Lexa felt the cool breeze sweep against her skin, blowing a few loose strands of hair into her face that were tucked under her red baseball cap but she only smiled as she pushed the brown locks away from her eyes. She stretched her arms high above her head, feeling a release of tension between her shoulders whilst wiggling her fingers as they reached up towards the warm afternoon sun.
She felt the coolness of the water on her feet as her legs dangled off the boardwalk she was sitting on, enjoying the relative silence around her. The only thing that she could actually hear was the sound of birds chirping happily in and crickets calling behind her on the outside of the lake. Things were okay, for the first time in a while, Lexa knew that things were going to be okay and she felt as if she could breathe the fresh air properly with ease.
The brunette kicked her legs in the water gently, enjoying the simplicity of the light breaking against the surface of that water to form different colours and patterns. Her smile only widened as she saw a bird fly overhead, circling around the lake as it looked curiously over Lexa who stood from the boardwalk; placing her hands on her hips to admire the graceful creature. The large bird circled the lake once more before, using its powerful wings to guide it effortlessly through the air. As it finished it’s circle though, something changed and Lexa had no idea what caused the change but suddenly the bird was in a direct line that headed towards her. She took a step backwards, faltering at the sight of the bird traveling at speed while aiming itself right at her; only turning on her heel to run as she heard it squawk deafeningly.
When she turned around though she wasn’t at the lake where she had spent her childhood summers anymore, but instead she was in downtown LA. She turned around quickly to see if the bird had followed but it was gone and so was the lake, even stranger she was now dressed completely in her military gear. She recognised where she was instantly as the place where her company had been deployed to on some kind of containment mission they were told nothing about. Whenever Lexa asked for answers from superiors she would be told it was classified and needed to follow orders; those orders though were to shoot anyone on site who tried to leave the containment area without question.
Sirens sounded loudly in her ears, screams echoed through the warm summers night as the power cut in the section of town her company was guarding. Lexa wasn’t sure what exactly they were guarding it from and she didn’t know whether they were positioned there to protect the people on the inside or the outside because she was surrounded by chaos. All she knew was that she had to stand there, no matter what was happening around her and shoot anything or anyone that approached her to leave.
She heard distinct loud pops of gunfire up ahead, looking to her fellow squad member Indra who was looking back at her for possible guidance or an order. The gunfire came from an area that was also being patrolled by their company and these were the first shots anyone had heard being fired; causing instant panic behind them in the containment area. Lexa gave her a nod and they pushed through into the darkness and chaos to try to find the source of the gunfire to try and bring a relative calm back for the people who were trapped in the area.
They heard more screaming which lead to even more gunfire but these rounds weren’t contained like the last ones had been, they didn’t stop for a while. They reached the corner of the street that the gunfire was coming from, a sluggish moving yet aggressive pack of people surrounding two soldiers in the distance.
“Step away or we’ll be forced to shoot. We understand your frustration but need you to back away now” Lexa called down the street commandingly to try and help her fellow soldiers as she raised her assault rifle to aim at the increasing group of people that were emerging from the other side of the street. Her eyes widened in disbelief as they pounced on the soldiers who were trying to back away, stray bullets flying through the air as blood curdling screams make her skin crawl
Lexa looked through the scope that she had fitted to her rifle with and paused, feeling blood drain from her face as her mouth went dry. The people weren’t beating the soldiers, they weren’t even trying to steal their weapons; they were eating them. Lexa saw their hands grabbing and pulling, blood flowing from the bodies now limp on the ground; only shaking from the frenzied attack caused by the mob.
“Oh my god” Lexa mumbled to herself as a few of them looked up with blood dripping from their still hungry mouths, turning their attention to Indra and herself “We have to move”
“What the hell are they?” Indra asked, the harden soldier’s fear was evident in her tone
“I don’t think we want to find out” Lexa replied with a shake of her head
She turned with Indra to flee but when she turned she was somewhere completely different again. She was away from the containment area, in a neighbourhood that she recognised instantly; she was on the street of her childhood home. It was where her parents still lived, it was where she lived until she had moved out to base not too far away, and the house next door to that was where her girlfriend of 3 years had lived before she also moved to base with Lexa.
The soldier ran towards her home as fast as her legs could carry, hoping to find her parents safe and sound inside so she could take them with. Suddenly she stumbled though, her foot tripping over themselves as she rushed towards the people who meant the most to her. She fell with a grunt, knowing it would sting later but had no time to waste; she quickly pushed herself up only to freeze as she saw the outline of someone in front of her.
