This is the first episode of the A New Life Season Three and the twenty-ninth episode overall.
The storm raged strongly, while a single zombie roamed around the big empty field near the forest surrounding the bandit's base. The dead person who someday was someone, had a family and a job, and the worries of an average normal person, was today reduced to just walk and walk mindlessly, hoping to stumble across something he could eat. To then, after eating, get back to walking. Forever.
The loud sound of a thunder roared, as a lightning bolt struck, hitting the lone zombie in the head. The electricity burned it from the inside out, melting his brain and killing him. The dead body hit the floor, smoke coming out of it, while the rain hit his still heated body.
At the distance, in the very same moment, a man with curly brown hair and a blue jacket is sitting by himself in a tree stump, letting the storm wash him. He looks down to his hands, now cleaned by the water, but still dirty in his mind.
"I did it. I killed him. I- I completely destroyed him... Oh my God what have I done?" these words echoed in the head of Peter D. Mitchell, while he sit there, staring at his hands, seemingly emotionless. "When did it come to this... I bashed a man's face in... I didn't even hesitate to do it... This isn't me... THIS ISN'T ME!"
Some feet away from him, near the stolen Hummer, the rest of the group wasn't any better. After Jasper's quick comeback and the death of Jim, no one spoke a word. Angela watched Pete alone from the distance, without saying a single word. It hurt her to see him that way.
She was still shocked by the brutal showdown between her boyfriend and Jasper. Angela never saw Pete like that before, with an animal fury, his only wish was to kill. She was worried that something like this would happen ever since the happening with Duke and his scavengers. Pete couldn't take it anymore, he snapped and God only knows if he would ever be the same again.
"Hey." a voice interrupted her thoughts. It was Leon. "Do you think he's going to be okay? He's been like that for like... Uh... Forty minutes. Silent, I think he hasn't even moved. It's some scary shit, I tell you."
"I... I don't know how to answer that. He's as shocked as everyone is. I can't imagine what's passing through his head right now... Poor Pete... I never wanted this to happen to him..." Angela said, breaking down in tears.
"Woah, woah..." Leon let out, surprised and embarrassed at the situation. He didn't knew what to do, so he tried to comfort her awkwardly, and of course, got rejected. "Easy there. No one wanted something like this to happen with anyone. I can't blame the guy, though. He's been through so much shit that he just... Lost it. I've seen quite a bit in my days..."
"I should go talk to him. See if he's okay, and if he's not... Try to calm him down, bring him back to this world." Angela said, wiping away her tears and cleaning her voice.
"You don't have to do this..."
"Someone have to do something, staying here just watching him struggle with himself ain't going to help, might as well be me. I'm..." a brief pause followed. "I'm the only person he's got left... And it goes both ways."
"Maybe you're right... But take it easy. Guy in his situation can do anything." he warned her before she walked away.
"Pete?" Angela asked, with a shaky and insecure voice. "Pete, it's me. Are you okay?"
Pete turned his head around to face his girlfriend. His one eye was wide open and he was cold sweating. His whole body was shaking and his mind was so full of mixed thoughts that it was starting to give him a headache. "Hey." he simply said.
"How are you holding up?" she asked, calmly and gently approaching him. "We're all worried about you... Are you feeling alright?"
"Leave me alone, please." he quietly said, lowering his head again as the rain continued to fall on him.
"S... Sorry. I was just trying to help." Angela said, visibly hurt by the words. She turned around in the urge of tears and took one step before being stopped by what she heard.
"No, wait." Pete said, slowly getting up. He grabbed Angela's hand, and she could feel how cold and shaky he was at the moment. "Look me straight in the eyes... Or what's left of them... And tell me. Do you think I'm a monster?"
"What? What do you-"
"Yes or No. Do you think I'm a monster?"
"Really?" he asked, surprised and doubtful of her answer. "H-How can you say that... You saw what I just did..."
"Stop, just... Just stop. I won't say it wasn't horrible watching that, because God knows it was. But... I know that person, full of rage and hatred... That person is not you. I know it in my heart, you're not like that."
