Ivan realized he had just meet these people and had yet to tell his name to anyone but two of them,he stood up at the back of the bus,glaring at the racist from behind his mask before continuing"My name is Ivan Braginsky,i hail from Russia,and i would like to apologize for waking up the dead heads"he said,turning to John "And you,there is this new fangled thing called 'Racial equality'.look it up"he said,air quoting and taking his seat again,then thinking"And i think i spotted a warehouse a wile ago we could use,outside of town"he added,pointing a thumb to the west of town"Problem is i think i saw someone inside,and then there is the zak that might follow us..."this was more to himself than anyone else
"Not so fast, Bob, not so fast." spoke John, leaving his comfortable place to reach forward toward the bleeding man. He kept an attentive eye to the injury and a hand on the handle of the machete. "Sit somewhere so we can check it quickly. I'll stitch it when we stop." and by checking, the grumpy doctor meant to make sure that it was not infected. Nobody wanted a bleeding mate waking up in the middle of the night as a freaking flesh-eating Bozo. John reached in the overhead for his backpack, he rubbed his hands against the seat and carefully extracted a piece of cloth, poured some methanol on it, as well as it could be poured on that bouncy piece of junk that they insisted to call bus, and finally reached Bob. He pressed Bob shoulder with the cloth, secretly enjoying every moment of burning that he might have given to the fellow. By moving the cut in the shirt the doctor made sure that it was not due to a bite. He finally pressed even more to let more blood come out before wiping it away and pressed with the opposite side of the cloth to stop the bleeding.
He was about to recommend holding the cloth there when some Russian, son of commies for sure, had to speak his wisdom. John pat on Bob's hand to signal that he should hold the cloth himself, and proceeded to reassemble his backpack and store it away. It was yet to be decided whether to let comments by newcomers go by, or rather make a new friend "Look brother commie, I accept your apology for the bomb, and for eating our food, and for consuming our gas. Please, do not try your luck with the wisdom of Great Mother Russia here. The only equality I know is fecal equality as, with all those Bozos that you called upon us, we are all deep in the same shit right now. You get that?" John looked straight in the other man's eyes, then he let out a grin and stretched a hand to pat him with camaraderie on the shoulder "You get it, I know you're a good guy. Don't think too much, Boris, it consumes the brain."
Ivan was glad Bob was ok,and the little detour didn't cost a life,then the racist and apparently group medic decided it was a good idea to poke fun at him and his home land,calling him a commie of all things.Ivan stood up and removed his mask so he could hear him clearly"Look,it was you friend that thought it was a good idea to torch the house,not me.second,while yes i was born in the soviet union i did not like it and never want it to go back that way,you try to live in a small house with five other families.And three,Don't talk to me like im stupid,im sure military school teaches better than being home schooled"While he was willing to deal with the kid and the others,this man would be the end of him and his sanity
The Russian, whom John insisted calling Boris, burst in a work of colors. The doctor waved his hands in the air, as to tell him to cool down. Somehow he must have hit the softest spot in the commie juggernaut. "Whoo, Boris! Too much vodka in the old days that it still burns at the smallest spark, eh?" joked John. Boris surpassed him by one too many inches both in height, and in width. A one to one match for testosterone would have started with no doubts about the winner, but John Taylor was not a man to jump in a fistfight, not any longer since he left the gang. For a short while he held the stare, just like any cocky man would. Too many guns around, too many hot heads: it was a risky game the one that they were playing.
"...but keep counting, it is a good exercise. We adults have work to do now." concluded John and turned to back to Bob, but he could not stop grinning. The exchange amused him. Had it been twenty years back, they would have been best friends, spit together on the floor and gone outside to grab some foreigners and give them a thorough display of good manners. Walkers however changed everything. Everybody was always nervous, always afraid, always looking for safety and a shelter, always ready to steal the best from their friends. In contrast to everybody, John had no friends, or so he used to say.
Microwave the Mustard
Clang. Tap. Clang. Tap. Clang. Tap.
“You know you’re not getting in that way, don’t you?” Clang. “No, of course you don’t – if you weren’t brain dead before you certainly are now.” Tap. Clang.
Idly Victoria continued to tap her fingers against the metal paneling of her warehouse’s outer shell from her position leaning out of one of the plain, square windows spaced evenly along the upper level of the equally nondescript building. A rather bored look was directed beneath her, her blue-grey gaze focused on the being alternating between hitting and slamming itself against the cargo bay door in a futile attempt at entering.
A pathetic one, of course, and thankfully alone; had there been more Tori might’ve been worried. As it was aside from being by itself this one was rather viciously mauled, barely standing and one of its arms missing. Michael was as feeble in death as he was in life. That might’ve been her fault however. She knew for certain the limp in his shambling walk was directly on her shoulders, the rest of his injuries indirectly as well. Finally the creature stopped, a groan escaping its cracked lips and craning to look up to the young woman above him. An animalistic snarl tore through its throat, low and shuddering. Tori smirked back to him, the expression hidden beneath her black and white bandana.
“Giving up already, Michael?” The walker continued to stare, expression seemingly empty. Victoria fancied that she could see just a spark of anger in his eyes before he continued his assault on the warehouse; there was certainly plenty of betrayal, hurt, and unfiltered rage in his gaze the moments before the walkers descended on him just a day before. The day when Victoria left her last companion screaming, bleeding on the ground and clutching his injured knee as she fled for her own safety to their hideout, her switchblade leaving droplets of his blood in her wake.