She reached her hand out to place it on her girlfriend’s shoulder, spinning her around with a grin on her face. Her grin quickly turned to horror though as the other girl lunged at her savagely, a searing pain ripping through her body as the woman she loved attacked her violently.
Lexa felt a rush of blood and took a loud gasp of air as her eyes shot open, pushing her cap away from her face quickly as she breathed frantically. Her heart raced in her ears, feeling her body covered in sweat as she looked around the campfire she was sleeping next to. Memories quickly began flooding through her mind: Outbreak, Government Shutdown, Costia, Killing, Loss, Survival.
She sat up quickly, gripping her custom AR-15 rifle next to her and looking around in the dark to see the reflection of light illuminating what was left of her squad or now dysfunctional family who either resting or on look out around the fire.
It was a dream.
“Those nightmares are becoming more frequent” She heard her friend Echo mumble from behind her
“It’s a mix of nightmares and flashbacks” Lexa grumbled as she rubbed her eyes roughly before yanking on the long sleeve of her green button up shirt “And I don’t know what’s worse”
“Probably the flashbacks” Echo answered shaking her head “You need to talk about it?”
“No” Lexa mumbled simply “But I’m done sleeping for the night so you rest and I’ll take over watch”
“Are you sure?” Echo asked raising an eyebrow “Indra and I are on rotation for the night”
“It’s fine” Lexa replied turning her body to face the other girl “Get some sleep”
“Whatever you say, Commander” Echo smirked, moving from where she was sitting to be a little closer to the fire
“Don’t call me that” Lexa snapped as she moved herself to rest her back against a large tree, still gripping her gun closely to her body with her finger resting gently under the trigger
She looked across the fire to see Indra staring out into the darkness of the forest they had pushed into for the night off the road they were traveling, her expression hardened as she clutched her pistol in her hands readily. Lexa sighed to herself quietly feeling a pain in her stomach from hunger while she tried to push the tiredness from her eyes away. She needed to be awake and she needed to be alert; she definitely could have done with more sleep because she had driven for hours that day but she knew if she slept she would just have those nightmares or flashbacks again.
She pulled her notebook from the pocket of her black jeans, flipping it open to the most recent page that she had written in; squinting slightly to read the very last number on the tattered paper. Lexa estimated that it was well past midnight so she pulled out the pen in that same pocket, scribbling on the side of the page to try and get some ink in the ball of the pen to write down the new day.
Days since outbreak: 697
Survivors: Lexa, Indra, Gustus, Lincoln, Echo, Nyko and Quint.
Destination: Army Base, outside Dallas Texas
It had been just under 2 years since the outbreak was first reported, 697 days since the world went to complete and utter hell. Lexa and her squad had been together in downtown LA when the containment began, what they hadn’t realized was that the Government knew what exactly was going on but none of the soldiers were told so they went into that containment area without a proper brief. The general public were told not to panic but to just stay inside saying that there was a sickness spreading which was causing people to think irrationally and aggressively but in an age of social media; this calmness was quickly turned into wide spread chaos as the number of infected quickly exploded across the country.
As the infected increased, the order and law quickly crumbled away; the government disbanding almost instantly while a survival of the fittest state of mind quickly replaced any kindness or humanity the world had left. When the government disbanded after not knowing how to deal with this problem, Lexa followed her captain with a small convoy of vehicles towards the nation’s capital in hope of some kind of plan or hope from the nation’s leader to defeat the infection that was taking over or to at least try to restore some order. They knew it was a long shot, they knew that they might not even make it there so the captain released all remaining soldiers from their duties, only asking those who wanted to go to join him rather than feeling like it was an obligation. After those who had wanted to leave had left, they set out on their ill-fated journey to Washington DC.
Things seemingly went from bad to worse as the days moved by, people were turning into savages and Lexa was losing faith in humanity more and more as she saw how people exploited each other; not in the name of survival but pure selfishness. The infected, or Zombies, as they were calling them, were overrunning the cities and pushing out into country land but it was the people that weren’t infected that soon became the real danger.
No one respected their authority anymore, trying to hunt them down for supplies or their vehicles; which was a sure sign for Lexa that people had lost all hope that there was a way out of it. She didn’t blame them though;Lexa had lost all hope herself when she saw the woman she loved turned into one of those things after they had quickly swept their base to check for any surviving loved ones. The brunette even had to kill the un-dead version of her girlfriend herself, not willing to let Costia’s body to roam around like that after her soul was long gone.
