Phoebe Majere
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Blood Runner
A lone figure darted amongst the trash cans of an alleyway and slammed his back into a dumpster, dressed in dark clothing with a hood and a backpack. He peeked around the rusted edge at his prize. A seemingly abandoned grocery store... He was hungry...so very hungry. Four days without food and a water bottle now close to empty made his stomach ache terribly. The street and row of shops before him looked deserted. Bodies lay in the road, stinking and unattended. A car lay to his right on its side, a body smashed beneath it and another hanging out the drivers side window. The grocery stores windows were smashed and gaping open, inviting to his empty stomach yet foreboding and dangerous.

He was certain it had already been thoroughly picked over, but he hoped against the odds and his stomach that there might be at least one morsel left. He pulled back behind the dumpster and pulled an aluminum baseball bat out from his partially open backpack. He closed his eyes, bracing himself and purposely breathing slowly to calm and focus his nerves. "Calm...quiet...that was what dad had said..." He peeked around the edge one more time he eyed the street for any movement before sprinting across. He jerked forward and made a dead run for the store. 30 feet...20 feet...10 feet...

Just as he reached the store front he was completely blindsided by a fast moving figure to his right, with no ability to react he collided with the figure and was thrown at an angle through the front window of the store. His legs caught the edge and he hit the floor just inside with a loud thud. The bat had left his hands, and clattered upon the ground just outside door.

As he sat up on his elbows he caught sight of who he'd crashed into.. It was another survivor...a girl...a beautiful girl...

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Damn these things... she thought to herself bitterly, looking down the street at the ambling creatures walking about. Walkers. Zombies. Undead. Whatever you wanted to call them, they were here, and very real. A real pain in the a**! Wherever you went, you would hear the moans and the shuffling of their feet as they walked around looking for their next meal. It was almost hard to think of food when that thought came to mind, but the brunette hadn't eaten in three days. Was it three? Might have been four...she had lost almost complete track, focusing on moving and finding a safe place to be. There seemed to be none.

This one day, however, she had come across a store that was abandoned, just as the other stores around it were, and the front window was smashed in. Looters had probably made their way through it already, but there was a chance there was something. Anything! All the good stuff would be taken of course, but maybe there was some cereal or a can of something. Her palms grew sweaty as she readied herself to run for the food, the metal fire poker in her hand started to slip a little. She wiped her palms on her jeans and grabbed her weapon again. Ready? One...two...three... She bolted, heading straight for the window when she saw another figure running towards it. She tried to stop, but her legs wouldn't let her slow down with the thought of food on hand. She barreled right into his right, flying through the window with him and both their weapons landing on the ground with a loud clinging sound just outside the door.

She lay motionless, not daring to move. Her mind clicked back to reality and immediately she was up, looking around to see what she had collided into and where her weapon was. Outside. Great... Her blue eyes rested on the character before her. A boy. Another survivor?! And a handsome one at that?! No way... Was she hallucinating?

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Looking at her from his place on the ground with wide eyes, he quickly became suspicious. She could be unfriendly..dangerous. What if she tries to kill me for whatever I have left...These were the thoughts running through his head as he watcher her suspiciously, crawling backwards on his elbows through glass and debris. He reached his bat and snatched it up, managing to gain his footing and aim it at her point first. Both happy and worried at the same time. Another survivor! The first he had seen in days. Someone alive! He watched her carefully, wary of her movements. His voice slightly shaky as well as his hands, he questioned her. "Wh..Who are you?" As he asked this, he suddenly felt a stinging pain on his left arm. He glanced to it and was dismayed to see three, two inch long cuts. Likely from the glass he'd landed in.

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She wasn't hallucinating! Zombies couldn't talk... She stood up fully and grabbed for her fire poker, swinging it in her hands to make sure she could still move. Luckily, she could. The man took no time in assuming she was a villain, rightfully so though, you couldn't trust anybody in times like these. The brunette crouched slightly, ready to spring if necessary and eyed him up and down, go along the length of the bat first. "Who are you?" she countered, her voice steady, but her hands were shaking as were her knees. It was evident that she wasn't well, but this male didn't look too good either. "I'm Penelope." She lowered her weapon slowly, nonthreatening, and held her hands up to show surrender. No point in killing each other now when there were things everywhere!

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He returned the offer of peace by lowering his bat as well, letting the tip rest on the ground. "I'm Alec." Looking around, Alec took stock of the small store they found themselves in. It held numerous aisles as all stores did, picked almost clean of anything not destroyed or rotted. He heard no noises other than from outside.

