“Fuck, that burns” I whispered in agony from the pain in my left thigh. There were flickers of light coming from the other end of the circular shaped tunnel. 

“What did I say about messing with that lighter?”

“Oh, I don’t know”. Larry stopped to think but couldn’t remember no matter how many ways he folded his arms or tilted his head. 

“What is the thing I’ve been saying to you all these years?”. Larry put on his thinking cap and yes, a physical cap. He always did have a strong sense of humour. “Meth equals death” he chuckled to himself. “Ok, no. The other thing.” laughing along with him so he stays calm and doesn’t get upset.

“Oh, oh oh! I remember. Don’t draw too much attention to yourself” he says as he jumps with glee after realising he was right (literally). 

“Come here, sweetie” I say as I slowly place myself on the floor which is soaked with rain water, sewage, and thick red blood from my open wound. “You need to get rest for your big day tomorrow”. Larry puts the lighter into his back pocket and lays next to me, placing his large head on my lap and placing his long legs at a horizontal angle to the tunnel. 

“Is it my birthday?” Larry asks as he dozes off to sleep with the sound of the wind blowing outside. “Of course, it always is” I whisper but he can’t hear me because he is already sound asleep. Although I should, I don’t. I sit awake staring into the darkness, wondering if there’s even a point to all of this or it’s all just a lie. 

I’m woken by the chirpy sound of my brother screeching ‘happy birthday’ to himself. He’s smiling away to himself as he plays hangman, coming up with answers and quizzing himself. “Where’s my present?” he asks, dropping the stone and coming closer once he realises I’m awake. I reached into my jacket pocket and pull out the same postcard I’ve pulled out everyday since Larry was diagnosed, a postcard from Cannes written by my mum, supposedly not really but Larry doesn’t need to know that. Not now anyway. I promise you I’ll tell him eventually, but when he’s ready.

He’s not ready, not for the truth. Not yet.

He closes his eyes, puts out his hands and waits anxiously as I place the postcard in his hands. Once he opens his eyes, he giggles in the same places as always as I read it with him. We then spend five minutes looking at the picture of the front of the harbour at sunset and thing of all the things mum could be up to. He holds the postcard up to his chest, kisses it, and says “I miss you too, Mum”. For a moment, I close my eyes to escape what we call life.

BOOOOM. A bomb in the near distance goes off, giving me a reality check almost like the universe reminding me that I’ll never find peace. “Quick! Grab bear! We’ve got to start moving” I say as I rush him to gather his things. We always travel light; what we’re wearing and a gun is all you need, in my opinion. Why waste time and effort bringing valuables when all they do is remind you of what life could have been like? No one has time for that. You must only focus on the here and now. Everything else is irrelevant.

Everyday is the same routine. “Stay behind me”, I check to see if the coast is clear before quickly making our way out of the tunnel. Everyday is the same. “One dead body, two dead body, three dead body, four” Larry sweetly sings as he skips passed them all. “More bad men trying to steal bear again?” he sweetly asks. “Yeah, they really need to build up their collection” I say, lying straight to his face. Who would have the time to collect teddies in the middle of a zombie apocalypse? I have no idea, it’s all I could think of under the stress and shock I was under when this whole mess began. I know lying is bad, but what harm is a little white lie to someone who is gullible enough to believe it? Ok, ok, ok, I realise it’s not the best thing to be doing but it puts a smile on his face and do you really want to be the one who breaks it to him, because I’m not doing it. I guess it’s not really a ‘little’ white lie anymore. It’s actually a pretty big lie. It’s almost like I’ve kind of turned it into a little game. “Team Bear” as Larry puts it but I would actually call it more of a survival game. I can tell him commands as if we are playing a game but instead perhaps prevent him from dying.

“Wait, what?” Charlie rudely interrupts. “You played a game and that’s how you managed to survive. Seriously?” he says, dying with laughter.

“Well yeah, what’s wrong with that?” I asked curiously.

“That;s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard” he mumbles, barely getting the words out with all the laughter he’s doing. 

“It is not. Well I’m here, amn’t I? I survived” I said, starting to get pissed off.

“Yeah, you are but where’s…”

“Fine! If you don’t want to know, I won’t bother telling you. You’re clearly uninterested and too full of yourself to listen!” I exploded at him before storming off. 

Charlie is left in common room, still pissing himself after finding out the news of how I, Jess, managed to survive the ‘outside’, meaning outside of the Base for so long. 751 days to be exact, but who’s counting. I’ve been in this camp for a little over two years now and no one knows me or anything about me and that’s the way I like it. Well, no one did until Charlie. Who’s that? No one important, just some stupid boy that I have no interest in whatsoever. Don’t like him at all. A complete waste of space. Stop looking at me like that. I know what you’re thinking and stop it, because it’s NEVER going to happen.

17:05pm – knock on the door

Charlie peeps his head around the door. “Can I come in?” he asks quietly. “I don’t know. Are you finished laughing?” I say coldly. “I’m sorry, it’s just not what I expected at all. I mean you’ve been a mystery to me since day one and you’ve finally opened up to me and I find out you’ve survived the outside by playing a game this whole time. It’s just like a major plot twist. But please continue, I really want to know how it ends” he says genuinely. “Promise you won’t laugh” I say hesitantly as I sit down on my bed. “Promise” he says as he places one hand on his heart and the other on my hand, sitting down next to me. “Well, as you know” I began, “The point of our journey was to get to find a safe place to live, away from the zombies and that as we know is ‘Zombie Utopia’, where we can live away from all the chaos. The problem was I had no idea if that existed and anyway, we had to make a pit stop at the hospital to treat my thigh. But things didn’t go quite the way we planned it would”.