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George Remington (NPC)

An airline pilot flying by the seat of his pants.

0 · 245 views · located in Season 2

a character in “The Walking Dead: Online”, as played by Captain Calamity

Description

.: George Remington :.

Image


Description:

 Portrayed By Martin Freeman
 Pilot for United Airlines.
 42
 Male
 5'6" / 163 lbs
 English / American

Traits:

 3 Strengths
Navigation: George has a great sense of where he is and where he's headed.
Decisive: He isn't one to sit and think; always trusts his instincts.
Resilient: It takes a lot to break his focus and even more to break his resolve.

 3 Flaws
Benefit of the Doubt: George generally trusts first and asks questions later.
Self-Loathing: He beats himself up over things and is way too hard on himself.
Alcoholic: When he wants a drink, he needs a drink.

Personality:

 Fears
Crashing a plane, open sea, sharks, getting lost.

 Aspirations
Log 10,000 flights, retire and move to Hawaii, start a family.

 Dominant Emotion
Focus

 Demeanor
George is a confident man. The movie "Up In The Air" hit a little too close to home. Though not nearly as suave or dashing as George Clooney, he is still a great George. His upbringing in Maddox, England gave him a sense of honor, respect, and ethics. He generally keeps himself under control, and has the ability to really focus hard -- a trait he uses daily as he flies around the world. He doesn't enjoy being challenged or doubted, and may even have issues sharing leadership if he feels he should be in control.

 Quirks/Oddities
Drums his fingers on things with surprisingly good rhythm.

 Skills/Proficiencies
Pilot's License, Navigation, Can Operate On Little Sleep, Coffee Connoisseur, Excellent At Card Games, Golfer, Swimming, Diving, Radio Operation, Geography & History Buff, Handgun Use

Equipment:

 He has a class ring from college he always wears.
 Wears mainly leather jackets, collared shirts, and jeans.
 Prefers handguns to melee weapons.

History:

 Born in the UK in August.
 Goes to private school close to home.
 Moves to America and joins flight school in Texas.
 Earns pilot's license and gets a job with United Airlines.
 2002. Relocates to Los Angeles to ease the commute.
 Narrowly navigates a damaged plane through a sudden thunderstorm; makes news.
 2008. Buys private plane at local airfield with money from talk show interviews.
 2013. Makes OKCupid account; little success is had.

.: Charlie :.

George's best friend. A 3-year old labrador/shepard mix.

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So begins...

George Remington (NPC)'s Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sarah Hawke (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Samuel Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Molly LeFleur (NPC)

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#, as written by Zephon
Rafiq Chedidi

---

When the others had left, Rafiq went to work on Nasir’s body. He knew that it was impossible to give his friend a proper burial, especially being in the sewers, but at least he could try to leave him behind with some respect. With some difficulty, he managed to move Nasir to the side of the wall. He covered the head wound with a cloth he knew Nasir kept in his pocket. When he wanted to place the hands in a dignified position, Rafiq noticed the leather bracelet his friend wore most of the time. It had been given to Nasir by an ex-girlfriend, but he somehow had not gotten rid of it. Rafiq unclasped it and put it on his right wrist. It would be the one thing to remember his friend by.

He then prayed for Nasir, saying the Salat al-Janazah out loud. He was not entirely sure he was doing everything correct, only having been to an Islamic funeral two times in his life, but it would have to do. In his mind, he not only prayed for his friend, but for his parents as well. And everyone else he may have lost.

Niobe was walking towards him. “You’re muslim,” she said. It was a statement, not a question.

He nodded. He was definitely not the most religious person, but in this moment, it somehow felt good to acknowledge his heritage. “Cool,” Niobe said without judgement. Rafiq turned around and wiped some dirt – or was it blood? – of his face. “Thank you for staying with me,” he said. Niobe shrugged in a way that indicated that it was only the natural thing to do. Then she pointed to the way the others had left. “We better go. This place should be safe from those walkers, but I’d rather not find out.” Rafiq nodded in agreement. After everything that happened, he was still alive. And he was determinant to stay that way.

---

Rafiq woke, still groggy from a deep sleep. He looked around and saw other people laying on the floor as well, asleep or trying to. For a couple of seconds, he was confused and disoriented. Then, everything that had happened rushed back and he groaned. He remembered now. Everything had gone to shit.

Only one man was sitting up. He scratched a dog behind its ear and looked at Rafiq with a faint smile. Rafiq did not recognize him. Earlier, Niobe had lead him to some sort of maintenance room. Sarah and Molly had already been there, as well as some other people. An older lady – was her name Annebelle? - had hugged him and a boy had looked at him curiously. Rafiq did not recall much of what happened after that. Exhausted from fear and grief, he had simply fallen asleep on the floor.

“Good morning. At least, I think it is morning,” the man said quietly as to not wake the others. “Here, have a couple of cookies.” Rafiq took them eagerly, not realizing until now how hungry he was. “Thank you,” he muttered.

“They tell me your name is Rafi?” The man inquired. “Rafiq,” Rafiq corrected. “Rafiq,” the man said, “I’m George. And this is Charlie.” George’s voice had gone a pitch higher as he had said that in an endearing way. The man clearly loved that dog. Rafiq smiled at Charlie, who came over and licked his hand. It felt good to find some friendly people.

He looked around and saw a woman he did not recall from last night. She was sleeping next to the boy, with her arm around him protectively. Rafiq figured it must be the mother. Niobe and Carl were not here. George noticed his searching gaze.

“They are out on watch,” he said. “I’d rather be safe than sorry.” Rafiq nodded, he could see the sense in that. “Do you know what happened?” he asked George. After everything, he still had no clue what was going on. George shook his head. “I don’t really know. One moment, everything was fine, the next, the dead are walking and killing everyone. Annabelle thinks it is the wrath of God.” He patted Charlie on the top of the head. “Personally, I think it is some type of epidemic. But it is widespread. The entire nation was hit. Maybe the entire world.”

Rafiq swallowed the last bite of his cookie. The entire world? That would mean that no rescue was possible. That they would be stuck in this situation for as long as the epidemic lasted. George seemed to have the same thought. “It seems we will have to adjust to this new world for at least a while. And the best way to survive is to stick with the right people.”

George gestured to the people around them. “Apart from Niobe, who somehow is born for surviving the bloody apocalypse, these are probably not the people best suited for the situation we are in. But they are good people. And that is what’s important.” He looked at Rafiq intently, as if he was making a decision. “You seem like good people as well. After what Niobe told me you did after what happened to your friend... well, I feel you would do the right thing when it came down to it. You can join us if you promise me one thing: to put the safety of this group above anything else.”

Rafiq nodded and shook George’s hand. “I can do that,” he said. And he meant it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sarah Hawke (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC)

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#, as written by Zephon
Rafiq Chedidi

---

It was strange to carry a gun. George had given it to Rafiq earlier when they were checking out one of the side tunnels. “Just in case,” he had said. Rafiq had never handled a gun before and hoped that George’s brief explanation on how to use it would be sufficient. Thankfully, the tunnel had been empty.

That small adventure had only been the prelude to this one, Rafiq mused. They were on their way to gather supplies. Food, sleeping gear, weapons. Anything else they might need. Rafiq had stuffed a bag with food back in the deli and it had been well received by the group. Yet, they all knew they needed more if they were going to survive the next couple of weeks. “The city will be stripped clean soon enough,” George had said, “so we need to find supplies while we still can.” And thus Rafiq had set out with George and his dog, Sarah, Niobe and Carl.

Niobe carefully opened the door towards the hall of one of the metro stations and indicated them to be silent. Rafiq could hear the faint noise of walkers in the distance, growling like feral animals. He swallowed and felt his heart thumping in his throat. Niobe opened the door further and looked into the hall. She looked back and smiled wickedly. “Walkers,” she said, “three of them. But they are stuck on the turnstiles.” George took out his knife and walked towards the door. “I’ll take care of them.”

Putting her hand on his shoulder, Niobe stopped him in his tracks. “No. They can do it.” She glanced meaningfully at Rafiq, Sarah and Carl. “Consider it a practice round.” Rafiq briefly exchanged looks with Sarah. She looked slightly queasy, but nodded. Together, they walked through the door and took out their knives. Carl was lingering though. “I’m not doing that,” he protested, “you can’t make me.” Niobe responded by pushing him through the door.

Looking at the walker in front of him, Rafiq noticed how the man was middle-aged and wearing a business suit. The eyes had gone grey and without expression. His throat had been ripped out, parts of flesh dangling grotesquely. “He’s no longer human,” Rafiq told himself. “He’s already dead.” With a sigh and a silent prayer, he stabbed the man through the eye. The walker gave a small noise and then slumped over.

Sarah had dispatched of hers as well, but was now trying her hardest not to throw up. Rafiq did not look at her. He absolutely hated the sight of vomiting. After some more protest, Carl was stabbing the third walker several times. “I hate you,” he grunted, “I hate you all.” It was not clear if he meant the walkers or the group. In the way Niobe was laughing, it was probably the latter.

After that, they quickly got to the front entrance of the station. The sun was shining and it felt like it was going to be a warm day. Rafiq allowed himself a moment to enjoy it.

“Alright! It’s working!” Carl suddenly shouted, holding his phone triumphantly in his hand. Niobe quickly kicked him in the shins. “Shhh, be quiet.” They all stood still for a couple of seconds, but there was apparently no walker in the vicinity. “Where are the walkers,” Rafiq asked in a whisper, “I thought we would at least see a couple of them.” The others shrugged, wondering the same question themselves.

“Any news?” Sarah asked Carl. Carl was busy typing something and did not look up. “Wait a sec, I’m texting my parents. You know, they live in Canada. Might not be as bad over there.”

George was visibly getting annoyed at the hold up. “Come on,” he said, “you can text while we walk.”

Without looking back, he crossed the street towards a row of shops, his dog closely behind. They all followed him. George headed straight for a shop that was specialized in outdoor camping, but it quickly became apparent that it had already been looted. The store was not completely empty though and they quickly gathered a couple of backpacks, sleeping bags, flashlights and some other gear.

Rafiq was collecting things with Carl, who was not that big of a help. He kept checking his phone, occasionally cursing for losing connection. “Hey,” he suddenly said, “what is your full name?” Rafiq was taken aback for a second, but felt no reason to hide his name. “Rafiq Chedidi. C-H-E-D-I-D-I. Why?” Carl showed him the phone. “Someone has set up this site,” he said, “IAmStillalive.com. Very crude, but you can leave your name and the data to let people know you are, well, still alive. I...” He typed something and looked up sadly. “I’m sorry, dude. The name Chedidi did not leave any results.” Rafiq felt a knot form in his stomach. “No, I wouldn’t think so,” he said, “my sister could be alive, I suppose, but she’s not the type of person to find a site like that.” He looked over at the other side of the shop, where Sarah was looking through a shelf with Niobe. “Maybe you could try the others though. Sarah might...”

Suddenly, a loud noise came overhead the shop. They all looked up. It sounded like an airplane. “What was that?” Sarah asked with a hint of hope. They rushed out of the door and looked up. In the air were three small fighter aircrafts and two helicopters, circling the city.

“What are they doing?” Niobe asked, looking at George as if he would have an answer. “Not sure,” he said, “they seem to be scouting the area.” “Are they looking for survivors?” “Don’t think so. They are too small for rescue operations.”

A thought struck Rafiq. “Maybe that’s why the street is so empty. The walkers must have followed the noise of the planes.”

“Maybe they are doing that on purpose,” Sarah said, “luring all the walkers away.” “Maybe...”Rafiq said. But he was not sure. Where would you lure the walkers towards? No, the pilots were most likely gathering intel on the city. Maybe the military was planning on retaking the city!

His thoughts were interrupted by Carl, who was staring at his phone in horror. “Ow God... no...” he said. “What’s the matter?” Niobe asked.

“This site... it just said that... they bombed New York. The military completely nuked the place.”

All five of them stared towards the aircrafts in the sky, suddenly completely aware of why they were up there.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sarah Hawke (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC)

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.: Sarah Hawke :.



George was the first to break the silence as the rest of the group watched the aircraft disappear from sight behind a tall building in the distance. He whistled to Charlie -- who had taken interest in a mangled corpse on the side of the road. The shepard mix sniffed around the body, likely picking up dozens of disgusting smells amongst the rubble and decaying flesh. He was an obedient dog, however, and hurried to George's side when he heard the familiar trill of his whistle. George reached down with one hand and fed his furry friend a treat -- which the dog accepted graciously. He wagged his tail happily as he leaned into his master's leg.

"George... how good's your sight these days?" Niobe asked, shielding her eyes from the Sun. Though no longer in sight, the distant roar of the aircrafts' engines filled the streets -- the sound likely bouncing between buildings and drawing surrounding walkers inwards towards the inner-city. As solid a plan as any... if their intent was to assemble and then bomb as many walkers as they could. Civilian casualties wouldn't be a total loss either -- as the military knew full-well that every non-infected person was just a walker waiting to happen.

George wasn't sure he was going to tell anyone else, but it was obvious by the type and grade of the aircraft exactly what their intent was -- and it wasn't good. "There's likely some sort of proxy or window of time that -- when the window closes -- will not be very fortunate for anyone still in the city." He ejected the clip from his pistol, and checked the ammo count, quickly jamming it back into the handgun. "Judging by their trajectory, I'm going to say we should be expecting some company coming from down that street..." he said, gesturing with his hand. "Niobe?"

"Honestly?"

George flashed a charming grin. "I wouldn't have it any other way, love."

"I think that they're gonna be comin' anywhere south of the hill. Flying in as tight of a formation as they did really focused the sound."

George couldn't hide that he was impressed. He crossed in towards her, Charlie following at his heel. "And so...?"

She looked around at the buildings on the street -- weighing her answer. "We either get inside or get to higher ground -- move roof to roof."

Sarah pushed her way in towards the circle. "I vote roof." Rafiq had been leaning over Carl's shoulder to get a view of the satellite phlone. His mouth moved slightly as he read whatever was on the screen. Sarah reached over and slapped his arm. "Hey-- surf Facebook later. Vote."

Rafiq and Carl looked up to see the three of them staring over -- waiting for an answer. They looked to one another slightly and shrugged, nodding their heads.

"We're with you guys," they said almost simultaneously.

Sarah squinted her eyes at them, smiling. "Creepy." She sheathed her knife and rubbed the bruise on her neck. "Lead the way..."

George and Niobe took point, bringing them in towards one of the main alleys to get them to the next boulevard. Charlie weaved in between them, racing ahead with his snout to the ground to see if he could find anything. They neared the intersection between four buildings and lined up crouching against the wall. Carl crept up to the front, panting from all the running.

"I know you guys want to do some roof surfing or whatever-- but in order for me to pick up any distant radio signals on this sucker, I'm gonna need to get somewhere really high," he started giggling a little bit, realizing that he just said 'really high'.

George looked to Niobe. "I don't remember seeing anything from the street, do you?" She craned her head upwards, trying to remember.

Sarah-- eager to know what was going on-- pushed past Rafiq to join the front, as he followed close behind. Soon all five of them were huddle together near a dumpster and pile of cardboard boxes. "If Carl's going off on his own mission than there's something I wanna do too..." she blurted out.

George shook his head, firmly. "No, we are not breaking the group up... we need to stay together. There's strength in numbers."

Niobe looked at Sarah, studying her closely. "She might be right, George. They managed to survive on their own for this long. Now they know more-- and they're armed." George wouldn't have ever admitted it, but she was right-- they could accomplish much more by at least breaking off into three groups.

George sighed. "Fine... what did you have in mind, Sarah?"

Sarah looked around at the others, thinking of how to say what she wanted to. "I, uh-- I'm a nursing student at UCLA-- or I was... with Molly's ankle and, I mean-- who knows what could happen to any of us. I just want to be prepared is all. "

The others all nodded their heads in silent agreement. Nobody was going to shoot that down.

"It's a brilliant idea," George admitted, nodding his approval. He looked to the others. "So how are we doing this-- "

"SSSSHHHHH!!" Niobe hissed, pulling George back from the corner. The rest of the group lined back up against the wall, fumbling for their weapons. Sure enough, the distinctive groans of numerous walkers began echoing down the alley. Sarah couldn't tell from where she was. She felt Rafiq's hand on her shoulder.

He leaned in to her. "Let me go with you..."

Sarah shrugged his hand off. "I'm going alone."

Carl was right in front of her and heard her a bit too clearly. "Hell no you aren't. Why you would go out there by yourself? That's suicide."

"I can move faster by myself," Sarah said defensively. "And we don't have a lot of time to argue." She turned abruptly, bumping into Rafiq as she shoved past him and ran down the alley. Charlie tore off after her, hurdling one of the cardboard boxed as he soared past Carl's head. Niobe turned just in time to see Sarah slip around the corner.

" Where the fuck-- Was that Sarah?!" She asked, grabbing Carl by the arm.

"She just took off!" He shouted back. George threw his arm back, shushing the two of them. He had his knife in his hand and was poised at the corner, waiting for the first walker to cross.

Rafiq looked down the alley, feeling like someone had to go after Sarah-- but she had made it pretty clear what she wanted. He mumbled a silent prayer for her now, wherever she was. He looked up just in time to see George lunge out at the walker-- sticking the blade up through its neck into the brain. He grabbed the back of its head with his other hand and gently lowered it to the ground, quietly. A second walker was not far behind, and George braced the head of his bounty with his foot and yanked his knife loose. Niobe grabbed the back of his shirt and pulled him back around the corner.

They looked at each other. "Go get Carl some place high," George said, wiping his knife clean with his shirt. "Get on that radio and bring us back some good news." The two embraced-- and Niobe led Carl down the alley by his collar. George watched the two of them go, and then glanced over to Rafiq-- who looked back with big round eyes. "Guess you're with me kid. Still got that knife?"



< + >



Sarah glanced at one of the street signs hanging from a fallen traffic light. Painted in white letters across the metal plate was the name of one of Los Angeles' premiere streets: Hollywood Blvd. It was a massive street, running the length of West Hollywood all the way through Los Feliz -- but anywhere along that path was nowhere she would want to be when the first bombs dropped. The underground tunnels were starting to sound like the perfect safe place -- from both walkers AND the bombs.

Between two skyscrapers down the way she could make out the distant cluster of the military aircraft in formation. They combed the city at a low altitude from what looked like Long Beach up through Redondo, Manhattan, and Venice Beaches-- and then eastward over Hollywood and Downtown.

It didn't take much to figure out what their "blast zone" would likely be-- and that's if the bombs really did drop. Maybe the New York story was bogus? But if it wasn't... Los Angeles was easily #2 on whatever list New York was on-- and that would mean trouble.

Charlie ran over after finishing his inspection of a tipped trash can and licked her hand, affectionately. She sighed, petting his head and shouldering her bag to continue westward toward the clinics she hoped hadn't been raided yet.

She wouldn't know whether it was worth the risk til she got there.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC)

0.00 INK

#, as written by Zephon
Rafiq Chedidi

---

“That’s disgusting.” Rafiq looked at the body in front of them, or rather, what remained of it. The head was torn open, brain matter scattered all around it. Limbs were gnawed on and the chest area was completely hollowed out. The person was unidentifiable, safe for a blood-smeared name tag with the name Aubrie.

“Poor Aubrie,” George said flatly, “she was a nice girl.”

“You knew her?”

“Yeah, I usually shop here. Or well, shopped.” He waved vaguely in the direction of the cereals. “My house is nearby.”

That explains why George had suggested coming to this place, Rafiq thought to himself. They had needed food and like the pilot had said, this grocery store was quite sheltered. No looters had gone through the place yet. By the looks of Aubrie and two other bodies though, the shop had been overrun by walkers.