Alec decided this newcomer wasn't going to harm him, immediately at least, nor did she give off a hostile nature. Unlike some he had seen in the city, survivors who preyed upon anyone they came across. Alec had found that there was always something just a bit off about them when they were like that. He didn't notice it in her so he went out on a limb and replaced his bat in the opening in his backpack. Alec took a deep breath, starting to calm down he gave her a somewhat relieved smile and began to search the aisles of the store, looking for anything usable. He rummaged through this and that in his search, flipping items over. "Where did you come from? Do you live here?"

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She smiled weakly, her eyes following his every movement. Just because she surrendered first didn't mean she was going to give up completely, she just wasn't in the mood to fight a living person at the moment. Alec began searching through the shelving, looking for something, anything really. Penelope looked out the window to see if there was anything nearby, luckily there wasn't, so she reached over the broken window and grabbed her tire iron. She could hear the male's voice filter across the store, asking her something. The brunette walked towards him and began searching the shelves as well for anything that might be of use. "Yes, well as much as anyone can 'live' around here," she replied solemnly. "What about you?"

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Alec nodded to himself. She was certainly not wrong to say that..life wasn't what it once was, no matter how terribly he wanted it that way.The thought pained him deeply and his face grimaced. "I live here too...for whats it worth anyway." Alec continued his search, finding nothing really usable. Some cans that had already been opened and the contents devoured. Turning the corner of an aisle though, he struck gold when he spotted the corner of a plastic package. He bent down to pick it up and smiled when he saw that he had found a bag of potato chips, stuck to yet a second packed of Doritos by a sticky substance that smelled like syrup.

Alec ripped the two apart and tossed Penelope the potato chips. "Hey, found these..uhm..here's one for you.." He moved on searching towards the back of the store but found nothing more. There was a window on the back and Alec went to peer through it and froze then calmed a bit, spotting something inside he smiled, suddenly happy for the first time that day. He turned to get Penelope's attention. "Hey..look at this..."

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She liked how quickly they got along; you needed friends in times like these, you needed somebody to look out for you, and silently, she believed that that was what they'd become. Friends. Acquaintances, yes, but soon it would develop to friendship because they needed each other. Penelope ran a hand through her dirty brown hair as she searched through the shelves. Nothing. Suddenly, she heard a rustling noise and Alec threw a bag towards her. She caught the pack of chips, eagerly ripping it open and diving in, licking the cheesy goodness from her fingers.

She watched him move around the store quietly. It was like watching a hunter in the wilderness, stalking his prey. Very interesting. Something she hadn't seen or done in what seemed like forever. Suddenly, he froze, stopped moving completely. Oh s**t, were they here!? Her hand instinctively went for the weapon she had strapped through her jeans belt loop, and then she relaxed when a smile spread across his handsome face. He got her attention by telling her to come over towards him. What did he see? Penelope walked over, placing the bag on an empty shelf and wiping her hands on her jeans to peer through the window at the back. What was it? "Oh my god!" she said in complete surprise.

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Inside they saw a sad yet hopeful scene. The window let them see the insides of what appeared to be a back office for the store. Side by side upon the floor leaned up against the wall was a pair of grisly looking corpses, one male the other female leaned against each other. The male figure had a revolver in one hand hanging from his mouth. It was obvious, the pair had decided to 'opt out' of the chaos and save themselves from the pain.

What gave Alec hope was the stored food and water the couple had for themselves. It sat in several boxes against and on top of a desk to the right of the decaying pair. "Well..i guess now we just have to figure out how to get in.." He said, eyeballing the edges of the window. Several bullet holes were present in a spread across the window, and the door to the office was severely dented. "Someone else must've found this too...but couldn't get in..."

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Penelope stood on her tip toes to get a better look in the office, taking everything in. She licked her middle finger and then her index finger, tapping the glass, as if someone would hear her and open it from the inside. "You know, I have no idea what I'm doing," she said, a small smile across her face. "Even if the window was smashed open, it's too high from the lock on the door to reach over and open it. Suggestions?" The brunette stood back and looked around, even leaving the door to search around the store for something.

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Aleck shook his head and shrugged.“I don’t really know either…” He grinned. “Guess we’ll just have to wing it.” He too stepped away from the window, wondering to himself why on earth she had licked her fingers before touching the glass. He cast the odd concern out of his mind and appraised the window and the door and thought for a while. There as got to be a simple way around this… He suddenly looked to Penelope as she rummaged about and he sized her up, then glanced to the window, then back to her. “Hey…think if we smashed the window you could climb through if I pushed you up?”

