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You always run alone.

Sure, here at Abel they sometimes send us out in small groups, and you’ve got to manage to work together. But ultimately you do what’s best for your own survival, and you know the other runners will do the same. Now sometimes that means you’ve got to be the one to approach a zom and take it out while your partners cover you. If you won’t take your turn, word gets around, and you’ll wind up heading out without any backup at all, ever. And that definitely reduces your odds.

After the outbreak and the chaos that followed, pretty much everyone was skittish for awhile. But eventually, life goes on – more or less. These days, there aren’t any layabouts. Communities are small enough now that everybody knows everybody else (and of course everybody else’s business, though that’s another matter) so it’s kind of a case of we all scratch each other’s backs. If you’re not scratching, you’re not gonna get scratched. And once you’re on your own, the best thing you can do is unlace your shoes, tie a noose, and find a suitable tree.

Believe me, it’s better than what happens with ZN1.

It’s understandable, though; resources are limited. What with utilities gone and travel being ridiculously dangerous, things like food, fuel, medicine, and even safe water are at a premium. There’s just not anything to spare. I mean, when I arrived, I was told that if I didn’t bring supplies with me on my way in, they wouldn’t bother opening the gates.

Well, I guess that’s not exactly true. It could’ve been a “might not” rather than a “would not” but I’ve never asked Doc to clarify. And obviously they did let me in. Everyone was real glad to see me – at least while I was passing out supplies.

Bunch of damned vultures.

Not that I blame them; not exactly. And it helped, to some degree. Some people are runners because they’re really good at it. Really fast, like I hear the previous Five was, or good with an axe, like Ten. But if you’ve got training of some sort – medical or mechanical, especially – well, they need you to stay completely functional. So most of the runners are those who’re otherwise expendable. Like me.

The suspicious glances I keep getting from everybody at Abel helps me remember not to get attached. I’m not going to say it’s just peachy, having the other runners look at me like I’m planning to feed them to the zoms. But let’s face it: runners don’t last long. And so I figure most of them are like me – they know that chances are, you get close to someone, all you end up with is a world of hurt.

And so, in the end, I always run alone.

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