George turned away from the body and opened one of the two backpacks they had looted earlier. “Alright kid, we better not waste any more time. You take the left side.” And with that, the older man walked away.

As he walked over towards the first aisle, Rafiq saw a magazine stand from the corner of his eye. Instinctively, he looked for the gay magazines. It was something he always did, back before everything had gone to shit. From since he was a teenager, he would pretend to look at the car and sports mags, secretly glancing at The Advocate or Out. He would always try to tell himself to buy one someday. But he never did.

He could just grab one now and nobody would ever know. In a moment of temptation, he took the nearest he could see. The front had a picture of a half-naked dude and text that hinted at the proper ways of grooming. A smaller photo of the actor Calvin Hawke was set in the bottom right, with speculation about a possible gay role in one of his next movies.

“You stupid,” Rafiq said to himself. He dropped the magazine on the floor. What was the use of a gay mag now? None of the stories would matter anymore and all the people mentioned were probably dead anyway. Instead, he grabbed a couple of comic books and stuffed them inside his backpack. The boy back at the maintenance might like those, and otherwise he and Carl will.

He sighed and started to look for some canned beans.

---

George looked at both sides, but he could not see Rafiq. The boy was still busy on the other side. Eagerly, he opened the beer can and took a sip. A sweet bitterness touched his tongue. It felt as if the liquid filled his entire body. Content, he took another sip. It felt good.

He had deserved it. He didn’t had a drink since all of this fuckery had started. He knew the others, especially Niobe, would not approve, but he did not care. He could be dead in the next hour, for all he knew. One drink could do no harm.

The can was already empty. George sighed. He had emptied it without even realizing it. “Nice going, you asshole,” he muttered and took another can. He was going to hate himself for it tomorrow, but that was a problem for then. He took another sip and looked at the variety of alcohol in front of him. He better took some of the stuff with him, in case they were going to be holed up for a while. He would be of no use to anyone if his nerves would get the better of him.

Besides, he was annoyed that Charlie had run of with the girl. He could not blame Sarah for it, but he could not help feeling slightly betrayed.

The second can was empty now. George’s body desired a third, but he mentally pushed the urge aside. He knew he was an alcoholic, but he was not stupid. This was not the moment to get drunk. Two cans would have to do.

He filled his backpack up with some of his favourite brands.

“AAAH!” A panicked shout ran through the shop.

---

Rafiq pushed the door back, but the walker was already halfway through. It clawed angrily, a face contorted in a horrible snarl.

Tunk

Rafiq felt another body colliding with the door. There was a second walker inside! He knew he could no longer hold the door and sprung back. That was a mistake, as he tripped backwards over the backpack. He had dropped it when he had heard the walker in the other room. The door swung open and the two walkers came in. Lacking coordination, one bumped into the other, causing the other one to fall.

This gave Rafiq just enough time to roll sideways. The one of the floor was crawling towards him. Rafiq kicked it in the face. “George!” He shouted.

Sliding backwards, he tried to reach for the knife. Unfortunately, he was too close to one of the shelves and hit some bottles of milk instead. They fell to the floor and shattered. Milk spilled over his hand and into his pants. Rafiq barely noticed. The two walkers were still coming toward him. One crawling, the other shuffling, as its right foot was somehow barely connected to the rest of the body.

He grabbed another milk bottle and threw it at the walker that was still standing. It hit the monster right in the face, causing its head to tilt back. Yet, it was not bothered in the slightest and kept walking forwards, arms held up in front. Rafiq could clearly see the bright pink nail polish on the fingers, decorated with glitter.

The back of his head connected with a wall. He had somehow ended up in a corner. He was trapped! He took a hold of the shelf and without thinking, pulled himself upwards. For a fraction of a second, he hoped that this caused the shelf to fall on top of the walkers. It did not.

The walkers were getting closer, but at least he was standing and able to defend himself. Rafiq took out the knife and stood in a defensive position. Or at least what he thought was a defensive position.

The pink-nailed walker had now passed the other one. Rafiq inhaled deeply and swung with his knife. He hit Pink-Nail right in the face and sliced of part of its nose. It staggered back slightly. Taking his chance, Rafiq stabbed the walker through the eye and into the brain. He could hear a loud crack. Pink-Nail fell to the floor.

The other walker was now close to him and tried to reach his ankles. Rafiq stomped on the creature’s right hand, breaking it. He then kicked the walker in the head once more before planting the knife through the back of its head.

With both walkers truly dead, he dropped back on the floor, his heart thumping rapidly.

At that moment, George came running up the aisle, gun in his hand.

“Well,” he said after taking in the scene, “it appears we forgot to check the storage room.”

Rafiq cleaned his hand on his t-shirt, only know noticing that it was wet from the milk. “You think?” he shot back sarcastically.

George helped Rafiq back on his feet. “What’s done is done. Now we should...”

A click of a door made him stop talking. The sound came from the storage room. Rafiq tightened his grasp on the knife. George raised his gun. They both looked at the storage room.

An elderly man came through the door.

“Tha-thank you,” he said slowly, “I was.... those monsters got me trapped in the back office.” The man smiled at them in gratitude. “If it had not been for you, I would never have gotten out.”

Rafiq and George looked at each other. Not only was the man very old. At least ninety.

He was sitting in a wheel chair.

The man would never be able to survive.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Samuel Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Molly LeFleur (NPC)

0.00 INK

#, as written by Zephon
Rafiq Chedidi

---

Unsure on what to do, Rafiq picked up the backpack. It was heavy with food and two sleeping bags, but he would manage. He placed the bands on his shoulders and fastened them.

The man in the wheelchair looked at him curiously.

“What are you doing?” He asked. “Are you guys stealing from the shop?”

George sighed and crouched down next to the man.

“Sir, how long have you been trapped in there?”


The man closed his eyes in a way that made it seem like thinking about the progress of time pained him. It was difficult to make out his facial expression, hidden beneath a layer of wrinkles and dark red spots.

Just as Rafiq began to wonder if he had forgot the question, the man spoke up. “I think a day. Maybe. I was here with Regina. Like we usually do. Coming to this shop I mean. She’s lovely. She is the only one that still takes me out of the house. Have you seen her? Regina?”

George smiled faintly. “No sir, we have not. You see, there has been a... uh...”

“Crisis,” Rafiq spoke up, realizing that George was not sure on how to explain the situation to the man. Quickly thinking on the spot, Rafiq managed to spun a story to the man about how a virus had affected some people to become extremely violent. It was not that far from the truth, Rafiq figured, but he did not dare to mention that the dead were actually walking. He was not sure how the man would react to that.

“I see. That’s horrible,” the man said faintly. “And you boys are taking the opportunity to plunder this place.”

“No, that’s not...”

“Don’t lie to me.” The man slowly raised himself an inch from the wheelchair and gestured towards Rafiq. “I know how you people are.” The comment made Rafiq take a step forwards, anger flaring up at him for a second. Then it went away again. He was not entirely sure if the man was being racist or referencing something else.

The man must have noticed his movements, because he carefully glided a meter backwards with his wheelchair. “Look, I do not condone what you are doing. But you saved me from them,” he quickly glanced towards the bodies in the corner, “So I will give you time to go. I will wait here for the police and explain things to them. They surely will be here soon.”

“I don’t think that-“ Rafiq was about to say that the police would not come, but George cut him off.

“I think that’s for the best. We go.” And with that, George walked back towards his own backpack and shot Rafiq a look that said ‘do not argue, follow me’.

As they left the shop, George barred the door. Through the glass, Rafiq could see the man sitting in his wheelchair, watching them.

“We are just leaving him in there?” Rafiq asked.

“You heard the man. He wants us to leave.”

“Yes, but he clearly does not-“

“No. But what else do you want me to do? We can’t take him with us.”

Rafiq swallowed hard, not sure how to react to that. He knew George was right. It would be impossible to take the man into the sewers. Yet, this did not feel right to him. Not at all. It made him feel sick to his stomach. Was it going to be like this? Survival of the fittest? Leave the weak behind? He was not sure he was ready for that.

“But, at least I could go back and tell him the real situation,” he said in a last attempt to do something. “I should not have lied to him. He needs to know.”

“But you DID lie to him.” George scratched the stubble on his chin and looked at Rafiq with a hardened expression. “And I think he’s better of not knowing. Look, I locked him inside the shop. Maybe he gets lucky and the bombs kill him quickly.”

With that, he walked away.

Rafiq followed him in silence.

---

They got back to the maintenance room without incident. They had not spoken for the entire trip, but there was a silence acknowledgement they would not tell the others what had happened.

Annabelle was the first to greet them. “Where are the others,” she asked with a hint of panic after seeing their faces.

“Don’t worry. We just split up to cover more ground.” George hugged her briefly.

Molly was playing cards with the boy Samuel. Jessica was standing near the other door, which was halfway open to let her see into the tunnel.

Rafiq put the backpack down next to the table and sat down. He was disgusted and ashamed with himself.

“You’re okay?” Molly asked.

“Yes, just tired. How are you?”

“I’m alright.”

They looked at each other awkwardly. He and Molly had been through hell together, but they were still complete strangers.

“Have you brought a lot of food?” Sam asked excitingly, seemingly not very worried about the current state of the world. A thought struck Rafiq how both the old man and this young boy were, in a way, still complete innocents. It made him shiver.

He pushed the backpack towards Sam. “Have a look. I also brought you a couple of comics.”

“Really? Awesome!” The boy turned over the backpack and pulled everything out. He quickly found the comics and rushed over to his mother.

“Look mom! And I’ve not even read these yet.” He picked one out and showed it to her. “Well, except for this one. You bought that one just two weeks ago.”

Jessica squeezed him in the shoulder with affection “I remember. Go on, you can read them over there,” she said. She mouthed a ‘thank you’ to Rafiq. He nodded.

At least someone was happy today.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC) Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong Character Portrait: James Marshall (NPC) Character Portrait: Wayne Williams (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Steve Hilpin (NPC) Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Samuel Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Molly LeFleur (NPC)

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#, as written by Zephon
Rafiq Chedidi

---

“Another can of beans.” Rafiq placed it next to the others.

“Well, at least we won’t be lacking for beans for a while,” Molly said while scribbling it down in the notebook. Feeling useless because of her ankle, she had asked Rafiq to help out making an inventory of everything that they had. Figuring out rations was probably a good idea.

“I don’t like beans,” Sam said from behind his comic. His mother looked at him reproachfully. He did not notice, as he was already back in the wonderful world of the Marvel universe. It suddenly hit Rafiq that the kid was probably reading the last story Marvel would ever publish.

The door flung open and Niobe and Carl sashayed in. Annabelle peeked in behind them, smiled and then returned to her watch duty.

“Where is George?” Niobe asked, dropping a stuffed backpack near the others.

“Hello to you too,” Jessica responded with a tinge of sarcasm.

“Yeah, yeah, where is George?”

“On watch,” Rafiq said and nodded towards the other door. “Did something happen?”

She simply looked at him for a second and then went to find George without saying another word. Carl shrugged at them apologetically.

“What’s her problem?” Molly asked indignant.

“Nothing,” Carl said. He reached over to a bag of potato chips, but thought better of it when he saw the way Molly was looking at him. “Sorry,” he muttered. “Anyway, we ran into some people. Niobe wants to talk with George first before we decide... uh... on things.”

Rafiq looked at Molly, who seemed equally confused. “Things?” He asked, “what things?”

Carl thought for a second but then figured there was no point in lying.

“We got to Capitol Records, where we ran into a bunch of-“


BOOM!

The sudden noise made him shut up as a shock all went through them. For a moment, they all just sat there. Stunned.

BOOM!

“The bombs!” Rafiq shouted, “Get down!” He hoped he could hear them, but if they did not, they all seemed to have the same idea, as they all crouched down on the floor. Jessica ran to her son and covered his ears.

BOOM!

BOOM!


Annebelle scrambled back into the room, having realized that the room was safer then the tunnel outside. Jessica had told them earlier that this room was as earthquake proof as an underground place could get. They had hoped this would be the same for bombs as well.

BOOM!

BOOM!


It felt different from an earthquake though. There was a lot more noise for one thing. And it was apparent that the danger came from above. Rafiq had instinctively wrapped his arm around Molly, who in turn was holding his other hand.

The bombs went on for a while longer, but then eventually died away. Rafiq could feel his heart racing and sweat was trickling down his forehead.

Once they were sure it was over, Rafiq helped Molly up. She was a bit pale, but otherwise not in any visible signs of panic. The others seemed to cope as well, considering the situation. It was unnerving to think what would have happened if they had not been here. This was not the moment to just sit down though.

“We have to make sure the others are okay,” Rafiq said. He picked up one of the flashlights they had collected earlier.

“What about Sarah?” Molly asked. Rafiq swallowed hard. He did not want to think it, but if the girl had not gotten underground, she was probably dead. It made him feel sad.

“One thing at a time,” he heard himself say, although it came out a lot colder then he meant too. He turned around and left the room. Carl and Jessica followed.

The tunnel was dark. The bombs must have cut of the power, Rafiq thought to himself. Thankfully, George would not have gone far.

Just as that thought came into his head, they could make out George and Niobe leaning against the wall. They appeared alright.

“Oh my God, you are okay.” Jessica said loudly and ran towards them. George held up a hand and indicated for them to be quiet.

“Yes, we are alright,” he said in a low voice, “and you guys?”

“We are all fine,” Rafiq whispered. “What’s happening?”

Niobe took a step away from the wall and looked at something a bit away from them. It was a train, derailed. “Just before the bombs fell, this group ran inside that train. They have not seen me or George. We were lucky. That railcar not so much.”

They carefully shuffled closer to the train. Those people might be in need of a help. At the same time, they might be trouble. Or worse, they might have died and turned into walkers. George lifted his gun and Rafiq and the others did the same.

Suddenly a light fell upon them. It danced away and around them. Someone inside that train was trying to get their attention.

“They are trapped,” Rafiq said.

“That they do,” George said in a flat tone.

Rafiq was the first to reach the train. Through the glass, he could make out a number of people. There were ten of them, including a little girl. They would outnumber his little group, but then again, they did not seem particular dangerous. It was quite a mix match of people.

The woman with the flashlight was shouting something, but he could barely make it out through the thick glass. It was clear what she wanted though. Getting out.

He looked at George, remembering what happened earlier that day with the man in the wheelchair. If he did not want to help these people...

Thankfully, George was not that cruel. “Alright,” he sighed, “let’s try to get them out. Still, be careful everyone.”

Rafiq gave the woman in the train a reassuring smile, which seemed to ease her tension a bit. She said something to her fellow people and backed away. Together with Carl and George, Rafiq tried to pull the door open. With the way the train had fallen, this proved to be quite difficult, as the door was heavy and gravity against them. Yet, they managed and after a couple of grunts and cursing, the door swung open.

The woman with the flashlight was the first to get out and was about to say something, until she saw the gun in George’s hand, who was pointing it straight at her. “What the...” she began.

“Look,” George said, “we don’t want to do you guys any harm. But I’m sure you understand that we have to make sure you are not the wrong kind of people.” He placed a deliberate emphasis on the word 'we'.

A man propped his head behind the woman. He was angry, “Come on! We already had a shit day!”

George narrowed his eyes, but focused his attention on the woman. “You seem like a reasonable lady,” he said, “I only ask of you people to get out of the train one by one and see if you are carrying any weapons.”

The woman nodded. “That is only sensible,” she said.

They did as George asked and got out of the train one by one. They all lifted their hands in the air upon coming out, indicating that they were not holding any weapons.

“Alright,” George said, “that was not that bad, was it?” As he said that, he lowered his gun as a sign of goodwill. They all just stood there, not sure what to do next.

At that moment, they could hear another bomb falling in the distance. It was not close enough to do any damage, but nearly all of them looked up at the ceiling regardless.

Another bomb fell, clearly audible this time.

Later, he would be amazed at the fact how he was the one who had made the decision. But at that moment, all Rafiq could think of was to get everyone to safety.

“George!” He shouted, “we have to get back to the maintenance room! We’ll figure this out later!”

Niobe and George briefly exchanged looks.

Another bomb.

Niobe nodded.

“You heard the boy! Let’s go!”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Natasha Dean Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Marie Thornes (NPC) Character Portrait: Phillip Wilson (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC)

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Dyomie Thornes
Marie Thornes


Dyomie sat down, giving her injured leg a break, Marie looked down at her worriedly, but Dyomie just ignored her gaze. That would be something to address later. Then they heard the bombs starting in the distance. Marie sat down and curled into her older sister, Dyomie watched Phillip with great intensity to make sure he wasn't honestly stupid enough to go running outside at this moment. She was about to stand up and say they should get deeper into the metro tunnels when heavy footsteps could be heard in the distance. Dyomie looked and sure enough Natasha was scrambling towards them.

"Son of bitch," Dyomie said, shaking her head. In all honesty she hadn't thought that this woman would actually make it back to them. Phillip in a completely emotional scene ran towards his girlfriend and hugged her. This is exactly why she was never in a relationship, way too cheesy.

"Come on, we have to hurry," Natasha said. She nodded to Dyomie in approval of keeping Phillip safe, the thief cringed at that, Great now a cop is approving my actions. This is just fantastic, she thought. They all grabbed their bags and started to move hastily down into the tunnels. Dyomie held a flashlight as they got deep enough no light could be seen. The walls and ceiling rumbled around them as the bombs hit the ground, sending small pebbled raining on their heads with a boom that made Dyomie and Marie want to ever their ears.

It was Dyomie who had heard the voices first. She pushed Marie against the wall, hoping the others would do the same. "There are people up ahead," Dyomie mouthed, she handed Marie one of her walkie-talkies as well as pulled out her pistol. She dropped her bag on the ground, "I'm going to go talk to them, if things go wrong find another tunnel to go," she whispered. At this point Dyomie felt it was a bit redundant to say 'and protect Marie with your life', plus it would also put Marie in a worse mindset. Without any answers, Dyomie nodded and walked up to the corner. She looked around the corner and saw a train cart that was trapped, a few others were moving around it trying to help whoever was inside.

"George! We have to get back to the maintenance room! We'll figure this out later!" a boy shouted to the others.

A woman nodded, "You heard the boy! Let's go!" As the people moved it looked as though they were coming towards them. Dyomie crept around the corner, staying close to the wall, her pistol cocked and ready to fire if needed. She then stepped out in front of them, a safe enough distance between both groups.

"Stop there or I'll shoot!" Dyomie yelled at them, her pistol raised, "What do you want?" Her hand was steady and her eyes narrowed. There was no way they were going to get passed her until she knew for sure they were safe.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Calvin Hawke Character Portrait: Natasha Dean Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Marie Thornes (NPC) Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Phillip Wilson (NPC) Character Portrait: Sarah Hawke (NPC) Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC) Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong (NPC) Character Portrait: James Marshall (NPC) Character Portrait: Jack Cavanagh (NPC) Character Portrait: Wayne Williams (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Steve Hilpin (NPC) Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Samuel Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Molly LeFleur (NPC) Character Portrait: Everett T. Bronson (NPC) Character Portrait: Oliver O'Brien (NPC) Character Portrait: Dax Faraday (NPC)

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.: Calvin Hawke :.
# Sarah Hawke #


BOOM! BOOM! B-BOOM!

Thunderous quakes shook the ground as dozens of convicts shepherded a hooded man down the halls towards the kitchens. Their riotous noise-making was almost enough to overpower the sound of the distant bombs dropping, but not quite. The captive was corralled across the kitchen tile and thrown into the walk-in freezer. Sarah struggled on the tips of her toes to see what was happening, but the halls were packed with too many bodies. Through the heads of the men ahead of her, she managed to see Oliver force himself into the freezer with a bearded man and the prisoner.

