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Part 2: Spring



"I don't trust a man that doesn't have something strange going on about him, cause that means he's hiding it from you. If a man's wearing his pants on his head or says his words backwards from time to time, you know it's all laid out there for you. But if he's friendly to strangers and keeps his home spick-and-span, more often than not it means he's done something even his own ma couldn't forgive." No-Bark Noonan



Chapter 1:

The flame danced back and forth licking the burning log with its long orange tendrils, the warm spring nights breeze blew the flames gently as it continued to dance. Watching the flames and stoking them every so often Curtis sat upon a rusted out bucket, he just sat glad to still be breathing. He continued to sit under the moonlight watching the flames, his eyes following the flickering of the flames as he slowly fell asleep, one hand still resting on the handle of his revolver.



As he slept he dreamt, water rushed along a stream flowing rapidly across the rocks. There he crouched at the riverbank drinking from the crystal clear water, he was thirsty, he had been walking for days without water. There he saw birds sitting in the nearby tree, they just sat there watching him, then at the sound of screaming they flew off in a flurry of feathers. It took Curtis a moment to realise that it was a person screaming, a woman to be specific, he dashed up the side of the bank following the sound of the screaming. As he got closer he cursed himself for not thinking, it could well be another trap, he had fallen for one similar to this and barely escaped with his life. Then he saw the source of the screaming, it was a woman, she was flailing in the deep fast flowing river, bobbing up and down in the current as it tried to drag her under. Without another thought he threw his pack onto the sandy embankment and dived into the water. Striking hard into the water he pushed against the flow towards the drowning woman, as he reached out to grab her the current sucked them both under the water. They tumbled together near to drowning when they finally broke the surface, with that Curtis gave a final bout of energy grabbing the woman and desperatly dragging them both to shore. He lay on the sand gagging as water spilled out from his lungs, then he passed out.



When he regained consiousness he was laying under a blanket, his blanket and next to him lay his pack and drying clothes. 



"Hello there, I see you're up now. Have a nice sleep?" The voice wasn't threatening and held genuine concern in it.



He replied, "I've had better mornings," turning around and looking up he saw to whom the voice belonged.



Her striking crystal blue eyes looked down at him from where he lay, mahogany brown hair fell in a wet tangled mess around her face, though her face itself was rather plain it raidiated a glowing aura he couldn't explain. He sat there stunned by her simple beauty.



"By the way thanks... I really mean it. If you hadn't come when you did I would have drowned. Oh... and my name's Rebekah," she said as she smiled.



All that he could muster was, " Uh... I'm Curtis."



Crack!

A stick  broke under the pressure of a foot. But wait that had never happened, he spun wildly pulling out of his dream as a dark figure rushed forwards with a glinting knife. His pack was too far from where he now sat to reach his machete, and his gun was pinned under his leg, quickly he felt around as the figure now fell upon him. Grasping in the dying firelight he grabbed onto a stick like object and swung, the flaming stick connected with the side of his assailant instantly setting his shirt ablaze. The man rolled on the ground in a desperate bid to extinguish the fire, by the time he had put it out Curtis was already standing above him, revolver aimed directly at his head.



Then the strangest thing happened as Curtis looked down at his would-be killer. 



"Oh shit, I never thought I would see a friendly face again, let alone your ugly mug Curtis." 

Curtis hesitated slightly as he held the gun.



"How do you know me?" Curtis replied gruffly, gun arm not wavering.



"Well shit man, don't you recognise me? Its Lee."




Chapter 2:

"It has been a long time," Curtis said in relief as he reached down helping his old friend back to his feet.



"Yeh, so long I almost killed you, now that would have been something to tell the others," Lee cracked a grin.



"Ha, nearly killed me, who was the one rolling on the ground on fire?" Curtis scoffed. 



"Alright, I suppose we can call it a draw," with that Lee sat down by the fire.



