There were so many of them. The stench of death and decay hung heavy on the air. We'd left the shop and walked out into eerily quiet streets, wondering where they'd all gone. I guess they'd all gathered here, halfway between the shop and the camp. Fuck knows why so many of them had ended up in one place. I could see blood on the floor, smell it underneath the rotting of the walkers' bodies. I pulled down a fire escape ladder and told Sophia to climb it and that she should wait for me on the roof.
I didn't follow her. I wanted to see if I could find us a way around that didn't involve ploughing straight through them. There wasn't really one, for the record. They'd spread out. More than a hundred of them, all sniffing around for something else to tear apart. Eventually, I circled back and headed for where I'd left Sophia. On my way up the fire escape to get back to her, I thought I saw a vaguely familiar figure, slumped halfway up an escape. That Joe kid. Was that his name? I couldn't remember; it felt like half a lifetime ago now. I hissed his name across the alleyway, but he didn't answer. I groaned to myself. I couldn't just leave him there. If he'd been infected, I would, but he just looked like he was sitting there, staring off into space. Maybe he was already dead? I couldn't tell, and I knew I should probably just keep going and get back to Sophia, for some reason... I couldn't. Maybe it was the same reason I helped him in the first place, maybe it was something else entirely - the thing in me that had somehow started to change ever so slowly.
I couldn't help but think, as I climbed up a little higher, how Joe and Sophia were both the kinds of people I'd normally have made fun of in some way back when I was in high school. I'd pick on anyone that had more than I did, but I guess I just fell into that cliché group of people that just went out of their way to make life as miserable as possible for others, no matter who they were. Unless they were Rayn, sold me drugs, took drugs with me or would fuck me, I hated them with every fiber of my being, no matter how irrational my reasoning for hating them might be.
All the things I might have once said to Joe, or about him, filled my head while I climbed up onto the railing of one of the platforms. Mostly just taking the piss out of how he wore glasses, or how ginger he was or the freckles that covered his face. I launched myself off the railings. Two or three platforms flew up past me before I was close enough to reach out and grab onto anything. I did my best to make my landing as quiet as possible, but there's only so much control you can have over that when you're slamming into a metal structure at a high speed. Once I'd stopped moving and had a good grip on the side of the platform I'd grabbed, I started to pull myself up. I'd managed to get hold of the one that Joe was sat on. As I dragged myself up to the top of the railing, the look of horror on his face said he'd been expecting a walker to appear over the side. There was a crowbar in his hand, ready, though he hadn't moved from where he was sat.
"Please don't use that fucking thing on me," I grunted, swinging myself to his side of the rails. "I'm not a zombie yet." The bar rolled out of his fingers wordlessly as he saw who I was. Now, from the reaction I remember him having before when I met him the first time, I know that's not what he would have done if he was okay. I bent down and forced him to look me in the eyes. "Are you hurt?" Nothing. "Joe," I growled, "are you hurt? Did any of them touch you?" Still nothing. Frustrated, I slapped him hard across the face. His eyes turned back to me, then. He was totally numb. I felt his forehead with the back of my hand, not sure what the first few signs of infection were, other than a fever. He felt fine to me. "Joe, the walkers are all still out there. We need to get somewhere safe until they clear off. We've got a cure, it'll be fine to move, we just need to get out of here." I wasn't too sure if we really did have a cure, but if it got him to move, I'd be happy.
"Cure?" he echoed distantly.
"Yep. There's a cure, now, so there's nothing to be scared of. We just need to get going. Okay?”