BOOM!

Another explosion in the distance, followed by the aftershock of a neighboring building crumbling to the ground. Sarah looked at the mob of strangers scrambling for cover all around her, feeling absolutely lost and alone. A passing shoulder knocked her to the ground, and Dax -- having witnessed Sarah's fall -- limped over to help her off her hands and knees.

Her eyes lit up when she saw who it was, his bright red hair like a lighthouse amongst the chaos. "T-Thank you," Sarah managed to blurt out. Dax pulled her to her feet, nodding curtly.

"This way," he ordered, starting down one of the side halls. She took his arm, helping to steady the man as they moved away from the frenzied crowd. Sarah looked over her shoulder one last time, hopelessly checking for Oliver in the mass of convicts. She hoped that whatever was happening behind that freezer door had nothing to do with him -- however serious it looked.

If only she knew...


* * *


Inside the freezer, Bronson slammed Calvin against the metal rack, cuffing his right hand to one of its legs. Oliver closed the door behind him as he entered, turning around just as Bronson ripped the bag from Calvin's head. He squinted against the crystal blue fluorescent light -- a bandana crudely tied around his head and mouth in a makeshift gag. His reddened eyes glared back and forth between his two captors as he sat on the freezing plate floor, shackled to the rack behind him.

Oliver shook his head, running one hand over his face to calm his nerves. He waited a beat for Bronson to speak, but knew that the man probably felt he had nothing to explain. Since things had gone down, Bronson had assumed total authority over the surviving convicts, including Oliver -- so much so that the men had coined the monicker "The Warden" for their bearded leader. The assumption was that his orders went without question, his means and deviances without mention -- and in return he would provide security, safety, and sustenance for those who followed him. And the cycle continued, and continued... leaving Oliver as the only real voice of reason. Had things gone down differently, Bronson would have likely killed him during their escape from the prison bus, but he recognized that Oliver was the only reason they survived in the first place. He wondered how long that immunity would hold out for -- given the way things had been going lately.

"What the hell is this, Everett?" Oliver asked, jabbing a finger at Calvin.

Bronson sighed, dramatically. "Now why would you go and use my name -- my God-given birth name -- in front of our prisoner?" Oliver rolled his eyes, as if that was the point here."Are you fucking stupid?"

"Explain this before I get pissed," Oliver replied, already tired of these games. Calvin wrestled with his wrist against the pole, testing the strength of his bindings. Bronson served up a sharp kick in the knee to shut him up, and Calvin yanked his leg back in pain.

"Maybe if you had been around today when I needed you, we wouldn't be in this situation," Bronson chided, circling the floor. "This man murdered my brother," he explained, turning to look at Calvin. The two glared at each other for more than a moment, reveling in their dislike for one another. "He was smart enough not to resist me when I found him, and so I've brought him here to serve his sentence."

Oliver shook his head at the ego of it all. "Serve his sentence? Listen to you! Did you really just break out of prison to start another one?" he scolded. "You ever think of asking him why he killed your brother?"

"Finally, someone with some sense," Calvin chimed in from the floor. Bronson delivered another sharp kick, this time to his shin. His handcuffs rang taut against the rack as he winced in pain, grasping for his leg. Oliver leapt forward, placing his arm across Bronson's chest as he wound up for another kick -- this one aimed at Calvin's stomach.

"You really gonna put hands on me, boy?" Bronson asked, calmly. Oliver eased up, eyeing the man with suspicion. He knew from their time together in the joint just how unpredictable the man could be. It was a very calculated impulsiveness -- one that treaded the fine line between genius and suicidal. But there was something in Oliver's eyes that Bronson didn't like. He wound back, quickly striking out with his elbow against Oliver's jaw. The man reeled backwards into one of the other metal racks, gripping it with all his strength to keep himself steady. Cansan d bags of food clamored on the ground as they were knocked free of their shelves. Bronson was already on him again, this time driving his knee into Oliver's stomach. His limp frame dropped to the ground, effortlessly. This was the real Everett T. Bronson... the "Warden" that everyone whispered about. He reached down and drew a knife out from Oliver's waistband.

BOOM!

The Warden turned to Calvin, examining the knife in his hand like a surgeon with his tools. He inched a few steps closer to his prisoner, pondering his fate...

BOOM!

Another bomb dropped as he placed a foot on Calvin's chest, pinning him against the rack. His other hand grasped Calvin's handcuffed wrist and braced it to the pole, holding the knife close. But, no... it didn't add up. His brother was an idiot -- too much so to be considered his right hand man. Besides, such a small knife would take too long for a proper severing, and Bronson hated doing a messy job. He backed off a bit, watching Calvin wreathe and squirm against his restraints in protest.

BOOM!

Dust sifted down from fresh cracks in the ceiling, falling past Bronson's judging eyes. What was his brother to him? What punishment fit the crime? He supposed that in a way, he was his eyes and ears. Always the talker, never the thinker -- his dear baby brother. That seemed fair enough -- an eye for an eye.

Having finally decided, he looked Calvin straight in his... for the last time.


* * *


+ Niobe Kajja +


The bold young woman kept her weapon held high as she popped out from behind the corner of the overturned train car. The girl kept a steady aim on Niobe as others from the group crept out from behind the car. Niobe watched as the girl's eyes widened and she adjusted the grip on her gun.

"Easy there now, kid," Niobe muttered, keeping as still as could be. Another girl came up from behind the armed one and put her hand on the gun, lowering it.

"There's a little girl with them," she said, nodding in Lily's direction. Dyomie noticed what she was talking about and dropped her guard a bit. Natasha joined them, sauntering out from her hiding spot with her weapon drawn -- Phillip close behind. They looked just like the rest of them... as if they had just been through Hell and back.

BOOM!

They all braced themselves as the entire platform shook again, the metal rails ringing like church bells as parts of the ceiling crumbled from above loosening the tracks. Niobe sized up the four newcomers.

"Look," she called out, "this is the most people I've seen in one place since this all started... so I know I'm not crazy when I say we need to stick together if we're going to have any kind of future here. None of us know each other, I know... but that's the situation we're in." Harper looked at Nathan -- and Steve, who stood behind Lily with his hands on her shoulders. "There's no more how do-you-do's, no more shaking hands and talking about the weather. There is only one thing... survival."

BOOM!

The hanging silence was stifled by yet another explosion. "She's right," Rafiq added, pushing to the front of the crowd. "We can't keep pointing guns at each other when the real enemy is out there." He pointed up towards the streets above. "We have to go deeper into the tunnels until the bombings stop."

Dyomie squinted her eyes, still unsure of what to do. "We don't know you people," she protested in defense of her situation.

Niobe lowered her weapon, slowly -- too tired to put up with anymore of this. "And you're not going to at the other end of a gun," she preached.

Jessica lovingly squeezed her son's shoulders as she edged towards the front of the group. "There's a junction about a quarter mile down the tracks that could hold all of us. It might be tight, but the foundation should hold until all of this settles down," she advised, looking around the group.

Jack crossed his arms. "One of our friends is still out there," he protested, pointing behind him. "Calvin could have made it somewhere safe before the bombs got this close..."

Harper's gaze lowered to the ground. "So the best possible scenario is that Calvin's holed up somewhere with a bunch of psychotic escaped convicts?" Molly stood next to her, chewing her lip in thought. Something they had mentioned caught her ear, and it all suddenly added up in a flash.

"Calvin... Hawke?" She asked, hanging on their every breath. Harper looked around at some of the others, not quite understanding. He was enough of an established film personality that anyone with a TV would know the name, but Molly's face didn't show the excitement of a fan... it showed nothing but worry and panic.

"Uhh, yeah... Calvin Hawke," Harper replied to the girl.

Molly looked Rafiq dead in the eyes. "That's Sarah's brother..." she said, loud enough for everyone to hear. Rafiq furrowed his brow, sad that she wasn't here to rejoice in the news that her brother is alive... or at least, was a minute ago. Only time would tell how many deaths they'd be mourning in the inevitable aftermath of the bombings.

"Who?" Harper asked eagerly, her interest peaking.

Rafiq shook his head. "One of our own is missing too," Rafiq replied, somberly. "Sarah." Harper traded a look with Nathan through the crowd.

"Two of our own," George corrected, bristling at the thought of his poor dog.

Rafiq nodded. "His dog went with her..."

Niobe holstered her gun and took in the group. "There's nothing we can do for them now," she insisted. As much as they all hated the thought, she was right. It was only them now -- they had to keep moving. "Jessica, lead on..." Niobe commanded. The group slowly started trudging along, helping each other around the wreckage of the train cars and debris. Dyomie glanced back at Marie and the rest of her group, slowly stowing her pistol and following suit. Jessica pulled to the front, guiding the group deeper into the blackened metro tunnel. The pitter-patter of over a dozen different footsteps trailed behind her as more bombs thudded against the surface above. Niobe gritted her teeth as she ran, hoping she knew what she was doing. Whatever this new world was, it was clear that the rules were made up as you went along.

If this really was the end... she had a feeling it was only just getting started.


.: END OF SEASON :.

The setting changes from season-1 to Season 2

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC)

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Previously on TWD:O




... 1 Week Later ...


+ Niobe Kajja +


Niobe stooped over a wooden table down in one of the metro offices, barely lit by the makeshift hanging chandelier -- a clever device comprised of a flashlight and a paper plate with a hole in the center. Lillian had doodled all over the plate, covering it in little atomic bombs and explosions. It might have been too soon -- but cute nonetheless. On the table in front of them lied a series of pistols, a shotgun, and a scoped hunting rifle

"38, 39. 40... 40 bullets," she muttered, finishing her count. She looked up from the table at George who had been silently counting himself. He met her gaze across the table and sighed, running his hand over his face.

George began to pace the room, adjusting the waist of his pants as he stood up to walk. "Even with five bullets in eight guns, we wouldn't have enough to arm half the group."

Niobe chewed her lip in thought. "A few people have their own personal guns," she reasoned, trying to better the situation.

"Only a couple," George replied with a scoff.

Niobe narrowed her eyes. "Do you mind telling me what the fuck your problem is?" she asked, coldly. George turned around with a puzzled look on his face.

"Whatever are you talking about?" he asked, rhetorically.

"Cut the shit," she snapped back at him. "Ever since the other survivors got here, you've turned into a sarcastic, degrading narcissist." George shifted on his feet uncomfortably speechless. "All you ever do these days is mope around... What -- is this about your stupid dog? Get over yourself, George! You think the others don't notice that you go on runs exclusively with Rafiq. What the hell do you guys even do out there? You never seem to come back with anything..."

Niobe's heart was racing -- her cheeks flushed. There were a million other things she wanted to yell at him about. How she has no idea where her parents are... how she had to evacuate her home without grabbing any of her most sentimental items... how her parents and everyone she ever knew was either dead or near enough to it... George stared at her with disappointment and pity... seeing nothing before him but a woman coming unhinged. Who was she to judge him? What better time than now to give into your vices and let yourself go. What else was there to do but enjoy what time he had left?

He looked at her, incredulously. "Where's all this coming from?"

"Probably from the reeking stench of alcohol all over you," Niobe suggested, grabbing her pistol from the table and tucking it into her waistband as she started to walk out of the room.

"This is about what happened at the Capitol isn't it?" George asked, accusingly. "We're all going to be dead eventually anyways, so why does it even matter? What's the point?"

"The rest of them-- the group... they can't know," Niobe insisted. "It'll crush any hope they have left.

"Like it did to us?" Niobe continued to the door and reached for the doorknob as George rolled his eyes. "What does it even matter?!" he called out over her shoulder.

Niobe bit her tongue, leaving the room as she seethed in anger.


* * *


Desperate to distance herself from George, Niobe stormed through the hallway, brushing past Jessica in a huff. Jessica turned to her, her arms full of laundry -- and took the poor girl in. She'd been pulling the night owl shifts ever since Wayne got sick and took over his share of the daily supply runs with whoever was available. The stressful week showed in her face, her eyes, her voice...

Niobe slowly turned to her, and upon seeing Jessica's face - softened her demeanor. All this pent up frustration and energy was locking her up and killing her muscles. "I-I'm sorry, Jessica... it's, uhh-- it's been a day, Niobe admitted, rubbing the bags under her eyes. She hadn't looked in a mirror for over 24 hours and could only imagine what kind of hell she looked like.

Jessica nodded, smiling faintly. "We're all right there with you, hon'," she assured her.

Niobe sighed. "It's just hard to tell what really matters anymore..."

A brief silence hung in the air as they considered those words. Maybe George was right after all. Life was indescribably different now. One's role in the group wasn't decided by status or age... but by skill and aptitude. It was amazing the ways people decided to apply themselves when faced with finding things to fill their time. At the moment, Jessica had laundry on the agenda. A significant contribution, nonetheless.

"Where is everyone today? It's like a ghost town around here," Niobe asked.

The two started walking down the hallway together as they talked. "I haven't seen anyone around the rec room other than the kids and the old folks... Wayne and Molly are still on the mend in there too. I think Jack's on watch with Carl. Some of the others might be out on runs."

"Guess it's my day off then," Niobe joked, trying to force a smile. Jessica watched her carefully, sensing something was wrong but not knowing how to broach topic.

They came to a junction in the corridor and slowed to a stop. Niobe turned to Jessica and gave her a tight hug. It was kind of her not to make a big deal out of how Niobe acted earlier. There weren't many other women around her age, so it was nice to have someone she could call a friend.

"Thanks-- for this," she whispered.

"Anytime you need to talk," Jessica offered breaking their embrace. She waved over her shoulder as she lugged the laundry down the hallway towards the bunks and rec room. Niobe watched her go until she disappeared around the corner and immediately fell back against the wall, sliding to the ground as she burst into tears.

Luckily no one would be around to see it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC) Character Portrait: James Marshall (NPC) Character Portrait: Jack Cavanagh (NPC) Character Portrait: Steve Hilpin (NPC) Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC)

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Harper flickered her eyes open quickly, hearing footsteps pattering not far from her head as she rested on the cold cement floor. She tilted her head and looked up; Nathan was crouching down low, resting his hand on her arm. "Hey," he said softly, "I saved you breakfast. I think it's time to wake up now."

She blinked and stared ahead vacantly for a moment, and then leaned up on an elbow and rubbed her wrist across her eyes. "Yep. Sorry. Just got tired... really tired."

Actually, she wasn't telling him that the only way she could get to sleep at night was by taking a tablet of Xanax, making getting up in the morning far more difficult. She was well over halfway through the bottle that Stephanie had been carrying in her leather satchel, still being kept safe by Harper herself.

And the only person who knew Harper even needed any Xanax was Stephanie herself, wherever she might be, and she hadn't mustered up the desire to tell anyone else about it at that point.

Nathan put an arm out and took a seat next to her as she sat up. "I've never seen you this tired. It's been like this for a few days, hasn't it?"

Harper nodded and smiled only the very slightest bit. "Yeah, I guess... maybe I'm just having a hard time, you know, adjusting."

The corners of Nathan's mouth curled up as he offered her a Snickers bar and a small bottle of apple juice. "Looks to me that you're doing just fine. At least you can sleep."

Harper took a bite of the candy bar, chewing politely but just slightly ravenously when as she studied the purple lines beginning to show under Nathan's blue eyes. She wasn't sure that she looked or even felt better than he did. "Maybe a little too much." There was an awkward pause. "What are you up to today?"

"Steve and Schantz need someone to go on a run. Turns out that that's me, so I'll be out with them. Need anything while I'm out, dear?" he teased.

She smiled and unscrewed the cap to the juice. "Oh, you know." She took a sip. "Face wash. Lipstick in this one shade called 'Purple Plasm.' Lots and lots of feminine products." She laughed.

Nathan rolled his eyes and put his hands up. "You could just say, 'No thanks, Nathan, I'm totally good, thanks for asking!'"

"I'm totally good, thanks for asking," she parroted with a silly wink, and continued to drink. "Actually. What I would do for a cup of coffee," she said speculatively.

Nathan snapped his fingers. "Done. You will have a cup of coffee."

"Thanks, Nathan," she laughed after she finished the juice. "I really appreciate you helping me out."

# # #

Nearly everyone at the station was headed to the Society of Professional Journalists L.A. Chapter's Distinguished Journalist Awards Dinner. After the event, the WEND-TV crew decided it was best to leave the venue and hit the town on a busy Saturday night.

Harper didn't have much of a social life; she went to work, came home, slept, got up, read newspapers and websites, and went in to work. Occasionally she went to go have a drink with co-workers, but maybe twice a month. By far, her closest friend at work was Nathan On her days off she'd go running at Venice Beach or go for a drive up and down the coast, all on her own. Despite her outward friendliness, she still felt painfully shy and didn't much feel like exposing her flaws to others at work. That's how drama and rumors get started.

But tonight, she was happy to go out with the group. It was a good night to get dolled-up, pull out pairs of high heels that ordinarily would never fly in most situations, and have fun.

The night flew by, eventually finding the group dwindled to about seven people gathered in a small hotel bar at 1:30 a.m. Nobody had designated themselves as a designated driver, and by this time most of the group had sought cabs home.

Nathan turned to Harper and glared at her challengingly. "Are you going to wimp out and go home?" he asked teasingly.

Harper giggled profusely. She'd had way too much to drink. "I'm no wimp!" she declared, slapping her palm on the table before her. She took another swig of the beer in front of her and shook her head. "You're the wimp."

"That makes no sense!" he retorted, shaking his head and raising his hands inquisitively in front of himself.

Kyle waved his hand as he picked his wallet up from the table. "I'm out!" he announced. "You guys gotta get going. Things are closing down soon and all the cabs are going to get taken."

"Ehhhh, go home, smartypants," Nathan drawled back mockingly.

Kyle rolled his eyes and left the two alone.

Harper laughed and stared up at the ceiling as she leaned back into her side of the booth. She wore a short emerald-green cocktail dress, her dark hair pinned back. A pair of sparkly earrings dangled from her ears. Nathan only owned one suit, not because of being particularly disadvantaged, but because he hated wearing them. "Harp!" he said to her nonsensically.

"Nathan!" she bellowed back, propping herself up on her arms to sit up properly and look ahead at him. "I'm drunk!"

"So am I!" he blasted in return. The two laughed. "I've never seen you this drunk!"

Harper cracked up again and grabbed her purse and put it on the table. "Really. I better get a cab like Kyle said. So I can go home."

Nathan sat up quickly. "So soon?" he asked, a lilt of disappointment in his voice. She nodded wobbily. "But Haaaaarperrrr..."

"You are SUCH a whiner!" she said through a crinkly laugh. "You are always griping about something! Or at someone!" She hiccuped quickly. "It's like you never shut up!"

Nathan balked and laughed. "Oh, now you're going to share what you think!" he returned. "I see. I see. You have to be drunk to do that."

She finished off her beer. "You just happened to get me at a great time," she slurred.

Nathan rolled his eyes. "But we always work together."

She laughed. "You see me every day and NOW you want to complain to me?"

He chewed the inside of his lip. He felt nervous. "No, I'm just stating the obvious!" he zapped out.

"Nice comeback, but I've got to go home," she said quickly, pretending to be annoyed.

"Hey, I'll walk you," he offered rushedly, whipping out his wallet and tossing a few dollar bills onto the table. He scurried after her as she made her way to the door. "You can't go out there by yourself!"

She rolled her eyes. "Oh, yes I can. Watch me."

Nathan kept pace with her as she waltzed playfully ahead on matte satin black high heels, humming some silly tune. He stuck his jacket across her shoulders, the arms flying below the hem of her dress. She stopped briefly and cast a squint-eyed glance at him. "Fine, walk with me until I find a cab." She hiccuped again and resumed her silly trot down the sidewalk. She always came out of her shell once she'd had a few drinks.

