I Love You With All That's Left Of My Heart

A freak illness spreads far and fast throughout the world. As Iris knows it, with her family being threatened, and her friends states away, they will fight to survive and thrive in the increasing toxic environment. Will the undead outnumber them? Or will they be able to live with the smell of dead flesh forever?

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9. Tables Have Turned

Iris woke up to a dark room, it was warm and smelt like lavender. Her eyes adjusted a bit, that's when she realized that she was in a steel chair and tied up with a gag in her mouth. Her throat was itching for water. She didn't even have saliva to swallow. Her eyes burned and shut as soon as the bright light turned on and the door slammed shut. She opened them slowly to see a familiar face. It was the same, yet so much different. Veda's dark brown hair was down to her hip until she put it in a messy bun. Her once tan skin was pale looking and she had scars on her right forearm covering up a tribal tattoo.

"Hey." She said awkwardly. Veda looked at a very confused and awe struck Iris. She looked very different. Her once platinum dyed hair was now dirty blonde and up in a very messy pony tail. Her bangs covered her right eye. A large scar went over her left brow and eye. She also noticed a tattoo on her neck of the letter V under her right ear. She mumbled something, but Veda couldn't make it out. "I guess taking this off would help." She smiled before removing the gag from her mouth and letting it fall around the girls neck.

"Hey?" Iris said bitterly. "Four years since the last time we've seen each other and you say hey?"

"What else am I supposed to say? I thought you were dead. How the hell did you end up at my camp?"

"Your camp? How can you be the leader of all of these horrible people. They kill and steal from innocent people, like it's some kind of game!"

"Sometimes you don't have a choice."

"When are you gonna let me out of here." She stated.

"You really think I can just let you walk?"

"I was hoping so, yeah."

"You are an enemy to my people. I can't let you leave. We can't trust you and you are dangerous."

"I'm hardly dangerous and I'm not an enemy."

"You just killed one of the best men I had serving under me."

"Yeah, well sometimes you just don't have a choice." She mocked Veda's earlier statement. 

Before Veda could speak again, the door opened to a fairly large woman. "They are ready."

"Ready for what?" Iris asked, earning a disgusted look from the stranger.

"The vote." Veda said. "Thank you Ally. We will be there in a minute." The girl nodded and left. "If I untie you are you gonna try and kill me?"

"I can't promise anything."

"I knew you were gonna say that." Veda took a deep breathe. "Sorry about this."

Iris looked confused before being knocked out by a right hook. 

B had just got back from a hunt and set the deer on Jean's table. "Diners ready." She smirked.

"How did you even leave here? You are bed ridden."

"I feel great doc, better than ever. Besides we are gonna need to eat if we are going to search for Iris."

"We don't even know where to start." Jean said bluntly. 

"We'll find her. We have too." Their conversation was cut short when Anya ran in the tent and went right to B. "Anya! Where the hell have you been?"

"I know where Iris is."

Iris was startled awake as a bucket of ice cold water was thrown in her face and ran down her chest and abdomen. She took deep breathes and inhaled some of the water, trying to cough it up. When she got her self together, she was tied to a pole that was in the middle of a big crowd that all looked they wanted her head. 

"We all lost someone yesterday. Billy Hernandez was a father, brother, uncle and a friend." Veda spoke up. She was walking around in the circle only a few feet away from Iris who rolled her eyes at the start of the speech. "This woman is the one who took him from us too soon. For what reasons, she will not say, but she is guilty. I know I am usually the one to make decisions around here, but one of this nature is up to the people. Justice will be served. Will the family of Billy come forward?" A family a four walked up, all grief stricken and had red puffy eyes. "We have three options. Death by a hundred cuts. Torture. Or banishment. Which will it be?"

The family pondered for a moment until the wife walked up. "The arena."

Veda was taken back by this. "We haven't done that in years. Are you sure?"

"She deserves it." She spat.

Veda took a deep breath and held her concerns in. "Very well. The arena is set for sun rise tomorrow. Everyone return to your jobs."

