#1 of Survive Editions
Jack looked over the ragged group that was sitting in the breakroom. They had all managed to find some shelter inside of an old office building. The gryphon looked around at the group and let out a soft sigh, plucking at a bandage on his arm. He felt filthy, tired, and hungry. His clothes were smeared in dirt and blood, his jeans almost shredded, and his shirt was torn but at least he was alive. Right now that was the biggest thing he had to worry about. Hard to believe really that just a few days ago...
"Come on guys, this isn't funny!" Andy whined as he looked at the tiger that was holding his cell phone. The osprey clicked his beak, "I've got to head home and watch my little sister, please give me back my phone."
The tiger let out a low humming noise, "Well, since you have to watch your sister... Daren, head's up!" He tossed the phone to a wolf, who easily caught it in his hand with a laugh. Andy turned towards the wolf, stuck inside the circle of football players and let out another whine.
He jumped for the phone, the wolf jerking his hand back before barking; "Jack, go long!" and hurled the phone away. The gryphon, several lockers down, looked up in time to see the silver object flying towards him. His hand darted out and he caught the phone in his palm closing his hand around it. Unfortunately, Andy had been running towards him and slammed his gut right into Jack's fist.
The gryphon's teammates laughed and walked off down the hall, leaving the him standing over the osprey. Jack reached down and helped Andy up before handing him the cell. "Hey man, ..." he watched as Andy snatched away the phone and turned tail, trying not to cry as he held onto his face. "Sorry about that." Rolling his shoulders in a shrug, he shut his locker and slipped his bag over his shoulder. He hated to see Andy teased like that, but sometimes it seemed like he just asked for it. Normally Jack could get the guys to lay off him, but after his accident he didn't seem to have as much pull with the team as he used to. And ever since he broke his foot a few months back, Andy had been acting weird as well.
Walking out into the lot, Jack waded through the other students and got out to his SUV before climbing in. Turning on the engine, he hit the button for the windows and let them roll down to let out some of the heat. Reaching down, he turned on the radio and sat back as the lot began to empty out slowly. His eyes drifted over to the football field and he let out a sigh. It was strange, not hanging around after school for practice; but he'd been ordered to stay off the field for the rest of the year. Tilting his head to the side, Jack wondered if that's why Andy had been acting so weird. He had been helping the raptor when he fell off the roof and broke his foot. Maybe Andy blamed himself for what happened.
It had been a little weird when he got the call from Andy and was asked if he could help clean some branches and things off his family's roof. He and the osprey had been friends since they were kids, but as they got older their interested just grew apart. Andy was more into video games, those table-top games, and the Internet. Where Jack got into sports and staying active as much as possible. They had just grown apart as friends, as people tend to do. He chuckled softly as he recalled how Andy had been acting while Jack helped him clean up. He could only guess that the osprey was going to ask him to go to one of his little gaming nights or something. That's when he slipped on the roof and fell off. Pushing the thought from his mind, he pulled out of the parking spot and headed for home.
When he got there the house was empty, which wasn't too surprising since his parents had left for a second honeymoon just a week ago. The house was what one would expect from an upper-middle class home. It was two-story, had a two-car garage, and thanks to his father, everything was neatly organized. Pulling into the garage, he let the door rattle down behind him and got out of his car before going into the house and heading up a set of stairs near the garage door. Dropping his keys, wallet, and phone off in his room upstairs, he headed back downstairs and fished some leftover pizza out of the fridge before retiring to the media room downstairs. Granted, it wasn't much of a Friday night especially considering that his parent's weren't home. But there was something to be said about wasting brain cells and ear drums by watching action movies in front of a big screen TV with the surround sound turned on.
The next morning found Jack asleep on the couch with a plate of pizza crusts next to him. Stirring slowly, he blinked sleepily at the TV's dark screen before yawning and stretching his body out slowly. Getting up, he made sure everything was turned off before shuffling towards a small bathroom near the den. After relieving himself, he came back out into the den and headed right for a weight set in the corner of the room. Checking the weights as he pulled on his gloves, Jack nodded then lay back on the bench before starting on a set. Unlike some people, he didn't like to listen to music while he worked out. Instead he preferred the silence and thought of this time as a period when he could just relax his mind and body.
About a half-hour later, he wandered up the stairs to the main floor of the house with his plate from the night before. Making a detour to the kitchen, he dropped the crusts into the trash and put the plate into the dishwasher. He headed towards the back set of stairs and began to take off his clothing. He had to hop a little as his pants came off, but paused at the bottom of the stairs to the second floor as he tugged the jeans down and kicked them off. Picking them up, he started up the steps as he tugged off his shirt. At the top of the stairs, he began to slid his boxer/briefs down and shimmied some before they hit the ground. Kicking his foot, he launched the underwear into the air before catching them with a grin. There was something to be said about having the house to himself since he could walk around nude as much as he wanted.
Across from his bedroom was his bathroom, one of the benefits of being an only child was never having to share his bathroom with siblings. Dropping his clothes into the hamper, he bent over and turned on the water inside of the bath tub. Testing it with a hand, he adjusted it a little before giving the third knob a twist and letting the shower head kick on. The warm water sprayed from the head as a heavy mist, greeting the gryphon with a warm spray of water as he stepped into the shower. The water washed over his form, removing grime and sweat from the previous day from his feathers and fur. Turning his back on the spray, he grabbed a special brush and started to comb over his plumage.
He didn't need to shower more than a minute or so, didn't want to wash out the natural oils from his fur and feathers. Shutting off the water, he stood inside of the tub for a second before giving a shake, flinging glimmering droplets of water in all directions. For a moment after the shake, his feathers remained standing. Sliding open the shower door, he stepped out onto a mat and grabbed a dryer. Setting it to low, he quickly air dried his body as he murred, enjoying the feel of the air flowing over his body. Looking into the mirror, he gazed at his body and trilled. Still looking good. His upper half was covered in golden brown feathers. Sharp gray eyes moved over his body before getting to his tan furred lower half. Lifting his left leg up, he perched his foot on the counter and looked at the hairless scars dotting his foot. Sighing, he grabbed a jar of ointment and began to smear it over the foot, making a face at its scent.
Putting his foot back on the floor, he washed his hands off then walked out of the bathroom towards his bedroom. That was one thing he definitely enjoyed about having the house to himself, being able to walk around the house nude. It was just one of those simple joys that was hard to explain. Stepping into his bedroom, he hummed to himself and looked for some clothing to wear. Sorting through some clothes in the drawers, he noticed that his phone was blinking to indicate he missed a call. Grabbing it with one hand and some underwear with the other, he began to pull on his shorts as he flipped the phone open.
Jack's eyebrows jumped when he saw that he had missed several calls. A couple of them were his parents, probably checking in on him, a few of his friends had tried to get in touch with him last night, and then the last two calls were both from Andy. Fishing out a shirt, he tugged it on even as his fingers hit the call button followed by the speaker phone. Setting the phone on top of his dresser, he dug around for some more pants as the speaker burbled out the ring. After just a couple rings it clicked and a breathless, "Jack, you're okay!" came over the line.
He frowned as he found a pair of PJ pants and began to pull them on, stopping mid-way; "Of course I am, is there a reason I shouldn't be?"
Andy's voice sounded confused, "Haven't you seen the news yet?" Jack could tell that Andy was moving around some, the drone of a TV in the background.
The gryphon huffed, "No, I just woke up about an hour or so ago. I just got out of the shower, what's going on?"
The osprey let out a little whine, "You won't believe me if I told you, hell I didn't believe it at first either." Jack started at that, he almost never heard Andy say hell like that. "Man, I just can't believe this is...oh no...no no, shit! Jack help me!" He heard the phone clatter to the ground followed by the sound of feet running away. He was frozen in place as something snarled and moved towards the phone. The device rattled some and the speaker crackled as the thing sniffed it.
Dropping his PJ pants, Jack jerked on a pair of jeans, zipping them up as he looked around the room. Something or someone had broken into Andy's house and despite their differences, they were still old buds. There weren't any real weapons in the house other than the knives in the kitchen or the odd piece of camping gear, but Jack did have something that would fit the bill. He grabbed up his phone and stuffed it into a pocket before reaching past the dresser and picking up his lucky bat. It might not be a gun, but his slugger would be good enough in his hands. Barely stopping to pick up his keys, the gryphon charged down the steps and ran for the front door.
Andy's house was nearby, just down at the end of the street in a cul-de-sac. Jack's feet slapped against the pavement with dull slaps as he huffed, the bat swinging in his hand. The street was virtually empty, just a few people visible off in the distance. The fact that the door was open wasn't a big concern, but that wasn't the thing that made his heart begin to pound. There was blood smeared on the pristine surface. Clenching his beak, he slowed down his headlong charge and shifted to grab the bat with both hands. Using the piece of aluminum, he pushed the door open and stepped through slowly, alert for any sounds.
Upstairs he could hear the sound of something growling and an odd crunching sound. As he advanced down the foyer, he came upon a door leading to the living room and then he saw the first body. It was Andy's father, his vacant eyes staring at the wall. His head had either been ripped off or chewed off, blood splattered over the floor and the walls. His body was covered in deep claw and bite marks. Jack tried to gulp for air as his world tilted and spun. Leaning forward, he felt his stomach lurch and heave, spilling his dinner right there in a violent upheaval. Bracing himself against the wall, he turned his head away from the scene and panted, feeling his body shake.
The sound of a snarl and a yell upstairs made his mind snap back to what had brought him here. Turning towards the stairs, he charged up them two at a time. If he remembered correctly, Andy's parents had their room on the ground floor and upstairs there were three other bedrooms and another bath. His bare feet slapped on the wooden floor before hitting a patch of something wet. The gryphon's arms windmilled for a second before he managed to catch himself. "Don't look at what you stepped in, Jack, just don't look." Gritting his beak, he headed down the hall and turned a corner.
There in front of him was a female hyena, her back to him as she chewed on something. The figure stiffened before turning around to look at him, her lip quivering as she growled again. Dangling from her jaws was an arm, and in front of her was the body of Andy's youngest sister, just five years old. Jack felt the bile rise in his throat again as the hyena gave a snarl and leapt towards him. Reacting on instinct, the gryphon jerked backwards and swung his bat like a golf club. The metal bat connected with his attacker's chin with a sickening crack, making the hyena's head jerk backwards as she stumbled. Her momentum carried her forward, catching the gryphon's leg and bowling him over. His shoulder slammed into the floor, making him cry out as pain shot through his body.