Nathan was thrilled. He had waited how many months to talk to her outside of work, one-on-one. At work they had a job to do, and he couldn't waste time on socializing. She was always kind to him, very bright, and flat-out gorgeous.

Of course, he had no idea what to do or say.

Just as he worked up the courage to put his arm around her narrow shoulders, a cab rolled up. She whisked into the backseat and waved Nathan in. "Let's split the fare!" she offered brightly.

He climbed in next to her and watched her as she sank into her seat after giving directions to her apartment. His ears pricked up. "That's where you live??" he remarked. "I'm just a few blocks away!"

She laughed. "Then the fare won't cost much at all!" She sat up and stared up through the sunroof at the tall buildings towering above. Nathan stared, watching her eyes sparkle and her lips curl into a smile. "I love tall buildings!" she sighed contentedly. He watched her knees shift into a comfortable position. She looked unbelievably happy, being drunk and staring up at the sky.

There weren't many times where Nathan was tongue-tied, but this was one of them. No music blared in the cab. Just the sounds of the air rushing past the windows. He watched her soak in the sights, not even looking back at him. Clearly, she was very comfortable in his presence.

Just as he summoned the nerve to move his hand over hers, the cab stopped. He recovered by grabbing his wallet and forking over enough money to cover the fare. Harper blinked, not even done rustling through her small purse. Nathan waved her off nervously. "I got it." She smiled and exited the cab.

Harper stood on the sidewalk and waited for him. It was a serene ride back, the two utterly exhausted after a long night out. She suddenly remembered that she had Nathan's jacket around her shoulders and pawed at the sleeves. "I'm swimming in this," she declared through her hazy state. Nathan slowly ascended onto the sidewalk from the street. His face was drained of color, and he'd shoved his hands in his pockets. She frowned. "Are you all right?"

Nathan withdrew his hands and held her shoulders carefully, staring her right in the face. Clumsy drunk move. "... Harper, I..."

Harper's face froze in the expression she'd been wearing. Suddenly, it registered. Oh. No.

"Harper, I've really liked working these last few months with you," he started, "and I really think..." He trailed off. Harper stared back, trying very hard to hide her surprise. Her arresting bright eyes were very exciting, but also very intimidating. "I really like you, and I really think that..." He trailed off again. He blinked and sighed. "Ahhh, I don't know what I'm doing here... Help me out..."

She chewed the inside of her lip, her intoxicated state lifting greatly with the fast twist her stomach took when he'd started talking. She smiled meekly and took a breath. "Nathan, that's very nice of you," she offered calmly.

There was a long pause. Nathan's heart sunk. He'd finally met someone who piqued his interest for more than two days, and finally decided to say something after months of cautioning himself to slow down, and... this.

His caution didn't extend beyond that moment. "That's it?" he asked, taken aback. "I... I tell you that I think you're incredible, and that was very nice of me?"

Harper shook her head and brought her wrists up to pull Nathan's hands from her shoulders. "I'm sorry, Nathan," she said confidently. It didn't sound unsympathetic, but she was clear.

"Harper," he said, "I work with you almost every day and I really feel like... like, I like you. A lot. We get along really well."

Without skipping a beat, she answered, "But you had no idea I lived so close by. Obviously we aren't that close." Nathan swallowed and looked down at his feet. That hurt. "Nathan, we spend a lot of time together. I see you more than I see anyone else." He blinked, while still looking downward. "You're my best friend in Los Angeles. If I don't want to date *you*, then how can I want to date *anyone*?"

The argument appealed to him in a way, but it still didn't settle well. "I think... I'm not just anyone. I really think that we would make a great match," he said quietly, still running a few syllables drunkenly, wanting badly to lean his head in and just kiss her, like he should have already been doing.

Harper stepped backwards just slightly, and bore a restrained but friendly smile on her face. "I love seeing you every day. The way things are now are... nice. Maybe it'll work someday. But today it won't." She held her purse in front of her and nodded. "I'll see you on Monday morning?" she asked quietly.

He nodded wordlessly as he tried to casually mosey off as though nothing had happened. It was a failure. A dismal failure. It had gone so poorly that she hasn't even gotten mad at him. He played the exchange again and again in his head, angry at himself and wondering if she seemed to play it off like he had said something insignificant and meaningless.

He dropped his keys on the kitchen counter as he walked into his apartment. He didn't even bother to remove his shoes as he walked into his bedroom and collapsed onto his mattress. He rolled over on his back, incredulous that she lived so close by without him knowing. That, and he completely forgot to get his jacket back from her. He picked up his phone and sent a quick text. His wristwatch bleeped to tell him it was 4 a.m. He looked up at his headboard and shut his eyes.

# # #

Harper popped the pill in her mouth and took quick sips of water to help it coast easily down her throat.

She couldn't believe Nathan had done that. Of course she liked Nathan—he was funny, he was handsome, he was talented, and he was just the kind of guy any girl would love to meet. But not only did she just not want to be tied to anyone at the moment, but she just didn't think that dating a co-worker was a great idea.

At least that's what she was telling herself, she wisely reflected. Things hadn't been easy for her since moving out west. Los Angeles was completely different than what she was used to. The weather was nice, of course. She really enjoyed her job, especially spending days laughing and working smoothly with Nathan. By far, he was the best videographer she'd ever worked with in her seven years as a reporter, even easier to work with than the cool-headed videographer, Mark, who'd accompanied her during her embed assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan. But what could she do in a place where she didn't feel quite so comfortable yet? As much as dating Nathan sounded like it could be fun, she just didn't see it working out long-term, either. Staying in Los Angeles did not seem like a goal worth planning for. And what was the point in getting physical if it was just going to be messy in the end?

She settled onto the floor pillows by the loft's window, wearing an oversized gray t-shirt and a pair of short red gym shorts. The view outside was terrific, looking over West Hollywood toward the shoreline, at least on a smog-free day. The palm trees were a novel addition along the streets and the beach, glowing green thanks to streetlights.

She took a deep breath and felt her brain become slow. She bit her thumbnail and continued to stare outside. She wondered how Nathan would be Monday—angry? Sad? Calm? Would he pretend that it never happened?

Harper's body started to feel warm. She curled up under her blanket and sighed heavily. Maybe she could date him. Maybe. Wouldn't he be a fun person to be with? Maybe. But tonight, she just didn't have those answers.

Her phone chirped low. A text from Nathan read, "Whatever you say, boss."

She smiled slightly and stretched out, a little relieved as she drifted off to sleep.

# # #


Nathan blinked and smiled back. "You're welcome... well, I guess I better go find you some coffee. See you later," he said as he straightened his legs and stood to quickly walk away, trying hard to avoid the urge to reach out and touch Harper on the arm. It was getting worse. For about a month he hadn't forgotten about being turned down and had tried his hardest to forget the attachment, but had been unsuccessful, even before the disaster struck. Add several days' worth of surviving together and that made it all so much worse. And it was especially getting bad now that people in the group were starting to talk more amongst one another.

"Nathan," a low, calm voice spoke, interrupting his concentration. The shorter man nodded to him from his spot keeping watch with Carl, the guy with the comic shop. "Ready when you are."

Jack. Nathan especially despised Jack. He hadn't liked the remarks he'd made about Harper at the station, and didn't like the way he looked at Harper back at the sign several days ago, or the way he'd stuck by her at the metro station. He didn't know anything about the guy but just knew he couldn't stomach being around him. Harper was kind to him, which made things worse. She'd smile and ask him a lot of questions about his background, where he came from... and he'd answer them. That sure got under Nathan's skin.

"Yep, just letting Harper know it's time to get up."

Jack looked at him directly in the eye. Nathan was a lot bigger than he was physically, but not mentally stronger. "Oh, she all right?" he asked, making sure to let as much concern creep into his voice at possible.

Nathan inwardly seethed. "Just having a tough time getting up," he said simply.

Schantz stepped through the two men and started off toward the exit. "Hurry up, it's already 9!" she said quickly. "If we don't get a move on someone's going to find that stash we came upon."

"Yeah, yeah, Miss Manners, real intimidated," Nathan volleyed back airily. "We're all getting out pretty quick, here. Don't worry."

Steve caught up, holding a found shotgun. He tossed a golf club to Nathan and a long-handled garden cultivator to Schantz. "Any minute now," he said as he looked over to Jack and Carl. "Anything we should know before we duck out, gentlemen?"

# # #

Harper checked over her list before popping her head into the office. George looked up from his spot, staring down at the surface of the table staring at the assembled ammunition. "Hey," she greeted, holding up a small box. "Brought something for you guys."

She set the cardboard box down on the table. George eyed Harper suspiciously, then the box. "What is it?"

Harper gestured her palm at the table. "I've thought a lot about it, and I think you guys should have this."

George picked up the box carefully and thumbed the flimsy cardboard lid open. An assortment of 9mm shells, about two dozen. He looked back to Harper. "Where did you get these?"

She shrugged her shoulders. "We met a girl last week and she ended up getting sick at the camp we were at," she recounted. "We have her stuff."

"Where's the gun?" George inquired, picking up a few shells and inspecting them under the hanging flashlight's beam.

"She didn't have it when she was with us," Harper volunteered. "If she's still around, she still might not have it. These should help. I think she'd want these to go to good use."

George smiled and placed the box alongside the shells already on the table. "Well, thank you, that'll go a long way," he remarked. "But I have to ask why you took this long to share the wealth."

Harper nodded, her face bearing a slightly annoyed expression. "Well, I didn't know if I should be giving someone else's possessions away, so it kind of took me a while to justify." She then pulled her notepad out of her back pocket. "And I want to help. I have a lot of ideas on how we can make things work."

George raised an eyebrow. "Oh, really? In what way could you help?" he laid out heavily. "I think that we've got things under control."

Harper nodded. "No, you're doing a great job," she assured him, "I just have some ideas about what we should do about how we organize our time and manage our resources. Such as, we should be recording everyone's clothing and shoe sizes so that way when someone goes to-"

George held up a hand. "All willing to hear your ideas," he said slightly irritably, "but I'd like to have everyone all sit together and talk about it."

Harper nodded. "Sure," she said as she tucked the notepad back into her pocket. Seemed like George didn't want to discuss it at the moment. "Thank you," she nodded at him, turning on her heel calmly to head over to the de facto rec room.

Jack and Annabelle sat at the table over a deck of cards, talking quietly. Harper pulled up a chair to sit at the end of the table, and laid her notepad down in front of herself. "I'm sorry to interrupt you," she said plainly, and slightly airily thanks to the medication. "James. Annabelle. I want badly to help, but I don't know if I can get them to listen. I'd like to ask your advice."

The setting changes from season-2 to Season 1

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Natasha Dean Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC) Character Portrait: Jack Cavanagh (NPC) Character Portrait: Steve Hilpin (NPC) Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC)

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...

The setting changes from season-1 to Season 2

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Natasha Dean Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC) Character Portrait: Jack Cavanagh (NPC) Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC)

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Dyomie Thornes



Dyomie along an empty road by herself, she had gotten up early that morning wanting to do some scavenging of her own, without the vulture eyes of the group. She had wandered decently far from the entrance to the metro, but the group had almost exhausted their resources that were found around where they were 'holed up', in the most literal sense of the phrase. A week had gone past and since then the cut on Dyomie's leg had almost all but healed. Not that it was ever serious, but Marie was insistent that she not walk on it and kept it clean while it healed up, which was probably for the best.

As of right now Dyomie hadn't found that much, a few road trip snacks and some water bottles, along with some soap. She wasn't that interested in grabbing the soap, but Jessica had started cleaning clothes for them and said that if anybody found soap to bring it back. She was honestly just glad somebody else took up that job. Over the last week or so Dyomie, though not really starting to trust others, had started to make some connections with others in the group; Jack and she had formed an unusual friendship, one that held quite a bit of flirting and her calling him 'Superman'. She found out, by ease dropping and the like, that he was a bit of a criminal himself, though nothing as major as herself. She had been hesitant at letting him in on her secret, but if he told someone she could always return the favor or injure him and run. There was also Schantz, or as Dyomie called her 'Ren girl', they weren't too close, but held a mutual respect for one another. Finally there was Natasha, the cop a.k.a 'Blondie', she still held no trust in this woman because after all they met when she was going to arrest her, but over the week she had proven herself a bit. She had kept the secret of them hiding their guns well and so far she had done nothing to prove that she was going to hurt Marie. In other words, Natasha held the the highest status in Dyomie's books compared to the other strangers.

As they walked, Dyomie slipped on a loose piece of rubble, slamming into a car. The engine flap was open. Though Dyomie herself was nothing like Ren girl she still knew enough to know when a car would be easy to fix, by someone else. This car wasn't one of those cars. The engine was far beyond repair, but it did give her an idea. She looked down the street, there were plenty of abandoned cars among here and there must be some that Ren girl could fix up for everyone. You could say that Dyomie was getting a bit cabin-feverish with staying in the metro, it wasn't safe to stay in the city anymore and now everyone who was hurt were starting to heal up. They could get out of here.

She pulled herself up when her walkie-talkie started making noises. It hadn't been her idea to share the wave-length with Natasha and her lover boy, that wavelength had just been for her and Marie alone, but Natasha was so insistent that Marie crumbled under.

"Hey, Dyomie, I need you to come back to the over turned car, help me keep watch," it was Blondie.

"Yeah, I'm comin', it'll just take a little while. I'm in the city right now scrounging up supplies. I'll be back in a few," Dyomie said into the walkie. She began her trek back to the metro, her leg still slightly hurting but nothing unbearable. As she walked she passed a couple pockets with a few straggling walkers. With her skill of sneaking around and with her being by herself at the moment, it wasn't hard to get past these pockets without being noticed. Even the few times she had been noticed by the walkers she was close enough to a fence, or something of the like, that she could just climb over easily. The trek back was pretty uneventful and fairly routine.
__________________________________________

Dyomie came back, her bag pretty empty, but with some extra supplies. Dyomie saw Jack up ahead with a small group, they must be going on a supplies run themselves. Dyomie waved to them in order to signal that she wasn't a walker.

"Where are you guys off to, Superman?" Dyomie asked Jack. His nickname came by when she first saw his tattoos and his ability to ignore pain. Honestly she knew it wasn't that creative, but her nicknames weren't supposed to be creative, it was just something that she did on the fly so she called people whatever first came to her mind.

"Just to get some supplies sweetheart," Jack answered back, sending a wink her way.

Dyomie's hand flew to her heart dramatically, "Sweetheart? Why I do believe that the budding roses of romance are startin' to bloom," She said in a stereotypical Southern bell accent.

"Well I'm certain we can start something," Jack said. She could feel Nathan's steady gaze on them, he was one in the group that Dyomie could live without. He didn't do a whole lot except bitch about Jack and judge her, as far as she could tell anway.

Dyomie just smiled and flipped Jack off at his comment, "Ren girl, when you get back I want to talk to you, I'll be on watch," she said to Schantz as she passed by. When Dyomie got inside she started to walk towards her and Marie's make-shift 'room', if you could even call it that. A quick drop off for her bag, before heading back towards the flipped over train car. On the way there she ran into a George, a bit of a smaller man, but anyone who could help would be great.

"Hey Watson, I'm going to need your help later today moving some cars to the entrance. I was thinking we could fix them up and get out of here if you want to help, what do you say?" Dyomie asked, crossing her arms and slumping to one hip. His nickname was more because he looked like the character Watson from the BBC show Sherlock, a show that Marie forced her to watch many times.

"Is that a command?" George asked incredulously, "Besides my name is George not Watson."

"You tell me if that was a command or not," Dyomie said, at this point she knew that George was an irritable drunk, but cars weren't going to move themselves and she knew she wouldn't be able to do it by herself.

"Bring it up with the group later, I'm too tired of this shit," he said walking away. Dyomie clicked her tongue a little before turning and heading to the watch point.

She saw Natasha before the cop saw her, as was her way with cops in the past, "Hey Blondie!" Dyomie called to her, climbing up onto the the overturned train, "Any fun news while I was out? What do you want to talk about?" Dyomie sat on the edge of the train, her scoped rifle that she had brought with her from her apartment laying across her lap.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nathan McDonald (NPC) Character Portrait: Thomas Blackthorne Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden Character Portrait: Steve Hilpin (NPC) Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Lisa Pazzino (NPC) Character Portrait: Althea Brown

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The atmosphere was way more relaxed in the ammo store. Nathan, Holloway, and Clarkson hauled heavy cases filled with the found ammunition out the door and into the backseat of the Mazda, parked not far from the entrance.

Steve stood with Lisa, Stevie, and Thomas, tracing along a roadway on their map of the city. "We're less than twelve blocks away from the entrance to the station," he commented, tapping his finger a few times trailing from the store to their destination.

"There's no more room in the Mazda except for the front two seats," Lisa remarked.

"Althea can ride with you and Tara," Stevie said. "Let Jordan, Alejandro, and Maria stick around in the truck. I'll drive the Mazda."

"Your guys can come walk with us," Thomas said to the calm gray-haired man. "But you'll have to switch your shotgun out. We put bayonets on to make things quieter."

"Yep, I'll take Tara's tool," Steve agreed. "Smart."

"We'll walk along with the vehicles to provide cover in case something goes wrong," Thomas continued. "I'll walk ahead with Stephanie. Who's coming with us?"

Steve gestured toward Schantz. "Actually, I'll send her up with you," he suggested. "She'll be able to talk to whoever's on watch to get you guys inside. And showing them all that ammo will be your golden ticket to joining us. If you guys want to."

"We'll see," Thomas asserted. "Half yours, half ours. We don't know if we're going to stay."

Steve shrugged. "Well, the invitation still stands," he said politely. "Seems like you guys have had a good handle on taking care of yourselves."

Stevie decided to herself that it might not be a great idea to tell them how they'd all spent the last couple of days, in light of how exhausted and tired that Schantz and Nathan had looked as opposed to when she'd seen them a week prior. Maybe they'd have to explain where they'd gotten the supplies... if the discussion came up at all.

"So, we've got Terrence, Steve, Nathan walking with the other two vehicles," Stevie pointed out. "Spencer's driving, right?"

"Yeah, gotta keep the weight balanced in that truck," Thomas answered. "It's kind of hazardous as it is right now. We'll figure it out."

"Okay," Lisa said, gesturing toward the others gathering around. They'd finished loading the ammunition and were ready to depart once again. The first vehicle would ride about a mile ahead, and the others would follow at a moderate pace.

# # #

As though on cue, Schantz caught a loose rock toward the end of the short trip over. She toppled down and smashed face-first on the ground, trying not to let out a loud yelp as she went. She gritted her teeth and pushed herself back up on her feet, limping ahead, her nose gushing with blood.

Thomas heard her hit the ground. He shot her an inquisitive look. She just glanced back and shrugged, pointing ahead with her finger repeatedly instead of shouting out loud. Her nose was gushing awfully fast. The car's engine and the sound of tires peeling forward on the road were enough to possibly attract walkers. Anything else could draw in a swarm quickly... and considering the fresh bleeding new on the ground, their chances of being targeted went up sharply.

Schantz hobbled onward, leading them through the quiet streets that were getting warmer and warmer under the late morning sun. Finally, she pointed ahead. "See that outcropping?" she called restrainedly across the car's hood to Thomas, leaning forward and allowing her nose to drain out onto the ground, "that's where our lookout spot is."

She started to wave her arms to signal the watch, thinking they were home free. Unfortunately, she suddenly felt very dizzy and passed out, heading back toward the ground yet again.

Stevie stopped the car, and watched Thomas grit his teeth then wind behind the moving vehicle to help Schantz up off of the ground. She spotted a figure making a run for them, right from the landmark that Schantz had pointed to just seconds before. Thomas held up a hand to Stevie from the rear-facing mirror by her window. She parked the vehicle as he went to go help Schantz up on her feet.

