I walk back up the beach path with Rose, her fingers entwined with mine. I feel my arm start to swing back and forth, causing me to look at Rose; she was skipping now. I couldn’t help but chuckle at her. She looks so beautiful right now. Her long, soft-curled, brown hair, bounces in the wind. The natural streaks of orange in her hair shine bright when the sunlight hits her head.
I watch as she turns her head, her eyes meeting mine. She flashes that perfect, cute smile; her emerald green eyes glisten at me. I smile at her; I am the luckiest guy on earth right now. She is so sweet, caring, fun and care-free. Nothing ever seems to bother her; and she can always make me smile no matter what.
“Marc?” I hear Rose say softly, snapping me out of my daydream.
“You’re staring.” She says softly again. I smile at her and she gives me a small smile back. Rose drops her head down, looking at the ground, drawing a strand of hair behind her ear.
We finally reach the main road, my house just around the corner. But something is wrong; everything is not the way we left it before. I bring Rose to a stop and watch as a couple of cars race past us, carrying a couple household items on the roof of the car. I can hear multiple car horns, honking off in the distance.
“What is going on?” I hear Rose ask from the side of me, concern wrapped around her words.
“I have no idea.” I say back, confusion wrapped around my words. I spot my neighbor, Mr. Johnson, pulling out of his driveway. I run up to him, waving my arms; he stops his car and rolls down his window when he sees me.
“Mr. Johnson, what is going on?”
“It spread further. A couple of walkers were spotted just outside of town. They will be here soon.” He said hurriedly.
“Wait, what?! What do you mean ‘walkers’?”
“The dead, boy. The dead; the stuff from Ohio; they’re here. It reached New York.” He whispered, his eyes rounding out. “If I was you, boy, I take your girl…” He nodded his head over to Rose’s direction. I look back at her; she was standing a few feet behind me, looking around, and then her eyes finally resting on mine; they were filled with worry.
“Marc…” I snap my head back around to look at Mr. Johnson. “If I was you, boy, I take her, and get the hell outta here. Go somewhere safe.”
“Where’s ‘safe’?” I ask, trying to map out a plan in my head.
“I’m heading to South Carolina. I heard there is a military fort down there that is helping the normal people to safety. They got walls and medicine and such.”
I nod my head at him. “Or maybe you can try and meet up with your father. He would know what to do.” Mr. Johnson continued. I nod my head again.
Suddenly, there was a scream that came from the distance. I snap my head in the direction it came from; listening.
“I gotta go, Marc.” I hear Mr. Johnson say. I look back at him, his hand extended out to me for a shake. I accept it. “Go luck to you, son.”
“You too, Mr. Johnson.” I say, my voice sounding so distant. And with that I step back from his car and he speeds off. I look back at Rose; she was just standing there. “Rose!!”
She comes running over to me and I take her hand in mine. I break out into a run, heading in the direction of my house, dragging Rose behind me. We reach my house and I unlock the front door, slamming it shut once we are inside.
“Marc, can you please tell me what is going on?” I hear Rose say behind me. I ignore her. I don’t have time to answer questions right now. “Marc?!! Please answer me!!”
I stand there, thinking of what I have to do. I run my hands through my hair and exhale loudly.
“Marc!!” I am spun around by Rose, her hands on my shoulders. I look her in the eyes, fear now controlling them. “Marc, you better tell me right now, what the hell is going on?!” She squeezes me shoulders.
I sigh. “It spread. The disease; it spread here to New York. A couple dead people that are called ‘walkers’ were spotted right outside of town.” I pause and look at her. Rose is stunned; her jaw dropped wide open. I feel her arms slip from their hold on my shoulders and drop to her sides. She looks at me, tears on the brim of her eyes; she steps back from me and shakes her head. I grab her waist and look at her.
“Listen to me, Rose. We are going to be fine; we just need to get out of here and head somewhere safe.” She looks at me and nods. Her mouth opens slightly like she was going to say something, but she couldn’t find the words.
She whispers something but I couldn’t hear her. “What, Rose?”
“Sammy.” She says in a whisper again. My eyes grow wide.
“Where is she?”
“I don’t know. She went to play at her friend’s house down the street when I left.”
I walk over to the coffee table in my living room, where the phone lays. I hand it to Rose. “Here. Try and call her at your house. Give me a few minutes to grab some things and we will go and get her.” Rose nods, understanding, taking the phone from me.
I run upstairs to my room. I grab the duffle bag that was at the bottom of my closet. I throw a whole bunch of clothes in the bag; jeans, t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, and sneakers. Anything that would be useful. I look at my laptop that is laying on my desk. I grab it and my phone charger; I know it probably won’t be useful but I can’t leave it. I look back up at my desk and grab two picture frames. One was a picture of me, my two older brothers and my parents; the other was of Rose and I. Once I think I have everything, I grab my bag and start to head downstairs, back to Rose.
