Gone

An epidemic is spreading. An epidemic that nobody has ever seen before, that nobody was ready for. It doesn't just kill people; it evolves them, wipes them into shells and reinvents them into machines to spread this disease before painfully removing them from the Earth. Ebony Wilson has lost her mom to this plague, and has lost the rest of her family in the chaos. Unsure of where they are, and what steps to take when she finds them, whether they're infected or not, she works day by day to make it through this. To make it up to her mom and to find her family. Will Ebony keep her head long enough to make it through, if this epidemic ever ends?

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22. Chapter 22

    Knowing that Teddy still could be in the building, we head down one of the corridors leading off of the lobby.  We stick together, making sure that none of us will be trapped or singled out.  There are a few rooms leading off of the corridor, but none of them hold any life forms.

    We check the entirety of the lobby and only found a couple Infecteds that we kill with no problem.  We find an elevator that looks okay, but it doesn’t seem to be working.  Ebony, Miles, and I pry open the doors with great effort.  There is a hole in the roof that looks a bit promising, with a rope hanging down from it in the center.  Miles and I slide inside and climb the rope, with Ebony on lookout.  The doors to the elevator slam shut behind us.

    I hoist Miles up the rope and then follow behind him, with him pulling me up.  There’s nothing on top of it - it’s just a normal elevator shaft.  No people, no creatures, nothing.

    “This is useless,” Miles says, laughing a bit.  “Why’d they do this?  Maybe they cut a few cables, make sure the elevator wasn’t working.”

    “Considering they were run by the government,” I tell him, “that’s a likely possibility.”

    I hear a distant scream, a man’s, calling for help.  It’s most likely Mike’s, considering it sounded as if it came from below us.  I jump back down the hole and help get Miles down.

    We try to pry open the doors and find that they’re stuck, tightly.  I start pounding on the doors, screaming to Ebony, trying to get her to help us out, but it’s no use.  I’m pretty sure she went to help her father, if that was who screamed.

    Miles and I are working on the doors but they are sealed.  I start kicking, punching, screaming.  We’re both panting and stop for a little, assessing the situation.  We could continue on like this, wait for Ebony…  No matter what, the outcome isn’t known, whether or not we’ll be able to get out of this sticky situation.

    “Maybe we can get to the second floor and open the doors,” Miles offers, but it’s unsafe.  There were so many creatures up there - if we actually are able to open the doors, we might not be able to fight off the horde.

    “We can try,” I tell him.  Getting the doors open might help us out a bit.  If there are too many, we shut the doors and head back down.  We have weapons, we’ll be alright.

    Miles starts to hoist himself up again and I give him a push, following him up.  We steady each other and look at the few cables that haven’t been cut - they look somewhat strong.  The doors to the next floor aren’t too far up and I know we’ll be able to make it.

    I start climbing, not knowing whether or not I’ll be able to hoist Miles up far enough.  He follows me, taking his time, and I find a small foothold on the cables.  Taking a moment, I help Miles up.

    Leaning over, I start working on the doors.  They open much easier than the doors downstairs, opening with a substantial amount of effort.  Miles whimpers and I pull him up onto the foothold.  Although it is small, we are both able to stand on it at the same time, though it’s uncomfortable.

    I check around the hall that the doors opened to.  There are a couple Infecteds down the corridor, but nothing I can’t handle, especially with Miles.  Getting myself ready, I jump over to the ledge and am able to gain my balance.

    “Hang on, Miles.  I’m just going to clear this out real quick.”  I head down the corridor, taking out my knife.  There are four creatures and I am able to exterminate them without a problem.  Once I’m sure the immediate area is clear, I head back to the elevator shaft to help Miles.

    “You okay?” I ask, leaning over the shaft.  He nods, holding tightly to the cables.  “Jump, I promise I’ll catch you.  It’s okay.”

    He tenses up, getting ready to jump, but he looks incredibly nervous.

    “It’s fine,” I promise him, though I’m a bit nervous myself.

    Then he jumps, and I do catch him, grabbing on to his arms.  His legs swing low, hitting the wall of the shaft.  He groans loudly and I start to pull him up.  When his legs feel a bit better, he starts kicking at the wall, trying to get a hold so he can push himself up.  He is able to get onto his stomach and crawl forward.

    I help him to stand.  “Are your legs alright?” I ask him, trying to make a cursory examination.

