Juliet quieted. It was apparent that she was too weak to break the grip, and if this person really was friendly, fighting and screaming would only complicate matters. After a minute of her staying limp in the person’s grip, he let her go. She took a deep breath to steady her nerves and twisted around to see who it was. She couldn’t contain herself.
“Steve, you bastard! What the hell!”
“Quiet! They’ll hear you,” he whispered frantically.
“Wait, so this is…real?”
Steve looked down. “Sorry, but yes, it’s real.”
Juliet clapped her hands to her mouth. “It can’t be real! This kind of thing only happens in horror movies.”
“Shh!” Steve motioned for her to follow him. She obeyed, only because it was a much better alternative than staying there. They ran back down the road.
Juliet huffed from all the running. “Are…you sure…that…it’s safe? What about…Phil?”
Steve responded, his voice the same as ever. “Don’t worry about Phil, I…took care of that problem.” Juliet looked sideways at him. What did he mean, “Took care of?” And what was going on anyway? She needed answers. After a few more minutes of running, they reached the town. Steve made to continue, but Juliet grabbed his sleeve and yanked it, dragging him over to the benches.
“What are you doing, Jules? We’re kinda in a hurry…” Steve complained as she sat him down. Of course he was going to go and use her pet name. Only Steve and her father ever called her by that.
She glared at him. “I want to know exactly what is going on!”
“Really? This is not a good time for long explanations! They could find us any minute!”
Juliet looked to her right, then to her left, then back at Steve with her eyebrows raised. “We’re alone and we’ll see anyone coming long before they’re here, so start talking if you want this done quickly.”
Steve held her gaze for a whole minute before he grinned. “You always did have a way of knocking my arguments on their asses. Fine, but we can’t take too long.” Juliet nodded and Steve took a deep breath. “Where to begin? Well…first off, the things that attacked you. They are the actual people from town.”
Juliet gasped. “But…but…how?”
“That brings me to my next point. The disappearances. Something, we don’t know what, caused all the people in town, and all memories and things related to them, to disappear. Their items, such as their houses and cars, they all remained, but all signs that anything in the houses and cars had been used, were gone.” Juliet remembered the bar. The drink that belonged to Steve was there, but there was no sign that he had taken a sip. “So…why do we remember? And why are you not…you know…all black and bubbly?”
Steve looked at her. “We don’t know. We have guesses, but that’s all they are.”
Juliet nodded, then she processed what he said. “We?”
Steve gave a grin. “Yes, we! Me and you aren’t the only ones that were affected. There are a few others, you’ll meet them when we get to base.”
“Base? You already have a base?”
“Of course we have a base! This isn’t the first time. It’s been happening for a few weeks, but on a smaller scale. Only one or two people disappeared at a time, mostly elderly or sick people who’s immune systems were weaker than most.”
“So it’s a virus?”
Steve shook his head. “Nope, it’s not a virus. We tested for anything and all we found were elevated levels of Oxygen in the victims.”
“Yes, oxygen. It must be something about the air that is doing this.”
Juliet was getting really scared. “So anyone who breathes is in danger? How do we stop it?”
Steve smiled at her. “Don’t you worry your pretty head over it. We got our science team working on it, we’ll figure it out.”
“You have a whole science team?”
“I was going to take you there, but you insisted on an explanation.”
Juliet thought about it. She nodded. “All right, let’s go.” She turned around to see several of the townsfolk heading down the road towards them. “Steve…we got a problem!”
Steve was already up. He grabbed her hand, yanking her farther into town. “Quick, we gotta get to the bar!”
Juliet struggled to keep his pace. “Why…are we….going there?”
Steve didn’t answer and within minutes, they were back at Phil’s bar, the zombie townsfolk closing in fast. Steve and her ran inside.
“Quick! Barricade the door!” He shouted as he ran behind the counter. Juliet nodded and grabbed a few of the tables, stacking them against the door. She then went for the chairs as Steve frantically looked behind the counter. “Where is it?”
“Where is what?”
“The shotgun. My dad’s shotgun that he kept here.”
Juliet frowned and walked over to the corner of the room. In her haste to get away earlier, she had thrown the shotgun away. She retrieved it from the corner and handed it to him. “There’s no ammo.”
Steve nodded and went into the back room. When he came back, the shotgun looked extremely different.
“Um…what is that?”
“It’s a flamethrower. You see, dad never kept any bullets for the gun so this is all we can do.”
Juliet gasped. “You can’t be serious! You’re actually going to set them on fire?”
Steve gave her a reassuring smile and walked towards the door. “Don’t worry, it’s just to keep them back. Are you ready?”
Juliet hurried over to him, grabbing his jacket lightly. “ya…I’m ready.”
“Good, let’s go. As soon as we get to base, we will head over to our lab and you can talk to our technical staff.”
Juliet nodded. “Got it.” Steve began walking and she followed, taking a deep breath to calm herself.