Town A, 9 hours after Inbreak, 3:30AM, The Keeper
A sane and logical man may have second thoughts while marching towards a horde of angry, mangled beings that want to tear him limb from limb and devour him entirely. Yet, I felt no urge to turn back as I approached the horde, nor did I feel any fear as they began walking towards me, with their arms outstretched in a worn-out stupor. None of them had fangs, and none of them had red necks, therefore, none of them could possibly harm me.
As the first one came near, I readied my gun and unloaded bullets into its chest. It fell to the ground, twitching, as I began to get swarmed. Zombies were pulling at my armor from every direction, but I remained resolute, firing in a circular motion around myself. After freeing myself from the horde's grip, I began firing again, this time kicking and snarling to keep myself from being pulled to the ground. Whenever I was grabbed, dozens of teeth clamped around my armor, but to no avail, allowing me to break free and make them into easy targets with a few shots from my gun. Those that didn't die right away from a bullet to the head, staggered off and collapsed later on. But my fight was not done yet.
There were still countless more zombies, grabbing at me from every angle, and I couldn't free myself this time. I was knocked to the ground and mu gun dropped to the ground, landing in the muddy grass. Instinctively, I buried my face into the ground, as a myriad of undead hands clawed at my back. Realizing they could do me no harm, and taking refuge in this fact, I got to my feet and began my attack anew: this time, without my gun.
I began by punching one zombies so hard his jaw broke off, splattering to the ground. His undead features where unchanged as he shrugged off the missing bone. I punched him again, this time square on the nose, and his head flew off while his body slumped into a heap. All throughout the fight, the relentless clawing and biting had never let up. The horde's numbers were thinning though, and if I managed to keep up this pace the entire town would be clear in a matter of-
A zombie's hand narrowly missed my temple as I staggered backwards into the arms of another beast. I forgot, if only for a moment, the fact that I could still be killed at any moment, just like my former squad mates, and that I shouldn't be taking these things lightly. I quickly realized that, although I was doing quite well in this fight, I was losing it. For every one zombie I killed, two more appeared from behind an alley or out of a house. I was being overwhelmed, and I was getting exhausted. I hadn't expected it to take this long, and without my gun clearing every single zombie out would be impossible.
I was panting and sweating, until eventually I couldn't take it any longer. I dove to the ground, grabbing my gun away from the feet of one zombie, aiming my gun and holding down the trigger. A barrage of lead entered them as many fell to the ground. I began to back up against a boarded up houses with the window broken, hoping to take refuge there. As I fired more and more bullets, I strafed backwards working my way towards the house, and failing to see the zombies corpse that lay at my feet.
As I walked backwards, spraying my bullets into the tidal wave of flesh that was headed towards me, I tripped on the corpse, falling to the ground, but keeping a good grip on my gun. I tried to regain my composure immediately, but just like that the zombies were on top of me, crushing me under their heavy combined weight. As I was held down like a recently tackled football player, it felt like my organs would be squeezed out of my mouth and on to the muddy ground. But using my last ounce of strength, I rolled away from the zombies, desperately heading for the broken window of the house. I managed to reach the broken window of the boarded up house, throw my gun in, and then throw myself in.
The house was dark and musty, and I didn't waste any time getting out of sight. I must have killed at least fifty zombies back there, and yet there were more than when I had started. I was dehydrated, sweating and exhausted, panting for breath eagerly. I looked outside and noticed that the horde had begun beating down the door; luckily it was boarded up and would hold for at least another hour.
I took of my helmet, not even bothering to check the house for zombies. It went against all of my safety rules, to go unguarded in an unknown area, but I was so tired and hot that I had to let my skin breath. My armor was coated in a thick residue of zombies flesh; organs, tissue and brain matter splattered my ensemble, painting a grisly picture of decay and demise across my face and throughout my armor. (author's note: that was the best sentence ever. 'painting a grisly picture of decay and demise across my face?' classic!).
Little did I know, that not checking the would've give me such a fright. A figure appeared in the darkness, framed only by its silhouette. It's arms were held besides itself, and it was holding a gun in one hand.
