I Hold On
Luther and Gail
There was a split second as soon as the doors of the barn opened and the flesh eating cannibals started to pour out that Ellie flashed back to a similar incident in which the fear and adrenaline in her blood struck her in the same way.
It had been about three weeks ago when this whole thing started. The redhead had been up in her dorm room at Georgia State University College of Law, the same college her prestigious father had gone to. She was studying one of her many law books, making a face at the ethics and rules. A knock at the door had pulled her away from reading though and after putting her book aside, she went ahead and opened the door, only to be suddenly bear hugged by her father and then by her mother. She remembered how much she begged them to let go of her and that if they hugged her anymore she would pass out from being unable to breathe.
The visit itself had been a big surprise, especially considering Ariel had also come along. At the time the two sisters weren't exactly on good grounds with each other. They still loved each other in a sense but their relationship was a bit strained. Ever since Ellie had made it her decision to follow in her fathers path and go to Law school, she was the one getting praised and fawned over while her sister had just graduated high school a little over a year ago and was still at home, unsure of what she wanted to do, making their parents a little on edge, afraid she wouldn't be able to make anything of herself. Because of her refusal to just pick something, Ariel had become jealous of how her parents treated Ellie compared to her.
"Still dyin' your hair I see?"
Ellie's father had said while looking over the books she had on her bookshelf. He wasn't very fond of his oldest daughter continually dying her hair the bright vibrant red that it was, but she liked it so she kept doing it.
"Well yeah. I mean it looks good on me."
The redhead smiled, her father had shook his head as her mother began to chime in.
"To each his or her own Luther. You did some crazy things in your college days if I remember right. Like piercin' your-"
Their mother had stopped short when their father yelled in embarrassment.
The siblings had looked at one another, both of them turning white, not sure they wanted to hear the end of the conversation.
"All I'm sayin' is, you shouldn't be judging her."
Gail had walked over and sat on Ellie's bed, sighing deeply.
"I'm not. I'm simply stating that if she kept her hair it's normal brunette color like Ariel here, she'd be more likely to still have hair by the time she's thirty. Speakin' of which, Ariel, you haven't even said one word to your sister. Aren't you goin' to at least say hello?"
Their father had given the younger of the two sisters a sharp look to which Ariel sighed and rolled her eyes.
"Hi Ellie, nice to see you're still aimin' to please mom and dad."
Ellie remembered frowning and feeling like her heart dropped into her stomach. No matter how many times she had tried to tell Ariel she wasn't going to become a lawyer just to impress their parents, the less Ariel was inclined to listen. So she just brushed off the remark like it was nothing.
"I'm glad you're here."
Was all she could say while Gail and Luther both darted their eyes at the youngest, inwardly scolding her for being such a brat. Ariel of course paid them no mind and turned her back to all three of them, going to open the door to Ellie's room to leave.
"And where do you think you're goin' young lady?"
Luther had asked as he walked over to Ariel, prepared to shut the door as she opened it.
"To the cafeteria. It was a long ride up here and I'm starving."
The brunette scowled, crossing her arms as the man looked over at his wife who began to speak.
"Now that you mention it, I'm hungry too. How about we all go get some lunch. What do you say Ellie? You hungry too?"
Ellie remembered glancing at her mother, admiring her natural red hair, wishing her hair was that color instead of the ugly dirt brown locks she had been stuck with. Despite not being hungry in the least, she decided to go with them since they had in fact taken the time to visit her on the weekend all the way from their home in South Carolina.
"Sure. I could go for a bite."
After that, all of them headed downstairs to the cafeteria. Things still seemed normal then. Fellow classmates of Ellie's waved to her from where they were sitting in the lunch room as she and her family walked up to the line and stood there, waiting to pick out there food. The redhead had fixated her eyes on Brad Kingsly with his tan skin, deep blue eyes and blonde hair who was giving her a boyish smile. He was a football payer and in her first class of the day, law and business economics. The two weren't officially dating or anything but had gone off campus a few times together on weekends with a couple of their friends for bowling and other group activities. Ellie's friend Kelly Evans had swore that Brad was going to ask her out any day now. Looking back now, Ellie thought it was funny the things she was thinking about just a few minutes before the world ended.