She had nightmares again that night.
“You know, if this is for revenge you’re really not going about it the right way.” The husk that was Michael didn’t respond, and Tori only shook her head as she withdrew momentarily, leaving him to his useless endeavor. For all she knew the walker didn’t even know where it was, let alone the significance of this place. As she stepped away from the window the catwalk beneath her feet groaned quietly, her steps echoing in the large hull of the warehouse as she followed the metal walkway that ran along the walls. Rather than retreat to the foreman’s office located at one end Victoria instead went to the ladder at the other end, clambering down. She moved passed the shipping containers stacked two units high in the back of the warehouse, passed the Subaru with the empty tank and blood-stained dent in the front hood, only stopping when she found one of the few wilting plants in a heavy ceramic pot; there were a few more scattered throughout the warehouse in their own state of disrepair. After Johnny got bit at the beginning of the week no one bothered taking up his hobby caring for the plants. It was a waste of water anyway.
“Just a small town girl; living in a lonely world. She took the midnight train going any~where.” Tori sang under her breath with mock cheeriness as she hauled the heavy planter back to her original position, her ascent up the ladder much slower with the new weight. Once at the open window she set the heavy ceramic pot on the edge, balancing it precariously. “Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit. He took the midnight train going anywhere- whoops.” The mock surprise in her cheerful voice was accented by the heavy crash down below, Tori once more leaning over to assess the damage. Michael had collapsed like a house of cards from the blow and the injuries still on him, the dirt and shattered ceramic in pieces around him. The walker continued to twitch, but now down for the count Victoria felt little threat. Within moments she was once more at ground level and unlocking the reinforced, heavy cargo bay door to go out and examine what remained of her friend.
The walker was still twitching when she approached, and not willing to risk her own hide with a shoddy job Tori drew the heavy steel pipe from its position tied to the back of her belt. With one heavy golf swing the body flopped to its back, pieces of diseased skin and hair scattered along the concrete. One of Michael’s cloudy eyes continued to roll in its socket in a stomach-churning fashion.
“Sorry Michael, looks like I’m going to be the one walking away again.” Tori raised the pipe once more, doubting the walker even knew what she was saying. “Well, I suppose you did later – but you should have never come back.” The crunching beneath her pipe made Tori grimace, and she was quick to wipe her weapon off on Michael’s shirt. A quick pat down found little of use on the walker; it seemed his bag of supplies was ripped off during his death. A pity.
Tori stood once more, glancing to the forestry surrounding the warehouse as well as down the small road leading back to the city for any other nasty surprises. There was little of note, it seems that Michael-walker had managed to shamble his way back ‘home’ without company. Lucky her. She stepped over the body, leaving it in favor of returning to their hideout. The cargo bay door clanged shut behind her, the locks clicking as they were securely refastened. Tori once more returned to the catwalk, going to retire to the office that she had claimed as her sanctuary in the empty warehouse, her humming echoing off the spacious walls.
“Don’t stop, believing… Hold on to that feeling…”
Before the team made a decision, the doctor began to speak out his share. "A Jap? Are we seriously stopping for a Jap hitch-hiker? Oh boy! I bet the driver pressed the wrong pedal!" He paused a bit and then continued. "Next what? We go kamikaze?" and after hearing her ridiculous suggestion about bringing the lost member back and some supplies, he spoke again. "yeah! listen to the yellow face. As if she knew shit." After he finished saying what has to be said, Marisa didn't even turn around to face him or reply as if his words were voided. Marisa knew people like that, nothing but talks, and he is a racist, an egoistic person, don't even worth her time. She took a sit on an empty seat, placing her bow on her right while facing the window, looking outside of the bus.
As the bus was finally ready to move out, they heard tapping on the vehicles' door. It was the survivor that they were about to find. He managed to escape the chaos however, his left shoulder were badly hurt, a deep wound. As Marisa stood up going to treat the patient, the doctor was one step ahead of her, already taking out his medical tools. Marisa sat down and observed. That man truly is a doctor, he knew what he is doing at least, which made his stinky attitude even. Then suddenly in the middle of the operation, the russian soldier began to speak, began to introduce himself which is what they really need right now to break the ice and then the potty mouth doctor strikes again. Marisa just felt a bit of sympathy to the russian soldier, he was trying to be a nice guy and got blown away.
To spice things up, Marisa stood up and face the russian soldier, hand's forward ready to shake. "Nice to meet you, Ivan Braginsky. My name is Marisa Ebihara. I came from Japan."
Last edited by Moe Satsuma Imo; 03-05-2013 at 04:56 AM.
"Seth, be a dear and pass me that striker."
Seth looked up from the maths book he was, in theory, supposed to be studying, but was doodling in instead, picked up a flint striker lying next to the tree stump he was sitting on and tossed it across to Min Chung, a portly Chinese woman. She nodded her thanks and then used it to light the cookfire in front of her.