I find Rose sitting on the couch, the phone still in her hand. I squat down in front of her and gently touch her leg. She looks at me.
“Did you get a hold of Sammy?”
Rose shakes her head. “No. I called her friend’s mother and she said Sammy left her house an hour ago.”
“Well, then there is a good chance she is at your house, right?”
“I don’t know. I called my house but there was no answer.”
“Ok, she is probably fine. She is probably just really scared. We will go there now.” Rose nods her head and I stand up. Just then my cell phone starts to ring. I pull it out of my pocket and answer it.
“Hello?” I say, confused; I didn’t recognize the number.
“Marc?” I hear a low, male tone say from the other end.
“Dad?!” I look at Rose, her eyes growing wide just like mine.
“Oh my god. Thank god you’re alright. Where are you?”
“I’m at home.”
“I just heard it on the news. The walkers were spotted in New York. Is that true?”
“Yeah. Just outside of town.”
“Oh my god.” He says in a whisper.
“Dad, what is going on? I thought you said it was getting better!”
“Yeah, well, I guess the government told me a lie, just so people won’t be freaking out like they are now. God dammit!!”
“How did it spread so fast?”
“The heat, Marc. The disease is traveling faster with the heat. The fever now sets in faster and kills you faster. I also think it spreads if you get bit or scratched. Don’t let them come near you, Marc!”
“Dad, what are we supposed to do?”
“I don’t know, Marc.” He sighs. “Listen to me, though. Take my guns that are stored in the chest in my office. You take all of them and all the ammo. Don’t let anyone know you have them because they will fight you for them.”
“Yes, sir.” I say sternly. Another scream comes from outside, only this time it is closer. I watch as Rose rushes over to the window and pulls the blinds back a little. Her eyes go round and she gasps, quickly covering her mouth with her hand.
She looks at me. “Marc…”
“Who was that?” I hear my dad say in my ear. I forgot I still had him on the phone for a moment.
“It’s Rose, dad.” I answer him as I walk over to the window to look at what Rose saw.
Rose steps to the side to let me look out the window. My eyes grow wide and my mouth hangs slightly open at the horrid sight. Two bodily figures are hovering over another body that lays motionless on the street. The color, red, is everywhere. I watch as one leans down to grab something from the body and brings it up to its mouth. I close my eyes; I have seen enough.
“Oh my god.” I whisper. I wrap my arm around Rose’s shoulders and bring her into my chest. I feel her wrap her arms around my waist and sniffles.
“Marc! Are you still there?!!” I hear my dad yell into my ear. I guess I zoned out again.
“Yeah, dad. I am still here.”
I hear him exhale loudly. “Geez, you just gave me a heart attack. You didn’t answer me; is Rose there with you?”
“Yeah, she is here with me.” I look down at her, snuggled into my chest.
“Stay with her. Stay together, please. The more people you have the better chances you have of staying alive.”
I nod. “I would never leave her.” Rose looks up at me; a small smile on her lips. I kiss the top of her forehead. “But dad, we have to find her sister.”
He sighs. “Ok.” He pauses. “But please stay together. Get out of there as soon as you can.”
“I will call you later. Hopefully, your mother and I can get out of here and be able to meet up with you.”
“Ok, dad. Mr. Johnson said something about a fort, a military fort, it should be safe there. Only it is in South Carolina.”
“Well, head there for now. Somewhere safe. Please, Marc stay safe. I promise I will meet up with you soon. I love you, son.”
“Love you too, dad.” We both hung up.
I look down at Rose again. “What did he say?” She asks me.
“We gotta get out of here.” I let my arm fall from her shoulders and run into my father’s office. I enter the lock combo to his gun chest and it pops open. I lift it slowly, my eyes gazing over all the dangerous weapons. I grab another duffle bag that was in the closet and start to put all the guns and ammo into it; I make sure all the safeties are on the guns first, that way we don’t have a random gun fire go off.
Rose comes into the doorway and watches me. I pick up a handgun and roll it around in my hand.
“Do you remember how to use this?” I ask her, my mind flickering back to the memory of when I took her to the shooting range on one of our dates. I showed her how to use the gun properly; how to point and aim, and reload; all the basics.
I look up at her and she nods. “Yes.” She says in a whisper. I hand it to her and she takes it from me, gratefully. I finish packing up all the guns and ammo and stand up to leave. I grab the other bag full of my clothes, and throw both bags in the trunk of the car. Rose and I get into the car and I twist the keys in the ignition. I pull out of my driveway, running over the pair of walkers feasting on the motionless body. I sped off in the direction of Rose’s house; I hope Sammy is okay.