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Infected: The Realization (Chapter Two)
Arizona was ticked. Why can’t he just appreciate that she saves his butt at least twice a week? He wondered. I don’t even get very mad often. But when I do, it’s someone’s messing with my sister or with my… best friend.
Of course, he wished she were more than his best friend, but there was never a right time to tell her that. They were in the middle of a war with zombies for Christ’s sake… not the best time for romance. Arizona sighed as he took another bomb from his bag and used his slingshot to blow about ten more zombies below to little pieces.
I guess I could’ve handled that situation calmer. He reflected back on what had just happened. When he had come out of the kitchen to hear Keith insulting Juliet that way, he’d barely been able to control his anger. He yelled out and everyone had looked quite shocked, because like he thought earlier, he doesn’t usually get very mad. But there’s no way she could’ve been able to focus on a plan with that jerk accusing her like that. Besides… she puts on a tough face but she’s so easily hurt.
After blowing up at Keith, he had looked over at Juley and quietly asked if she was okay. This had seemed to clear her mind as she nodded and immediately got her thinking face on. She began barking out orders almost quicker than they could understand. “Everyone pack up whatever you can in our backpacks, only essentials! Food, drinks, clothes, stuff of that sort. Everyone has ten minutes to meet back in the living room, except Ben. You have five because I need you to shoot the zombies trying to climb up so Ari has a chance to pack. Ari, you know what to do till Ben’s done?”
“Got it,” he had replied and started getting together his trusty slingshot with the bombs he had made himself. Rocks just don’t cut it anymore with slingshots, he thought to himself as he blew up a good fifteen more zombies. At that moment Ben ran up with his belt of gun-ness, as he called it, and took over shooting the climbing creepers.
Ari ran to the guys’ room and ignoring Keith on the other side, began gathering stuff for his backpack. Hmm… four sets of clothes, all my bomb supplies, notebook with songs, picture of our parents, the bible Juley gave me last year, and… his mother’s wedding ring, check, he thought as he mentally checked things off his list. He rolled up his sleeping bag and grabbed his guitar, figuring he’d just have to carry those. With a little bit of room left in his pack, he hurried to the kitchen and packed some food that wouldn’t go bad and a cooking pan. The last thing he packed was a container of shampoo from their storage cabinet, because the others would throw a fit if their hair got too greasy.
As he came into the living room, Juliet was the only one who had finished before him, aside from Ben, of course. They sat on the couch together waiting for the others and she shot him a thankful look. “Thanks for sticking up for me like that. You’re awesome, you know that?”
“Eh sometimes,” he laughed. “You know, I’m really gonna miss this place… but I guess now that the zombies have found it we’ll never be able to keep all of them away.”
“Yeah, I know. I haven’t thought about where we should go. I guess we should find a good van somewhere and just stay on the road until we find somewhere safe,” she replied.
“Uh huh, as long as we’re all together, I’m sure we’ll be alright.”
“Oh definitely! The five of us can take on anything together,” she smiled, meeting his eyes. Wow, she has pretty eyes, Arizona thought. I didn’t agree with her dying all her hair royal blue at first, but now I’m glad she did. It really makes the electric blue of her eyes pop and sparkle. He nodded in response to her, mentally shaking his head at himself. This is no time to be romantic either, he sighed. But on the other hand, with us being on the road from now on, who knows when the next time we’ll be alone will be?
He put his hand on Juley’s arm. “You know…” He looked right into her eyes. “I know we’ve lost a lot of people these past few years, but I’m just so happy that I didn’t lose you. I’m not sure what I would’ve done.”
Juliet blushed softly and looked down. “I’m happy we’re still together too, you’re my best friend, what would I do without you?”
Best friend, Arizona sighed. Just a best friend. “Yeah,” he replied. “We’re lucky.” About to give up on the romantic attempt, Ari started to stand up, but Juley grabbed his arm.
“Wait,” She looked up at him, looking both confused and flustered. “You really do mean a lot to me. You’re the closest person I have, and I need you, you know?” Arizona smiled. Could she really be sharing some of the same feelings?
“Ari!” Bunny came through the door wielding her bow and arrows, “I can’t find Mashed Potatoes!”
“Calm down, Bun, we’ll find her,” he sighed. Little sister to ruin the moment? Check. Keith strolled into the room at that moment.