For a moment, he just lay there with his beak open and panting heavily. His heart was spinning in his chest and his adrenaline was pumping through his body, making him tremble just a little as it drove off the pain. After a second, he was aware of the body under his feet and gave a squawk as he flipped over onto his back, kicking the hyena away. The female gave a grunt and flailed some her head rolling at an odd angle, but didn't seem capable of too much at the moment. Jack sat up, putting his hand right into a pool of warm blood. His head jerked to the side before moving away and closing his eyes, trying to get the image of the girl's staring eyes out of his head. A voice called out from behind a door, "Who's there?"
The gryphon's head snapped towards the sound, glad to focus on something else; "Andy?"
There was a moment of silence before a chirp answered him, "Jack, that you?"
He let out a sigh of relief and sat up, rapping on the door, "Yeah, open up man." The door creaked open a little and he could see the osprey's brown eye peek through the crack before he flung the door open. Jack looked at his old friend, "What is going on here, man? Mental patients get loose or some shit?" He could feel the blood on his body and shivered a little, "We should call the cops or something."
The falcon shook his head, "No good, the lines are busy. They say this is some zombie attack, and we should stay inside or head to a shelter."
Jack blinked slowly at his friend, "Have you been smoking pot? I've always heard that video games rot your brain, but this is the..."
A roar made him jerk around, half turning as something else slammed into him. He managed to get his left arm up and shoved his forearm into the throat of the mouse as it snapped at him. Thick, bloody drool splattered against his face as it snapped at him. Shifting his grip on the bat, he held it higher up on the shaft before trying to hit her a few times and drive him back. This only caused his attacker to turn his attention to the metal object, biting it and snarling. His teeth scraped against the metal surface, making a noise that hurt the gryphon's ears as he chomped and chewed on it. Jack's eyes looked around for anything he could use as a weapon since the bat was too unwieldy right now.
Under the bed, he saw the handle of something that looked heavy enough to take care of business. Letting go of his trusty bat, he reached out and grabbed the leather-wrapped handle before swinging the object at the mouse. He dropped the bat and opened his mouth wide as he lunged at the gryphon. The club slammed into the zombie's cheek, the metal head caving in bone and causing gore to splatter over Jack and the floor. Thrashing wildly, he pushed the body off him and sat up in a near-panic state. He looked at the weapon in his hand before looking at Andy, the osprey looking at him and trembling. "Dude, when did you get a mace?" He asked, holding up the weapon. Its metal head hung at an odd angle, the wooden handle cracked from actually being used.
Andy gulped, looking like he was about to throw up; "I've been collecting weapons recently, strange hobby I know." Jack looked at his friend, knowing how the raptor felt since he had thrown up himself a few moments ago.
The gryphon gave a shudder and heaved a sigh, "Go ahead and hurl if you need to, if I hadn't already I probably would too right now."
Andy nodded slowly, his eyes glazing over a little as he panted, his beak hanging open a little. Jack looked at the hyena then at the blood-stained hallway beyond. "Hey, Andy, grab some clothes and crap. Let's go crash back at my place." The osprey nodded, seeming in a trance as he just stared at the still hyena. Jack tried not to look at the body as he hissed, "Hurry."
His tone seemed to snap Andy out of the trance and the bird grabbed a bag before stuffing some clothes into it; "Jack, did she bite you?"
He looked at his body before shaking his head, "Nah, but I feel nasty." Standing up slowly, he felt his knees get weak and swayed for a second before catching himself on a dresser. Seeing the concerned look, he gave a half smile, "Just a head rush, I'm okay." Andy nodded and zipped up the bag before walking over to Jack. The gryphon picked up his bat in one hand and holding the other out to his friend, "Take my hand and close your eyes, you might not want to look at this."
They made it outside in record time, Andy breaking away from Jack and rushing over to some bushes before getting sick himself. They had been doing good until he almost slipped in some blood and Andy caught himself before falling, looking right at his mother. The gryphon followed his friend over and stood nearby, holding the bat as his eyes scanned the streets. Andy finished throwing up and gasped, "Jack, we have to burn the house down. I can't stand the thought of...of." He nodded and put a hand on his friend's shoulder, Andy looking up with tears rolling down his cheeks. "Th-there's a shed around the side where we..."
Jack gave his shoulder a squeeze, "I know, wait here."
Right around the side was the shed, left unlocked as it usually was. Inside he found a can of gas, some old newspaper, and one of those long lighters used for a grill. It didn't take much, just covering the bodies with the paper, dowse with some gas, and make a few pools of the liquid here and there before using the rest to male a trail. The lighter took a few tries, but he managed to strike it and ignite the paper on Andy's father's body before backing out of the house quickly. They both watched from the yard as flames leapt through the house, racing along the accelerant's trail. Within just a minute or two, the flames spread more, beginning to engulf the house. Silently, the pair turned and began to walk down the street back towards Jack's home, leaving the pyre behind them.
The pair began to walk towards the gryphon's house, Jack leading and Andy following behind him just a half-step. The osprey was very quiet, which wasn't that big of a surprise normally, but he knew his friend was probably in shock. Looking up, he saw that the people off in the distance had gotten closer. Jack squinted a little, his eyes focusing in on the distant figures. They seemed to be shuffling around, as if in a daze. One looked up and spied them before letting out a roar, muted by the distance, and began to charge. Hearing the cry, the others began to run as well. Grabbing Andy, they began to run, bolting into the house and slamming the door behind them.
After securing the door, Jack told Andy to go to his parent's room and use their shower to clean up. Watching his friend for a second, he went around to all the other doors and made sure all were locked up tight. He paused in the garage for a moment and looked at the camping gear, all of it neatly put away in stacks, bins, or hanging on the wall. Crossing the cold concrete, he made sure the door outside was bolted and locked securely. Reaching into a bin of rags, he pulled one out and used it to clean the gunk off his bat before tossing the rag into a trash can. Again, his thoughts turned to the camping gear and his car. Maybe they could go to a park if things got bad and rough it out there. He found himself looking inside of the bins at all the equipment and freeze dried food. Snapping the lid down, he mumbled; "Last resort I guess." Turning on his heel, he headed towards the house, grabbing a lawn garbage bag on his way back in.
Heading up to the bathroom, he waved the bag a few times to get it to pop open fully. Setting the bat on the counter, he fished his phone and wallet out of his pockets, before peeling off the blood-caked clothing. All the clothes found their way into the bag, the gryphon not even thinking about trying to wash them. Twisting the knobs firmly, he got the water going before crawling into the shower. Reaching up, he pushed a lever on the shower head and murred as it swapped from the mist to a hand unit, spraying him with several streams of water. For a long moment he didn't move, just stood there and enjoyed the feel of the clean water washing away all the gore.
Now that his adrenaline wasn't pumping and he was calming down, all the images from the house came rushing back to him. The force of the memories hit him like a tidal wave, forcing Jack to brace himself on the wall as his stomach heaved and churned violently. The world began to spin and tilt like some sadistic carnival ride as his body threatened to give out. Somehow, he managed to pull open the shower's sliding door and stumble out onto the tile before falling to his knees in front of the toilet. Grasping the white bowl, he opened his beak and let his stomach release its contents into the bowl. He gagged and heaved into the bowl until nothing more would come out. Reaching up to flush, he found himself panting heavily, but feeling better overall.
Standing up on shaky legs, he slid into the shower and began to clean himself up. Tilting his head back, he opened his mouth and let the water swirl around inside his beak before spitting it out. Lowering his head, he took his time, making sure that every inch of his body was washed clean. He wasn't sure how long he stood inside there, but he only left the cleansing shower once the water grew too cold for him to stand. Shaking off, he stepped outside and grabbed a towel, patting his body dry. Balling the towel up to throw it in the hamper, he stopped for a second and remembered that Andy was in the house and he couldn't just walk around naked. Wrapping the towel around his waist, he gathered his belongings and walked the few feet to his room.
His osprey friend was already there, standing next to the one window in his room and looking towards the burning house silently. Now that he thought about it, Jack was glad that it had been so rainy the last few days. Andy turned his head as he heard Jack walk into the room, his brown eyes going wide as he saw his gryphon friend standing there in just a towel. "Oh! Um, sorry." His nares flushed a bright red as he turned his head away.
Jack was blushing as well, his eartuffs pinned back against his head, "No, it's my fault. I forgot you were here." Reaching up, he scratched his head; "Not that it would matter as filthy as I was." He quickly grabbed a pair of underwear and looked at his friend. Andy was still turned away, so he dropped the towel to the ground so he could pull on the underwear. Snatching up the pajama pants he was going to wear earlier, he wiggled into them and pulled his tail through the little hole in the back. "Okay, I'm decent."
Andy turned back to look at him and blinked as Jack looked for a shirt he liked. "Wow, I never noticed how much muscle you really have on your body."
The gryphon couldn't help it, "Well, it helps since I do more than play video games and poke around the internet." He smiled as he found a shirt and pulled it on over his head. "There's a trash bag in my bathroom if you wanna toss your cloths." He fidgeted for a moment, adjusting the shirt some he asked, "I know this sound stupid, but are you okay?" His friend hesitated for a second before he just broke down and began to cry. Without thinking, Jack sat down next to the osprey and put his arms and one wing around him. Andy turned his body to latch onto Jack, his hands grabbing at the gryphon's shoulders and clinging tightly as he trembled violently.
For a long time, Jack wasn't sure exactly how long, the falcon continued to cry, his head buried against the larger male's chest. But eventually the tears stopped and Andy just sniffed softly and turned his head to the side. Jack murred softly, "Feeling any better now?"
Andy shook his head slowly and croaked, "No, not really, but what can I do?"
The gryphon rolled his shoulders in a shrug, "Why don't we go downstairs and watch the news or something? See what's going on." The osprey nodded and slowly stood up, wiping his eyes. Jack got up as well, "I want to know what's going on and why this crap is happening."
His friend's voice cracked a little as he spoke, "Last I heard they weren't entirely sure of the cause." Jack nodded, leading the way downstairs and into the den so they could watch the news on the big TV.