"It was still ME, Ann. I used to think that Jasper was the real monster... Turns out he was right. I enjoyed killing him. I am just like him. Just like that psycho Duncan."
"You did what you had to." a third voice was heard. Standing there was Tyrone, watching it all happen. "Guy killed three of ours. Would've killed all of us if you didn't act in the right time. Honestly, I'd do the same any day to protect one of mine, let alone the closest thing to family I'd have."
"For how long you've been listening?" asked Angela.
"Take it easy, girl. You had the point the whole time. That guy wasn't you, man." Tyrone said, putting his hand on Pete's shoulder. "But in this world... If you really want to survive... You gotta become someone else. Leave your old-self behind in the road, somewhere where you can hopefully pick it up again after this shit ends."
"I guess you're right..." Pete sighed. "It doesn't mean I'll have to like what I do to protect myself though."
"Of course." Tyrone agreed. "So... What the hell do we do now?"
"I have no idea." answered Pete. The silence reigned once again, as everyone just stayed there, soaking on the rain, while a lightning bolt fell nearby, illuminating the dark night.
BAM! A shot was heard, and some crows flied away, scared with the noise, as well as a small raccoon, bolting through bushes and branches, having just escaped death by inches.
"Did you get it?" a man's voice asked from the middle of the woods.
"No, I fucking missed again!" another man replied. He had curly light brown hair and a now wild growing beard. "Damn it, this must be the third one this week."
"What was it? Raccoon?" Leon asked, getting out and reuniting with Pete. "Shit man, we're getting low on food again. We're lucky that girl Stephanie got us some guns and some canned stuff but that shit's almost gone."
"Maybe Jessie is right... Maybe I shouldn't be risking my ass out here to try and get some meat... I can't shoot for shit anymore anyway..." Pete sighed.
Leon went silent for some moments, thinking in what to say. All his "dark years" in the streets, and all the stuff he went through as an officer didn't matter in this case. He didn't know how Pete felt, and probably never would.
"Does it still... You know?" he asked, scratching his nape awkwardly.
"Hurt? No, it doesn't. It's a pain in the ass to get used to it, but I think I'm almost there." Pete replied, rubbing his scarred eyelid, where his eyeball used to be. "My eye isn't what worries me the most, not even close."
"You mean having become the leader."
"'Leader'... It still feels stupid to me. I'm not a leader, I'm a fucking disgrace. I couldn't protect anyone even if I tried my very best... Trust me, I know."
"So you think you're not prepared to take the responsibility?"
"So you must be even dumber than I thought." Leon said with a small smile. "Who would take it if it wasn't you? Me? I can't even take care of myself, how am I supposed to take care of nine people? Tyrone? We'd be all dead in a week, and that's the best case scenario. You're not just the most prepared of us to be in charge... You're the only one prepared."
"You're being too harsh on yourself... I'll never forget what you and Kurt did for me. You two were there for me since day one... You saved my life when both of us know that I should have died in that alley. You saved me, a guy you haven't even seen before, and I couldn't even return it... I let Kurt get killed."
"It's - not - your - fault. How many times I have to tell you this?"
"I know it's not, I just can't help myself to think that I could have done something..." Pete's eye was almost tearing up. "I've seen too much death already. I won't let this happen to anyone else. I Promise."
"Why are they taking so long? I'm starting to get worried." asked Sarah, back in the small camp the group had settled in a relatively big clean area in the surroundings of the forest. Her appearance didn't changed too much, but she was visibly taking more care of herself.
The camp wasn't anything fancy. In the three weeks that had passed since the "incident" in the bandit's base, the group managed to go back to the wrecked and now abandoned place to get some sleepbags and three tents, as well as some canned food, that was everything that was left there. The place was burnt down, apparently in a failed desperate final attempt to control the zombies.
The hummer was still the only vehicle the group had, and even though it consumed a lot of fuel, they had enough time to pick clean the fuel from the other cars in the base and have a stock of gas cans. The bandits' truck was nowhere to be seen, though.
