Safe Haven Village
Chapter 3written by confunded - illustrated by Nowhere and Samara/ContemplatingSketches
Kyle had some explaining to do the next day, and no one was more pissed off than Stan. It was unsurprising, but he sort of hoped that any anger over his sneaking out would be forgotten in favor of being happy that Ike was alive and well.
"How the fuck could you just leave like that without waking me up?" Stan snapped at him while they were at Jimbo's gun shop. Everyone else was off collecting ammo and guns they thought looked cool but didn't know how to use. Despite his warning to avoid using them, Kevin wanted everyone to have at least one with plenty of ammo in case they ran into mobs. "Kyle, you could have died."
"But I didn't! I had to go. I couldn't sleep, and we were going to everyone's houses anyway, I thought it'd be helpful to get mine out of the way," he lied, not wanting to reveal the real reason he went. "Cartman went with me, anyway. And we found Ike! Isn't that what's most important?"
"Sure, but, fucking-" Stan sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. Kyle wanted to smack him. "It wasn't safe. Especially not with Cartman. He could have fed you to the walkers! It's Cartman, for Christ's sake. How could you have been so stupid?"
"It wasn't stupid." Well, maybe it was, a little bit. "It was necessary. I got my supplies and my brother, who might have died from starvation if it took us any longer to find him."
"He said he only went without food for two days, not even."
"I don't know why you're getting so defensive! You shouldn't run off like that in the middle of the night, Kyle, this is a seriously dangerous situation!"
"You think I don't know that?"
"I don't know, do you?"
Kyle glared, but Stan didn't back down. This sort of standoff was typical of their fights, but Kyle wasn't in the mood to deal with it.
"Stop patronizing me, I'm not a child."
"That's not what I'm doing, don't fucking pull that card. You always do this when I show any concern for you."
"It is so what you're doing! You waited all fucking day to pull me aside, and now you're talking to me like I'm stupid, like I can't take care of myself! Well I can. You aren't the only one who can kill walkers, you know! Fuck you and your concern."
"You're getting loud, Kyle," Stan warned, his voice low. He reached out to touch Kyle's arm in an attempt to calm him down, or diffuse the situation - whatever the reason was, Kyle didn't care. He jerked away from the other boy.
"Careful, you wouldn't want Wendy to see," he spat, giving Stan a glare that dared him to continue down that road. Really, Kyle wanted nothing more than for Wendy to see. For nearly a year now, all he wanted was for Stan to man up and bring everything out in the open. But that was wishful thinking. Stan didn't even want to express worry in front of everyone else for fear that would give away too much.
"I'm just saying that I want to know what you're thinking and where you're going. I want to keep you safe, and I can't do that if you don't let me," Stan said, his voice softer though he kept his distance. "If anything happened..."
Kyle dropped his gaze. It was true that what he did was reckless, but he didn't want to admit that now.
"Don't pull away from me now. Please. Not when one of us could go at any moment. Do not start shutting me out. I can tell that's what you're trying to do, even before all this happened, on the camping trip. Please, just stop."
"Fine. Fuck it. I promise I won't wander off without a proper escort from now on," Kyle snapped. He wasn't exactly sure what possessed him to always make the situation worse, but it really came down to the fact that his resentment toward Stan had begun to push him over the edge during the last few weeks. The other boy was right, he was pushing him away, but only because heartbreak was inevitable in this situation and he'd already let it go on for way too long. Hating Stan was beginning to seem like the easier, safer way to go.
"That isn't what I was saying at all. I just meant -" Another sigh. "- You know what, whatever. When you're ready to talk reasonably, come find me. In the meantime, just know that my only concern here is your safety. I lo-"
"No. Don't you dare. I am not having that conversation again, not with her probably lurking around the corner," Kyle said. "You know how I feel about saying that while you're still with her. It's a total lie, for one, and you're also taking a beautiful, meaningful phrase and pissing all over it. Saying it isn't going to make me forget that you're ashamed of us, and it's not going to stop me from being annoyed with you."
Just as Stan took a step forward and opened his mouth to say something, Ike popped up beside them. "Hey guys? You better pick out some gear, Cartman wants to be on the road in ten."
Kyle shot Stan another withering look before side-stepping around Ike. He didn't exactly want to end the conversation on such a negative note, because it would probably be their last moment alone together for some time, but there was really no getting around it. He was so upset over everything else that he almost forgot that Stan was the one that was supposed to be mad at him.
They ended up on the road twenty minutes later instead of ten, and that was mostly because Wendy wanted to do a bag check to make sure that everyone got everything they needed out of their houses. It was annoying because it was Wendy, Kyle thought, but it was a good idea to double check. They weren't coming back, after all, at least not for a good long while.