No sooner had they took seats on the couch, then Andy turned on the news and began to watch it. Leaning back, Jack propped his feet up on a coffee table and began to listen to the newscasters. There wasn't much to report really, a few areas around the world were effected by an unknown biological agent. It didn't look like more than a few dozen areas around the world were affected. There were numerous 'experts' discussing how it could be possible and political leaders were pointing fingers at one person or another. The news reporters went from experts ranging from scientists specializing in fields he couldn't begin to pronounce. Over to military experts that were saying that they knew of no weapons capable of this. All the way to religious experts that were shouting about the end of days.
Jack looked over at Andy, seeing that his friend's eyes seemed empty. "Can I do anything to help, Andy?"
The osprey looked at him and clicked his beak a moment before nodding, "Do you mind if I lay down."
The hybrid looked at him oddly, "No, why would I mind if you laid down?" It was a large, sectional couch, plenty of room for the two of them to stretch out on if they wanted.
The smaller male blushed again, "I mean with my head in your lap? I know it sounds kind of weird, but...I dunno I'm just still shaken up."
Now that was a really odd request and he had to think about it for a moment before nodding, "Sure, I guess."
Andy blushed and slowly stretched out on the couch before letting his head rest on Jack's thigh. He let out a soft cooing noise and let his eyes close most of the way. "Thank you," he murmured softly.
Oddly enough, it didn't feel that weird and it made the gryphon feel like he was somehow sheltering his friend. Suddenly, he was feeling protective of Andy, like a big brother or something. Sitting there, he let his hand rest on Andy's side as the feathered pair watched the news. It only took a few more minutes before Jack picked up the remote and began to flip the channels. It seemed like most of the channels were covering this event, which made sense to him; but it still pissed the gryphon off since he wanted to watch something that wasn't so depressing. As he cycled through the channels, the osprey's breathing slowed until he fell asleep. Jack settled onto a channel, they were showing a marathon of one of those deadly job shows, and leaned back. Andy mumbled something and rolled onto his back, his beak hanging open a little as he breathed slowly. Jack found himself smiling a little and just stroked over the falcon's chest gently as his friend slept on.
After a little more than an hour, Jack's belly let out a loud complaining noise. It hadn't been fed yet and it was starting to demand he gives it some food. Reaching a hand down, he gripped Andy's shoulder and shook it softly, drawing a mumbling noise from the osprey. He shook it again, "Hey man, wake up." Those brown eyes opened up and the falcon twisted to look up at him. "You hungry? I haven't eaten today and I think that some food will make both of us feel better." Nodding, his friend sat up and stretched, the feathers on one side of his face pressed flat from where he'd had his head resting on Jack's thigh. Yawning, he followed Jack upstairs to the kitchen and the waiting food.
Andy milled around the organized kitchen as Jack sat his bat down on the counter and opened the fridge. "We have some leftover pizza, a few of those personal pizzas, burgers, chicken..." he rolled his hand to indicate the list went on. They had enough to last us a week or two with just what's in the fridge. Then there was the pantry and the freeze-dried stuff they kept around for camping.
The bird chirped, "I think a burger will be fine for right now." Jack nodded and pulled out the plastic container with several hand-made patties inside it. As he was plugging in the little indoor grill, the osprey found some hamburger buns and began to put them into the toaster oven. "We should eat all the stuff that will go bad first. That means most of the things in the fridge in case the power goes out." He looked at the bat that sat on the counter, "You gonna carry that everywhere?
Jack nodded and let out a soft murring noise, "Yeah, figure I might need it to keep you away from the sweets." He smiled as he got a laugh from his friend, "Luckily we have gas stove, oven, and water heater so unless something bad happens we will have those even if we lose electricity. How many do you want?"
Andy looked at the burgers for a second, "Umm...I think I'll go for two."
Jack smiled and poked his friend's belly playfully, "I don't get how you can stay so thin the way you eat." He could eat a lot, but the smaller bird could put away food like nobody's business.
Andy squeaked and rubbed his belly, "I have a high metabolism, can't help it." He looked at the grill hungrily as the patties hit the metal and began to sizzle.
Jack pushed the top down and set the timer. He might as well do what he felt he needed to now, "Keep and eye on them for a minute, will you?"
Andy nodded and watched as his hybrid friend slipped through the kitchen and out into the garage. The gryphon headed right for the two mountaineering backpacks and opened them up. Jack carefully inspected each and every pouch and compartment, making sure there were no bugs, rips, or holes hiding. His father's had a tear in one of the side pouches, but both his and his mother's were in top condition. Taking those two off the hooks, he leaned them against the wall and began to pack them with gear and the MRE style meals.
His parents loved camping and they actually had two sets of gear. One set was for when they could drive to where they wanted to camp, but the other was made for when you had to hike to the camp site. That was the gear he was loading into the two packs. The heavier things, like the cooking gear, he was putting into his pack. Jack wasn't sure how much Andy could carry, but he did know what his limits were. His gut told him to pack as much as he could into the bags, but he had to hold back since he knew that he'd have to load some clothes in as well. Not to mention ponchos or something just in case it rained. He'd done this enough that he knew how to stow things inside of the tall packs.
Within minutes, the bags were nearly ready to go. Each had about a week's worth of meals plus some granola and home-made beef jerky. Both had a small stove that was designed to burn until extinguished, they had a couple hours worth of burn each, but his had a single burner stove and a fresh canister of fuel hanging off it. Both held a mess kit, first aid kit, water purifiers, and a few other things. Two sleeping bags were strapped to the bundles, Jack's holding the two-person tent. He just hoped that Andy was okay with getting cozy if they did have to use it. Checking over everything, he nodded and zipped it all up before looking at his SUV. Clicking his beak for a moment, he pondered loading some more gear into it. Nodding, he opened the driver's side door and popped the rear hatch. There wasn't much he loaded in there, just the last couple boxes of meals, a couple heavier sleeping bags, a few of those big five-gallon containers of water, and some spare fuel canisters. Slamming the tailgate, he reached up then closed the glass hatch, looking at the camping gear through the tinted window. "Last resort, eh? Looks like you're getting ready to leave." Shrugging, he scooped up the two backpacks and walked back into the house.
Andy had his back to Jack when the gryphon walked back into the kitchen. He chirped, "Burgers are almost done, you want some cheese on yours?"
Jack murred, "I'll fix mine, try this on." The osprey looked at him and blinked as he held out a pack, the other leaning against the counter.
Taking the bag, Andy began to wiggle into it; "Are you getting ready to leave?" He wiggled some, adjusting the straps and looking around, "This isn't all that comfortable."
The gryphon moved around and fastened a couple buckles before starting to adjust the straps. "No, I just want to be ready if we do have to leave." He smiled at Andy and tapped his arm, "Well, it's my mother's pack and her arms aren't as feathery as yours." He adjusted a couple more things, having to change how the straps were due to his friend's lack of wings, "How's that?"
The osprey looked at his arms, which were covered in longer feathers that swept along the limbs, "Can't help it this is how I was made." He blinked and moved some, bouncing a little, "A lot better, but there's something jabbing my spine."
Jack nodded, "Once we get done eating go put your clothes in the bag, that'll add some padding."
Andy took off the pack and leaned it against the counter next to Jack's, "Do you think your parents are alright?"
Jack stopped spreading mayo on his burger bun for a second before shrugging, "They should be far enough away to be fine. If not...well, they rented a cabin out in the middle of nowhere." He shrugged and slapped his hamburger patties into the buns before topping with a slice of cheese. Sharp cheddar for his burger, Andy put a slice of Swiss and Cheddar each on his. He watched as the osprey piled some chips onto his plate before they both snagged a drink from the fridge and headed back downstairs.
Their day was nothing special, they would alternate between the news and the marathon. It all really depended on when one of them got up to go to the bathroom or get something to snack on. Then the other one would steal the remote and change the channel back. This kept up until they turned on the video games and spent a couple hours playing those. Finally, they decided it was time to get some sleep. Jack led the way up the stairs with Andy following, "I'd say that you could crash in my parent's room, but I don't know if that's safe." It felt kinda odd to say it, but he did anyway, "Its up to you I guess, sleep in separate rooms or the same one."
Stopping in front of his room, he looked at the osprey, who shook his head; "No, I don't think I could not after..." He gulped, tears gathering in his eyes. His voice nearly broke again, "I don't want to be alone."
Jack nodded and let out a murr, "Go grab the bags real quick and meet me in my parent's room, they have a bigger bed."
Andy nodded and wiped at his eyes before turning and heading back down the stairs. Jack found himself looking at his friend's tail feathers and thinking that the osprey had a cute butt. He blinked and shook his head hissing to himself, "Knock it off man, he just lost his family." Besides, Jack hadn't ever really been interested in other guys, not like that. He wandered into his parent's room and flicked on the lights. He had a full sized bed, which was plenty large enough for him, but his parents had one of those California King beds, the thing was massive. The bed was in the center of the wall right across from him, and there were dressers and other things along the walls.
Jack was just settling onto the bed when Andy came in and set both of the bags down near the door. He looked at the gryphon and huffed, "Wow, that's a huge bed."
He nodded, relaxing on the soft mattress and murred, "Yeah, and it's comfy too. But it feels kinda weird laying in my parent's bed. I mean, do you know how many times I've heard them having sex in this?"
Andy had just come over and leapt onto the bed before he looked at his friend with a shocked expression, "Too much information there." The gryphon chuckled and stretched his back, groaning as his muscles complained a little before laying back.
Reaching over, he clicked on a bedside lamp and got up as Andy pulled back the covers and began to shimmy out of his pants. "You wanna borrow some of my PJ pants?" asked Jack, his finger hovering on the switch.
The osprey shook his head, "No, I never liked those things. But if you're uncomfortable with me in my underwear I could put some on."
Jack shrugged, "It really doesn't matter to me, I guess," and flicked off the lights as the slim male slipped under the covers and nuzzled into the pillow. Crossing the distance to the bed, the gryphon crawled under the covers as well and yawned, clicking his beak. He reached over and turned off the bedside lamp, throwing the room into darkness.
He lay there for a moment before reaching under the covers as well, stripping off his pants and tossing them away, "Never liked these things either." He heard a soft chuckle from his friend followed by the sound of soft breathing as both of them began to drift away into sleep.