It was a warm day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and camp was bustling. He eventually dropped his pen into his book after finishing a crude caricature of his teacher and her car and dismissively placed it in a food cooler. That was enough numbers for the day, he decided. He sat basking in the sun for a while until Brian Jackson walked in front of him and waved his hand in his face. Seth looked at him resentfully and raised an eyebrow.
"Me and Nick are going to get wood for the fires. I don't know where Mike and Julie are. Can you go the other way and find them for me?"
Mike and Julie were Brian's wild twins. They both seemed to have a pathological need to not stay with everyone else and frequently wandered off to start arguments with wild animals, bushes, slopes and any other entity that didn't flee as soon as they arrived. Seth occasionally wondered if Brian and his wife had needed some sort of high-security crib to keep them in the house as babies. He nodded wordlessly. Brian and Nick left camp. Seth waited a few moments, then got up and went the other way. He picked up his bow and slung it across his back as he went.
The woods around the clearing where the rangers had set up shop were wild and overgrown. He walked back and forth in a semicircle around camp, hoping to pick up some trace of the twins. The terrain stayed fairly even for a while, but then started to get more rocky. He doubted that he'd find any actual tracks on the dusty ground but he saw a trail of disturbed dirt that looked fairly obvious. If they were walking single-file they'd probably leave a line that behind them. He followed it for a few minutes and noticed some broken branches and displaced plants that looked like they'd been swatted out of the way or crushed underfoot. He wondered how far they would drift; they used to mark the path behind them by cutting things into tree-trunks or tying brightly coloured string to branches, but they'd since learned to memorise the way they'd come so they could get back and finding them was now much more difficult.
Thankfully, he didn't have to look long. After a few more minutes of scouring the woods a bush at the base of a hill spoke to him as he was walking past.
"Seth! Come here!"
Seth turned to look at the bush and responded out loud. "Mike? Why are you hiding in a bush?"
Julie responded. "Lower your voice, dummy. Get down."
Seth guessed that this was probably part of the kids' games and decided to humour them. He squatted down and inched closer. He could see them inside the bush now, peering out at him with their faces covered in green and black streaks. They looked so serious he almost laughed out loud, but they both raised a finger to their lips at the same time and hissed at him to shut up. He leaned in closer and whispered.
"Okay, what's going on?"
"There's a man over the hill. He hasn't seen us or anything. What do we do?"
Seth opened his mouth to tell them to stop playing around and that their father wanted them back at camp, but something in Mike and Julie's faces told him they weren't taking the piss. He gestured for them to show him.
As one, the twins slid out of the bush and clambered quietly up the hill. Mike went first, Seth followed him and Julie took up the rear. Near the top, Mike whispered at Seth to crawl and pulled himself over, then made his way forward on his belly. Seth, amused, followed suit.
As it turned out, they weren't lying. He spotted the person they were referring to standing thirty-odd feet away with his back to them, swaying. He was wearing a dusty brown suit and had messy hair, but Seth couldn't make out anything else. He waited for a while until Mike whispered in his ear.
"What do we do?"
"We ignore him and go back to camp. He looks drunk. No need to tell him we're here. Hopefully he'll just go away and won't bother us."
Julie gave him the puppy eyes. "Seth, don't tell daddy about him, okay?"
He tilted his head sideways. "Why not?"
"He'll get worried and keep us chained to a tent for the rest of the trip. You know how he is."
This made perfect sense to Seth. He agreed and then told the twins to back down the slope. They shimmied backwards, climbed down backwards and started back in the general direction of camp. Once they were sure they were a good distance from the drunk, they started chatting.
"That was well done. You were right not to let him see you."
"Do you think he'll find his way to camp?"
"I doubt it. He'll probably go the other way and fall down a hole, or something."
The twins giggled.
"Are those mushrooms safe to eat?"
Seth looked at the clump of yellow-brown caps sprouting from a piece of wood which Mike pointed out to him dubiously. "No. Looks like marginata. Best to stay away unless you're sure. Hasn't Clyde been teaching you about mushrooms?"
"Yeah, but he's rubbish and I keep forgetting."
"Write it down, then. Just be careful not to touch anything without someone experienced to tell you what's safe."
When they got back to camp, Brian was nowhere in evidence. Seth was about to tell the twins not to wander off again until he came back and spoke to them when someone shouted to his left. "Hey! Who are you?"
Seth turned in the direction of the sound and what he saw froze him to the spot with disbelief.
A man with clothes streaked with dirt and dried blood was stumbling towards him. Everything about this told him that it couldn't be true, but it was. He saw his disbelief and confusion mirrored in the faces of the other. The man's throat was torn out; so much of his flesh was missing that Seth didn't know how he could keep his neck straight. His skin was an unnatural shade of green, covered in welts and scratches, and his eyes came straight from a nightmare. They were open wide, yellow and staring blankly at him. A fly squirmed from under the corpse's eyelid with an audible squelching noise and flew away. Seth watched in horrified fascination as it approached him.
Julie screamed beside him and the noise snapped him out of his shock. He backpedaled, removing his bow from his shoulder strap. He automatically loaded a bolt from the quiver attached to the limbs and loaded it, then spoke out loud.
"Stop! We don't want you here. Stay away."
The man didn't seem to hear him. He shambled on. Seth suddenly became aware of how quiet it was and of more like the cadaver before him in his field of vision. A chill ran down his spine. He looked over his shoulder and found his father behind him, saw more of the sick people coming from other directions. He looked back and realised that the man was only a few meters away.