After getting their lunch, the whole family sat down at one of the tables closest to the kitchen. Her father had gotten a Reuben and a diet coke. Her mother had gotten the same. Ellie picked out a vanilla yogurt and a bottle of water and her sister had gotten a chicken salad wrap and a banana and strawberry fruit smoothie. They ate for a little bit and the redhead was stirring her yogurt, receiving an odd look from her father.
"Is that really all you're eatin'? That isn't much of a lunch."
Ellie remembered thinking how much her father nitpicked at everything she did and wished Ariel
would see that she wasn't the only one getting harassed.
"I'm not that hungry. I had a big breakfast."
Her mother then stepped in, defending the eldest when Luther was about to make another comment.
"You know, if that's all she wants to eat, then that's fine. She doesn't have to eat like a horse like you."
"All I'm saying is I don't want her to be one of those skinny model types. If she's goin' to be a lawyer she has to be build like one. She's got the headstrong part all right but-"
Just then a few screams and gasps rang out throughout the cafeteria, echoing so loud it had made her father cringe. All four of them looked around and just outside where there were tables you could sit at if you preferred to eat outside, three people were feasting on another person. There was blood everywhere and anyone who had been eating had stopped and all of them ran up to the windows to get a closer look to see what was going on. Ellie recalled looking at her father, fear written all over his face. Her mother was shaking and Ariel was also looking to her dad.
"What in the hell?"
Luther got up and approached the windows also, his family following close behind. The crowd that was at the windows were all watching in horror as two random men and a woman ate at the now limp body of Jade Sanders, one of the varsity volleyball players on the girls volleyball team. Once the three cannibals sensed there was more meat around they all looked up, their eyes hollow and sullen and milky white. The woman on the far left had entrails and intestines hanging from her mouth and blood leaked from her lips, running down her chin and onto the faded blue shirt she wore. The other two looked just like the woman, death-like but still living.
The man in the middle with a gaping wound through the left side of his mouth so you could see his black teeth and swollen black gums had a handful of a half eaten heart and dropped it just as his faded white eyes met Ellie's.
That was when she had felt her heart stop in her chest and she turned to her father.
He didn't respond. His blue eyes were locked onto the cannibalistic undead as they rose and headed for the glass windows, leaving their previous meal behind. Then from around the corner of the building, a whole crowd of about fifty or sixty of them appeared seemingly out of no where, all of them heading for the windows like there three companions were. Ellie noticed people started backing up and some even let out whimpers and screams as they ran to get away or hide.
Ellie's mother grabbed hold of his arms which were visibly shaking. He snapped out of his trance just as the creatures started beating on the glass with their arms and hands.
"Dad we have to go."
Ariel said with a small voice, trying hard to hold back her tears. The man looked at his family and nodded before glancing back at the things pounding vigorously at the windows. Blood was being smeared on the glass along with black bile as the creatures tried to get in, the glass beginning to crack under the weight of being banged and pushed on. That sound along with that of teeth meshing together and the hungry groans made Ellie's stomach twist. All four Lavelle's left the cafeteria, quickly following behind their father who was the leader. They all headed for the front doors but once they saw there was a crowd of monsters just coming in having broke through, the only way was to go up.
Luther yelled and glanced behind him as his family ran with him while the walking dead trailed behind them. Ellie had shut her eyes for a moment then as they ran to the safety of the upstairs dorms, hoping and praying this was a dream of some sort. When she opened them again she came to find it in fact wasn't. It was the cursed and twisted reality that was the end. It was the end of civilization and the end of humanity, but the beginning of learning to survive again.
Screams and cries echoed around them again, the flesh hungry freaks coming out of every where and no where all at once. The four of them managed to make it to Ellie's room despite Luther twisting his leg while running up the stairs and after shutting the door and helping her father move her bookshelf and desk in front of it, they all sat down in the farthest corner, all of them afraid to speak or move even an inch.
