Mini Joel and Ellie wander through the forest. It’s been days since their last meal. Mini Ellie is on the verge of passing out. Her legs shake and her knees buckle beneath her. Mini Joel catches her as she stumbles.
“I’m starving, Joel.”
“I know, kiddo. Let’s try and find us somethin’ to eat.”
They trudge through the trees and brush searching for animals or edible plants. A lone rabbit dares to cross their path and immediately has its skull crushed by the butt of Mini Joel’s rifle.
“Gross”, whispers Mini Ellie.
“Come over here”, Mini Joel says while he wipes the rabbit’s brains off of his gun with the bottom of his shirt. “I’ll teach you how to skin him.”
He pulls his knife from its sheath and kneels next to the dead rabbit. He picks it up by its hind legs and proceeds to skin and gut the woodland creature.
“Think fast!”, warns Mini Ellie playfully before she grabs the rabbit’s heart and hits Mini Joel square in the jaw with it. They laugh and chase each other around for a minute or so before they run out of steam and decide to see how much energy one rabbit can provide two people. Unfortunately when they get back to their site, the rabbit’s meat has already been whisked away by an unknown creature.
“Fuck. I’m sorry, Joel”, says Mini Ellie.
“It’s not your fault. Shit happens”, Mini Joel reassures her. “Let’s get a move on. It’ll be dark soon.”
They go deeper in the forest to gather up some leaves and branches and begin to fasten together a canopy to hang over them while they sleep. As they lay their sleeping bags out, Mini Ellie hears a faint noise among the trees.
“Joel”, she whispers, “Don’t move.”
He understands and slowly picks up the rifle leaning against the tree next to him and puts it in a ready position. A clicker emerges from the woods behind Mini Joel, searching for flesh to sink its teeth into. Without any movement to sense, the clicker walks right past him. It stops when it gets near Mini Ellie and faces her. What is assumed to be its face gets within inches of hers, clicking the whole time. Mini Ellie calmly takes her switchblade from her back pocket and thrusts it deep in the clicker’s brain as the disgusting creature lunges at her.
Horrible screeches from deep within the forest make their way to Mini Joel and Ellie. They grab as much of their stuff as they can and take off through the trees. If only they still had Callus to ride. He was a good horse. Mini Ellie still blames herself for his death.
They run as far as their tired legs can take them before they collapse exhausted. Face down in the dirt, they hear the constant clicking getting closer and closer. Mini Joel raises his head and his eyes land on an abandoned building. Mustering all of his remaining strength, he stands and lifts Mini Ellie over his shoulder. He gets them both safely into the building, locks the door, and puts a metal pipe between the handles just in case. He sits the ground and shines his flashlight across his new surroundings.
“No way”, he says.
“What is it?,” asks Mini Ellie.
Mini Joel gets up and walks toward what used to be a counter. On the counter are two paper bags, untouched by the outside world. Mini Joel picks up one of the bags and examines the faded logo on the front.
“Golden arches”, he says. “We’re in a McDonald’s.”
Before the infection spread, they had both been exposed to the viral photograph of a McDonald’s burger and fries staying good for years in a glass case. They had found nuggets instead of burgers but it had to be the same concept. Mini Joel and Ellie stuffed their little faces until they couldn’t take any more of that delicious, 100% natural chicken breast meat. They slumped to the floor and decided to call it a night. They were safe and relaxed…
TO BE CONTINUED