Suddenly, a stranger turned the corner from the entryway to a building off to Stevie's left, immediately pointing his gun at her. She held her hands up and carefully exited.

"Whoa!" Stevie belted out. "I'm not armed!"

"I don't believe that," he whisked out sharply, walking her along to stand in the front of the vehicle. "What did you do to our people?! I just saw one of ours go down."

Stevie shook her head while she stood in place. "No, we're not—"

"Don't say a word!" the man sparked back, continuing to maintain his aim on her.

Stevie's face drained of color as she stared ahead at what looked like a half-crazed man holding his gun a little too tightly. The pupils of his eyes were constricted dangerously. She wondered if he really had it in him, in that half-second where she absorbed his expression. Better to not test it.

"What are you doing?" Thomas asked, his rifle up high and aiming at the man's head as he circled from behind the SUV. Schantz propped herself weakly against the side of car, wobbling on shaky legs. "Drop your weapon."

He opened his mouth to say something, but instead caught sight of the pickup truck moving along as it turned the corner of the block less than a mile away, cruising along at a moderate pace. He stood there, his eyes doing a study of the moving vehicle. Thomas lunged forward quickly in an attempt to subdue the distracted gunman.

The man's hands clicked back to life, his fingers closing around the trigger. The barrel of the gun corresponded with his vision and took aim at the truck, letting loose a barrage of fire, emptying his supply of rounds before he was tackled.

The sound of metal piercing through metal and glass broke through the air, followed by the high-pitched shriek of rubber tires sliding on the hot road. The heavy bed of the truck whirled to direct itself into the side of another truck, then rolled over onto the passenger side.

Stevie panicked and ran to try to push Thomas off of the smaller man. "We have to help them!" she exclaimed nervously. Thomas ignored her. She jumped backwards as she watched him knock the man's face for the next ten or fifteen seconds, almost three or four times, before he blacked out. And he kept going. Stevie let out a frustrated yelp and once again grabbed at him, hanging on even when he tried to shoo her away. She pulled him in the direction of the truck. "Tom, Spencer is in the truck. Jordan, and Alejandro and Maria, all four of them are in there. They can die, Tom, we need to go now!"

Her voice picked up in pace and volume. She was, for the first time in over four days, afraid. It bled into her voice, despite trying so hard for so long to pretend to others that she wasn't at all afraid. She'd been lucky for those days, and knew that at some point that luck would have to run out. But the possibility of things going terribly wrong was very real. One snag could lead to another problem, and create another, like a snowball rolling down a mountain. Stevie wondered if she'd barely begun to scratch the surface of imagining how life was going to turn out.

In Stevie's mind, it was an eternity before Thomas finally stopped and turned to look back at her for just a moment, and then the overturned truck. He looked back at the Mazda and pointed to Schantz. "Get inside and lock the doors!" he barked at her. She nodded and made her way inside. He grabbed his rifle. "I need you to stay calm for them, come on," he said to Stevie, looking her directly in the eyes as he pointed ahead and made a beeline for the truck.

Stevie started to dart after him. It wasn't easy to leave a man lying in the street like that, but there were four people in that overturned truck. The Toyota was within view, as were Holloway and Nathan running alongside it. Seeing those two made it easier to stay behind to keep watch on Schantz and the unknown unconscious man. She ran back to the front of the vehicle to rummage for her Ruger. Thomas would have help in getting the others out of the vehicle; he'd end up understanding why she stayed back.

A voice from behind stopped her in her tracks. "Don't move."

# # #

Dizzy. That awful taste of iron. Headache.

Clarkson's vision finally focused. He noticed the ground above his head and the sky in the lower portion of the window. Was he on his side? From that dull weight he felt on the right corner of his temple, that had to have been it...

He brushed the glass off of his uniform and looked around dazedly. The truck's hood smoked ominously. It seemed like the flatbed cover stayed put, but there was no telling what condition the supplies were in.

He looked over his shoulder and to his right. The Mexican guy sitting next to him was motionless, as was his wife, and the college kid, who also had a bullet in his head. Clarkson blinked and tried to maintain control over his breathing. His ribs stung.

He wondered what had happened. Suddenly a tire blew and sent the truck zooming off with its heavy weighted back-end taking control. The next thing he knew, here he was... maybe the bullet explained it? But who would have shot at them?

He let out a slight gasp as Maria's eyes flickered open and stared at him. "Hola," he said quietly. "Como—" He stopped himself. Those weren't her eyes. Those weren't her eyes at all.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Thomas Blackthorne Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC)

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+ Niobe Kajja +


Niobe hung upside down by her legs, squeezing out vertical crunches on the walkway above Carl. She breathed out a growing sequence of numbers, never once faltering in her execution. The past week had been many things for many people, but for her -- it had just been frustrating. Before any of this had happened she had no one but herself to look after, and suddenly she found herself becoming more integrated and more indebted to a group of people who had been complete strangers a mere week ago. As she grunted her 99th crunch, she stopped for a brief moment... letting her arms dangle towards the landing below. Her stomach growled as she took in the inverted vista of the city, admiring it for what it was now: a half-broken wasteland full of the hungry living and the hungry dead. She clasped her hands behind her head for one final crunch, hitting a 90 degree angle with total precision.

Niobe reached up and unhooked her legs, freeing them from the metal beam that had supported her for so long. She gently lowered herself to the platform below and dropped to her feet. Using the hem of her shirt, she wiped her face clear of sweat, taking extra time to clean out her eyes and ears. Carl sat with his legs crossed on top of a wooden crate nearby, his satellite phone held close to his ear as he manipulated the controls with his other hand.

"I think this thing is running out of batteries," he said, shaking the phone. He adjusted the glasses on his nose and looked over at Niobe. She was damp with sweat from head to toe and probably looked like she had just sprinted 5 miles. "Hey," Carl called out excitedly, "you did it!" He put the phone in his lap so he could clap his hands together, half-ironically.

Niobe offered an elaborate bow in return, smiling as she walked over to him. "No luck?" She asked, jumping up onto the crate beside him. Carl scooted over to make room and handed her the phone.

"Nothing," he said somberly. He grabbed the pair of binoculars from next to him and gazed out West towards the Capitol Records building, or at least what was left of it. The last time they were there, the leader of their group had told them to contact them around noon in one week. There had happened to be too much wreckage to between them to make any physical contact in the last week, not to mention things their own group were dealing with. It wasn't until they had scaled the building they were on now, that they discovered the true extent of the damage. Half of the circular white Capitol Records tower had caved into itself, exposing the interior floors level-by-level as if someone had cut a slice out of a multi-layered cake. They hadn't heard a single peep on the frequency they had agreed to meet on over the last hour either.

Niobe sighed, setting the phone back down on the crate. She hopped down, rubbing the crooks of her knees where the soreness from her impromptu workout session was beginning to set in. "So what do we do? Go back?"

Carl shook his head, draping the binoculars around his neck. "I'm gonna stay up here 'til tonight I think, he replied. "I'm the only one who knows how to use the phone, and I'm not of much use on runs or back at camp. Might as well see if I can pick up anyone else on a different frequency, and who knows... maybe one of the Capitols will call?"

Niobe admired his unabashed optimism, something she wished she could at least fake. "I'll run back to camp and get you some food then," she offered, grabbing her bag off the ground and slinging it around her shoulder.

Carl smiled at her. "Oh, sweet! I'm freakin' starving. Luckily I've got games programmed into the phone to pass the time," he said with a chuckle.

Niobe patted him on the shoulder as she passed, shaking her head. "I'll be back soon." She climbed down the ladder onto the outside patio of the apartment complex they were on top of and carefully crawled through the broken window of a bachelor suite's living room. She brushed the loose glass off of her and headed for the stairwell.


* * *


Carl's thumbs danced across the screen of the phone in a flurry as he bit his lip in absolute concentration amidst his pursuit of crushing candies. He finished the level, doing a little dance in celebration of his new high score. He took another bite of the candy bar he had been smuggling in his pocket the entire way, half-melted, but better than anything he'd tasted in the past few days. He had snagged it when him and Niobe first entered the suite and were checking it for walkers or people. It felt wrong not to share, but in his mind he justified it with the fact that Niobe wanted to stay in shape and didn't need to be eating candy bars.

He wiped the remnants of chocolatey fingers on his pants and grabbed the binoculars to do some more sight-seeing. The Capitol building was still lifeless, its ravaged interior dark and empty. He wondered what must have happened to the Silas Quinn and the other people living there. They may have had time to escape having discovered early on the intentions of the military's bombings.

His gaze fell a few boulevards across city streets and parking structures and suddenly a few moving blurs flashed across his lens. He swung the binoculars after them, compensating for their movement and quickly made out the three separate vehicles driving in a distanced line through Hollywood boulevard. They maneuvered around the wreckage and debris-filled streets, dodging stray walkers as they cruised eastbound. The thought never even crossed his mind that they were heading towards the metro tunnel.

"And where do you think you guys are going?" he said out loud to himself. He reached down and took another quick bite of his candy bar struggling to keep the binoculars focused on his targets, but his eyes fell upon something else. Something worse.

"What... the... fuck...?"


* * *


Niobe shadowed a small gaggle of walkers, hugging the outsides of parked cars as she attempted to to stealthily move down the sidewalk. They gurgled and dragged their feet clumsily as they traipsed down the middle of the street. There seemed to be a larger amount of them out this afternoon... moreso than usual. She ducked behind a bus stop partition and readied her gun just in case things decided to sour along the way. As if someone had read the thoughts in her mind, a string of automatic fire sounded off in the distance, its shots echoing all across the tall buildings surrounding her. The surrounding walkers turned towards the sound, beginning to shamble that direction as if of one mind. Niobe watched until she had an opening and stayed as low as she could as she ran towards the disturbance... and towards her people.


* * *


Minutes later, Niobe found herself showing up fashionably late to a total clusterfuck. Her eyes followed the rifle-bearing muscle man as he sprinted towards the catastrophe down the street -- an overturned car. Others ran towards it from even further away. Small blurs in the distance. Smoke from the car wreckage rose in a steady cloud above as a small fire undoubtedly burned from within. She crept around to the other corner of the brick wall she was using as cover to get a better look at the woman closest to her. The brunette with glasses quickly trotted over to one of their vehicles and opened its door, rummaging through its insides.

Niobe knew it was her best chance at making a run for the metro tunnel while no eyes were on her and their group was distracted. There was no way she was going to intervene and make all of their problems her problems. That was the last thing the group needed. They had vehicles. They'd be fine. They'd survive.

She told herself all of this in her own head. Justifying her intentions to leave them alone.

And then she saw him.

Sprawled across the street, face down in his own blood. Her heart was gripped with sudden panic and fear, as she stopped dead in her tracks, gazing down at George's body. Had the man with the rifle shot him? Was he dead? He wasn't moving... She changed course for the woman and the car, denying all her previous instincts as her defensive nature kicked into gear. She raised her pistol at the woman's exposed back and gritted her teeth. "Don't move," she growled, readily intending to plant a bullet in the girl if she made a sudden move. The woman was smart enough to stay still until told. "Now get out... slowly."

Carl suddenly called out to Niobe as he rushed up from behind, "Don't! Niobe, NO!" She swung her gun around on Carl, stopping him dead in his tracks. He threw his arms up as he recoiled. Sweat had drenched his shirt, and he panted loudly as he tried to regain his breath. His eyes flashed towards George's motionless body on the ground. G-George...? What happened to h--"

"Carl?" Niobe asked, interrupting him.

He turned back to her, shaken up... rattled. "W-We have to go," he ordered, pulling her by the arm. "They're coming!"

Niobe yanked her arm free of his grasp. "What are you talking about, Carl? Who's coming?"

Carl stared her straight in the eyes. "The walkers... all of the walkers."

Behind them, Stevie slowly drew her ruger out from the waistband beneath her shirt. Schantz's face was pressed against the window of her vehicle nearby as she watched the spectacle play out before her eyes. She banged on the glass, fumbling weakly for the handle of the door to get out and intervene -- knowing she was the only one who could see what was about happen. As she opened to the door to get out, the full weight of a walker's body slammed against the door, pinning her leg in it sharply. She let out a short scream as she struggled to try and get back inside the car, but a second walker's hand was already blocking the frame. They clawed and thrashed at the car door trying desperately to get to her as she fought them back.

They weren't coming. They were already here.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Hopkins Character Portrait: Stephanie "Stevie" Darden Character Portrait: James Marshall (NPC) Character Portrait: Jack Cavanagh (NPC) Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Niobe Kajja Character Portrait: Carl Dupree (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC)

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Stevie wheeled around once she heard Schantz' uncharacteristic scream of panic, and lunged into the car through the driver's seat. She shelved her handgun near the pedals and shoved her arms underneath Schantz' armpits in an attempt to drag her across the console and remove her from the reach of the walkers.

"Quick, help us!" Stevie called back to the two who showed up. "Take the gun!"

The pretty black woman and the curly-headed man with the glasses sprang into action; she rotated about the car to distract a few of the walkers from the window, while he snagged the Ruger and followed suit. Stevie pulled Schantz into the driver's seat, Schantz kicking her legs frenziedly, narrowly escaping a series of bites and scratches. Schantz yanked a utility knife from her jacket and held it up tepidly, still weak. Stevie grabbed the knife from her hands from behind and then pulled the driver door shut, cramming a protesting Schantz uncomfortably into the seat as she scrambled feet-first over the console. As she slid into the passenger's side, she slammed her feet against the door, knocking the three gathered walkers back a few feet.

Stevie noticed that the other two had easily taken care of the walkers they'd drawn away, and had looped around to the back of the vehicle to grab the unconscious sandy-haired man off of the ground. She let one of the walkers that had reeled back come closer to the open passenger door as she flicked open a blade on the knife, and sank it into its forehead with a fast jab to stab through its skull.

One of the other walkers had resorted to crawling on its hands and knees back toward the door, and raised one hand to grip the door itself, and before Stevie knew it, had taken a hold of her right foot with its other hand. She let out a desperate shout, cuing herself to stab the knife ahead, but as she let the blade run downward, it sank its teeth into the yellow leather. She let out a loud scream as she drove the knife into the biter's skull. "Help!" she shouted as she kicked her foot. The walker's teeth stubbornly held fast onto the boot.

The black woman whirled around within view of the door and drove the Mazda's antenna, which she'd wrenched off of the hood just moments before, into the eye of the other walker hovering nearby and pulled Stevie from the seat. The other stranger set the unconscious man into the spot Stevie had just occupied and slammed the door behind them. Schantz cast a concerned glance out the window, but knew better than to try to get out again after getting her leg battered by the door.

The pressure that the walker's teeth had dispersed onto the boot was miserably painful. Stevie held back a scream and dug the knife into the walker's skull again in an attempt to loosen its trapping jaw. No luck.

The other woman pointed to the sidewalk and began to drag the deadweighted walker toward it. "This way, now!" she cracked sharply. Stevie hobbled her good foot over and obeyed the woman's command to stretch her leg out. "You've been bit?!" she asked hastily.

Stevie set her foot with the attached walker down on the sidewalk's edge as the man in the glasses directed Schantz to try to drive the remaining blocks to the metro station for help. "Hey, hey, you can't take that!" Stevie shouted.

"It's not far, and we'll get together from there!" he responded.

The woman smashed her foot down on the walker's jaw, just so that it would loosen Stevie's foot, but not without excising another pinch. It almost felt like her foot was very quickly run over by a large truck. Stevie shut her eyes and fought back another shout of pain.

She kicked off the walker as the woman looked down at the boot to inspect the bite. Curiously, there was no blood; just a set of incisor indentations and two embedded teeth. But no blood. The leather boots had been the right choice, after all, when she'd picked them out to wear nine mornings ago. The woman looked up briefly at Stevie and nodded. "Can you walk?"

Stevie nodded as she only slightly winced in pain. "Yep," she said, then saw the Nissan cruising up out of the corner of her eye. Lisa was plastered against a window with a white face, looking back at the wrecked truck, while Althea very calmly drove ahead. "Hey!" she called to the man, "wave them in, they're with us!" He nodded and pointed ahead for them to follow the Mazda, then looked to the couple of walkers that came upon them after the several they'd just dispatched.

Just then, several gunshots rang out, mowing down four of the dozen or so walkers who'd just come into view.

# # #

Harper followed Laura, one of the women from the Hollywood sign who'd opted to accompany them a week earlier, to the largest common area of the station, carrying her vest and helmet with her. "What's going on?" she asked as she walked in.

James gestured toward the wall, where the few guns that the group possessed were propped up along with items such as a few golf clubs, Nathan's metal bat, and a few garden tools. "Take your pick, kid, I know you can shoot," he scratchily instructed. "Jack says he's heard gunshots and our three ain't back yet. Got a hunch that this has got something to do with it."

Harper knew she wasn't strong enough at the moment to handle a bat, choosing instead to grab the scoped hunting rifle. "You sure about that?" she asked somewhat skeptically.

Jessica popped her head in, panting heavily. "There's a car coming," she managed between breaths, "Tara. George. Not going good. People out there. Better go!" she insisted.

Harper followed James and Laura down the long tunnelway to the exit of the station according to Jessica's instructions. They met Jack at the top of the stairs, who motioned for them to follow closely behind.

"The hell's going on out here?" James growled raspily.

"A crashed truck down the way there," Jack responded as the Mazda drove up, "and we've got two coming in."

The Mazda slowly wheeled its way closer, followed by the Nissan. Not far behind was Jessica, who stepped out to assist Schantz in getting out of the car. The Nissan also parked; a tall black woman exited and immediately ran to the Mazda to help extract George from the seat and drag him to safety. A smaller woman with shorter blonde-brown hair exited to help, both following Jessica's lead.

"They're fine," James barked sharply as the group ogled the scene, then turned their attention the other scene in the street. "Carl and Niobe, see 'em? Let's go!"

They made a run for it down the street. At one point Harper climbed into the bed of an abandoned truck and decided to peel off the walkers closing in on what turned out to be a small trio.

"Just like shooting deer," she murmured, hoping to assure herself as she concentrated on landing shots with the assistance of the scope. She let off about four shots before climbing down from the truck bed to join them.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Natasha Dean Character Portrait: Dyomie Thornes Character Portrait: Phillip Wilson (NPC) Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong (NPC) Character Portrait: Wayne Williams (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Samuel Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Lisa Pazzino (NPC) Character Portrait: Althea Brown

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= George Remington =
% Jessica Abbott %


There had been hazy nights before. Mornings where he still woke up in a drunken stupor. But whatever this was transcended all past transgressions. George rolled to one side, clutching his swollen face in agony. He gazed at his bloodied palms through watery and swollen eyes, the rest of his surroundings catching up to him in a blur. The sting of the cold stone subway platform still clung to his skin, even as he righted himself -- dust falling off of him like somebody shaking out and old rug.

His vision focused more and more with each slow blink of the eyes. But nothing around him made any more sense still. Two blurry figures stood atop an overturned Metro train, firing careful shots into undead stragglers running rampant across the platform -- pouring into the tunnel from the streets above. Dead bodies fell limply to the ground as bullets found their targets time and time again.

George struggled to his feet, wobbling a bit as he regained his balance. He felt around his body with his hands, trying to assess what kind of bodily harm he had succumbed to -- but honestly, his entire body ached.

A stranger's face ran past in a blur, offering him nothing but a passing glance as the woman hopped the tracks, disappearing behind the train. George rubbed his eyes, trying to get his mind back into focus, but everything was just a daze.

