we live on the cusp of death (thinking that it won't be us)

ZA: An Apocalyptic Writing Competition The 100 fan fiction, zombie apocalypse. (Second entry.)

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2. Chapter 2

Clarke drove the Jeep into the Drop Ship – the electric gates closing behind them and a small crowd forming in the open area. Octavia had managed to get the okay from Kane – whoever he may be – and pointed over to an area of cars, much like Clarke’s own, for her to park in.

The five of them climbed out, Jasper lagging behind a little, but looking more refreshed after his nap, and the group watched as they were approached. Everyone wore similar clothes, Clarke noticed first. While many had jackets and their own clothing on, there were other coats and bullet proof vests, all with a similar logo on. They were a unit, she realised – there was probably going to be rules and guidelines they had to follow during their stay, and Clarke pursed her lips at the thought of being caged in.

However, she didn’t need to worry. Octavia stood by her, and pointed out Kane as he neared. “He’s that one,” she said. “Dark hair, beard – has a little team behind him?” Clarke looked to where Octavia was pointing, and her face broke out into a smile. Kane seemed to notice at the same time.

“Clarke?” He called, quickening his pace. “Clarke, is that you?”

“Marcus!” Clarke cried, relieved. “Oh my God – you’re alive.” She rushed into his open arms, embracing him for all it was worth. She’d been so hardened for so long that Clarke had forgotten what it was like to melt back into familiarity.

“So are you – I can’t believe this. Abby is going to be so happy.”

“Mum’s alive?” Clarke asked. “Is she here?” Marcus shook his head, and Clarke frowned.

“She went out on a scouting party a few days ago-“ he looked up, finding the group of her friends, and those of the people who looked up to him watching. Marcus shook his head. “We’ll talk later, don’t worry. Are you staying?” Clarke paused. She wanted to see her mother – she’d been under the impression that Abby was dead since the outbreak – but she also didn’t want to be trapped in one of these camps.

“I don’t know yet,” she said. Marcus looked worried for only a moment, before glancing over her team.

“Well we’ll find you all some food, yes? If you’re all going to be leaving, we can’t send you out empty-handed.”

They were led to the dining area, and fed with food Clarke had only dreamed about for the past few months. They ate until they couldn’t anymore, and then Marcus came over, flanked by Octavia and a man with brown skin and dark, ruffled hair.

They sat down at the end of the table, and Clarke watched them carefully as they eyed the group.

“What’s wrong with that one,” the stranger of the three asked, jutting his chin towards Jasper. Her friend’s skin was growing pale, and purple bags hung under his eyes. He hadn’t eaten as much as the others, but Clarke hadn’t thought about that.

“He’s ill,” she replied. The man narrowed his eyes a little.

“What type of illness?”

“We don’t know,” Monty said. “He’s just ill, okay?” The stranger leant back a little, glancing towards Octavia, and she shrugged.

“As long as he wasn’t bitten, Bellamy, I’m sure he’s fine,” Marcus smoothed, shaking his head. The man – Bellamy – looked away, nodding a little. A few months ago, Clarke would have pondered over his name – it was unusual yet rolled off the tongue perfectly. But a few months ago, an apocalypse wasn’t happening. Now there was. She didn’t think about it, but instead focused on Marcus. “If you’ve eaten, Clarke, I think we should have a talk.” She nodded, standing and following him to an office, leaving Octavia and Bellamy with her friends.

Marcus’ office seemed to be the office of whoever ran the military stronghold before the apocalypse. Clarke glanced around.

“Why aren’t the armed forces in control of this place?” She asked. Marcus shrugged, sitting in his chair behind his desk.

“They were, right at the beginning. But I heard the outbreak reached them, and they were taken out one by one – all the others left to find their families. That’s when Abby and I swooped in. We had a group of doctors and donors from the benefit we were at, and we took over this place.” Clarke nodded, settling into the chair opposite his. “She’s going to be so thrilled to find out that you’re alive – you will stay at least until she gets here, right?” Clarke paused.

