I just copy-pasted it from the Word document, and the formatting is all kinds of fucked. *sighs*
Everyone had assumed the wholesale breakdown of society would play havoc with their social lives. And for many, the first few days and weeks of the outbreak were lonely, as what companions they had were taken by the hordes, or fled into the night, or simply lost hope and jumped from the tallest building they could find. Nonetheless, it quickly became quite clear that there was no going it alone in Malton. But now that Purple Cat had left the DHPD, it was like the early days again. There was no room for fuck-ups. Moreover, there was no-one to talk to. You got used to the voices, even when you weren’t really in the mood to actually engage with them.
She had been travelling a week when she started feeling followed. Occasionally, the sound of footsteps would scuffle on for a few paces when she came to a halt. It put her on edge again – she had been getting complacent recently, having not seen another person, living or dead, since she had said her goodbyes. Somewhere out there, there were a lot of zombies hanging out together and causing a lot of havoc. The thought made her shiver, and she pulled her coat tighter around her. It was getting dark – Malton was not fun in winter. With a sigh, Purple Cat made her way across the street to a small pub. The doors were intact, but hanging open. She switched on her torch, stepped inside, and pushed the doors to. Her torch-light cast long shadows on the walls. Cat proceeded to try all the doors in the pub – locked. Behind the bar, there was a trapdoor under a blood-stained rug. When she heaved on this, it creaked open. A quick check revealed a reasonably solid hatch across the basement from her, which she confirmed led on to the street. Purple Cat was satisfied this basement was a safe place to spend the night. She allowed herself a satisfied smile before setting about making some sort of bed for herself.
The lights came on, two dangling bulbs throwing a sickly light over the covered furniture and beer barrels packed into the basement. Cat whipped out her handguns and did a full turn, finding only dusty sheets. There was a clattering from upstairs. She holstered one gun and started climbing the ladder. Instantly, she saw the front doors had collapsed off their hinges. She then noticed the lights were on in the whole pub. Finally, she noticed one of the doors moving – half-heartedly shifting upwards and sidewards, inches at a time, accompanied by a grunt from underneath.
“If you rescue me from this door, can we still count this as me riding to your rescue?” Even from under a door, he was trying to be cocky.
“I’ll answer with a question. If a horde came in now, who would make it out alive?”
“Neither of us, as I wouldn’t be able to rescue you.” He countered.
“Rescue yourself, Gabby,” She snapped. A few more moments passed until Gabby seemed to finally get leverage on the door, and then he threw it off. Wiping a drop of blood from a cut on his lip, he straightened up and shook the dust from his clothes.
“Hello, wimmenz,” he said casually. I raised an eyebrow. “Happy birthday!”
“My birthday is tomorrow, Gabby.”
“No it’s not. You left a week ago, and when you left, your birthday was a week ago. QED.” Purple Cat opened her mouth to argue, but a quick mental count revealed he was right. Spotting her hesitation, Gabby grinned broadly.
“Alright, fine, it is my birthday.”
“And you were going to bloody forget!”
“Not really a big deal, is it? I mean I wasn’t going to sing to myself, was I?” Cat shrugged and went to turn the lights back off before they attracted any more attention to their newly-opened safehouse.
“What are you doing with them?” he demanded.
“Turning them off?”
“Off? How are we meant to have a party in the dark? Silly wimmenz, do I have to teach you everything?” Gabby said in the manner of a primary school teacher, bounding over and standing in between her and the light switch.
“Gabby, stop fucking around, come on, we’re going to attract attention.”
“Wouldn’t be a party without guests!”
“Fine!” he grumbled, slamming his fist into the light switch and plunging us into darkness again. “Happy?”
“Yes, actually,” Cat shot back coolly.
“Well, I brought you a cake. Can we at least light a candle, or would the warmth attract the legions of the dead?”
“You can light a candle.”
Gabby rummaged in his bag for a moment. Cat leaned against the bar, shining her torch on his bag. She was almost looking forward to seeing the state of the cake when it emerged, and was slightly disappointed to see a healthy, if slightly broken, brownie being placed on the bar next to her.
“Can’t get squished if it’s already squished,” he said wisely.
“Right, Gabby, what’s this all about?”
“Yes, but… you didn’t just chase me halfway across Malton to give me cake, did you?”
“Well, no. But I figured I’d pacify you with cake first.” Gabby cut a big slice and prodded it towards me. “Don’t actually have a candle,” he said sheepishly.
“Well at least I’ve taught you something about women,” Cat said sarcastically. Gabby was oblivious to her tone, happily necking cake. “I’m not coming back, you know. Not any time soon and maybe not at all.”
Gabby nodded, cheeks bulging.
“And don’t try and convince me, I’ve been through it a million times in my head. And with you." Gabby still didn't offer any contribution, simply watching her. "I’ve resigned. I need a break, at the very least.”
“So you’re going it alone?” Gabby asked finally, poking at his slice of cake with his combat knife.
