Bit of a shorter chapter, but that's how these things roll, yo.
Also, hooray for actually being on time! Once every two weeks, while an annoying wait, is certainly better than "promised to be once every two weeks but ended up being almost every other month due to a severe procrastination problem and sports and video games."
Chapter 4: Can't Get Enough of This PlaceJenny Greene
We went to bed after raiding half of their supplies. I felt guilty for mooching so much off of them, but they assured us they had more back at their van, and that we'd be repaying them by taking them to that fucking prison. It's probably redundant for me to say this, but I had a bad feeling about going back there, and it wasn't just my emotions getting the better of me.
I slept rather soundly, surprisingly, and was woken up by the sunlight filtering in through the blinds inside the bedroom.
I went downstairs and found that everyone else was already awake at the kitchen table, and they were all playing a card game of some sort. Poker?
"Got any fives?" Mike asked.
"Go fish," Tony responded.
Okay, so it certainly wasn't poker.
"Good morning guys," I said, with a yawn, as I sat at the table.
"'Mornin'," Tony replied. "You certainly slept in late."
"I was tired!" I protested. "However, now
I'm hungry. Are we having breakfast?"
"Yeah, the rest of us already ate," Mike said, as he tossed me a can of spaghetti. I didn't have a can opener, so I just awkwardly stared at it.
"...It has one of those pop-tops, ya know," he said. I turned the can upright and saw what he was talking about.
"Oh. I knew that,"I replied indignantly, as I got to eating the can's contents. Cold spaghetti. It was so delicious, my stomach tried to send it back up so I could experience it's pleasures a second time. I was able to keep it down though, thankfully.
"So, we ready to go?" Mike asked.
"Yeah," the rest of us said practically in unison.
After a few minutes of obligatory preperation (and a bathroom break) we left the safe confines of our little base and out onto the empty streets. Well, empty save for some old zombie corpses, anyway.
The snow, however, had piled up since yesterday. It had stopped snowing since then, but there was a good inch or so on the ground, which would probably slow down travel time. And since the plows weren't running anymore, the white blanket was undisturbed over the road. However, it wasn't so deep as to make it hard to walk or be too hard to drive over, so we continued as normal.
"Now, are you sure you remember the way to your van?" I asked Mike.
"Of course! I have an excellent sense of direction!" he bragged, in such a way that I couldn't tell if he was serious or not.
"Don't listen to him, he can get lost on the way to the bathroom," Elisabeth deadpanned.
"That time doesn't count! It was dark, and I swear they moved the bathroom one room to the right as I was sleeping, just to mess with me!"
"Uh-huh. And how do you explain ending up in my room as I was changing?" she asked in as much of an accusatory tone as she could have.
"That was bad timing."
"You didn't even knock.
"And it was late and I was tired?"
"Are you sure it wasn't just your libido?" Elisabeth replied with a smirk. Was she teasing
"I would never walk in on you changing! ...Intentionally," he protested.
"Why not? I totally would," I butted in. "I mean, just look at her hips! Dayumn!
"I object to being used as eye candy by you two!" Elisabeth complained as the Mike snickered.
"Sorry to interrupt your threesome, but we should keep it down unless you want to be stampeded by angry undead, okay?" Tony said.
I pouted. "Buzz-kill."
We snuck around the outside of the commercial district this time, to avoid being spotted and chased by a large horde. We ended up going around through the residential district, sticking to back alleys and avoiding as much contact as possible, though the occasional zombie we did encounter was rather quickly felled by either me or Tony using a crowbar or hunting knife, respectively.
"Ah! There it is!" Mike whispered, as he pointed towards a rather old-looking van.
"That rust-bucket?" I asked.
"Ol' faithful! She'll take us where we need to go. Eventually."
He pressed a button on his keys, and the car's lights flashed as the doors unlocked. Mike and Tony both got in the front, with Mike driving, as both Elisabeth and I got in the back.
Mike pulled out a map from the glovebox and showed to to Tony. "Mind showing me where we're going?"
Tony pulled out a black felt pen from the glovebox and circled a spot on the map. Mike then nodded his affirmation and turned the van on. He then spun around and left town, mentioning that he was going to take a highway there rather than go back through town so he wouldn't have to bulldoze through zombies.
I sat their feeling as distraught as I was before, while the guys up front were shooting the breeze. Elisabeth picked up on my apprehension though, and she put her hand on my shoulder.
"Think you'll be fine?" she asked me, looking genuinly worried.
I sighed. "I think I will be, but being an emotionally fragile kid, who knows? I'll probably end up crying myself to death or something," I mumbled, not even turning towards her. I was too busy watching the barren road go by past the window.
"Well, at the very least, try to hold yourself together, alright?" she replied, as she patted my shoulder, before going back to looking out her own window.
We drove on, Elisabeth and I were both silent since I was being too broody to be a good conversational partner while the guys up front continued chatting about everything from football to instructions on how to skin a cougar correctly.