"That's him right there!" a familiar voice called out from behind him. He spun around, nearly losing his step -- but Jessica caught him by the arm before he had a chance to fall. "Help me get him out of here," she shouted to the blonde haired woman next to her. The wide-eyed woman grabbed George's other arm and started ushering him across the tracks as Natasha and Dyomie emptied their clips into the wave of walkers rushing into the tunnel.

Schantz limped close behind the rest as they retreated toward the commons. "C'mon, you two!" she shouted to the girls on the train as she hobbled across the tracks. "This place is done for!"

Natasha cast a sideways glance at Dyomie who just kept firing away. She shrugged back at Schantz. "Go on! We'll hold the fort!" she called back with a wave. Schantz knew it was bullshit, but she wasn't in a position to argue. They might be suicidal, but at least they had guns.


* * *


"Over this way," Althea shouted -- waving the beam of her flashlight back and forth at them. The hail of gunfire drummed in the background, further down the halls behind them. Jessica and Lisa pulled George's limp frame through the doorway and rolled him onto the ground -- unconscious once more. Schantz followed last, closing the door behind her as she braced herself against the frame weakly.

Rafiq came rushing up from the small crowd. "What-- is that all of you?" he asked, worriedly. "Who are these people?" Lisa and Althea looked at the group of strangers surrounding them, not a familiar face in sight -- save for Tara's.

"Oh, Rafiq!" Jessica cried out, pulling him in tightly for a hug. "We were so worried about you and Molly... we thought--" She looked around the crowd, her spirits fading fast as she realized whose face was missing. She looked back at him, crushed. "Oh, Rafiq..." she said, sadly.

"What happened to George?" Lillian asked, kneeling down to inspect him.

Tara looked at Jessica and the others. "It's a, uh-- long story, kid."

"What about the rest? Marie just left to go find her sister and Natasha! They're still out there!" Phillip protested.

Tara cut him off, sharply. "All our friends are out there. If they aren't here now, they ain't comin'. You didn't see what we saw." She wiped some of the blood from her nose with the back of her sleeve with a sniffle and went to sit down.

"We're not just leaving them out there," Phillip demanded, moving for the door. Jessica reached for him as he forced his way out the door, but it was too late.

"We can't keep spitting up like this!" Wayne shouted. "We have to stay together. We're stronger that way."

Rafiq nodded, shutting the door behind Phillip. "He's right. We can't keep running off like this. If this is who we have, then we have to leave before more of those walkers get down here."

Jessica chimed in, rolling up her sleeves. "Where did you pack my blueprints?" she asked, walking over to a nearby table. Rafiq ran over to a roughly organized pile of bags and backpacks and fished one out of the back. He unzipped it, puling out several blue sheets and laying them out flat. Jessica squinted her eyes, tracing her finger across familiar angles and notations. "This room here... that's us," she began. "Since the main entrance is full of walkers, that means Platforms A and B are completely compromised. But-- the service tunnels should lead us back to the street." She bit her lip as she roamed further down the blueprint. "It would let us out right on Santa Monica boulevard."

"You think that's far enough away from all this?" Wayne asked, unsuredly.

"We have to hope so," Jessica replied, brushing her hair out of her face. "We can leave out the back as soon as we're ready."

"And the others?" Annabelle asked, somberly. "Phillip is right. They might need our help."

"We're no good to them here," Tara mumbled. "We've got the kids... injured... sick..." she gestured at Annabelle, "old."

"And not enough weapons either," Rafiq admitted, trying to help reason. He reached into his pocket and fished out the note he had been working on. "Look, I started writing a note... for whoever comes in here after us. We'll write down directions and leave it here on the table under the lamp for them to find."

Tara shrugged. "It's the least we can do, I guess."

"Let's get to it then, folks. Grab what you can," Rafiq said, rubbing his hands together. "And somebody wake George up..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong (NPC) Character Portrait: Wayne Williams (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Samuel Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Lisa Pazzino (NPC) Character Portrait: Althea Brown

0.00 INK

#, as written by Zephon
Rafiq Chedidi

---

They took another corner.

The group walked through the corridors in near grim silence. Only Jessica would occasionally order them to stop so she could look at the blueprints. She and Rafiq were leading them, both holding a flashlight to light the way. The bombing had disrupted the power in this area of the tunnel system. The lights were not completely gone, but flashed faintly in and out of existence. It made the entire atmosphere eerie.

Rafiq tried to walk at a brisk pace, so they could reach Santa Monica Boulevard before the horde of walkers potentially could. Still, he couldn’t walk too fast. This wasn’t a group of athletes he was with. Wayne was still feeling ill, Schantz and George were injured. Sam and Lily were children and Annabelle a grandmother. Apart from Jessica, the only ones who still seemed capable were the two new woman, Lisa and Althea, but Rafiq didn’t know them or what they were made off. On top of that, most of them had a backpack with them, burdening them even further. It was a necessary evil though. They needed the backpacks, for there might not be time in the near future to scavenge for food.

They took another corner.

His own back was sore and he felt emotionally drained, but Rafiq tried not to show it to the rest. Without ever meaning too, he had become the leader of this band of misfits. Niobe, Harper, Jack, Dyomie and James, people who would all be a better fit them him, were not here. Part of him wanted George to take over, but the man was not thinking clearly at the moment and besides, he seemed to be distracted more and more of late anyway. At least there was Jessica, who shared the responsibility with him.

“Is everything alright, dear?” Annabelle’s voice suddenly came from behind.

Rafiq and Jessica turned around to see what was going on. Wayne had sat down on the floor, his backpack clutched in his right hand. The children took the opportunity to sit down as well.

“Just dizzy,” Wayne said, “need to stop walking for a sec.”

“What’s wrong with him?”
Asked the dark-coloured woman, Althea. Her question seemed genuine.

“The flu,” Wayne responded, “or something. Nothing to worry about, I can assure you.” He flashed his white pearly smile at the woman, clearly in an attempt to charm her. Althea looked away uncomfortably. The warning look Lisa gave him made him shrunk back.

“We can’t stay here for long Wayne,” Rafiq said, knowing that another walk was the last thing Wayne’s body needed, but also knowing that they had no choice.

“It’s not far, anyway,” Jessica said, pointing at something on her map, not entirely realizing that Wayne couldn’t see it. “Me and Rafiq can scout ahead and see if Santa Monica is clear.”

“Can I come with you?” Sam looked at his mother, the fear in his eyes betraying his calm demeanor.

“Honey, I -“

“I can go,” Lisa dropped her bag on the ground and stepped forward, “you stay here with you son.”

Jessica mouthed a silent ‘thank you’ to Lisa and showed her and Rafiq how to get to the Metro Station. Suddenly George was standing next to them as well. “I’m coming too.”

Lisa looked him over and said, “No, you’re not.”

“Excuse me? Who made you boss!”

“Nobody did. In the state you’re in, you’ll just be a liability. “ She exchanged a knowing glance with Althea, “Among reasons.”

“Like I care what you think. Come on, Rafiq, let’s go.”

Rafiq turned and looked at his old partner. “No George. Lisa is right, we’ll be faster with just the two of us.”

He braced himself for George’s reaction, expecting it not to be pleasant, but instead the old man just stared at him, flabbergasted. Jessica laid a hand on his shoulders and pulled him back. He followed her and took a sip from his water bottle. Rafiq had the feeling it did not contain water.

He and Lisa found the door towards the subway station easily enough. Rafiq opened it carefully while holding the hunting knife in his other hand. Lisa had raised her gun.

The station was empty, save for one walker who for some unknown reason was cuffed to a railing. The creature wore a police uniform and his gun was still in its holster. Rafiq walked up to it, stabbed it through the earlobe and took out the gun. He gave it to Lisa, who checked it.

“Still fully loaded. Did not fire a bullet once.”

“You would expect a gun to see more use these days.”

“Who knows. A free gun is a free gun.”


They went over to the escalator, which surprisingly was still working. Red spots of blood were coming and going as the steps went up and down. Rafiq stepped on one of the clean ones and rode upwards. For one moment, he allowed himself to feel the rush he always had when he got on an escalator. The things had always fascinated him. He remembered days as a child where he would ride them a couple of times in a row while his mother did some shopping. For that one moment, he could almost feel normal again.

As he and Lisa got to the surface, they stepped off the escalator and into the afternoon sunlight. The immediate vicinity was clear of walkers, though there were some in the distance they had to be careful of. It was not entirely clear whether they had been spotted or not. To their left was a row of food shops, a gas station the their right.

“If some of these cars work, maybe we can fill them up here,” Lisa suggested. The streets were filled with cars, apparently abandoned in a hurry.

“Maybe. But I do not wish to leave. The other group could be coming right after us.”


He pointed towards a building opposite the street. It was a bit taller than the surrounding buildings and the roof would give a good vantage point. It turned out to be a spa centre, specializing in skin care. Yet, as they walked up to it, they saw something else.

A large message was painted on one of the windows, reading ‘Carry, I took Stella to my parents. Please come!’ Underneath the message were the bodies of a man and a young girl, both shot in the head and chewed on by walkers. “Ow God,” Lisa stammered.

Rafiq passed the scene and peered through the windows of the spa. The place was dark, but as far as he could tell, there was no walker activity inside. Still, the place looked large. He rather had a bunch of other people with him to clear it out.

“The area is safe enough. Let’s go back,”
he said. Lisa agreed.

As they made their way back, something Lisa had said bugged him.

“What did you mean about George, when you said: among reasons?”


Lisa looked at him, as if she was trying to assess his character. George had looked at him the same way a week before, but something told him Lisa would not appreciate the comparison.

“I don’t find this George very trustworthy,”
she said.

“That’s not all though.”

“No, it’s not.”


They were silent for a while and Rafiq began to think she no longer wanted to talk about it. Then she said: “He shot at us. Or at least, I think he did.”

Rafiq felt like he should feel shocked. The fact that he wasn’t was even worse.

“Shot at you?”


“Yeah, but like I said, I’m not sure. I was in another car, some distance away and everything was very chaotic. But before all hell broke loose, I thought I heard a shot. Look, he may have aimed at a walker, I don’t know. But something seems off about him.”

Rafiq knew better then to defend George. He hoped it wasn’t true, but he hadn’t been there.

They turned the last corner of where they had left the group.

What they found was downright bizarre. Two people were holding down another person on the floor, who was resisting heavily. A fourth person was slumped against the wall.

The scene was dark and it was hard to tell who was who.

It was Lily who spotted them first.

“Something happened,” she said matter-of-factually.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong (NPC) Character Portrait: Wayne Williams (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Samuel Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Lisa Pazzino (NPC) Character Portrait: Althea Brown Character Portrait: Henry Ahlstedt

0.00 INK

% Jessica Abbott %

"STOP IT! You're killing him!" Annabelle shouted from behind the pile of tussling bodies. Wayne laid another one into Henry as him and George struggled to hold him down. Tara sat back, slumped against the stone wall -- trying to catch his breath. Her right cheek sported a brand new shiner, courtesy of the enraged stranger. Althea and Lisa knelt at her side, making sure she was alright.

"Get off me! the man spat, kicking his feet out wildly. George rolled off of him, too exhausted to continue wrestling with the man. Wayne stood up, begrudingly. Taking a few steps back with his fists still balled up.

The man wiped the blood from his lip and spit on the ground, sitting up just barely. He rose to his feet and made like he was going to charge Wayne again.

"Don't do anything stupid, man..." Wayne pleaded. Henry looked around the room at the others, panting heavily in his drunken stupor. The world had fallen to shit outside and here they were, a bunch of people fighting each other. He took a step towards Wayne.

*CLICK*

"Lillian!" Jessica shouted out. The girl was pointing a pistol right at the man's head. Jessica quickly snatched it from the girl's grip, shooing her away from the men. "Where did you get this?" she demanded, holding the girl by the arm.

Lillian shook her hand off. "Seriously? There are guns lying around literally everywhere..." she said sarcastically.

Jessica couldn't believe what she was hearing. She looked at Rafiq who shook his head in dismay, shrugging his shoulders.

"Enough of this!" Jessica shouted. "Rafiq tell me you found something?"

He nodded his head, happy to be able to deliver good news for a change. "We found a spa... it looks sturdy enough to be able to house the lot of us. And it's close. Only a few blocks south of here."

Jessica nodded. "Good... take everyone up there," she requested, grabbing him by the shoulder. She turned to the others. "George, Tara... stay behind with me. I'm gonna need help with our new friend."

"What about me?" Wayne asked in protest.

"Rafiq's gonna need your help getting everyone up there safely," Jessica replied.

Everyone began to disperse slowly as Rafiq took Wayne, Lisa, Althea, Annabelle, Samuel, and Lillian to the surface. The girls helped Tara up before heading after the rest of the group. They slowly made their way down the dark corridor towards the service exit Rafiq had found. Once they were gone, George took the gun from Jessica's hands and turned to the menace who had shown up on their doorstep, looking at him one drunkard to another through blurried eyes.

"Better start talking, mate."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Henry Ahlstedt

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Henry stares at the form of his father hunched over, dead from the looks of it. A large wound smack dab in the center of his forehead. Still dripping blood and showing fragments of bone. Henry doubles over, retching at the sight. He's got a strong stomach but the sight of his own fathers head split open just doesn't sit well in any situation. It takes him a moment to notice the blood covering his mouth, still dripping in globs down the front of his shirt. Then he hears the sound of crying and peers around the door to the other side of the room where he see's Elissa. She's cowering in one of the corners, cradling her arm left arm with her right and holding in her left hand what looks to be a chairs leg - where she got it he isn't sure as there's n broken chairs in the room with them.

"What the hell did you do!" Henry screams suddenly, eyes wild and brimming with emotion. He stalks over to her in three quick strides, glowering down at her . "What did you do!"

Elissa startles and looks up at that moment. She's still sobbing, fat tears rolling down her chubby cheeks and leaving streaks of makeup behind. She shakes visibly, and Henry can see that she's holding some sort of bite wound on her arm. Probably from his father in self defense. "H-Henry it isn't what you think!" She sobs loudly, drawing her knee's up to her chest. "His heart monitor stopped, there was something wrong with him, he....he was different." she rubs her arms, chills running through her body. "He attacked me...He wouldn't stop! I didn't mean to hit him so hard!" Henry runs a hand through his hair, listening to her blubbering.

"He just kept coming at me, for gods sake he bit me! And I only....wanted to knock him out." She finally finishes her explanation.

Even if he's angry, he can't deny that he feels a certain sort of relief that the man is finally dead. He would have been content of course to wait for him to pass - after all he wanted to say a proper goodbye, wish his father a good afterlife in hell and shove all the horrible nonsense he grew up with back into the mans face.

He slides down to sit beside her, facing his fathers body still. In his hand he still holds the bottle of Vodka, which he now pops open and brings to his lips. He lets the slow burn engulf him for a moment before offering it over to Elissa...She declines instantly, she stifles another sob. "What are we going to do?" she questions wearily.

Henry knocks his head back against the wall. Lets out a sigh he's been keeping in, and turns to look at her.


"I suggest we find a shovel."




Henry see's red.

These people come down here, beat him up, and then think that hes the one who has stuff to explain. Like hell.

"I have nothing to talk about with you, Mate" Henry mocks and stumbles a step away from the man. His head pounds, an angry tempo mimicking the rapid pace of his heart. Fresh sweat breaks out over his forehead. He winces as a sharp pain rockets up his spine. "Christ, couldn't just have been some of those things, had to be real people." Henry glares at the three strangers, mouth turning down into an ever deepening frown.

"You expect me to be all dandy with a bunch o' you coming down here, probably bringing all those things with you. Beating me up and acting like I'm the one at fault!" his voice rises steadily, to match the anger still coursing through him. He glances at the two of them individually, noticing at last the shiner on the woman's face. 'Oh yeah, I did that.' he barely remembers hitting her though and is slightly mortified that he hit a woman in a first place. Even if he's know for being tough he never really saw himself as being intentionally cruel - she hadn't done a thing to him, didn't even have a chance to defend herself. These facts sat wrong with Henry, in a way that few things managed to do. He isn't known for being kind or courteous but that didn't mean he felt nothing at all.

Knowing full well they probably have trouble following right on their heels he just barely calms down. Still, the lasting effects of alcohol coursing through his veins linger and keep a bit of that anger in place. He looks the woman right in the eyes and sighs, pointing to his own cheek where the mark on hers is. "I don't pride myself on hitting ladies." He's already in pain, and he figures it doesn't much matter what happens now. "Go ahead. He motions to himself, allowing her to get a good hit in if she wants to. Its something he see's as letting her take revenge for herself if she wants to. Whats more pain added on after all?

The setting changes from season-2 to Season 1

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong (NPC) Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Lisa Pazzino (NPC) Character Portrait: Althea Brown Character Portrait: Henry Ahlstedt

0.00 INK

...

The setting changes from season-1 to Season 2

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong (NPC) Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Lisa Pazzino (NPC) Character Portrait: Althea Brown Character Portrait: Henry Ahlstedt

0.00 INK

% Jessica Abbott %


Tara's hand balled up into a tight fist as she narrowed her eyes.

@#! SMACK !#@

But it was George that threw the punch. His already swollen hand collided with Henry's stomach with a sickening thud, doubling the man over onto his hands and knees. He wretched onto the ground in his drunkenness as the girls jumped back in surprise.

"Listen here, you fool..." George snapped at the man, "We've been in these tunnels for over a week, and the last thing we need is some drooling drunkard telling us our affairs."

The man struggled to his feet, pointlessly pulling at his already wrinkled and dirtied shirt in an attempt to straighten it. He glared at George. "And yet you still let a drooling drunkard lead your people?" he said with a laugh.

Jessica stepped forward. "He is not our leader," she muttered, jabbing a finger at George.

"But you're right... this is all his fault." Tara added.

George spun around to face the accusatory women. "Whose side are you on?" he barked at them, waving the gun around non-threateningly as he gestured.

"The side that lives, George." Tara replied, crossing over to Jessica. She turned back to the two men behind her. "I get that you were trying to protect us George, I do. But this is a result of your actions. Our friends are scattered outside... who knows where? You saw what happened the last time we encountered strangers. Do we really have to attack every person we come across now? Is that who we are? Are we that scared?"

Tara's words rang out inside the cold stone foundation of the tunnel corridor. They weren't rhetorical questions by any means, but the weight of them silenced the four of them while they attended to their own thoughts. Who knew who anybody was these days. You slept and fought next to strangers, people with no names, no histories.

George shifted uncomfortably on his feet. "Tara..."

"Save it," she said, sullenly. "I just want to go and find my friends. Can we do that?"

Jessica nodded, placing a hand on the girl's shoulder. "Of course we can."

"What about him?" George queried, looking at the new stranger. The man leaned back against the wall with his hands on his knees, spitting the remnants of the foul taste in his mouth onto the ground.

Jessica cinched her backpack tighter around her shoulders. "He already heard where we're going. There's nothing we can do stop him from following us..."

"Yes, there is." George answered, firmly.

"Nothing we will do," Jessica replied, correcting herself. She looked at Henry, looking him up and down. "Don't go that way," she advised to him, gesturing towards the way they. came from. With that, her and Tara set off quickly up the stairwell towards the street exit to the spa.

George watched them begin to go, and started to follow -- turning back to take one last look at what could possibly be the only man who truly understood George amongst all these other people... the group whose trust he had deservedly lost. Henry held George's stare as he cleared his throat, spitting another glob of red phlegm onto the ground -- and then disappeared from sight as George slipped past the corner.


* * *


Lillian kicked at a crushed soda can on the ground, ricocheting it against the receptionist's desk next to her. It skittered across the floor to a stop near a bunch of other littered trash and rubbish. She wished she were back in the tunnels. It smelled weird in the spa -- some amalgamation of lotions, oils, and incense. Lily scrunched her nose as she pushed through a door into one of the next rooms. Lisa popped out from behind the open doors of a wooden cabinet and beamed uncertainly at the girl.