A few people went to their stations, a few other people took a few swings at Iris as they walked passed her. "Enough!" A man's voice boomed. Iris looked up, trying to hide her pain. A tear escaped down her cheek when she saw who it was. He stormed past Veda and took out his knife to cut Iris down and softened her fall.

"Finn?" She whispered before passing out.

"It's alright Iris. I'm here." He picked her up bridal style and went back to the room that she was in previous. 

B stood in front of the army that they had. Their numbers weren't great, but they all had experience as well as the equipment. "Thanks to Anya, we now know where Iris is being held. It isn't too far from here. I'm not going to lie to you. We will be outnumbered and we don't know the layout or if they have snipers. Hell, I don't even know if Iris is alive, but we have to try." Everyone nodded and were determined to get their leader back. "Tryston, I need you to get the armored jeep ready to go. I need everyone geared up and at these coordinates before sunrise. Jean, do you remember where the pits are that we dug?" She nodded. "Good, we need to take the semi there. Everyone get moving. We're running out of time." 

Iris woke up to the smell of coffee. "Hey stranger." Finn said as he smiled and poured a cup of hot coffee. 

"Please tell me that's what I think it is." 

"My own little blend." He went over and handed it to her. That's when she realized she wasn't tied up. "I trust you Iris. You're still my best friend."

She smiled and took a sip of the delicious liquid that scorched the tip of her tongue, she didn't mind it too much. "That is amazing."

"Glad someone appreciates my creations, its hard with the ingredients nowadays."

"Why are you helping me? I'm already dead."

"I need to eat to get your strength up. Nobody has made it out of the arena before."

"Thanks. That was... Comforting." She said sarcastically. 

"Sorry. It's the best I can do, but I will try to come up with a plan. Just trust me." Iris just nodded. "Eat up buddy."

Veda was spinning in her rolling chair, thinking about what she is about to witness. Seeing Iris again made her feel weird. Like she just woke up from a weird and horrible dream. The woman she loved who was supposed to be dead, was in her camp, on deaths row because she couldn't bend the rules. She layed down and fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. 

**Four years ago**

"I love you." Iris said after they both came back from their high. Their sweaty bodies were pressed against each other as they tried to catch their breathe. That was the first time Iris said that. It was dark, but Iris could see the hesitation in Veda's features. She got up and put on gym shorts followed by a tank top. "Sorry. Was that too fast?" 

Veda quickly regained control of her body and jumped up, stark naked and hugged Iris from behind, wrapping her arms around the blondes waist. "I love you too."

Iris turned around, keeping Veda's arms around her, she cupped the girls face. "Do you have to leave? You could say here in Missouri with me."

"You know I wish that I could. I can't just drop family and school. I have to finish what I started."

"It's so hard without you. It feels like I can't breath when your gone, like I'm incomplete." Iris stated with her head down now.

"Hey." Veda whispered as she lifted Iris' head with two fingers. "I know it's hard now, but time will fly by. You got a promotion so you'll be busy during the day and we can talk on the phone. It'll be like I'm right there with you."

"Do you promise?"

"I promise." Veda said before kissing Iris' warm lips. "Now get under the covers and cuddle me. It's fucking cold." They both laughed as they spent their last night in the same bed together. 

Veda woke up with tears in her eyes. She hadn't had a a memory with Iris in a long time. She looked out of the window and saw the sunrise. Today was the day she lost Iris. Again. And it's her doing this time.  

Iris was being dragged in a long, dark hallway with only one door that was at the very end. Come on Tryson. Come through for me. She thought. The door opened and she was thrown in the dirt, landing face first. There was a ringing in her ears due to hitting her head, but she got up nonetheless. Her hands were tied behind her back and there was no weapon in sight. The sun was slowly rising and she noticed a huge crowd that were in stands. It was like an actual arena. Dried blood scattered across the sand, along with people that weren't lucky enough to make it out alive. I am not dying here. She thought as she stood the the circular stage with caged doors all around her.