“Probably,” she replied. “But it depends on my team, too.”

“Will they all be leaving with you?”

“I don’t know – Wick seemed pretty happy to be here, he’ll probably stay if he can. Monty and Jasper don’t leave each other’s sides.”

“And the other one? Raven?”

“I think she’ll probably come with me,” Clarke nodded. They were quiet for a moment. “Have you heard from either of the Jahas since the outbreak?” Marcus sighed.

“No, I haven’t. Thelonious was supposed to be at the benefit with us, but he called to say that his flight was delayed. Wells was supposedly still on campus, too.” Clarke nodded. After she left home, she went for Harvard first, hoping to find him. She drove around for days; visited his room, his halls – all around her were people in panic and the dead. She almost died so many times in those first few days, just searching for her best friend.

“I went to his campus,” she told him quietly. “I couldn’t find him anywhere.”

“Maybe he’s back in Ark,” Marcus suggested. “He might have gone home, hoping to find us all there. How’s Jake?” Clarke’s jaw tensed and her expression turned steely.

“If he’s where I left him, then he’ll be in my bedroom as a walker,” she replied stonily. Marcus’ face closed off.

“Shit,” he breathed. “I’m so sorry, Clarke.”

-

The next day, Octavia sat with Clarke at breakfast.

“I heard you might be heading out soon,” she said. Clarke shrugged.

“I don’t know yet – we’re figuring it out.” Raven sat down opposite her at the table, with her tray of food, and Monty came close behind.

“Wick’s integrated himself pretty well.” Raven nodded to Wick, a few tables away, talking with the people of the camp. “Maybe he’ll stay after all.”

“They only keep people if they have a use,” Octavia replied, shaking her head. “Does he have one?”

“He took out more walkers in one go than anyone I’ve ever seen,” Clarke mused. Monty nodded.

“He said he was an engineer before the outbreak, too.” Octavia pursed her lips.

“They’ll probably keep him if he wants to be kept,” she agreed.

“What’s yours?” Raven asked, mouth full of food.

“What’s my what?” Octavia replied.

“Your use – what’s your use?” The girl shrugged, glancing around as she prodded at her food.

“I think they just like having Bell around, and we come as a package deal,” she replied. Clarke frowned.

“Who?”

“Bell – Bellamy. He’s my brother,” Octavia explained. “He’s always been protective, but he’s been so much more so since this zombie thing started that I haven’t even killed a zombie yet by myself, and we joined the Drop Ship almost immediately after it began.”

“What does Bellamy bring to the table?” Monty asked, Jasper slinking down by his side.

“He’s the best shot here,” Octavia smiled. “No one can shoot like him – he’s leading the guard and the patrols. Fucking hates it here but he knows it’s what he has to do to keep us safe.”

“Do you hate it here?” Raven asked. Octavia shrugged.

“I’ve never liked it, but it is what it is.” Raven met Clarke’s eye for just a moment, and the latter of the two girls looked away. They couldn’t take the siblings with them – they couldn’t. If Wick was staying, there’d only be one free seat in the Jeep, and Clarke doubted either of the two would let the other go on their own.

“O,” a voice called. Bellamy walked over, gun strapped to his back and a water bottle in his hand. He handed the bottle to his sister and smiled fondly. “You’re on patrol this morning – sign out a gun and start at the West fence, clockwise.” Octavia nodded with a sigh.

“Duty calls,” she said to the others, standing. “I’ll see you guys later.” Bellamy stayed a moment longer than the others, looking over the group. He nodded to Jasper, who was forcing himself to eat at the end of the table.

“Take him to medical,” he instructed, although there was a soft edge in his voice. “We have drugs that’ll help him.” Monty muttered something as Bellamy left, but Clarke didn’t catch it. She just watched him send a worried look to his best friend.

-

Jasper turned into a walker at seven past ten PM, that evening. They were in the bunks they’d been assigned, when the growling started.

“What the hell is that?” Raven complained.

