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We entered the city expecting to see a safe haven full of buildings, civilians, and hopefully a sunny day.

 

But all we found was chaos.

 

Half of the roads were blocked off by thick white borders, fences strewn up through alleyways and buildings being boarded up with wooden planks. The people of the city seemed to have lessened, only small handfuls of civilians left behind. All of them were wearing white surgical masks for some reason.

 

“Hey lookie here,” Hunter said as he glanced out the window. In the parking lot of a Stuff-Mart, several people were fighting over shopping carts filled with toilet paper, soaps, and other essentials.

 

“Jeez, this place is gonna turn out like the purge,” Maddie muttered.

 

The main change was the large military presence. We drove around one corner, watching as several soldiers rushed into a building, breaking down the doors with guns drawn.

 

"What's going on?" Hunter asked, "this place looks like ground zero for the purge."

 

"Not the purge," Maddie exclaimed as she stood up, "the plague."

 

"Plague?" we all asked her in unison.

 

She sighed, beginning to explain what she had heard, "it's been all over the news for months, though I didn't expect any of you to have actually watched it. Last September, an illness began to spread across a local community. And suddenly, that illness popped up somewhere else. And then another location, and another location. The sickness was mutating people's bodies, changing them into something else."

 

"Stop being so vague and get to the point," I told her.

 

She glared at me, "they don't have a name for them yet, but they're... monsters. The virus slowly begins to tear your body apart until finally it kills you, and your corpse is reanimated into a killing machine with a thirst for blood.

 

"So... zombies?" Spencer asked.

 

Maddie scoffed, "no Spencer, they're not zombies! Zombies cannot jump, zombies cannot run, and zombies definitely cannot-"

Our conversation was suddenly interrupted by an explosion in the distance. We watched as the flames erupted from a building, sending several bodies flying off the roof. I drove away while Maddie moved in to keep the children from seeing.

 

While I was driving the cars, the others weren’t doing much to help. Spencer was on his useless game, the kids watching him, while Hunter laid on the couch. He had passed out hours ago.

 

“Lazy bastard,” I thought to myself.

 

Maddie was the only one actually helping, sitting beside Quinn and making sure he was still breathing. If he died, our journey here would have been for nothing.

 

I continued to drive the RV through Indianapolis until finally we found our destination: The Indiana University of Medicine. The building was intact, but its surroundings were not. Several other buildings for the university were blocked off, quarantined by the military.

 

I parked the RV out front, turning off the car and stuffing the keys in my pocket. After standing up Hunter looked out the window and asked, "so where are these mutant things?"

 

"Hiding most likely," Maddie exclaimed, "from the reports I've read they prefer the dark and also like to travel in groups and roam the area looking for victims."

 

"Well there's no monsters here, so this'll be easy peasy!" Spencer exclaimed before hopping out of the RV. He didn't even take two steps before tripping over a rusty can, nearly faceplanting on the concrete.

 

I smirked as I walked past him, hearing Hunter help him up behind me. Hunter then walked back inside, stuffing one of Luis’s machetes in his vest, slinging the gun bag over his shoulder, and then helping Maddie carry Quinn’s body.

 

"Here's the plan," I explained to them, "I'll figure out which dorm number she's staying in. You two sit tight with the kids and make sure to keep his body out of sight."

 

"Out of sight? He's an unconscious man with blood dripping out of his eye!" Hunter exclaimed.

 

I shrugged, "wing it."

 

I turned around, heading off to the front doors of the university building. According to the directory little boy blue had looked up online, this building houses both the male and female dorms. The building across from it on the other side of the small parking lot had several industrial classrooms.

 

When I entered the building, I was greeted by a large crowd of students attempting to swarm the building administrators standing behind the desk next to the wall. They were shouting and screaming, some of them crying.

 

"I can't find my sister!"

 

"What's with all these army men coming into my dorm!?"

 

"What's going on!?"

 

A voice then whispered to me, "dude this is just like the first Pokémon Movie!"

