The world didn't use to be ruined. People were the same: they spent all day on their phones, worked their asses off in College only to work 9 to 5 in order to hate their lives more, and they paid no attention to how kids treated their bodies. Vaping: the idiot juice was accidentally made toxic in one batch and a teenager spread it. No one knew what to call the disease but it produced what everyone thought was a fantasy: zombies.
Now there's no escaping the disease. So here Wes is, in Colorado Springs trying to find his parents who thought shipping him to the Gulf of Mexico would help the boy escape. Spoiler Alert: it basically doomed him instead. The distant mountains of New York are probably the best place to be now.
They sent him with his grandparents thinking that he would be able to hide away with them until it blew over. Ha! Fat chance. Wes's grandparents were taken over within a few days of their appearance so he decided to go back home to California. Wes found a machete and some camping supplies and started out. So, this is his story and the person who saved his life.
Wes missed the days when he was in first grade. When you could not know someone and play with them like you'd known each other all your lives ten seconds later. He'd only had the chance of a friendship like that once. It was with a small girl who often wandered the playground alone. She had a friend at one point but Wes had watched as the girl was abandoned because she was so quiet and calm. Wes knew that he had to do something, so the next day he'd left a small pencil sharpener on the floor when he saw her get up to sharpen her pencil for the third time that day. She'd discovered the small object and smiled. The next day, Wes started following the girl on the playground, at a distance, of course, but she wasn't fooled. They were instantly happy with each other. Lunch, recess, and classes were spent together. Sadly, Wes moved a few months later, but he never forgot the girl. If only he could remember her name, but now wasn't the time to be zoning out, he trudged on with his heavy backpack.
Wes had just made it to a forest near the Garden of the Gods when he heard the familiar moans. Unhooking his machete from the pack, he spun on his heels and crouched, ready for battle. The first three coming out of the treelike were easy takedowns. They came in a single file line and he cut them open like clockwork, making sure that they couldn't come back. But their numbers grew. After the next two, all of the trees around him began shaking with the upcoming forces.
Wes found a rock to take some high ground but it gave him no advantage, so he did what any brave 24 year old would do: he cut himself a path through them and booked it. Only to immediately slam into a low hanging tree branch with his head. As a walker was about to reach him, Wes heard a stick crack and glanced to his right to see a girl marching forward. She whirled like a hurricane and took down any biters near her with a dagger then she spun around to look at him.
"Get up! I can't keep them all away!" She shouted.
Wes just sat stunned so she grabbed hold of his wrist and yanked him to his feet. Conveniently right when another one of the infected grabbed hold of her and pulled the girl backward. She yelped and stabbed it with the dagger and kept swiping.
Finally, Wes kicked into action to take down the rest with her. With a final slash of her blade, the girl took down the last one. Even though she saved his life, Wes was wary. He'd tried to work in a group before but they only ended up stealing what little food he had gathered that day. So he decided to be defensive. He pointed his knife at her, only to be quickly disarmed by her. She didn't keep the weapon though, she only handed it back to him with a pointed look.
"Nice repayment for saving your life." She remarked. "But don't kill me yet. I still can give you shelter. Besides, I think you're going to need stitches."
Wes only now realized that he tasted blood in his mouth. His forehead felt slippery with blood so Wes decided to play along. "How do you know?"
"I'll explain later. I think it's better that we get out of the open. Follow me."
She swiftly scooped up his pack and handed it to him. Then, started walking East. She led him through the trees to a small suburban neighborhood.
"How'd you know this was here?" Wes inquired.
"I went to school here." She responded. "My roommate was from this city."
She quietly found a house that seemed suitable to her and eased open the door. She took out her knife and calmly peaked at the room.
"Can you check upstairs?" She continued to search the next room. "I don't want anything sneaking in on us."
Wes nodded and journeyed up to the second floor. He merely glanced in the three rooms before returning to the kitchen where he found the girl setting up what looked to be a small medical station.