That was just one of the things that had hardened Lexa during her 697 days of survival, many of the other things occurring as they made their way to Washington DC only to arrive and find that there was nothing or no one left. It took them a lot longer to get there than they thought because of road blockages and all of the complications they came across so those that were left were tired, deciding to camp out in an abandoned grocery store for the night.
The next day, day 389, Lexa woke to a very loud gunshot in the middle of the night. Her captain had shot himself because he didn’t want to live any longer knowing that there was nothing they could do to prevent what was happening. Unfortunately though that loud gunshot and his freedom cost a lot of people their lives, catching the attention of a large horde of infected that quickly stormed the weakly reinforced grocery store; killing everyone inside except for Lexa and 6 of her squad.
Thankfully something that night told Lexa to stay by the back door of the store, grabbing all the squad-mates she could before they fought their way into 2 vehicles and took off as fast as they could. They left the East Coast to try and make it somewhere in the country where the space of the land was greater than the number of infected, their focus quickly turning to surviving from day to day. They ditched their uniforms and became what they needed to in order to make it in the post apocalyptic world that was now indeed survival of the fittest, but rallied her squad together knowing that they were much stronger as a group than they were as individuals. Lexa became the leader of their group, not by her choice but mostly by default seeing as she was the most senior ranked member of the group left alive but was the youngest by far.
She was a great leader and an even better soldier, thanking her father almost daily for constantly taking her hunting when she was younger and of course her army training that gave her a bit of an advantage than a civilian when it came to her weapon handling abilities. She was the best shot in the group, which made it all the more difficult when she was usually on point and having to take infected down when they largely still looked human. As the number of days went on, the less human the infected were looking as the bodies began to soften or decompose. It wasn’t nice and it wasn’t pretty at all but it made things a little easier on Lexa’s conscience knowing that she didn’t have a choice but to put them down or she would become one of them; even if she was going to become one of them anyway when she eventually died.
The group had learnt a lot in their travels and had come across some interesting people. Around day 630 they learnt from a very smart yet crazy group of people that everyone had already been infected by this strain of disease and it took over the body 1 of 2 ways. The first way was either to be bitten or scratched by one of the infected; the other was to simply pass away. They also figured out very quickly that the only way to kill the infected was to inflict a fatal wound within the brain, which was something that may have seemed obvious but they would have liked to know that before they wasted many rounds of ammunition on shots to the body. Knowing that just made Lexa want to work that much harder to try and find some kind of hope, not wanting to turn into one of the infected once she died.
She didn’t want to become one of them. She was the leader of the group, charged with making all of the big decisions and she wasn’t proud of some of the things she had to do in order for them to survive. She had to make hard decisions that she normally would never even consider in the old world but she did what she had to do and there was no other choice. Lexa refused to let go of her humanity though, she refused to become greedy or selfish just for the sake of it; reminding her group constantly that their humanity was what separated them from the so called zombies.
It was day 697 and their current location was somewhere just south of the Nebraska and South Dakota state line; continuing South after hearing of a rally point, a safety zone as such in Texas that had apparently been established. They had heard the call over their radio for any able military to try and head to an army base just outside of Dallas, the communication coming from inside said base. It was risky for a multitude of reasons, it would take a lot to get there and they didn’t know whether there was anything in the first place for them at that base or whether it would still be standing once they got there, if the call was legitimate. It was a huge decision; upon which the outcome was vital to their survival so Lexa decided to put it up to a vote and after a lengthy debate they decided that’s exactly where they were headed.
Lexa sighed, tucking her red, worn baseball cap tightly back on her head and brushing her hair behind her ears before stuffing the notepad back into her pocket. She put her pen into the other before standing up against the tree she had been leaning against to look out into the darkness; silently praying that the decision the group had made was the right one because she needed hope. She needed something.
Thankfully morning had broken quickly for Lexa, she had spent enough time that night with her own thoughts and she was ready for the distraction she knew the day would bring. She looked up at the blue sky and couldn’t help but smile a tiny bit; it was one of the most beautiful days she had seen in a while and if she wasn’t in the middle of what she considered a war zone, she might have been able to appreciate it more.
