Startling awake, I quickly look around at my surroundings, grabbing my rifle before calming down. It had been an unsettling nightmare, filled with normality for the majority of the dream. At the end, however, I walk into a crowded mall. I am in the food court with people milling around and eating like some forgotten age. Things are simple. But I see one of them. Sitting and eating a person that is spread across their table. It sees me and stands. Walking towards me. I have a pistol and pull it out. Suddenly there is massive panic as those around see what I have and I don’t understand why they are so afraid of me and not the zombie that is walking towards me. I fire at it, but miss and hit an old man. I fire again but a teen aged kid gets in my way. I fire a third round off and wake to my back against this cool, large rock.
Rolling onto my stomach, I crawl over to the far edge of the rock and peer around it’s gray surface. The sun is not up yet, but its light shows me enough detail to see that most everyone is asleep. There are two guards, or lookouts that wander aimlessly around the tents and structures. I watch them for a while, trying to find some method to their circling but there is none. There are several large bushes or shrubs that litter the hill side and when both seem to be looking away I quickly scramble to the nearest and crouch down. I have left most of the supplies hidden behind the rocks with, between two cracks, or a space, between the boulders. I only have my machete, (strapped to by back pack), a pistol, and the ammo that was in the bag.
Slowly, I make my way down the hill until I am at the camps edge. My heart feels as though it is in my throat as I watch for one of the men to circle past me, hopefully not aware enough to see my form through the dry shrub. I see one approaching and duck lower, crouching as low to the ground as I can without making any noise. He doesn’t even look up as he passes by where I lay concealed. I scan the tents, trying to make some sense of them, guessing where Josh and Michael may be, if they are here at all. Hopefully, most everyone is asleep.
Crouching, I move quickly into the spaces between the tents and hold my breath, waiting to see if I can hear footsteps coming near me. There are none. I scan my surroundings, trying to determine where they likely would be. There is no hint to where they might be. All of the tents are closed. Not show any signs of security. I let out a long sigh and turn to the tent at my back, searching for the zipper.
It is at the bottom of the opening flap, closed. I crouch down at an angle and tilt my head down as I unzip it no more than two inches. With my finger I pull back the small whole and gaze in. There is a naked man and woman laying, sleeping, on top of sleeping backs. supplies lay around them. Feeling I’ve invaded their privacy, and then questioning if that is something to worry about now I leave the hole open and move to the next. Before opening the door–the zipper being higher up, meeting the second sipper, I listen for movement. There is none. I open the zipper, giving the same gap, but notice the tent is empty. Inside there is ammo stores, weapons. Several knives and other objects, all piled hap-hazardously. I fight off the urge to steel from the stash and move on.
Most tents are occupied by sleeping people. Most are young–no older than 30. I move, one by one but there is no sign of them. The sun is beginning to come up and slowly I make my way back to the edge of the camp where I had descended earlier. There is a small hill to the east just past the tent and I see a man walking down its face as another passes over it’s horizon. Maybe . . .
I slowly make my way to the hill, moving north, and then walking to the east side of the hill, passing over the elevated horizon where most would see me. But nearing where there was a fire starting up, smoke billowing upwards, I saw several men looking straight at me. Behind them Josh and Michael sat behind them, tied.
“Don’t move,” one says, pointing his gun directly at me. Another points his pistol at Michael’s head. My gun is not raised, and I know that if I were to raise it he would pull the trigger. I stop and put my hands over my head.