A snap of a twig caused Adam's eyes to snap wide open in fear. Immediately, he jerked his head around to glance at his surroundings before turning his gaze towards the open window. Adam breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that a squirrel was the cause for the noise. He noticed the sun beginning to peak out from the mountain, signaling to him that it was dawn. The fire that sat in front of him had long died out save for a few small flames, but the room he sat in was still pitch black.
Adam began to think back how he came to be in this situation. In fact, he never expected this to happen. It had started when he when he was in Las Vegas, celebrating his honeymoon with his newlywed husband, Michael. They had only been there for a couple of days when the outbreak happened. There were people screaming and shoving each other into walls as those who were panicking were wither running or doing whatever they could to barricade the doors. Adam mainly remembers making sure Michael was never out of his sight. There was chaos for the next few days and it ended with the casino being raided by the Infected, and those who were trapped ended up being turned or killed. Since then, Adam had gone through every measure to guarantee his survival, even going so far as to turn against his colleagues.
Adam stretched his arms as he heard a moan from the other side of the room. He looked over to see Michael shift in his sleep and hold a tighter grip on Madeline, a toddler who the two had found a couple weeks prior in an abandoned house. Michael had instantly bonded with her at first sight and he refused to leave her alone. Madeline didn't speak save for a few words, but she surprisingly started calling Adam and Michael "Papa" and "Daddy" respectfully. At first, Adam was conflicted about his decision: on one hand, he didn't want to leave her to die, but on the other hand, he didn't know if he could handle taking care of a child so young and also trying to stay alive; taking care of her meant another mouth to feed, and Adam didn't know if it would be a good idea. Michael didn't waste time and took her in without a second thought.
Stepping over the pair of them, Adam made his way over to the backpack leaning against the wall. He pulled the zipper open to grab a granola bar, a map, and three markers, red, yellow, and green respectively. He returned to his spot near the window and opened the map to reveal a plethora of red, yellow, and green dots throughout the Pacific Coast, its surrounding states, as well as the states resting in the Northern and Southern parts of the United States. Adam began to draw more green and red dots and bit a chunk out of his granola bar, determining how long it would take the three of them to to reach another potential safe town. A small cough was heard from Madeline, and he pulled away from the map to further wrap her in the blanket she was in and placing a hand on her forehead to make sure she wasn't getting sick. He kissed her temple sweetly and jerked away after hearing something clatter from down the hall. Adam stood up slowly and reached for the metal baseball bat that was next to the backpack and clutched it tightly. Slowly, he took a step out into the hall and heard a low moan coming from the other end, Before long, he saw a rotten hand clutch the corner of the wall, and he backed into the room slightly to be out of sight.
Multiple options ran through Adam's head, half of them involving killing the creature and running with his family in tow. Alternate scenarios ran through his mind, and as the Infected drew closer, he didn't have time to think. He clutched the bat tighter and with a swig, he sent the creature toppling to the floor. To make sure it didn't get up again, Adam continued to bash its head open until it stopped moving. He sighed and wiped blood off of his face as he loosened his grip on the bat.
"Adam?" He turned to see that Michael was awake and standing in the doorway. Adam backed away from the corpse and turned on his heel to peck his husband's lips. "It's okay," He muttered softly while cupping his cheek, causing Michael to lean into the touch slightly with half-lid eyes and a smile. "Get something to eat and wake up Madeline. We're leaving soon."
"As long as you clean yourself up." Adam smirked at the comment before kissing him again and heading to a nearby bathroom. Michael stepped back into the room to grab a pop-tart out of the backpack before he gently shook the child to wake her up. She rubbed her eyes with a quiet moan and snuggled the blanket. "Daddy, m'sleepy."
"I know, but you gotta get up." Michael helped her sit up as she yawned and was encouraged to eat the pop-tart. Adam came back into the room with a much cleaner face and began to gather the supplies off of the ground and back into the bag. After getting situated, he took Michael's hand and slowly led them down the hall towards the stairs. Michael had the thought of covering the toddler's eyes, but decided against it and held her close. Adam glanced around the corner to make sure there wasn't another creature in their path and stepped down the staircase. "If we continue like this, we'll cross Arkansas in a couple weeks. Maybe earlier," He spoke in a whisper to not attract whoever else could be out there, and he turned to his husband once they left the house. "We can finally be home and forget about all this."
"Let's hope your family doesn't think we're dead," Michael responded with a chuckle. "We'd have to make room for Madeline though."
"That's not a problem. We can use that spare bedroom for her." The couple quickly made their way down the sidewalk that led into town, and they made sure to hid in the shadows to not be spotted as they grabbed whatever they could as Michael glanced at the map again to remind them of where they were. Beside him, Madeline held onto her father's leg closely and was adamant on staying where she was. Michael picked her up again and followed Adam out of town and onto the nearby road.
By then, the sun had risen, which gave the three more light to see their surroundings and avoid any potential danger. Both men were ready for hordes of Infected to intersect them at any moment and they also prepared for worse. They followed whatever remained of road signs along the highway to make sure they were headed in the right direction towards the safe haven that was beyond the Mississippi River. Until then, however, Adam, Michael, and Madeline must do what they can to survive the rest of the journey and not lose each other in the process.