"You worry yourself too much, they're fine." said Nate, sit on one of the car's seat, reloading the weapons the group still had. The only thing that changed is that he for some reason wasn't wearing his baseball cap anymore. "They're not going to shoot stuff right next to us, it would attract those freaks."
"Makes sense, I guess... I just can't help myself to think in the worst every time they go out... They always take so long, and Pete is not exactly in the best condition..."
"He lost one eye, not an arm or a leg, he can still take care of himself. Besides, Leon is with him, and he's tough."
"The kid is right Sarah, they can take care of themselves. Jesus, they didn't survive two months in this by being reckless." said Stephanie, in the top of the car, taking watch. "But if it worries you two much, if they don't come back in an hour we can send Tyrone and Angela to look for them."
"Are you okay though, Steph?" asked Nate, looking up.
"What? Yes, why are asking this?" she replied, with a not actually convincing tone.
"Because of that paper Matthew gave you that day. He told me that Francis gave it to him, and that he wasn't going to open it until he showed you that. But when he showed you that, you started crying. What was it?"
"I- I... It was nothing, don't worry about that." Stephanie said, trying to get away from the discussion. "Just something I was too dumb to realize on my own. It's not important anymore, though." she sighed.
"Okay... Sorry if I upset you by asking, I didn't mean to."
"It's okay, Nate. I can't be mad with y-"
BAM! A shot was heard not far from there, followed by a familiar voice screaming. "Who the hell are you? Why are you creeping up on us?"
"What was that??" asked Sarah, getting up in fear.
"That's Leon's voice! Come on, we gotta see what's happening!" Stephanie said, getting down from the car, as Tyrone and Angela appeared at the distance, running towards the camp, returning from patrol, as well as Jessie and Matthew, who were nearby doing the count of the food and medicine, after hearing the shot too.
"Answer me, motherfucker!" Leon yelled, pointing his shotgun. "Why are you creeping up on people on the woods?"
"I-I'm not... Please, I don't want to fight, just let me explain..." said a pale man, with long messed brown hair, who was heavily sweating, and walking with a limp.
"Leon, take it eas-"
"The hell is going on here?" Tyrone yelled at the distance, while the group was getting there. "Who the fuck is this guy?" he asked, getting his gun out too.
"That's what I'm trying to find out but the shit won't cooperate" Leon said, walking in circles, with his gun still pointed at the man.
"You won't let me!" the man let out. "Please can you just... calm down for a second..."
"Everyone just calm down, what happened here?" Angela asked.
"We were getting back to the camp when THIS GUY came out of nowhere and tried to reach for my handgun." Leon said.
"I wasn't trying to get your gun! This is all a mistake, I'm just a dying man, I'm not even armed, I swear!"
"What do you mean by 'a dying man'?" Matthew asked, confused.
"Here, look." the man lifted his shirt to show a bloody bite on his waist. "I'm bit, okay? I let myself to get bitten, I'm just out here in the woods do die in peace. I don't want to fight with anyone, alright? I didn't tried to get his gun, it was an accident, my head started shaking and I lost my footing, okay?"
"Holy shit." Matthew let out. "Dude that's fucking gross."
"Shut it." Jessie said, elbowing Matthew's left arm. "It does look pretty bad, though. You said it was really a zombie bite?"
"Y-Yes. I let myself get bitten."
"Why?" Leon asked, suspicious.
"Leon!" scolded him Jessie.
"What? I'm curious! Why would he let himself get killed? And in the worst way possible these days? Suffering for God only knows how many hours? Slowly dying every step he takes?"
"Leon, you're NOT helping!" Angela said.
"N-No, let him... It's fine, I'll tell you." the man sighed. "I'm not a tough guy, you know? Not exactly the guy that people point out and say 'That guy has what it takes to survive in this'. I found a group. Nothing special, no big guns, no hunting rednecks, no muscular fighter... Just some people, but they had supplies. A lot of them."
"I stuck with them for some time, and... we got lucky, real lucky. That is, until about three weeks ago. We found shelter, it protected us from the dead, we thought we were finally safe, until... Until they appeared."
"They? Could he mean...?" Angela asked herself.