Groans and screaming continued to be heard just outside the door followed by gun shots and more screams. Ellie remembered clinging to her sister while her father held their mother who was trying her best not to sob or make a sound. Fear had stuck them all but it wasn't what was slowly killing them. It was the confusion. Everything had just unfolded so fast and no one in the small green and white dorm room had a clue of what was going on. It wasn't until Ellie looked down and saw the petrified look on her younger sisters face did she speak up, her voice just above a whisper.
"What were those things? They looked like they were people but-"
"They eat people."
Ellie peered over at her father who sat only a foot away from her, quietly petting her mothers auburn hair with her head in his chest to keep her from crying. He winced a bit as pain shot up in his right leg from the twist on the stairs but he did his best to mask it.
"I'm not sure. They look as if they are somethin' out of a horror film. What would you girls call them? Zombies?"
Ellie shared an odd glance with her sister before turning back to her father. Ariel sat up and held herself, still leaning on Ellie's shoulder.
"That's crazy dad. Zombies don't exist."
The redhead was so sure of herself. There was no way that those things could be reanimated corpses. Sure they ate people and were obviously set on eating every one who was still 'living', but that couldn't be.
"Then what's your take on it? Is this just some live action movie we are starrin' in and we don't even know it?"
Ellie shook her head and put her head down, starring into her open palms.
"I don't know what they are. All I know is there are more of them out there then there are of us in here."
Ariel shifted a bit next to Ellie which made the eldest look down at her.
"Do you still have those pistols dad gave you as a going away gift? The ones you brought with you?"
The older of the two looked down at her sister and raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah. They're in a lock box under my bed. Why?"
"We could use 'em. We could kill those things and get out of here."
"But they're people. Not sane people but still people! We can't kill them. At least not all of them."
Ellie's eyes went wide and she looked to her father for moral support.
"If you saw what I saw, then you know those things aren't people. They just ate another human being Ellie. Think of what you're sayin'. You sister is right. Get the Winchesters out. Now is good a time as any to defend yourselves."
Just then a loud banging started on her dorm room door, snarls and scrapping following soon afterwards. Gail began to whine in fear and Luther held her close, shushing her quietly.
"But you're the marine dad not us! I'll get them out and you use them. You can get mom, Ariel and I out of here."
More banging and scratching, followed by the desk and bookshelf shaking. Apparently they were a bit too loud. Ellie tried to quiet her voice but the fear was even getting to her, making it very hard to concentrate.
"Ellie, I taught both you and your sister how to protect yourselves. Don't you dare let all those hours of gun trainin' and survival skills go to waste. I didn't want to tell you but I twisted my leg on those stairs when we ran up here. I won't be much use if I can't stand. But I do have this."
Just then he suddenly pulled out a knife from inside his black leather boot and smiled. It was his military grade SOG knife. Ellie knew he never went anywhere without it.
"Ellie I mean it! Get those guns out and full of bullets. We don't have time to argue about this!"
Her fathers voice had pierced her ears and her eyes watered but she meekly made her way over to her bed, leaving Ariel to hold herself tight as she reached under the bed and pulled out the shiny black lock box. The monsters were now wracking against the door and a black hand with blood under it's fingernails had snaked it's way through a hole it had made in the door. It began pushing and prodding at the bookshelf and the shelf began to push and sway against the desk in front of it. Soon more scratching was heard and more holes began to form in the thin wooden door. Ellie quickly took the key out of her pocket she always kept on her person and unlocked the box. Inside the box were two new grade military Winchester pistols. Both took twenty-two caliber ammo and both had never been used. Beside them were four boxes of twenty-two caliber bullets each containing twenty four bullets.
Ellie carefully loaded each gun with twenty four bullet each and cocked them back, took the safety off and looked at her father.
"Give one to Ariel. I have to protect your mother. She's havin' a break down."
The older sister glanced at her mother who was a sobbing and shaking wreck, noting how pale she looked. Afterwards she turned to her sister and held out one of the loaded guns to her.
"Come on, we can't have you havin' a break down too. Take it."
Ariel slowly looked up from looking at the floor and eyed the gun. She then shook her head and looked back down.