“I don’t know,” Wick replied. “It’s coming from Jasper’s direction, I think.” Raven heaved a sigh and slipped down from her bed, heading over to where Jasper was curled up under his blanket. She made it within a metre before letting out a yelp and ducking backwards.

“What is it?” Clarke asked urgently.

“Walker!” Raven called back. Clarke shot out of bed, following to where Jasper was batting about the blanket, attracted to the noise.

“Shit!” Clarke fumbled for her gun, but found that she didn’t have one on her. They were militant about the weapons, at the Drop Ship – Marcus had had all of them taken away. “What do we do?” She turned, finding her friends all standing, Raven reaching for a chair.

“Smash his brain,” she replied. “It’s the only way.”

“No!” Monty cried. “You can’t!” Clarke spun to face him.

“Did you know?” She asked. Monty didn’t reply, but his eyes just shot to where Jasper was crawling his way out of bed. “Did you know!” She demanded loudly this time. Clarke heard footsteps outside, but she directed her anger at Monty anyway. He nodded, turning away – tears were threatening to spill, she could see, and Clarke huffed.

“It was only a small scratch – back at that house we were at a few days ago! It wasn’t big, so we thought it would be okay!”

“Monty!” Clarke cried.

“Not okay!” Raven complained.

“What the fuck,” Wick muttered. “You could have killed all of us.”

“I didn’t mean to! I suggested cutting off his arm, but he chickened out!” Clarke caught sight of the trail of tears glinting in the fluorescent lights.

“Fucking hell,” she breathed, looking back to where Jasper was standing, now, moving towards them. He was faster than other walkers – having all of his limbs – and they moved around the room as they argued, Jasper getting confused over the noise.

“We have to kill him!” Raven called out, from where she was sitting on the top bunk.

“No!” Monty yelled back. “We can’t!”

“We have to,” Wick argued. “He’ll kill people here if we don’t.” Clarke moved about, climbing up onto a top bunk like the others.

“It’s the only way, Monty. He’s a walker – he’s not Jasper anymore.” Monty sniffed, rubbing his hand across his face. They were silent for a while, letting Jasper’s confused moaning fill the room. Eventually, Monty spoke again.

“At least- at least let me do it,” he insisted.

“We only have the chair,” Raven nodded. Monty let out a strangled cry and Jasper growled, as if he were personally offended by this.

“I’ll get a gun,” Clarke said. “I’m closest to the door. Raven, distract him – don’t let anyone else in, and I’ll be back as soon as possible.”

Raven started clapping, and Jasper turned to her, eyes looking through her instead of at her. He started limping in her direction, and although Clarke hadn’t known him for long, she ached a little to see him that way. She slipped down from the bed, and out the door, shutting it quietly. Before she could think about anything else, Clarke jogged through the camp, looking for someone – anyone – with a gun.

The first person she saw, luckily, was Bellamy. They weren’t friends, and they hadn’t actually spoken – but she knew of him, and she was just glad for that. Clarke slowed to a walk as she reached him, and he turned to face her, brow furrowed.

“You shouldn’t be out here,” he said as a greeting. “It’s not safe.”

“There’s an electric fence,” Clarke replied. “I’ll be fine.”

“No – well, yeah, from them, but people get kicked out of this place for breaking the rules. It’s past curfew.” She nodded, mulling this over for a moment, before shrugging.

“Could you escort me back to my room, then? I don’t want to get in trouble.” Bellamy eyed her cautiously for a moment, before looking around. When he was satisfied that he couldn’t see any walkers, he nodded.

“Okay, quickly. Come on.” Clarke followed along behind him, hands in her pockets to keep out the cold, and watched his jacket sway with his movements. Bellamy was taller than her by quite a way, and looked like he was far more in shape, too. She wondered if he’d always looked this steely, or if it was just since the outbreak. Either way, she liked it – it matched her sharp edges and iron skin in a way others hadn’t before.

When they neared the room, she stopped beside him. “I’m going to need your gun,” she told him.

“What?” Bellamy asked incredulously.