 

I jumped, spinning around to see Spencer standing beside me. I stared at him with a look of disgust, "what the hell are you doing here?"

 

"They told me to go with you to make sure you didn't do anything dumb," he told me with a small smile.

 

"Uh huh... they asked you to go with me to make sure that I didn't do anything dumb?"

 

"Yeparooni! Don't worry, I'm just as confused as you are," he said, walking past me towards the front desk.

 

Our path was blocked by a small swarm of students, all of which were trying to swarm the administrators behind the desk. I tried to brute force my way through, but even with my strength I was shoved to the ground.

 

Spencer, however, was much more successful. The scrawny boy was able to slip into the crowd, disappearing between the legs of a man. He then reappeared a minute or two later with a small slip of paper in hand.

 

"Isabella Navarro, right upstairs and down the hall," he said with a grin.

 

I snatched the paper from his hand and stomped down the hall where the side doors were. I opened them up, allowing Maddie, Hunter and the kids inside.

 

"Why'd you put your sunhat on Quinn's head?" Spencer asked Maddie as she eyed the floppy blue hat covering Quinn's face.

 

"A big ass military transport drove by, so we weren't sure if they were coming our way. Something's going on out there," Hunter informed us.

 

"Then let's get Quinn to his sister before that something comes after us," I told them before entering the stairwell that lead to the second floor.

 

One by one we trudged up the stone steps to the second floor. I lead the way, my hand on the silver handgun hidden beneath my hoodie and tucked beneath my waistband. Maddie walked behind me, holding the hands of Axel and Julia. Behind her was Spencer, who was happily skipping up the steps while humming a song and then Hunter, who was carrying Quinn in his arms like a baby.

 

We entered the second floor, being greeted with a much less chaotic and more peaceful dormitory hallway. A lounge of sorts sat in the middle of the hallway where several students were reading, working, and hanging out. I scanned the crowd, looking for anyone who could potentially be Quinn's sister.

 

"Anyone know what she looks like?" I asked.

 

"Well if they're anything like Quinn, I expect them to be floating around in a flying chair," Hunter joked.

 

Spencer then pointed forward, "oh oh look!"

 

We all glanced to what Spencer was pointing at, hoping for a teenage girl, but was instead met with a large poster on the wall. I facepalmed, watching as Spencer dashed over to the advertisement faster than Road Runner.

 

"What is that?" Maddie asked him curiously.

 

"It's the 5Vision! So this company, Kibou Incorporated, has been designing this line of Virtual Reality headsets, and in two years they're going to be releasing the 5Vision, the greatest video game console ever! And, they're gonna be adding DragonLight Online as a launch title!" Spencer exclaimed in an energetic voice.

 

Maddie asked, "DragonLight Online? What's-"

 

"Fantasize about your video game waifus later doofus, let's make sure Quinn doesn't bleed out before that," I told him.

 

I continued down the hall, the small piece of paper in hand, until finally I found the matching door. Maddie knocked several times and we waited for someone to answer.

 

Finally, it swung open, revealing a girl wearing a plain white t-shirt and torn jeans, along with a choker of sorts. She had tan skin and brown eyes like Quinn, her hair a dark black that stretched down past her shoulders. However, unlike her brother she wore a pair of glasses. Surely, this had to be her sister.

 

"Oh... um hello? Aren't you a little short for a pizza delivery guy?" she asked

.

I glared at her, "no pizza. We're friends of your brother."

 

"My brother? What's he gotten into this-"

 

And then she saw him. His limp, unconscious body lying in Hunter's arms. The bloody bandage covering his eye and his pale skin. She stepped back, tears forming in the corner of her eyes as her hands moved over her mouth.

 

"No," she mouthed, squeaking out his name quietly, "Quinn..."

 

"Ma'am he's not dead, but he needs your help," Maddie told her.

 

She frowned, "h-help? Wait what happened?"

 

"There was a shooting, and Quinn was hit with a crossbow bolt and he needs medical attention. Please, can you let us inside?" Maddie asked.

