The bullet casing popped out of my sniper rifle with a ping and bounced away on the gravel floor. I raised the receiver to eye-level, blowing out any dry grass and sand I saw.

The sun was setting, and the sky was split between the pink hues of escaping sunlight and blue tendrils of the night. The temperature steadily dropped, and I soon realised my breaths formed little wisps of vapor with every exhale.

Ken and the others still haven’t returned. I slung my rifle over my hip and continued patrolling around the campsite. My gaze kept returning to the ruined buildings not too far off, where the treaty deal was supposedly had. Let’s see, about 45 minutes to walk there, and 45 minutes back? What did they have to talk about so much that took more than the two hours I slipped in and out of unconsciousness and the extra hour I awoke and guarded those of us too hurt to make that walk?

“They’re not back yet?” Ruby came up behind me. I shook my head, my eyes still locked on to that one building whose lights were coming on. “How’re you doing?” she placed a hand on my back. Her touch didn’t hurt, so I assumed that to be a good sign. “I’m not dizzy anymore, and it only hurts when my shoulders move,” I summarised. Ruby nodded thoughtfully.

“Sarah? I have to ask you something. About Ken.” Her voice had such a sudden urgency to it I broke my gaze from the building and turned to her. “When you came back, you had a case of some kind of antigen with you. I saw Ken with it a few days later. I-is he still…?” she trailed off, dreading her next words. I bit my lip. Apart from me, Ruby was the only other who really knew of Ken’s condition. His time as a lab subject for Gaia Corp. made him almost inhuman, giving him heightened senses and movement; but without the continued injections of antigen to keep his mutated cells in check, he ran a very serious risk of becoming something stronger than the normal zombie, and possibly quite like one of Johnny’s kind. The only reason I left was to get more antigen, and she knew that. Ken’s supply was running dangerously low, even with him pacing his intakes.

I don’t know what he told Ruby, but there was no way he could completely cut off from the antigen. I opened my mouth to answer, but a glimmer behind the camp caught my eye. I froze, waiting to see if what I saw hadn’t just been my concussion acting up again. “What?” Ruby asked, turning to see.

Before I could answer, a canister flew from over the railing of the highway and landed smack right into the camp. Marlo, who had been resting at the side of a makeshift bed for one of the injured, got up with a few others and started screaming as foul smoke fizzed out from the grenade, making them cough and wheeze. Ruby yelped and ran to help, while I ran to the railing from which the grenade flew from.

As I bent to look down, a figure reached out and grabbed my rifle, shoving it upwards and into my face as it threw itself up from under the highway. “Raiders!” I screamed as I hit the floor. A boot plowed itself into my chest, making me gasp and splutter in pain. White filled my vision, followed by the blur of lights as someone set something on fire. Screams, voices I recognised as my fellow convoy pierced my ears. I tried to move, but my entire body curled up in pain. Rough hands pulled my gun away and hauled me up.

“The doctor, and those who look like they still have some work left in them,” a gruff voice said. I heard the man who gripped me holler in triumph. Forcing myself to ignore the pain in my back, I slumped forwards and quickly snapped back up again, driving the back of my head into the freak’s nose. The man cried out in pain and let me go.  I kicked upwards, knocking my rifle out of the hands of the other guy and grabbed it midair. Swinging it like a club, I batted out that guy and another who ran to help.

I raised it to take a shot at another guy, but a gunshot into the air stunned us all. I looked to see Ruby taken hostage by who I presumed to be the ringleader of this capturing. “One more and I’ll shoot this bitch,” he aimed his pistol to her head. The heat from the discharge touched her head and she flinched. My vision was blurry, but I glared with all the hate I had at him. My rifle was pulled out of my grip once again. Pushing Ruby to her knees, the bastard approached me and swung his glock into my face. My head buckled and I collapsed. Before I went completely out cold however, I could hear Marlo and Ruby screaming, protesting as the men hauled us away.

“Johnny…” escaped my lips as I sunk into blackness.