Well, at least Jack was trying to, but as he tried a noise made his eyes snap open. His mind wondered what the sound was and his eyes widened as he realized he'd left the bat in the kitchen. His heart began to race inside his chest before the noise came again. It was a soft whimper followed by a twitch from Andy as the osprey had a nightmare. Rolling onto his side, he reached over and touched his friend's shoulder gently. He could see the falcon's eyes snap open and glimmer in the low light coming through the window. Jack whispered, "Are you okay?"
Andy mumbled sleepily, "Just a nightmare I guess," and the gryphon could see him wiping at his eyes.
Sliding a hand out, he tugged at his friend's arm, "Come on over here, this seemed to help you earlier."
The other avian moved over, not asking; "You sure about this?" until he was already chest to chest with Jack.
The larger male nodded, "Yeah, just no funny business." The smile could be heard in his voice, making Andy laughs some as he tucked his head under the gryphon's chin. The two of them held each other close, murring softly for a moment until Jack blinked. "Um, Andy, are you getting a little excited?"
He heard the osprey mutter, "Sorry," into his neck before he shifted some and his breathing slowed.
He laid there with Andy's head on one of his arms and his other hand resting on the osprey's hip. His mind was too restless to sleep just yet. Instead, he found himself thinking about the events of the last day. So much had happened that it seemed surreal. Something had happened, even the experts on the news weren't sure what, led to the recently dead coming back to a semblance of life. These things were driven by an insatiable need to feed on flesh of the living of freshly killed. Because of that, Andy now had nothing other than a backpack full of clothes and what he was wearing.
Looking at his slumbering friend, Jack let his hand slide along the avian's back slowly. Now, he was all that his childhood friend had. Which might explain the odd, protective urge he felt towards the osprey. Despite the fact that they had grown apart as friends over the last few years, they had been there for each other when needed. Shrugging off the thoughts, he closed his eyes and found sleep waiting for him.
When Jack woke up, it took his brain a few moments to get going enough for him to remember what had happened. It did confuse him for a few seconds as to why he was spooning Andy. Sometime during the night the osprey had rolled around and now had his back tucked up against the gryphon's chest. He still thought it was a bit odd, how clingy Andy seemed to have gotten since yesterday. Then again, the guy had lost his entire family, his home, and almost everything he owned. For all he knew, he'd be acting the same way if the same thing happened to him.
Gently pulling himself away from the sleeping osprey, he slid out of the bed and walked into the bathroom to take care of his morning business. Walking into the bathroom, half-awake, he flicked the light switch and blinked when nothing happened. Trying it a couple more times, he shrugged and walked to the toilet to use it anyway. Power must have gone out or something happened to the lines in the night, but most of the rooms in the house had windows so they should be fine. Just meant that they wouldn't have the TV to entertain themselves. If he remembered, there were a few board games stashed somewhere and he kept a deck of those plastic, waterproof cards with his camping gear.
Staggering out of the bathroom, he saw Andy looking at him as he laid in bed. "It really happened, didn't it?" His brown eyes seemed to beg to be told it was all a dream.
Jack nodded and moved to sit on the bed, "Yeah, unfortunately it did, and now the power's out."
The osprey stretched out on the bed with a groan before relaxing. "Well, at least some of the girls at school are going to envy me now." He smiled at the gryphon's confused look as he sat up. The osprey chirped, "I did something a lot of them want to do. Share a bed with you." He cackled a laugh and ducked out of the bed as Jack gave a fake growl and swiped at him. He moved into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. The gryphon smiled a little and got up to go get something for breakfast.
Waltzing downstairs, he aimed for the kitchen and looked at the fridge. If he remembered right, it could stay cold for a day or two, but he forgot exactly how long. Either way, they had to use the things fast before it spoiled. Jerking open the door quickly, he grabbed the carton of eggs, the half-empty jug of milk, some cheese, and a couple other things before slamming the door shut. Andy waltzed down the stairs and let out a curious noise, "Oh, can you cook?"
Jack looked up and shrugged, "Not much more than scrambled eggs and microwaved bacon really."
The osprey let out a huff, "Move it and I'll cook something up." Shrugging, the gryphon moved to let the falcon move in. Andy opened up the fridge before picking out a few more things and shutting the door quickly. Humming a little song to himself, he began to set about making a pair of omelets for them. Jack's was just a simple one with some bacon, cheese, and some chopped peppers. Andy's seemed to be an attempt to make a complete meal from that one dish since it had cheese, bacon, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and several more things the gryphon didn't know he had in the fridge. To go with their omelets, Andy also heated up a bag of those pre-shredded hash browns and even cooked some toast in the pan.
Jack took a seat at the little island in the kitchen and began to eat, Andy sitting across from him. "Where did you learn to cook like that? Last I checked you were burning pop tarts."
The osprey shrugged and spoke between bites of the breakfast, "When you've got younger siblings you often get roped into playing babysitter. Then you have to learn how to cook unless you want to have left-overs or something. A lot of breakfast things are really easy to make actually." Jack could hear his friend's voice breaking some and looked up to see the osprey's beak quivering.
Looking at his plate he murred, "Well the food is great." His only response from the other male was a nod.
The gryphon finished off his food and stretched his back, feeling full. "Hey, Andy, why don't you go take a shower and chill in my room for a bit? I've got something I need to do." Andy nodded and got up, Jack taking the plates and cleaning them off before dropping them into the dishwasher. He walked upstairs, following the osprey just until he got to his room. Ducking inside, he grabbed a pair of jeans and pulled them on. What he was planning to do, he didn't exactly want to do in his underwear. Tucking his shirt in, he slid a belt around and cinched it up before heading back downstairs and into the garage.
About two hours or so later, he heard Andy calling for him inside the house. "Out in the garage," he called back, looking down at his project and peeled off some blue tape before nodding.
The osprey came out into the garage and sniffed, "Smells like spray paint in here, what have you been doing?" Instead of telling him, Jack moved to the side and nodded at the work table. On top of it was a large cross listing off the names of the falcon's family and familiar phrase, Rest In Peace. All the letters had been carved into the 2x4s so that they wouldn't fade. He'd given the names a coat of black paint before covering them up and spraying the entire thing white. Tears gathered in Andy's eyes as he looked at it, running his finger around the edge of one of the letters. Turning to look at Jack, he smiled; "I don't know how to thank you." He folded his arms around his chest and seemed to think about it for a second before saying, "I know I've been acting a bit weird since yesterday, but with all that's been happening its just." He shivered and paused a second, "Its just been crazy, like I'm stuck in a movie or something." Looking down at his hand, he scratched the wooden work bench some, "There is one thing I do know, and that is..."
Both of their heads jerked towards the door as the sound of something breaking came from the house. Jack crept towards the garage door and listened, Andy moving in behind him. He could hear several voices inside the house, "Remember, grab anything you want and if you see someone, see where the good stuff is then shoot'em."
Jack let out a low hiss and looked at Andy before whispering, "Wait here, I'm gonna go get the bags. If anyone starts to come in, try to stall or something." The osprey nodded, his eyes wide as the hybrid picked up his bat and slipped out of the garage and up the stairs.
Having lived in this house his entire life, he knew exactly what areas creaked of squeaked. He did his best to be silent, gliding through the upstairs hall towards his parent's room where the bags were. Kneeling, he began to hook the two together before lifting them up. As he left the room, he heard someone call out, "Hey, come down here and check out this TV!" several sets of footsteps thundered through the house then down the steps. He knew an opportunity when he saw one and slipped down the steps and towards the basement. Leaning around the door, he could hear several people talking about the stuff in the media room. Smiling to himself, he slowly shut the door and locked it. To make extra sure that his unwelcome guests wouldn't be coming up in a hurry, he wedged a chair under the knob before returning to the garage.
He froze in the doorway, seeing one of the intruders pointing at gun at Andy. The osprey's eyes couldn't have been bigger as he stared at the weapon, trembling. "Please don't shoot me, I can tell you where the safe and everything is." Lowering the bags down to the floor slowly, Jack shifted his grip on the bat and began to walk up behind the thug slowly.
The snake hissed, "Good, if you tell me I might be able to talk the others into letting you live. Course how long depends on your willingness to help us with a few things." He hissed out a cold sounding laugh as Andy's eyes darted towards Jack. As if sensing trouble, the snake began to turn towards the door. Lifting the metal club over his shoulder, the gryphon took a couple shuffling steps. The bat whistled through the air and hit the thug's face as if it were a home run ball. Jack could feel bone crunch under the blow, blood splattering against the wall as the thug staggered back and fell to the ground with a gurgling noise.
Andy seemed frozen, trembling a little as he watched his friend take down someone that wasn't a zombie. Jack felt a little sick in his gut, but knew that it was all about survival right now. Ignoring the gore, he reached down and pried the gun from the corpse's hand before feeling around for anything that might be useful. He came up with a wallet, a knife, the gun's holster, and a couple more clips for the pistol. He looked up at Andy and held out the gun, "Here, take this."
The osprey looked at him like he'd gone crazy, "Why do I have to take the gun?" he squeaked, nearly yelling as he panted.
Jack hissed, "Because you play more games and you're better at this probably." Nodding, the falcon took the weapon with a shaking hand. "Grab anything you want to take, we're getting out of here before the other guys get out of the basement." Again, the osprey nodded and went to the garage door before darting upstairs. While waiting for Andy, the gryphon threw the two packs into the back of his SUV. His eyes moved to look at where the lawn mower and other yard tools were. There was a heavy, red cabinet that he knew held paint and a gas can. Walking over, he opened it up and lifted the can. Good, it was still almost full.
When Andy came back, Jack was just finishing up pouring the last of the fuel from the plastic container into the tank. The osprey had put on his jeans and belt and had the pistol holstered on his hip, but he still looked uncomfortable. In his hands, he had a small black bag and a couple pillows tucked under his arms. He threw those into the back before climbing into the passenger seat, he waited for Jack to get in the driver's seat. When the gryphon started up the car and hit the button to open the garage, Andy said; "You killed that guy."
As the door rattled up, Jack nodded; "And I would do it again if I had to. You heard them, get what they can then kill anyone." Grabbing the radio's knob, he twisted it sharply to turn down the volume. Looking over at the falcon, his gray eyes were serious; "Right now all we have is each other and what's in this car." Without even thinking he said, "I promise you right now that I'll do everything in my power to protect you." Throwing the car into reverse, he began to back out of the garage quickly. He almost side-swiped the van parked in the drive-way before hitting the road. Instead of turning to the main street, he aimed towards the burned-down house and pulled up outside it. Unbuckling his seat belt, he got out and opened the back door to get the cross and an ax. "Keep an eye out, okay?"