Time passed and I ended up dozing off for a few hours, as there wasn't a whole lot to do or look at. Eventually, I was woken up by Elisabeth, and when this happened, I noticed it was getting dark out again.
"We're about halfway there, but it's getting dark, so we're stopping for the night," she said to me, as I yawned.
Taking a look outside I noticed we were still on the highway, just in the middle of nowhere.
"We sleeping in the van?" I asked.
"Yeah, figure we might as well. Just put your seat back or something," Mike replied.
"Right. So, basically you woke me up to tell me we're going back to sleep?"
"Uh... Yeah. I guess," he said, looking like he felt a bit silly about it.
"Right, well, I'm going back to sleep now," I said, matter-of-factly, before leaning back into a sleeping position.
I was awoken sometime around noon-ish the following day by Elisabeth shaking me awake saying that we were finally there.
In my sleepy state, I fumbled for the door and essentially fell out of the van. The asphalt wasn’t too
Tony lightly kicked me in the side. “C’mon, we don’t need another
“Mph,” I groaned into the ground, before picking my groggy self off the floor and dusting myself off.
“You slept for, like, 20 hours straight,” he said, stating the obvious.
“Perks of being a college student. I have a very flexible sleeping schedule,” I replied through half-opened eyes.
“Well, wake yourself up and let’s go; they’re already going inside,” he said, motioning towards the prison’s reception area, which we were parked directly in front of. If any cops were still alive, we’d most certainly get a ticket.
I shook my head in a vain attempt to rouse myself before following my compadre into the building.
The reception area was eerily empty. No people or corpses, moving or otherwise. There were only some spatters of blood around to attest to the bloody war that appeared 3 days ago.
“I’m getting a bad feeling about this,” Mike said, sounding just like someone from a crappy Halloween B-movie.
Tony shook his head. “The prison that was bustling with activity and full of people a mere 3 days ago is now entirely uninhabited? I’d say I have a bit more than just a bad feeling.”
“What, like indigestion? Cancer?” I smarmed back at him.
He chuckled. “If I live long enough to acquire and die from cancer, I’d take that as a success.”
“Are you guys sure this place wasn’t this spooky before? Because it’s feeling pretty damn spooky right now,” Mike asked.
I shrugged. “Maybe everyone left? Or they’re just hiding deeper in?”
The thought that something else had happened to the entirety of the prison was also a possibility, but one I did not let myself indulge in. Got to at least try
to stay optimistic.
“Or maybe they’re all dead,” Tony replied, as though he was just remarking about the weather. Yeah, thanks for being an optimist.
“Well, that’s no good,” Elisabeth said. “But since we’re here, we could still look around. Perhaps they left some stuff behind?”
I scoffed. “Okay, let’s just explore the large, abandoned, dimly lit prison complex. What is this, a Resident Evil game?”
“It can’t be; I distinctly remember being able to move while aiming,” Mike protested.
“Elisabeth’s got a point. Besides, as long as we don’t charge in and shout our presence to the world, we should be fine,” Tony added.
I sighed. I didn’t want to be here at all, much less scavenge around the place. But I didn’t want to sit in the car like a 12 year-old with disinterested parents either, if only for lack of anything to do. “Alright, let’s hope we managed to find someone.”
The first thing our group moved towards was the courtyard, since we just guessed that if there was some reason that everyone had left all it once, it’d probably be there.
Oh, how I wish we were wrong.
We went through the nearest staff-only door into the courtyard, and entered a nightmare.
The entire courtyard was covered in corpses, several of them wearing the orange jumpsuits of the slaves, many others wearing normal wear, either from being a slaver or from looting it back. The corpses littered the place randomly, with pools of blood showing that many of them died there as well, however, there was also a giant pile of corpse stacked haphazardly into a fleshy, grotesque mound.
From behind me, I heard the sounds of someone puking, but I did not know who. I also heard someone whisper, “Holy shit…”
I didn’t say anything, or react at all, because my attention was stuck on a lone figure standing near the pile.
And it was wearing a leather jacket.
I walked forward, almost trance-like. I felt like I was stuck in a dream, as I approached her. How could she be alive!?
And then she turned to look at me.
Claire’s body was still wearing the orange jumpsuit underneath her leather jacket, and it was still covered in large wounds that hadn’t healed at all. The blood on her that covered her was all dried, which clashed with her oddly clean jacket.
I was very confused. I distinctly remember her not wearing her jacket, and I couldn’t find it when I last checked. Did someone return it to her? Or did her undead self… loot it?
She just stared at me, unblinking, unemotional. My friends were back a ways, having stayed still, wondering what was going on. And then, a devilish grin appeared on Claire’s scarred face. She raised her hand slowly, as though she were miming something growing, and I heard movement from behind me. I turned to see a squad of the corpses rise in unison, surrounding my friends behind me.
“Oh, fuck me!” I heard Tony shout, as they ran back inside, being chased by the undead. I tried to go after them, but then some of the undead stayed behind and blocked the door. They didn’t actively come after me, they just became a wall, keeping me from going after my friends.