Curtis looked down at his friend, how he had changed, much like he had himself. Lee's jet black hair was cropped short in a military style cut, he now also sported a thin black moustache and goatee. Lee was half asian and those features were obvious from his flatened nose and darker skin, though his skin now seemed much darker than what Curtis had remembered. His arm hairs were singed from the fire and he now only wore a singlet, since his shirt had burnt to a smoldering heap. His pack sat next to him now as they both sat by the fire.



"So Lee what brings you to the Gold Coast. Last I heard you were headed to Europe, well that was 20 years ago."



"Yeah you're right, I was headed to Europe. But all flights to and from anywhere had been locked down for a week before the fungus hit Perth. Since then I have been travelling with a larger group along the coast looking for supplies, I was out scouting just now when I mistook you for a hunter."



"You know Lee, I am glad you aren't dead," with that Curtis took a seat next to his friend.



"I am too my friend, how about you get some sleep I will take watch for the rest of the night, we can talk more in the morning."



Curtis then slept once again dreaming. His cheek felt damp and was covered with something slick, the back of his head also ached and he could feel caked blood where it hurt. He gingerly lifted himself out of the pool of mud he had been laying in, there were other bodies laying strewn around near him, he recognised them, they were some of the hunters who had been chasing Rebekah and himself. It seemed that they had killed most of the hunters as well, ironic he thought, they had saved them from certain death by leaving him for dead. Then it all hit him, they had taken her, the Red Cross had taken Rebekah. Then he ran, he might still catch them yet. He had tracked for two weeks never resting, but the tracks had become cold, it was then that he realised his hopless situation. He had lost everything he cared about now, what point was there to living anymore, for two months he had contemplated ending it, but in the end he couldn't bring himself to do the deed. Eventually he had learnt to live with his misery and moving around the country in solitude.



The smells of frying beans woke him from his slumber, he hoisted himself from the ground where he had slept and gratefully accepted the plate of beans handed to him by Lee. 



"So, I was wondering if you might like to join my group?"



Curtis nearly choked, the question had been unexpected.



"No, no I'm fine on my own thanks," he replied after swallowing the beans.



"At least think about it then, won't you. I am travelling up to Brisbane to rejoin with the main group, it's about a days walk from here you should at least join me till there."



"No, I am fine travelling on my own thanks."



"Seriously, come with me we can at least watch each others backs. Anyway we still have much to talk about," Lee said frowning.



"Alright I guess it is safer in pairs," he said begrudgingly.



"Excellent, we leave after breakfast. So enjoy it while you can," Lee grinned.




Chapter 3: 

They had been walking for a good six hours now and it was mid afternoon, the entire time they had been talking to each other about the last 20 years, though he wouldn't admit it Curtis was actually glad for once, happy to be in the company of an old friend. Finally they stopped walking as they hit an intersection on the road.



"Why are we stopping Lee? Not getting old on me I hope," Curtis cracked a grin.



"Ha, no. But regretfully we have to part ways for the time being," Lee grimmaced as he said this.



"What why?" Curtis replied confused.



"I have to scout for supplies further along the coast, but we will meet up in Brisbane. If you follow the highway you will come to the city, make your way to the Suncorp Stadium and wait for me there. I promise I will meet you in half a day,s time."

Before he was able to reply Lee was already moving off in the direction of the coast. Great, so much for company, he thought to himself as Lee grew smaller in the distance, he had no where else to go may as well head to the stadium. He set off walking up the highway. He had just come to the turn off from the highway towards the small town of Pimpama when he saw a lone figure slumped against the rusted bustop shelter a few meters ahead. He cautiously aproached the figure with his revolver held firmly by his side, as Curtis got closer he could see that the figure was a man. The man looked terrible, his clothes were torn and his skin had become a palid deathly colour, it seemed as though he had several lacerations on his midsection. 



The man lifted his head at the sound of his approach. Curtis looked down into his eyes, they were desperate and pleading and had a slight glow about them, the man began to mumble incoherently as he looked up. Then he saw it, a deep bite mark on the side of the man's neck, it looked recent, he was infected. 