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She hadn't come across anything when Alec spoke once more. Push her through the window? She was much too large to fit through...Penelope looked down at her body and shrugged her shoulders; she was larger before this all happened, but not eating regularly and exercising by running from Zombies actually made her slim down. She was actually kind of hot! The brunette pushed that thought aside and walked back to the door, taking one more peek inside. "I guess that could work, but I don't want to smash the window. What if the Walkers here us? I'd be trapped in there while you're free to run off and leave me here," she said, looking around quickly. She was only half joking, but there was a seriousness in her tone that shone through the humor.

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Alec eyed her. “Well, I’m not sure we have any other choice…if they come to investigate we’ll just have to be quick. Trust me…I won’t leave…” He yanked his bat from his black backpack and took his shirt off, wrapping around the end of the bat. He got up to the window and struck the window once. The noise was dulled by the shirt but it still made a bit of a noise, the glass cracked some. Satisfied they were not going to be discovered Alec made another attempt and cracked it further. A third strike and the glass was cracked in a multitude of places. Alec made yet a fourth attempt and succeeded. The window shattered and pieces fell everywhere and Alec quickly dropped the bat down on the ground and leaned up against the wall, making a foothold with his hands for her to climb on.

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She shrank away from the door as he smashed it open, holding her fire poker ready in her hands in case anything heard. Luckily, they didn't. Nothing came around the corner to investigate yet. Today had turned out to be pretty good so far. When she glanced back, Alec was still without a shirt and he was leaning against the wall with his fingers locked together, ready for her to climb through. Penelope shook her head quickly and trotted back over, placing one foot in his hands and hopping through the window, landing with a loud thud on the other side. She let out a soft groan of pain as she landed, then shot back up. This was no time for dilly dallying!

Turning to open the lock, she opened the door and smiled to the handsome man on the other side. "Come on in. No shirts are welcome," she said, still keeping her voice low. Her blue eyes ran over the man's torso and she winked, turning around quickly to rummage through things in the boxes. She blushed as she rummaged. Why had she winked? She wasn't the flirtatious type, nor was she the kind to be attracted to people so easily. Maybe it was the whole 'apocalypse' thing looming above her. Maybe.

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Alec hesitated and raised both eyebrows in response and after a brief moment he shook his head and chuckled as he followed her inside, replacing his shirt before he began adding items to his backpack. Several plastic water bottles as well as a package of crackers and numerous canned items disappeared inside it. With his pack full, Alec tossed the empty box aside and sat upon the office desk that faced the window. Sighing happily he popped the cap from a plastic bottle and drank a portion before replacing the cap and leaving the rest for later. He smiled at Penelope in pleasure at the cooling sensation of the water. " Mm... After a moment he asked her. "What did you do..you know..before all this..."

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She followed his lead and began packing things into her own bag. Penelope glanced back after a moment to see him leaning against the desk in the middle of the room, when Alex suddenly asked a question. She was silent for a moment as she thought back, remembering life before this hell. "I was a cashier in the cosmetics section of the department store down the street. Was even working on getting my firearms license, but that all went to hell," she said and chuckled, zipping up her bag and placing it on the floor. She propped her hands on her curvy hips and looked around, satisfied, when she glanced back up to Alec and smiled "What about you?"

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Alec nodded as he listened. "Gun license huh? can't say I'd peg you as a carded member of the NRA..but..to each his own.."He shrugged when she returned the same question. "Well..i was attending college, studying business. I wanted to start a sole proprietorship selling sports equipment to park-our enthusiasts. But..as fate would have it.." He gestured outside. "It was my hobby..free-running that is...funny how it turned out to be so useful only now..." He shook his head in mock disgust. wincing at that moment though, as his cut shoulder bothered in with pain once more. "That glass you knocked me into did a number to my shoulder.." Alec began to glance about the office. "I wonder if there is a first aid kit in here somewhere.."

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She smiled, looking outside as he did. Penelope looked back at him when he mentioned his cut, a soft gasp escaping her lips. "Oh my god, I'm so sorry!" she said, beginning to rummage around for something. As luck would have it, there was a first aid kit stuffed under the desk. The brunette pulled it out and grabbed some bandages, a sterile cloth and a safety pin, taking it upon herself to fix him up. "Doesn't look like you'll need stitches." As she touched his arm, she felt her cheeks go slightly red. He was so warm. And handsome. And he had such nice eyes. She caught herself looking up at him, then looked back down at her work.

