armed with a loaded crossbow in his other hand.
Once the group were past him, the man stepped outside casually, raised his crossbow to shoulder height, and shot a bolt into the eye of the first Walker that reached the gate. Its body collapsed over the top of the low gate and hit the concrete path; the second Walker a few metres behind him snarling with hatred. With the task done the man casually stepped back inside the house, closed the door, and placed large blocks of wood across it.
He turned to smile at the bewildered group. "We'll take care of the rest of those later. Now, cup of tea anyone?" asked as though what he had just done was perfectly normal.
John and the women followed the man into the main room. It was a combination kitchen, lounge room, and dining room; with a large wall made of glass that led out to a balcony and a wonderful vista of the green valley below. They couldn't see the houses of Kendall below, as John had predicted, so it was a perfect place to spend the night free of attracting Walkers; as was clearly demonstrated by their host living here.
"Damian's the name, what are yours?" Damian asked as he lit a small camping stove on the kitchen bench and put a tin full of water on top.
John introduced everyone in the group, and then asked what Damian was doing here.
"Good to meet you all, it's been quite lonely up here for the last couple of weeks." Damian replied as he started preparing enough mugs for them all; his eyes flicking up at each of them in turn as he set to his task. He continued without answering John's question, "So what's your story?"
John gave him a very brief rundown; that they had been living in the house down near John's River, it burnt down in the bush fire, and that they were now looking for somewhere to stay. He withheld telling any more information than that, as he didn't know or trust Damian yet... there was something about him that John didn't like...
"Sounds like you had it pretty good down there at your place until that bush fire, and the company looks like it wasn't too bad either..." Damian trailed off as his gazed started to shift from setting up the mugs, to drifting over the women.
Anny, who was standing slightly behind John, gripped his arm a little tighter as Damian's gaze crossed over them.
Damian seemed to regain his mental composure and returned his focus to putting tea bags into the mugs. "Me, I've been up here for the last couple of weeks by myself, just living off what I find in the houses around here. There's the odd zombie around, but they're manageable."
"Where were you before this then?" John asked, trying to get as much information out of him as possible; he needed to figure out what bothered him about the man.
"Ah, well a couple of fellas and I were living off the land as the shit hit the fan in the world. I got separated from them by a herd of zombies, and I've been on my own since. We had some crazy times together, but don't know where they are now..." Damian's focus shifted out beyond the horizon as he seemed to be thinking back; a slight smirk crossing his face.
"Annnnnyway, it's good to have some company again!" His smile turned sly as he looked back to John and the others.
John dropped his backpack to the floor and sat down on the nearest couch; the others did the same. Anny sat and snuggled in beside John. He wrapped an arm around her in a hug and left it there. John smiled at Skye and Mira, trying to make the situation feel more comfortable. Damian brought everyone their cups of tea when they were ready, and told them to relax; he'd be back in a minute once he'd finished off that other Walker out the front.
The evening passed in uneasy conversation, and John's lack of trust in Damian didn't improve. John held Anny closely to him on the couch, needing to feel her warmth, to know that she was safe.
Damian invited them to have the spare bedrooms; there were three in the house, all with queen size beds. Damian was in the first room. He suggested Mira and Skye take the second, and John and Anny, the last. Damian also let them know that there was enough hot water for all due to the rainwater tank and the solar hot water heater on the house. John and Anny's room had an en-suite; the others could use the main bathroom when they needed it.
Damian called it a night, wished them sweet dreams, and then headed into his room; shutting the door behind him. The others decided to turn in as well, going down the hallway to their rooms with Mira and John trailing the group. The women traded happy smiles at the thought of hot water and being truly, thoroughly clean. Anny continued down the hall as Skye headed in, followed by Mira.
John grasped Mira's arm before she disappeared into their room and whispered to her; "Keep alert tonight ok, I don't know about this guy."
Mira nodded in agreement with a sombre look on her face, gave one last glance back up the hall, and then closed her bedroom door. John heard the lock on the door 'click', and then walked down the hall to join Anny in their room on the other side.
