Sequel: Static Screams
Status: bloody

White Noise


Emotionally charged conversations were not my forte. Emotion was part of attachment and the ability to care. And I’d been trying so hard not to do either of those things. I’d shoved everyone away, I’d pretended I didn’t give a single shit. I’d run the group based on practicality, and the lack of emotion. It’s what had made me a good leader. But now that I was realizing what a shitty leader I was, and how much I cared about these god forsaken people, what was stopping me?

Lila’s words were like dynamite to the walls I’d built around me. What am I feeling? Feelings were emotions. Emotions that I’d been locking up for years without facing. I felt my eyes widen at her words. All this time I’d thought Holland thought of me as an inconvenience. As someone standing in the way of his group. As the reason Ryan had died. I thought Lila still hated me.

But none of that rang true anymore as Lila’s question pinged itself around my brain like a pinball.

I shook my head, looking down to the floor. I took a deep breath, hoping it would give me clarity, but it came out in vibrating gasps as I replied. “Lila, I feel everything.”

She squeezed my arms, soft eyes watching me. I fell to my knees, unable to breathe as it all hit me. Lila leaned forward in the wooden chair she’d claimed. Stroking my hair, she spoke gently. “Scarlett, you can’t keep everything in. It’s tearing you apart from the inside out. Let it out.”

I did. I let ugly sobs tear through me, from my chest to my arms. I felt the eyes of everyone else on me. Lila shushed them and moved an arm off me to wave them away. The only sign that they left the room was the sound of the back-office door shutting behind them.

“I can’t keep anyone alive. I can’t keep us together. I know that Henry is dead. I feel a vacancy in me that echoes that over and over. He’s gone.” I was hyperventilating at this point, and Lila was cradling my head. “Caitlyn is gone! Dad is gone. Holland is gone. Ryan is gone. Ian is gone. Natalie’s brother is gone. Mary, Becca, Thomas, Frank, Susan. They’re all gone.” A scream of a sob escaped me.

“This is why I don’t let myself get attached to people or care about people! Why I don’t let myself love! Why I won’t ever love again!” I shouted. My voice cracked, and I swallowed shakily. The next words were just above a whisper. “I have to make sure Henry is gone. When I know for sure, I can finally give up on this fucking apocalypse.”

Lila squeezed me tight at that. “Oh, Scarlett. No.” She pushed my head up. “You’re not going anywhere. You think all you have to live for is finding out about Henry. But you have more.” I sat up, rubbing the tears from my face with the back of my flannel shirt. “Henry isn’t the only family you have.” She nodded her head indicating something behind me.

I turned to see Darren, Sasha, Natalie, Peter, and Logan peering through the office blinds. They quickly dropped to the ground when they realized they were caught. I couldn’t help it. I smiled.

“You’ve made your own family, Scarlett.” I faced her as she moved a hand to her stomach. She smiled sadly. “And that’s an amazing feat in this world.” It was my turn to squeeze her arms. “Baby and Holland are the only family I have left.” She murmured.

“If this is a family, then you’re a part of it too, Lila.” We smiled at each other. “Okay, now that we’ve been mushy, disgusting, and emotional, let’s see if the others have found anything during their eavesdropping.” Lila and I laughed as I helped her up.

It had been two weeks since the horde hit the factory. Two weeks since Holland had bailed to try and save us. Lila was starting to show. Neither of us had any idea how far along she was, as this was the apocalypse and prenatal care was not exactly around every corner. Sasha had been pregnant twice, so she knew more than the rest of us. She estimated Lila to be about eighteen weeks by the size of her baby bump. She said the baby would be the size of a sweet potato.

We headed towards the back of the store, and part of the group filed out of the office. Peter and Darren tried to act like they hadn’t been paying attention to my break down. They rubbed the back of their necks as they approached me, mumbling to each other some made up conversation. I couldn’t help it, I smiled at their attempt.

Sasha and Nat didn’t even try to pretend. They hugged me at the same time.

“I’m fine, guys. Just had pent up emotions that had to explode apparently.” I nudged Lila gently with my shoulder. She rolled her eyes, but I saw remnants of her soft moment in them.

Logan stood off to the side, letting my original group and I have a moment. When I saw her, I gave her a smile, which she returned with a sad one of her own. She then turned away and went off by herself.

“I’ll be right back, guys.” They all nodded. Sasha and Nat turned to talk to Lila while Peter and Darren went off to make beds.

I followed Logan. Rounding a room divider, I found her opening a package of sheets. She started making up a mattress, having already torn the plastic off it.

I cleared my throat. “Hey.”

She glanced up from the bed. “Hey, Scarlett.” She said, turning back to the corner she was trying to get over the mattress. I stepped forward to help her. “It’s okay, I got it.” She tugged on it again, and it snapped over the edge.

“Um, is everything alright?” She was acting like I had the plague. Or I guess she was acting like I had the zombie virus or whatever it was that made the zombies. Point is, she was acting like I was contagious.

“Yeah, it’s cool.” She shrugged. “Why?” She tucked in the top sheet and then set about shaking a comforter on top of the bed.

I stepped closer to her. “Because you’re behaving as if I’ve called your mother ugly.” I smiled, trying to lean in front of her line of sight.

She stood up straight and sighed, throwing her hands up in the air. “Quit being so cute when I’m trying to quietly suffer!”

My brow furrowed. “Uh, sorry, what?”

She groaned and flopped onto the bed she’d just made face first. She groaned again, louder but it was muffled into a pillow. “I’m just trying to distance myself from you.” She stated, rolling her face to the side so I could hear her words.

“Oh.” It was like a punch in the gut. I took a step back. “Okay. I, um, must’ve read this entirely wrong. Sorry about that. I’ll leave you to sleep, then.” Tears hit my eyes as I turned away, burning and blurring my vision.

Logan’s voice followed me quietly. “You said you won’t ever care or love again.” She muttered. I glanced at her over my shoulder. She’d sat up, legs crossed, and eyes cast downwards.

I took a breath, inhaling deeply from my chest, and letting it out slowly.

In the three weeks I had known Logan, we had had a lot of moments. It terrified me when I first felt positive emotions towards her. Because I had loved before. I had deeply loved Caitlyn. And the pain of losing her, of losing everything to this god forsaken world, had scarred my heart over. But in the last few weeks, I had felt those scars healing. I felt myself melting into the idea of family and love again.

I ran a hand through my hair, pushing it back off my face. “Logan,” I began. “I never thought I would. But in the past weeks, that thought proved to be a falsehood. I do care. I care about my group. I care about those kids. I care,” I paused to climb on the bed, kneeling in exhaustion. “I care about you.”

Her eyes flashed up to meet my own. I was out of words. Between my conversation with Lila, and now Logan, I was out of emotions. Out of words. I had said all I could. I had spoken more than I had in a long time. And I had shared far more than I had since Caitlyn had been killed.

But I didn’t need words anymore.

Logan’s hand moved to my neck, bringing my face down to hers. “I care about you too.” And with those words echoing around us, she pressed her lips to mine.
♠ ♠ ♠
wc;; 1,497

welp, that just happened