At first I was so shocked I could say a word. How could a zombie be holding a gun? Remembering the vampire zombie, I knew anything could be possible, and I picked up my gun again, aiming it at the figure. The figure, in shock as well, picked up its gun and aimed at myself.
Wait a minute, I thought, That's not a zombie!
The figure seemed to realize the same thing, raising its arms, and stepping into the light. As it did, I realized that it wasn't a zombie: it was a blond woman with long hair, standing in the moonlight of the broken window, holding a gun with incendiary bullets -the ones that catch the targets on fire- at my face.
She dropped her gun , gasped, raised her hands in the air and yelled:
Town A, 10 hours after Inbreak, 4:00AM, The Doctor
The being that had just crashed through the window of the house I was taking refuge in was, as I discovered, not a zombie, but in fact a Keeper. With his signature black helm nestled in his hands, and his dark armor forming a protective barrier around him, there was no mistaking it. His face seemed hardened and uncaring, and he was panting heavily. He must've been the one making so much noise outside, and the one shooting constantly.
"Who are you!?" he yelled, not resting his gun down quite yet. "Don't worry," I reassured him, "I'm not a threat. You're The Keeper that came when I pressed The Siren?"
"That was you?" he said, a little more relaxed now. "You were the one that pressed The Siren?"
"Yes," I replied, "It was me. Where are the army of Keepers? I thought once I pressed it, tens of thousands of Keepers would come pouring in."
He gave a rude snort, as if I had said something preposterous, and got up from the ground, putting his helmet back on. "Well, looks like you've only got me sweetheart."
A zombie appeared by the window that The Keeper had jumped through. Upon seeing us it gave a moan of surprise, alerting other zombies to our position. "Quick!" said the Keeper, leaping to his feet with his gun, "Board up the window!"
"No time!" I yelled in a hurry, grabbing him by the arm, "Let's get upstairs, quick!"
The zombie was moaning more and more aggressively, attempting to claw his way in. It would only be a matter of time until it or one of its friends managed to squeeze its way through. "If we go upstairs now, they could overrun the house. This is one of our last safe havens, and I doubt we'll find another. Now help me defend!"
"No! I'd get grabbed into the horde and you don't have enough energy to fight them off. We'd both die, even with your fancy armor! Now come upstairs!" I screamed urgently, making my way up the rickety, broken stairs.
The Keeper gave a sigh of submission and followed me up to a child's bedroom. We locked the door and began to barricade it. "Well, we've locked ourselves in the middle of nowhere instead of having the entire house to ourselves. Way to go!"
"You're a Keeper, aren't you? You're supposed to be destroying those zombies, not hiding from them like a scared little girl!"
He suddenly got offended. "You think I'm a coward? Do you have any idea what I've been doing? How hard of a night it's been for me?"
"You think you've had a hard night? Do know what it's been like for me? I trekked my way across a town, lured zombies away from The Siren using an elaborate plan, pressed the button and narrowly escaped with my life! And now I find out that instead of an elite agency to come and solve my problems, instead I get one random guy who can't even clear out the infestation!"
"HAVE YOU EVER STOPPED TO THINK WHY I'M THE ONLY ONE HERE!?"he roared. Suddenly, he went silent. "My squad..." he said after a while, "My squad was killed by a zombie on the way here."
I put a hand to my mouth. "Oh," I said. "I... I'm sorry. I didn't know. But how could one zombie be enough to kill your squadron?"
He slumped to his knees, sitting on the hardwood floor. The dusty illumination of the lamp that had been left on was barely giving off enough light to read this man's facial expressions. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
"I've seen some crazy things tonight. You'd be surprised what I would believe at this point."
He looked at me with a grim smile. "Believe this," he said. "Vampire zombies."
My eyes widened and I nearly dropped my fire gun to the ground. "Told you, you don't believe me right?"
"My friend and I... we were attacked by a zombie with fangs too!"
"What? Did it-"
"Move like a living person? Yes! Did yours-"
"resist gunfire? The one I saw shrugged off bullets like it was no problem! And you say that yours-"
"Had fangs! Yes, I think we may have seen the same zombies. But I decapitated the one that attacked me."