Anny walked into the large bedroom and smiled. Despite its size it had a cosy cabin look and feel. Moonlight was flooding in through large glass windows that overlooked the valley. It was such a beautiful, peaceful sight; she was drawn to them, enchanted by the view. Anny felt the tension begin to ease in her neck, and the edginess of the evening start to dissipate.
She heard John come into the room, close the door, and turn the lock. Reluctant to turn away from the soothing night scene, Anny only heard John put his gun on the bedside table and kick off his shoes. As she felt him near, Anny sidestepped in front of John, wanting the feel of his arms around her, but still needing to take in the quiet moment of a seemingly normal world before her.
She felt John put his big hands on her shoulders, pulling her back slightly to rest against his chest. Anny rolled her head back so that it nestled under his chin, let out a soft exhale of relief, and relaxed into his touch. She felt the soothing stroke of John's hands go down her arms and slide underneath her shirt; coming to rest on her stomach. It was exciting to know that their baby was inside her at that very moment, growing bigger and stronger each and every day. Anny's hands slid up over the back of John's as they both stood there, in the middle of the end of the world, but with the start of a new one in their hands.
They stood a while, gazing outside and swaying gently in the moonlight to music heard only in their hearts.
Butterflies stirred inside Anny as she felt John starting to unbutton her blouse from the bottom up. She sighed when he caressed her breasts over her bra. His hands were gentle, but firm and intent on their task. Anny curved her back into him as John teased her hardening nipples; she was happily surprised to feel how quickly his manhood stiffened and tucked into the cleft of her bottom.
Anny registered the familiar tension in his body; recognized it as need rather than fear. It only added to the desire stirring in her as well; but she had already set her mind on a hot shower first. There was no way she was climbing into bed covered with all the dirt of their travels and smelling of the world's largest campfire, when she had a choice to do otherwise.
"Come on love, we're getting clean before anything else." Anny laughed, as she turned to face him. She searched for John's eyes in the dark; finding them filled with the need she had already felt in him. A shiver coursed through her in response; her laughter paused between parted lips. Anny watched, breathless, as his hungry gaze poured into her eyes, his mouth lowered slowly to hers.
John's mouth tangled her own in a kiss full of passion that roused her heart, and danced even more sensations through her body. Anny eagerly responded, wrapping her arms up around his neck. She felt him draw her in tightly to his chest. Her body stretched like a cat as John's hands stroked down her back to cup her cheeks; a tingle following them down to settle between her thighs. Anny heard John groan as he squeezed her cheeks, pulling her hips up into him. She pressed her mons against his fully erect shaft, and she felt a trickle of warm wetness seep into her panties.
John's hands swept upward, roaming over her bare back under her blouse, searching for the clasp of her bra. The spell of his kiss weakened, and finding herself unable to help get either of them undressed, she pushed on his shoulders, dragging her lips from his.
"Shower, now." she ordered John in a husky voice.
She reached back and unhooked her bra, ducking quickly under John's arm as he reached to free her lightly bouncing globes. Anny snagged his hand, pulling him round with her as she headed to the en-suite. She let out a playful squeal at the pinch he gave her ass as he fell into step behind her; and gave a brief thought of thanks they didn't have to venture down the hall in their condition. They shed their clothing; leaving bits wherever they landed like breadcrumbs being left on the path to the bathroom.
Anny reached in and turned on the shower, and checked for soap and shampoo. She felt John's hands and lips on her body become more insistent as she adjusted the water's flow and temperature. His desire was driving hers upward, her breath coming quicker, the heat of passion flushing her skin and cheeks. She let John pull her under the cascading water, and they revelled in the feel of it as they kissed and fumbled for the shampoo.
The room transformed into a mix of steam, soap, shampoo, cleaning, kissing, rubbing, and nibbling. Anny grasped John's soapy cock and stroked it; enjoying the husky moans she drew from him. She stroked down to the base and back up, reaching her other hand underneath to caress his balls. It gave her a little thrill of power to see the effect she had on him.