"Justice will be served today." Veda started. Iris laughed, remembering that one of Veda's favorite people on her favorite show always said that. It really did sound lame. "Iris Freeman, you are guilty for killing one of our people in cold blood. We will not stand for that. Everyone, welcome back, to the arena!" She shouted, earning an ear booming cheer from the crowd. "The way this works is simple. The prisoner will have no weapons, no help, and nowhere to run. Try and kill all of the corpses and try to survive." The crowd laughed at that. Finn warned Iris on how no one's made it out alive. "Begin!"

The large door in front of her opened up to a few dozen zombies coming out of it. One caught on to her and charged at her. She stood still waiting for her moment. When it was a few feet away, she kicked it in the abdomen, forcing it to curl over a bit before getting down low and swiping her leg to knock the Z to the ground. She quickly got up and kicked it in the head until it caved in and its brain and blood added to the old blood in the sand. She was already exhausted. The rest seemed to be walkers. 

 She struggled but managed to wiggle her arms past her butt and sat down, slowly inching her way down. Placing her left leg leg through the space in her arms, followed by the right and fell back with her hands now in front of her. She tried getting them loose but stopped when the ground started to shake. "What the hell?" She looked behind her to see a massive Z stomping out of the gate. It wasn't like the one from a couple years ago, this one was shorter and had a massive gut. "Shit." She looked away a second to long and was tackled by a zombie. It unhinged its jaw and brought it down, biting on the ropes. 

Veda looked on with a mix set of emotions. She knew she couldn't do anything for Iris. Is it even the Iris I knew years ago? She thought. She was still impressed though, might not be for long. Iris is good, but not that good.

The zombies jaw wasn't strong enough to bite through the rope. She kneed it between its legs and it shockingly reacted. Its face was like it just ate a a shit ton of lemons. She took advantage of it and used her legs to flip him over her head and she rolled with him, landing on top before beating its skull in with her fists as blood scattered her face and clothes. She saw the larger one standing by a wall, just staring. "Iris!" Finn shouted. She got up and noticed him throwing a combat knife down to her. It landed right next to her. She smiled and took it out of its cover, holding it at the ready after cutting the ropes. She was slowly becoming surrounded, but she kept her composure. If you lose it, you're dead. 

"Zombies! Zombies in the camp!" A man screamed and Veda unstrapped her shotgun. 

"What do you mean?!"

"A huge semi full of em! Where screwed!"

"Get your shit together Leo! Get our people to hire ground." She looked back at Iris for what could be the last time and they actually made eye contact. Veda then noticed Finn jumping down and shooting the corpses that were a threat to his friend. 

They were back to back and the gunshots got the larger creatures attention. "Are you sure about this Finn?"

"I'd rather die helping you than live in this place another day."

"What's the commotion outside about?"

"Some crazy person drove a semi right through the front gates. It was full of Z's."

"Did they get a look at who it was?"

"Some tall woman with a leg wound."

"B." She said under her breath. As if on cue, the outer arena wall burst open as an armored jeep rammed through it, running the mutated zombie over, but not killing it. Tryston and Nick hopped out of the car and started shooting. "Wait! Leave a few!" Iris shouted.

"Are you crazy?" B asked as she came in from behind the ruble.

"We need as many as we can so this place falls."

"Fair enough. Lets get you outta here."

"Finn?" 

"Tryston?" The two friends hugged for a few moments. "It's so good to see you dude!"

"You too man! What the hell are you doing here?"

"Making sure Iris gets away alive."

"We can't leave yet." Iris stated.

"And why not?" B pushed.

"Veda."

"I'll go get her and meet you guys a little ways down the road where its safer." Finn said. "I don't think she knew it was me that helped you."

"Meet us south of here." Iris said before hugging him and getting in the jeep.

It had been a good hour since her escape. They were waiting for Finn and Veda. 

"What did they do to you in there?" B asked.

"Nothing I couldn't handle."

B leaned in for a kiss before they heard footsteps and a girls voice. "We have to go back Finn!"

"We have to regroup before we go back there. The two of us can't just rambo our way through it."

"Fine." She pouted. "Look! It's a jeep! Let's go." She jogged over and was stopped in her tracks at who she saw. "What the hell?" Was all she said before she was knocked out by the butt of Trystons gun. 

"Tie her up. We are going back to camp."

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