"...so did I."
"So there's more than one!?"
"There could be dozens for all we know!"
"And they're strong enough to take out a Keeper!?"
"They're strong enough to take down two!"
We looked at each other for a moment, with a sudden feeling of comradeship. He extended his gloved hand, stained with zombie blood. "Shall we team up and find the source of these problems?" I extended mine, reeking of flesh, and smiled. "Let's try." We shook hands and began discussing ideas about how such a zombie could exist.
He suggested a mutated strain of the virus. I suggested government meddling. He suggested radiation, I suggested tampering. In the end, we only knew one thing about them: they were dangerous, and could only be killed by decapitation.
"We need to do something," I said, getting up from the floor. "There's a person in town. His life may be in danger, and I need to save him."
"Relax," the Keeper said "I called for three other squadrons of Keeper to arrive as back up. In sometime between half an hour and an hour nine other Keeper will be here and gun down any zombies. Even if there are vampire zombies, we'll be such a powerful force that they'll stand no chance against us. We just need to sit here and wait it out."
"Wait it out?" I replied. "I don't think so. There's a kind old man that raised me as a child out there who's life may be in danger. I need to go rescue him, and I'm not going to 'wait this out' and let him die."
"Absolutely not. I'm not going to risk my life looking for someone that may already be dead, and I'm certainly not going to let you risk your life doing the same. We sit here and wait for the other squadrons, and that's an order."
"Oh? Remind me, what's the motto of a Keeper? Wasn't it 'sacrifice all for the sake of a life'?"
"That's... different. We don't know if whoever you're looking for is alive. There's a better chance of you dying then us finding him."
The scratching at the door alerted us to the looming threat that lay outside. The zombies had probably poured through the abandoned house by now, and would begin pounding down the door at any moment. "If we stay here, we die. Even you can't fight off all of the zombies outside."
The Keeper looked at me for a moment and sighed. "Alright, I'll help you find this man. Help me with the window."
We opened the window of the room and glanced down. There were no zombies in sight, meaning they had all poured into the house. "Long drop," I observed, noticing the steep decline from the second floor of the house. The pounding on the door began: they knew we were here.
"Give me a hand. I'll get down first and can help you down." I swallowed hard. I had a horrible fear of heights, but I knew I would have to do this for The Professor. I helped The Keeper over the edge of the sill. He held on to my hands as I helped him a few feet off of the ground. He fell a few feet and landed wrong, twisting his foot a bit. He collapsed to the ground for a moment, just as the pounding intensified. "Hurry up!" I said.
The Keeper motioned for me to jump. "I'll catch you. We can sneak out the back, I think most of the zombies are in the house." I looked out the window. The fall seemed to stretch on to twice its length. I swallowed my fear, just as the hinges of the door broke down.
The door tumbled to the ground, smashing to pieces as the horde of zombies broke through. With a shriek of surprise I leaped out of the window and began to fall. Wind rushed through my ears for a moment, as I waited for the sickening impact of the ground to crush my ribs. Instead, however, I realized The Keeper had caught me.
"I was sort of expecting you to lower yourself down," he smirked, "Not fling yourself out of the window into my arms."
I wrestled free of his grip, brushing myself off. "Thanks for the save," I said turning away from him. "Let's go."
"Hold on, do you know where we're going? When the zombies see that we've left the house, they'll be after us."
"All the more reason to make as much distance as possible from this place, eh? I know where we're going, just cover me."
The Keeper muttered to himself. "It's a sad day when a Keeper has to take orders from a random woman."
I turned around at him and flashed him a grin. "I'm not just any random woman," I said. "I'm a Doctor."
"Oh, excuse me. Taking orders from a doctor is much better."
We began our walk down a street, taking cover around houses. For the most part, the streets were deserted. Most of the zombies in the town seemed to be in the area that The Siren was located, and when The Keeper had been firing his gun that just attracted more to that vicinity. Still, there could be a stray somewhere that we had to be on the lookout for.
After a few minutes of terrified walking in this post apocalyptic scene of destruction however, we both relaxed a bit, and began to talk. "So," I said, "Your squadron was killed but you came to the town anyway? Why did you do that?"