Purple Cat could almost feel the end of the magazine approaching – she didn’t even need to keep count. Her back was to the wall, and there were more zombies than she had bullets left. It didn’t seem fair; her shooting had never been so accurate, her headshots so lethal. But that was life – sometimes you got more thrown at you than you could handle.
Someone crashed to the floor in front of her, landing pretty much flat-out before getting up with a slithering and untangling of limbs. As she fired her last bullet, the gangly meteor opened fire with two handguns, cutting down the remainder of the zombies within seconds.
“That wasn’t too hard, wimmenz. You’re getting soft.”
“Last bloody time I lend you ammo, Gabby!” Cat snarled, snatching a magazine from his belt and reloading.
She hadn’t needed to find him pale and bleeding in an alleyway to know that letting him set out had been a mistake. He was reckless at the best of times, and this was definitely the worst of times. Vicky had just been declared MIA, and the Dead were closing in. Letting Gabby go out on a supply run had been criminal, and now she just wished she had done more to stop him. She tried to lift him, the rain and blood drenching his clothes doing their best to stop her. After a few tries, she managed to get his arm over her shoulder, and get them both upright. That was when the feeding groans started.
“Gabby, I need you to help me here; I can’t aim with you leaning on me.”
Barely a murmur in response. Cat cursed and reached for the shotgun that hung at her side. She levelled it with her right hand, shifting Gabby a bit away from her left hip, and waited for the zombies to approach. There were only three of them, but more would soon come. Cat didn’t like their (well, her and the deadweight she was carrying, anyway) odds. Taking a deep breath, she squeezed the trigger, blasting the front zombie’s head back so far that the neck tore, and sending the other two staggering back. Another shot knocked the three to the ground, and now Cat started moving. Gabby was more responsive now – he wasn’t quite helping, but nor was he actively slowing her down now. Cat had told Bravo to follow her as soon as they were ready before charging out into the night – but there was no sign of them. The sheets of rain falling all around them made it impossible to see much further than a few metres ahead, but she was reasonably sure this was Cotty Street. Zombies were scattered in the street ahead of her. Hefting Gabby back onto her shoulder, Purple Cat blasted another zombie out of their path.
As if in response to her shotgun blast, lights up ahead – a whole building seeming to come ablaze with floodlights. Zombies were being picked off by snipers in the windows. Heartened, Cat started running, bouncing Gabby along beside her. They staggered up the brightly lit steps of Cotty Street Police Department and collapsed to the floor. Before Dixie stretchered him away, Gabby managed a feeble “ta”.
Things had largely return to normal when he woke up to find her reading by his bedside though.
“So, what’s that, like one rescue for a billion? You’ll catch up one day, I guess.”
Grey skies, cold wind, and a permanent drizzle. East Malton was, as Gabby had put it, “shit”. The climate wasn’t really that different from Malton – the city wasn’t big enough to have micro-climates, but everything felt a bit worse so far from home. Bravo was the DHPD’s Ambassador Squad, and had been trekking around Malton for weeks – Gabby’s conclusion about East Malton seemed to apply to most of the city, really. The others were out on patrol with whichever local group they had bumped into, doing a bit of unofficial training by example.
“How’s your side?” Cat asked. There was a click from the kitchen area.
“Bit stiff.” Gabby padded out to the kettle.
“Three stab wounds, less than two months ago? Bit stiff is pretty good progress, I’d say.”
He made a non-committal noise and reappeared with two steaming mugs in his hands.
“Did I ever thank you properly, by the way?” Gabby set the mugs down on the table and then flopped down beside her.
“Erm, about as much as you ever do,” Cat said lightly. Gabby giggled and laid his head on her shoulder.
“Alone.” Cat repeated quietly. Gabby watched her for a moment, then seemed to perk up.
“I’ve just remembered – your present!”
“Present?” Cat sighed.
“Yeah, birthday, remember?”
“Go on then.”
Gabby rummaged in his bag again, and produced a little ribbon. He turned away and fiddled with it for a moment, and then turned back to face Cat, the ribbon tied in a half-arsed bow around his neck.
“Well I’m not going to open your belly up, even if that’s where you’re keeping the present.”
“No, that’d be weird. I’m not a tauntaun. No, I am the present!” Gabby exclaimed.
“Not sure I follow, Gabby.”
“Basically, Cat, I realised I can’t really live without you – “
“How long did you try for -I thought you had been following me for a week?” Cat interrupted.
“Yeah, about an hour? Was well boring.”
“So I’m coming with you. You need someone to keep an eye on you. So do I.”
“This is really your idea of a birthday present?”
“I had to think about it.” Gabby conceded. “And I decided that this is definitely Christmas and birthday combined. Possibly for the next two years.”
I rolled my eyes. Going solo had been pretty tedious. And he had a point about needing a second pair of eyes. It was alright now, but eventually, I’d come up against the undead, and then I’d appreciate the back-up. Besides, I could probably make him carry my stuff.
“Fine.” I pointed at the cake. “Now get yourself, and the cake, into the basement.”
Gabby looked affronted.
“Not quite how I’d seen our new partnership playing out, to be honest.”