The group sat around the now only smoking camp fire, getting ready to start moving for the day; it was the second day though that they had gone without much food. They had been low on food after a trade for gas they had completed with one of the only friendly groups of people they had come across. They needed to eat, Lexa knew that but they needed to also be able to move their vehicles far enough for them to get to Texas. She figured that they could suffer and survive for a few days before they came across something more substantial to eat than half a can of beans a day.
“There’s a few farms only 3 miles or so back south that surely should have supplies” Gustus said looking around the group, his eyes falling to Lexa who was staring intently in front of her at the smoking wood “We need food, water and if we keep trading our ammunition we’re going to have nothing left”
“But that’s going backwards” Indra disagreed “I’m sure we could find food somewhere else without having to double back and waste gas that we traded that very food for”
“I would just like to say I still disagree with that trade” Quint grumbled “We could have taken them”
“Enough” Lexa growled looking to the older man “That trade will keep us moving in a direction to get us food. Gas is scarcer than food right now and you know it. We are lucky to even have all the supplies that we do have right now”
“It was the right decision” Lincoln stated firmly “So let’s make another good decision and keep heading towards Texas”
“Who knows how long it will be before we find a clear road though, we could starve to death before we find somewhere going through a place we know nothing about when I know there is food in those farms” Gustus added, his eyes still focussing on the young leader “So what do you think?”
“I agree with Gustus” Lexa said after a moment of deliberation, her eyes shifting from the fire to look at the group around her “He makes sense and we’ve hardly come across anyone whilst we’ve been here so seeing as there’s a lot a land out here and not a lot of people I think we should be able to hopefully find some food supplies that have been relatively untouched”
“We don’t know that though” Echo protested
“Well we don’t know anything” Lexa said as she stood quickly “We need all the daylight we can get so let’s go now and be long past here by the time night falls. I’ll go in the Jeep with Indra, Gustus, Quint and Lincoln. Echo you take the Pickup with Nyko, got it? Use the walkies if you have any problems”
“If you get us killed, my zombie ass is coming to haunt yours” Echo said gruffly as they moved to their vehicles they had parked away from the road to hide them as well as they could
After clearing the area, they were on their way back towards the location Gustus had scouted. Lexa left him to drive as she sat in the passenger seat with her gun on her lap and her hunting knife in her belt around her waist.
“I have to say; the one good thing about this whole un-dead thing is that I get a new car just about every month or so” Gustus mumbled as he took a quick look into the revision mirror “And I think this wrangler is my favourite so far”
“This was a good find” Lincoln added “Plenty of leg room back here”
“Yeah because that’s our biggest concern” Indra scoffed with a smirk “Leg room”
“Well at least we have a vehicle that fits mostly all of us” Lexa muttered as her eyes caught sight of an infected on the side of the road struggling to get onto the road
“You guys seeing this?” Echo’s voice interrupted through the walkie talkie
“Seeing what?” Lexa asked after Indra handed her the walkie from the back
“A klick away, in the field to your right. Oh my god” Echo’s voice falling silent at the end of her sentence
“Is that?” Lincoln began as their eyes all turned to the direction of Echo’s focus
“There’s a girl running through the field being chased by a pack of at least 20 zombies and they’re trailing her pretty quickly” Echo called quickly “What do we do?”
Lexa grabbed the binoculars from the side of the door to look out the window into open, old farming field ahead to find what Echo had relayed correct. A girl with tied back blonde hair, who looked about her age, was literally running for her life; albeit sluggishly, she was running as fast as she could through the uneven ground but she noticed something else too. Her hands were bound by rope tightly in front of her as she ran, only looking back on occasion as the determined horde of infected followed her closely.
“She’s already a goner” Quint said cautiously “And I know that sounds bad but all this is going to do is waste ammo and supplies we already can’t afford to lose. We have to just keep going”
“We can’t just leave the girl” Indra protested leaning forward to be in between the driver’s side and passengers seat to stare directly at brunette “We can’t just leave her, what does that make us?”
“Heartless” Lincoln said before adding reluctantly “But honestly smart in the long term”
“Speed up Gustus, we’re not going to let her die out here” Lexa said putting the binoculars down to pick up the walkie talkie once more “We’re going to pull up, we’ll get her attention and when those things start coming at us we start firing at anything that gets close”
“We’ll follow your lead” Echo confirmed as Lexa watched the girl running in the field as they got closer, urging her silently to look up and see them so she could start moving towards them
They stopped the cars clear of the road, catching the blonde’s attention immediately but Lexa saw her hesitate and she didn’t blame her. For all she knew they were all aiming their guns to shoot at her for no good reason because she wouldn’t put it past people to do that; so to prove their intentions quickly Lexa lined her first shot up. Exhaling a deep breath she fired her first single round, hitting the infected who was closest to the girl right between the eyes. It went down hard like a sack of potatoes behind the running girl, which made Lexa smile a little more than it probably should have.