"I'm truly sorry for you," Curtis said looking down at the man with pity, he lifted his gun to the man's head.


Bang!

The shot ended the man's suffering as his limp body slumped further to the ground. Curtis turned away and continued down the highway, he felt sad, no one should ever have to suffer that fate. 




Chapter 4:

The sun slowly set as it cast an orange glow against the outskirts of Springwood, Curtis walked towards the town, it was not far now, it would be best to stop here to look for supplies and rest. As he slowly walked up to the first streets of Springwood, he unholstered his revolver popping the cylinder and checking his rounds, he replaced the round he had used earlier and slammed the cylinder shut, then pulling back the hammer and cocking it; it paid to be cautious in the ruins of civilization. 



He felt uneasy as he wandered through the untouched suburb, most of the other outlying areas had been fire-bombed by military airstrikes in an attempt to kill off most of the infected. It had worked well but had also left those areas as uninhabitable piles of rubble, it seemed that Springwood had been spared that particular fate. The sun finally dipped beyond the horizon leaving the town bathed in the dusk time glow, Curtis continued to walk with the ever present feeling of unease growing with each step. He was sure that he was being watched, but by whom or what he couldn't tell. As he turned the corner of the street he could see what had been making him feel uneasy.



There before him lay a large wall constructed from overturned truck trailers and shipping containers, it seemed as though the makeshift wall spread in a ring cutting through houses in a large protective circle. The wall covered a large portion of the western side of the suburb, it was large enough to hold over 100 people he estimated, but what could hunters want with an entire suburb he thought.



"Mister, I would stay where you are standing if you want to live, and don't try no funny business either," said a deep gravelly voice somewhere to his left.



An ambush, he had fallen staight into it without even realising. He heard several other men approach, he could see five from where he stood but it sounded like there may be another four that he couldn't see, he was completly outnumbered and severly outgunned.



"Look I don't want any trouble ok, just let me be on my way," Curtis said, knowing diplomacy may be his only option now.



"No, I think the Mayor will decide whether you are trouble or not, boys take his weapons and pack... he is paying a visit to the Mayor," the same gravely voice said.



He felt helpless as another two men relieved him of his revolver and pack, they then grabbed him roughly by either shoulder and dragged him towards the wall where one of the containers swung open allowing them admitance. They continued to drag him further into the centre of the town, as he went he saw men repairing buldings and chopping firewood, he also saw women cooking on open fires, and most unexpectaed he saw children playing. Where was he exactly, this sure wasn't any hunter town he was certain of that, his questions were finally answered as he was thrown roughly to the ground infront of a large offical looking building.



The doors burst open and out strode the strangest man Curtis had ever layed eyes on. 



"Welcome stranger, I am Aaron Theadorus Maximus the Third, Mayor of Springwood!"




Chapter 5:

There he was the Mayor of Springwood, his strange name only accentuated the even stranger clothes he wore. The Mayor wore polished black dress shoes that matched an equally clean set of black business trousers, his torso was covered in a white long-sleeved formal shirt that had ruffled cuffs. Over his white shirt he wore a bright lime green waistcoat with red trimmings, and around his neck was a dull and faded but still visibly purple tie. Finally he also sported a brown felt top hat with a gold band that was fraying on the edges, beneath the hat his face was completely clean shaven. Curtis just stared, completely stunned by the absolute ridiculousness of the man standing before him.



The two men stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity, when finally the Mayor broke the tense silence.



"Now Mr Addler, could you please be so kind as to hand our guest his equipment and weapons back, I am sure he misses them dearly," the Mayor directed to the large Mexican holding the pack.



Curtis just stood there in further disbelief, the Mayor wanted to return all of his gear to a potential threat. The Mexican looked as though he was thinking the exact same thoughts as he was himself. 