Stan brought his car, and he offered Kyle shotgun (probably as some kind of lame apology). Wendy, of course, rode with them, along with Ike and Bebe. Everyone else piled into Cartman's van along with all of their supplies and gear. Some of it fit into Stan's trunk, but not much, so if Cartman's van was somehow lost or compromised, they were all pretty fucked.
"We're going to have to learn how to siphon gas from other cars," Stan said on the way to Cheyenne Mountain. "I'm only at about half right now and that won't last long."
"Well with any luck, we'll only have to drive as far as that bunker Kevin was talking about," Wendy replied, presumably in an attempt to sound optimistic.
"Yeah, don't count on that," Kyle said bitterly, without looking away from the passenger side window. About every hundred yards there was at least one abandoned or overturned vehicle. Blood stains were baking in the sun, and yet there were no bodies to be seen. He shuddered. "It's wishful thinking. Too good to be true. Something will go wrong."
"You don't know that."
"It's smarter to prepare for the worst," Ike chimed in, and Kyle was glad that, of all little brothers, he had the one that didn't need anything sugarcoated. Ike was twelve now, anyway, he was old enough to be a little cynical.
Stan glanced into the rearview mirror. "Not the worst. We'll be practical, but we're definitely going to get through this in one piece. Kyle's right, though, we shouldn't get our hopes up about this bunker."
Kyle smiled to himself, and maybe he was imagining it, but he could feel Wendy's annoyance radiating from the backseat.
"The likelihood that it will be open for the taking is slim to none. It's a government run center that's occupied year-round; any officials there will have already locked it down and they won't be letting anyone in. Your friend Kevin is living in a dream world," Ike continued, saying all this as though he wasn't phased in the least by how uncomfortable he was making some of the other passengers. "We're probably going to have to learn to hunt and stuff and live in the woods. We aren't important enough to end up in a secured location, despite my previous affiliation with government-related... things."
Kyle and Stan exchanged glances and rolled their eyes, overcoming their issues at least for that moment. Ike always liked to brag about his involvement in Obama's presidency and other, top secret security matters.
"They're following us," Bebe spoke up suddenly, the first time since Clyde's suicide. "I can see them in the side mirror."
They all twisted in their seats except for Stan, and sure enough, in the distance there were a few figures clearly walking down the road. "They're far enough away... and slower than us," Ike reasoned, still trying to sound brave and logical.
Stan tapped the gas, nearly tailgating Cartman's van as though it would speed things up, but it was useless. With the abandoned cars in the road, they couldn't just speed carelessly down the highway.
"They won't catch up," Kyle said softly, and had to stop himself from reaching over to touch Stan's arm. He was still mad, of course, but he'd grown accustomed to putting his anger and resentment on the back burner. "We're going what, forty-five? They've got to be going three at the most."
"Yeah... you're right. Nothing to worry about."
Still, they all continued to watch. The figures grew smaller and sometimes left their line of sight as the road dipped and turned, but they knew they were there, and that was enough.
When they reached the outskirts of Colorado Springs they pulled over next to Cartman's van and piled out to stretch their legs. Kevin had his map of Colorado spread out on the hood of the car, and he and Cartman seemed completely absorbed in it.
"We need to keep watch," Kyle said to Stan, eyeing the trees around them warily. "They could jump out at any moment. Ike, stay close to the cars."
"According to Kevin and every zombie movie ever made, cities are dangerous fucking places." Craig stepped up beside them, crossbow at the ready. "We need to get in and out and attract as little attention as possible."
"There's no way to go around?" Butters asked. He had a gun in his hand, but as far as Kyle knew he hadn't gotten the chance to use it yet.
"Doesn't look like it," Kevin said, indicating the map. "The only fast way to get there the way we came is to stay on Route 24 and then hop on Interstate 25, but that requires dipping our toes into the city. It's only five miles, but... who knows what the roads are like."
"It might be impossible to get through," Bebe said. "Then what?"
"Then, we'll have to backtrack and take side roads. But that isn't ideal. I'd rather not get off the highway if we can help it. The walkers will be on the streets, definitely, but the interstate will probably be clearer."
Kyle frowned, still squinting at their surroundings. The way Kevin drew out the word ?probably' made him uncomfortable. "And if we make it through the city?"
"Then it's a pretty simple drive... we get off the highway, stay on that road for a minute or two, take a left and then exit off to the complex entrance. It's not as far up the mountain as I was hoping, but once we're in, we're safe. Hopefully."
"We should get going, there was a group of walkers following our cars before. We haven't seen them in a while but they'll catch up if we keep standing around," Wendy said impatiently.
"The bitch is right, if we're going to get ourselves killed, might as well drive right into it instead of stand around waiting for it."