 

Isabella nodded silently, closing the door behind us. I grabbed Spencer and yanked him inside as she locked the door and gestured for them to lay her down on the bed. Hunter dropped Quinn's body on the bed and her sister rushed to his aid, grabbing his hand tightly and checking his pulse.

 

"He's alive, but barely. He needs medical attention immediately," she told us

.

"So can you help him?" Spencer asked.

 

She nodded, "yes, but only with the proper supplies. I have some stuff here but I need a medical kit from the surgical operating room."

 

"Where is it?" I asked, "I'll go and get it."

 

"Downstairs, through the hallway leading into the building next door," she told us.

 

I nodded, turning around to leave. But before I could, Hunter grabbed my shoulder, "you're not going alone. Not with all this stuff going on."

 

"That's fine," I answered, walking through the door with Hunter behind me. What I was not fine with was Spencer coming as well, the young boy rushing through the door behind us with his blue GameBuddy in hand.

 

"Maddie, keep him safe," I shouted down the hallway, "we'll be back soon!"

 

"You better be!" she shouted back.

 

The three of us marched our way downstairs, moving through the hallway with ease. The lights were off, the doors leading outside locked. I frowned, feeling a suspicious vibe by all of this. I stepped over a pile of books after turning the corner and eyed several doors down the hall: the classrooms.

 

I bolted down the hallway, stopping at the first doorway and reading the room number. I then turned to the two and asked, "can you match the room numbers to labels?"

 

Spencer nodded, pulling out his phone, "sure! If I can just find the directory online then I can-"

 

Before he could power it on I slapped it out of his hands, the device clattering to the floor. Spencer groaned, glaring up at me, "what was that for!?"

 

"Do you not remember the conversation we had last night!? The police are after us, which means they're probably tracking our phones. We can't use any of our devices without risking them finding us," I told him.

 

He frowned, realizing he indeed was wrong. Had I waited another few seconds, that ping would've told the police right where we were.

 

"The only device we have that's safe is your laptop right?" Hunter asked.

 

Spencer nodded, "yep! Courtesy of the anonymous forums, I have about half a million different programs on there that'll send anyone looking for us bouncing across the world!"

 

"Good, at least we'll have some way to check the media. Things seem to be getting worse every day," I explained.

Hunter then pointed past us at a medical door, a glowing red light placed above it. If that wasn't a door for a mock surgical room, I didn't what was.

 

The three of us approached the door and Hunter moved his hand onto the handle, trying to pull it open. No luck, the door was locked.

 

"Dammit. Alright you two keep watch, I'll get this thing open," Hunter said as he pulled out a set of small metal tools from his wallet.

 

He knelt down and began picking the lock while I looked down the left hall. It was completely barren of both people and light. It seemed like the power had shut down down here and the classes had closed down as well. No students, no teachers. It just seemed abandoned.

 

Behind me, Spencer took notice of something moving down another hallway. He frowned, stepping down the hallway towards the shadow. The human-like figure was knelt down over something on the ground, doing something that he couldn't see through the darkness.

 

“Spencer? Hey, get over here,” I called to him

 

He shook his head, “hold on, there’s someone here. Hey are you hurt?”

 

Spencer froze as the shadow turned its head, shifting into the light streaming through the gap in the boarded-up windows. The woman’s skin was a pale grey, a faint glow shining out of the distended veins of her arm. She was breathing heavily, sharp fangs extending from her mouth and blood trickling down her face to the floor. And then her eyes, blank and soulless with not a hint of humanity left inside. Just blood-filled pupils with a thick red liquid streaking down their cheeks.

 

“Spencer!?” Hunter asked as he turned his attention away from the door, “Spencer get back!”

 

He looked at Hunter, confused, until he looked back to see the creature stand up, eyeing him closely. It then let out a screech before darting forward, raising its claws to cut him down.

 

I reached for my gun and shouted, “Spencer get down!”


Submitted: August 31, 2020

© Copyright 2022 AnikanDarkness. All rights reserved.

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