Andy nodded and got out of the car, seeming calmer now as he scanned the area. With cross in hand, Jack walked up to the house and put the bottom against the ground before shoving. The point on the end sunk into the yard a little, just enough to hold it up as he used the head of the ax to pound it down the rest of the way. It took less than a minute before the two of them were back in the car and heading away from the neighborhood that had been their home since they were kids.
Jack wasn't sure where to go, but he knew that unless he found some new place to hole up then the two of them weren't going to last terribly long. He headed towards the interstate, winding through the streets. From what they saw it looked like the town had gone to the pits over the course of just a couple days. Several houses were burned down, businesses had been broken into, and there were wrecks everywhere. Andy shivered at the sights and asked, "Where are we going?"
The gryphon murred, "There's a park I know of about forty miles from here. Maybe getting out of the city and into the wilderness is our best choice right now." He glanced down at the dash, "I have about three-quarters of a tank right now so we could even go further away if possible." No one was out on the streets, but there were more than a few shambling corpses. They seemed content to shuffle around slowly until they saw the moving vehicle. As if sensing food, they would roar and begin to run towards them. It wasn't too hard to just turn down another street or swerve around them.
Pulling onto the highway was a task in itself since several cars had either wrecked or been abandoned at the on ramp. Turning the wheel, he took the SUV down the grass to get around the worst of it. Once his car got down to the main stretch, he pushed down on the gas and let the engine roar as he accelerated. There were a lot fewer cars on the highway than there had been on the streets. He didn't get up to the normal speed he usually hit on the interstate, instead going below the speed limit. Had to make every drop of gas count right now since he wasn't sure if he could get a fill-up at gas stations until he got to civilization.
After a moment, he reached towards the radio to turn it back up when Andy said; "You notice something?" Jack's hand dropped to the center console as he looked at the osprey from the corner of his eye. "Back in town, there was no one out on the streets. I mean no one except for those things, zombies, undead, whatever you want to call them."
Jack nodded slowly, "I noticed that too. Maybe they're just staying inside and are hoping their doors are enough to keep those things and the creeps out." He clicked his beak for a moment as he thought, "Or maybe there are shelters out there and we didn't hear about them." Up ahead in the distance there was one of those electronic signs over the highway, usually used to talk about road conditions and travel times. Today however, it had a message stating to tune the radios to a certain station. Reaching down, he fiddled with the radio some before landing on the station in time to hear the end of a broadcast followed by the announcement that the next one would begin in a half-hour. "Just our luck, isn't it?"
The two drove in silence for a few minutes before Andy blinked, "What's that up ahead?" Jack looked at his friend, who was leaning forward and squinting before turning his attention back to the road. Up ahead, he could see a line of something across the road. Slowing the car down, he squinted himself and the figures up ahead came into sharp focus.
Letting his foot off the gas, he began to pull off the road, "Looks like a roadblock filled with nasty looking military types." The car came to a slow stop at the side of the road, the pair looking down the interstate. "I see lots of soldiers, vehicles, tents, and oh yeah. An awful lot of guns and crap." Leaning back, he drummed his fingers against the steering wheel, "What do you think, should we go up there and see if we can slip through?"
The sound of a high-performance engine made both their heads turn as one of those little street racer motorcycle flew past them. Its brake lights flared for a second before vanishing. The engine screamed louder as the rider gunned it. They watched as several of the military vehicles lit up, bright yellow lights on their roofs. When the rider showed no sign of slowing down, the yellow lights went off and red lights came on. Still his engine screamed towards them. The lights began to flash in warning before going dark. Even at this distance, they could see the flashes of gunfire from the roadblock. The motorcycle fish-tailed wildly before falling onto its side and skidding along the asphalt. Bike and rider went off the road, disappearing into the grass with an explosion of debris.
The two stared as a Hummer broke away from the blockade and moved towards the wreckage. A couple soldiers, wearing bio-hazard gear, jumped out of the vehicle before racing over the twisted bike and rider. One stood on the road as the other fished out something and threw it. The two of them hauled it back up onto the road and behind the Hummer. A second later, flames leapt into the air as the incendiary grenade went off. The fear could be heard in Andy's voice; "They aren't messing around, are they?"
Jack shook his head slowly, "No they aren't." He watched as the soldiers got back into their truck before it began to tool towards the them. "And they're coming this way." Gripping the steering wheel, he tried to figure out what to do as those yellow lights on the Hummer's roof turned on.
His tail lashed behind him, "Shit! Shit, what do we do?" His hands clenched at the steering wheel, his body trembling as he thought about running.
Andy looked over and hissed, "Turn on your flashers and start moving towards them slowly." Jack looked at his friend like he'd finally gone over the edge. The osprey snapped his beak, "Just trust me and do it."
For a second, the gryphon entertained the thought of making an u-turn and flooring it. Taking a breath, he reached down and hit the emergency flashers, "I hope you're right about this." Shifting into drive, he gave it just enough gas to get back onto the road before slowly coasting towards the soldiers.
Andy shifted a little before pulling the holster off his belt and putting it on the dash, along with the clips of ammo. "Roll down the windows," Jack looked at him then did as requested, trusting his friend right now. The Hummer rolled towards them slowly, those yellow lights still glaring at them. When they were about twenty feet apart the lights turned to red and Jack hit the brakes before shifting to park. He kept his hands on the wheel and Andy kept his on his lap as the two soldiers jumped out of the vehicle and approached them. Both kept their rifles trained on he and Andy as they got alongside the car and looked in. The one on the passenger side moved to the back windows and looked inside before signaling to his partner.
The one at Jack's pointed towards the pistol and rasped through his mask, "Is that the only gun you two have?"
The gryphon nodded slowly, "Yes sir." He looked up, seeing the wolf's face on the other side of the clear plastic. "Everything in this car belongs to us, it's all we have right now."
The wolf nodded and lowered his gun, his partner doing the same on the other side. "This area is quarantined right now, no one can leave. If you have a map I can mark where our perimeter is and I can give you some signal flares. But that is all we can do to help. If you are caught trying to escape the perimeter..." his voice trailed off, leaving the rest unsaid.
Jack gulped softly and nodded, "Andy, I should have a local map in the glove box." He watched as the osprey popped it open and dug through the garbage that tended to collect in there. A moment later, he pulled out the small paperback volume before handing it over to Jack, who promptly handed it to the soldier.
The wolf flipped through it before pulling out a marker and drawing on several of the maps. "I'll go ahead and mark where some shelters are as well." Closing the book, he handed it back to the gryphon; "My advice, find a hole and pull it in after you. If you see a military vehicle of any kind then fire off one of the signal flares my partner is going to give you." The two looked back as the other soldier dropped a flare gun and a small belt of rounds. With that, they retreated to their Hummer and turned around before going back to the blockade, leaving the pair sitting in the road. Slowly, Jack turned his SUV around, pulled through the median, and started back towards town.
After seeing that there was little to no chance of escape, Jack felt like he had hit rock bottom. He could only imagine how Andy was feeling right now. Strangely though, it had only strengthened his resolve to survive. It was like getting into a game with the State Champions, the sheer challenge of it was the attractive part. "Get that map and see where we can and can't go." The osprey nodded silently and picked up the atlas. Jack turned a corner, the holstered gun and clips sliding across the dash. "And do something about those, I don't want to get shot if that thing falls."
Andy grabbed up the gun, shoving it between the seats, the clips found their way into the empty cup holders. As he looked over the map Jack asked, "How did you know they weren't going to shoot us?"
The osprey paused for a second, "I didn't, actually. I just thought that since they had the yellow and red lights, they might only shoot if needed." His finger ran along the maps, flipping the pages. "What do you want me to look for?"
Jack shrugged, "Somewhere we can defend if needed, but I'd rather some place that'd be easy to secure so we can block ourselves in." He looked at a group of the shuffling dead that were near the highway and stepped on the gas a little, getting past them quickly.
The osprey tapped a finger on one of the pages, "What about that garage down near main? Don't they have secured parking or something?"
Jack blinked slowly for a second before grinning, "I could kiss you right now, that's a great idea!" Andy blushed some and looked towards the road, murring softly.
Within minutes, they were just down the street from the garage and staring at a lot of zombies. Jack huffed, "I see two plans. Either we make a break for the garage and hope that only a few of them get in. Or we try to draw them away then slip in."
Andy drummed his fingers against the dash, "Which do you think is better?"
Jack rolled his head from side to side and thought, "Well, one guarantees we get inside, but a few are going to follow us. The other guarantees only one or two get in, but we might not make it there at all."
The osprey looked up as they sat in the alley, the engine idling quietly; "Well, knowing you all these years, I can guess which one you're going for."
He nodded and rubbed his car's dash, "I'm sorry baby, but you might get banged up some."
Slapping the shifter into Drive, he put his foot on the gas and let the engine roar. The SUV leapt out of the alley with its horn blaring as it barreled down the street. The zombies all turned towards the car and roared before starting to run towards it. Jack clenched his beak as he began to swerve between the things, his tires chirping against the street. He could feel the back begin to side a little as he took a corner, turning the wheel so he didn't flip. One of the creatures lunged towards the car only to get slammed by the rear panel and launched away. Putting his foot down a little more made the SUV power away from the group. Letting off the pedal, he kept watching the people charging behind him, trying to keep up.
He led them down a few streets, Andy holding tight to the handle above the door, his nares white, as he tried to keep it together. Jack felt his heart hammering inside of his chest as he pushed his big car beyond what it should be doing. He hissed to the car, "Hold it together for me, I know you can take this punishment and keep going." Taking a couple corners, he took made a large U-turn and pushed down on the gas, now trying to get away from the horde he'd gathered. "Andy, keep and eye out and tell me if you see anyone." The osprey nodded, his eyes starting to scan the streets as the gryphon navigated back towards their goal.