The Keeper looked at me sadly and sighed. "Sacrifice all for the sake of a life. I've been hearing that a lot lately. And, well, you're that life. I came to town ready to save as many civilians as possible. When my squadron died I couldn't just abandoned my mission. I was trained to be strong in the face of death and laugh while in danger... but I don't really feel like laughing now."
I smiled at him. "I'm the life, eh? Well, I appreciate you saving me then. But how did the vampire zombies kill your men if you were fully clad in armor?"
He pointed to his eyes. "It bit their eyes and the sections around their eyes. One was bitten right above his cheek, the only part of our face that's exposed."
"Why not wear visors then?"
"Zombies don't attack the eyes normally. A regular zombie would lunge for the neck, arm or chest, so most Keepers don't wear visors. The ones that do are the Keepers with the jobs of going into The Dead Lands and retrieving zombie bodies to burn. The only way that a zombie would bite the eye would be if you were held down by a horde, like I just was, and they bit you there by accident. Of course, that's not taking into account vampire zombies."
I nodded my head, curiosity satisfied.
We walked a bit calmer for the next minute until we came to a part of the town that I recognized. "The person we're looking for should be on this block. C'mon."
"Who are we looking for again?"
"We're looking for the man that raised me. He lives around here, and I have to make sure that he's safe. I think he might know what happened here as well."
The Keeper remained silent for a moment. Finally he said, "You know, he's probably de-"
"Yes. Yes I know that's a possibility. But I have to be sure. I have to know that I didn't... that I didn't let him get devoured. Alright? I just need to know."
The Keeper shrugged. I tear rolled down my cheek. I felt frail and afraid now, but we continued to march along. We were getting closer to the Professor's house now, and we would be there soon. But something caught both of our attentions.
Broken glass. We had came across a shattered display window for a boutique. The contents of the window had been knocked over, as if it had been smashed in. Scenes like this were common around the town, and we would normally just have walked past it, but there was something in the wreckage that peaked both of our interests. Silently, we walked towards the wreckage.
An octopuses' arm was sticking out of the wreckage, with the smell of dead flesh concentrated on it. It was writhing, back and forth horribly. "Bloody hell..." whispered The Keeper under his breath, advancing towards it. "Hold on..." I warned, "Let's examine this a bit first."
We looked around. There was a considerably large amount wreckage piled on top of this tentacle, as if it had been buried. "Let's leave it," The Keeper said, putting his hand to my shoulder, motioning me away. My scientific curiosity was too great to simply leave the thing alone. Why was there an octopus arm randomly lying about? And was the fact that it was thrashing about mean that the actual octopus itself was buried underneath?
I stooped to my knees. What was an octopus doing in a boutique, I thought. The octopus arm suddenly stopped flailing for a moment. Was the octopus dying? Suffocating? Or did it just stop moving when it sensed me get nearer to it? I took a step closer to the octopus arm. And then it wrapped around my leg.
Town A, 10 hours after Inbreak, 4:15AM, The Keeper
I wasn't particularly worried when the tentacle wrapped around her leg. It had been flailing up and down, and left and right so much that it was bound to have random spasms that resembled an attack, right? No, what worried me was when the rubble covering the octopus arm began to be shaken off. What worried me more was the two dark, black, leathery bat-like wings that emerged from the rubble. What worried the most was the horrible abomination of appendages and human parts that I had ever the horror of witnessing.
The girl began to scream as the two bat wings emerged from the rubble and began to flap powerfully. Hell, so did I. But the scream of surprise quickly turned into screams of terror as more and more rubble was knocked off of whatever was hiding under it. From out of the rubble another octopus arm reached up out of the debris and freed itself from its prison. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, and I stood frozen in fear.
As the wings flapped more and more, the debris which was covering the creature was almost clear. I now saw the body that was attached to the wings- and, to my horror, attached to the octopus arms as well. It was... well, zombie wasn't a good word for it, but it's what it was. It was a fat, bloated zombie, crawling with maggots, attached to two bleeding octopus arms and a pair of horrible, leathery bat wings, beating them powerfully as it grasped The Doctor with one of its tentacles. It roared at her, opened its wings fully, and took off into the air, dragging her along the floor as she yelled for help.