"Ariel come on! This is no time to be stubborn! I'm sorry that you feel that mom and dad love me more but that isn't true! They love you just as much, if not more! Now stop bein' a baby and take the gun!"
By raising her voice and yelling, the zombies on the other side of the door became more driven and ferocious. Now five hands were through the door and two faces. Both snapping impatiently and horridly at the family. Their teeth gnarled on the wood, black drool and blood gliding from their mouths. Gail let out a wail and Luther gave his youngest daughter a serious face.
"You're a better shot than Ellie. Ariel please take the gun. I need both of you to work together. I need both of my girls to make it out of here alive. Even if your mother and I don't, I need you two to live on. You're my legacy. My greatest achievement and my greatest joy."
Ellie watched as Ariel looked at their father, tears in her eyes. She took the gun and nodded, not making a sound or uttering a word. By now the bookcase was falling on top of the desk and one of the man eaters were slowly trying to get through one of the larger holes in the door. The splinters and wood stuck into it's skin and blood rushed out of its wounds as it dragged itself though the door but before it could get the other half of it's pale and bloody mess of a body through the door, a gun shot rang out throughout the room; Ariel had pulled the trigger and had shot it in the head, killing it with one shot. Ellie aimed and pulled the trigger, adrenaline taking control over the fear she felt, shooting another one who had managed to open the door in the chest. But the thing still kept coming, it snarled and continued to move, inching it's way over the book case and the desk, it's legs were missing.
"Holy shit! How is that even possible!? I shot it in the heart!"
Ellie swore just as Ariel capped it in the skull, splattering rotting brain tissue and blood all over the two of them and on the floor. That was when she figured the only way to kill them was by killing what brains they had left. Maybe they were zombies. Luther watched, his eyes wide in horror as he clung to his wife. He wasn't sure why but it was like all his military know how and skills had left him. He didn't dare get up or move but instead clung to his knife and his wife as he watched his girls kill off the beasts trying to get in. After Ellie shot the last one in the head she turned to Ariel who had a cold look on her blood coated face. A trickle of one of the walkers blood ran down her cheek and she wiped it off. The redhead let out a sigh, her eyes lazily gazing over the eight dead bodies in and out of the room.
"That couldn't have been all of them."
She stated, wiping her own forehead of blood and sweat. Ariel stayed quiet and looked back at their parents.
Ariel's voice was as cold as the look on her face. Ellie didn't know what to make of her sisters new change of attitude.
"I want you two to get the hell out of here while you can."
Ellie protested, her green eyes scanning over her father who still held his black SOG knife in one and and held her mother in the other.
"No buts. Your mother and I will be fine. Besides, neither of us are in a state to travel. With my bum leg and her petrified state, we'd only slow you down. You and your sister protect one another. Get to the car. It's parked just outside. There's water and MRE's in the trunk in case of emergency. Good thing I never take them out huh?"
The man gave them a smile despite his leg still being in pain. Gail continued to hold onto him, unable to move or speak since she was so in shock.
"Dad we can't leave you and mom. You have to come with us!"
Ellie burst into tears and held onto her gun while Ariel stood by her side, not saying a word.
"Ellie, you and Ariel have made your mother and I so proud. Please don't do something stupid now. Fight. Survive. Live."
A sudden outburst of moaning and groans in the stairwell along with the unison shuffle of feet coming up the stairs is what made Ellie move. She glanced back at her father before grabbing a hold of Ariel's arm and tugged on her.
"Come on. We gotta go."
"But mom and dad..."
"Ariel come on! You heard him!"
The brunette didn't say another word or thought twice as she followed her sister. Once outside the room having climbed over the fallen desk and shelf, the two sisters looked back, one with tears in her eyes and the other still cold as ice.
"We love you both."
Their father said with a smile just as a hoard of walkers came up the stairs, all hungry for fresh human meat. Ellie shot at a few and Ariel did the same before taking off down the hall and went around the corner. Her heart was beating in her chest and her mind was racing. She also was finding it hard to breathe. All she knew was she had to keep running. before the fear surpassed the adrenaline rush in her veins. That was until she heard gun shots and two particularly familiar screams. She turned to look back noticing her sister was no longer by her side.