“Well everyone’s here now, so Ben, you stay up here and help Bunny find Mashed Potatoes, but you have five minutes okay?” Juliet said sternly. “I’m sorry Bunny but we’ve got to get away from here as soon as we can.”
While Ben and Bunny ran to the bedrooms to check for the kitten, Juley looked at Keith and Ari. “We’re going to head down the latter and start killing as many as we can, as fast as we can. Got it?”
“Sure thing chief,” Keith rolled his eyes, heading down the tree first.
“Ignore him,” Ari told her quietly.
“Done,” she laughed. “I figured that out a long time ago. Let’s go ahead and get down there, we can’t let Keith have all the fun.” Ari let her go first and pulled at the bottom of the slingshot, extending it into a club-like weapon for close-combat.
When Arizona got to the grass below their tree-house, he was immediately greeted by more than enough bloody, disgusting zombies. One had his left eyeball hanging halfway out of his socket. That’s attractive, he thought, as he bashed its head in with the club. To his right, about 15 feet ahead, Keith was taking out zombie after zombie with his long, warrior’s sword. On his other side, Juliet was circling the tree, trying to prevent others from climbing up.
“Go get the ones coming from the other way!” She called out to him. “I’ve got the tree guarded.” There were a lot of zombies all around the tree, but Ari trusted her. She had about ten knives for throwing and one that she almost always kept with her for close up creepers and she was using all eleven at the moment. Arizona nodded a reply and fought his way to the opposite side of the tree from Keith, trying to keep more zombies from coming into the clearing that their tree centered.
One that looked like it was once a girl came towards him fast. Reminding himself that she was now a monster, he swung the club like a baseball catching her square in the jaw. She fell to the ground and Ari hit her one more time in the skull just to be sure. Disgusting things, he thought.
“What the h*ll?!” Keith shouted. I’m sure he can handle whatever it is; Arizona rolled his eyes, striking down a brawny male zombie. Then the sound of gunfire started. At first he assumed it was simply Ben, striking down more zombies as he and Bunny descended the tree, but slowly he realized… they were still in the tree-house, and the gunfire was coming from Keith’s side of the tree.
What the h*ll is going on? Keith thought, panicking. Zombies are not supposed to have guns. They barely have brains! Yet even while he thought it, ten feet away, five zombies had guns and were shooting away. Luckily, they weren’t shooting at Juliet, Arizona, or even worse, himself. They were aiming at the trunk of their tree. At least they’re idiots about it… Keith assessed the situation and decided to kill them anyways. Too much danger.
He started to fight his way toward them, but as he tried to get that direction, five unarmed zombies blocked his path. What, are they freaking protecting the guns now? This is nuts! Keith thought, his first drops of sweat since the battle began dripping down his forehead. Great. Zits.
“Alright…” he started slicing them to bits. “You wanna get in my way? Try it when your legs aren’t attached!” He moved the sword as cleanly and smoothly as if he were doing a dance of death. The zombies didn’t stand a chance. He eventually made it to the idiot ones with the big guns and began slicing them apart, but while he was killing the first four, the fifth one ran away but kept shooting at the tree.
“Come here you!” Keith chased it down viciously. When he finally reached it, he raised his sword, preparing to strike, but paused. A loud cracking sound was in the air and it was growing louder and louder. He turned around quickly, letting that one lucky zombie escape, and saw the tree falling over… and Juliet was just below it looking stunned.
“Move, stupid!” he shouted at the same time that Arizona from the other side screamed, “Juliet!” Arizona was surrounded by countless dead beings, so Keith started running toward the tree that was being brought down faster and faster. Why isn’t she getting out the way? As soon as he had the thought, he saw the answer. Blood was gushing down Juliet’s arm and she was on her knees gasping in pain. One of the idiot zombies had nailed her right in the arm…
He picked up speed and as the tree collapsed, he made one last desperate leap to save her, but the impact from the huge tree-house hitting the ground blew him backwards and knocked him off his feet. He faintly heard Arizona shouting desperately over the cracking of breaking wood. Dust was coming up everywhere, blinding him as he shielded himself from the flying debris. Everything was confusing… loud… insane… and then silent.
Keith slowly rose to his feet and he looked in horror at the scene before him. The once mighty trunk of the tree was in two or three large pieces on the ground and the house itself was crushed, destroyed, and sitting right on top of where Juliet had been… and Ben and Bunny were still inside.