The look on his face as he realised he was directly in my line of fire was amusing to say the least.

He froze in his steps, his hands slowly raising to the level of his dark eyes. “Hi?” he waved nervously.

“Stop following me,” I enunciated.

A small scoff formed on his face. “I’m not. If anything at all, I think YOU’RE following ME,” he angled his face at me, becoming a little more relaxed despite the gun still pointed right at his gut.

A rapid thought of shooting him in the foot flashed in my mind, but my finger moved away from the trigger. Wordlessly, I holstered my gun, picked up my case and turned on my heel.

A ‘tsk’ sound clicked behind me, but I was too annoyed to care. I didn’t have time for this.

“Where’re ya headed? It’s not safe for a girl to be on her own,” he called out behind me.

My footfalls stopped, and I turned to look at him, a dirty look branching out from the top of my nose and spread evenly between my furrowed eyebrows.

“I’m just saying. Lot more to be worried about out there than psychos,” he shrugged.

“Well then, I guess I’m taking a step in the right direction,” I shook my head for emphasis, my back still facing him.

He chuckled, albeit exasperatedly. Before I could crunch any more gravel with my boots, he spoke up again. “What if I told you we’re headed in the same direction?”

This time, I turned around even more. My frown now had a questioning burn to it.

“The canyons.”

“What about it?”

“You’re headed there too. This is the fastest route to it.”

My heart skipped. Was it so obvious? “What’s waiting for you there?” I finally turned to fully face him, instead of hurting my neck further.

“Well, not exactly there, more like the forest before it. But that’s still in the same direction,” his shoulders did that ‘whaaat’ shrug as if to present this fact as a mere suggestion.

“Aww, and you need someone to babysit you all the way home?” I tuned it to the little piggy song.

I couldn’t tell if he was snarling or smiling at my remark.

“You know what?” he suddenly relented, putting his hands up again. “You’re right. I need some company for the trip. I’m… a bad loner,” he iterated, linking his hands behind his head nonchalantly.

My jaw shifted in consideration. For a while the idea of travelling alone had plagued me despite my urgency. But no. I had extremely sensitive cargo with me, and a “buddy” might be a little more of a hindrance. And it doesn’t matter if said person happens to be as cute as this one.

“Look, I’m sorry, but I really have my reasons. You’re just gonna have to road-trip with someone else,” I rubbed the back of my neck.

But he apparently had not paid attention to me for a while, instead staring off into space with a dazed look.

“Eyy. Did you hear me?” I called out, slightly annoyed.

He shushed me absentmindedly, slinking backwards and away almost instinctively.

I flanked down, gun out, and tried to spot whatever he saw. A Revived? Another survivor? WHAT?!

My eyes rapidly scanned the rooftops, alley corners, behind and under cars, postboxes, any thing large enough to conceal a decent sized human being; but… nothing.

The wind blew in heavy rain clouds, rattling loose cans and trash all over the street. After a few solid moments of waiting and scanning, I still didn’t see anything. Even so, it might be some nut who thinks looting a dead body is easier than threatening a live one.

I remained skulked, just to be safe. I looked around for him, but he had disappeared to God knows where. Had he even seen something?? Why the hell was I relying on the instincts of a probable loon??

I crept along the line of abandoned cars along the sidewalk, trying to make as little noise as possible until I reached the end of the lane. My legs ached with the centered weight. Damn that creep, playing on my nerves like that. Since I confronted him, the feeling of being followed should be wearing off soon. Right?

Shit. Now I kept my senses out for both him again and whatever he saw, even if he did see anything. High-tail outta here, NOW.

I picked up the pace, practically sprinting across the wide car park when I came to it.

Now I saw it.

A big black hulking figure bounding alongside me, drawing nearer. For something so big, it barely made any sound. It lumbered like a drunk bear. Before I knew it, it was swiping at me clumsily.

I tumbled forward shrieking a little, and unholstered my gun. Bullets flew at the dark shape, striking it point blank in the chest and jaw. It stopped but didn’t stumble in its tracks.

I didn’t wait around for any chance of it to realise. Scrambling to my feet, I heard someone shout “HERE!” repeatedly from the convenience store that owned the parking lot. I booked to it, rapidly deciding a psycho was easier to take down than whatever the frick this was.

I tumbled in, not a moment to breath, when I realised it was the weirdo who was following me. “WHAT. THE FUCK. IS THAT?” I turned to look at it as he closed and locked the door behind me.

“A big reason not to travel alone,” he replied, keeping his eyes on the creature.

It stood almost seven feet tall, hunched over and sort of fat. Long black shaggy hair covered it in patches. It had some kind of pointed snout, not doggish, but definitely beastly. Its hands were huge, and its fingers sprawled out like a claw. Its feet were grossly elongated, and its clawed toes appeared to be broken. It looked like a freaking werewolf, I thought aloud. Beside me, the weirdo gulped.

It didn’t take long for the place’s rank to hit me hard. I retched slightly, my hands flying to cover my face.

“Yea, this place has been out for a while. Wear this,” he said rapidly, holding out a cheap scarf that matched the one around his neck. I jammed it over my head, smelling the retail aroma therapy doused in it. It wasn’t that great, some kind of off-lavender, but it would do to keep the stench of rotten cold foods away.

“Go hide where the smell is strongest. Meat section. And get your rifle ready. Head shot,” he pointed the way as the thing in the parking lot began to twitch and slump our way.

“WHAT? What are you gonna do? “I tore my eyes away from it and set them on him.

“Uhh help you kill that thing? You’re never gonna out run it, even in that state,” he backed away from the door as it stumbled closer.

“You’ve met one before?” my voice dropped to a hush as I made out the pointy tufts on its head were ears.

“UHH sort of, a live one he he,” he nervously chuckled, backing away even more.

The thing shook its head. I now made out a hideous wound from its shoulder to its hip, long rotted and clearly had ended its previous life. Shredded clothing clung to it, a ridiculous Star Wars t-shirt and the belt of khaki pants.

I scanned the grocery section behind me. The meat section was visible, in a dark corner, and had the vantage point from the door to the fridges.

“I’ll get it in the knees, then the head,” I pushed him to the opposite direction.

He looked at me, surprised for a bit, but nodded and slinked off.

I ran to the aisle, hurling my bag over the display and swinging across. The stench could knock me out, permeating through the perfumed scarf. Detaching my rifle, I swiftly checked it for loaded bullets and took aim.

The monster smashed its way in crudely and hurled its arms around manically, knocking over a few rows of shelves. It stilled again, nose high up in the air. Its brain was definitely long dead, but apparently that didn’t stop it from having some hunting sense.

Thunder crashed from the outside. I held my breath, waiting for a clear shot.

A scuffling from my far left distracted me. I looked away briefly to see a revived butcher under a toppled storage fridge pawing at me, slowly coming close. Well, SHIT.