He had gone further than he thought, those things had moved surprisingly fast. Pulling around to the garage, Andy chirped; "Looks clear." Nodding, Jack pulled down the ramp leading into the garage and got to the bottom. Either the electricity was working here, or the battery on the automatic system was working, because as he got to the bottom the machine spat out a ticket. Tugging it out, he grinned as the rolling door began to rattle up in front of them. It barely lifted high enough before he pulled in, his headlights stabbing at the dark interior. The door rattled back down behind them, sounding like the Gates of Hell closing as they rolled away slowly. Turning a corner, the sound of a snarl made them look towards the door. One of the creatures slipped under the door and began to run for them. Without even thinking, Jack put the car into reverse and pushed down on the gas. The rear end of the SUV slammed into the canine and pushed it backwards it tumbled under the wheels. He managed to hit the brakes before slamming into the wall. Dropping it down into drive, he pulled forward again, the vehicle tilting as it ran over the thing again.
Jack wasted no time in taking the SUV up to the second to last floor. There were a few other cars out here, but not too many since people tended to gravitate towards the lower levels and areas near the walkways. Pulling his car into a spot far from the up ramp, he put it into park and turned off the engine. Turning his head this way and that, he stretched and murred; "Well, it's not the best of places, but it should be easy to hear anything coming and we can should be able to hold out here for a bit."
Andy looked over at him and cooed softly, "You seem to be handling all this pretty well, much better than me." His beak turned up into a shaky smile.
The gryphon couldn't help but laugh, "I feel like I'm about to be sick, the only thing that's keeping me going right now is that I have to survive."
Andy's head tilted to the side as he chirped, "What do you mean? Why do you have to survive?"
The hybrid stopped mid-stretch and blinked slowly as he tried to thing of an answer. "Because I hate to lose I guess, do I really need a reason to keep trying to live?" His friend shook his head and smiled, making the gryphon smile back. "Anyway, I think we can set up most of the gear outside, but I'd feel safer with the sleeping bags inside of the car." Turning his head, he looked into the back of the car, "It'll be tight, but we should both be able to lay down back there... As long as you don't mind being close that is."
The osprey crooned softly and shook his head again, "I don't mind that at all."
Jack looked at his friend a little oddly then shrugged and got out of the car before heading around the back to get out what they didn't need or want inside the back.
Before long they had a camp table and a couple chairs set up and were relaxing in the cloth seats. The car sat next to them with the windows rolled up most of the way and the windows locked. They had a bag of granola they were sharing and each had a sports bottle filled with some water. Andy had produced some of those little pouches of powder that you mixed with water to get a flavored drink, but Jack just stuck with plain water for now. Andy looked at him, "What do we do now that we're here?"
Jack shrugged and popped some of the food into his beak; "Try to find a bathroom or something, if not then we'll just have to find a corner. One thing's for sure, we shouldn't split up."
Andy blinked at him, "A corner, what if we need to take a crap?" In answer, the gryphon lifted up a roll of camping toilet paper and wiggled it. The osprey nodded, "Definitely need a bathroom."
Jack chuckled and nodded towards the car, "Have a little folding camp toilet, just a bag really but better than nothing."
The two spent the day sitting around the car or exploring a couple levels of the deck. That night, they retired to the back of the car, Andy looking on as Jack folded down the back two seats and unrolled a pair of sleeping bags. Unzipping them, he sat one up as a crude mat, the other acting as a cover. There was just enough room for them to have a couple of the jugs of water and their packs. Andy poked his head in as the gryphon shuffled around on his hands and knees. "Not a lot of room, is it?"
Jack grunted as he smoothed out the bags, "Nope, not a lot at all, but it's better than sleeping in the backpacking tent I have." Sitting down, he leaned back against the interior's side and murred; "Come on in and shut the door."
Andy hopped up and shut the door behind him, shutting the two inside of the car. It was a little cramped, that was for sure, but they had just enough room to sit up. Even if Jack did have to slouch some to do so. He let out a little sigh, "Not exactly the way you imagined you'd be spending your weekend, is it?"
The gryphon shook his head, "Not exactly." He turned his head and looked out the windshield. The sun had set and they'd already had a filling, if not exactly thrilling, MRE dinner. "We should get some sleep, don't know what tomorrow will bring."
The osprey watched as Jack fished out a new shirt from his bag before starting to undress. "Should we keep watch or something?" He asked, doing the same.
Jack got his shirt off, revealing his bare chest, before answering; "I don't think we need to. The windows are only open an inch, and the doors are all locked. We should be safe." His friend nodded and followed his example of stripping down to tee shirt and underwear before sliding under the covers.
The two of them laid there in the makeshift bed, just listening to the soft, night time sounds that came in the windows. It was more than a little disturbing to hear the sound of crickets mixed with snarls, roars, and other less savory noises down below. Jack was resting on his back, staring at the ceiling and listening. Andy was against his side, his body providing a pleasant warmth against his arm, as the osprey's hand rubbed his chest softly. After a few minutes, the gryphon felt his eyes begin to get heavy and he began to slip into sleep. Without a word, the osprey's body shifted to straddle the gryphon's waist. Jack looked up and blinked at the shadowy outline before hissing; "Andy, what are you doing?"
He could hear the embarrassment in his friend's voice as the falcon hissed softly, "Something I should have done a long time ago, but have been too scared to do it."
Leaning in, the osprey pressed his beak against the gryphon's in an avian kiss. For a second, Jack was surprised, but then began to respond to the kiss. The two males held the embrace for a long moment before Andy began to pull away. Jack gripped his head and pulled his back down, locking their beaks together for a moment. They broke the kiss and the osprey panted, "Are you sure you want to do this?"
Jack thought about it for a moment, wondering. It would be his first time doing this thing with a male; but considering they might not live beyond tomorrow, why the hell not? "Yes, don't want you to die a virgin. Would just be wrong." He pulled his friend into a deeper kiss, feeling the osprey's head hammering against his chest.
The morning's sun shone in through the window, slowly creeping towards Jack's head as it rose higher in the sky. Before too long, the gryphon winced as it landed across his eyes and mumbled something. Opening his eyes slowly, he blinked sleepily and yawned, his beak stretching wide. He started to stretch his back out, but stopped when Andy let out a mumbled noise and wiggled. Once again, the osprey's back was pushed against his chest, but this time both of them were naked and the scent of sex hung in the air. Lifting his head, he looked at the peacefully sleeping falcon, who had a slight smile on his face.
A part of his brain screamed that what he had done was wrong and vile, that guys shouldn't have sex with each other. As he thought, Andy opened his eyes slowly and looked up at the gryphon. He smiled and stretched out slowly, his murr growing in volume as he woke slowly. The sight of the other male waking up in his arms and looking so content silenced the nagging voice. A flood of emotion surged through his body, a soft, warmth that made Jack wonder wonder how exactly he felt for his friend. Andy rolled over and pressed up against his body before wrapping his arms around Jack. Without thinking, he returned the gesture and found himself smiling. "Sleep well?"
Andy nodded and nuzzled into Jack's chest feathers, "Yeah, you?" The gryphon nodded before laying his head back down on the pillow, not saying anything to ruin the tender moment. Never before had he felt an attraction towards another male, was this love that he was feeling?
The two spent some time in each other's arms before slowly pulling apart and sitting up. They cleaned themselves up with some wetnaps that Jack had shoved in his glove box alongside napkins and other various things. Getting dressed in the back of the SUV was an undertaking, but it wasn't like personal space meant much to the pair at that time. Jack grabbed his bat and Andy picked up the pistol before they slipped out of the car, their eyes peeled for any movement or noise inside of the parking deck. Andy whispered, "Hear anything?"
Jack shook his head slowly and lowered his bat, "No, seems dead out there." Of course this made the osprey wince and swat the larger male for the bad pun. The gryphon chuckled softly and smiled, stretching out his body now that he was outside of the car.
Andy walked around the car and leaned over the railing to look down into the street as Jack lit the stove and began to heat water for their breakfast. As the blue flame licked at the bottom of the small pot, the osprey murred; "Do you think they still think or anything? The zombies I mean."
Jack rolled his shoulders, "I don't know, and I'm not sure I want to know honestly." Putting down the packets of oatmeal, he walked up behind his friend and wrapped him up in a hug. Resting his cheek against the osprey's he murred, "I don't think they are anything more than animals, honestly. Not after what we've seen them do."
Andy put his hand on top of the gryphon's and squeezed it, "You've seen the news, people do horrible things all the time."
Jack gave his neck a little nip, "I know, but you should know that bad news sells better than good news." They looked out of the parking deck, seeming to enjoy being close to each other. "Its how the world works I guess." Giving his lover a little nuzzle, he cooed, "As long as we have each other, we're doing pretty good, right?" Andy nodded and smiled, feeling very relaxed now as they stood there.
They stayed like that for a long moment before slowing breaking the embrace, moving to their little camp to get their breakfast. It wasn't much more than some oatmeal with orange flavored water to chase it down. Andy looked up from his meager bowl, "What do we have planned for today?"
Jack had finished his food and was wiping it out with a wetnap; "I think we should go investigate that walkway going to the other building. It might be a bit better than camping out in the back of my car for who knows how long." He smiled at the osprey, "I'm not sure about you, but I'd like some room to move around a bit more."
That last comment made Andy's nares flush blood red and he almost choked on his food. After a second, he stopped coughing and asked, "But what about the door? It was locked up tight yesterday." The gryphon's grin made the osprey lift an eyebrow.
After breakfast, they packed up their little camp and moved the car down towards the level with the walkway, keeping their eyes peeled for anything moving in the shadows. It only took a couple minutes of traveling at the car's idle speed to reach the walkway, Jack maneuvering the SUV so he could back up and get as close as he could to it. Putting the car into park, he looked over his shoulder at the double glass doors at the end of the walkway. For a long moment, the two of them sat there and looked down towards the doors. Finally Jack said, "If we get in there we might have power, running water, phone, and TV. Or it might be filled with things that want to snack on us."
Andy looked at him, "You sure we should go in there, Jack?" The gryphon looked over at him as he continued; "I mean, we don't have a lot out here but at least we know there aren't any zombies and we do have enough food for a couple weeks, right?"
The hybrid nodded slowly, his eyes going back towards the door; "Yeah, but if it rains or anything I think I'd rather be inside a building than be inside a car." He smiled at Andy and canted his head to the side, "Besides, it's a government building, its bound to be locked down for each floor and stuff, right?"
He shut off the car and got out, pulling his bat with him. Andy jumped out as well, "Don't you think that the government might be a little peeved at you breaking into one of their buildings?"