I turned back towards the undead caricature of one of my former friends to see it laughing
. It was a dark, evil chuckle, before she looked directly into my eyes and grinned wide, baring her teeth, her one wing standing straight up against the sky.
I was looking at an angel of death.
She charged at me, sprinting not like an undead, but rather a living human, and very nearly punched me across the face. I dodged to the side and tripped over a body, but gracefully rolled back up and gripped my crowbar tightly.
She just turned to face me and cracked her knuckles, looking like she about to enjoy her fight. What in the fuck was I facing!? Some kind of intelligent zombie necromancer!?
She dropped into a fighting stance, and approached. I swung my crowbar towards her head, but I was too used to fighting slow, undodging undead, and my slow power-hit was easily dodged under, and she countered with a fist to my gut. I doubled backward but stayed standing, and jumped backwards to avoid a right hook. I swung downward with the crowbar, however she blocked by grabbing the crowbar and kicking me, taking it right out of my hands.
I had no chance. Claire looked like the type of woman that probably got into fights, or did sports before the cataclysm happened. Me? I was a nerdy girl who spent too much time in front of her computer, not even taking so much as a fencing class. And, while you didn’t need a whole lot of prowess or skill to fight a bumbling zombie, a human opponent (or at least, one that fought like one) that was more athletic than me wasn’t exactly having a difficult time. And now she had the upper hand.
She swung with the crowbar, and I dodged backwards, narrowly avoiding getting brained but tripping over a corpse in the process. She brought the crowbar down, and I put my arms up to block it, shouting in pain when it collided with my forearms. I shunted the crowbar to the side and kicked at her, getting her off me long enough for me to roll backwards and stand. I wasn’t going to continue this fight like this.
I turned tail and ran across the courtyard, a more athletic – despite the wounds she received before she died – zombie hot on my heels. I pulled out my (her?) crossbow and deftly unfolded it and loaded it, before spinning around to try and get a shot off. I managed to trip backwards again, in a demonstration of my own dexterity, and saw Claire standing over me again, this time looking more angry than anything. She kicked the crossbow out of my hands, and threw the crowbar away, before grabbing my patchwork clothing and pulling me up, trying to bite at my neck, vampire-style. We grappled around, trying to get her teeth away from my neck, and ended up with her on top, holding my arms down to the ground.
Reacting by instinct, I brought my knee as hard as I could between her legs. Strangely, she actually fell off of me in pain. It seems that whatever was keeping these zombies alive might’ve kept too much of Claire’s self intact.
I rolled away, and quickly picked up the dropped crossbow, as Claire got to her feet and gave me a death stare. I had the crossbow aimed right at her head.
She flicked her vision downward, and I felt something grab my leg. Impulsively, I pulled the trigger, my aim twitching enough to peg her in the neck instead of the head. She fell over, and I turned around to stomp the infernal undead that grabbed my leg’s head in.
I freed my leg in time to turn around and see Claire pulling the arrow out and clutching her throat as she tried standing. I quickly scrounged around and picked up the crowbar, charging towards Claire who was still trying to stand.Wham!
The hit was solid across her head, sending her reeling over. Looking around, I started to see several undead rising to their feet slowly. She must’ve been getting desperate.
I hit her again, causing a loud CRACK!
and knocking her over to her back. Claire’s face had a very human, very disturbing look of sheer pain and terror on it.
It didn’t make me stop.
I brought the crowbar down again, and again. Each hit smashing her face, and her skull into bits. The lack of fluid blood with the shards of skull being thrown around created a very surreal experience as I hit her again and again. Each hit causing her head to become more misshapen.
I noticed in passing that after one of the hits, all of the undead that had stood up fell back down, apparently dying again as Claire did.
It didn’t make me stop. I kept hitting her, as if she herself was the embodiment of the cataclysm; a tragic metaphor for everything that I had lost.
I hit her again, tears streaming down my eyes.
And I hit her again.
Until naught was left but a bloody smear on the ground where her head once was.
When I awoke, I couldn’t see. The only light were very thin streams of sunlight coming through the cracks of… wherever it was that I happened to be.
All that I could feel was pressure; I felt like I was being crushed, suffocated. The smell was all too strong; the smell of death.
I got scared, not sure who I was, where I was, or why I was there, but I had the feeling I was being buried alive, and I panicked.
I started pushing and shoving, feeling the fleshy… things around me moving as I shoved and kicked and punched at them. I tried to scream, but no sound came out.
Eventually, I felt my hand burst out, and I pushed the last… corpse… off of me, as the sunlight flooded my eyes…
Hey, look who came back, only slightly worse for wear. Claire, being probably my favorite character, is still fun to write even after being, ya know, killed. Also, I'm taking a bit of artistic license with the zombie necromancers just because it'd be boring to have a zombie who's just a regular one that can create skeletons out of thin air. I find a psuedo-intelligent half-humanized zombie more entertaining!
Also, evil cliffhangers, because MWAHAHAHAHA! >:D
Cue Wild Mass Guessing.