Marco reaches for the warm beer sitting in his lawn chair cup holder and takes a long sip followed by an even longer sigh.
“Fuck it.” He says with his face expressionless.
“Fuck it.” I reply softly.
That’s all we’ve been able to say for the past five hours.
“Fuck it.” Marco says a bit quieter, looking down at his beer bottle.
The sun is setting over the crumbled and decaying buildings on the city’s horizon. A crow circles overhead and lets out a faint “Kaw!” that sends a chill down my spine. Marco and I sit in our lawn chairs on top of an empty shopping mall looking over streets filled with abandoned cars. I can hear the screams and moans of the infected coming from the parking lots below. The clouds move slowly across the orange sky as I tilt my head back to take the longest sip of beer I had ever taken.
“Fuck it.” I say, choking a little on my booze.
Marco seems to be in a trance, staring blankly into the crowd of restless infected below.
“You think they’re still trapped in there?” Marco asks without taking eye contact off the horde.
“What do you mean?” I reply in a dead tone.
“In their heads. What if they’re still aware but have no control of their bodies?” he continues.
I was actually stumped by the question. It’s been 5 years now and the thought has never crossed my mind. Haven’t had the time to get all existential about clickers while I’m bashing their skulls in with a lead pipe.
“… I don’t know.” I finally let out. “That sure would suck like hell.” I lift my now shaky hand to take another sip of beer.
“Sure would.” Marco replies before he takes another sip. We’re both quiet.
“Haha.” Marco suddenly chuckles.
My head swings to face him, throwing a puzzled look.
“We almost made it. Ahahaha!” His laughs become a bit louder and a little hysterical.
“WE ALMOST MADE IT!” He yells.
My confusion creeps away and I slowly start to laugh too.
“We almost made it.” I mutter.
The laughter dies down quickly and both our smiles slowly fade, turning into depressed expressions. My chest tightens up as I take another sip of flat beer. It’s harder to swallow this time. It’s quiet again. I listen to the sound of runners and clickers moaning in the distance. The familiar noise is almost calming now. The July sun is getting low as the familiar sound of crickets and katydids start to pick up.
“We almost fucking made it.” Marco mumbles in something that almost sounds like disbelief.
I look down and examine my revolver. It’s once silvery, shiny surface is now covered in dark, dry blood. I lift it up in front of me and give it one last look before throwing it into the crowd of infected below. It leaves me with a feeling that’s something like putting down an old loyal horse. Marco looks at me for a second. He then turns back to the crowd below and takes another sip of beer.
“D’you think this is it?” Marco quickly shoots out, not seeming to really care what my answer will be.
“What do you mean?” I ask.
He shifts towards me. He’s serious this time. “For all of us I mean. Mankind. Do you think it’s all over? The Grand Finale? We all just lose our fucking minds?”
He faces forward again and quickly gulps down his beer as if he just finished venting. I don’t even bother to think of an answer to the question.
“I don’t know.” I reply. “Doesn’t matter now.”
He thinks for a moment while the anger inside him starts to boil.
“No.” Marco mumbles. “No no no no no…” Marco slowly stands up and then starts firing his fully automatic assault rifle into the crowd below.
“FUCK YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!!!” Marco roars as he empties his last clip. It’s barely making a dent in the impossibly large horde as they stumble and trip over each other.
I watch him as he holds onto the trigger until the rifle makes that clicking sound it makes when it’s out of ammo. Normally this sound was bad news to us but now, it doesn’t matter. Not anymore. Marco breathes heavily as he stares down at the endless crowd below.
“We almost made it.” Marco whimpers. I stand up and place my hand on his shoulder.
“Hey.” I whisper reassuringly.
Marco looks down at the bite mark on my forearm. He then looks at the bite mark on his hand. With a defeated look on his face, he drops back down into his lawn chair, quickly wiping his tears as if trying to hide something he’d consider weakness. I think he’s finally accepted our fate. I sit back down in mine. A tear rolls down his mud-splattered cheek.
“FUCK IT!” he yells helplessly into the sky.
I turn my attention to my now empty bottle of beer. My head is killing me.
Some time goes by and the sun is now completely gone, but the sky is still dimly lit as the oranges and yellows start to fade to deep purples and dark blues. A few stars dot the spaces where the night sky creeps in. My head turns to Marco.
“You okay?” he asks.
I try to speak, but only manage to let out a dry wheeze. I can’t even move. I start panicking as foam begins to dribble from my mouth. My heart is pounding against my rib cage. It’s happening. I’m finally losing my mind! Ellie, I'm so sorry. My arm reaches out to grab Marco. He grabs me and throws me to the ground. I’m now growling ferociously. Tears start to pour from Marco’s eyes as he inches back. He turns and makes his way to the edge of the mall roof and stares down. Before I know it, I’m already crawling towards him as my moans and growls become more violent. I’ve completely lost control of my movements.
Marco looks back at me, then back into the crowd of infected below. He reaches into his shirt where I know he keeps a locket holding a picture of his wife and pulls it out gripping it tightly. He then lifts his head and starts to mumble something I can’t make out. He closes his eyes and falls into the crowd of infected below. I can hear him screaming as the infected begin tearing him apart. I want to cry but my body has disconnected itself from my consciousness. Without my permission, my body slowly picks itself up from the ground. I’m grunting and breathing heavily as my head swings from left to right scanning the landscape. My headache is gone, but I’m so, so hungry.