That was far enough. Too far. He raised his weapon, took aim and released the string with a twang. The arrow struck the shoulder and went straight through, leaving only the feathers on the end visible. No blood gushed from the wound. His target stopped, shuddered, and kept coming.
Fear turned to panic and Seth reloaded and fired again, and again, his fingers fumbling with string. His second shot went through the freak's guts, and his third penetrated his chest a centimeter above the heart. He wasn't sure if he wanted to kill someone, but the arrow had no effect at all, so his concerns evaporated into thin air. He heard other bows going off. People started screaming. His father was shouting orders. He nearly backpedaled into him as he nocked another bolt.
A woman with red hair and blank eyes was walking towards him from his left. She was wearing a business suit and skirt covered in gravel and her leg was twisted at an unnatural angle. She didn't seem to care and opened her mouth to snarl at him, releasing a vile gout of ichor.
Seth tried not to gag, raised his aim and shot her in the head. The arrow found her temple as she was turning and snapped her skull back on her shoulders. She dropped to the ground and didn't get back up. He stared down dumbly at her for a few seconds, a mixture of guilt, horror and terror running through his mind. Then he pushed that to the back of his thoughts and looked up from the body.
He felt like he'd been punched in the stomach. They were everywhere. All of a sudden, he realised that the air was thick with the stench of decay and found himself struggling to breathe. There was something lurid and disgusting about the way they moved; they shambled, rocking from side to side. Some of them were missing arms or large chunks of their bodies, and a huge cloud of flies followed the mass of corpses. The mass roiled like maggots in a festering wound.
He caught himself. Corpses? His bile was rising, but he knew he was correct. They were emaciated, green and rotting. They had to be dead. The revelation that cadavers were now walking towards him was too big to deal with right now. He pushed it away and turned around in time to see the undead pile on top of Chung as she tried to grab her seven year-old. Her shouts turned to screams and he saw blood.
He had two arrows left. He made good use of them by shooting a fat man with black hair and a beard in the ear and ramming the second through the eye socket of a security guard's carcass when he stumbled too close.
They were slow, he noticed, as he stood over the man's body. Uncoordinated. He raised his voice and shouted over the chaos.
"Hit them in the head! That puts them down!"
His shout attracted his father's attention. He'd picked up a shovel and was using it to fend off a snarling teenager with a broken leg. When he heard his son, he swung it viciously and her neck broke with a resounding crack. Then he ran over and grabbed his arm.
"Seth, get out of here. Run as fast as you can and find help. Your mother and I love you."
Seth opened his mouth to refuse, but the logic of what his father was saying clicked immediately. There was no sense staying together; they were outnumbered. The best thing to do would be to break off and run separately, and this way he might be able to bring the police back. He nodded, then made his way through the carnage to his tent. He stepped over two bodies and an arrow whizzed past his head. A dead man lunged at him and he hit him with his bow hard enough to knock him back into a fire, losing it in the process.
The stench of burning flesh filled his nostrils and he hesitated, looking at his weapon. It had no arrows left and one of the cams- the wheels on the end of the limbs -looked awkward. Broken. He left it where it had fallen and ran on, stooping to snatch his bag from near the flap of his tent and then kept going, pulling his arms through the straps as he went. A blank-eyed pensioner reached for him and he veered around the grab.
Then he was in the trees and running flat-out. There were more of them here; they changed direction to follow him as he shot past, but he was too quick and soon left them, and everyone else, far behind.
He kept going until he couldn't take another step, then made a tiny fire and fell asleep in the open.
Seth wiped vomit from his lips with a broad leaf.
He still couldn't believe any of it had happened. He felt sick. What had happened? How could it be happening? Why was it happening? He'd seen dead people walking around and killing his friends. He'd seen them tear Chung apart. Tears stung his eyes before he knew they were there and he kicked out savagely at a bush. His boot uprooted it and sent it flying through the undergrowth.
But he couldn't deny this. His body was stiff from sleeping on the hard ground and the cold remains of the fire he'd made were proof that yesterday wasn't a nightmare. He ran his hands through his hair and spat, staring at the ground. Was his father still alive? Was Chung? Maybe she wasn't actually dead. Maybe they just hurt her and she'd be fine. The memory of the shredded corpses on the ground popped into his head, but he ignored it. Maybe they were part of the swarm that had torn through camp. Maybe someone had just hit them in the head and left them face down in the dirt. He hadn't gotten a close look. He didn't know for sure they were his.
It was a feeble and easily shot down hope, but it was all he had to hold on to. So hold on to it he did. He didn't have time to despair and wallow in his misery right now. He was all on his own in the wilderness; if he didn't keep his mind active, he might go into shock. Would be the end of him out here. And he still needed to find help.
He picked up his backpack and rifled through it quickly. His chocolate bars were still there. Good. He pulled one out, closed the bag and shouldered it, then unwrapped the bar and started eating it as he picked a direction.
He knew the way he'd come. He decided immediately he wasn't going back; it might not be safe. The rangers would have upped and left already, so going back to the campsite was a bad idea. They had also picked a place smack bang in the middle of nowhere, with fairly equal distances between the camp and urban civilisation in every direction. Going back would only put more distance between him and the authorities he was trying to find. He started walking in the opposite direction.
