Sequel: Static Screams
Status: bloody

White Noise

Sunset

I watched the sun rise over the city from the tower. The last week had passed like this each day. With me perched up in the tower, watching over our spot. The sun rise didn’t move me like it did when the world wasn’t a giant fucking mess. It didn’t move me now that I saw it each day; now that I saw the sun set every evening too. I used to fawn over the falling leaves. Every time I went anywhere I’d purposefully step on them. The crunch made me smile.

That was all gone now.

I didn’t have to turn to the sound of someone joining me in the tower. “Hey, Holland.”

He let out a short laugh. “Hey, Scarlett. How’s it lookin’ this morning?”

“Clear. We should get through today’s scavenging without a problem.” As soon as the words fell from my lips I regretted them. I took a quick breath, like I was trying to suck them back in.

“Awesome. Ryan wants to tag along.” I must’ve had a confused look on my face because Holland laughed. “Yeah, I know. He’s a strange one.”

“Darren is coming. Peter is going to take watch. I think Sasha, Nat, and Lila are doing some more do-it-yourself projects.”

“Think those four will be alright?” I nodded and hopped off my perch. “Scarlett,” Holland started. I turned and looked at him. “Have you slept?”

“A little.” My shrug didn’t make that any more believable.

“We don’t have to leave for another couple of hours. Why don’t you go rest until it’s time.”

“I’m okay.” I started to leave.

“You won’t be your best for us scavenging unless you get some sleep.”

I couldn’t sleep. I closed my eyes and saw Ian. I saw us standing on the dumpster, frozen in fear. Natalie on the ladder trying to scramble away. Darren blocking Sasha from undead arms as the swept at our feet. Ian on the ground, mouthing my name through the blood he was coughing out. I saw Natalie’s brother on the ground, screaming and clutching his ankle. I saw everyone we’d lost in the last year. Had it only been a year? Surely it had been longer.

How long had we been in hell?

If I had any beliefs I’d be screaming to a god to either kill us all, or save us. To take us back to before.

“Scarlett.” I jerked as Holland placed a hand on my shoulder. “We all see things when we close our eyes. I know you’ve seen more than I have. I know. You’ve been through a lot. But if you don’t sleep, you will die.”

I nodded. He was right. Of course he was right. I’d say the same thing to me if I was him. I took a deep breath. “I’m going to go lie down before it’s time to go.”

He smiled. “You can take my bed if the girls took over yours again.”

I gave him as much of a smile as I could manage. “Thanks.”

***

After sleeping for about two hours, and laying in Holland’s bed for an hour, it was time to get going. I headed to my sleep area and took some things out of my pack. I shoved them all into a plastic bag and left them on my pad of blankets.

“Hey, P.” I kept my distance from Peter as I greeted him. Natalie stood near him as they talked softly. “Hey, Nat.”

They greeted me awkwardly. They wanted me to be their leader. But things had been off since I shot Ian. Our previous losses hadn’t been that quick, and we hadn’t lost someone after a clean seven months. None of us knew how to interact. Well…none of them knew how to interact with me. A gruff cough behind me made me jump.

Darren jabbed his thumb over his shoulder. “You ready, Scar?”

“Yeah. Holland and Ryan?”

“Keeping watch.”

“Peter, can you go relieve them, please?” I tried to smile, but nothing happened. I felt anxiety bubbling in my chest as I waited for him to respond.

He nodded. “C’mon, Nat.” Natalie scampered after Peter, looking back at me sadly.

I sighed deeply. They hated me. They all hated me.

“They’re worried about you.” Darren stated.

I turned to look at him. He scratched his bare face. “Why? I ruined everything. They hate me.”

Darren shook his head. “They love you, Scar.” He coughed. “We all do.”

My face scrunched together as I thought about this. They didn’t hate me, but they wouldn’t talk to me…because they were worried about me? I was about to ask why again, but another voice cut me off before I started.

“Hey! Did you get some sleep?” Holland smiled at me.

“Yeah. Enough.” His eyes narrowed. “I slept. Promise.”

“Good.” Darren responded behind me as he packed a water and two granola bars into each of our packs.

“Where’s Ry?” Holland looked around.

“I thought he was up with you?” He shook his head.

“Here!” Ryan popped up from the couch, grinning. Holland picked up a pillow and smacked Ryan in the face. “Hey!”

“Eavesdropping, Your Assness?” Holland bowed a tiny bow.

Ryan stood up on the couch. “No, Your Asscellency.” He mocked Holland’s bow, causing Holland to smack him with the pillow again. He stumbled off the couch. They were both grinning.

What is it like to still have a bond with someone in this hell? I was so careful to keep everyone at a distance. These two seemed to want to pull everyone closer.

“Okay, let’s get going, it’s almost noon.” I threw my pack over my shoulder and headed out.

“We’ve hit the first two houses on either side. And the one across the way.” Holland informed us once we were outside.

I moved to the middle of the street, and turned until I was facing the same way I did in the tower. Putting my right hand on my left hip, I stretched. I repeated it the other way.

“There are two fuckers in the backyard of that one.” I pointed to a house across the street. “And one inside that one.” I pointed at another. “That one has blankets hung up on the windows.” I listed off two others that we should stay away from. Some were close, others were a block over.

No one said anything. Darren looked like he was mentally marking the houses I’d listed. Holland and Ryan were staring at me. I gave them a look and they shook their heads. “Wow, Scar.” Ryan finally spoke. “That was fucking cool as fuck.”