"Oh... hi, sweetie. What are you up to?" she said, taking towels and stacking them in her arms.

Lillian kicked at the floor, sighing. "Nothing. It's boring in here," she complained. She jumped up on the counter next to her and started to re-tie a shoelace that had come undone.

Lisa managed to smile at the girl's childlike angst. She couldn't even begin to imagine what it must be like to be a kid at a time like this. Not quite old or strong enough to contribute, but smart enough to not be left completely in the dark. She didn't know which was better -- protecting them from the truth or protecting them from this world. Perhaps one would lead to the other. "I'm sorry, honey." Lisa said, placing the towels on the table behind her. "At least we're safe here though, right? That's a good thing."

"We're not safe here..." Lily replied, blunty. "There's no food, there's walkers everywhere outside, weird people attacking us... and we don't have any weapons! Stupid Jessica took my gun!"

Lisa furrowed her brow, closing the cabinet and crossing over to the girl. "That wasn't your gun," Lisa said softly.

"It wasn't hers either," Lillian replied, snarkily.

Lisa crossed her arms. "Lily, it's dangerous to be around weapons you don't know how to use. You could have hurt that man back there. You don't ever point a gun at a person unless you intend to kill them..."

"That is what I intended to do."

"I'm serious," Lisa said, her tone changing.

Lillian tied the knot on her shoe tight and hopped off the counter to face the woman. "So am I. That man hit Tara. And he was about to hit somebody else too until I stopped him." Lisa frowned at the truth behind Lily's tirade, not knowing what to say to the girl. "Calvin told me to look after everyone, so that's what I'm doing. Nobody else is..."

"Who's Calvin? Lisa asked.

"My friend..."

Lisa raised an eyebrow. "And where is he now?"

Lily looked away -- a clearly sensitive subject. "The bad guys took him away and we couldn't stop them -- cause they had guns..." She brushed past Lisa, childishly pushing over her neat stack of towels on the table as she walked by. The woman watched the girl disappear through the door into the back of the spa. Althea walked in behind Lisa looking refreshed.

"Found some tubs with water still in them. I think it's safe enough to use to clean up a bit. Wouldn't drink it though..." she said, rubbing her hair dry. She looked at Lisa who had tears in her eyes. "What's wrong? I thought I heard loud voices in here..."

Lisa rubbed her eyes. "Oh, nothing. It was just Lillian." She sniffled lightly "Said she pulled the gun on that guy cause her imaginary friend Calvin told her to..." she continued, laughing slightly.


* * *


Jessica pushed the door open slightly, peeking out onto Santa Monica boulevard to see if it was still as clear as Rafiq had promised. Several walkers straggled about, heading north to join the dense group already collecting around the main metro entrance. She looked past a few abandoned cars at what looked like their destination, nestled between two taller buildings on the far side of the street. She shut the door, turning back to George and Tara.

"I think if we go quick and stay low, we can make it across."

George scoffed. "You think?"

Jessica shot a look at him. "Is anything certain anymore?" It was enough to shut him up. Tara pulled her hunting knife from out of her bag and slung it back over her shoulder. Jessica looked at George who was checking the clip in his pistol. "No guns," she warned. George rolled his eyes and stuffed it back into his waistband, standing to turn and kick a piece loose from a network of pipes against the wall next to them. The metal bar clattered against the ground loudly as George bent down to pick it up. The three of them looked at one another, silently psyching themselves up for what lay ahead.

"On three?" Tara said, quietly.

Jessica looked past her shoulder. "How about four?" she asked, gesturing behind them. George and Tara turned around to see the last person they expected to find...

Henry. In all his drunken glory.

He nodded to them, saying nothing. And they nodded back.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Samuel Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Althea Brown Character Portrait: Henry Ahlstedt Character Portrait: Bethany Whitfield Character Portrait: Diego Azevedo (NPC)

0.00 INK

#, as written by Zephon
Bethany Whitfield

---

His lips were on hers. His mouth was as passionate as ever, just as intense as their first kiss. Romance novels often described how a man’s tongue would explore a woman, but Diego was far beyond that point. He was on familiar ground and loved every second of it. She could tell.

Bethany let it go on for a while, feeling the same intense longing to touch him. It had been three days now since the last time they had sex, and even that one had been quick and inside some dirty room. Diego grabbed her behind more firmly and pressed her closer against his body. She could feel his heat. She could feel him. All of him.

Yet, she had to break it off for now. It would have to wait. She turned her head away from him and checked the alley again.

“I think it’s gone,” she said to her husband, “we can go on.”

Diego was slightly out of breath, which she knew was just an act, and leaned with one hand against the wall. “A pity,” he said, “I could have used a couple more minutes.”

“I know you do, dear.” She responded with a last kiss on his mouth and moved into the alley. Diego picked up his metal baseball bat and followed her.

They moved through the streets like cats, staying to one side and always keep an eye on their back. It had been just the two of them since it all happened and so far it was working. Both still alive, reasonably well fed and without any injuries. The only real problem had been the fire, destroying everything they had, including the suitcases. Bethany felt like cursing again. They had enough cocaine to last Diego a long time, he didn’t use that much after all, but then some idiot had decided to burn a pack of walkers by setting their building on fire. It had destroyed everything, including their apartment. She had a suspicion that the arsonist had died in his own fire, but didn’t really care either way.

Part of her wanted to leave all this drugs business behind, but she knew that Diego would sooner or later need some of it. Without it, he could go into withdrawal and they could not use that right now. Rehab would have to wait until they found a place that was safe and secure.

So now they were on their way back to the spa, retrieving the final two suitcases they had been unable to carry a few days back. If they were still there. Gonzales could have picked them up by now, but it was more likely he was dead. So many people were these days.

“Watch out,” Diego hissed and she was pulled backwards. In front of her eyes, she could see a rotten hand clawing out, just where her head had been a second ago. It had come from her right side, so she hadn't heard it coming. Bethany felt a mixture of shock and excitement well up in her. Adrenaline pumping, she watched on as Diego took his bat and bashed the walker’s head in. The first swing made it stagger, the second made its eye and nose explode, the third got through the skull and into the brain. Another walker appeared and without thinking, she took the bat from Diego’s hand. Swinging with all her might, she bashed its head against the wall, crushing it between bat and stone. It completely tore open, blood, flesh and brain spattering everywhere.

“One swing,” said Diego, impressed.

Bethany wiped the bat clean on the clothes of the walker the best she could before handing it back to her husband. She gave him a playful peck on the cheek.

“You know me. Always going full throttle.”


---

They didn’t move fast nor with any apparent purpose, so the effect was not immediately apparent, but it appeared to Rafiq that the number of walkers in the street was slowly increasing. It made him feel uncomfortable. He hoped the others would show up soon. If they had to move again, he wasn’t sure they would ever be able to find each other. He particularly missed Carl, Niobe and Marie and hoped they would come back soon.

George was looking through the binoculars, not saying a word the whole time. That suited Rafiq just fine. Jessica and Tara had vouched for the new guy from the tunnels, Henry, but George was still angry about it. That was probably the main reason why he had been volunteered to take the first watch on the roof. Rafiq had felt it was best to join him up there.

Although he knew it probably wasn’t the best timing, Rafiq had then told him what had happened to Molly. He had expect some loud angry cursing, or even a slap in the face, but instead George had just stared at him. For a while it looked like the message didn’t even come through, but then tears filled in the eyes of the older men.

“I miss Charlie,” was the only thing he had said.

Rafiq hadn’t known how to respond to that.

So they had just sat there, on the rooftop, looking at the walkers on the street and the entrance to the metro station. Hoping that some familiar faces would show soon.

“Someone is coming,” George suddenly said.

Rafiq perked up and looked the metro station. There was nobody there.

“Where?” He asked, “I can’t see anybody.”

George pointed a way to the left. Near the gas station were two figures, a man and a woman. Rafiq didn’t recognize them, but they were clearly still human. Probably stragglers looking for a safe place.

“They are heading straight for this place,” George said. He took out his gun. Alarmed, Rafiq stepped in front of George. “There is no need for that,” he said, “there are just two of them. I’ll see what they want. You,” he gently lowered the gun in George’s hand, “you stay here and watch for the others.”

Rafiq quickly got off the roof and rushed down the stairs. Thankfully, the building was not too large and he got to the main lobby before the couple did. Jessica, Sam, Annabelle, Althea and the new guy Henry were still there. They all tensed as Rafiq rushed into the room.

“Someone is coming,” as he said it he could see some of them reach for a weapon. “Just two,” he added quickly, “they are probably just looking for a place to hide.”

Just a few seconds later, the couple stepped in. The man was fit, handsome and looked to be from somewhere in South America. The woman was older, but still exceptionally beautiful. Even Rafiq could tell. She was the kind of person that would attract all the attention the moment she stepped into a room.

The woman looked at them with some confusion, then composed herself. The man raised his baseball bat, which was red with blood.

“What are you doing in my spa?” She asked without any apparent concern that she was outnumbered.

---

When the people did not respond, Bethany bopped her head sideways.

“Well? Are you going to answer me?”

A young man stepped forward, deliberately standing in front of the child in the room, blocking the boy from her view. Clever, she thought to herself. Protecting the weakest member of your group from the unknown.

“We’re sorry,” the Arabic man said, “I didn’t know this was your spa. We were just looking for a place to wait for our friends.”

“And you thought the best way to do that was to break into my business.”

The man, who was about the same age as Diego, turned slightly red. “Yes, no, well...”

“She’s just messing with you,” Diego laughed. Bethany couldn’t help but smile.

“Don’t worry,” she said, “you’re welcome to the place. I doubt we’ll ever open it again. I’m just here to pick up some stuff.”

“What stuff?” Another man asked, much older than the other one. He was also a bit ruffed up for some reason.

“None of your business stuff,” Diego said to him, raising his tone with a hint of threat. Bethany briefly touched his hand as a warning.

“You’re Bethany Whitfield?” an elderly and somewhat overweight lady asked. Bethany nodded, asking with her eyes how she knew that. The woman picked up on it. “I saw your name on one of the rooms. I thought it was a beautiful name. My name is Annabelle.”

Bethany didn’t really know if the compliment was sincere or not, but she took it all the same. “How nice of you to say, Annabelle. This is my husband, Diego.” Diego nodded in response. Out of politeness, the others introduced themselves as well. It was funny to Bethany how civility hadn’t completely died out yet. The only one who didn't introduce herself was a dark-skinned woman, who was sitting in the waiting area and seemed to be observing the situation.

She turned her attention back on the younger man, Rafiq, who looked like the one in charge, although Bethany didn’t really know why.

“Look, we won’t bother you long. Just need some of my personal belongings. Hope that isn’t a problem?”

Rafiq shook his head. “Can’t see why not.”

With that, she and Diego made their way up the stairs. To her annoyance, Rafiq followed them.

“We know the way, thank you,”
she said with all the authority she had.

“There are other people in the building,” Rafiq answered, with more backbone in his tone then Bethany had expected out of him, “No need to alarm them with your presence.”

Bethany looked at Diego, who shrugged in a ‘what-are-you-going-to-do’ way.

They got to the meeting room where they had left the suitcases and stopped. Rafiq’s eyes got larger and said, “You want to go in there?”

“Yes,” Diego said, “what we want is in here.”

“But... uh... there are dead bodies in there.”

“Dead bodies?” Bethany exchanged looks with Diego, who looked just as confused as her. What was this Rafiq talking about? There hadn’t been anyone here when they left. Bethany opened the door and looked inside. There were indeed five bodies in the room.

“Wait,” Bethany said to Diego, “is that Gonzales? And that Kimberly and Thea? What were they...” She didn’t understand what had happened. Gonzales, maybe, but why were Kimberly and Thea back here? Although it probably didn’t really matter anymore why, it made her feel uneasy all the same.

Then she looked at the table properly. Diego noticed at the same time. They walked towards it and both opened a suitcase. It were the ones filled with money. Useless.

“Where are the other two?” Diego asked.

Bethany looked at the door where Rafiq was standing. He looked back.

“What two?” He asked, “this was how we found it.”

Liar, Bethany thought to herself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wayne Williams (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Samuel Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Bethany Whitfield Character Portrait: Diego Azevedo (NPC)

0.00 INK

% Jessica Abbott %


"I'm telling you, it was Oakland..." Rafiq protested, shoving his hand back into a bag of potato chips. Annabelle bundled up some of the woolen bathrobes tighter around her feet, much like the rest of them had -- into various makeshift beds around the cold tile floor of the spa. The Sun had long since set, and the night grew colder with each passing second of the blackening nuclear shroud.

"It doesn't matter," Wayne chirped quietly from his corner. Sam lay asleep next to him buried next to Jessica in his own assortment of robes and towels as he snored softly. "Coulda been Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco... it doesn't make any difference. It'll be Chicago next week. Portland after that. We might be losing cities, but we've already lost-- shit, probably half the world..."

"Language," Jessica chided, softly. Wayne rolled his eyes and dug for another handful of chips as Annabelle wiped her mouth dry after a botched sip of her iced tea, appalled at Wayne's blatant pessimism.

She pat her shirt dry with the towel draped around her shoulders and placed her drink to the side, behind . "They wouldn't bomb Los Angeles again would they? I mean-- with one of the big ones?"

George's halting footsteps interrupted that thought, signaling his return from the rooftop where he had posted up with his fellow drunken compatriot, Henry. That was -- until the hazardous ash started falling from the sky. "You talking about the grand finale," George jabbed, setting his rifle against the wall and rolling up the sleeves of his shirt as he searched for a place to sit. "It's a genius plan, really... use the first bombings to lure all the walkers into the city center-- and then... He mimicked an explosion with his hands quite dramatically as he found an open spot on the floor and settled in. He looked around at the others' tired faces, barely lit by the lantern resting in the center of their circle. "What better way to solve the whole 'end of the world' problem, eh?" He was surprisingly chipper after his brief stint on watch, especially considering the havoc he had that night. But a heavy silence descended on the group as the logic of it all rang true. Any doubt at all the city was safe would be reason enough to get out of Los Angeles, but George's observation wasn't without reason. They may have been sitting in the eye of the storm all along, oblivious to the real disaster that lay ahead of them. Now with the group divided again, any imminent escape seemed fruitless at best -- at least at the moment.

"You're on watch by the way, mate--" George called out to Wayne on the opposite side of the circle. The abrupt breach of silence prompted the man to stir to action immediately. He checked for his pistol beneath his shirt and, once satisfied, stepped through the sea of legs towards the stairs to the second level where more windows lied. Tara was still somewhere up there with the other girls, keeping an eye on the boulevards to the west. Wayne trudged off towards his duties, attempting to pass by Diego -- who had been leaning against the frame of the door to the stairwell, eavesdropping on his guests' conversation. He stroked his chin bemusedly, looking from Rafiq to each of the others in the circle as Bethany stepped in front of Wayne, blocking his way.

"So..." the stubbly man began, strutting towards them. "When's check-out?"

Jessica sensed George's hairs bristling on his skin-- and interjected. "Listen, we didn't mean to break in here or anything... but it's not exactly safe outside. Surely, you understand that-- right?"

"Of course, I do. I absolutely comprende," he said half-mockingly, "it's just that I think some of your friends may have taken something that doesn't belong to them."

Jessica furrowed her brow, looking around at the others. "I'm sorry-- I'm not quite sure what y--" Diego turned around mid-sentence, cutting her off. He walked back to the door frame and reached behind it -- pulling a briefcase out and setting it on the floor. He set his shoe on top and slid it across the tile towards the circle.

"Look what I was able to... sniff out," he quipped as the briefcase slowed to a stop. A playful grin spread across his face as he motioned at the luggage with his finely attended eyebrows. "Why don't you open it, Rafiq?"

Rafiq flinched at the sound of his name, suddenly aware of everyone's eyes on him. His lips twitched as he tried to decide how to respond to Diego's command. "L-Listen," he started with a stammer, "it wasn't my idea-- we just thought t-that--" his neck craned towards the stairwell, hoping Wayne would be there to help him explain. Diego tracked Rafiq's eyes and rounded on Wayne like a dog on a leash. It was his fault after all, and Rafiq was in no mood to take the brunt of the punishment. "Look, it's all here! We didn't do anything with it or nothin'."

Diego hung his head, rubbing his hands over his face in disbelief. He crept forwards, closing in on Rafiq as he crouched down over the briefcase. Rafiq quickly kneeled down, flicking the clasps open and popping the top, revealing its heart-breakingly empty interior. He had been duped. His heart froze in his chest as Diego came to a stop above him. "Why don't we go for a walk," he insisted, adjusting the pistol in his waistband. Jessica watched George's eyes flick towards his rifle -- leaning on one of the columns adjacent to him. She moved closer to Sam, praying that the situation would defuse quickly. Her other hand fumbled for her knife near her bag under the covers. Rafiq swallowed hard, his eyes darting around the floor as he desperately tried to muster up a plan.

"I think this guy should join us," the blonde woman advised, quite matter-of-factly. She sidled up next to Diego, eyeing Wayne up and down.

"Like hell I should," Wayne protested, backing away with his hands in the air. "What are you trying to insinuate, "Sun-Tan Barbie" ...?!"

Diego was in his face in a flash. "What did you just say to her?" Both fists were clenched like two small wrecking balls. Bethany placed a hand on his shoulder from behind. Her cool touch immediately began to simmer him down.

"Easy, honey--" she purred. "These are our guests," She crossed over to the lantern on the floor and crouched down. Whether or not she meant to be seductive didn't matter cause she did and she was. Bethany swept the lantern off of the floor and held it up above her head, illuminating the room with its vibrantly orange glow.

"Let's give 'em the grand tour."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong (NPC) Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Samuel Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Lisa Pazzino (NPC) Character Portrait: Althea Brown Character Portrait: Henry Ahlstedt

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- The Spa -

"Somebody needs to do something," Annabelle demanded, her face flushed red with seriousness. She stood adjacent Jessica and George outside the arch to the main hallway, talking in hushed tones. Rafiq and Wayne had just been dragged away to God knows where by the spa's owners. The couple's vague threats and accusations were unsettling to say the least, but it was possible that they weren't entirely without merit. What did they really know about each other, after all?

"You wanna borrow my gun?" George offered, mockingly. "What are we supposed to do? We're their guests. Besides, if Wayne and Rafiq were poking their heads where they shouldn't have-- then that's on them..."

"My, my... aren't you the diplomatic one," Tara muttered under her breath as slipped into the room behind George and the others. Lisa and Althea flanked behind her, likely the ones responsible for the shoddy patch job on Tara's nose and face. They had done the best with what they had, but the poor girl had taken a punch and some pavement during the hasty retreat from the tunnels, and the evidence was still quiet evident. The girl had certainly seen better days, but -- then again -- who hadn't? Just because they were in a spa didn't mean they were on vacation. They widened their circle to allow the others to step into the conversation with the rest of them, though there faces betrayed their obvious eagerness to know what was going on.

Lisa pulled her sleeves down around her arms, rubbing them to warm herself against the creeping cold. "We passed, uhh-- is it Radeef?" she asked them, timidly.

"Rafiq," Jessica corrected, a bit coldly. These newcomers had barely been with them for half a day and they had already made themselves at home. Though that seemed to be the trend these days. Nobody knew a damned thing about each other anymore. Instead, a person was defined by what they could do or what they might do.

Lisa nodded emphatically with a broad smile. "Yeah! Him and that Wayne guy and that odd pair who are claiming to own this place..." she listed them all off on her fingers, as if it were too many people to keep track of.