It knocked me out of the way, sending my spiraling backwards and back onto the road. It roared once more as I was still trying to figure out what was going on in my head. This wasn't real- it couldn't be real. But it was real. And that's when I had two realizations, one horrible, the other less horrible.
The horrible realization was that this was not something nature could do. This had man's taint all over it. This was obviously the work of a sick, perverted individual with no trace of humanity left in his or her bones. This was not a mutated strand of virus; this was the experiment of something worse. What, I could not tell, but something much worse. This was easily, without a doubt the most horrifying thing I had ever seen. A few hours ago, I had seen my squad mates eaten by a fanged zombie, and this paled in comparison. This was a beast that filled my bones with fright, which made me want to collapse to the ground and cry.
But I didn't, and I couldn't. Instead I tightened my resolve, and that's when I had my second realization.
This girl was the life. This girl was the one life that we had to sacrifice everything to save. This girl was the reason that my squad mates died, the reason that I was sent on the mission where the worst thing imaginable was displayed before my eyes. 'Sacrifice everything to save a life'. Alright, I thought. I would.
The girl was being dangled from the beasts arms as he took into the air. Looking at the thing was a chore in itself. Firing at it made it worse. As I desperately unloaded bullets into the flying target, I had to be sure not the hit The Doctor, who was dangling by her neck now, slowly slipping as the beast rose higher. I had to kill it before it ate her. I had to kill it.
But as my bullets entered its flesh, it only rippled as maggot poured out. It wasn't reacting. It wasn't affected by my onslaught. Just like the vampire zombies. As Keepers we were supposed to prevent things like this from happening. But no matter how hard we try, they get messed up anyways. Like we've been cursed, like we've been doomed to die.
Despair filled my bones, but I continued to attack. I had to save this girl. I had to. But I grew weary and I collapsed to my knees. I'd failed, I thought as the beast flew away, messily and on the verge of eating the girl. I couldn't save the life, not even one, and yet she managed to save the whole damned Human Lands by pressing that button. That one civilian, trumping me, the impenetrable Keeper. And now she was about to die.
I felt helpless, just as I felt as my team died. So helpless, I barely noticed the figure running towards us. As the figure approached, I lifted myself off the ground. The Doctor was still shrieking, and it was drawing the figures attention. The figure was headed straight towards the beast with something in its hand. It was long, curved and gave off an eerie glow as he ran in the moonlight.
As he came into view, I noticed that he was a boy. He couldn't be more than sixteen or seventeen. And he had a wonderful, curved blade raised above his head in his right hand. But more than anything, he looked furious. The angriest expression I had ever seen on anyone's face paled in comparison to the look he had on his face right now. He was headed straight towards the beast, who was preparing to eat the woman before my very eyes.
The boy with the sword continued to rush towards the beast. What was the point? The boy only had a sword, and the damn beast was hovering ten feet above the ground. Even fully extended, he would hardly be able to scrape the beast, who was now hovering next to a building. It was noble that he was trying to save her, but he was a civilian and not even I could-
What's he doing?
My jaw dropped and my eyes widened. Expertly, he jumped at the side of the building that the beast was hovering next to, and leaped to the other side of a nearer building, grabbing onto it and pulling himself up. He then raised his sword in the air, jumped and, now that he was at the same altitude of the beast, leaped off of the building and lunged towards the beast. The beast hardly had time to utter a moan of shock of disbelief as the sword and momentum cut the beast in two. As one half splattered into a gooey paste on one side of him, The Doctor landed with a thud on the other.
I was dumbfounded. I had been outshined by a civilian not once, but twice in one day. He had taken out a creature that I could not. I was going to go over to congratulate him, but he then pointed his sword to The Doctor's neck. The Doctor, who was now whimpering on the ground rolled over in agony. She'd just been strangled by the beast, and now had a sword to her throat. For the first time, the boy with the sword spoke.
"WHAT THE HELL ARE DOING WITH MY GUN!?"
© Copyright 2016 Headacher. All rights reserved.
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