    “I’m fine,” he answers.  “Probably will have some bruises, but I’m okay.”

    I feel bad for Miles.  He’s been through so much in the past few months, weeks, days.  He deserves a rest, but he keeps fighting, keeps going.  I’m so grateful to have him by my side.

    He pulls out his gun and we walk, backs to each other, down the hallway.  There aren’t many doors on this floor, but the rooms that we find don’t contain any creatures or young boys.

    “He’s not up here,” Miles states blandly, lowering his gun.  There were only two other creatures on this floor, both of them Bloodies.  I lower my gun as well, sighing.

    “Downstairs?” I offer.

    “Yeah,” he responds, and we head towards the staircase, backs still to each other, but our guns are lowered.

    We head down the stairs side by side, slumped.  Mike and Ebony are there, surrounded by a few dead creatures.  The entrance door had been pushed open, and a swarm probably made its way in.  That’s why Mike was yelling.

    “How’d you guys get upstairs?” Ebony wonders.

    “The elevator doors got jammed, so we hoisted ourselves up to the second floor.  There weren’t many other creatures, we were able to clear it out.  No sign of Teddy.” Miles explains, taking a seat on the couch and resting his legs.

    Ebony looks nervous, biting her nails and pacing back and forth.  Mike has his head in his hands, breathing deeply.  They’re both incredibly distraught.

    “We’ll find him,” I say, trying to comfort them both, but my voice is shaky.  I don’t sound very convincing, even to myself.

    Ebony puts her hands on her forehead, looking extremely anxious.  She growls and walks towards the door, then back.

    I see a creature outside, and, judging by her stillness, so does Ebony.  She stops pacing for a minute, then runs outside, taking out her knife, and slaughters the creature in a rage.  More follow it, and she continues to kill them, one by one.  A couple scream, but most of them just thump to the ground.

    This goes on for what feels like a long time, but it must’ve been at most a couple minutes.  The creatures stop advancing finally and she breaks down.

    Ebony falls to her knees, surrounded by dead bodies.  Her shoulders heave, her entire body shaking.  She covers her mouth with her hand and sobs loudly.  Miles, Mike, and I run out to help her.

    We take in the situation as we walk out.  Mike runs over to his daughter, putting his arm around her shoulders.  They both are crying, but Mike is silent, tears rolling down his cheek.  Ebony is sobbing, but she’s trying to suppress it.  He is asking her questions, but I do not know what he is saying.  Nonetheless, she’s nodding.

    Miles pats me on the back and I jump a little.  We both head over to the family, now broken, and I feel terrible that they have to go through this.  Ebony already lost her mom - I don’t want her to lose her little brother, too.

    “We can look in the forest,” I tell her.  “Maybe he walked out this way.  There’s no way he could’ve gone far, and he’ll probably want to come back.  Don’t worry.  Miles and I will go look now, right, Miles?”

    I nod my head towards the forest and he nods to me, too.  “Let’s go,” he whispers, and we head into the forest, Ebony looking on after us.

    “What do we do if we can’t find him?” Miles asks me when we’re out of earshot.

    “We tell her.  It’s okay, they’ll help us look if we can’t find him.”

    We span out, checking around the wedge of the forest.  At the camp, there was almost a half-circle, and we took a small wedge of it.  If he’s not here, we can check off a section, trying to narrow it down a bit more.

    We have no luck in the first wedge.  There were only a couple creatures, but Teddy wasn’t anywhere, and we checked and re-checked the area.

    Heading back, Ebony and Mike were still there, looking around the immediate area.  They said that they went around the back of the building to look for him, but they didn’t find anything.

    “We’ll spread out some more,” Miles reassures them, and we head into the second wedge.

    A bit into the forest, we see something that makes us hopeful.

    A red boot.

    I run over to the boot, picking it up - it’s obviously Teddy’s.  Miles shushes me and we listen closely.  We hear sniffling.

    “Teddy!” I call, and there is a gasp.  “Where are you?”

    “Here,” I hear vaguely, and we follow the sound.  There he is, the little boy, scrunched up behind a large rock.  He is shaking, his entire body trembling.

    “It’s okay,” I tell him, hugging him awkwardly.  I help him to stand up and he is gasping, trying to calm himself down.

    “Come on, we’ll get you back to your family.” Miles tells him, taking his hand.

    Remembering, we give him back his red boot and he slips it on with a little help from us.  He’s okay, and I am so happy that we found him.

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