“Your gun – I’m going to need it.”

“And why’s that?” She pursed her lips, not wanting to say. “You know Kane will let you leave at any time, right? You don’t have to shoot your way out.” Clarke shook her head.

“It’s not that, it’s something different.” Bellamy glared at her for a moment.

“No – what is this about, Clarke?” She was surprised he knew her name, but she didn’t let it show. Instead, she sighed, and her hands shot forwards, grasping at his wrist and twisting it suddenly. She caught his ankle with her own, turning him around and holding his wrist to his shoulder blades as he cried out. “What the fuck!”

Clarke yanked the pistol from his holster, and dropped him to the ground, running the final few metres to the door, as he scrambled back up. She slammed the door behind her, the walker in their bedroom turning towards her. Clarke ran to the closest bunk bed – which Monty sat on – and climbed up.

Only a moment later did the door open again, and Bellamy rushed through. She watched as he saw Jasper, eyes widening as the door shut behind him. He glared, dodging the walker’s swipe and climbing up onto a bunk bed on the other side of the room.

“What the fuck is this?” He asked. “You brought a lurker to our camp?!”

“To be fair,” Clarke called across the room. “We didn’t know he was turning.” She felt Monty stiffen beside her, but none of them said anything. Bellamy hoisted his gun – she’d taken the pistol from him, but not the main one he held, and Clarke moved out a hand. “Don’t!”

What? It’s a lurker! I need to kill it.”

“Let Monty,” Raven said firmly. Bellamy looked over to her, and Raven’s steady expression and he lowered the gun slowly.

“Fine,” he bit out. Clarke handed over the gun, and Monty pointed it at his best friend. Clarke heard him whisper something, something to Jasper, the boy he’d grown up with, before the gunshot rang out. They stared at the body on the floor for a while; the hole through its head, and the only sound in the room was that of Monty’s sobs. Clarke held him tightly, feeling his shaking through her body, and waited for the others on patrol to turn up.

When they did, she didn’t listen. She knew there was yelling but it all sounded so far away, so distant and under water. Bellamy spoke to them, and when Marcus entered, all she could hear was Monty’s ragged breathing and Marcus’ words, on repeat: you brought a roamer here you brought a roamer here you brought a roamer here.

-

In the morning, Clarke packed up the Jeep. Raven moved the guns from the Drop Ship’s safes and back into the car, and Monty lugged the boxes of supplies into the boot. His face was blank and emotionless. Clarke didn’t say anything to him, just kept quiet and she filled up the tank, and looked out across the camp.

Marcus wandered over, after a while.

“I’m sorry, Clarke,” he sighed. “I hope you understand.” She nodded, and glanced around. Monty was heading back to where the boxes had been dumped, so she looked back to Marcus.

“I do,” she replied. “We endangered your lives. Thank you for letting Wick stay, though – that’s very kind of you.” Marcus nodded only once. He moved forward and the two hugged, for just a moment, before separating.

“I’m sorry you won’t be here to see your mother, too,” he continued. Clarke nodded, glancing away. “Is there a message you’d like me to pass on?” Clarke paused, before reaching into the car. She held out an envelope for Marcus, and he took it carefully, as if holding the holy grail.

“It’s just some things I wanted to tell her,” Clarke shrugged. “If it’s alright, I might swing back around here in the future? To see if she’s here?” Marcus nodded.

“Just give it some time. The people are still fresh from having to bury a roamer this morning.” Clarke nodded, and Marcus made his departure. Eventually, the Jeep was packed up, and Monty sat inside, head resting against the window.

“He was doing what he thought was best,” Raven murmured, looking at her friend. Clarke nodded.

“I know,” she whispered in return.

Octavia approached her, a backpack slung over her shoulder. She glanced around and Clarke straightened, as Raven climbed into the back of the car with Monty.

“What’s that for?” Clarke asked, nodding to the rucksack. Octavia shrugged.

“Depends,” she replied.

“On what?”