She caught the blonde’s eye once more and frantically waved her over towards them as her squad began to unload their ammunition on the infected. She fired off a few more shots, hitting every single target she aimed for and quickly there was only one trailing sluggishly at the back of the pack. Lexa lined it up, hitting the slow moving un-dead with ease; leaving just the girl herself still rushing towards them.
“Why are we waiting for her?” Quint asked “We saved her, so let’s go. Not only would any zombies have heard that and will come running but I’m sure people around here heard that too”
“Keep your guns pointed but that’s it” Lexa said glancing back to Quint as the girl approached the fence of the field, stepping between the wires, pausing as she saw the intimidating sight of 7 guns trained on herself “We’re not going to shoot you if you just cooperate”
“If you’re going to shoot me, why save me?” The blonde gasped, trying to catch her breath shaking her head “Listen, I need your help and thank you by the way for saving me”
“Everyone needs help out here sweetheart” Quint smirked with a shrug of his shoulders as he looked unnecessarily through his scope
“Check her for bites or scratches” Lexa said looking to Gustus and Indra “Before we do anything”
“I’m fine” The stranger shook her head once more, her eyes blue eyes grasping more of Lexa’s attention than she had intended to give the blonde girl
“Check her” Lexa repeated as her gun stayed aimed now reluctantly at the girl while Indra and Gustus moved towards her cautiously
“My hands are tied, what am I going to do?” She asked sarcastically as she held her arms out for presentation
The sharp comment causing a smile to tug on the corners of Lexa’s mouth as her squad members checked the girl for any signs of bites or abrasions but she looked to be in good condition. Her jeans were a little torn, her long sleeved blue shirt very dirty with a few holes down the bottom of the hem but otherwise she looked fine.
“Okay, you can see that I’m not infected and I know you guys are good enough people or I would be dead right now” Clarke said as she looked around cautiously “But I need your help and if we don’t get off the road now we’re going to be in trouble”
“Why are your hands tied?” Lexa asked as she lowered her gun to take a small, cautious step into the other girl
“I’m from a community of survivors, we’ve built walls around a small portion of a neighbourhood. It’s safe; we have food, water, shelter, ammunition and we could offer you a home, somewhere to live” She began “But I need you to help me because there are going to be a group of men looking for me within the hour and I need to be gone by then”
“A group of men?” Indra asked “What are you talking about? I thought you said that your community was safe?”
“It is safe” She nodded before looking around again “But I was out on a scouting mission, looking for anything we could salvage around the area and just to see what the activity was like outside the community and these guys kidnapped me. They have their own community North West of here; I’ve been running for a few days”
“Where is your community?” Lexa asked raising an eyebrow as she processed what she was hearing
“South of Minneapolis”
“You’re a far way from home” Quint said sceptically “This is obviously a trap, we need to either shoot her and be done with it or leave”
“No, it’s not a trap. I swear it’s not a trap” The girl said frantically “They took 2 of us while we were out on this scouting mission and they have been kidnapping people for a while. I was there for a month; it’s a large community which is I’m sure full of innocent people but the people actually run it are insane. They take your things, make you work and entertain themselves by forcing people they’ve captured to fight in these zombie pits. They’re trying to find some kind of a cure by using people they’ve captured”
“How did you escape?” Lexa questioned
“After a month of trying I got a group of zombie loose within the walls and used the chaos to escape” She replied as she kept her eyes on Lexa this time “I started moving North and I ran into that horde this morning, they’ve been chasing me for hours”
“Wait, so you were just going to run your way back to your community?” Lincoln asked
“If I had to” She nodded quickly “Please, I am one of the leaders of my community. I can promise you that you’ll get food, water and shelter. You’ll get a permanent place; somewhere you can settle in if you just take me back there”
“What’s your name?” Lexa asked raising her eyebrows
“I’m Clarke Griffin and if you weren’t all pointing guns at me, I’m sure it would be great to meet you” Clarke said anxiously
“Clarke” Lexa said pensively as she looked at the girl in front of her
“So will you help me or should I keep running?” Clarke asked looking between her rescuers, her voice growing in anxiousness