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Happily Ever After

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You've got to be fucking kidding me.  I did not give the middle finger to the entire U.S. government to wind up on the wrong end of a rampaging Canadian moose hopped up on Kellis-Amberlee.

--From Happily Ever After, the private journal of Shaun and Georgia Mason, May 17, 2042. Unpublished, private manuscript.

 

"It's a zombie moose," Shaun says.  From the way George glares at him, he suspects he sounds a little more gleeful than he means to.

"Keep it down, Shaun.  Our supply of bullets won't last forever, and I'd rather not have to waste any on the zombie moose if we can help it."  She shifts her weight to her left foot and carefully parts the branches of the underbrush they're hiding behind to get a better look at the ton and a half of killer mammal currently standing between them and their ride.  The sunlight falls through the trees in a single concentrated arc that illuminates the moose like a spotlight.  Shaun is pretty sure the universe is trying to tell him something.

Shaun interjects a wheedling note into his voice that George has been known to find compelling in the past.  "The people want to see me wrestle a zombie moose."

The wheedling is clearly not working.  "Moose are insanely dangerous even when they're not into gnawing on human flesh.  Let's just go around," George says.

"Fine," Shaun says.  He knows George is right even if wrestling a zombie moose ranks high on his bucket list.  They crossed the Canadian border in a van outfitted with a level of technology that would have made Buffy cry along with weapons, clothes, first aid supplies, food--everything they'd need to make it on their own for a good long while out in the middle of nowhere.  None of these items will last forever, though, which is why they've been spending all their time since they made base camp gathering whatever supplies can be found in ever-increasing concentric circles around their new home along with figuring out how to grow or make what they can to supplement these non-renewable resources.  George is, as always, completely and utterly right, and Shaun will just have to deal with the sorrow of watching the zombie moose get smaller in the rear view as they drive away.

The two of them begin to skirt around the perimeter the moose has staked out, Shaun's attention never wavering from the threat.  Which is probably why he doesn't see the second moose until it's barreling out of the deep woods and into the clearing.  "Run!" George says and promptly trips over an enormous tree root, falling flat on her face.

Shaun might feel like he's suddenly in a movie, one of those utterly ridiculous pre-Rising slasher films where beautiful women turn their ankles and then writhe on the ground in abject terror until the monster eats them, except this beautiful woman is Georgia Mason, and Shaun knows better than that.

Even so, Shaun's heart leaps into his throat as George rolls smoothly onto her back and fires round after round into the moose's head until it shudders to a stop mere feet from where she's fallen.  The other moose careens into its deceased friend and bounces off, landing with its legs entangled in the other's; the moose thrashes, somehow managing to partially trap its body under the hulking weight of George's kill.  Shaun wastes no time.  He pulls George to her feet, and they haul ass to the van, rubber burning as they drive away.

Shaun's hands shake as he pulls up the footage of their near miss.  Immunity to Kellis-Amberlee does not protect him from being trampled to death, and it doesn't protect George from any damn thing.  Sometimes Shaun loathes the adrenaline junkie who twitches just underneath his skin, the voice that whispers in his ear that baiting a zombie moose is a good idea.  After all that's happened, Shaun sometimes wishes he could leave that part of himself behind as easily as he left everything else.

"Stop it," George says without even looking at him, her eyes fixed on the road ahead.  'I'm fine.  You're fine."  She suddenly grins.  "And I bet that footage is badass."

George isn't wrong.  By the time they get back to base camp, Shaun's put together a version guaranteed to go instantly viral.  "Told you so," George says when he shows her.  Shaun forwards the footage to Mahir and waits for their ratings to skyrocket.

That night, Shaun kisses George a little more desperately than usual, a little more frantically, and if George notices, she doesn't say anything.  She clutches him back just as tightly, her fingers leaving bruises on Shaun's forearms, her teeth sharp and wonderful on his jaw, his neck.  She eventually falls asleep curled around him, her mouth slightly open, her cold feet pressed against his shins.  Shaun thinks she's most beautiful woman he's ever seen.  

After failing to fall asleep himself for what seems like hours, Shaun slips out of bed and takes a spiral bound notebook from a stack in the storage room.  On all their supply runs, Shaun has found himself drawn to paper, bagging every legal pad and composition book he finds without quite knowing why.  Now Shaun thinks he gets it.  He and George kept a journal together many years ago, but they could never write the words that mattered most.  Finally, they can. Shaun opens the notebook to the first page and carefully writes,  "Happily Ever After by Shaun and Georgia Mason," across the top line.

"Happily ever after?" George says from behind him and then slides her arms around his waist, rests her chin on his shoulder.

"Too sappy?" Shaun says.

George says, "Sounds good to me."  She takes the pen from his hand and starts to write.

 

 

Who wants to see me wrestle a zombie moose?  Well, too bad because this one's all George.

--From Hail to the King, the blog of Shaun Mason, May 17, 2042.