"But, señor Aaron we don't even know this man, he could be a murderer... or worse. Are you sure you want him wandering with weapons around the niños?" The Mexican named Addler looked at the mayor in complete confusion.



"Tut Tut Mr Addler, I completely trust this man, no harm shall come to the children. Now as I said, could you please return to him his equipment, also you can leave us be and return to patrol duty," the Mayor said in a reprimanding tone.



"Aye, as you wish Alcalde," Addler handed Curtis his pack and revolver back. Then walked off in a look of utter perplexity, the whole time muttering "Qué está pensando, el loco," under his breath. 



The other men who had escorted Curtis inside quickly followed suit when the Mayor waved them off in a shooing fashion. Now this is utter insanity, he thought, the Mayor was now alone without any gaurds and in the presence of a stranger with weapons who's motives were unlear.



He had had enough of this insanity, Curtis re-holstered his revolver and slung his pack onto his back. He made to move off but not before looking back at the Mayor.



"Well, I appreciate your hospitality but I have places to be Mayor," he said as he headed the way he had come.



Then the Mayor spoke, "I have a business proposition my good fellow, if you would stick around and hear me out perhaps we may come to an arrangement."



Curtis stopped in his tracks and looked back at the Mayor, "What is in it for me?" 



"It is simple, I can offer you a place in my town if you like, or perhaps you are a wanderer. If so I can offer you many supplies of food and much ammunition that we have collected over the years, I also have spare weapons that I am willing to part with. I merely ask that you listen and then name your price should you accept."



"Alright I will hear you out."



"Excellent! I shall show you my town as we talk business, and then afterwards you can dine with us, you shall have the most exquisite meal you have had in a few years I dare say," the Mayor beamed and began walking towards the town centre. 



Curtis had to jog to catch up to the rapidly moving Mayor, finally he caught up and fell into step beside him. 



"I am afriad I cannot stay for dinner, I have to meet someone tonight." 



"Nonsense, wanderer. I shall send a messenger to tell your friend that you shall be late, merely name the location and I shall send them forth post-haste."



They walked by a pot of bubbling food as the scent wafted from within, Curtis could smell it. The smell was a hearty beef smell that reminded him strongly of the homecooked meals his mother used to cook long before the outbreak had happened. Perhaps he could stay for a meal, he was sure that Lee would understand. 



"Very well, I suppose I could stay for a meal. But, should any harm come to my friend, you know what will happen. You will be able to find him at the Suncorp Stadium, I would suggest that you enter unarmed and tell him that Curtis sent whoever your messenger is. Now as you were saying, you wanted to talk business." 



Before answering, the Mayor waved down a lean looking Jamaican and told him the message to take to Lee, with that he ran off and the Mayor now tunred his focus back to Curtis.



"Now, for the past decade we have been living in relative peace, besides the occasional bandit raid and pockets of infected that walk too close to the boundry. But just recently my scouts have discovered that the Red Cross plan to move in and establish a research center of some kind near Springwood, looking for another cure I hear. I have attempted talking them out of settling in Springwood but none of my messengers have returned, I fear that they are either held captive or are dead. There is going to be an unavoidable skirmish between our groups it would seem. Now this is where I require your help," the Mayor continued to walk as he talked.



"Yes I'm listening," said Curtis as they passed a group of children kicking a soccerball between each other. The Mayor continued.



"You seem to have a cool focus about yourself and more resolve than any of my men, besides the fact that I am sure that you are a hardened killer. I recently lost my only marksman to infected last week, so I need you to replace him and provide my other men with long ranged support. We plan to ambush their convoy before it reaches Springwood tommorow. I hope that by disabling most of their transport we may be able to demoralize them enough to retreat from our area. I will give you tonight to think it over and you may tell me in the morning, for now go and enjoy yourself and meet some of our people," with that the Mayor walked back the way they had come. 



