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The snow falls outside in clumps, I can see it from where I lie.
The bed is warm, my body cold, however, I have a fever unlike any other.
Rosie sits next to me, her head down, looking at the wooden floor.
Her head turns to face me, her eyes red and puffy from crying, an unusual frown on her face.
She's not ready to say goodbye.
She's not ready to accept my fate.
Though my throat dry, I manage to speak in a hoarse tone, "Don't....cry....please."
My pickaxe lies motionless on the floor, still and silent.
"Please don't go," Rosie says.
As the strange feeling begins to overwhelm me, the feeling that can only be death knocking on my door, I take hold of Rosie's hand, "You're going to live on after I'm gone....You're going to do great things."
Rosie closes her eyes and looks down once again, "You don't deserve to go...Why did this happen?"
She's referring to the bite on my arm.
Beads of sweat roll down my face, "Rosie...I...need to tell you something....Something I... should have said a long time ago..."
She opens her eyes once more and looks into mine, "What is it?"
"You....I....I love you...I love you all, Rosie...You all have changed my life so....so much."
I begin to feel very weak, and my eyes flutter shut for a quick second.
"Please...promise me...Promise me that you won't...give up hope."
Rose stops crying for a brief moment and nods, "I won't give up. I won't. I promise."
I cough a couple more times before a sharp pain hits me in the lungs, knocking my air out.
As I lurch forward from the terrible pain, Rosie gasps and forces me back down onto the bed, "You need to lie down, or you'll just make it worse!"
I cough once more, this time is different, however.
Blood sputters from my mouth and onto the blanket, and Rosie starts to weep again.
"You don't deserve this," she whispers, "The world needs more people like you. The world needs... more heroes."
"You...you see me as a hero?" I ask.
"Of course, you... you saved us all, remember? Without you, all of us who are left would be dead! Evan...you're the best person I've ever had the privilege to meet."
I smile, an overwhelming sense of joy and happiness washing-over me.
"Just...don't let people be put-down by this," I say, knowing the end is near.
"I won't, Evan."
There is a long pause before anything else happens, the awful pain in my lung returning, but it's less violent this time.
"I love you," Rosie says.
"I love you, too," I reply feeling short of breath.
Rosie leans in and kisses me, our lips touching, a romantic moment filled with bliss shared by the both of us.
It lasts for awhile, but it's the best thing that's ever happened to me, even if I am in the final moments of my life.
Rosie releases and pulls-back, "I'll never forget you, Evie."
"You won't...I know that's true...but when I'm gone, and I'm one of those...things, don't...don't let me be forgotten by the world."
"I promise," Rosie says.
I breathe-in deeply, feeling my heart skip a beat.
"I love you," I say, trying to savor every second I have left in this world.
Rosie lays her head on my chest.
She tries to speak in a voice quiet-enough so that I can't hear her, but I do, "Don't go...please..."
I still hold her hand, and she holds my hand close to her.
There's no feeling in my other arm, the infection has numbed it, but I lift it and put it on her head, my movement sloppy and seemingly uncoordinated.
Then, my life flashes before my eyes.
I woke up gasping for air, as if I was waking from a nightmare.
I couldn't remember my name, but I remembered everything else.
My surroundings were a stone room, and I lie on a bed in the corner.
The sheets lay under me, and I observed the room carefully.
There was a crafting table a few feet away next to a large chest.
A single torch illuminated the entirety of the room.
Then, I noticed him.
He sat a table, alone, his hands holding each other and resting on the tabletop, his head down.
He was reading a book.
I said nothing but tried to regain my thoughts.
Where was I?
Why couldn't I remember who I was?
My head hurt, and my shirt lay next to me.
Bandages covered my torso, and blood had soaked through them, but they were dry and holding.
I couldn't remember what the wound was from, or why my head hurt so bad.
The guy looked away from his book and turned his attention to me.
He stood up, leaving his book where it was, and walked over to me without saying a word.
I was afraid, I was in the home of a stranger, after all, but also somewhat calm.
I observed his movements as he approached.
He had a slight limp originating from his left leg, but it seemed not to affect him.
His hair was somewhat shaggy and unorganized, and there was a red stain on his white shirt.
When his hand reached out toward me, I flinched, and he drew back.
"Wh-who are you?!" I asked.
He put a finger to his lip to quiet me, then he touched my bandages.
I winced in pain, and he pulled away.
"It's healing," he said to me before walking back to the table, "That's a good sign."
I sat up and leaned against the wall.
The wall was cold on my bare back, but I ignored it.
Trying not to focus on the intense amount of pain I was in, I looked at the man who must have been treating my wound, "Who are you?"
He turned his head around and said quietly, "My name's not important. You should get some rest, you're gonna need it."
He returned to his book, and I still had more questions than answers.
Laying back down, I stared at the ceiling and fell asleep.
When morning came, I was refreshed and rejuvenated.
I could smell pork cooking, but I saw no sign of the man whom I had met the day before.
"Hello?" I asked, my voice slightly hoarse.