"Shut up, Cartman."
The interstate was, as Kevin guessed, nearly jammed with cars. They had to drive on the median most of the way and it was difficult to ignore the presence of walkers on either side of the road, wandering between cars with nowhere to go.
"Jesus," Wendy muttered, staring out the window in awe.
"Looks like everyone was trying to get out of the city," Stan said offhandedly as he slowly navigated around an overturned trailer. "They just got themselves fucked in the process."
As the walkers began to notice and follow the sound of their cars, all talking ceased and the only thing Kyle could hear was the thudding of his own heart. If they were in a movie, surely one of their engines would stop working or one of their tires would blow out. But somehow, thankfully, they made it off of the highway, albeit with a trail of walkers behind them.
The roads leading to the complex's entrance were even more terrifying, with less obstacles in the road but more zombies hanging around the buildings.
"Good thing we don't need to make a pit stop here," Ike joked, though his laugh was nervous.
The gate to the complex was open, which was already a bad sign, and the security station was empty (an even worse sign). However the road that took them up into the mountain was clear; so clear that Kyle felt bad about being responsible for bringing walkers into the area.
Cartman sped up, and so did Stan, but they all knew it would be fruitless if they couldn't get into the bunker for whatever reason. The walkers weren't going to be shaken off so easily; their group was food to them. Guiltily, Kyle acknowledged that it was getting increasingly difficult to imagine them as parents and children and real people.
The tunnel that made up the entrance to the bunker, which, according to Kevin, had been featured on Stargate SG-1, was dark and foreboding. Kyle wasn't sure what he expected, seeing as the complex was built inside the mountain, but the tunnel was definitely uninviting. Something out of The Lord of the Rings might have been nicer, but even then, characters always ended up trapped and attacked if they went inside a mountain.
Still, they drove on. Anywhere there might have been a security check was abandoned, and Stan commented that the whole complex might be abandoned and there for the taking. Kyle thought it was more likely that everyone who worked there might have simply gone inside and initiated a lockdown.
His worries were confirmed when they came upon a big blast door that was closed.
Both cars came to a halt and they all stepped out to assess the situation. It seemed pretty grim; not only were they apparently locked out, but there was an unknown number of walkers slated to catch up to them in a matter of minutes.
Butters started looking for a doorknob when there clearly wasn't one and the rest of them began readying their weapons of choice. Kevin confirmed that guns would be fine in this setting, since they were in an enclosed, albeit spacious, area set far enough away from the city limits.
"Are you sure you don't want to just sit in the car?" Kyle asked Ike, uncomfortable with the idea of him being involved in something so dangerous.
"Kyle, we live in South Park. A lot of strange shit has happened, and I'm pretty sure I learned to fire a gun when I was four."
"Jesus Christ, Kyle, let the kid be involved," Cartman said without looking up from loading his own pistol. "Worry about yourself for once. If he goes down, at least he won't be going down a pussy hiding in a car."
"Exactly." Ike smirked at him.
"Fine." Kyle threw his arms up. "But do not get yourself killed, Ike. This isn't a game."
"I know, Kyle. I saw our parents get attacked, in case you forgot already."
And that was the end of that. Kyle realized he was treating Ike the same way Stan had treated him earlier, but in a way that just annoyed him all over again - Ike was his little brother, a child still, basically. His own relationship was Stan was completely different.
"There's a video camera!" Kenny shouted suddenly, drawing everyone's attention. In the corner of the doorway, following their movements, was a security camera. Someone was in there watching them... watching them, and failing to allow them inside.
Before anyone could comment on the unfairness of the situation, the groaning began. They all turned to see a horde of zombies stumble into the tunnel.
"Don't panic, just... fuck them up," Bebe growled, her ferocity surprising even Kyle, who had seen her pissed off many times. "Think of this as getting revenge for our families. And our friends. And... everything."
And just like that, the walkers were on them. It was a rush, but in a surprisingly good way. Kyle never thought he'd feel so alive from getting spattered with blood, from running the risk of dying and overcoming that fear, or from driving an axe to the skulls of what used to be people. He vaguely recalled having done this before, years ago, and with another weapon... but to whom, he couldn't remember.
He didn't have time to dwell on it, or even to see what was happening with everyone else, but in the back of his mind he was praying for his friends and, especially, his brother. He couldn't stop to look, could only take their shouts and cursing as evidence they were fine. Their collective skill when it came to killing people was less than adequate, but Kyle found himself nearly tripping over rotting corpses, so they must have been doing something right.
It seemed like time both sped up and stood still, the fight lasting seconds and hours and everything in between, and at the end of it all, when the bodies stopped coming and the groaning stopped echoing in the hall, Kyle doubled over and vomited. From the stench or from the sheer physical exertion, he didn't know. Probably both.
