"W ell, now, let's get going." Lloyd stood up and walked over to the side walk, "There's a lot of debris, but it shouldn't be too hard for us to get through."
"Lead the way." Rob said.
Slowly, they moved foward, ducking behind debris every now and then when the wind would rustle leaves and paper, startling them. Max grabbed Hope's shoulder, she stopped and turned to him, "What is it?"
"I have to go back." he whispered.
"I have to find a reversal for this." he motioned at himself.
"All right, but we need food and water."
"I don't need that."
"Yes, you do. Look, we're falling behind." Hope pleaded.
"Go catch up with them."
"No, I'm not going to let you go alone. It's not safe; there's those mutations and Sarah."
"They don't recognize me as human anymore, so they won't come after me, and I'll be able to handle her."
Lloyd turned around, "Hey, what are you two doing?" he whispered.
Hope gritted her teeth, "Just get some food and rest first."
"Every second counts, I'll just be wasting time."
A beast landed on top of a nearby and bellowed loudly.
"Shoot!" Lloyd yelled.
Lloyd, Max, and Hope fired at the beast. It hissed and shook its head, then lunged off of the bus and onto the roof of the back that they were standing in front of.
"Move, move, move!" Rob commanded. The four ran quickly down the side walk. Pounding from above followed the sound of their footsteps. They ran across a stree, Hope looked up as the beast leaped from one building to the next. It was hunting them. It howled loudly and a few seconds later, another howl responded in the distance. They turned a corner and ran into a department store. One of the creatures jumped down in front of the building and growled fiercely.
Hope fired two times, shattering the glass, the beast groaned and fell.
"Damn it! That's going to draw more of them." Lloyd hissed.
"What did you expect me to do? Let it come in here after us?"
"They were already coming." Max muttered softly.
"How do you know that?" Rob asked.
Max tilted his head toward the creature outside, "He called them to us. That's what that howl was, it's how they communicate."
Lloyd rubbed the back of his neck and chuckled, "Wonderful."
Hope stared sleepily into the oncoming twilight. The sun was setting, becoming a burning eye being chased down by the whisper of night. As if it were trying to fight back the darkness, deep rays of violet and orange reached out across the horizon. The wind blew steadily, tossing leaves and paper about. She leaned her shoulder against a wall, her dark eyes shined fiercely in
the bath of the dying, setting sun.
Max lessened the distance between them and stood directly behind her. She turned around slowly, the shock of seeing his altered face was gone. He was the same man she met earlier that day, just with a different skin, for now. His cold blue eyes seemed to be searching for something to say, an expression that would somehow make her feel better, perhaps a word that would comfort her.
They stared at each other in silence, both forgeting how to speak, besides an occasional blink. The wind came howling through the main street of the city, then through the broken window, Hope shivered and held some of her hair at bay against the gusts. This awoke them both out of their trance, Max spoke softly.
"I'm sorry." he breathed more than spoke.
She nodded and smiled.
Max embraced her, wrapping his arms aroud her waist and back. Her body repsonded automatically, placing her head on his shoulder and hands against his firm back. They remained like this for several minutes, seeming like long hours. Max's eyes caught the slowly setting sun, its last rays of its fire burned in his once deep blue eyes, now faded and specked with green.
Lloyd nudged Rob's shoulder, "Isn't that just so sweet?"
Rob grinned and laughed as the two quickly moved away from each other in response to Lloyd's joking.
"Ok, let's get moving before they get here." Lloyd said with new strictness.
"I have to go back to the labs." Max blurted out.
"Say what?" Lloyd answered quickly.
"I have to go back, I have to look for a reversal for the mutations that I'm going through."
"Why the hell didn't you look when you were there?"
"I didn't have time. Hope and Rob were with me, they had to get out of there as soon as possible."
Lloyd shook his head, "If that's how you want to do it, then be my guest." he said as he walked out of the store.
Rob walked up to Max, "You sure about this? You might not come back."
Max smiled, "Of course I will. I'll see you guys later at the shelter."
He looked over at Hope, her once stern brown eyes seemed soft and tired now.
"Good luck." she said.
Max walked out of the store, Lloyd patted him on the shoulder as he passed by him, he then disappeared around the street corner they had just came from. The city seemed cold and bitter. It was ransacked and betrayed the once monumental sight it once was. The fires were dying out, the air was cool and dry, the wind was finally quieting down. Slowly, the city, even in its ruined state, became at peace. Hope walked out of the store and shivered. It was almost as if the crumbled buildings and debris were set so that they were supposed to be that way.As if someone had intentionally placed every turned over car and object to fit into the disasterous vision that surrounded the three.
They slowly made their way through this sculpture that horror had made. Blood and bodies began to become apparent and a common sight as they walked deeper into the city. Mutilated and torn men and women layed still on the ground, some still in their cars; they were all just another fixture in this mangled sculpture. This was the way it was, and so shall it would stay until reality would come to clean up the mess. There'd
be a day that all of this would be a memory.
Finally, Lloyd stopped in front of a tall, solid grey building. Besides a couple of broken windows and
scorched walls, the building still stood proud. The structure looked odd compared to the twisted world around it, as it was almost completely
"Ready your weapons. These things tend to hang around here because they sense there's humans down here."
"Right." Rob muttered.
Slowly, they made their way inside. It was almost pitch black, save for the outside lighting. Carefully, they descended down several long flights of stairs. The silence of the stairway was still and unwelcoming, their footsteps and shallow breathing were the only noises that could be heard. Pale, dim safety lights
were the only things that stopped the darkness from drowning them. Suddenly, Hope stopped, she put her hand on Lloyd's shoulder, he looked back at her.
"Did you hear that?" she whispered harshly.
"Hear what?" Rob responded.
"Heavy breathing ahead."
Lloyd slowly looked forward, he squinted his eyes, trying to see if anything was hiding on the landing a flight down, which was completely enveloped in darkness. The heaving of strong lungs mingled with soft snarls could be heard faintly in the darkness ahead of them.
"Anyone got a flashlight?" Rob asked.
Lloyd nodded and reached into his coat and pulled out a small flash light, "This should do it. I'll shine it, get ready to shoot." The narrow stream of light cut through the blackness, but all that responded to it was the concret of the stairs and landing. The breathing slowed, then hushed.