After walking for a few hours, he stopped to strip some raspberry and blueberry bushes clean. As he was packing up what he found, he heard a twig snap behind him and glanced over his shoulder.
There was a dead man with bulging white eyes and a torn suit behind him, and it was moving closer.
Seth put his pack back on. He automatically registered that the wind was blowing into his back. That certainly explained why he hadn't smelt the putrefying monster coming. He turned his head right and left, taking a look at his surroundings to see if any more were around. There were none he could see.
The corpse was ten feet away now. He pulled his kopesh from the loop at his belt and held it in front of him, then started having second thoughts. This thing wasn't moving very quickly. Getting close to it unnecessarily would be asking for trouble. Then the wind changed and started blowing the unbearable reek of death in his direction and he made up his mind. He put his sword back where it came from and kept going the way he had been, walking fast and glancing over his shoulder to make sure his pursuer wasn't suddenly learning how to sprint.
He didn't, and Seth soon lost him. He walked a long way that day.
Seth was beginning to worry. He'd been travelling over unfamiliar ground for a long time now and all without encountering anybody but a handful of walking corpses. This didn't bode well for him in the long run; he'd already been forced to refill his water bottle from a stream. It had looked crystal clear, so he'd deemed it safe to drink and refrained from using a chlorine tablet. The taste was disgusting and he wanted to save them until he was desperate anyway. He didn't have his bow, so he couldn't really hunt effectively. In theory he could forage for mushrooms, berries and other edibles, but he wasn't sure that living on them would be very good for his health. He had his sword and knife, but they weren't much use; he'd never killed anything without the benefit of range. He'd once tried to creep up on a squirrel only for it to dart out of the way at the last second, look at him scornfully and scurry off. He had chocolate bars, which were very nutritious, but they wouldn't last forever.
After a while, the trees started to thin and he saw something long and black in the distance. He realised with a start that it was a road. It was long and straight, but crossed his current path at an angle. Deciding that it had to lead somewhere, he changed course and began plodding along the side of the road. He kept going for a few miles without seeing much of anything except for a fallen tree.
He frowned. This wasn't normal. Someone should probably have moved the tree out of the way by now. He was suddenly struck by how ridiculous it was to note that anything wasn't normal when the dead were walking. Compared to corpses attacking him and his family, stopping to think about a tree lying in the road was just absurdity. He shook his head in disgust and kept going.
The next thing he came across was a crash.
One car had run straight into a tree and mangled its front. The windscreen was shattered and he saw a dark shape slumped inside. The second vehicle had turned over and ended up wedge on its side between the road and the tree. It was burnt out; he supposed it must have caught fire in the collision. There were bits of metal and glass everywhere. He ignored the scorched shell and crossed the road to examine the second wreck.
He peered inside. There was only one body lying across the steering wheel. The man looked like he'd been in his thirties and he was starting to go blue and blotchy. That indicated that he'd died recently. Seth spotted a backpack lying behind the passenger seat and walked around the car to reach in through a broken window and grab it.
The corpse objected to having his things stolen by sitting up and gurgling, cracking dull eyes open to stare. Seth jolted as it flailed for him, then realised it was still wearing its seatbelt and couldn't reach. The door also looked like it had buckled in during the crash and trapped its leg. He pulled the backpack out and dropped it on glass-strewn tarmac, then pulled his kopesh and made his way back around the ruined bonnet.
The body was snarling at him now, turning its head on a broken neck to track his progress. Seth tapped on the edge of the driver's window with his sword and it reached for him again. He stepped back, used the hook at the end of the blade to catch it by the shoulder and force it to move its head into range, then raised the weapon and swung it down.
The curved edge penetrated the bone and went in a few inches. He twisted the blade to loosen it and pulled it back out. His victim slumped limply.
That was easy, he thought. He heard something behind him and looked over his shoulder. His stomach did a flip.
Another one of the undead had detached itself from the husk of the other car and was now shambling towards him. He didn't know how it could even be moving; it was burnt down almost to the bone all over, a charred black skeleton with one pus-filled yellow eye. It took another shaky step and he took one back.
He eyed the neck. It didn't look so sturdy. The flesh was roasted to a flaking, leathery crisp. Seth took a deep breath, relaxing his body even as it was tensing up, then took two long strides forward and swung at the monstrosity's throat. His sword parted scorched skin and shrivelled muscle, then cleanly cut through the brittle bone beneath and separated the walker's head from its body. It hit the ground, bounced and rolled. The rest of the corpse collapsed. A welter of vile yellowish fluid issued from the stump.
Seth started breathing normally again and glanced at the sky. It was getting dark. Soon he'd have to find somewhere to hole up. He didn't want to risk sleeping in the open again with these things roaming around. He retrieved the backpack he'd stolen and found to his disgust that the only useful things inside were a torch and some matches. He transferred them to his own pack and left the other on the ground.
As he was going, he noticed to his disgust that the head was still making noises on the ground. Its cracked lips moved and twitched and its single eye rolled in its socket, watching him. He kicked it into the woods like a football and set off again.