The auburn haired woman screamed and ran back, only to find heaps and piles of bloody stinking bodies all over the hallway and Ariel was no where to be found. One by one she turned the dead corpses over, perspiration on her brow, praying she didn't find her sister dead. After flipping over the fourth or fifth one and about to hurl from the stench, that's when the sobbing started in. Ellie ran back to her dorm room and gasped, only to find more dead bodies in the room then there were previously and Ariel on her knees in front of their father and mother. Her mother lay on her back, olive green eyes wide with a chunk of flesh missing from her neck and face along with bite marks all up and down her white arms. Her father was sitting up, clinging to his knife with one hand while the other held a gaping hole in his chest where his heart was. Without a second thought Ellie rushed in, jumping over the obstacles in her way, tears already rushing down her face.
She screamed and put both her hands over her fathers hand after putting her gun on the floor beside her, trying to add more pressure to the wound so he wouldn't bleed out so fast. Ariel was a sobbing mess, her emotion had suddenly come back to her at the death of their mom and dying father and Ellie was trying to keep it together the best she could.
"Daddy no... No... this is all my fault. We shouldn't have left you and mom. I'm so sorry!"
She sobbed like her sister was doing and kept her eyes on his now fading blue ones.
"I-it's... it's not... not your fault..."
"Daddy please don't die!"
Her voice was ripped from her throat, a sob breaking her will to stay level headed.
"Go... Go Ellie... Protect... Ariel..."
His oldest daughter watched the light fade from his eyes and he slumped down against the wall more than he already was. Another sob left her lips and she kept her hands on his chest, hoping some how he'd come back. She then looked at her mother who had already been dead when she ran back and started to sob some more. Hot tears of anguish and loss fell from her eyes and she slowly turned to Ariel, knowing that the two would never be the same again if they made it out of this alive.
A man's voice breaks her from her memories and is shaking her almost uncontrollably. When she comes to she immediately looks up and is lying on her back, her fathers blood stained SOG knife in her right hand. Shane lets go of her shoulders he had been shaking and holds out a hand to her and helps her up, his face sweaty with a few specks of blood on it as well. The redhead then looks around, six dead flesh eaters laying in different sections of dirt, the closest one laying at her feet. Black blood was leaking from a gash in it's forehead and she looked back at Shane with a confused look on her face.
"What happened? What happened! You went all crazy psycho on them things is what happened. You were screamin' and yellin' and you were cryin'. Hell for a second I thought you was gonna kill me too. Then you blacked out and fell down. Shit I thought you was dead. You seriously don't remember?"
Ellie shook her head no, not remembering a single thing prior to her reliving her parents deaths. She did in fact remember she had to save Ariel. In a quick second she was running off past Shane and into the barn, not even bothering to pay attention for anymore zombies that could have been lurking around.
Shane followed her as fast as he could and by the time he had got inside the barn, Ellie was already up in the hay loft with her sister, hugging her and crying again. Ariel was teary eyed and clung to her sister like she was never going to see her again.
"I was so scared. I was waitin' for you to come back and those cannibals showed up and then I
twisted my ankle. I thought I was never goin' to see you again."
Ellie could tell her sister was weak from lack of sleep and food and water. She was pale and her eyes were drooping a bit but all in all she seemed fine. Not to mention she hadn't gotten bit so that was obviously a big plus.
"It's ok. I'm here now. And look, another living breathin' person, just like I promised. We're goin' to go back to his camp where there are other livin' breathin' people too. Then we'll get food and water and some rest and we'll be ok."
Ellie pointed down to Shane who was standing in the doorway to the barn, watching the sisters heart felt reunion. She watched as Ariel's blue eyes lit up and she smiled. In return, the eldest smiled as well and she helped her sister get down.
"Glad to see you're alright. Your sister was freakin' out 'bout you the whole time. Now you didn't git bit did ya?"
Shane gave the younger girl a small smile when she shook her head no.
"Glad to hear. I'm Shane by the way. Now let's git you two back to camp. Ya'll look like you could both use at least a week of TLC."
Ellie gratefully smiled at the man and the two of them together helped Ariel walk back to camp.
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