Jack hit the remote on his keychain, the SUV locking up behind them; "If they don't want me to break in, then they can just let us out of the quarantine." He could hear the osprey's sigh behind him and the soft scratching of his friend's talons on the concrete walkway. He glanced at Andy, "Step back and keep your gun ready just in case." The falcon nodded, pulling out the pistol with a shaky hand and flicking off the safety switch. Taking a breath, the gryphon stood with his side facing the door as if it were a pitcher from an opposing team. The bat hit the door with a bang, the glass fragmenting into a star-burst pattern. Shifting his grip on the metal club, he started to knock pieces of the glass door out with the end.
A snarl and Andy's shriek of, "Jack, look out!" was his only warning that something was coming. He looked up from his work of knocking out the pieces of glass just in time to see a tiger anthro charging down the hall. He didn't have much, if any, time to react as the striped feline barreled towards him. He managed to get the bat up and take a half-step back when the muscled creature launched itself through the glass and slammed into him. Glass that he hadn't knocked out of the door rained around the pair as he fell backwards. A piece sliced along his bicep, making him hiss before the wind was knocked out of his chest when he slammed into the concrete floor. Stunned, he was an easy target as the tiger knocked the bat out of his hands, Jack gulping and gasping for air as he tried to fight back. All he could see was an impressive set of teeth set inside a large maw coming towards him, it's rancid breath washing over his face.
A single gunshot rang out in the morning air, making Jack jump as the tiger's skull opened up, blood and gore splattering over his body. He thrashed under the body, heaving the dead weight off of his form before sitting up. He looked back at Andy, who was panting heavily and shaking as he stood there with the smoking gun. The osprey looked at him and panted, "Are you okay?"
Jack started to sit up, but let out a low hiss as his arm screamed at him; "Mostly." He huffed and started to move so he could lean against the wall. Andy hurried over to help him, emitting a concerned whine when he saw the slash in the gryphon's arm. Jack fished into his pocket and pulled out his keys, "In the back of my car there's a first aid kit, get it." The osprey grabbed the keys and rushed towards the SUV. He only had to wait a moment before Andy returned with the kit. Grabbing the ruined sleeve of the gryphon's shirt, he cut it away with the pair of scissors inside the kit to reveal the wound.
Jack watched as Andy started to pull out some of those little things designed to hold a wound closed. "No, just put a pad and some gauze on it for now. We'll worry about more once I get it washed off." Nodding, the osprey smeared some anti-biotic ointment onto a sterile pad before pressing it against the cut. It was a couple inches long, but thankfully it wasn't too deep. A few layers of some gauze wrap and Andy was tying it off, making Jack wince and hiss softly.
Andy finished tying off the gauze, "Are you still sure we should be going inside this building?" Jack managed to get up, with Andy's help, and winced as he picked up the bat in his left hand.
He shook his head, "No, but we don't have much of a choice, I need to wash this out. Just keep a sharp eye out for anything that wants to eat us." Nodding, the osprey slipped through the door, which had almost no glass left in it now. Jack followed suit, trying not to slice up his foot on the broken glass.
Their footsteps were slow and careful, trying to make as little noise as they could. Jack's eartuffs were standing at full attention as he tried to pick up any wayward sounds. Andy was just ahead of him, his pistol pointed at the ceiling. The osprey's head snapped this way and that, fully expecting something to leap out of the shadows at them. As they moved away from the door, the first thing that Jack noticed was that the lights were on. Not all of them, but ever fifth overhead light was on, providing some dim lighting. The falcon paused at a T-shaped intersection, poking his head around the corner and looking both ways before picking the hallway on the right. They continued the slow, but steady, advance with Jack watching behind them.
Ahead, a door opened up and out popped a figure with a gun. They couldn't see what the person was due to the light, but they could hear as he called out; "Who are you?"
Jack hissed softly, holding his arm as he propped himself up on a wall. Andy looked up at the figure, "We were out in the parking deck and decided to try and get in here. My friend's arm is hurt and we were attacked on the way in."
The door creaked open a little more as the figure moved out into the hall, keeping the gun trained on them; "Was he bitten?"
Jack huffed, "No, this tiger burst through the door and I got cut by some of the glass. It hurts like a bitch and I'm not in the mood to play twenty questions."
The German Shepard stopped under the nearest light that was on, his pistol aimed right at the pair. Andy had his gun raised as well, but unlike the canine his hand was trembling. "Andy, put up your gun." The osprey looked at him before doing as asked slowly. Jack managed to get up onto his feet, still holding his arm.
The canine let out a little growl, "Follow me." Before starting to back down the hall slowly, keeping his gun trained on them. Not saying a word, they followed him until they got to the door. The Shepard barked, "Betty, got someone I want you to look at real quick." Jack could hear a few people on the other side of the door whispering before a lioness came out slowly. She was wearing a pair of ripped jeans and a shirt that had seen better days. "Check his arm."
Jack held still as she came closer, "Lower your hand." When he did, she reached out and undid the gauze before lifting up the pad and hissing. "It's a cut Mike, not a bite." The canine let out a sigh of relief and holstered his weapon. Betty spotted the red first aid kit that Andy had looped onto his belt, "Give me that and come on in, I'll tend to your arm." The osprey handed it over and they both followed her into the room.
On the other side of the door was a breakroom like you'd expect to see in an office. Betty guided Jack to sit at a table before moving to get some water and other supplies. As she worked, Jack told Mike about where they came from and the supplies out in the car. The promise of them willingly sharing the supplies earned the pair a warm welcome. There was only four of them, six now that he and Andy had joined. They had met Mike, a guard for the building, and Betty, a nurse that Mike had let in back on Saturday. There was a lemur, Amy, who both Jack and Andy knew from school and Steve, a llama, who sat at his own table and flipped through a Bible. Andy, Mike, and Steve went to get the gear they could from the car before blocking up that broken door; leaving Jack, Betty, and Amy in the breakroom.
The nurse sat down next to Jack with a bowl of warm water mixed with some soap and a cloth rag. Sitting down next to him, she started to clean up his arm as she purred softly. Amy came over and sat across from them, watching as the gryphon winced and made a face as his arm was cleaned up. She had been on a sports team as well, but focused more on her academics than the gryphon did. The lemur asked, "How'd you and Andy get here together?"
He was glad for the distraction, "We live right down the street from each other. He called me up Saturday morning to tell me what was going on then a couple of those things broke into his house." He hissed as Betty used one of those small single-use pouches of alcohol on his cut. "He lost his family and we've been on the move since yesterday." He sighed, "Turns out the military has a quarantine line around the area."
Amy nodded, "We heard about that on the TV. Power is still on here, but all they're showing is the news coverage really." Her head lowered some; "Gets pretty depressing after a while."
Having cleaned his arm, Betty moved on to use those little adhesive closures; "So do you like him? Your friend I mean." She smiled at Jack when he looked at her, "I can smell him all over you, Jack."
He was about to answer when a sound caught their attention. All three of their heads turned towards the door as the sounds of shouting came through the wooden portal. First to come in was Steve, stalking in with arms full of gear. He dropped it all onto a table then retreated to a corner to sit with his book and glare at Jack. Andy came in next, followed by Mike, each of them setting down their gear a bit more gently than the llama had. The osprey looked downright pissed as he came over and sat next to Jack, leaning against his friend. Mike shut the door and locked it behind him, "We got all the stuff out of your car, some nice gear you have. Go camping often?"
Jack started to answer, but the llama snapped; "Probably goes away every weekend with his fagot boyfriend there."
Andy let out a hiss, his feathers fluffing out, "I told you not to call me that!" He leapt to his feet, gripping the table's edge tightly as he trembled.
Steve snorted, "Look at that, one word and the homo bursts into flames. It is your fault and the fault of people like you that this has happened to us!" He shook the Bible at Andy as he yelled, rising from his seat as well.
Jack didn't know what possessed him to do it, but found himself standing up and lifting his bat. He pointed it at the Bible-thumper; "Listen, you can say whatever you want to me, but you say another word to my friend and I'll shove this bat where the sun don't shine."
Steve sneered, "Just as I expected, insult your little boyfriend and you jump right to physical threats. I could tell from looking at you that you have about as much intelligence as a sponge."
The gryphon snapped his beak, "I might not be the smartest guy around, but at least I have had sex before. If you ask nicely, maybe I'll packa your fudge."
The mammal lurched towards the gryphon, but Mike was there. He caught Steve across the chest with his arm, knocking him down with a textbook clothesline. Calmly, he stood there and growled; "I already told you once not to talk like that around here, Steve. If you want to have a civil discussion then do it. If you want to pitch a fit and blame people, then we can always let you out of the building." The canine turned around and looked at the avians, "As for you two, thank you for the supplies and you're welcome to stay here. I'm sure that there's an office you can use as a bedroom, probably more comfortable than your car. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll help myself to one of these meals." Walking over to one of the boxes of MREs, he picked one up and began to read the instructions on the back.
Jack sat back down, huffing a little as his arm trembled some. Amy leaned across the table and whispered, "That was a bad joke."
The gryphon smiled some as Andy went to get a couple of the meals as well, "Is there such a thing as a good pun?" That got a laugh from her and the lioness before they went to see what they could get from the box as well. The food would go much faster now, but that was okay in his book since there was safety in numbers.
Jack looked over the ragged group that was sitting in the breakroom. They had all managed to find some shelter inside of an old office building. The gryphon looked around at the group and let out a soft sigh, plucking at a bandage on his arm. He felt filthy, tired, and hungry. His clothes were smeared in dirt and blood, his jeans almost shredded, and his shirt was torn but at least he was alive. Right now that was the biggest thing he had to worry about. Hard to believe really that just a few days ago he was in school and his worst probably was deciding what to eat for dinner. Mike came over, sitting at the table and they started to chat some. Andy followed behind soon, handing a meal to Jack before sitting next to the gryphon. Amy settled down at the table as well, Betty sitting next to her. The five of them began to talk about their various lives, what they had been doing, and so forth.
After the meal, Jack excused himself to one of the bathrooms and took some of his camping equipment and a change of clothes with him. Going into the bathroom, he flipped on the lights and looked around at the bare tiled room. Putting his clothes into one of the sinks, the gryphon headed to another and started to run the water. Testing it with his fingers, he stuffed a black vinyl bag under the tap and let it started to fill up with water. Once it was full, he screwed the plastic cap on the camp shower and hung it up onto one of the stall doors. Grabbing his clothes, he started to strip down and toss the dirty things into one of the garbage cans. He didn't care that he only had a few changes of clothes, even with washing he didn't want to put those gore-covered garments on again.
