Annabelle was lost amidst a turbulent sea of survivors, all running into the forest that lined the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. People surrounded her on all sides and she didn’t dare stop moving for fear of being trampled to death.
She craned her neck back to briefly see the Sturtevant Bridge become consumed in an inferno, then collapse. Just moments earlier it had been an architectural wonder. Now all that remained were twisted hunks of flaming scrap metal that were flying everywhere.
Annabelle kept running. Shrieks of fellow survivors pierced her ear drums. She looked up to see half off a torn up box car sail just a few feet over her head. People ran for their lives, dispersing in every direction to avoid being crushed underneath it. Trees cracked and gave way as it landed.
The blonde watched as a gnarled hand popped out of the wreckage. A head followed, that of a zombified Buchanan Boy. It snapped its teeth and growled until a bullet pierced its brain. Annabelle turned to see a squad of soldiers closing in.
They ran over to inspect the box car, shooting a dozen zombies they found inside. It was all a blur to Annabelle. She listened to the soldiers bark orders at each other, how they needed to search the area for any undead.
Annabelle stopped and looked around. The ground was littered with pieces of metal and body parts. Hands. Feet. Guts. A few headless torsos.
She leaned up against a tree to catch her breath and watched as the soldiers ran to the shoreline. Growls. Shots.
As if it were a globule of rain dropping down from the heavens, a zombie flailed its arms and legs about wildly before face planting right into the ground a few feet in front of Annabelle.
She drew her derringer and inspected the creature’s charred body. It rolled over. Its face was mangled beyond recognition. It wasn’t even clear whether it had once been a man or a woman.
Whatever it was, Annabelle shot it in the head and it stopped moving.
She looked around. It instantly dawned on her that she’d never traveled further than a ten mile radius from Highwater before and now nothing stood between her and the world.
After a deep breath, she checked her pocket to make sure the documents her love had given her were still there.
“Oh Doc,” she said. “I hope you ended up somewhere they’ll appreciate that big genius brain of yours.”