The crisp Autumn air bites at your face, stinging your eyes, making them water slightly. The fragrant scent of burning seasoned wood escapes the chimney, filling the surrounding area with an almost cozy-feeling. Off in the distance, you can faintly hear the rustling of underbrush, just as a deep growl escapes the curled lips of your faithful Mut companion.
“Easy boy, it’s alright. Sound like we may have caught ourselves some dinner!”
Squinting up at the sky, you estimate about two more solid hours of sunlight. You take a moment to appreciate the stunning panorama of the sunset as if the very atmosphere itself was ablaze with fire. You whistle for your Mut, who trots up next to you, although the growling has ceased, you notice his ears are perked and slightly twisted outwards, always vigilant. Reaching down, you lovingly tossel the top of his head, and scratch behind his ears. If not for him, you think silently, your corpse would still be rotting in that jail cell, or worse, your lifeless Infected shell of a body would be aimlessly shuffling behind bars to this day.
It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year to the day. After the near-death experience at that prison, you managed to escape northward. It wasn’t easy, and you had more than your fair share of near-fatal events, but in the end, you made it to a fairly secluded, rural part of Maine.
You walk towards the makeshift gate of scavenged corrugated sheet metal and wood. You grab the small hatchet that is buried, blade first, into the wooden post, and slide the handle between your belt, feeling the cold steel against your side. Your mind flashes back to the day you first picked it up, pinned between two Big-Box-Store eighteen wheelers, and a pack of Infected. It was a close call that day, one of many, but you managed to make it back to your car, as the mob of people began to riot in front of the store. that seemed like a lifetime ago.
Securing the gate, you continue through the meadow, towards the edge of the woods, as the sound of cold earth crunches under your feet.
“What I wouldn’t do for a nice 80-degree day, a fishing pole, and a cold beer.”
You look down at Muttly, and smile.