Back at Zach’s bunker, he and Chase were helping Nellie bring her things into the bunker. She liked to keep life simple so most of what she owned was in four bags. Two for clothes, one for art supplies and one for self-care products. Zach showed her to a bedroom that was for sure the master bedroom, his.
“Umm?” was all she could say.
“This is a two-bedroom bunker, Chase has the other, I’ll sleep on the couch,” he said.
“What if someone comes by? How will we know they are there?” she asked.
“We won’t want to, it’s easier to ignore them down here,” he said.
“Even if they need help?” she asked.
He sighed, “we can’t offer the kind of help people are going to need out there, not without endangering ourselves.”
“Zach,” she whispered.
“Let’s just get through the next couple of weeks to see if we are even okay ourselves,” he said.
She felt a jolt of nervousness run through her; she didn’t want to think about it, so she started to unpack. Zach cleared a drawer for her and made space in the closet as she followed behind him putting away her things. She took her hair care, makeup and things to the bathroom, she kind of felt ridiculous even having these things down here but Zach had told her to bring them to keep a sense of normalcy. She looked at herself in the mirror and allowed herself a moment to breathe. If someone had told her this morning that she’d be in an underground bunker hiding from infectious zombies with her high school sweetheart by the end of the day, she’d have laughed in their face.
They watched the announcement that Zach had predicted, and she took calls from the school and the café and coworkers from both. Zach turned off his phone to avoid the military and his parents. Chase talked to his mom and told her who he was with and that they were safe but wasn’t allowed to tell them where they were. She found it a little sad and tried to imagine how hard their home had been for Zach to have done this to them. She knew things from dating him but not even close to the whole story. She now realized why he’d spent so much of his time in the formerly abandoned apartment she lived in. She had relatives but no immediate family. Her parents had died shortly after Zach left. She had been left completely alone by everyone. Now in this situation she almost felt relieved. She couldn’t imagine having people out there to worry about all the time. She had friends and people she cared about, but no one close enough to consider family. The only people not in the bunker she could think about were Blaze and Burn. The looks on their faces made her want to cry, they were terrified. They were both in her class, Burn was good at art, but Blaze was amazing at it. They were a couple of her favorite students and had made her first-year teaching so worthwhile. Zach cooked and none of them talked much, what was there to say in a time like this? It was almost like they were all in shock. After making it to a safe place and settling in, the gravity of it all had time to lay over them like a thick fog. Chase sat on his phone, probably texting all his friends, Zach ate silently. He watched her pick at her food curiously.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
She let out a sarcastic laugh, “I don’t even know what that means right now, the whole world just changed in a few hours.”
He cleared his throat, “you’d be surprised what you can get used to after a few days.”
“It’s just hard to eat when everything is going on,” she said.
“The only thing I can say is to put it out of your mind,” he said.
“How? How do you do it?” she asked.
“Lots of practice,” he said and gave her a sad smile, there was so much in those three words.
She took a bite and it was good, Zach was always good at everything, it wasn’t a surprise that he could cook as well. He seemed pleased that she had started eating and got up to refill his glass of water. She looked over at Chase laying on the couch, he wasn’t paying attention to them, “you don’t have to sleep on the couch.”
“I think I should,” he said.
“Oh,” she said.
“I have…” he paused, “it’s the nightmares, I have to sleep alone or else I might hurt someone.”
She felt her eyes fill up and she sobbed, “Zach, I’m sorry…”
“I chose it,” he interrupted, “don’t be sorry, if you think about it, it’s kind of like karma for what I did to you.”
“Don’t say that,” she said.
“Nah, I’m joking,” he said, lying. She didn’t call him on it because it wasn’t time for that conversation yet.