The man walked into the room, closing a wooden door behind him as he entered it.
In his hand, he held two plates of porkchops.
"Let's eat," he said, "If you're feeling up to it, that is."
I nodded and got out of the bed.
I walked over to the table and took the seat across from the man.
His book remained at the table, and he read it even as we ate.
The porkchops weren't the best in the world, but I knew I had worse at one point or another.
We ate in an awkward silence, and it felt very strange.
I was in a stranger's home, and he wouldn't tell me his name.
That saddened me, because I wanted to thank him for healing me.
"We'll put new bandages on you later," he said with his mouth full, "Those old ones have to be itchin' by now, it's been nearly three days since I changed them last."
How long had I been here?
I asked him.
"Oh, what is it now...three weeks? Maybe four," he answered.
My mouth dropped and I was speechless.
I remembered that I had something important to do, I didn't know what, though, and I knew that I had missed it, whatever it was.
He looked up from his reading and stared me in the eyes, squinting, "Who might you be?"
We were around the same age, I noticed, but I was confused, "I thought you said name's weren't important."
"Well, that was yesterday, today, names are extremely important."
Yesterday, I had thought he was much older, but now I could tell that he was just as young as I was.
"I...I can't remember."
"What? How do you not know your own name?"
He sighed, "Well, No-Name, I guess we're gonna have a bit of trouble communicating. I'll go ahead and tell you who I am, I guess. My name is Jayson William Frederick Tyler, but you can call me Jay."
I nodded, "Nice to meet you."
He took another bite of porkchop and stuck it in his mouth after swallowing.
He continued to speak with food in his mouth, "I own this here abode."
"Cozy," I said, looking around.
There appeared to be two rooms, one that was a kitchen of sorts, and then the room we were in.
"So, No-Name, do you know what beat you up?" He pointed to my bandages.
I shook my head, "No."
"Gosh, you really have a bad case of amnesia here, don't you?"
I nodded, "I don't remember anything. I...remember that there was somewhere I was supposed to be, but that's about it."
"You got a family, No-Name?"
I nodded again, "Yeah...yeah, I think so. I...I don't think they're around anymore, though."
He lowered his head, sensing what I meant, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to cause you any emotional pain."
"No," I said, "It's fine, really. If I can't remember who they were, I can't feel sadness."
He understood and showed me with a quick nod of his head.
"Well, I can tell you one thing, your amnesia should go away soon. It's been three or four weeks since I found you unconscious in the forest. You're pretty lucky I was out there, those monsters were ready to swarm you, but then I stepped-in and saved 'ya."
So Jay had saved my life.
"Thank you," I said, "Really, thank you."
"Don't mention it, seriously. To anyone. I mean it."
I laughed, "I don't really think there's anyone I can tell, is there?"
"Not that I know of. I've been on my own for years; ever since I could remember."
Then, I heard the oink of a pig.
Something brushed against my leg, and I jumped out of the chair, scared half to death.
Jay snickered, "Calm yourself, kid! It's just my pet piglet!"
He reached under the table and lifted the piglet to a level so that I could see it.
"Say hi to the other member of my little family," Jay told me, "This here's Oinky."
Oinky was a very small piglet, smaller than any others I had seen.
The pig looked at me, and I waved, "Hello, Oinky."
Then, the strangest thing happened.
It disturbed me to the point of almost-puking.
Oinky got onto the table and stuffed half of a porkchop into his mouth.
Jay cut me off before I could finish my sentence, "Cannibalism? Yeah, but Oinky loves the stuff, so I just let 'im have it."
"Um...okay," I said as I watched Oinky devour the rest of the porkcop.
Jay set his piglet down and looked me in the eyes, "I do know that there's a village several miles north. I haven't been there in forever, but I could get you there. Maybe someone there will know somethin' about you and why you got zonked-out. That is to say if the village is still standing. The infected have been showing up more and more recently. Oinky and I have been staying inside for the most part."
That's when I remembered the infected.
"They have?" I asked.
Jay nodded, "One almost got Oinky about a month ago. I killed it before it could bite into him. That's why I don't take him outside anymore, he'll wind up dead."
Oinky walked away and laid down on the bed I had been sleeping in.
He showed me his book, "You see this?"
"Yeah, what about it?"
"It's a book on geography. It even has a somewhat reliable map in it that shows the landscape around here."
He turned to the page with the map on it.
Then, Jay pointed to a star that appeared to have been drawn on it, "This here, the star, is home, this place."
His finger moved up quite a bit before stopping at a drawn circle, "This is the village that I was talking about."
I looked at it.
The village was next to what appeared to be a lake and surrounded by a dense forest.
"So, you don't know if this place is still standing?" I asked.
"Nope, not a clue. But if it is, I'm betting you can remember anything you need about yourself."
I fell silent.
"Just a head's up," Jay informed me, "Your stay here is only temporary. I have to look out for me and the Oinksters before anyone else, you got that?"
"Yeah," I replied, feeling a bit confused again and even a bit cautious.