Jack lowered the hose some and twisted a valve, chilly water spraying from the nozzle and cascading over his body. Shivering some under the chilly shower, he quickly scrubbed the gunk out of his plumage. He didn't want to spend any longer under the water than he had to. Stepping out from under the drizzle, he turned the hose on the mess that covered the tiles. Luckily, like most bathrooms in a commercial building, this one had a drain in the floor. It took a couple minutes, but he managed to get most of the stuff washed down the drain and off the tiles. Fluffing out his feathers, he shook his body to dry off as much as he could before pulling on clean underwear.
He walked out of the bathroom in a pair of shorts, rubbing his head with a small towel. Mike was walking down the hall towards him and lifted an eyebrow as he got close. Jack smirked, "Camp shower, it doesn't hold a lot of water and its not hot, but better than nothing." He stopped and draped the towel over a cubical wall to pull a shirt on over his head.
Mike leaned against a wall, "I'm guessing that you go camping a lot seeing the gear that you had in your car."
Jack nodded, adjusting his shirt to fit around his wings; "Yeah, my parents were always big into it. They loved doing both backpacking and normal camping so we had a lot of gear."
The canine nodded, reaching down to scratch at his leg some. He turned his head and nodded back towards the hall, "Andy went down that way with your backpacks and sleeping bags. The food is in the breakroom, we've the vending machines too." He reached down and jingled some keys hanging from his belt, "I unlock them in the morning and lock them at night. Other than that," he rolled his shoulders in a shrug, "play nice and just ignore Steve." Pulling away from the wall, he yawned, "If you'll excuse me, I think I'll get a shower then go to bed myself."
Jack started to walk down the hall, his eartuffs twitching as he heard Amy and Betty talking in one of the other offices. Passing another door, he saw Steve inside the room, seated in an executive chair and reading his book. Down at the end of the hall, he found Andy. The osprey was bending over, adjusting the sleeping bags they had used the night before back in the car. Smiling, the gryphon slipped up and gave the falcon's rear a firm slap, making him squeak and jump. "Hey there." Andy looked back at him and smiled before going back to smoothing out the bedding. "I see you found a room you like."
The masked avian nodded, "Yeah, it's a little further away from the others but we have our own bathroom." He nodded towards a door that looked like it would lead to a closest. "Not much more than a sink and toilet though. And, I found this." Moving around the desk, he pulled out a bottle of whiskey and grinned widely. "Never tried getting drunk before," he looked at the bottle, "then again, I never had sex before and that turned out pretty fun."
Jack lifted an eyebrow, "As tempting as it sounds to get you completely hammered, I think I'm going to call it an early night. Not feeling that well."
Andy put the bottle on top of the desk and murred, "Probably just everything that's been happening. Lay on down and I'll get the lights." Jack nodded, shedding his pants and slipping in between the two sleeping bags. The osprey crossed the room to the light switch; "I think I'll go clean up in the bathroom before I turn in with you." He said as he flipped the lights off, throwing the room into darkness.
Jack mumbled, "Down the hall there's another bathroom, I set up a camp shower in there. Its cold but better than bathing in the sink."
He could hear the falcon move through the room, "Okay, let me grab a change of clothes then I'll be back in a few minutes." He dug through his bag a moment, using the light coming from the doorway to find some clothes. Once he found some clothes, he left the room and closed the door most of the way behind him, leaving Jack in the dark.
The gryphon laid there for a few minutes, feeling completely exhausted. Andy was probably right, a lot of crap had happened over the last few days. Neither of them had really gotten a chance to lay down and just relax, not since this whole thing started. Now here they were, in a building with several other people that could watch their backs. His muscles relaxed slowly and the gryphon let out a soft sigh. His tired eyes closed and then he fell asleep, resting there inside the sleeping bag. He was almost asleep when Andy came in, the osprey sliding into bed with him and snuggling up as he murred.
Jack woke up when Andy started to shake his shoulder, feeling like he was on fire. He managed to mumble something to the falcon before his eyes started to close again. The next thing he knew the others were gathered around him, Betty feeling his head and checking his pulse. He could hear them talking about him. Andy's worried tone near his head, "What's the matter with him?"
The lioness let out a low humming noise as she undid the bandage on his arm before hissing; "Looks like he's got an infection. Get me the first aid kit and I'll see what I can do." She looked up and spotted the bottle on the desk, "Grab me that whiskey as well, it might help." Amy snatched up the bottle and handed it to the nurse. The sound of the cap's seal being broke dug at his ears before he felt an unbelievable burning over his arm.
He let out a hiss and lifted his back up, Mike holding him down. Over near the doorway he could hear Steve snort, "The sinners are being punished." Jack's head rolled to the side, wanting to snarl something at the llama, but Andy got there first. The falcon crossed the room in record time, his fist slamming into the mammal's cheek and knocking him back. The gryphon gave a dry laugh as he watched the asshole fall back into the hall.
Mike kept his hand on the gryphon's chest, "Do you think he got infected somehow?" He could feel the canine tremble a little as he asked the question.
Betty rolled her shoulders in a shrug, "I can't tell, honestly. I think its just an infection from the cut, a pretty bad one." Taking the first aid kit, she redressed the cut, "We need to keep fluids in him." Andy nodded slowly, rubbing his hand.
The rest of the day was a blur, with Jack fading in and out of consciousness. His falcon lover stayed with him the entire time, cradling the gryphon's head in his lap as he tried to feed him some broth, tea, whatever he could get down the larger male's crop. Andy rubbed his head gently and crooned, "You can't die, you know that right?"
Jack mumbled a response, "Why is that?" Before working his dry throat. Andy lifted a cup of water and held it to his beak, letting the gryphon wet his throat.
When the gryphon let his head fall back, Andy put the cup down; "Because you're all I have and if I lose you..." He paused for a second, swallowing the lump in his throat to keep from crying, "I don't know what I would do, Jack."
Reaching up, he brushed the osprey's cheek with his fingers. It might have been the fever, or it might have been the fact that he didn't care what anyone thought right now. Jack cooed, "Love you, Andy." Tears filled his friend's eyes as the gryphon smiled sleepily. "Gonna sleep some, kay?" He closed his eyes and let out a soft, content sigh as he drifted off again.
The next few days were just a blur until Amy ran into the room and almost squealed, "Mike just saw a helicopter so he fired off a flare. They're coming here!"
The osprey looked up and smiled, "That's good, go up with the others and tell them that we're here. I'll stay with Jack until you get back." It must have been something in his voice that told the lemur he wouldn't budge from that spot because she smiled, nodded, and ran off down the hall. Humming a soft song, he kept stroking his fingers through the male's head feathers as Jack's breathing became soft pants.
The next time Jack woke up, there was a blinding light in his eyes. When he tried to move to cover up his face, something tugged at his left arm and his right wouldn't move. By the time his eyes finally adjusted to the bright light, something moved to block it. Andy's arms wrapped around his body and the osprey murred, "You're awake!"
Jack grunted and looked around, his head buried in the falcon's feathers for a moment before Andy moved back. "What happened? Where are we?" Now that he wasn't being smothered, he could see that they were in a hospital room and he was hooked up to several machines. Crawling into bed next to him, the osprey filled him in on the details.
Roughly two weeks had passed since he could last remember clearly. Some scientists had figured out a way to diagnose who was infected and who wasn't infected. So the military had moved in to pick up any survivors, leaving behind any that showed signs of infections or that didn't pass the test. They had managed to get Jack to the hospital in time to save his life, but not his arm. Thanks to the infection that had nearly claimed his life, his arm had to be amputated. Through out it all, Andy hadn't left his bedside. Tossing back the cover, he looked at the stub sticking out of his right shoulder; "Well, damn." He felt like he should care more about it, but whatever drugs they had him on brushed aside any worry. Andy, just relieved to have him awake, crawled into bed slowly and laid his head on the gryphon's shoulder. Reaching over, he rubbed the osprey's cheek and murred, "I remember telling you something back in the office building."
Andy rubbed his beak into the gryphon's feathers and murred; "You were feverish, I'm surprised you remember anything."
Jack smiled and let out a low coo, "I meant it when I said it."
Thus ends the tale of two avians during the Great Crisis. Eventually the biological agents were contained and the infected were cleared from the towns. Jack and Andy moved back into their old neighborhood. Mike, Betty, and Amy all got houses on the same street. Currently Amy is expecting a child, either Jack's or Andy's, and has moved into the house with them. Betty and Mike are expecting as well. Steve was taken away by the military and hadn't been heard of.
Or maybe this was just a fantasy cooked up by a feverish mind. Perhaps this is what it really happened...
Andy's hand rubbed through Jack's feathers as the gryphon got worse throughout the day. Jack's breathing grew ragged and labored, his head tossing from side to side as he suffered from nightmares. It was late in the night when he finally calmed down, his breathing becoming shallow and rapid. Andy fell asleep with Jack's head resting in his lap, leaning over his lover. During the night, the gryphon's chest stopped rising and falling, his breath rattling out of his lungs. For a long moment, the only sounds in the room was the falcon's soft breathing as he slept on.
Jack's body jerked once, then again, his chest heaving as he took in a breath. His eyes snapped open and looked up at the osprey as he began to wake up. A part of his recognized Andy as the avian began to wake up. Reaching up, he grabbed onto the bird and jerked him down with a hiss. The osprey barely managed to utter a squeak before he felt the other male's beak tear into his throat, slicing and tearing at the flesh there. The door slammed open, flooding the room with light and illuminating the bleeding avian as he fell to the ground.
Clamping a hand to his throat Andy could only watch, with rapidly fading vision, as the gryphon leapt away from him with surprising speed. Mike yelled out a curse before yelping and falling silent as well. Tears trickled from the osprey's innocent brown eyes as he spiraled down into the waiting darkness. For a moment there was nothing, then he could hear his family calling for him, beckoning him towards them. Jack was there too, waiting and smiling at the osprey. With a smile, he went towards them, leaving behind the empty shell. The shell that slowly sat up with a hiss, eyes staring blankly at its surroundings before lurching to its feet and shuffling towards the door. The gryphon looked up at him, hissing as he crouched over the eviscerated canine. Both of their heads turned quickly as the smell and sound of living flesh called to them. They had to feed.