Julia and Brian have manage to escape detection so far, but we all knew that their luck couldn’t hold out forever….
Before them was a major intersection of three lane roads, and smack in the middle of it, taking up all the lanes except for one going in each direction, was what could only be described as a military outpost. There was a large green tent, and arranged around it were various vehicles. People in uniforms milled around it, most looking bored, some looking important, some with steaming mugs of coffee looking like they needed more sleep. She wondered if they were the night curfew watch and if they would be going off duty soon or if they were working longer shifts.
Examining the outpost allowed her to stall for time. They slowed to a crawl as if they were out for a leisurely stroll rather than purposefully headed somewhere, which allowed her to observe and examine the workings of the outpost. Unfortunately there just wasn’t enough time to learn much. The only other couple who had approached it were greeted, and passed through without any problems. However, there were no zombies in their party and that probably sped them along. She couldn’t tell how closely the officer had looked at the couple either, from as far back as she was, so there was no way of telling if they were paying attention to details or just letting anyone who wasn’t trying to eat brains, through.
“Damnit,” she said quietly under her breath. She wished there was another way through, an alley or a side street, maybe. Despite their leisurely pace, however, they’d drawn too close and had probably been spotted; there was no way to turn back without looking suspicious. They were commited, now, for better or for worse. The only thing going for them was that Brian hardly seemed like a zombie at all, except for the whole decomposing part.
Just to be sure, she glanced over at Brian, walking steadily by her side. His stride was even and measured, with only a slight stiffness, as if he was walking with a back ache. His baseball cap covered his head and concealed his eyes in shadow, but anyone looking directly at his face would immediately assume him to be extremely sick, or dead. His pallor was anything but the rosy hue of health; he was pale and bluish-green around the edges, and while his muscle tone had improved with regular meals, the first five days without food had taken a toll on him, and skin sagged off of his frame.
They were close enough to the tent for Julia to smell coffee now. There was a slight rustling of paper from behind a canvas wall, and the faint sound of voices conversing in important sounding tones. The only other sounds were a few birds chirping, and the soft rustle of wind as it ran through the trees that lined the streets, green leaves glowing in the early morning sun like millions of emeralds.
Julia tried her hardest not to seem nervous and to act like she walked through the checkpoint every day. “You’re allowed to be here,” she told herself, and reached out instinctively to grab Brian’s hand. He squeezed lightly, in support, perhaps? She wondered if he was scared, too.
They approached the soldier standing near the edge of the sidewalk, and Julia made brief eye contact, smiling kindly. He smiled back, as she continued to approach but made no move to stop them in their path.
“Morning, folks.” he said as they drew abreast of his position.
“Morning,” she replied, slowing only slightly, but continuing on her way.
She counted her steps as they walked past, hope growing in her chest, butterflies multiplying in her stomach as the numbers in her mind ascended. Eight, nine, ten…
Then a voice behind her called out, “Hold up!” and her hopes crashed so swiftly, she was left feeling faint.
Despite her heart slamming in her chest and feeling like she was going to throw up, she plastered a smile on her face and turned to face the approaching soldier. “Yes, sir?” she asked respectfully, walking towards him to close the gap and leaving Brian where he was, hoping the distance would be enough to deter an examination.
She knew she looked like hell, knew she was rumpled and unwashed and that her golden blond hair was tangled and dirty, but she was still a woman, and maybe she could make that work for her. She gave him the smile that suggested she found him desirable, as she approached. “What can I do for you?” she practically purred, and had to restrain herself from touching his arm, feeling instinctively that that would be crossing the line.
He blinked, and swallowed heavily. He was a young man, probably barely over twenty, and that could have worked to her advantage, if he had been alone. However, he glanced over his shoulder at the presence of higher authority and duty reasserted itself, his gaze hardening as he visually shook himself of any effect she may have had over him.
“Oh, nothing but routine, ma’am,” he answered, glancing at Brian standing patiently. “We just don’t have a record of your being in this area, your picture hasn’t been recorded.” He gestured over his shoulder towards the tent, and sure enough, there were two cork boards filled with Polaroid pictures, with names and details written neatly on the bottom of each picture. “Anyone coming through the area needs to be identified, for security, ma’am. I’m sure you understand.”