For the next hour Curtis mingled with the denizens of Springwood and learnt more about the town and the Mayor who ran it. He discovered that the town ran on a combination of solar panels and wind turbines to generate electricity whenever they required it, it also seemed that they had refined agriculture in the urban landscape. Springwood consisted of the old suburban houses that had originally been built prior to the outbreak, however now they were maintained with mismatched pieces of wood and tin giving the town a patchwork feel. In the centre of the town there was a large open grassy space with a small playground that sported a swing set and small slide, the field also had two makeshift soccer goals made of old PVC piping. Finally it had come time for dinner, they dined in the large official looking building, eating at wooden picnic tables that were spread around the hall. The dinner itself was good, it was a simple hotpot of various vegetables and what little meat could be spared, it was rich and tasted exquiusite just as the Mayor had said.  As Curtis ate, a young man no older than nineteen spoke to him.



"What is your name stranger?" The young man asked.



Curtis remained silent.



"I just wanted to ask you about the outside, I have never travelled beyond the walls of Springwood, and wonder what the outside world is like. I was hoping you may be able to tell me," the young man pressed his question without regard to Curtis' silence.



"Boy, the outside world is no place to be. It is full of madmen and things that want to eat or kill you and occasionally madmen who want to do both. It is wiser to stay within the saftey of your town, the outside is not for the weak willed," Curtis replied gruffly.



"But surley there is still some good out there, it can't be entirely bad. There are those who still search for the cure is that not a noble cause?" The young man said.



"The outside is unforgiving, it takes everything from you and gives nothing back," Curtis said bitterly, and then continued more vehemently, "Worse still is the fact that those searching to restore humanity have forgoten compassion in the process, they took everything from me. The Red Cross and all those other pretenders are as bad as the hunters."



Curtis stood up in a rage, the young man looked flustered and confused as Curtis walked out of the hall. The memory of Rebekah being dragged away resurfaced in his mind, his rage began to fade away as he breathed the cool crisp night air.



He had decided what he would do, Curtis found the Mayor sitting on a couch smoking a pipe, he was blowing rings of various sizes, watching them as they disapated into the night sky. 



"Please, sit with me. A cigar? I have many," the Mayor said in a distant voice as if his thoughts were elsewhere.



"No thanks, I don't smoke," Curtis said as he took a seat on the stained couch next to the Mayor.



"Ha, a man who still sticks to old habits. There are not many of your kind left wanderer," the Mayor chuckled and puffed on his pipe some more.



"I have made my decision," Curtis stated matter of factly.



"Ah yes, but let us speak more first," the Mayor puffed out some more smoke rings, "Did you know that you are the first survivor that has come as far as Springwood for near seven years now?"



"I am not supprised, the surrounding area is inhospitable. There is no longer much reason to travel this far North," Curtis said.



"This is true, and this is also the reason for my community's great success. If we had not been so isolated we would never have learnt how to survive on our own and work together as a large cohesive unit. But now as we grow older we must pass this knowledge onto the next generation, our children are the key to humanity's survival," the Mayor looked quite serious now and had stopped puffing on his pipe.



"I believe that some may dispute your claim. The hunters believe that children are a drain on precious resources," Curtis countered now knowing that the Mayor wished for a philisophical conversation.



"And that is why they are doomed to die, the hunters think nothing of humanity, except for themselves. Our generation, yours and mine, we are bloodthirsty and have fallen from a utopia we wish to reclaim, this simply cannot happen," the mayor looked straight at Curtis deep in thought.



"So then you believe there is a cure, just as the Red Cross do? Why not help them in their endevours?" Curtis said.



"The Red Cross are as bad as Hunters, they use the same tactics but for a different cause. No, our future is in our children. When our generation dies out, our children will be able to rebuild a new society from the ashes of the old one. It will not resemble ours but be one of survival and cooperation, this is what I believe," the Mayor said it with conviction and passion.



