Sequel: Static Screams
Status: bloody

White Noise


Lila snored softly into my chest, through the small riot that had awoken me and the growing noise of our surroundings as everyone began their day. As I became more aware of my surroundings, I realized how heavy my body felt on the cot and how foggy my mind was. I was also full of a very nervous energy, the kind that leaves you in a manic state that you can’t quite shake until you just wear yourself out.

The only thing I could think to do was what I do best: make a list. So as gently as I could, I slid away from Lila. I walked past the doctor, sent a tiny wave to Natalie, and walked towards the door.

With the fresh air and the sunshine, my mind began to clear a little. I could think back on the last few days without the growing bubble of panic in my stomach. I walked to our van, kicking at the dirt while I thought about what we would do next.

We came here for Lila, really. But now Scar wants to go to New York. Reserving my judgment, I opened the back of the van and pulled my notepad out of one of the bags. I starting taking count of what we had – not nearly enough to even get to the state line, but we have to start somewhere.

About an hour of looking through bags and boxes later, after organizing and taking inventory, I closed the van door and wiped my brow. The sun was higher in the sky, and I was sweating despite the chilly breeze. Winter was practically knocking on the back door, which would make trying to get to New York even more dangerous and difficult.

I heard the door shut, and I saw Logan – badass and confident, the way she’s appeared every other time I’d seen her. She was walking over to me.

“What’s up?” she asked, looking at the van.

I shrugged. “Just making a list, seeing what we have.”

She nodded. “I wanna ask you something, Holland.”

She leaned against the van, looking altogether cooler than I’ve ever appeared in my life. I stuck my hands in my pocket, shoulders sagged, and looked at her.

“Well,” she continued, “I was wondering if you would be okay with me tagging along to New York...”

I raised my eyebrow, unintentionally smirking. “No offense, Logan, but you don’t seem the kind of person to ask permission.”

She laughed. “I’m not, really, but Scarlett and I talked about it a bit last night. Then Sasha and Darren and I were talking about it this morning. I just asked Natalie and Peter, too. That just leaves you and Lila.” She shrugged. “I don’t know, you guys seem pretty close. I don’t want to intrude.”

I shook my head. “Logan, I’m not an idiot. You’re gonna go regardless of what I say, because you want to stay close to Scar,” I sighed. “I’m just gonna say this one thing – don’t fuck with her, okay? Just don’t – what the fuck?”

My attention was stolen away from Logan, and instead I watched two of the living dead stumble over the hill. She whipped her head around to find what I was looking at, and her jaw dropped. “We haven’t seen any of them in days...”

“The horde,” I whispered. “Have we been keeping track of that?”

She looked at me with wide eyes for a moment before taking off toward the door, yelling “come on!” as she ran. I followed her in, where she was speaking quickly but clearly to a man right inside. Then she ran towards the stairs. I followed, taking two at a time. She opened the last door on the left, and we both sprinted toward the windows.

“Oh my god,” we whispered at the same time. Because there were hundreds staggering behind the two that now lay still on the ground.

“Holland, I--”

My brain went into overdrive. “Logan, listen – I can take the van, try to draw them away from here long enough for you to get everyone out of here.” I turned to her and took her by the shoulders. “Please, please, do one thing for me?”

“Holland...” she looked uncertain. For the first time since I’ve met her, she looked scared.

“Logan, please, just keep them safe. Please.” I took a deep, shaky breath. “I’ll try to find you guys, I promise. But we need to get those fuckers away from here, so your people can get out of here safely. So you and the rest of my friends can get out of here safely. I need you to do that. Take care of them. Go to New York.”

I didn’t give her a chance to say anything before I turned on my heel and jogged back down the hallway, bounding back down the stairs with a spring in my step because I knew what I had to do. I knew how to redeem myself. I just needed to get to the van…

“Holland!” Lila smiled excitedly. “I made--”

I stopped her, holding her arms at her side. “Lila, Ryan loved you more than anything in this world. He told me after your first date that he was going to marry you some day. He’s always loved you. He always knew he loved you. Please, please don’t ever forget that. Take care of yourself, and take care of Scarlett.”

I kissed her forehead gently, turned and ran out of the door as she called my name. I knew she was trying to follow me, but I heard Logan start to explain in her loud commandeering voice that the horde was here. That a very brave soul was going out to lead them away, to give them a chance to escape. That they had to act now – pack up what they could while they had a chance.

I jumped in the van just as an earsplitting scream of “Holland!” echoed through the air from inside the door. It wasn’t Lila, like I expected. It was Scarlett.

With the last bit of determination I had, I pulled away from the building. I turned the radio in the van up as loud as I could, some Garth Brooks CD playing. I blasted the horn. I did everything I could as I slowly drove past the horde to attract their attention, to change their direction.

After five minutes, I was the leader of the deadest conga line in the world. I kept beeping the horn, kept the music loud, hoping that the farther away from my friends I got them, the better off they’d be. So I kept driving a snail’s pace, making sure I didn’t get too far ahead. Even though they were faster than zombies in the movies, they still weren’t exactly the most graceful – get enough stumbling, tripping, clumsy dumbfucks in a group and things slow down significantly.

This gave me some time to think – did they make it out okay? Do they have enough supplies? Everything we had is in the van with me. Fuck, I probably just made things so much worse for them. How could I just leave them? Am I really that stupid?

But I told Logan to get them to New York. She was tough, she was badass Leader Logan. If anyone could do it, it’d be her. But how would I find them? They’d be going North – I was intentionally driving South.

And Lila...fuck, she just lost Ryan and I left her. I just left her.

But then, all of the other people. They’d have a fighting chance now, right? Maybe?

Hours pass, and I make it to the Interstate with the Dead Parade following. My group would be going north and east. I’ve already been going south for hours. So I head west, the horde growing as stragglers from the permanent traffic jam on the eastbound lane join. I go in this direction for hours as well, until I know the lyrics to this entire album back and forth and the sound of the van horn sounds like a permanent fixture in my life.

I’m finally content with the distance I’ve put between the horde and my people. I take an off-ramp that leads to a farm town, speed up, and drive parallel to the dying sun, hoping that I’ll get the chance to see my friends again.