"Anyway, if you want to go there, I'll help 'ya. After all, you'd probably die out there alone, and I don't want that on my mind. But first, we need to make sure your well-equipped for the journey."
"Okay," I said, still disturbed by the cannibalistic Oinky piglet.
Then, Jay spoke, "We have to leave before dusk."
My new friend, I guess you could call him that, handed me a stone sword.
"I had some iron," Jay said, "But I used it to make the cauldron that I boil soup in, so these stone swords will have to do for now. Wish I had some armor, that would make things a heck of a lot easier for us."
Oinky oinked in his sleep and woke himself up.
He looked around, startled.
"Your pig is...."
He finished my sentence, "Weird, yeah, I know. But, that's why I love 'im."
The front door was made of wood, and there was a slight shine to it.
I figured it was polished.
Jay handed me a backpack, "Here, this will help you immensely. Anything you find that's interesting or could be usefel, put it in here. There's lots of pockets inside to keep things organized."
The backpack looked like the one I remembered owning, but it was a different color, besides, this one was made from cloth, not leather.
I put the pack on my back, and Jay took a torch with him.
"Just in case," he said.
He looked around the room one final time, "Alright, it's time to go. Oinky, behave yourself," he told his pet pig.
Oinky gave Jay a grunt to show him that he understood.
"Good boy. I'll be back soon."
He motioned for me to follow him, so I did.
Grasping the sword in my right hand tightly, I could feel a tingling sensation run up my arm.
Holding the sword felt natural.
He opened the door and held it for me, then closed it behind us.
Jay took a key from his pocket and locked the door, "I don't want anything getting to Oinky while I'm gone."
He clearly loved his pet.
"North," he said, pointing forward.
We began our walk.
For awhile, we were stuck walking in a dense forest.
The forest floor was uneven.
We could be walking on flat ground one minute, the next there would be a steep hill that would be impossible to try to traverse.
We avoided steep hills and maintained our course.
It was hours before the forest ended, and then we were met by an obstacle.
"Oh no," Jay said, "I forgot about this bridge."
We stood on the edge of a clip, a sheer-drop only inches away from our toes, and we were unable to see what was at the bottom.
In front of us was an old rope bridge, several of the wooden planks used to walk-on had rotted away and fallen into the ravine below.
The gap between the two sides of land was large, and it was the only way across.
"What do you think?" I asked Jay.
He quickly responded, "What do you think, we cross it, of course! It's the only way across, duh!"
"Alright, then, lead the way, Hot-Shot."
"Glad to," he replied.
I followed Jay, but he turned around and pushed me back with his hands, "It might be best to take this one person at a time."
Jay stepped onto the first board of the bridge and looked over the side, "That sure is a long ways down!"
"Yeah, don't fall," I said.
After all, he was the one with the map.
On the other side were more trees, but they were less dense than the ones we had just emerged from, and they allowed me to see into them more clearly.
Something moved on the other side.
At first, i thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, but then I was sure I had seen something move on the other side of the ravine.
Probably just a cow, I thought to myself, or a sheep or a chicken.
But it was none of those things.
Jay was about halfway across now, and didn't see what I saw.
I was still unsure at this point what the source of the movement on the other side of the ravine was, but I didn't like it.
The movement had an ominous feel to it.
Jay walked, the movement of his feet subtle and soft, as he was careful not to snap any of the boards beneath his feet.
I watched him and the strange occurrence in the trees, then it stopped, and Jay was on the other side.
Trying to think about what it could have been, I began my way across.
I looked at the boards, I didn't want to look up.
Then, Jay let out a string of obscenities.
The next thing I knew, there was an explosion, and then I felt the sensation of free-fall as the bridge came out from under my feet.
I screamed, but tried to remain calm.
If I died, I wouldn't even know who I was.
My hands fumbled through the air, searching for something, anything, to grab.
I found something and grabbed onto it.
My eyes clenched shut, I soon realized what had happened.
There had been two explosions in all actuality.
One of them occurred on the side of the ravine that Jay had just stepped-onto.
The other occurred on the side that I had been on.
The bridge had broken free on the latter side, and I was lucky not to have been standing there when it happened.
"Dang creepers!" Jay said, getting to his feet.
He had been thrown several feet to his right by the blast.
Lucky for me, the explosion there hadn't taken out the rest of the bridge.
I held onto the dangling rope bridge, scared and very unsure of the situation.
I didn't want to die, I didn't want to fall to my death not knowing my identity.
"Hold on, buddy," Jay said, pulling the bridge up, me still clinging to it.
When I was rescued, I breathed a sigh of relief.
"'Bout lost 'ya there," Jay said with a chuckle.
I wasn't laughing.
"Well, the village shouldn't be too far now, we should get movin'."
I, personally, wouldn't have minded a rest, but I looked at the position of the sun and knew that Jay was right.
It would be night soon.
|From Beginning to End Characters|
|Main Characters||Evan • Jay • Oinky • Rosie|
|Dead and infected characters appear with italic text. Characters with an unknown status will be appearing with bold text. Characters that are alive will appear to have been typed normally.|