"You may be right, but at the moment we must think of keeping your town safe if you wish for your dreams to come true. So I have decided that I will help you with your request, I have old scores to settle with the Red Cross anyway," the thought of the Red Cross sent a flash of red anger through him which quickly subsided. "But I require as much supplies and ammunition as I can carry as payment for my services, I also want an additional two cylinders of ammunition for my revolver upfront. This is my price." 



The Mayor sat quietly for what seemed like five minutes, he could almost see the Mayor's mind working away as he thought. Finally the Mayor responded. 



"Very well. I will agree to your price. You can go and get the extra revolver rounds from Mr Addler by the southern wall. And have a good sleep wanderer, we prepare at dawn," the Mayor got up and walked back to the office building disappearing inside. 



Curtis pulled out his thin blanket from his pack and layed down on the now vacant couch, he quickly fell asleep and dreamt the same dream he dreamt every night.




Chapter 6:

The early morning sun shone down on Curtis where he lay, it pierced his eyelids waking him from a restless sleep. He sat up, rubbing sleep from his eyes, as he blinked from the bright light filling the sky. Curtis took in his surroundings and saw the Mayor, Mr Addler and a few other men leaning around a hardwood table, intently studying what seemed to be paper. He got up, stowed away the blanket and walked over to where the Mayor was. The Mayor it seemed had put away his top hat for the time being, as he got closer the Mayor looked his way.



"Good to see you have returned to the land of the living, have a good sleep?" The Mayor said as he turned back to the table.



"I've had better," Curtis replied.



"Well I hope you are rested, because my scouts report that the Red Cross convoy is due to appear two hours earlier than anticipated. So that means this afternoon around midday," the Mayor looked concerned at his own news.



"Wait you mean the ambush is happening in several hours!" Curtis was now becoming concerned.



"Yes, we have been studying the old maps for a while and have formulated a plan. We believe that the convoy will come directly down Fitzgerald Avenue near the old Target shopping plaza, we plan to set up homemade road spikes to slow their progress. When they are busy dealing with the now stopped convoy, my men led by Mr Addler will attack the convoy, whilst they are caught up in the fire fight Mr Addler's brother Juan will place small detonation packs under the vehicles. You wanderer, will provide sniper support and kill anyone who attacks Juan, there is a good vantage point on the roof of the plaza. The detonation packs will blow out the engine block rendering the vehicles useless and prompting them too flee," the Mayor said.



"This plan sounds solid enough, what am I to use for long range support?" Curtis felt convinced the plan would fall through.



"Mr Addler would you kindly give our guest the rifle. Oh and also give him two revolver speed reloaders," he said then turned back to Curtis, "I believe that this will fulfill the first part of our arrangement."



Mr Addler stared warily at Curtis and passed him a large rifle and small box, Curtis flipped the lid of the box and looked at the contents. Inside were two speed reloaders with six rounds each, this would make his life much easier, he thought. 



"I would suggest you get aquainted with your rifle Extranjero, we leave for the ambush point within the next hour," Mr Addler looked at him with disdain, then with a more menacing and softer voice he said, "And you better keep mi hermano pequeño safe, or I will personally tear you apart miembro por miembro," Mr Addler rejoined the men around the table.  



Curtis walked a distance away, whatever Mr Addler had said it did not sound good, he was pretty sure he understood his intent. He looked up and down his new rifle, it was good quality and well maintained, it's previous owner it seemed had taken good care of it. The gun was a Remington .308 700P Light Tactical Rifle, it also had a variable zoom tactical scope and bipod attached. This rifle was built for prescision, he would have no trouble using it, he had handled various rifles in the past. Curtis checked that the saftey was still on then raised the rifle firmly pressing the stock into his shoulder, he looked down the scope testing the sight. It was good, more than good, this was a superb rifle. 



As Curtis stood there studying his rifle a young girl walked up to him. He heard her approaching and looked down.



"Mr, what is your name?" She looked up at him curiously.



"I am Curtis young lady," he said looking down at the child.