The next day, Seth extricated himself from the tree he'd made himself uncomfortable in for the night and continued along the road he'd been following. He'd passed a few abandoned cars with nothing in them, but had no idea how to drive or even hot-wire them, so he'd left them alone. He didn't think walking right next to the road was a good idea. He didn't know what was going on, but this disorder was obviously widespread and he wasn't sure he wanted to be seen by anybody driving past. He stepped off the smooth tarmac and walked ten feet away from it, concealed by the trees. He finished off the berries he'd collected and had a chocolate bar to keep his energy up. He took sips from his water bottle and wondered suddenly if there would be any gas stations along the road.
As though in answer from on high, he came to one twenty minutes later. He started walking towards the door, then stopped, remembering the gravity of the situation.
He looked from side to side, scanning his surroundings. If anybody was hiding around here, he was in plain sight; he mentally cursed himself for not being more careful. The gas pumps were lying on the ground. Someone must have helped themselves. The door to the main building was hanging open and it was dark inside.
Ooh, sinister. He picked up a stone, retreated to the tree line and threw it at the window. It bounced with a loud noise. He threw two more and a walker lurched around the corner of the building and stared at the window, trying to find the source of the noise. They're not very clever, he told himself, as he sneaked up behind it.
It didn't hear him and he dispatched it with a swing of his kopesh, then grabbed some leaves from a nearby shrub and cleaned the nasty, thick blood off the blade. He took the opportunity to look inside the building through the window.
It looked empty enough to him. There was a small shop in the front room, so he cautiously moved through the door, taking care to be quiet. He glanced between the shelves. Some of the merchandise had been knocked onto the floor, but that was the only sign anything was amiss. The cash register had been opened and emptied. He noted that it hadn't been broken, and that the key was still in the lock.
He took the opportunity to shovel chocolate bars into his bag, then threw away his small water bottle and pulled two larger ones from a fridge that seemed to have been turned off. The power was probably out, then. If so, how widespread was the loss of electricity? He realised that he hadn't tried to use his phone at all and spent a few seconda marvelling at his own stupidity. He pulled out his cell, turned it on and then found his contact book.
It was dim inside the shop. The sun was shining brightly outside, but a gloom had settled over the interior, as though the light wasn't welcome indoors anymore. There was only one other door in the room, behind the counter. It was wide open and pitch black within. It felt like the dark was staring out at him, and Seth felt mildly creeped out as he tried to phone his mother, then his father, then the police.
No reception. Nothing. Shouldn't there have been something here? He didn't have any missed calls. He turned his phone off and bagged it again, then reached for his kopesh. He decided to look deeper in the building for a landline, or something. He hesitated.
He could hear flies.
The buzzing was definitely coming from beyond the gaping doorway. He released his grip on his sword and slid his knife from its sheathe instead. The kopesh was too long; it would only get him tangled in close quarters. He pulled out his torch, turned it on and held it with the other hand, advancing slowly. He moved to the doorway and passed from one side to the other to get a good look at what was inside before entering.
There was a closed door to his left. He ignored it and moved further. The sound of flies got stronger and he caught the scent of something sour. There was a fork in front of him. An open door straight ahead and a corner to his right. He glanced around the corner quickly.
Three doors. Two open. One closed. He looked through the gap in front of him and saw the body immediately. It was lying on the floor, face down. There was a dark red wound in the back of his head and blood spattered all over the wall and floor. Seth didn't need to look closely to realise how he'd died.
But this looked... recent. There was something wrong here. There were no real signs of a struggle on the body except for the gunshot wound. No scratches. No bruises.
The flies were buzzing in the air. Seth moved his torch beam over something lying on the ground and he realised it was a wallet. He crouched to get a closer look and flipped it over with his kukri. It was emptied of money and valuables. There was a family photo inside. A man, a woman and a little girl. Some identification. A name. Peter Morris. The empty cash register and open door suddenly clicked and he felt sick in his stomach.
He stood shakily and glanced back at the corpse. He felt his gorge rise and swallowed to avoid puking. He hadn't been one of the living dead. Whoever killed him hadn't been defending themselves; this was murder. Cold blooded and brutal. A voice in his head quietly told him it was good that this was still horrifying, that it mean he was still Human. That didn't make the revelation much easier to deal with, but it helped.
He turned and found someone- something -standing right beside him. He jolted into the air and shone the torch in its face. It was a woman. She was taller than him, and not the one from the wallet photo. The light seemed to enrage her. Her eyes were an unhealthy bloodshot pink. She opened her mouth and snarled at him. The noise felt like thunder in his ears and he thought his legs were going to collapse as she lunged. He ducked out of the way and she almost ran into the wall, then turned around to follow him. He forced himself to breathe evenly.
She lunged again and he wedged his forearm under her chin, turned her towards the wall and forced her back. She kicked, fought and scratched with her free hand, but she couldn't get at any exposed skin. He took aim with his knife and stabbed, putting the point through her eye socket. Blood and jelly trickled weakly out, for which he was grateful; he didn't think he could tolerate being spattered with corpse slop. He pushed the knife in deeper, looking for the brain. It was difficult because of the curve of the blade. Then he felt something give and the dead woman stopped moving.
He let her fall, cleaned his kukri on the curtains and went back the way he'd come as quickly as he could. Landlines could wait. He stepped into the shop, then out of the building.