"They do own it," George said, trying to return them back to their original train of thought. "There's pictures of them all over the back offices." The others looked around at each other, accepting the news whether they wanted to or not. "That's why I'm saying-- unless we want to be back out on the streets, we have to play by their rules. That's the only way. I think we've made enough trouble for one day."

Tara couldn't believe her ears. "We?"

George's gaze bobbled to the floor. "You know what I--"

"What? You... what? What did you do today, George? "

"I-I just meant that--" he stuttered aloud.

"You shot a bunch of innocent people and broke the group up." Everyone's eyes darted to Tara in all her bluntness. But it wasn't an uncontrollable outburst -- it was a statement of fact. At least it was for Tara. The truth therein was arguable, depending on who you asked. Tara jabbed her finger into his chest with each name she rattled off. "Harper... Nathan... Steve... they're gone. Because of you, George."

"James..." Annabelle added quietly.

Tara nodded. "I saw Niobe and Carl too, but I don't think they made it into the tunnel before--" Her voice cut out as she suddenly found herself unable to find a word that could describe what had happened. It was too many things to too many people. The group was in pieces now -- and like a shattered mirror, she wasn't quite sure how to put them back together again.

"I was trying to help you," George reasoned, weakly. "You were all bloodied up, being c-carted through town by these strangers-- the likes of w-which I've never seen. Heavily armed and all..." Everyone's eyes rested on the poor English pilot as he pleaded his case, somberly. None of them wanted to relive those moments. He looked Tara dead in her swollen eye. "You looked like you were in a bad way and I tried to save you. And I'd do it again in a heartbeat. That's what we're here for, right? To help each other? Strength in numbers and all that..."

"To be honest," Tara began, "I don't know what you're here for." She turned her back to him and stalked off down the hallway, anxious to distance herself from the rest as she went to go cool off. The groups attention wandered back to George, who shifted uncomfortably.

"I'll, uhh--" George cleared his throat, tugging at his collar. "I'll go back out on watch, I guess... since when is preoccupied and all. " He rasped, a bit shakily. He stepped away, taking to the staircase in the other direction. The others watched him go and looked at one another awkwardly, unsure of what to do.

"I wish we could have all seen it through his eyes," Lisa bemoaned. "For clarity's sake, I mean. We've all made mistakes--"

Jessica scoffed, zipping her jacket up as the cold became too much for her as well. "No," she began, "Tara's right. He's got some things to atone for still. But he'll be OK. She sounded pretty convinced, despite the facts.

"I just hate seeing people hurting is all," Lisa said, craning her neck back towards their makeshift circle of beds, scattered across the tile haphazardly. "Hey-- where's your boy?" she chimed suddenly, turning to Jessica. The single mother spun around and spotted her son's empty sleeping bag as panic instantly gripped her heart.

She wished she knew the answer.

* * *


The gallon of orange juice crashed against the ground, splintering open as its liquidy sweet contents seeped all over the grocery store's polished tile. Lillian hopped back, reflexively -- managing to almost save her shoes from the inevitable splatter. Orange splotches stained the once clean fabric-- something to serve as an unfortunate future reminder of her past clumsiness.

"Shit!" her babysitter, Amber, exclaimed from beside her. The fright had nearly caused her to drop the handfuls of different colored lipsticks she had in her hands. "Lillian-- damnit..."

"You're not supposed to say that word," Lillian threatened, digging her foot into the ground around the spill as a store clerk shuffled into sight behind her. Amber caught his eye and gestured down at the mess.

"I'm really sorry, sir--" she shrugged, "kids... y'know?" The scraggly-haired clerk rolled his eyes and pushed past them through the rubber doors into the storage room to grab a mop.

"Must be great to be a kid and have everyone clean up after you," Amber groaned as she retook her cart and continued down the aisle. Lillian jogged up and leapt onto the side of its frame as her babysitter struggled to keep it rolling straight. "Get off you little brat," she snapped at her. Lillian dropped down with a childish scowl, falling in line behind the even brattier girl.

"You're a hot girl. Like you ever have to do anything..." Lily snapped back, sassily.

Amber tossed the lipsticks into the cart, screeching it to a halt. "What did you say to me?" she asked -- lividly.

Lillian started skipping away. "Sorry-- I don't like to repeat myself."

She turned the corner and danced across a row of televisions and plasma in the electronics department, all blaring the same channel at different volumes. She stopped for a second, lured by the digital cacophony washing over her as she stood complacently -- her eyes darting from screen to screen. A man with white hair uttered the same words no matter which television she watched. A few other nearby shoppers noticed the screens as well, reading the subtitles as they appeared on the screen:

'--Detailed reports are varied at best, describing the affliction as some sort of rapid mutation reminiscent of existing familiar viral strains. Police are establishing quarantine zones and escalating activity in some of the greater metropolitan areas as confirmed reports are corroborated across the seaboard.--'

The reporter covered her ears against a background of departing helicopters and masses of people moving quickly in every direction. Lily slowly peeled away from the screen and scanned the checkstands for Amber, unable to see through the maze of legs and bodies beginning to hurriedly move across the floor. The newscaster continued chattering behind her.

'--Meanwhile, similar reports are surfacing out of Beijing, Paris, and London confirming the reports that the virus has in fact spread transcontinentally--'

The televisions soon faded out behind her as well, becoming nothing more than a distant muffle as she wandered towards the store's entrance, the most likely place she thought she might find her missing babysitter. Lily peeked down the aisles as she wandered past them, searching for any sign of her teenage handler. She passed one of the checkout kiosks where an irate black man seemed to be in the middle of chewing out the cashier over some sort of nonsense. The girl over the counter listened to him aptly, her nervous expression nearly comical as she smiled and nodded over and over apologetically.

"I don't care what your store's policy is, it's just 12 items. What difference does it make?" the man protested, irately.

"I'm sorry, sir--" the girl blurted out. "It's just that the store's policy says--"

"Do you know who I am?" the man continued, grabbing a Wired magazine from behind him and slapping it down on a counter. "That is who I am."

The girl barely looked down at the publication in front of her. "I understand that, sir-- I just--"

Lillian's little legs passed the squabbling adults, rounding the corner of the last set of shelves until their voices faded away too. In truth, she didn't actually want to find Amber. The girl smelled like lip gloss all the time and was generally unpleasant to be around -- a typical text-crazy firecracker like most girls her age. She was, however, Lily's ride home. That counted for something at least. Lily ducked under a passing cart with rolled rugs draped across it, its handler oblivious to how close they had come to clocking the small girl in the head.

Lily ran her hands over her head, flattening her hair back down as the cart rolled through the mechanized doors leading out to the parking lot outside. Rows of cars filled the parking lot as raucous car horns squawked back and forth at one another -- dozens of anxious drivers all stuck in an unfortunate gridlock.

The doors slid closed again with a clunk, bringing Lily's attention back to the checkstands behind her. By some miracle, Amber's pitifully cliched Uggs came marching through the end of the hair products aisle. Lily felt the relief wash over her, thankful that she wouldn't be appearing on the side of a milk carton anytime soon. She had apparently doubled back to the hair products and make-up section to grab a few things, and Lily stupidly realized that was the most obvious place to have looked for her.

Girls were so predictable sometimes.

Lily waved her arm at Amber, squeezing past a couple loading their cart with some firewood to try and get her attention-- and the babysitter's eyes flashed her direction. A blinding white light silhouetted Lily against the floor in front of her. She looked up to see Amber shielding her face with one hand-- falling backwards onto the tile. A figure leapt across her peripheral, grabbing Lily by the arm and pulling her into the nearest checkstand. The older man, her savior, hit the ground with barely any grace at all, rolling across the tile long with her-- his cowboy hat toppling off his head onto the floor. Amber reached her arm out towards Lily from across the aisle just as a blinding white light splashed over her shrieking visage -- the sound of a revving engine drowned out by the glass it had shattered... right as it crashed through the storefront.

"LILY-- LOOK OUT!!!"



* * *



"Look-out..." Sam called down to her, perched atop a stack of boxes. He held a hammer in one hand-- the other holding tightly onto the windowsill next to him. The grated screen of an air vent hung slightly above him, it's metal plating winding its course across the ceiling from wall to wall. "Y'know, like-- you keep watch and make sure no adults walk in here..."

Lily scrunched her nose, hopping off the table and wandering towards the door. "Sounds boring," she groaned. She peeked out the door into the hallway, lowering the beam of her flashlight so it wouldn't spill outiside. "What are you even doing?" she asked with a hint of annoyance. She didn't know why she hadn't asked earlier when he was stacking up the cardboard boxes.

Sam began loosening some of the screws on the screen with the corner of the hammer's blade. "There's something going on with those two people from the spa," he began in a hushed tone.

"What'd they do?" Lily asked-- attempting to hide her obviously peaked interest. She closed the door again behind her and walked over towards Sam and his boxes.

"They didn't do anything," he replied, smirkingly. "I think Rafiq and Wayne took something from them..."

A mystery. Just what they needed. "Bullshit," Lily said, mockingly.

"I'm telling you, it's true. This vent runs along this wall into the hallway and through all the rooms here," he explained, excitedly. "They're in the big room with the table-- next door. I wanna hear what they're saying,"

"That's a dumb idea," Lily challenged, "you're gonna get caught..." She realized she was mostly just saying that because she hadn't thought of the idea herself.

Sam turned back to finish prying the screws out. "Only if I don't have a look-out..."

Lily tried to contain a smile as she walked back over to the door to post up outside. She looked back over her shoulder at the young boy, his tongue hanging half-say out of his mouth as he carefully worked a screw out of its place with extreme concentration. She pushed the door open just enough to look through the crack-- when suddenly the whole door was yanked open. Lily lost her grip on the handle and fell forward onto her hands and knees. Henry jumped back-- also not expecting to have run into anyone in the dark. His flashlight clattered against the round, skipping out of reach.

And then it happened.

The sound of tumbling boxes -- bursting from their foundation and spilling across the floor -- followed by a loud crack. Henry hurried over to the flashlight, kicking it as he reached to picked it up. He swung it into focus over Lily as she struggled back to her feet. She held her hand out in front of her, blocking the light from her eyes.

"A-Are you OK?" he stammered. She could smell the liquor on his breath even from where she stood. She didn't answer -- instead whirling around and darting back into the room. Without her flashlight, she realized quickly that she couldn't quite see where she was going. But what she felt was unmistakeable. "Hey-- Where are you going?" Henry stepped into the room, scanning it with the light. It danced across the fallen boxes on the floor, illuminating the red sheen of the pool of blood at Lily's feet. Her hands shook by her side as the beam finally came to rest on Sam's motionless legs, splayed out next to one of the massage tables-- its metal edge still rich with the boy's dripping blood. Lily stared at the spreading pool of liquid as it seeped around the toes of her shoes-- covering up the stains left by the orange juice all those days before.

Henry hiccuped, moving a few steps closer. His eyes too fell upon the horrible scene laid before them. "Mother of God..."

Thunderous footsteps came rumbling down the hallway outside, signaling the approach of the others. It was then that Lily realized that she was still the look-out. She kneeled down beside Sam, the warm blood soaking into the threads of her skirt. She had to warn him.

"They're coming, Sam--" she whimpered. "Just hold on... they're coming."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lillian "Lily" Strong (NPC) Character Portrait: Wayne Williams (NPC) Character Portrait: Rafiq Chedidi Character Portrait: Tara Schantz (NPC) Character Portrait: Jessica Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Samuel Abbott (NPC) Character Portrait: Annabelle Mae McCallister (NPC) Character Portrait: George Remington (NPC) Character Portrait: Lisa Pazzino (NPC) Character Portrait: Althea Brown Character Portrait: Henry Ahlstedt Character Portrait: Bethany Whitfield Character Portrait: Diego Azevedo (NPC)

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#, as written by Zephon
Bethany Whitfield


The sound of the crashing boxes was still ringing in her ears. The unexpected sound put her and the other three – Diego, Rafiq and Wayne – on immediate high alert. Had they missed something? Was there still a walker about? They all ran out of the room and turned a corner. From the sound of it, Bethany figured it came from the storeroom in the back.

She had been the first one out of the room and had thus gained a bit of a head start on the others. She first saw the man (what was his name again?) standing unsteadily on his feet, looking at something on the floor. She then noticed the girl, who was...

“Oh Christ...” Bethany muttered under her breath. There was a lot of blood. Too much blood.

The girl was gently tucking the boy’s hand. “Sam,” she said in a whisper, “be okay. Please, be okay.”

Bethany quickly glanced at the drunk while stepping past him, his face had gone completely pale, and then crouched down beside the girl. It was difficult to see in the shine of the flashlight, but she thought Sam was still breathing. Bethany took hold of his wrist and felt for a pulse. She wasn’t quite sure what a good rhythm was supposed to be in a situation like this, but at least she felt something. He was still alive. She tried to release Lily’s grip on the boy, but the girl was resisting.

“Come sweetie,” Bethany said compassionately. She had not much experience with children, but that didn’t really matter right now. It was basic human decency at work.

“I... I won’t leave him alone,” Lily responded. “I can’t.”

“We need to make room. I’m sure somebody here knows what to do and they will need room.”

“Will he be alright?”


Bethany knew that lying would get them nowhere. “I honestly don’t know.”

At that moment, the lights came on. Diego must have found the light switch, Bethany thought, but she didn’t look up to check. The scene in front of her was now in clear view and it was gruesome. Sam had fallen down from the stack of boxes and first hit one of the massage tables before crash landing on the floor. His left leg was at an unnatural angle, twisted at the knee and already starting to get swollen. Sam had fallen on the back of his head. A large pool of blood was forming at the boy’s head, mixing with another smaller pool coming from either his back or shoulder; it was hard to tell. Bethany wasn’t sure, but she thought she could even make out some bone fragments mixed in with the blood. The boy appeared to be unconscious. Small mercy.

The others from downstairs had heard the commotion as well and had come up to the room. It was like all hell breaking loose.

“What has happened?”
“What was that sound?”
“Is it a walker?”
“SAAAAAAM!!!!”
“OW GOD!”
“FUCK!”
“IS IT A WALKER?!”
“NO, NO WALKER!”
“SAAAAM!!! SAAAAM!!!”
“LET ME THROUGH!”
“PLEASE! HELP HIM!”
“Ow God...”
“WHAT HAPPENED?”
“He.. he fell...”
“HOW?!”


The mother and one of the other woman had knelt down near Sam. Bethany had moved Lily away from the body, but already lost the girl to the clutches of somebody else. The brunette clearly knew what she was doing, first checking the broken boy’s chest, then went on to listen at the mouth and nose for breath and felt the cheeks for respiration. She said something to the mother, but Bethany couldn’t hear what with everybody trying to get into the room. They all wanted see what was going on. To do something. But it was only getting crowded. It was not helping.

“ALRIGHT! EVERYBODY OUT!” Bethany shouted at the top of her lungs. That got everybody’s attention. The situation was so severe that everybody immediately knew what she wanted and they backed away from the room. Before closing it, she locked eyes with Diego.

“Get the first aid kit,” she said, “there should be one in my office.”

He nodded and as he sprinted away, she closed the door and turned her attention on the woman doctor (at least Bethany hoped she was a doctor). The mother was muttering at her son’s side and clearly in a state of shock.

“What can I do?”

The doc looked up and her eyes sent a chill through Bethany’s spine.

It was one that said ‘there is nothing we can do’.

Yet, there was also an understanding between the two women, two complete strangers, that they had to do something. For the mother’s sake, if for nothing else.

“Help me stop the bleeding first.”

---

Rafiq Chedidi


The silence in the hallway was deafening. The blood. The shock. The fact that it concerns a young boy. The strange realization that accidents still happen, even with bloodthirsty zombies creeping around everywhere. Rafiq’s hand was shaking uncontrollably. He clenched his hand in an attempt to control it, but it only seemed to help slightly. He felt so helpless. Once again, he was completely helpless. Molly...

Everyone was standing with their back to the wall, having made room for Diego when he went to look for the first aid kid. Annabelle was standing to Rafiq’s left, holding Lily in her arms and stroking her hair. Although the girl’s cheeks were still wet with tears, she was no longer crying. Her focus had hardened again, just like it had been before the accident. The girl had only allowed herself to act like the child she was for the shortest of times.

It was her that broke the silence.

“What will happen now?”


“I’m sure Lisa will be able to patch him up again, darling,” Annebelle said soothingly.

“Don’t lie to me,” Lily responded with indignation, trying to wrestle free from Annabelle’s embrace, “I know it’s bad. I know he will die.”

“You don’t know that. It’s in God’s hand.”


“Like he cares anymore,”
the girl said, breaking free from the hold.

Rafiq crouched down beside her, looking her straight in the eyes and hoping that his voice was the same way as if he was speaking to an adult. “What happened in there, Lily?”

“Sam fell.”

“Yes, but how?”

“Because...” the girl thought for a moment, as if she had to decide whether a lie would be in her best interest. It took a couple of seconds and everyone in the room was looking at her, but Lily did not seem to notice. Or she didn’t care.

“Him happened. The drunk one.”
She pointed straight at Henry, who for a moment did not seem to realize what was happening, before standing up a little more straight and holding up his hands.

“Now, hold on a minute...” he said. Lily did not seem to care and went on.

“Sam and I were, uhm, playing with the boxes. Building a tower, that sort of thing. Then he came in and scared us. Like... like it was a joke.”

“That’s sick!” Wayne exclaimed.

“Wowowowow! That’s not how it happened!” Henry jumped forward, but was knocked back again, because just at that moment Diego came by with the first aid kit. It made Henry fall back to the wall and falling down.

“Sorry dude,” Diego murmured, before rushing to the storage room, not realizing the situation he just disturbed.

Lily looked at the man on the floor defiantly. “That is how it happened! You scared us and now Sam is dying!”

Henry’s eyes opened wide, confused and angry. “You’re lying! You lying bitch!”

“You say what?!” One of the woman said shocked.

Henry tried to crawl towards Lily, but George and Wayne stopped him in his tracks by holding him down by the shoulders.

“Now, calm down!”

The man was wroth and drunk and did not hear what George was saying. He appeared to become more dangerous by the second. “She’s lying! She’s lying!”

“He’s drunk.”
“He completely lost it.”
“We can’t have him around the kids.”
“SHE’S LYING!”
“We can’t have him around us.”
“What should we do with him?”
“We should lock him up?”
“She’s lying.”
“And then what?”
“We can’t just lock somebody up.”
“Then what would you have us do?”
“Shit, I don’t know.”
“She’s.. lying...”


Rafiq’s head was racing. The instant Henry had lost control, he knew what had to happen. It didn’t even matter much if it happened the way Lily said it happened. Nobody really knew Henry and the man was clearly unstable. Potentially dangerous. Too dangerous to keep around. Rafiq knew it had to be said.

“We kick him out.”

Everyone, including Henry, looked at Rafiq.

“But that’s dangerous. With the nuclear fallout. The walkers.”

Rafiq knew that. It may be a death sentence for the man. But they didn’t know him and he was threatening the group. He was threatening Rafiq’s group. Rafiq was no longer going to put any of his friends in danger. No longer. Not anymore.

The Rafiq of old would not have done this. But the world had changed and so had he.

“We kick him out. I know it’s hard, but it’s our only option. We have to think of ourselves.”

Some people nodded, others stared blankly at the floor. Rafiq locked eyes with George, who nodded in understanding, but appeared to not be fully behind it at the same time. You are our drunk George, Rafiq thought, you are part of the group. It is not the same.

The drunk man saw what was happening, having lost his fight upon realizing that his entire standing with the group had dissipated within mere minutes. Rafiq couldn’t help but feel some pity for the man. But instead of changing his mind, he steeled his heart. It had to happen.

"Anyone objecting?”