"Sit down," she said, "Your cut needs to be cleaned." Wes must have seemed hesitant because then she added, " Oh yeah! Sorry, my name's Jo and I'm 24. I'm a registered nurse. Well, I was before everything went to shit."
Wes deemed that as a proper introduction and finally sat down saying, "My name's Wes and I'm also 24. I'm a writer and editor."
Jo nodded and took out a cloth and some kind of bottle. She poured a small amount and began to swab Wes's forehead. He hissed at the action as it stung incredibly but he didn't object. Then, Jo took out a curved needle and thread but hesitated.
"How do you respond to needles?"
"How do you respond to needles?" She repeated. "I can't have you screaming and alerting us to every biter in town."
Wes was caught and found himself forgetting what his life was like before the infection.
"Never mind," Jo quickly said, "If it takes you that long to answer, I should know."
She took out a tube of paste and rubbed it on his forehead then sat down.
Wes became confused. "What are you doing?" He asked.
"Waiting for the numbness to set in." She responded.
Wes glanced up at her and did a double-take. This entire time he'd been focusing on staying alive and ignoring pain, now that that had subsided, he was finally hit with the beauty of the person in front of him.
Jo had soft, kind blueish- grey eyes that were almond-shaped giving her the appearance of someone who had seen a thousand lifetimes before this one hidden under dark, long eyelashes. Her hair was a dark blonde which extended to a few inches below her chin. It was held back by a hair tie but small pieces fell out in front framing her face. Freckles decorated her cheeks and forehead while thick, full, and upturned lips smiled at him. Her skin was tan with pale under tones while her frame was willowy and lean with squared shoulders. She had on some jeans and a t-shirt with a black and white flannel that had the sleeves rolled up. She was naturally gorgeous. Every girl Wes had ever known wouldn't be caught dead without makeup even during the apocalypse yet this girl had the ability to look like a model with nothing special.
After about five minutes Jo stood back up and grabbed the needle and thread, she held the small piece of metal with tweezers in both hands and leaned close to Wes' face. She was smart with the numbing agent for he hardly felt anything. All he could think about was the way she smelled like warm cotton and lavender despite the dried zombie and Wes blood on her clothes.
"Fifteen stitches," she announced then began to tape gauze around the wound. She finished and began to clean up her set up. That's when Wes saw her shoulder and he stood up abruptly. Just to the side of her collarbone was a bleeding bite-mark which was beginning to look irritated.
"You're bitten!" he shouted. "Get away from me!" He jumped over to his pack and took out his machete.
Jo simply sighed and began to roll up her sleeves. Instead of crouching into a fighting stance, however, she raised her hands and knelt down.
"I surrender," she whispered, "Please, I'm immune."
Wes raised an eyebrow and gave her a once over. Beneath her sleeves were several healed bite marks all appearing to have no effect on her whatsoever. Then, he leaned over and pulled her shirt aside to inspect the fresh bite. Usually, victims would show symptoms of the infection within ten minutes of getting bitten. Yellow eyes, black veins spreading from the bite, and heavy breathing were easily identifiable. At least, they were normal victims. Jo showed no signs of any infection and it had been at least an hour since the bite.
Wes remained skeptical though. He didn't want to kick her out, the girl had saved his life, but that didn't mean that he could risk getting infected.
She seemed to reach the same conclusion so Jo reached into her pack and pulled out a length of rope. She placed the rope in Wes's hands and walked over to the stair railing where she placed her hands through the space between the bars and gave Wes a pointed look.
"One night," she said, "If I'm still human, you should have no reason to kill me, and if I'm a zombie, then you'll know what to do."
Wes saw no ulterior motive so he tied her hands behind the stair rail and sat back down at the table. He felt terrible but he had no intention of getting bit when he had already come so far.
"Yell if you're in danger," he said and then went to set up camp on a couch in the next room.