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He winced as she worked and soon, found himself eying her form she was beautiful to him and he had to suppress the urge to reach out and touch her..just to feel what her skin felt like, but he resisted. He hadn't hardly seen another person in over a week and it had become somewhat lonely.

Glad to have company for once he smiled in return."Its good to see another live person for once...Did you have somewhere your hiding out?" He rotated his shoulder when she had finished, It felt much improved and he was glad for it. "Thank you.."

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She nodded and put everything back in the first aid box, even placing that box in her pack, stuffing it past the cans of food and water. The brunette pushed her hair from her face, walking over to the door and looking out the window. Nothing still. Good. "There's a garage down the street that way," she said, turning back to Alec, and pointing to her right, "that I've been staying in for...gosh, I don't know how long. Basically since this all started. It's got a padlocked door, the garage door has to be manually opened, and the back door is unlocked at all times. Where were you hiding?" Penny rested her back against the door and slid down until her bottom hit the ground.

Despite having just met him, she actually really liked him. They got along easily, he hadn't tried to kill her like she thought he would, he was handsome, and she was so horribly lonely these days. Maybe he would want to join her at the garage, or she could join him wherever he was. Unless he was a wanderer. Maybe that's what she should do: wander. Not stay in one place. This part of town was starting to become crowded. And where were the other survivors?! She turned her attention back to the male, smiling weakly at him.

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He shook his head. "I..wasn't really staying anywhere, I left my home after a bunch of those walkers over-ran it. Just sort of kept moving since then, nowhere I've found ever stayed safe for long...How long do you think you'll be able to hold out in that garage?" He moved off the desk and sat down beside her. He knew what he might ask was dangerous, wandering the road wasn't easy..in fact it was downright mad. But it had kept him alive. "I know asking you to leave your garage for a stranger might be crazy...but..your welcome to join me..."

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She watched him walk over and sit next to her, his close presence all the more welcoming. Cocking her head to the side, she gave him a quizzical look as he offered to let her join him on the road. Penny laughed quietly. "I was going to ask you if you wanted to stay at the garage with me," she said, covering her mouth to stifle the loud laugh that wanted to come out. "I would love to join you. I need to get out of this town anyways. I've got to get some stuff from the garage first though, clothes and what-not. Shall I meet you back here in half an hour or do you want to come with me?"

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Alec suddenly looked a bit concerned. "I'd better go with you. Were safer together...Is it far?" He stood and went to the front of the store, he crouched just below the broken out window and looked about, the street was empty from what he could see but that could change in an instance..Walkers had a tendency to come out of nowhere..

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"It's not too far," she said, swinging her backpack over her shoulders and following him out, grabbing her fire poker on the way. Penny crouched down next to him and looked out, her blue eyes scanning the area. She became the survivor then, and not just a woman. She glanced down the street and pointed at the building, then readjusted her pack. The brunette stood up slowly and stepped out through the broken window timidly, looking in all directions to make sure nothing was around. There were two to the left, far away from them and they didn't seem like they'd be a threat. She turned back to Alec and motioned for him to come forward, taking another step out onto the street. She could feel her palms grow sweaty. Something wasn't right. Earlier that day there had been so many milling about, and now they were gone. Where had they disappeared to?

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He nodded. "Alright.." Following her out he pulled his bat from out of his backpack. "I saw other survivors earlier this week..bandits..I watched them attack some poor souls..stripped them of their supplies. It was a man and a women..they killed him and took the women away with them." He shivered at the injustice. Things like that were bad enough when the world wasn't in chaos..now that it was, it had become free game for all. He knew better, but as they made their way down the street he found he couldn't help but glance down at Penelope's' supple backside...He caught himself though, and returned his eyes to scanning about them.. That kind of distraction could get us killed... Despite that thought though, he glanced down once or twice more as they continued...

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She frowned and shook her head, walking down the street with her metal pole over her shoulder, glancing down the street continuously. How could somebody do that? Well, in times like this, people went back to their baser instincts and did what they could to survive. She didn't notice Alec glancing at her behind, she was too busy looking for Walkers. Penny spun around then, catching him in the act on the last time. She raised an eyebrow and gave him a sly smirk, "Play your cards right soldier, I may let you see more." She turned away and continued to walk, blushing furiously. She did it again! Alec brought out more in her than anyone had before, and she liked it.

They got closer to the garage and she stopped dead in her tracks. The garage door was open and there were zombies gathered inside, a few trying to push past their brethren to get in. Her mouth dropped and she side stepped to stand behind a nearby wall. "s**t," she whispered, turning to Alec. "Well, that plan's done. Whoever decided to steal from me didn't get very far. s**t."

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