Fear of the unknown.
All horrors of the pre-apocalyptic life for a young woman living by herself, as Catherine Hayes found herself doing. The loss of both her parents in a car crash when she was but 12 years old fueled her outlook on life. It was one without hope, without happiness. Low as low can be. High school zooms by, not many friends to comfort her. Little to no emotional support because she hid how she felt from the world around her. A shy girl who wouldn't let anyone in, not confident enough to even try.
Fast forward 5 years, Catherine is a single, early twenties waitress at a run down diner. Every day is just a reminder of the bleak and miserable life she lives. She didn't see herself going anywhere in life, and couldn't imagine anyone ever loving her. People walk in from all over the country and scoff at the server girl, she was all shy and no self esteem. How sad. How sad indeed.
A man walks into the diner one evening on a cold winter's day. He is handsome, charming, considerate to those around. And the smile, oh how he drew people in with that warm smile! But he'd never go for a girl like Catherine... no, people that great don't go for girls like Catherine. Nobody, come to mind, comes to Catherine. A shadow in a room full of light, desperately clinging on to the corner. Catherine peered at the man with awe and secret admiration, briefly thinking a happy thought but immediately throwing it back out. Back to work, back to business as usual. No messing around, on the clock. But that's when he glanced over to Catherine, making eye contact. Both lock eyes, gazing at each other while commotion in the diner is about. But as noisy as it was, for a brief few seconds, it seemed quiet to Catherine. A magical moment, exciting, anxious, ever so slowly taking a step out of her darkness and into a place of light. She nears him, and holds out her hand nervously to shake. "Hi, I- I'm Catherine."
He looks her right in the eye, and smiles warmly before shaking her hand with a happy enthusiasm:
"Hi, I'm Ken."
Catherine takes Ken's order, all the while acting nervous and awkward as Ken uses his country charm and charisma to flirt and lighten up the interaction. He eats when the food's brought out, and after he was done, to Catherine's astonishment and delight, asks for her number. She tells him, and continues on with butterflies in her stomach and the world spinning. After her work shift, she arrives home in her small apartment and can't think of anything else than Ken. When will Ken call her? Am I in love with Ken? I'm lovable? The first happy and hopeful thoughts pass through her mind for the first time in ages, and the fascination with Ken continues on. A day goes by, and when she returns home she hears her phone ringing. She stands up with a giddy excitement and answers the phone as fast as she can. It was Ken! Ken called her! Oh my God! He asks her if she wants to go out some time, and she answers him with utmost sincerity, yes.
Catherine goes out many time with him over the month, learning that Ken was a trucker but was really considering settling down with someone. That someone might just be Catherine! Was she really what this seemingly perfect man wanted? There is hope after all! More time passes and Ken decides to work at a mechanics shop next to the diner, and moves in with Catherine. The two bond, share romantic endeavors, and all seems well. This happy relationship continues on for about a year, with relatively little to no bumps in the road. But then Catherine became pregnant. She was so happy! Maybe it will be a girl like her? Or a strong and strapping man like his father? The thrill and hopes and dreams just seemed to be coming to light. Ken seemed happy too, a little shocked but he looked happy.
But then one day a few days later something bad happened. Ken's things were all gone, his clothes, suitcase, car, everything. He was gone. Catherine freaked out, had someone taken her love away from her? Who did this? How could they? She needed to find Ken. She asked around about him, and people say they saw him leave in the night with a friend. She refused to believe that the love of her life would run away from her and their baby. That wasn't Ken. Ken would never do something like that to her. He was Ken! Everyone is lying, I know Ken better than anyone. I'll find him.
Catherine had her baby, turns out he's a boy! She couldn't think of a better name than the man she loved, Ken. So here he was, little Kenneth Mendenhall Jr., all tiny and adorable. He was going to be something great like his father one day, after he literally is Ken. And Ken is great, and he'll be back one day, or I'll find him. He's just lost, I'll be ok for now until I find him again. Catherine goes on to raise the boy by herself, trying her best to provide a good Christian role model. Life is tough, but she always held on to the hope that one day she'll see Ken again, and he would make everything ok again.
Years and years go on, and despite what everyone tells Catherine and not to do it, she looks into finally finding Ken after saving a load of money over the years. She takes to tracking down friends of Ken and they all seem a bit weirded out by Catherine, who knows why? But they all say the same thing: Ken's in Chernarus, working for some business. A place! A location! Now this was something Catherine could work with. She takes Ken Jr. and herself to Chernarus, and when she begins to look around, the outbreak occurs. I'll save you the gritty details, but they survive for a while. Always asking around for Ken, but nobody seemed to know. Only few said they knew him, and eventually the trail went cold, but Catherine persisted. While on the search one day, Catherine and Ken Jr. were searching a cabin, looking for food. Ken Jr. was a teen at this point, and was quite the looker. But he didn't see the infected coming, and it was coming up fast. It was going to reach him almost, a quick end to the youth's life. But Catherine, in a panic, sprinted towards the dead man and threw herself onto it in a struggle. She kills it with her knife, but is taken aback when she realizes what had just happened. A bite mark, on her left shoulder. This wasn't good, not good at all.
She could feel the infection coursing through her body, pain agonizing her. She knew right then that she wasn't one of the immune. She panics. What about my son? My boy? What will happen to him? I'll never get to see Ken again! Oh God, please don't let this be happening! But sadly, it was happening, and Catherine was slowly turning. She wept, and handed her handgun to Ken Jr.
"Kenny, you need to be the one to do it."
"But mom, we might be able to fix you! This might not be the end!"
"No, I can feel it. It's killing me. I need you to do this."
A long pause and a long time for Catherine and her son to have a talk about things. Whether it was emotional or things Kenny needed to know, Catherine said it. But the time came when she slipped unconscious. Kenny, afraid of her not waking up herself, drew out the gun, and hesitantly shot his mother through the brain, as that was the only thing to really save her from becoming a monster. Now Kenneth Mendenhall Jr. walks the land, in desperate need of a group to call his own, as the poor teen will struggle to survive if not given much needed help from others. Perhaps you will be part of his story, Kenny's story.