"You know Mr Curtis, I just wanted to thank you for helping us. I know you didn't have to... so thank you Mr," the girl looked away shyly then ran off to play with a group of other children.



Curtis watched as the little girl played with the children, he had never been thanked by anyone for ten years let alone being thanked by a little child, he felt as though he may finally be making a difference in this broken world. Perhaps there was still hope for humanity after all, mabye, just mabye the next generation might make a difference, he pondered. Curtis' thoughts quickly melted away as he refocused on familiarising himself with his newly aquired rifle. The hour had elapsed much more rapidly than he had expected, now they were headed outside the saftey of Springwood and back into the volitile, uncertain  world of hunters and survivors. 




Chapter 7:

They had arrived at the old Target Shopping complex with a good 3 hours to prepare the ambush. The group that had been sent out comprised of Mr Addler and his younger brother Juan, as well as two ex-military men, one was former Australian SAS and the other a defector from North Korean Inteligence. Finally there was a young man in his late twenties, his name was Franklin, he was responsible for the setting up of the road spikes. Curtis watched as the Korean helped Franklin unroll the spike mat accross the road, once that was set up the two began to throw leaves and mud across the area where the spikes lay. Now the spikes were more difficult to see from a distance. With this job completed, Mr Addler called them all together, there was only one hour remaining until the Red Cross arrived.



"Now men we all know the plan, when those bastardo roll up in their truck convoy the first truck will hit the spikes. This will force them to come out and remove our spikes, when they do this we engage them, this will keep them busy whilst we enter the next part of the plan. Juan will plant small controlled explosives on each truck's engine block whilst they are busy with us, the Mayor would also like to add that he wants as little casualties as possible... on both sides," Mr Addler glared at both of the ex-military with his last sentence, then he continued, "And finally you... Newcomer you shall provide long range support for Juan, and you are to shoot to kill. Anyone who notices him dies, I hope you understand this."  



Curtis mearly nodded his head in acknowledgement.



"Very well men, positions. The ambush starts within the hour," Mr Addler scowled and walked off to the makeshift barrier of broken cars on the side of the road.



Curtis had already found a place to snipe from, he had spotted some old scaffolding that appeared to have been used to maintain the shopping centre before the outbreak. He walked over to the scaffolding and tested its strength by rocking it back and forth, it budged only the slightest amount. It appeared as though the scaffolding had endured against the many years of harsh weather, he gently eased himself onto the first rusted bars still testing its structual integrity. The scaffolding supported his weight as he easily clambered up the remaining steel beams, he got to the top and stood on the heavily rusted grate flooring. Curtis extended the rifle's bipod and rested it on the scaffold's railing, looking down the scope he fiddled with the adjustment knob until he found the appropriate zoom level for the sights. He sat down and relaxed, about thirty minutes till showtime, he thought as he grinned to himself.



The loud rumbling of engines reverberated off the walls as a convoy of five trucks passed down the road, the trucks were repurposed military vehicles, easy to repair and maintain. Jonnothan was the chief mechanic for the Red Cross and had enjoyed servicing their remaining vehicles, it gave him purpose he thought as he gazed in the lefthand mirror at the large Red plus symbol emblazoned on the side of the truck. He was glad to be part of the only remaining group to still be searching for a cure to the fungus that had spread across the world. He had joined the Red Cross early in his years when living in the Perth quarantine zone, he had believed there was still hope for a cure and a return to society as it once was. He remembered that the Red Cross had once began as a simple blood service saving lives, now they were trying to save humanity from the greatest fungul outbreak in history, he was certain that there would be similar groups elswhere in the world attempting to achieve this goal. His train of thought broke as the convoy came to a sharp halt with a loud hissing sound of escaping air, what have they broken now? Jonnothan thought as he got out of the third truck. Gunfire errupted from the other side of the trucks. Jonnothan ducked down for cover behind his truck, god he hated ambushes, he wasn't exactly comfortable with fighting. Then he saw a stealthy figure lying on his back at the underside of the first truck fiddling with the engines, Jonnothan drew his pistol and aimed at the man under the truck. Jonnothan died instantly as a 308. round exited clean between his eyes.