Seth's knees nearly folded beneath him. There were a mass of rotting corpses seething up the road towards him. As one, they locked gazes with him, staring with their dead eyes. Their jaws worked, gnashing hungrily. The smell was abominable. Seth almost fell over as he hurried around the building and took off into the woods. Adrenaline granted him speed and he sprinted in the other direction as quickly as he could.
He didn't sleep well when he finally climbed a tree and tried to doze off. He was lucky to drop off for five minutes at a time, and then he woke up, staggered a bit further and tried again. It went on like that for hours.
The following morning, Seth risked a few minutes to wash himself in a stream and then pressed on through the woods. He stopped only to strip some bushes of their berries and ate them as he went.
He wondered how long he could continue like this on his own. He'd refilled his supplies at the gas station, but that had almost killed him. If he'd waited a few more minutes- no, seconds -before exiting the building, he would have been as good as dead. He needed something he could hunt with properly. Subsisting on berries and chocolate wouldn't be good enough in the long run. What if he got back to civilisation and everything was in the same state as this? How bad had things become in his absence? Had order collapsed? Were the government doing anything about the undead? He remembered the murder scene he'd come across and wondered what people might be using the plague as a diversion for in more densely populated areas. He didn't like what came to mind.
He didn't come across any walkers that day. He saw a fox, crossed the road, hissed at a cat. It hissed back at him and ran away. He wished he had a map to decide where he was going.
He heard something in the distance and frowned, turning his head in the direction of the sound.
Clap. Clap. Clap.
He picked a tall tree with thick branches and started climbing. Once he reached the top, he looked over the forest canopy and saw smoke rising in the distance. Someone was burning something. The clapping started up again and he realised with a start that it was gunfire.
Just what was going on in the world?
Troubled, he came back down out of the tree, spotted something lurching in the corner of his eye and moved the other way. He started going towards the smoke, but then decided that probably wasn't a good idea and veered to his left. He found himself on a worn-down trail of dirt that looked well used. He was wary; the beaten path inevitably led to danger, but taking off into the woods wasn't going to get him anywhere. Deciding that he had no better options, he followed it.
"They are arrows in the quiver. They must be spent if we are to win this."
Microwave the Mustard
“I don’t suppose you’re still alive and can just walk yourself away? Well, alive as you … things can be.” Only silence was her response, as expected. Tori sighed, tapping a finger against her lower lip thoughtfully as she gazed down upon Michael’s mutilated corpse. The stench from the rotting body had begun to waft in the past few hours, permeating the high windows to drift into her warehouse and lingering hauntingly. Maybe it was some kind of petty revenge from him in the afterlife.
Maybe she needed some company instead. Talking to corpses was getting boring.
Of course, no doubt having another band of merry little adventurers would end the same way this one had. Tori somehow doubted that strangers would be anymore reliable than her old cohorts. In fact, if the only ones who had survived this long were anything like her she might as well invite a pack of those monsters in instead. Victoria idly mused the pros and cons of inviting another in even as her footsteps let out metallic clanks on the catwalk that echoed back at her from the small warehouse, taunting her solitary position.
In truth Tori didn’t even think others would come across her base, if there were others out there. She didn’t doubt there was though, lots of people had some fight in them, but what were the chances of those small pockets of survivors finding this place nestled so discreetly off the road from the town? Still, she wasn’t so convinced in that argument she’d leave the warehouse unguarded, which was the core of this problem.
Tori was running out of supplies.
Even now the duffle bag she kept on her constantly was a weight against her back, far too light than what Tori was comfortable with. Admittedly she kept it close out of paranoia and a lunatic attachment to the now dead currency which was part of its cargo, but the point remained. She couldn’t leave her precious hideout undefended except for a couple lousy locks and a clamp on the cargo bay door to go scavenging. She’d come back to some sobbing teenagers going on about how they’ve lost everyone or something else ridiculous and have to ‘evict’ them.
The cargo bay door groaned as the young woman once more opened it, pipe already in hand as she stepped outside cautiously. She remained quiet, searching for any sound or the smallest flicker of movement. As usual the small forestry surrounding the area was still, as dead as it had been since the start of this madness. The real, worrisome sounds weren’t present either however, and so Tori finally ventured from the mouth of the cargo bay back to Michael, and his brains splattered all over the pavement. As expected he didn’t respond when Tori nudged him cautiously with the end of the pipe; he was real and truly dead.
After dropping the pipe into one of the larger pockets of her cargo pants Tori got the oh-so-delightful task of dragging the mutilated body further into the woods, constantly looking over her shoulder for threats. Luckily Michael wasn’t much weight to begin with, and death certainly wasn’t helping. Tori wasn’t certain if the smell would leave her clothes at any point however, and there was a small trail of bodily fluids streaked along the path she pulled him, but he was out of the way. Most importantly he was no longer underneath her window.
Tori half-heartedly considered digging him a grave, but the thought of putting up so much effort into it was mentally exhausting, let alone actually doing it.
The young woman trudged back to her warehouse, but rather than enter immediately hesitated at the threshold. Her hand rested at the top of the cargo bay door, ready to slam it down if threats should appear, but her grey-blue eyes gazed out as she pondered going scavenging. Or robbing, if the opportunity presented itself; she wasn’t picky. Once again, there was the obvious problem of leaving the warehouse unguarded. There was the even bigger problem of running into walkers and not having another Michael to sabotage and make her escape. Tori let out a deep sigh, finally stepping back into her warehouse. It was better not to risk it.