“On if you let me and my brother tag along or not.” Clarke raised her eyebrows and Octavia’s cool cracked. “Oh please, we hate it here. And I’ve been talking to Bellamy about it – and we’re only here because he wants to keep me safe, we can be safe in other places, right?”

“What did he have to say about it?” Clarke questioned.

“It took forever, but he agreed as long as it’s cool with you. He wasn’t going to, but since you have two spare seats now…” she trailed off, ducking her head, and Clarke’s lips thinned out into a straight line. Wick had already said his goodbye, and was waiting in the group by the gate to wave them off, and Jasper… well, Jasper wasn’t given a chance to said his farewell. She took a few breaths to think about it – it was probably a risk to bring them on. Bellamy would do anything for his sister, it seemed, and that was probably going to get him killed – and Octavia had never killed a walker before in her life. But, they group had just lost its two best shots, and if Bellamy was the best shooter they had here at the Drop Ship…

“Fine,” Clarke said at last, straightening. “You can come along-“ Octavia squealed, pulling Clarke in for a crushing hug. “But- but,” Octavia pulled away, listening intently. “I’m in charge, and if I say we’re leaving you, because either of you are endangering the group, that’s going to have to be the way it is, okay?” Octavia paused before nodding.

“Okay, okay – thank you so much, Clarke! I’ll go get Bellamy.” Clarke watched Octavia run off, pulling on the second strap of her backpack as she went. Bellamy was standing off in the distance, but Clarke didn’t watch to see in the encounter. Instead, she climbed into the Jeep, and checked on the others.

“Are you guys set?” She asked. Raven nodded from the middle seat, arm around Monty’s shoulders, and he didn’t reply. Clarke nodded to herself, before starting the ignition and manoeuvring the Jeep around to face the open. She approached it, before stopping.

“What are you waiting for?” Raven asked. Clarke didn’t reply. Instead, the two doors opened, and Bellamy climbed into the front seat, and Octavia into the back, both storing their bags by their feet. Bellamy stared straight forwards, and Octavia grinned at Raven, while Clarke looked out the window at the confused faces of the people of the Drop Ship. There was a knock at her window before she rolled it down.

“What are they doing, Clarke?” Marcus’ voice was firm, steely, and she glanced over.

“They’re coming with us.”

“That’s not how this works, Clarke.”

“I’m sorry, but it is now.” She pressed down on the accelerator, and drives out of camp, only briefly glancing back in the rear view mirror at Wick, waving, and at Marcus, fuming. They drove in silence for a while before Bellamy spoke.

“Thank you,” he said. Clarke nodded tersely.

“Is it against the rules to leave?” She asked. He shrugged. In the back, Raven and Octavia talked amongst themselves.

“It’s just not accepted very well,” he replied. “But we had to get out of there.”

“I thought you were head of patrols?” Bellamy shook his head, and Clarke goes a little faster, hitting a walker in the middle of the road. It crunches under the wheels and she doesn’t flinch.

“I was a guard, yeah – and I helped with scheduling. Kane was nice, sure – but it’s strict. There are some not nice people there, and I don’t like that Octavia is growing up around them.”

“How old is she?” Clarke asked quietly.

“Seventeen.”

“And she’s never killed a walker?”

“I don’t want her to have to,” he replied bitterly. Clarke nodded and flicked on the stereo. Music poured through the speakers and she let it soak up the tension in the car. “Where are we headed, anyway?” Clarke pursed her lips for a moment, and she glanced in the mirror to find Raven and Octavia waiting for the answer. She thought about the people around her – they would want to find their families eventually. Raven was already with hers, and had to kill him, so Clarke knew that they wouldn’t be returning to Halycon anytime soon. Monty, from Tondisy, had watched his entire family die, and now Jasper too – so they wouldn’t be heading there, either.

She didn’t know where Bellamy and Octavia came from, but at that moment, she didn’t need to know. She needed to find her family first. And while that, unfortunately, didn’t include Abby, there was still someone else left.

“Ark,” she announced. She had to find Wells.

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