Clink!

The empty 308. casing hit the metal grate and fell to the ground six metres below. Curtis placed another round into the chamber and rammed the bolt shut on his rifle, he looked back down the scope and scoured the area for any other potential threats. He watched as Juan finished placing the first charge and began to crawl his way to the second truck, Curtis then refocused on the other men as they sporatically opened fire on the Red Cross Militia. The Red Cross was too busy taking cover for them to notice Juan, the plan was working better than he had expected. Juan had just finished with the second truck when Curtis spotted another man looking directly at Juan, Curtis jammed the stock hard into his shoulder looked down the scope and held his breath, he pulled the trigger.



Blam!

The second shot burst through the Red Cross soldiers chest with a plume of blood. Curtis pulled back the bolt releasing the shell and reloading another. Juan was moving fast now, he had just finished the third truck and was moving on to the next. Curtis continued searching for more Red Cross, he was enjoying this more than he should, the red mist of rage began to descend over him as he shot another Red Cross, this one was of no threat to Juan but he didn't care. He would punish them all for taking away Rebekah, they would all die. He focused on another, Blam! Dead, shot through the temple. Juan was on the final truck now placing his last charge. Curtis shot two more Red Cross, Juan exited from under the last truck,  pulling his pistol out to shoot the Red Cross directly in front of him. Curtis saw the Red Cross whirl around at the sound of Juan. He held his breath again preparing the killer shot, then time slowed down for him as he stared through his scope at the Red Cross.



Then he made his descion, he readjusted his rifle and pulled the trigger one last time. 



Time sped back up as the 308. round exited the chamber of the rifle and flew across the open space at 2500 feet per second. Juan's knee shattered as the bullet tore through his ligaments and bone, exiting his knee and embedding in the hard ashphalt. All mayhem broke loose as Juan landed on his remote detonator setting off the controlled explosives.



Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!

Each engine block exploded one after the other sending small plumes of smoke spiraling from the trucks. The Red Cross knew they were out matched and began a rushed retreat as they returned suppressive fire on the group of men behind the car wreckage. The men behind the cars did not return fire, they had won the skirmish with as little bloodshed as possible and were glad to be alive. Curtis jogged in a hurried and frantic pace, he had to put as many kilometres between himself and Springwood as he could. They would never forgive him for his actions, he didn't blame them, but he also did not feel any remorse, he had done what he had felt was right. He was not sure where he was heading, his thoughts felt like a shambled mess. He hoped that Lee was still waiting for him at the Suncorp Stadium.



Lee sat on the overgrown field within the Suncorp Stadium, he looked around and counted the skeletons that sat on the chairs for the eighth time. He grinned as he realised why the skeletons sat there, beside each skeleton lay excessive amounts of beer bottles and cans. The fools had drunk themselves to death reminiscing about the old days, probably something about football. That was so Australian, he mused to himself, the crackle of his radio reminded him why he was here.



"Yes what is it Victoria?" Lee said into the radio.



"We are only going to give you another hour to wait for your friend, then we want you back to  homebase. I hope you understand... I don't want them to exile you for disobeying orders again," the radio replied.



Lee heard doors clang open as the silhouette of Curtis burst into the stadium.



"Don't worry Victoria, he is here. See you back at homebase... Lee out," he shut the radio off and looked back at his friend who was making his way towards him.



Lee looked into Curtis' eyes, what he saw frightened him. The empty desperate eyes he had seen when he had first met him had completly vanished, they had changed and been replaced by something more than despair. A new fire burnt within his friend's eyes, but not that of any normal fire, what he saw was the burning flames of hell itself. The man looked posessed  as if a new purpose had taken over him, something much stronger than any will to survive.



"Rebekah, she is still alive," Curtis whispered.  

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