Two weeks later, John Taylor sat on the large metal desk by the warehouse door. His bored look glanced around as if he had been waiting for something, or someone for the entire morning. The warmth of the afternoon was already showing, and the heavy sun shone mercilessly above him. Covered in a hat and wrapped in a consumed sweatshirt with holes due to wear and a pair of overworn jeans, he toyed with the rusty metal pipe laying on the desk's surface. He turned his head and spit on the dirt at his feet. Waiting was the worst.
Only two weeks earlier they hit the warehouse. It was an eerie trip, one of those trips where John believed they were going to throw themselves straight into a nest of Walkers and rip their clothes off as to make it easier for them to bite. Whether that was the original plan and it miserably failed, or whether it was thought from the beginning that they should find the warehouse and hide in there still remained a mystery. There was a psycho living there already, one of those psychos like John. She would have probably killed them all, had she had the right tools, or perhaps, like John, she thought that a pack is stronger at surviving than one human being alone. They seemed to hit it off easily. John liked her survival instinct and respected it. He had taken a liking in looking after Nora, just as much as he had come to terms with the commie and the Jap, although he still did not spare anybody from his acid bluntness. The others were ok. Sometimes he found himself hoping that they would die a horrible death and never show up again, but they always came back safe, always.
Only three Walkers had knocked at their door in two weeks. They were dispatched silently and efficiently. They were taken away and dropped in the middle of nowhere to rot. A safe procedure. Sitting outside, John waited for the scavengers to return. Not a sound filled the air, not even the chirping of bird, by then sleeping in the heat of the afternoon, and not a leaf moved, as the wind decided to take a rest too.
John had a medical corner. It was very simple: a table, a chair, some tools, and a curtain. He called it the butchery, and he loved it. It spared him from having to go scavenging amidst hordes of dangerous Bozos together with even more dangerous idiots. One guy came in five days after their arrivals, a new guy. They had found him wandering and lost. He was in bad shape, and John doubted he would make it. He did not. They held no funeral service. Just a pyre far away, and bleach all around to cover the smell of blood. The turning smoke ran so high that they could see it from the warehouse. And the Walkers probably saw that too and dozed off, away from their hideout, making their rare appearance even rarer, if not just a past memory.
Seth was outside and wondering for the umpteenth time why he'd decided to throw in with a clear pack of lunatics. He'd automatically pegged Victoria and John as Miss Psycho and Mister Nutcase, but that ironically made them as useful as they were dangerous. He was more inclined to trust Lia Quinn and even Ivan. Lia seemed genuine and it was easy to rely on her. Ivan, despite his slightly creepy mask, was still fundamentally Human. He joked and laughed and did stuff like everyone else. Marisa seemed alright too. He'd heard a few things about her archery lessons, so it was nice to meet her in person.
He was still making up his mind about everyone else.
He didn't exactly have much to do. He'd made seven arrows and given five to Marisa, figuring she'd need them sooner than he would. Then he'd gotten bored of creating projectiles with nothing to shoot them from and begun largely spending his time creating apache foot traps around the warehouse and reminding everyone that they were there and that stepping into them was a very bad idea. They were small holes in the ground with wooden spikes stuck into the sides at a slight downward angle. Anyone who poot a foot in would get snagged while trying to pull it back out and probably stuck.
The walkers, he had noticed, were very persistent and impervious to pain, but much too stupid and preoccupied with violence to bother avoiding obstacles or clear hazards. He wasn't really sure if they wouldn't just yank their leg back out of the hole, so he'd made a point to dig deep and add three levels of spikes rather than the usual two, picking thick lengths of wood to make them difficult to snap.
He sat back and admired his work after finishing his thirty-eighth trap. Usually, the holes would be covered with twigs, dust and various articles of detritus so that living people wouldn't notice them and and fall in. Leaving them clearly visible was a double-edged sword; on one hand, the living warranted more caution than the walking corpses these days. On the other, he still didn't trust his companions not to fall in and get stuck and didn't want them screaming blue murder, spattering everything with blood and blaming him for their own careless stupidity.
What he really needed was a bow. He hadn't been able to find any lying around and wasn't about to start taking turns with Marisa's, so he had decided to get his hands on one of his own. He'd found an axe in a small outlying shed and used it to hack down a straight hickory tree. strip the bark off and split it neatly into four pieces. Then he'd coated the ends in some convenient wood glue he'd found lying around to stop them splitting as the moisture left and put the lengths in a dry place.
He'd done that a few days after arriving and now he figured he had just about everything he needed. A few more days and he'd be able to put a decent bow together. There were some bits and pieces lying around in the warehouse, waiting to be used.
In fact, all he needed now was some sinew.
He wondered where he could get it. It came to him immediately, but he automatically rejected it and went through his other options for a few minutes before realising they were essentially non-existent and borderline dangerous to attempt. It curled his lip. It made him sick. But it was still a relatively good idea.
He set off into the woods to find a walker, weaving around his traps as he went. He didn't bother announcing where he was going.
"They are arrows in the quiver. They must be spent if we are to win this."