"Jasper's people. Ruining even more lives." Pete said, touching his missing eye enraged.
"They said they wanted our stuff, our food... We didn't agree, of course... So they... They..."
A long pause took place, and the pale man started to cry heavily.
"They killed... Everyone." he said, sobbing. "The men, the women, they didn't care. They opened fire and just murdered everyone. I hid myself in a room in the back, I was too scared to fight. I just closed my eyes, and prayed to the Lord... I just wanted it to be over."
"And then just like it began, it all quickly ended. I don't know how they didn't find us, but we survived. They took all of our food, or at least they thought it was all of it. Even after it was over, I couldn't open that door, I couldn't get out and look at the faces of the people who saved my life, all dead. It took me some good hours to grow some balls to do it."
"I'm so sorry you had to go through that..." Angela said, trying to comfort the man.
"T-Thank you... I was alone. Completely alone. I still had a reasonable amount of food, and I convinced myself I was going to make it. I had to make it. But after the time passed by, I started to lose it. Being alone there, I started to see the people who were killed in my dreams... Hear their voices during the day... Until I snapped. I couldn't take it anymore, so I got out and walked until I found one of the dead, and let myself get bitten."
At this point, the guns had already been put down. Pete approached the man and handled him his handgun.
"Here... Take it."
"W-What? W-Why are you giving me this?"
"You already suffered enough. J-Just take it. You're already dying, why suffer even more with the fever? J-Just... Just end it."
"Thank you, but I'm not doing it. I want to turn. I never told you, but... I wasn't by myself before I found that group. I had my three daughters with me. I couldn't protect them... I almost decided to do this then, but that people... They stopped me. My daughters... They turned. I couldn't shoot them, so I just left them. I want to reunite with them now. I'm a religious man, and I believe in Heaven, but if somehow I'm wrong... This is the only way to be with them again."
"Are you sure?"
"It's the only thing I'm sure since it all went to shit." the man said, handing back the Glock 17 to Pete. "You're a good man. I can see it in your eyes... If you excuse the expression. Don't let anyone tell you that you're not. This place I was staying, it still has some food for you people. It's pretty safe from the dead too. Just follow the road, about two miles from here, there's a factory."
"A factory?" asked Steph.
"Are you sure it's okay for us...?" asked Angela.
"I was the only one there. Everything left there is going to be left there gathering dust if you don't. I'm sure you can make use of that, especially the food. You're all looking starving."
"Well, thank you then, uh..."
"John. Name's John. Don't bother remembering it, though." he said, with a fainting smile.
"I cannot describe how you're helping us. Thank you, John. I can't say I agree with leaving you to turn but I don't have nothing to do with it. I hope you reunite with your daughters, at last." Pete said, shaking John's hand, while the rest of the group slowly headed back to the camp. "Goodbye."
"Goodbye, sir." John said to himself, watching Pete follow the rest of the group at the distance. He sit under a tree and closed his eyes. He smiled, knowing that this were his last moments. "Peace, at last..."
- John (Alive) - Committed suicide by allowing himself to get bitten in the waist, left to reanimate in the woods.
- The working title of this issue was "Swiggity Swag"
|Episodes of A New Life|
| ||The Beginning • I Promise • Together We Survive • Hope • Reunited • Family Matters • Signals • Everything Dies|
| || Restart • Never Too Careful • Forging Alliances • Our Poor Defenses • |
Just Another Day In The Office • Live Better • Playing With Fire • Mousetrap • Survival Of The Fittest • Do Or Die • Retaliation • Friendly Fire • Life Among Them • Trust • Wolves and Sheeps • Second Chances • Changes • Surrounded By Death • In The Eye Of The Storm • No Going Back
| ||The Past That Haunts Me • Safety • The Clock Is Ticking • Trapped • Rooftops • Apartment 3C • Doubts • Campfire • Bloodshed • Aftermath • Wounded • Dust in the Wind • Family • Friendship • Taken By Storm • Struggle • Mayhem • Farewells|
| ||A Tough Decision • One Long Day|
| ||Barry Special|