When he looked up, Stan was standing over him. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, are you?"
For a moment, it was almost like it was them against the world and Kyle wanted to make a joke about how he wasn't going to kiss Stan with the taste of puke in his mouth, but the exhilaration from what just happened wore off as quickly as it came.
"Butters, God damn it!" Cartman's voice rang out, breaking the moment and tearing Kyle's gaze away from Stan.
"What happened?" Kevin called, rushing toward him. The rest of them followed suit, all equally covered in blood. Cartman was hunched over, pressing his hand to a wound on Butters' shoulder.
The silence in the moments that followed was crushing.
"You fucking asshole, why is your aim so bad?" Cartman snapped, and Butters just groaned - it might have been an attempt at an apology, but Kyle couldn't tell.
"He was shooting and his shots kept hitting their fucking God damn crotches and I kept yelling at him to aim higher but the asshole got bitten!"
Butters groaned again. "I feel all woozy..."
"I couldn't get the damn thing off of him in time. God damn it, Butters, I knew you'd be a liability."
"Cartman, I understand you're upset, but do you have to be such an asshole?" Kenny snapped.
"You're damn right I'm upset! Kevin led us here and we can't even get in, and we got trapped in here and now Butters is going to die because he's an idiot! I'm already starting to think I'd survive better on my own and we've only been on the road for like four hours!"
"Well maybe you should go out on your own! It's not like any of us even want you here," Stan said.
"Stop it! Cartman, you're not leaving," Kyle cut in, and the firmness in his voice surprised him. "And Butters is going to be fine, we just have to stop the bleeding."
"Walker bites are fatal, dude."
"Kevin, shut up! He's going to be fine!"
Wendy huffed and stood, marching away from the group and toward the blast door. The banging of her fists rang through the tunnel, drowning out Butters' wailing. "Let us in, God damn it! We know someone's in there! Let us in! One of our friends is hurt!"
"If they haven't let us in by now, they won't," Ike said, shaking his head. He looked, and smelled, like he'd been rolling around in rotting organs. That, coupled with his deadly serious expression, made him look quite frightening. "They aren't going to risk bringing Butters in there, especially."
"But how could they just sit in there while we're out here fighting and dying?!" Wendy screamed, rage and panic clearly getting the best of her. "It's not fair!"
Bebe stood and put her arms around Wendy, but that was all any of them could do or say. She was right, after all. It was very unfair.
"Attention trespassers, please leave the premises. This is a secure government location."
The voice rang out and each of them saw that there was a small speaker above the blast door. Not only did it confirm that there was indeed at least one person inside, it also confirmed that they were being deliberately locked out.
"The government is addressing the situation. Please find a place to stay until help finds you."
"Fuck you! We found a place to stay - here! Let us in! One of our friends is hurt!"
"I don't think they can hear you, Wendy."
"Shut up, Craig."
"I repeat, please leave the premises. Exposure is not in the facility's best interest."
Butters coughed, and the speaker didn't say anything else. By that time, Kyle had taken his jacket off and was pressing it hard against Butters' shoulder. "The bleeding isn't slowing down."
"It's alright, Kyle," another cough, "I wasn't too excited ?bout killing the zombies anyways."
"No no no, Butters, you are not dying."
"Kyle, stand back," Cartman said, and Kyle looked up to see that he still had his gun drawn.
"He's dying, and when he does he's going to turn. We need to make this quick."
"No! We're all going to die if we don't even try to help each other when one of us gets hurt!"
"Butters, do you want to turn into a walker?"
In the childlike manner that was so typical of him, Butters shook his head as vigorously as he could before howling in pain.
"See? Stand back, Kyle," Cartman growled.
Stan pulled on Kyle's shoulder. "Kyle..."
All he could do was look into Butters' eyes. The desperation in them was obvious; he wasn't seeking medical aid, he was asking for an end to all this. Kyle stood and stepped away.
"I sure w-will miss you guys, and I-" he paused to cough and let out another groan. "I hope you kill all them zombies. I'll be rootin' for ya."
Cartman stepped back and looked down at the blond boy. He slowly lifted his arm, careful to aim directly at Butters' head. "Butters, I've thought a lot about killing you over the years, but I want you to know I'm going to take no pleasure in this."
"Th-thanks Eric," he replied, shutting his eyes tight in anticipation.
Most of them turned around then, not wanting to see. But Kyle didn't. He couldn't seem to move at all anymore. Then Cartman pulled the trigger and it was over, just like that, with a clean hole in Butters' forehead.
The echo of the shot made its way down the tunnel, until all that was left was the sound of soft sobbing.