“So, basically, we avoid the houses with the known stinkbags that you noticed?” Holland asked. I nodded. “I never thought about checking from the tower for the fuckers.” I smiled, and he smiled back. “Alright, let’s go. Scar, you’re in charge.”

Darren scoffed as if that was obvious. I smiled anyways. Holland was the leader of their group. Telling me I was leading this group right now, was cool of him. “It’s you two, and us two. Simply because we know the way we work.” He nodded as we headed down the street. “One day we can mesh.” I mumbled.

I glanced up at Holland smiling down at me. He seemed pleased that I had hinted that we’d be merging our groups. He had been slyly asking all week.

I had been slyly ignoring him.

***

I hit a giant score three houses into our scavenge. Pads, tampons, pain relievers, two packages of underwear, bras, and baby wipes. “Looks like this was a house of women getting ready to hide away for the entire apocalypse.” Holland had stared at the boxes of products for a good twenty seconds before resigning himself to his fate and helping me. There was no zombies here for him to kill anyways.

“That’s good for us. We were running low. Being a woman was hard enough before the end of the god damned world.” I tossed a bra into the duffle bag we’d found.

Holland started telling me a story about an ex of Ryan’s from middle school who got her first period during a very unfortunate moment. While he talked, I moved us through the top floor. Ryan and Darren had somehow ended up on the first floor. This wasn’t what was planned but I went with it.

Other than the holy mother load of blood flow saviors, this house was a dud. I found myself wondering if the boys downstairs had found any food or medication. I picked up a picture frame from the dresser, mentally thanking this mother and her four daughters for the goods. “Wait a minute…” I looked around. No zombies.

“So Ryan’s banging on my window, holding up a bloody sheet-” Holland’s story was cut off by the sound of me dropping the picture. “Scar? What is it?”

“They wouldn’t have just left all of this.” I grabbed my gun and ran downstairs. We’d cleared the entire upstairs. They weren’t there. Which meant they were down. “Darren!” I shouted. Using the last railing, I spun quickly towards the kitchen. My head spun, and I pushed on. “Darren!” I screamed. He knew better than to not yell back.

All the doors were open. Where were they? I heard Holland tear down the stairs behind me. He was shouting for Ryan, meaning he had figured out what I had.

“Ryan!”

“Darren!”

As I spun around the middle of the kitchen, a gunshot rang out from below us. It was followed by a second shot a hair later.

“Basement.” We gasped together.

“Get out!” A woman screamed.

“Drop the gun, please.” Darren begged beyond a half-shut door. I threw it open and took the steps two at a time. I hit the concrete floor quickly, dropping to my knees. I stumbled as I got back up. Two lightbulbs swung from the ceiling, dramatically lighting the situation.

A woman with a knife, and a teenage girl with a gun were in the corner of the basement. A third girl was on the ground, eyes open and unmoving. Ryan lay splayed out beside Darren, who had his gun pointed at the teenager.

“Ryan!” Holland screamed from behind me as he took it all in. He dropped beside him and pulled him away from it all. I aimed my gun at the girl. The woman took a step towards Holland and I moved my aim to her.

“Both of you, drop them now. This is a giant mistake. We can end this peacefully.”

“He shot Rebecca!” The woman screamed.

“You shot Ryan first!” Darren shouted, obviously frazzled. I’d never seen him frazzled.

“Shoot them, Amy!” The mother screamed.

“Please. We don’t want anyone else to get hurt.” The woman lunged towards Holland and Ryan. I stepped in front of them again and she stopped. But one more lurch and she’d stab me.

“Scar…” Holland muttered as I moved to protect them.

The helplessness in his voice over Ryan drained me of all care for the women. I narrowed my eyes and felt my words become laced with anger. “You will not hurt anyone else in my group. Drop the weapons, or we will shoot you.”

“No!” The woman screamed, and moved towards me again. A shot rang out from where Darren stood. The woman dropped like a rock. The daughter screeched. I saw her hand flinch, and before I knew it, my gun went off and she was on the ground.

After a few beats of staring at the girl on the ground, I turned and dropped to Ryan’s side. I heard Darren move to make sure the women wouldn’t be back.

My eyes moved over Ryan quickly. The bullet hit him somewhere in his gut. I couldn’t tell where. It was all covered in blood of all reds and Holland’s jacket. I leaned forward and helped him press the thick jacket into the wound.

Ryan was smiling in between coughing up blood.

“Ryan, no. No. Stop. You can’t leave Lila. You can’t.” Holland’s breath hitched on Lila’s name. He meant him. Ryan, don’t leave Holland.

I felt tears spilling onto my hands. Mine and Holland’s tears hit our hands as we watched the color leave Ryan’s face. Holland screamed at him to stop and stay.

Ryan kept smiling. He coughed up a burst of blood over my legs. “Sorry.” He smiled. “Hey, Holl.”

“No. Shut the fuck up, you dickbag. Shut up. No.”

“Holl,” Ryan quit coughing, and stared into the distance. “Tell Lila,” shaky breath, “tell her I l-love her,” a sob left my chest. “her asshole.” His following laughter was weak.

“You fucker.” Holland choked out.

Ryan took another shaky breath.

And never exhaled it.
♠ ♠ ♠
word count;; 2,127

i really fuckin liked ryan so this fuckin sucked to write

xoxo
autyy